Sunday, June 24, 2012

1:1 iPads In A Third Grade Classroom

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On Tuesday, June 19th, 2012, I attended iPadpalooza at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas. This conference about all things iPad in education was co-sponsored by Eanes ISD and TCEA.


Laura Wright, a third grade teacher at Eanes Elementary School, gave a wonderful presentation with many practical tips for implementing the use of 1:1 iPads in an elementary setting. Ms. Wright used the iPads in her classroom during the 2011-2012 school year. Each student had access to an iPad, but the devices did not go home with the students.

On her website, Ms. Wright provided a synopsis of all of her tips in a downloadable document. She also posted a video which gives you a peek into daily life in her classroom. You should check these out; this teacher knows her stuff and I learned a great deal of practical, useful information from her.

Practical Tips for Using iPads in the Classroom (My Notes from the Presentation)

During the presentation, Ms. Wright asked us to download an app called Nearpod, which is a relatively new app. Free. Using this app, students see on their iPad a presentation which is being sent out from the teacher's iPad. Students cannot advance the presentation because the teacher is in control of the presentation. Nearpod can deliver tests and videos  and also be used to take polls. There were some glitches with Nearpod during the session, but Ms. Wright says overall it has worked well and is still a new app that is continuously improving.

Ms. Wright stressed that you need classroom routines in place before using iPads.

In the classroom, students use textbook stands for their iPads. They use the small size of these stands.This keeps the iPads out of way of other student materials. But keeps iPads on desks all day so as not to lose teachable moments.

In presenter's classroom, students get all their materials out in the morning and randomly go to iPad cart to get their iPad out. (Don't create a line of kids at the cart!)

Keep iPad in textbook stand on inside corner of desk. Less chance of iPad getting knocked on the floor.

Plug ear buds into iPad all day long even if they aren't used: keeps iPads muted when using apps. Use a hanging wall chart w/pockets to keep ear buds organized.

Ms. Wright does not recommend using iPad on flat surface because students can't type and have eyes on teacher at the same time.

"Grab and close" to get students to get out of an app. iPad cover needs to be closed so you know the students are listening.

If you have snacks in your classroom, if you can get junk on your iPad from your snacks or has any liquid, it can't be on the desk with the iPads.

Selected students called "Tech Teachers" help peers in classroom. Teacher does not need to know everything about every app.

Took an hour a day to explore apps with students during the first week of school. Ask individual tech savvy students to investigate an app for you before you decide to use it with all of the students.

Use collaboration and let students help each other. There will be movement in your classroom.  An atmosphere of learning and collaboration will evolve. Exciting if you allow collaboration to happen.

Personalize! Give them control to change their screen savers. Ms. Wright noticed students would change their screen savers throughout the year based on what unit of study was going on. Students will take more ownership and better care of the iPads if it is personalized.

Ban the word "play" as in we are going to "play" with the iPads today. Distinguish between home use of personal devices and school use of this iPad.

Use art programs for math warm-ups every day. Let students share their favorite art program. If they are more comfortable with an app, they will use it better and learn better.

Post QR codes around the room for search engines and large units of study. Create a safe path to Internet sites! (This works well with a small group of iPads too if you are using them in a center.)

Presenter says since she's had iPads she has not set foot in a computer lab.

Settings & Apps Ms. Wright Recommends:


In iPad Settings go to General - Accessibility - Multiple settings to help kids with special needs (or anyone). Turn on AssistiveTouch - can create new gestures for someone with motor issues. But Assistive touch in general puts a home button on your iPad screen. You can rotate, lock screen, etc.


Ms. Wright has a single email address/iTunes account assigned to all of her iPads. Uses that to download apps and it goes simultaneously to all iPads in the classroom


A Fact Every Day - App that engages Kids.

Glow Draw - favorite drawing app for math warmups. Black screen and glowing colors for doing the warm-ups.

Math Bingo - Consistently rated as a top math app. Uses every day for skill building and saw improvement in test scores. Has kids use this during warm-up time each day and record their scores so they can improve their score each day.

Arcademics - students can play racing learning games and compete against each other. Most are 99 cents but sometimes they come up for free.

Scribble Press - Another drawing app. Includes built in books you can create from.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also be interested in my previous posts on teacher experiences and student experiences in 1:1 iPad classrooms.
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