A wealth of iPad Apps being powerful support for individual learning

Shiyu Li, year one teacher at Guangdong Country Garden International Primary School

李仕玉,广东碧桂园学校一年级教师,

丰富的iPad App,为个性化学习提供有力支持

广东碧桂园学校国际部小学 李仕玉

iPad进课堂,让学生进行自主学习,如果没有良好的学习活动设计,在打破传统教学方式和方法上的基础上,又没有提供新的指引,这将引起老师和学生在课堂上的混乱和迷茫,根本就做不到有效学习。经过近一年的实践与摸索,我根据孩子们年龄小、识字量少的特点,在本班的iPad使用上还借助了海量的iPad App,让学生利用工具来巩固对知识或概念的理解,从而使iPad转变成为学生自主学习的好伙伴、好老师。

(一)“我爱写字”——识字写字的好老师

人们常说:“字如其人。”一手好字,能给人眼前一亮、赏心悦目的感受,也能透出一个人内在的涵养、气韵。“我爱写字”是一款通过笔顺笔画的书写检查来帮助孩子实现书写规范的App。从一年级上学期开始,我班学生开始使用“我爱写字”中的“我爱学习”板块学习生字书写。通过点击每个生字的拼音、词句等发音教学,帮助学生学习读音和理解汉字含义。通过笔顺的动画演示、笔顺跟练和整字练习等,帮助学生实现书写规范,实现手脑并用的提升。通过对书写错误点的批注,帮助学生及时纠正错误。利用这个iPad的这个功能特点,真正实现了“一对一”的学习模式,学生可以根据自己的实际情况自觉掌握自己的学习进度,做到了独立学习、自主学习。一年级的第二学期,孩子们发现了“我爱写字”中的另两个板块——“我爱挑战”和“我要比赛”。这两个版析更有意思,并且极具挑战性。这两个板块是利用艾宾浩斯记忆曲线,推出了按课闯关和汉字比赛题目,并通过金币发放来“引诱”学生去参与,这样大大激发了孩子勇于挑战的竞争意识,非常符合一年级学生的学习特点。通过参加这些游戏增强了学生对汉字和意义理解和在生活中的运用能力。有一次,我在批改学生的书写作业时,发现学生在写“美”字时,都是将最后一横写得最长,而对照学校配套的生字卡上赫然显示的是最后一横稍短于第三横,便要求学生改正。谁知,孩子们搬出“我爱写字”与我理论:“iPad老师就是这样写的。”为了验证到底谁对谁错,大家又搬出了课本上的生字表,查看了网络资料,事实证明孩子们是对的。这说明学生们在利用“我爱写字”的学习过程中,不但学到了汉字的规范书写,还在不知不觉中形成了认真观察、敢于质疑、敢于表达学习态度,很自然地把“要我学”变成了“我要学”“我想学”,这不正是教育工作者苦苦寻找的自主学习精神吗?

(二)“讯飞语音助手”——快乐写作的好帮手

一年级学生,语言运用相比幼儿园,越来越精确,他们会努力想要正确地表述事物。比如幼儿说“那里有些人”,而一年的孩子会说“那里有四个人”。同时他们开始使用大量的修饰副词,使得他的话语变得越来越生动,如:“愉快地”、“痛苦地”、“高兴地”等。但他们也常常会用“不”来进行负面或者否认的表达。我想,这么丰富的语言表达,如果能及时有效地记录下来,这将是一件多么有趣的事呀。但如果仅仅仪在口头表达,而没能如实地记录下来,该是一件多么遗憾的事呀!所以,我针对以上一年级学生使用语言的特点,决定让学生从一年级开始,就试着有深度、有广度地写日记。但要想让一年级学生自主进行写作,有三个条件必须达到:一是提供有意义的写作对象,二是在丰富的语言环境中进行写作,三是会使用语言的记录符号。

但是,写作对于一年级学生来说是一件非常困难的事,因为他们的经验有限,更重要的是会认、会写的字不多。不过,我一直坚信,只要能借助一个适当的媒介,一年级写作并非“天方夜谭”,这时我发现了 “讯飞语音助手”,使我眼前豁然一亮。什么是“讯飞语音助手”呢?“讯飞语音助手”是一款使用到麦克风功能的App,支持普通话、英语及粤语等语音识别。学生利用这款App就可以把自己说的话直接转换为文字,通过拷贝、粘贴等手段直接把文本插入到iBooks、Keynote等其他文本编辑中,从而解决会说不会写的难题。“讯飞语音助手”解决了记录语言的符号这个难题,但还有写作对象和环境没有解决,正在我一筹莫展的时候,我们的探究课程就开始了《植物》的探究学习,其中有一个任务是记录植物的生长变化,这不正好有写作的对象了吗?于是我就和学生一道,将植物每天的生长情况用iPda拍摄成图片下来,再利用“讯飞语音助手”把每个人自已的发现转换为文字、音频,对图片进行相应的标记和注释。

