The Learning Librarian

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When You Give a Pre-Schooler an iPad…

on February 1, 2013

For my first reading analysis, I thought that looking at the School Library Journal would be a good place to start. I have never explored this journal before, and was pleased to discover a website chock-full of useful information (www.slj.com.) The user-friendly website truly provides everything I could ever imagine needing as a librarian: job postings, book reviews, lists of book award winners, curriculum, lesson plans, technology tools, and links to dozens and dozens of blogs and articles. After much exploring, I followed links and found myself at a very interesting article from the journal, which can be found at http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2012/05/k-12/etots-a-public-library-ipad-program-for-preschoolers/. Though I am not planning on teaching pre-school forever, I am currently interested in how everything I am learning about libraries (and the related topics of literacy and technology) can be implemented with younger students, and to what extent they should be utilized. Many people imagine middle or high school students when they think about students using technology, but it isn’t just them anymore. Just today, a 4-year-old in my class brought to school the iPad he got for his birthday, sparking a serious debate amongst the class.

“You’re not allowed to have an iPad; they’re only for grown-ups,” one child announced.

“No,” retorted another, “my sister has one and she’s 10.”

“I have one,” said a third student. “But I can only use it in the car.”

“I use mine all the time,” a fourth chimed in.

I tried to explain that every family is different. Just like we all have different rules that we follow at home, we all have different iPad rules, too. Some of us are allowed to have them and some aren’t. Some are allowed to play on them often, others aren’t. Already, at three/four years old, I see some children extremely proficient with technology, but I worry that they think the only purpose it has is for playing Angry Birds/related solely-for-entertainment games. The article I read, “ETots: a Public Library iPad Program for Preschoolers” tells the story of a librarian who decided to purchase iPads and incorporate them in storytime for one and two-year-olds and their caregivers. However, after noticing the children’s extremely short attention spans – and how her “silly, high-energy songs” did not fit in with the use of iPads – she decided to alter the program and invite three and four-year-olds instead. During her sessions, she reads a book to the children who follow along on their iPads. Then, they spend some time exploring educational apps. The author concludes by elaborating on her future plans. Not only will she continue her class (there is a waiting list to enroll for the once-a-month class), she is also planning programs that will allow six-to-eight-year-olds to write their own books on iPads and tweens go to on a Titanic Adventure. The opportunities, she says, are endless.

While I enjoyed this article, it did not go as in-depth as I would have liked. It paints a picture of a very well-run, creative program, but does not discuss the pros/cons of offering a class like this to such young children. However, I learned that educational iPad use with young children IS possible, and I could use this article to help convince colleagues who are wary. With all of the debate over iPads in general, it would be nice for students to all have the opportunity to see one up-close and learn more about ALL they can do (i.e., not just Angry Birds.) I would love to bring at least one in to my class and have a little mini-demonstration. That way, the students would be on more of an even playing field. Those who have never seen an iPad would be exposed, and those who use one all the time would learn some additional uses.

Returning to my discussion of the School Library Journal as a whole, I would like to say again what a phenomenal resource I think it is, and not just for me. There are literally articles on everything even remotely related to library, and I think students could easily access the information due to the clear format of the site. This could be an extremely reliable source for older students conducting research on a specific topic or looking for a variety of opinions. Because the Journal’s website offers links to dozens of blogs, students learning about information literacy have a wonderful opportunity to locate, investigate and process information. I like this Journal because it has something for everyone – parents, teachers, librarians, students, and communities as a whole. It is a great resource that everyone can share, thereby encouraging the discussion and teacher/student/parent/librarian collaboration that many librarians seek.

Also: I am on Google Reader! I’ve been curious about RSS Feeds for awhile, so I’m glad we’re required to subscribe. I’m here: http://www.google.com/reader/view/?hl=en&tab=wy&at=K2v1R-A825ncdDknsaG2lg#overview-page

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