Five teacher-approved apps for building foundational skills.
I spoke with August Deshais, a Common Sense Education Certified EdTech Mentor and all around superstar teacher, about his pedagogical style and his five favorite classroom tools. Here's what he had to say!
How would you describe your teaching philosophy?
As a kindergarten teacher, one of my main goals is to help students acquire the foundational skills necessary for successful lifelong learning. A love of reading, expressive writing, and sound math reasoning begin early, and remain important throughout our lives.
What do you look for when trying out new tools in your classroom?
When selecting a new tech tool for my students, the first things I consider are developmental appropriateness and sound pedagogical approach. If I can’t imagine teaching in a manner similar to an app, it has no place in my classroom. A quality app also offers students the opportunity to reinforce skills in an intentionally structured setting that encourages a gradual increase in independent practice, while inviting repeated play.
What's your top five?
Clean graphics and ease of use are hallmarks of Montessorium apps, and Intro to Letters is no exception. Although hands-on use of Montessori materials is always preferred, this app is a fun and useful substitute.
This is a perennial hit in my classroom. Students willingly revisit this app throughout the year because of the playful graphics, and I encourage them to do so thanks to the letter formation practice and phonics reinforcement.
Letter identification, phonics, and building a robust, academic-oriented vocabulary earn Endless Alphabet a place in my Top Five. Just beware if your devices lack earphones: Each letter has a unique "voice" when selected, and some, such as Y, are powerful earworms.
Gappy, a happy, jelly-bean-shaped rabbit, guides players on a spelling adventure across ravines from a dark forest to the surface of the moon, and back. Students build phonics skills by completing CVC words requiring an increasing amount of independence, earning new decorations for Gappy’s house along the way.
Catchy songs and mini-games integrated into the stories keep students exploring even after many readings. Check out the website for downloadable material to practice the same skills when screen time is over.
Want to be featured in a future Teacher's Top Five post? Tweet me (@fearv) a link to your Common Sense Education Collection featuring your five favorite tools. Make sure to include the hashtag #teacherstopfive.