在这个过程中,孩子们天天都期待着植物的变化,只要一有新的发现,孩子们便迅速拍下来,并把观察到的情况、自己的感受等等自主地用图文并茂的方式记录下来。让人吃惊的是,在记录时还出现了数学信息,有一个孩子的记录是这样的:第一个盆里有2个小芽出现了,第2个盆里却出现了5个小芽,2+5=7,一共有7个种子发芽了。多有意思的记录!同时,学生之间还会自觉地相互分享,你看看我的作品、我听听你的观点,然后再修改自己的记录,让自己记录时使用的语言更优美、逻辑性更强、更具科学性,丰富的语言环境就这样产生了,这难道不是我们苦苦寻觅的自主学习吗?当探究活动结束时,学生就将将这些文字、音频汇总整理成一部相当可观的观察日志集,并通过邮件等形式发送给我打印成稿,作为自己的成长证据。这对于原本识字不多、会写的字更少的一年级学生来说,这样的巨作每人都能比较容易就完成了,这不得不感谢“讯飞语音助手”的“亲密配合”。细看学生的作品,虽然完成的质量在我们成年人看来有优有劣,但对于学生来说,这可是人生写作的第一次,这样的体验使得学生对以后的写作充满了信心。更可喜的是整个过程不需要老师的督促,也不需要为学生安排专门的时间,因为学生可以利用课余时间,在“讯飞语音助手”的帮助下自主进行这样的记录。久而久之,孩子们学会了观察、学会了造句、学会了写话,更重要的是学会了分享,并且没有一丝懈怠情绪,这样自主学习的态度不正是教育者所期待的吗?

李仕玉老师在广东碧桂园学校PYP小学部担任一年级的包班教师。她热心于在教室内外各种场合使用技术支持学习。利用技术,她让教室呈现出更好的设计并服务于教学。她与学生建立联系的能力和她教授语境概念的才华令人赞叹。她是广东碧桂园学校的数码教育先锋,课堂丰富且有意义,获取了很多认可。

Shiyu Li, Guangdong Country Garden International Primary School

Shiyu Li, year one teacher at Guangdong Country Garden School, China

This article shares the practice of using two kinds of iPad Apps to support writing in Chinese for year one students.

iPads have made an entrance into our classrooms, allowing students to learn autonomously. In the absence of a quality learning activity plan and within the context of a learning environment where traditional methods of teaching are breaking down and no clear guidelines have been established, this can cause confusion for both teachers and students and become a barrier for effective learning to take place. Through experience and research over the last year, and based on the age group and the low level of Chinese Character recognition, I made use of a two iPad Apps in my Chinese language class. Use of these tools enables students to consolidate their knowledge and conceptual understanding utilizing the iPad as a engaging teaching assistant when it comes to autonomous learning.

1) 我爱写字 (I Love Writing Chinese) – a great literacy teacher

It is often said that one can tell a lot about someone by the way he or she writes. A finely written Chinese character can be pleasing to both the eye and the mind. It can reveal both depth of spirit and richness of mind. “我爱写字” is an App that can help children improve their writing skill by checking how they write Chinese characters as they write them. Last semester, I began to adopt this App with the year one students. In the App “我爱写字”, there is an option called “我爱学习”(I love to learn) which helps children to learn new words. Through learning the order of the strokes and the phonetic aspects of the characters, it helps the students to be able to pronounce and understand the meaning of the words. Additionally, through the animated demonstrations of how characters should be written, it enables the student to learn about the rules of the stroke order of the language. Hence both motor skills and the mind are in action at the same time. Comments appearing when an error is made while working on the app also help the student to promptly correct their own mistakes. Using this iPad function can create a truly ‘one-to-one’ approach to learning; students take control of their own rate of progress according to their own circumstances and carry out independent or autonomous learning.

In the second semester of year one, the children discovered two other interesting and challenging sections within “I Love Writing Chinese” – ie “我爱挑战” (I Love Challenges) and “我要比赛” (Let’s Compete). The Ebbinghaus forgetting curve is used to present games with different levels to help advance learning as well as Chinese character competitions which award gold coins for achievements to “engage” students in participating. The children were excited to take up this challenge and they quickly got into the competitive spirit, which resonated very well with the year one studies. The students’ understanding of Chinese characters was strengthened through these games, as was their ability to use them in real life settings.

