Sunday, March 18, 2012

Do iPads + ELL Students = Reading Comprehension?

Last week I presented a session at the Northwest Council for Computer Education (NCCE) conference in Seattle.  The title of my session was the same as the title of this post.  I'm still not sure of the answer to the question I posed.  During formative assessments as this project proceeds, I do see quite a bit of growth for most of the students.  Recently we completed the summative assessment called the DRP (Degrees of Reading Power) which, according to the test maker, are "holistic measures of how well students understand the meaning of text. Test results are reported on the DRP Scale of Text Difficulty – the same scale that is used to measure the reading difficulty of printed material."  
The test results give us a score for each student which indicates an independent reading level and an instructional reading level.  Looking at the class's scores, 66% of the students made considerable progress on the DRP since they took it in the fall.  I think their growth has been even more exceptional since we gave the DRP in February instead of in May when the spring test really should be given.  But it is only one measure of student progress.  The students also took the new WELPA (Washington English Language Proficiency Assessment) a few weeks ago.  According to the state:
"It measures students’ growth in English language knowledge and skills. Results from this test determine which students are eligible to continue to receive ELD services."  We won't have the results from this test until May, so we shall see if any of the students were able to test out of English Language Development services.  I'm hopeful.

Editing Woes

The students came back to the library to work on editing their writing assignment that they had completed in their ELL classroom.  This time they recorded their own writing using the iTalk app.  Then they listened to the recording while editing their own work.  I told them how I usually will read aloud my own writing so that I can hear my errors.  They really worked hard on this and heard lots of errors that they had made; unfortunately they don't have enough writing skills yet to be able to know how to make the corrections properly.  They tried, but many of them did not know how to punctuate correctly to say exactly what they wanted to say.  I do think it was good that two girls came to me saying that their writing didn't make sense as they tried to record it.  They are becoming more thoughtful about their work.  There's lots more work for us to do.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fantastic Flying Books app is Fantastic!

On Friday, my students had a chance to spend some time with the app of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.  I had planned on having students read/listen/interact with the book for part of the period and then write about it, but they had such a great time with the app that we never got to the writing part.  Students were paired up with their headphone splitters, headphones, and iPads.  They spread out throughout the library absorbed in the book, and all I heard were their reactions to the app:  laughter, giggles, oohs and aahs, and comments like, "Look at his face!", "That's cool!", "Let's see that again."  

Thinking about how to write about the story

They loved playing the piano within the story 

They had a great time creating words within the alphabet cereal and then taking photos of them.
 Afterwards all the students said they preferred the app to the movie. One student expressed the reason why so well; she said, "You felt like you were experiencing the story."  The interactive app draws the reader in rather that being a passive watcher of the film.
Students will continue with their ELL teacher on Monday to write about the app with this objective:
Students will be able to summarize a story by writing about it in complete thoughts and sentences.