Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Cat in the Hat Comes Back...Again

Short and sweet today. This has nothing to do with using the iPad in my classroom (a high school English class, by the way), but everything to do with iPads and education. In the picture is my three year old reading The Cat in the Hat.

I'm not going to put quotes around the word "reading" when writing about kids reading ebooks any more. There is no doubt in my mind that she was learning how to read the way a three year-old does when she is fully engaged with a book.

The book reads a page to her, highlighting each word as it goes. Then the page becomes interactive; she can touch objects and the word pops up. Moreover if the object is one of the words in the text, the word will slide from the text over the object. This is meant to help the reader associate printed words with things, and I could tell it was working. Look at what she started doing, on her own, after each page was read to her:

She deliberately touched each word (in order) to hear it spoken again. Then, when I asked her which word was "Hi", she diligently hunted for it until she found it.

I don't know how clearly she associated printed words with spoken words before, but I can say she definitely gets it now. And she gets it more clearly than she would with a printed book. When I read to her, I try to point to the words as I say them, but am only really successful half the time. Often I get lazy or she gets tired of me obscuring the pictures. Here, the iPad does the pointing and makes the connections for her.

I know I sound heretical: an English teacher favoring an ebook over printed matter. I probably sound objectionable too: a parent favoring the pre-recorded book to the father-daughter read aloud. But technologies change and, sometimes, make life better. There were those who scorned the use of paper rather than stone. After all, paper burns so easily, why would you want to keep permanent records on it? This new medium may be the game changer.

(By the way, I will still read to my child, have no fear. Even if the iPad is better--jury's still out on that one--I'm too selfish to give up story time with my girl!)

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