I work in a building of kindergarten and first grade teachers. There are nine kindergarten classrooms, and ten first grade classrooms. There are two Special Ed. Teachers and two reading specialist. I interviewed one first grade teacher, a kindergarten teacher, and reading specialist. The reading specialist has been teaching for 30+ years, the kindergarten teacher for 19 years, and first grade teacher has been teaching five years.
I did my best to maintain notes as I interviewed each teacher. I was able to type their responses during the interview but had to go back to paraphrase what was said as my notes were broken and filled with spelling errors (not able to type as fast as they could talk). In my notes from the interview I used RT (reading teacher), K (kindergarten), and 1st (first grade).
How often do you use technology (iPads, computers) in your classroom?
RT- Since I see small groups for a short amount of time I do not feel like I have enough time to use computers or iPads. I have a limited amount of time to work with these children and I need to use my time wisely. I feel that time will be lost logging into computers, or going to get iPads.
K- I allow my students to use the computers during center time. We use computers or iPads about two or three times a week. The students use the RAZ Kids app. Students are able to listen to books, and take quizzes.
1st- I try to use technology every day. We start each morning with the SMARTboard, and then during centers, we use iPads, computers, or both. Students are able to go onto RAZ Kids or Everyday Math Online. Students practice math skills by playing a variety of math games on EDM Online. The RAZ Kids app is a literacy app that the students read leveled books. I am able to assign the students their levels, and monitor their progress. I can see how often they use the app, as well as how they do on quizzes. After each book the students take a five question quiz with vocabulary, comprehension, and sequencing questions.
What keeps you from using technology (iPads, computers) in your classroom?
RT- I am really concerned about the amount of time that I have the children for. I see the children in groups of 4-5 students for half an hour. During that time we have specific skills that I need to teach. As part of my position, I am in charge of RTII, and making sure that students’ DIBELS and reading levels go up…. I am not very familiar with the apps or games that are available. If I were to use technology it needs to be meaningful and reinforce the skills we are working on.
K- My biggest concern would be not knowing what they are doing on the computer or iPads. I have told them specific games that they are to play and I am not sure if they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. Even if they are on the right game, I don’t know if it is helping them. There is not much accountability.
1st- I don’t always know what they are doing when they are using the computers or iPads. I have assigned them tasks but I am often working with a small group or an individual student so I am not able to monitor the students…. Besides the Reading A-Z app, I have not found many apps that are relevant to what we are doing. The students have played ABC Ninja which helps practice letter recognition, and there is a sight word game that is similar to ABC Ninja, but all of the words don’t correlate to the words we teach. With the ABC Ninja and sight word game I have noticed that students are randomly swiping their finger across the screen. They are not playing the game the way it was meant to be played.
How do you communicate student progress with parents?
RT- As part of the DIBELS program I am able to send progress reports to all students in the building. Each student is assessed using the DIBELS program three times a year. Students are assessed in October, January, and May. After each assessment, the program gives a report for each student. The report gives a brief description of the program, and what skills the students were assessed. The students score is then given, as well as the benchmark goal. The parents are able to see what score the students should get, and where their child scored. Students that receive RTII are progress monitored every six weeks. These scores are not shared with parents, but are used to help guide instruction.
K- In October we have a Back to School Night, and a few weeks after that we have our first parent teacher conferences.. usually in November around Thanksgiving. In January we send out our first report card. In the spring we have another set of conferences with the students’ parents we would like to meet with. We do not need to meet with all parents in spring. Students will get their second and final report card in June.
1st- We are responsible for two conferences a year. There is a conference in the fall and spring. The spring conference is optional. There are two reports that are given out as well. The first report card goes out in January, and the second is at the end of the year. I do communicate with parents throughout the year as I see fit. If I notice that a student is struggling I will email, call, or set up a meeting. I tend to email or parents first before meeting with them in person. It is harder to meet with parents in person due to work.