This summer sixteen preschool-aged children participated in a four-week pilot program at Calistoga Elementary School in California. The students were given access to iPads along with traditional teaching methods to help build vocabulary and reading comprehension skills.
The program was aimed at children whose families didn’t qualify for a state-run preschool or weren’t able to afford private preschool. Most of the children involved in the program were learning English as a second language.
During the four weeks of instruction, the reading comprehension of the Calistoga preschoolers increased from 58.5 percent to 76.4 percent. Comprehension was measured by the number of correct answers the children gave on the first try after reading a story.
On average, each child read about 31 books and was exposed to 9,800 vocabulary words. When the children brought the iPads home for the Fourth of July weekend, their usage of iPad programs doubled. Some logged in for five or six hours to practice their reading skills.
The goal of the pilot program is to close language and literacy gaps before children enter kindergarten. Research shows that there is often more than a two- to three-year gap between kindergartners who went to preschool and those who did not. A local community group donated the iPads.
Certainly, tablet devices have a place in our classrooms and I imaging that soon nearly every child will have access to an iPad. The real question remains: What good is the iPad if the right reading skills are not properly taught? Let’s ensure that the integrity of the reading software (or any educational software for that matter) improves more than just a student’s attention span - let’s make certain that it delivers every advantage… proven skills and reading methodology.
What are your thoughts about the rapid rise of technology tools in the classroom?