We get together with our second grade buddies every Thursday. This week, we took a few iPads from our iPad cart down to our buddies’ classroom to show them our free app, “Counting and Matching” that my student teacher found in the App Store. (A picture of how "Counting and Matching" appears in the App Store is included to save some time searching.) Our buddies learn the app well enough to teach it to us, (which helps with second grade speaking and listening Common Core Standards).
As our buddies walk to our classroom door, I announce, “Hey friends, our buddies are here! They are going to teach us how to use our iPads to help with sorting!”
Students cheer—both to see our buddies and to work with iPads. There’s something about technology that just instantly gets kids excited about learning.
We talk about the lesson objective. “Today, we will practice sorting on our iPads!” What are some ways that we can sort?”
Students will respond, “By color!” or “By shape!” Be prepared for a “by size!” response, which I acknowledged quickly.
“Yes, you really remembered that we can sort by size. You’re right! This app only has options to sort by color or shape today, but it’s great that you remembered sorting by size. You are really thinking about sorting!
We briefly go over some ground rules.
“Girls and boys,” I say, “We must listen to our buddies, and follow a few simple rules. First, our iPads stay on the tables. Our buddies will use 2 hands to carry them to a table, and then we will keep them flat on the tables.
“Next,” I continue, “We will listen to our buddies. They are your teachers, and we will listen and follow directions.”
“Finally,” I say, “We will play our sorting game on our iPads the whole time—until the teachers tell us to stop.”
I do a little review, asking the kids to remind me of our iPad Buddy Rules. I call on students—both with hands raised and without raised hands—to repeat our rules. I don’t mean to be horrible, but I will make sure a student most likely to break a rule is one of the kiddos who repeats the rules. This comes in handy if you can catch them just in time. For instance, as the kiddo begins to put their hands on the iPad to lift it up, catch them and say, “Hey buddy, what did you tell us the rule was again?” Before the poor wanna-be iPad lifter can get any movement at all, he repeats the rule and takes his hands off. I smile and say, “Thanks for remembering, smart friend.” Works (almost) every time!
The big buddies are called one at a time to get iPads and meet their kindergarten buddy to play the Sorting and Counting game. The second graders teach the kindergartners how to use the app, including how to touch the same-colored or same-shaped items to get a count to help students match the quantity with the numerals on the right side of the screen. (This practice of tapping the similar items to get a count is especially helpful for students who do not yet have number recognition. It's helpful to point students' attention to the last item touched and the number that appeared.)
As I circulate around the room, I notice that some second grade buddies are struggling to tell their buddies what to do. I try to point out situations for buddies to correct, such as, “Hmm. Your buddy seems to be having trouble sliding from the number to the shape. What can you suggest?”
A checklist is included if you would like to collect data during this activity. Unless you have the smallest class in the world, you will need to make a couple copies of the checklist so you have a line for each student, but the checklist can help you track data on sorting skills, counting skills, and even appropriate iPad behavior!
After a two-minute warning, clean up time is signaled by a song.
I ask the second graders—one table at a time--to bring the iPads over to our iPad cart, while the kindergartners save their buddies a spot at our “meeting spot” on the rug.
“How was that, friends?” I ask,
The kids have a variety of positive answers, like “It was fun!” Some of the future-teacher second graders raise their hands to say something positive and sweet like, “My buddy did a really good job sorting.”
“Aw, what a nice buddy to say that!” I comment. “So tell me again—raise hands please—what kind of sorting did you do this afternoon?”
“iPad sorting!” an enthusiastic kindergartner blurts. Ah, yes, I should have been a bit more specific.
“Yes, you did practice sorting on the iPads. Now let’s see a hand to tell us about the type of sorting you did on your iPads,” I clarify.
I call on a student with a raised hand who answers, “We sorted by color.”
“Absolutely!” I respond. “Tell me more!”
Another student—this time without a raised hand, is selected to tell us that we sorted by shape.
I ask the students about their favorite part of the activity. Some kiddos say they love the iPads, but after the second student says something like, “I liked working with my buddy!” I wrap it up for the day.
Technology and buddies, what more could you ask for? Snacks, maybe?