Flashcards on an iPad or Old School?

A non-teacher friend asked me an intriguing question the other day regarding reading. “Do you think we should use flashcards on the iPad or go old school?” I found my answer after reading Lane Smith‘s board book, It’s a Little Book.  

Quick book summary:  Monkey is reading a book and his donkey friend does not know what a book is or its purpose. The donkey goes through a list asking if the book can text, email, tweet, blog, scroll or is wi-fi capable. Monkey states repeated no’s, hands donkey the book, donkey reads a little, and still thinks it has to be charged at the end. 

The board book ends with “It’s a book, silly,” but the hardcover states it more clearly. “It’s a book, jackass. “

Oh, Technology.

Funny? Yes. Scary? Yes. Sure, Smith’s book is perhaps what the future holds for many of our students, but what about those who didn’t understand the book after it was read in class because digital tablets and computers aren’t plugged in at their house? Is technology another component that widens the success gap in education? It can be. 

As teachers we focus on grade-level mastery in reading, math, science, and writing skills, but does the 21st Century skill of technology and its endless components make the cut in a classroom with one computer for 30 students? No, it doesn’t. I can provide pencils and Post-Its, but my hoarder ways cannot pull off computers. I’m left with many questions. 

  • Will it make a difference if my students read books without swiping a screen to turn pages? 
  • How do I provide equal opportunities with technology in my classroom with limited resources?
  • Can access to technology tools serve as a means to gain educational advantages or hurt in the end? Is a student more likely to go to college because they have had more access to technology?
  • How do we help parents use technology as a teaching tool and not as a babysitter?

 Have any answers? Old school or iPad?


Molly Reed

Molly Reed

Tucson, Arizona

My classroom teaching experience has been in Tucson’s urban public schools with grades first through fifth. Beginning my eleventh year of teaching, I am the Outdoor Learning Coordinator at a Project Based Learning primary school. I am a National Board Certified Teacher (ECGen) with a BA in Elementary Education and MA in Teaching and Teacher Education from the University of Arizona.

My introduction to teaching occurred during a National Outdoor Leadership School semester which led me to work as an outdoor educator traveling throughout the United States and South America. I am interested in connecting with other educators and those interested in the changes in schools with education policy.

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