Mrs. Torres’s 4/5 grade class at Zuni Elementary Magnet School for Communication and Technology in Albuquerque, New Mexico is one of the growing number of elementary schools across the county that has access to a set of iPod touches for the classroom.
Michele Torres recently contacted PicPocket Books to let us know that her students have been working with a number of our apps for reading. Mrs. Torres uses the book apps to get her students excited about new titles and subjects and they write book reviews in their writing journals, record reviews in Photo Booth and also present book recommendations to their classmates and “Reading Buddies” from younger grades. Mrs. Torres noticed that the recommendations from the more advanced readers and the inherent appeal of the iPod touch device are successful ways to get reluctant readers more motivated and interested in reading.
In addition to book apps for reading, the class uses several apps for math. The students do math drills, complete story problems, and listen to math lessons. Torres uses lessons from iTunes U to supplement some of the concepts they are learning in class. “If a student isn’t “getting it” I look for a lesson to download and have them complete it on their own,” she says.
Michele says, “I love that the kids are so excited about using these amazing little pieces of equipment. Using the iPod Touches engages my students in learning and increases their motivation. I am able to accommodate the many learning styles of my students by finding different apps for the students to use.”
The flip side of having a huge variety of specialized apps in the App Store is that finding appropriate educational apps in Apple’s vast collection takes some research. “I didn’t want apps that the kids would just play a game on, I wanted to use the apps to supplement what the kids were already doing in the classroom,” explains Torres. For age-appropriate and subject appropriate recommendations, she turned to MomsWithApps. Through their popular website and catalogue of apps, MomsWithApps brings developers of family friendly and educational apps and app users like educators and parents together to share best practices and feedback.
A recent day found students from Mrs. Torres’ class reading and discussing PicPocket Books’ Human Body Detectives: The Lucky Escape, written by Dr. Heather Manly, N.D. Because of the contact information for the publisher and the author is included in the app, Mrs. Torres was easily able to contact PicPocket Books and the author to provide feedback and ask questions – most importantly, “When is the next book in the Human Body Detectives series coming out?” PicPocket Books directed Mrs. Torres to online resources on the author’s website to supplement science lessons and also let the class know that the next adventures will be published as apps in the early summer of 2011.
A number of factors make this kind of communication with the readers, author and publishers of book apps much more direct and immediate in comparison with previous models form the traditional print world. Publishers are benefiting from reader feedback, and readers feel that they can be more connected by giving input on what kind of content is useful for them.
Torres’ students have an “iTouch Notebook” to record their notes and feedback on apps and iTouch activities. Torres added, “I love when the kids come to school and tell me, ‘Mrs. Torres, I did some research last night, and I found a couple of apps you should check out for us.’ Most of the time, the apps are very appropriate for what my goal for them is, and that is to learn.”
This article was originally published on the MomsWithApps website, on May 7, 2011.