Use of new technologies, such as the introduction of Ipads into classrooms, is an ever growing phenomenon and teachers and schools need to embrace this as a good resource for enhancing meaning making in early childhood literacy (Jones, 2012). This article was a perfect example of such developments within a primary classroom with a research study conducted by Matthew Jones, the Assistant Principal of Wiley Park Public School, who set out to explore the “impact of play-based learning on language and literacy development” (Jones, 2012). An app that was highlighted significantly within this report and study was the PlaySchool Art Maker, an interactive activity where students tell and retell a story. According to the Jones (2012) article, this app was specifically chosen for the familiar content and characters, as well as for the various features included that further support student engagement, and therefore develop literacy, oral communication and skills such as decision making (p.33). Other important elements evident in the PlaySchool Art Maker is the use of visualising, using the images to create or retell a story. An example of this is when the students would create a story, highlighting the need for an understanding of story sequence, using the characters and props available on the app. Ultimately this understanding of story and narrative, leads to the students comprehension skills.
This leads to the benefits of the Playschool Art Maker app, such as benefitting primary school students in developing literacy, such as viewing skills. Teachers can utilise this app to create a visual story where children explore the images, place them in a sequential order and make meaning, focusing on comprehension of the visuals in a story. Jones (2012) reinforces the importance of this by highlighting that “retelling a narrative is a complex task especially if students do not know how to identify what happened in the beginning, middle and end of a story” (p.135). Digital literacy enables students to directly engage with the grammatical features of different stages of a story by physically manipulating the images and text on the iPad.
After exploring this interactive app, I viewed some other Ipad apps that seem to also be beneficial for primary school classrooms. On app that I explored was Toontastic, an interactive Ipad app used as an outlet for imagination where creativity is completely at play. In this app, students not only benefit by using the technologies itself but through its main purpose of creating characters and developing stories which teach key storytelling principles. Here the students become the artists and writers of their imagination and creativity is enhanced at an early age. Students choose a setting, background music and characters and develop a story by learning of the turning points in a narrative using story events such as setup, conflict, challenge, climax and resolution. Through guiding story structure and capturing narrative play in action this app is perfect for the early years of primary school and opportunities to explore this app technology should be introduced.
Reference:Jones, M. (2012), ipads and kindergarten- students literacy development, SCAN, 31(4), 31-40.