Digital Worksheets Apps Have Some Value
Another great post on the Kinderchat blog led to this post. Kathy really does a great job of summing up my thoughts on technology in the elementary classroom and I agree with all of it, especially the ways she discusses how we should be using technology. Kathy also lists several ways we should NOT be using technology and this is where I think there should be some clarification. I think we should be careful not to automatically disregard anything, even digital worksheets apps. For example, I dislike homework but I can provide two great instances where I would support it here and here. So despite my constant push to avoid digital worksheets I won’t tell anyone they should never use them, instead I think we should be saying they are not the goal or most powerful way to use the tools. I think apps that are digital worksheets can have value and here are a few reasons why…
*Digital Worksheets are often the easiest apps to use and manage. As we look for ways to support an encourage teachers to use these new tools in their class digital worksheets can be the “gateway drug” to get them started. I first used digital worksheets when I introduced the iPad to my class over two years ago and I can’t imagine starting with a more involved app. Training and support would hopefully move teachers towards the better use of this technology that Kathy outlines. I think most teachers would automatically make this transition as they explore the devices.
* Digital Worksheets often target specific skills. This is the area I actually use them in my class. Kids that struggle in certain areas often dislike working on those skills. We all dislike doing things we are not good at and digital worksheets can provide novelty that encourages kids to work on those skills (example.) Balance is key here, apps should not be the only way to practice skills.
*Digital Worksheets can provide instant feedback. These apps almost add an assistant to the class as kids work on these skills.
*Digital Worksheets can be modified to make them more creative or be the basis for producing something. Like this example or using the flash card app for kids to search for words that end or begin with a certain sound or writing the words in ABC order.
We can all agree that teachers need to be intentional and thoughtful about the apps they use in the classroom. Creating, collaborating, connecting and producing need to be constant goal but the bottom line is the focus of technology in a class should be on the learning (as I have written about here.) We all should be promoting and encouraging teachers and colleagues to use technology as Kathy outlined in her post, but we also need to be careful about denouncing all apps that don’t achieve these lofty goals. Look forward to hearing your thoughts on this!