Matt over at Digital: Divide & Conquer had a great idea for a link-up--Secrets of the iPad! Looking forward to reading what other bloggers have to say on this topic!
Over the past few years...
First, it was one iPad--owned by me. You might be asking why in the world I would use my personal iPad (not district property) with my kids in the classroom?? The answer is simple--how could I not? At the time, I had introduced the iPad to my two year old grandson, and I saw how amazing and easy to use it was for him, SO I searched for apps that would be good to use with my students and brought it into the classroom. The iPad was used as a center/workstation in those fifth grade days...
The summer following the first school year that I had brought my iPad into the classroom, I took a class that included being able to pick a piece of technology to use with my kids. I chose the iPad 2--didn't take me long to make that decision. :0) Again, I began to use another personal iPad with my students--second graders this time. The kids were still using the ipad as a center/workstation choice and began using it for research writing their non-fiction books.
That same year, I buddied up with another second grade teacher for a new project--iPals.
iPals was a project we designed to get a kindergarten class familiar with using iPads. Why? Their teacher had written a grant for an iPad, so we buddied up to get them ready if, and when, the time came for them to get a classroom iPad. Second graders and kindergarteners paired up in the morning before our morning assembly. This was a great opportunity for second graders to be mentors. BTW the kindergarteners DID get the grant for a classroom iPad!
In the meantime, our parent club purchased a set of 10 iPads to be shared among the classrooms in our building... Yes!
The following year (this past year), my personal iPads were still being used as a center/workstation and research tool. Students also began to use them for listening to reading and word work, a read to self choice, and for graphing. My ultimate goal was to have students begin using the iPads to publish their writing in the form of "ebooks". So I searched for an app they could use to create books that was user friendly and free (or of little cost). I found one (don't even remember the name of the app now) and was delighted. I downloaded the app on my iPads and put in a request to have it downloaded on the school iPads. The day came to begin showing the kids how to maneuver around in the app--iPads were checked out, students were paired up, the app was open, and we were set to go! WELL, the app began to malfunction and I could never get it to work again! Our plans never materialized...
So the search began for a different app for students to use in creating their own books--My Story. I look forward to trying this app with my kids this school year, MAYBE (see HELP! below). The plan is to use iPads to publish explanatory writing in the form of non-fiction e-books...
Some Helpful Tips:
"Two Hands Please!": I require my kids to always use two hands when transporting iPads. No carrying them like a waitress with a pizza pie, and no pinching them on the corner and carrying them like a spiral notebook. My second graders do a FABULOUS job with this after the first week or so!
Invest in Headphone Jacks: Kids always want to buddy up, and why not?? This is a great time for kids to work together and interact with an app or text on the iPad. I have purchased two-person jacks at Radio Shack, and I also have a couple of five-person jacks (Belken brand) for kids to use when using the iPad as a listening device.
Always Plan Ahead: Check that things are working ahead of time! I'm not saying this will eliminate all problems. After all, it did not help in the situation I explained above... BUT, 9 times out of 10 it really does make all the difference.
Model, Model, Model: Don't assume, just because kids are coming up in this amazing digital age, that they know (or can easily figure out) how to use the device. Modeling is really important--and use those kids that are proficient as go-tos when students are working independently and someone needs a hand.
Organize Apps: I like simply organize apps into folders. I also have a folder labeled Teacher Only. The folder does not contain inappropriate apps, it just contains those apps that are not useful for students. This is where I move my Settings icon.
Teach Kids to Close Apps: Teach kids to close out open apps when they are finished using the device. It is a snap to press the "Home" button twice, hold, and close all of the apps that are open. This helps save battery life!
Just a FEW Suggested Apps for Young Kids (PreK - 2nd Grade):
Anything created by Duck, Duck, Moose
Monkey Preschool, Wordschool, and Mathschool -- Apps created by THUP Games
Storia - Scholastic ebooks -- Free books offered periodically
National Geo Kids Apps - All are excellent
Audible.com -- Subscription required--Users get a free credit for a purchase each month and reasonably price audio books for kids (adults, too)
I recently discovered an app called Book Creator for the iPad. It is pricier than My Story, but it looks wonderful. Does anyone have experience using this app with younger kids? I would love to hear your feedback... Thank you!
Fly on over to Matt's blog to read more secrets!