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Teacher Talks: Dara Kappel on using iPads in the classroom and on preparing for the Common Core

Posted by Alex Kurilin on December 16, 2013 at 9:34 PM


This edition of Teacher Talks features Dara Kappel, a fourth grade teacher at Tioga Elementary in Bensenville, Illinois.

How did you hear about Front Row, and how do you use it?

Through my PLN on twitter. I use it during morning work and math stations. I use the printables to reinforce skills being taught or ones that students need more practice with. It is part of my math lesson everyday and the students love working with it. I have shared with my class that this can also be used at home and for those of my students without computers I can always use the printables. I have 6 class iPads and our school has an iPad cart where we can sign out up to 20.

I have a student who is new to our district this year and has been struggling with math. He has been using Front Row during math centers and sometimes during morning work. The best thing about him using it is that he really enjoys it and likes that he can use the tools provided to help him solve the problems. The videos have also been a big help to him.

Tell us about something your class did this year.

We skyped with a class from Louisiana to collaboratively read the Gettysburg Address to commemorate the 150th anniversary. We are also in the process of participating in a Holiday Card Exchange with 30 other classrooms; both of these projects come from Projects by Jen. When I received my list of participants I realized we were paired with a class from Washington, Illinois who were devastated by the recent tornadoes. As a result, my class not only sent them a holiday card but we are collecting donations of coloring books/reading books for the students to bring to them before the holidays for presents.

What are the best ways you’ve found to use your iPads in your classroom?

I use iPads in my classroom for math centers, fluency, research, and comprehension in all subject areas. Everyday during math students rotate through stations and Front Row is one of their favorite stations. Students work on what they need in a fun, engaging way and use other students who have mastered the skill be a resource for them before asking me. This gives me more quality time to work with small groups. When we are working on a reading lesson I integrate text, videos, and quantitative data to help them learn. During a video, students enter a teacher created room on Today’s Meet and discuss what they’re learning about the video with their classmates. I also can pose questions to the class during the video to check for understanding.  For fluency, students use Paperport notes app and take a picture of a reading passage and then record themselves reading. They then can self-assess themselves to see what areas they need to work on and after I listen to their readings I talk about their reading progress during conferring and what they can work on next.

Are you and your school taking any initiatives to prepare for the Common Core?

Our district has been teaching with the Common Core State Standards for the past couple of years. Our ELA curriculum is teacher created and we are one of the first districts to create our own state approved PERA assessments to evaluate student growth. We are also piloting the new PARCC assessment in the Spring using Chromebooks that we are piloting this year for 5th and 7th grade students. In our classrooms we have student friendly “I CAN” statements that are posted and referred to during lessons and examples. Students are aware of their objectives and the reason why they are learning something.

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