When I was correcting the students’ work one day, I discovered that when writing the Chinese character for ‘beautiful’ they had all written the final horizontal stroke as the longest. By cross-checking this against the set of new word cards provided by the school, it was evident that the last horizontal stroke should be slightly shorter than the third horizontal stroke. Therefore I asked the students to correct this. To my surprise, the students took out their iPads and used the “I love Writing Chinese” App to contradict me. They said “but the iPad writes it this way!” To clear up this doubt, everyone looked at the new word table in our textbook, and also looked online, and it was the students who turned out to be right. This showed that when using “I Love Writing Chinese” students not only learned the writing standards of Chinese characters, but also unconsciously formed careful observational skills. In addition, they were not afraid to call things into question or to express themselves. They made a natural transition from feeling like they are made to learn things, to wanting to learn things for themselves. Is this not the autonomous learning that we educators search for?

2) iFlyTek Voice Assistant – making writing fun

Compared with the kindergarten children, year one students’ use of language gets progressively more precise and students try very hard to express things correctly. They also begin to use more adverbs with precise qualities, making their spoken language increasingly vivid such as “cheerfully”, “painfully”, “happily”, etc. But they will often incorrectly use the Chinese adverb for negation, ‘bu’ (a negative prefix used before verbs, adjectives and other adverbs), to express a negative response or to deny something. Taking the language characteristics of year one students mentioned above into consideration, I decided to have students from year one to begin to keep a diary that was both deep in terms of content and wide in scope. Before attempting to get them to produce a piece of writing by themselves, however, there were three factors to be considered:

a) coming up with a meaningful subject to write about;

b) creating a rich language environment in which to write;

c) actually knowing how to write in Chinese characters.

Owing to the limited experience of year one students, producing a piece of writing is an extremely difficult task. More importantly, they cannot recognize or write very many Chinese characters. iFlyTek Voice Assistant is an App that supports voice recognition for Mandarin, English and Cantonese through its use of the iPad microphone. Students using this App can directly transform their speech into written characters. Through copying and pasting they can directly insert text into iBooks, Keynote or other text editors, thereby resolving the problem of a student knowing how to say something without knowing how to write it. iFlyTek Voice Assistant resolved this issue, but I still had to figure out a subject to write about and provide a suitable writing environment. Our upcoming inquiry-based unit focused on the life of plants. One task asked students to keep a record of the changes in a plant as it grew, so I chose this as the perfect writing subject. The students and I worked together taking photos of the plants every day using our iPads and used iFlyTek Voice Assistant to transform each student’s new discoveries into written characters and audio files, adding notes and commentary to the images as we went along.

Throughout this process, the children looked forward to the plant changing every day. It only needed one child to see something new and all the children quickly took photos, recording the observation and their feelings towards it in both words and images. The surprising thing was the mathematical information that arose from these recordings. One child’s recording went like this: The first pot has two sprouting buds; the second pot has five sprouting buds; two plus five equals seven, so altogether seven seeds have sprouted. Additionally, students were consciously sharing ideas, inviting others to see their work and listening to each other’s views. They would then go off to modify their own records, refine their language, strengthen their logic and make it more scientific all of which creating a rich language environment. When the inquiry-based activity ended, the students collated their text and audio records into a considerable observation log, which they then sent to me by email and to print and keep as evidence of their growth. Each of the year one students who could not read many Chinese characters to begin with and write even less, ended up being able to finish this undertaking relatively easily with the support of iFlyTek Voice Assistant. Taking a more detailed look at the students’ work, the quality of the finished product may look to us adults as highly varied. But this is the first time these students have undertaken any writing and this kind of experience filled them with confidence to carry out future writing. Also, it was not necessary for the teacher to supervise the students throughout the entire process. The students learned observation skills, how to build sentences and how to write spoken language. More importantly, they learned how to actively share. Doesn’t every educator hope for this kind of approach to self-study?

Shiyu Li is currently a year 1 PYP homeroom teacher at Guangdong Country Garden School. She has always been passionate on what can be done inside and outside the classroom with the use of technology. She is an advocate for better classroom design and demonstrates it by utilizing the technology in her classroom and applies it in her teaching. Her ability to connect with her students and her talent of teaching contextual concepts are superior. She is a master digital educator at Country Garden School and has attained numerous academic qualifications to make her classes more enriching and significant.

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One Response to A wealth of iPad Apps being powerful support for individual learning

  1. Ryan 16 February 2016 at 6:58 pm #

    You can learn a lot by using iPad apps.

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