Archive for September, 2010

Using the iPod Touch in Literacy.

September 26, 2010

This year I have 8 boys in my year 6 class. Their abilities in Maths range from Level 1c to 3a/4c and they have reading ages ranging from 5.3 to 11 yrs.

We have started to use the iPod touches in the last couple of weeks and not surprisingly they absolutely LOVE using them.

In this post I’m going to primarily focus on how we are using them to support Literacy learning.

One of the first activities that the class did was to make a personalized screen saver for the lock screen (The screen that you see when you first turn on the iPod).

We took head shots of each child and emailed it to their iPods. Each child has an email for their iPod using the system in googlemail of the same address but adding +1, +2 +3 to the end. One child’s email wasn’t working for some unknown reason so we transferred his photo using the Bump app (FREE). Looking forward to using this app more this year.

They then opened the Comic Touch lite app (FREE) and imported their photo and added a speech or thought bubble with some writing to their picture. Most chose comments such as WOW! an iPod Touch.
I then showed them how to do a screen capture by holding the home and power button at the same time. They then went to the photos folder and chose the use as wallpaper option. Now it is extremely easy when handing out the right iPod touches to each child at the beginning of the day.
Here’s the example I showed of one I made.

We have begun to use the iPod Touches throughout Literacy in a variety of ways.


Each day, the children have a number of activities that they practice  to help develop and reinforce their Literacy basic skills. What is great about the iPod Touch is that it doesn’t matter the level each child is working at as whereever the gap is in their learning as the ad says, ‘There’s an app for that!’ and  many of the apps can be set up to individual settings to match the child’s levels.

Whereas before it would be a bit of a struggle to get those with the greatest gaps to practise those skills which they saw as ‘babyish’ now they are more than happy to have a go using the iPods.

Those  needing work on knowing their long and short vowel sounds are using abc PocketPhonics (lite version FREE/full version £1.19) You can see a YouTube video about it here.  You can set the voice to either UK or US.

There are also some children who have difficulties ordering the alphabet correctly and they are using ABCD (FREE), a puzzle app to help with this.

KidsWordFind is great for those in the class who already have a good grounding in their basic skills. When it is set at the hard difficulty setting it features a 9 by 9 grid and includes words up to 9 letters long. As it says on their website ‘It’s great for teaching new words to kids that can already read. In later levels words appear upwards and backwards to help stimulate perception and problem solving.’

Chicktionary is a favourite with those who are more confident in their spelling ability and with a good understanding of spelling patterns and rules. I’m not sure if there is a difference but there is 2 full versions offered in the app store. One is the original Chicktionary (free lite version & full version £1.19) and Chicktionary by Bing (full version FREE)  I’ve gone for the Bing version.

USING eBooks

As well as using apps from the Apple Store we are also using the iPod Touches to read eBooks.

I have been HUGELY lucky to have been sent a number of eBooks from the publishers Rising Stars to try with my class. Thank you @andreacarr1!

Click here to see the eBooks that are in the Rising Stars Library.

We have started with the The Interact series of plays. The Rising Stars website says that ‘this series is designed for high interest/low reading age plays that  have been specifically written to engage and motivate struggling and reluctant readers, particularly boys.’ I 100% concur with this! My class are loving reading Astro Man and they can easily relate to the issues of peer pressure.Click here for a preview of the book

We generally read the eBooks using the IWB but some of the children are also choosing to read the books on their iPod Touches during their choosing time. They do this via the app iBooks (FREE). This just shows me again how much they are enjoying reading books specifically designed for BOTH their chronological as well as reading age!

We are hoping to create a podcast of the play which will then be uploaded onto the school website for other classes to listen to and possibly even make a video of them acting out the play.

Improving Reading Fluency

Another way we are using the iPod Touches in Literacy is using them as a tool to improve the reading fluency for those with the greatest gap between their chronological age and reading age. I first tried this for half a term last academic year with good results and am hoping to see even better results this year! I wrote about this Reading Project in an earlier blog which you can read here.

Using Voice Memos, one of the built in features that comes with the iPod Touch, and headphones with a microphone, the child reads to an adult for 1 minute whilst recording themselves. This recording is then emailed to the class account so that the reading can be analysed for the strategies used/not used and for the number of words read correctly in a minute and is then charted on a spreadsheet to show progress.
The child is also encouraged to listen back to their reading and assess themselves on their reading using the chart below. This chart was compiled from a number of fluency charts which I read about from various American sites.


Give yourself a score of 1-4 with 4 being the highest and 1 being the lowest.

1.     I didn’t understand what I read at all.

2.     I tried hard, but most of the words were hard.

3.     I could read most of the words and I used expression.

4.     This was easy and I did my best.

1st try

  • I read smoothly. ___________________________
  • I paused at full stops. ___________________________
  • I read with expression. ___________________________
  • I sounded out the words. ___________________________
  • I asked someone how to pronounce a word. _________________

2nd try

  • I remembered more words. ___________________________
  • I read more smoothly. ___________________________
  • I read with much more expression. _________________
  • I read faster. ___________________________

Last year a child made huge improvements in his expression, number of words read (from 49 words read correctly in a minute to 94 in less than 6 weeks!) More importantly than any of this though, is that his self-confidence grew immeasurably. I look forward to others  making this type of improvement.

I spoke about using the iPod Touches and reading fluency at TeachMeetBev which took place in August in Pembroke, Wales.. truly a beautiful place to visit. I want to publicly thank the fab bevevans22 for not only providing ME with a place to stay and fabulous company from her and her  lovely family but also letting my pooch stay as well (who turns out to be her dog’s identical twin!)  It was great meeting many fellow Tweeters and I look forward to the next time ;o)  You can see the video of  TeachMeetBev here (my 1st ever presentation begins at 02:28) and here.

Coming up in the next blog…. apps in Maths

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