Today’s blogpost is by Tara Coffin, Deputy Headteacher at Netley Primary School, on using our apps in the classroom.
My son has always been a lover of books and since he was young I have searched the app store for good quality apps that will develop his reading skills and provide us with books that are always with us to read wherever we go.
A couple of years ago I came across Nosy Crow apps which, for me, beat all other story apps on the market hands down. My son loved them and I started to introduce them to the teachers at the school I work at and they loved them too. I have seen the apps used in a Reception Class as a way to develop comprehension skills by the teacher pausing the story to ask questions. We have used them in Reception and Key Stage One as a way of children listening to a story with headphones during independent sessions during guided reading and the children have been very engaged and motivated by the apps.
We recently set up a Joint Practice Development Group in the school to look at ways to make guided reading more fun yet manageable. One of the areas we wanted to look at was the use of technology in promoting a love of reading and if technology could have benefits that paper books could not provide.
My project within the group was to trial using the Cinderella Nosy Crow app with a low ability Year 3 group. The children were very keen to use the app and were particularly impressed with the gaming elements. They looked forward to their guided reading sessions and asked if we could use other apps once we had finished the sessions with Cinderella. When I asked the children what they had learnt from using the app they told me that it helped them to practice using expression when reading as much of the text is dialogue. It also helped one of the children improve the speed of her reading as the speech bubbles disappear after a while. You can change the settings for this but even the longest setting was sometimes too quick to disappear for her so this could be a challenge for some children.
I found the experience of using an app in guided reading a mixed one. The children were definitely more motivated to read and they were keen to talk about the story but sometimes I had to remind them that it was a reading session and not just a session for playing games. For example, they would rush into the game parts and not understand what to do until I told them to slow down and read the text which explained what to do.
As a typical teacher who likes to be ‘in control’ I found it difficult to try and keep the children on similar parts of the story so that I could direct my questioning to the whole group and we could discuss the part of the story we were up to together.
I found it easy to create follow up comprehension activities by using screen shots from the app, e.g. taking a scene and putting in blank speech bubbles for the children to write what they thought the characters would say at that point in time.
The reasons for using an app in guided reading outweigh the reasons not to and I would particularly use Nosy Crow apps with children who are not keen readers in the future.
Thank you for sharing your experience with our Cinderella app, Tara! If you’ve not seen the Cinderella app before, you can find it on the App Store here, and watch a trailer below. Our latest fairytale app, Snow White, is out now – you can read more here and find it on the App Store here. If you’re a teacher interested in using our apps in the classroom, you may be eligible for a discount through Apple’s Volume Purchase Programme – you can find out more here, or email us for more information at apps nosycrow com. And if you’d like to stay up to date with all of our app news, you can sign up to our app mailing list here.