Thursday, October 30, 2014

Big Universe iPad App

Big Universe has been a great resource since the beginning of East Noble School Corporation's digital conversion. It has worked especially well for our second through sixth graders as it supplies a wealth of non-fiction texts pertaining to topics that interest elementary students. This is especially handy as it is often hard for younger students to perform research online and understand the reliability of online resources. Big Universe provides that reference point to help them determine the accuracy of other online materials.

Allowing teachers to quickly assign and distribute digital content to students contributes to the success of Big Universe. Teachers use it for differentiated instruction as they can select texts based upon multiple reading leveling tools and check off which students should receive it. Training students to use the reading level resources was equally advantageous for teachers as students were able to find books that are "just right" for them.

This year, East Noble's kindergarten and first grade students have transitioned from an iPod touch to an iPad. In reality, Big Universe is very new to my kindergarten and first grade teachers as the product was found to be too difficult for primary students to navigate on a smaller device.

The iPad app provides great opportunity for students as they have a streamlined the user experience. With the app, sorting through reading levels and searching for topics is super simple. The catch with the combination of searching for topics and reading levels simultaneously is that one must start with searching for the topic. Otherwise the user loses the search filters based upon reading level.

Another great feature of the app is that it keeps the user signed into Big Universe. This may not seem that significant of a factor, but when you are dealing with primary classrooms, using an app that keeps students signed in is a time and frustration saver. To top it all of, users can even download texts for offline use. This allows students taking devices home to have access to class sets of texts without the Internet. It also is a good idea to have a few texts downloaded offline just in case the school network decides to go down in the middle of your literacy instruction.

Want to know more? I have a quick tutorial on all of these features with the Big Universe iOS app. Check it out and get your students signed on it!