iPads, iPods Helping Boys in UK Improve Literacy Skills

Teachers at a south Wales school say investing in smartphones and MP3 players has helped pupils improve their literacy skills

Ysgol Glannau Gwaun in Fishguard, Pembrokeshire

Pupils’ literacy skills have improved because of working with iPads, say teachers at Ysgol Glannau Gwaun in Fishguard.
 
The school invested in 16 iPads and 20 iPods specifically to improve literacy skills among its 247 pupils, thinking the boys especially might react positively to the technology. Irwyn Wilcox, the headteacher, said: “We were looking to beef up technology and find ways of engaging the pupils in different ways. I’m convinced it’s having an impact.”

It has been a steep learning curve for the teachers. “This time last year I’d probably not have been sure what an iPad was,” said Wilcox.

“And we often have the children telling us how to do things we don’t know about. But it’s great that is happening.”

Pupils beaver away on iPads in the classrooms and post their work to a secure virtual area run by Pembrokeshire, the local education authority. Teachers can look at pupils’ work within that space.

They have an “app of the month” suggested by pupils, and an iClub in which year 6 pupils – 10 and 11-year-olds – teach younger children. Camron, 10, said: “I like teaching the younger kids. It’s fun to help them out and pass things on to them.”

Camron and his friend Conah are dipping into virtual books on the iPad they are sharing. They like the version of Michael Rosen’s Tidy Your Room and also the spoof sci-fi book Star Bores (May the Farce be With You). “I still like ordinary books and comics,” said Conah, “but it’s great that all these books are on the iPad, too. There’s a load of choice of things to look at and read.”

Their friend Ioan, 10, is playing a game called Bingo Bugs on the iPad he is using. If he answers a certain number of sums in a set time he gets to play a game. “It’s cool, I love this game,” he says.

Rachel Morgan, Glannau Gwaun’s ICT co-ordinator, said children were “learning without realising they were learning”. “A lot of the boys especially don’t like writing,” she said. “They feel pressurised if they are asked to write down a story.” Instead, they use applications such as Storyrobe, which allows them to use still images and video to create a story. They can add their own voice to tell the story rather than writing it down. “They can quickly share it with their peers, and they like doing that,” said Morgan.

Perhaps, tellingly, there have been no breakages or damage since the iPads arrived in February. The pupils seem to take great care of them.

Teacher Gareth Owen said he had noticed some of the “more challenging” boys, particularly, enjoying the technology. “They feel this is something they know about, something they can do,” he said. “I’ve seen some of the tough guys teaching the younger children with real sensitivity. I hope we can get 20 or 30 more.”

This is an excerpt … click on the picture to read the whole story

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2 thoughts on “iPads, iPods Helping Boys in UK Improve Literacy Skills

  1. I actually check the Guardian’s website regularly and hadn’t seen this article; thanks so much for sharing it here, it’s a really interesting situation and a very positive take on technology in the classroom.

  2. I have learned some important things through your blog post. One other stuff I would like to talk about is that there are numerous games out there designed mainly for toddler age small children. They contain pattern identification, colors, wildlife, and shapes. These typically focus on familiarization as an alternative to memorization. This makes little kids occupied without sensing like they are learning. Thanks

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