CMS using iPad apps to teach English Learners

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) likes using apps on iPads to help English Learners read and write English.

Last year CMS says there were 17,210 students who were English Learners, students who use English as a second language. This year that number jumped to 19,794. Educators say using the apps makes the difference.

"The apps help them with their communication skills because the apps - they can hear themselves - how they sound when they are reading. They can hear how they are speaking and they know if they sound well or not," Montclaire Elementary School teacher Sarah Pinti-Robinson said.

Robinson says the old way to teach English Learners was by book. The new way allows students to use different apps to explain stories they have read and understand vocabulary words. The apps range from students able to make movies to students recording themselves speaking.

"They get to experience teamwork and problem solving and critical thinking, and they communicate not only with their iPads and the apps and their final projects, but with me and their partners," Robinson said.

Teachers say it is important to use all the technology that is available to instruct English Learners.

"We made a podcast with 4th graders in their classrooms and the kids thought it was really cool to make podcasts," Robinson said.

Recently Robinson and her students shared how to implement the apps in the classrooms with other educators. She says the feedback was good.

"I did get several follow-up emails from coworkers throughout the district who are really impressed," Robinson said. "They are constantly asking, 'how do you get your students to speak in complete sentences?'"

CMS says federal dollars are paying for this type of learning. Robinson says when it comes to academic achievement, some of her students are not performing on grade-level yet, but have experienced tremendous growth.

"They get to be creative," Robinson said. "And it makes it so much more memorable. I find that it sticks."

CMS now wants to implement this type of learning with high school students during the summer months.

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