I Kids..IPhone, I Read with Joy..I Read

Recently a small relative, who is under 2 yeas old made me think a lot about the new ways of learning that we should be considering and monitoring, and learning from. The participatory culture has a new addition. None readers can do interactive learning. He had books, and I think I saw Nemo over and over again until I was tired of it. But the IPad changed his habits. I also had some other tricks up my sleeve, but I never had to use them. He still gets a good reading activity from his mother, a bedtime story that is in traditional form.

Using the IPad

New ways of exploring learning, vaulting the digital divide

The article, the rise of the IKids caught my attention.


I am from the Grandma and Me generation. That is there were some CD Roms, that I used to teach students , at a higher level than non reader, and I was fascinated then by the attention, time and interest of students.  A principal challenged me to make use of the programs and I did. Unfortunately, the programs worked so well, that I had to find a new way to schedule students into the lab. We were a small school with a tiny lab, with a window to the world.  Linda Roberts did not approve of the programs, but I used them to enrich and change the interest level of readers. Ok, I also was able to do individualized conferencing since all of the kids were busy, and to introduce children to many books in that format with ease, no matter which language they spoke at home. The school I worked in was a school in which there were many immigrant children. English was.. sort of spoken by most , but not necessarily by the book.

I started the use of the CD Roms ( which I found in a closet) with special education students. I liked the individual ways in which students could progress through the materials and it also gave me time to do small group work.

I knew the materials were a hit when some of the children literally ran with their walkers to the lab with a smile on their faces trying to escape going to recess. There were about ten programs in this category and those that I did not have, we purchased.

A lot of people would say.. how is that reading??  Well the program could read to you, you could click on the images on the program, and you could go through the program in Spanish, in English and Japanese.  There were variable resources as well. Many people thought that these little books were not academic enough. I saw them as an invitation to read, to explore, to think, to be imaginative to get lost in the reading experience. Living Books they were called. I individually purchased every one I could get. They were that inspirationally different from the thick , boring textbook with the workbooks and word tablets that were never ending. I am not sure but this is what Wikipedia says about where the Living Books are and how they can be found except on UTube.  I am just learning to be a facilitator for a pre-reading child. I should explain that I escaped teaching for a while, the tedium of the reading circles got to me.  But I did return.

“The Living Books series was a series of interactive animated multimedia children’s books produced by Brøderbund and distributed on CD-ROM for Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows. The series began with the release of Just Grandma and Me (an adaptation of the book by Mercer Mayer) in 1992; other titles in the series included The Tortoise and the Hare,Arthur’s Teacher Trouble (and other adaptations of books by Marc Brown), Dr. Seuss andBerenstain Bears titles. [1]

Living Books became quite popular in the mid-1990s and were even used in some classrooms to teach English. Some home-computer users reported purchasing CD-ROM drives and sound cards specifically to run Living Books.

Many of them had selections for other languages, namely Spanish and Japanese.

The series did have an official website, http://www.livingbooks.com[1], but after the series was canceled by Broderbund, the site was up for grabs and bought by Scholastic. It was then converted into a jungle book series website that sold books published by Scholastic.

So , now on IPad and IPhone there are newer interactive programs. How do we use them in schools? Do we?

Little Critter certainly helped me to charm a group of students who were not all that interested in reading to read. We progressed to the Jack Prelutsy poetry, to the other offerings of this genre. The special education teacher and I were on a roll for a long time until the teachers saw the excitement in the lab through our goldfish window. Then, even the teacher who gave me the programs stating that the were useless, demanded lab time.

We had a solution. earphones from the Dollar Store, and a selection of the programs for the special education class so that they could continue their explorations during class.

Reading is a very special joy, interactive reading , is a new way of sharing. Soon there was the Cat in the Hat and other offerings.. I loved being able to take the kids from the CDRoms to a real book, but I also had surprises. One day a child spoke the story to me in Japanese.

This opened my eyes to limitations we place on students with gated reading. Often teachers would not let you go to the next level. You know, it was a grade leveled thing reading. NOT.

The IPad and other reading programs give wings to students who enter the world of reading with true interest, and joy. The little relative who wanted to find sites on IPad, was introduced to the stories, and demanded them from time to time. I have been told that there are applications on the IPhone as well that are of interest to students.

Award Reading uses the magic of the technology in a cloud based reading program and I suppose that there are other programs who see the new ways of learning that are personal. interative and individual. Certainly the textbooks as we know them, good stories carved out of books that are a year long assignment are doomed.

Individualized learning … personalized learning. Do read the article. It is an eye opener.

Here is a small segment. This will calm the fears of those who think we will run out of reading materials and ideas in teaching and learning.

“Before, during and even between classes at Hillbrook School this fall, seventh-graders have been spotted on the Los Gatos campus, sometimes burbling Spanish or Mandarin phrases into the glowing screen in their hands, other times staring into it like a looking glass.

iPads — the Apple of almost every adolescent’s eye — are being provided to students at several Bay Area public and private schools this year, including Hillbrook, which claims to be the only K-8 school in America using tablet computers in class and sending them home. This has led to a lot of 12-year-olds swanning around the wooded hillside campus, talking to their iPads.

“Summoning up a virtual keyboard recently, Sophie Greene quickly typed a note to herself in iCal, a calendar program, then played back an audio file in which she was speaking Spanish. “We record a conversation, e-mail it to our teacher, Señorita Kelly,” she explained, “then she critiques the lesson in Spanish and sends that back to us.”

Conquering the digital divide to provide the mobile tools. Well, that’s another problem. Not mine to solve. I believe that the inattention and the behavior problems in schools of need are caused by the old fashioned idealogy and ideational scaffolding .. using industrial models of reading to teach 21st Century media kids. There are probably students who would love school even more with the right tools. I know that the students I had loved games, books, and the personalization of knowledge. We must transition into new ways of sharing good ideas. What are yours in reading? What magic have you seen?

I have a friend who does 3 dimensional reading .. but I don’t know if that work is in books. One of the things that Living Books did was to encourage me to have students write their own books. Little books. Now with gaming technology , I believe we could at higher levels create some animations of our own to share the ideas of the book.

What have you seen? What captures your imagination in new ways of reading?

I love technology, but I still have a house full of books. That however is a different discussion we can have. What is the best mobile  tool? I certainly don’t know.

What is the power of us to make reading exciting, enchanting, involving and imaginative? That power, give to the disaffected students can change their world and ours. I am thinking three dimensional books. Works for me.

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