D&E student teacher makes learning fun

Although Ashley Kodluk didn’t have much experience with an iPad, she thought it could be a helpful tool in the classroom. With a little research, the Davis & Elkins College senior from Logan Township, N.J., found some practical and efficient methods for making learning fun during her student teaching program at Third Ward Elementary School in Elkins.

“We (as a class) had discussed the use of iPads in classrooms, and I asked if student teachers could use them,” Kodluk said. “So, the Education Department provided iPads for us to try out.”

As part of a pilot program, nine iPads are available for nursing and education professors at D&E.

Jennifer Tesar, assistant professor of Education, said she and her education students are still learning the different functions of an iPad, and Kodluk’s findings have opened the door to nearly endless possibilities.

“When I gave Ashley the iPad, I said, ‘See what programs are out there and which ones will best meet your needs,'” Tesar said.

Kodluk said she used the Internet to search for application software, more commonly known as apps, and found that the ones she liked best were free.

For example, she has deemed Teacher Kit as “my best friend right now.” The app allows the creation of a seating chart, complete with photos of the students, that Kodluk used to take attendance and behavior notes. She also downloaded a grade book app that helped her organize reports.

Although those apps made it easier for Kodluk to keep track of classroom progress for 22 first-graders and 20 fourth-graders, she says it’s the interactive programs that offer the most educational – not to mention fun – benefits.

Music from iTunes “gets kids up and moving,” while other songs such as “Days of the Week Rap” help “kids learn and keeps their attention,” she adds. “The effects music can have on teaching in your classroom are awesome.”

Kodluk also selected other apps that include spelling and word games, flash cards, and sock puppets to teach writing; puzzles for enhancing sensory integration; and money-counting games to sharpen math skills.

“Kids love it,” she says. “Whether we were participating in stations or as a group, they couldn’t wait to get their hands on an iPad. They wanted to be able to use it every day, so they were very careful with it. I told them if they pick it up, to make sure they used both hands.”

As the semester finished, Kodluk made a presentation to a group of D&E education students, showing them her favorite apps and sharing her classroom experiences. Her prediction is that iPads may become a more commonplace tool for teachers, and she advises future educators to “check out the apps and see what’s good for you.”

Student teaching is the culminating experience in D&E’s teacher education program. Teacher candidates work full-time in public school classrooms under the mentoring of a qualified co-operating teacher. By the end of two seven-week teaching placements, student teachers have gained valuable experience in planning, teaching and managing a classroom.

For more information, please visit the D&E website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.