We spoke to teacher and education consultant for the Breteau Foundation, Thandekile Ngema about using mobile apps in the classroom. She shared some great advice for teachers wanting to add a tech element to their classrooms.
1. Tell us about yourself and your background?
I am a teacher by profession. After five years of being in the intermediate and senior phase classrooms, I took a decision to go into education consulting. This space not only allowed me to broaden my experience, but also my reach. As a consultant I have worked with learners and teachers from Grade R-12 as well as teachers in training.
2. What is the Breteau Foundation?
The Breteau Foundation is a charitable organisation; which partners with primary schools across the developing world to provide disadvantaged children and teachers with digital technology (hardware + software), training, and locally relevant educational resources to improve academic engagement and inspire lifelong learning in children. We train teachers on how to use the hardware and software and support with integrating it in the classroom. We have currently partnered with 56 schools worldwide, and 20 of these schools are spread across 3 of the provinces in South Africa. In South Africa our focus is on Grade R – 3 teachers and learners.
3. What are your top 5 apps for foundation phase and senior phase teachers to use in their classroom and why?
That is a difficult question because every app serves its own purpose. At the Breteau Foundation we take time in selecting the apps that we use and we categorise them into four folders viz; Literacy, Numeracy, Critical thinking and Toolbox. In this way teachers have a variety of apps that they can use across the curriculum and since we train the teachers on how to use the apps. I have come to love each and every app as it has it’s own special features that sets it apart from the rest.
4. What advice can you give to teachers who have never used tech in their lesson planning but want to?
Start small in the beginning. Find an app that will allow learners to learn while they play but that also does not need a lot of instruction from you as a teacher such as the Xander apps. You can then slowly start moving towards one that allows your learners to be creative for example Book Creator. It is important for us as teachers to accept that we don’t always have the correct answer or the best answer. The learners may be able to do more on the app than we can and they may just also teach us a thing or two.
Apps allow teachers to reach learners on many levels and the more you allow the learners to play the more they learn. Technology does not only allow the learners to learn at their own pace; but it is also a great tool for peer learning as a fellow learner will always have a better way of explaining how a game works than you as the teacher.
5. What is your favourite personal app and why?
Pinterest. I always get so many ideas from here. What I usually do is I take the few ideas that I get there and mash them together to suit my context and needs.