Friday, March 12, 2010

Apps for Early Elementary

As promised, here is a list of some of the apps that my PreK teacher uses on her iPod Touches in her classroom:

ABC Tracer Lite-Free
Bathtub Letters
Cute Math-$1.99
Doodle Buddy-$.99
First Words-$1.99
Fruits and Veggies-$1.99
Giraffe's Matching Zoo-Free
Giraffe's Preschool Playground-$.99
Grover's Preschool
Meet the Vowels-Free
Meet the Uppercase Letters-$.99
Meet the Lowercase Letters-$.99
Meet the Shapes-$.99
Monkey Preschool Lunchbox-$.99
iPlay 'n Learn-Free
Phonics Free-ABC & Words-Free
Shape Builder-$.99
Toddler Pad-$.99
Wood Puzzle-$.99
Write My Name-$.99
123 Animals Counting Lite-Free
Preschool Pattern Recognition-$.99

I also found the ikids Blog which has fantastic lists and reviews on early elementary apps.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

iPod Touches in our Pre-K Classroom

We have a very tech savvy pre-k teacher, Amanda Stiles, who is implementing iPod touches in her classroom this year. I am amazed by what these kids can do and can't wait to see how it affects their Kindergarten year. Her progress with these has encouraged the IT department to consider putting them in the hands of more students at our school. I truly hope that we can.
This is a Quicktime video.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Teach Like a Champion

I read an excellent article this morning that had been recommended on Twitter by @thecleversheep. I had never heard of Doug Lemov or of Uncommon Schools. His ideas, though, I think are really important to explore especially when we are about to experience a huge shift in education with Race to the Top. My state, Tennessee, was named as a finalist yesterday for RTTT funds. This is no surprise. We have been projected from the beginning to be one of the states that will ultimately receive the funds. All teachers in my county are now up in arms thinking immediately that their jobs are on the line. I have watched the progression of this and have slowly tried to develop an opinion on how things are headed. I'm not one to jump on bandwagons one way or the other. The painful truth is that there are teachers who don't really perform up to par. Do I think the answer is to fire each and every one of them? Absolutely not!

I do believe that some people are just born to be teachers. They seem to have an innate ability to teach and lead a class. I do not believe, however, that it is realistic to think that those are the only people who are going to enter the teaching profession and come to work in my school. Doug Lemov believes that we have to improve upon what we have. I agree 100%. I think that we can take many if not most of the teachers that we currently have in the profession and tap into whatever inspired them to become a teacher in the first place. We need good administration in place to identify the needs of those teacher and then offer training to them based on their needs.

Mr. Lemov's book Teach Like a Champion outlines 49 Techniques for teachers to improve performance in the classroom. The description is as follows:

Easy-to-apply ideas for becoming an outstanding teacher

How to Teach Like a Champion is filled with proven teaching techniques that are designed to help teachers, especially those in their first few years, become champions in the classroom. These powerful techniques are concrete, specific, and are easy to put into action the very next day. Includes techniques and tips in the following areas

* Setting high academic and behavioral expectations
* Structuring and delivering excellent lessons
* Engaging students in your lessons
* Creating a strong classroom culture
* Building character and trust
* Improving the pace of your classroom
* Helping students improve their reading skills

You can also view short videos of a few of the techniques here and here. For some of us, this comes naturally. But for some, I think these small instructions can help change a classroom. The book has not yet been released but I can promise you that when it does, I'll be one of the first in line to buy it.