FAQ’s about iPads in the Classroom

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. -Benjamin Franklin

We have had several visitors from other school districts over the past few months, interested in seeing iPads at work in the classroom.  From those visits and other questions posed on this blog, I am posting today some frequently asked questions. Hopefully it will help many of you as you navigate the early waters of incorporating iPads into your classroom.

  • How did you get the money to pay for the iPads?

My school district re-purposed funds that were originally designated for replacing computers in our classrooms.  These funds were for technology modernization and rather than purchase 2 computers per class, we piloted iPads.

  • iPads vs other hand-held tablets

Clearly, iPads is my answer.  They are game-changers. They are versatile, easy to use, backed by Apple and there are tons of educational apps available for use.  Having access to the internet is critical…these are more than just e-readers.

  • How often do you use the iPads each day?

All throughout the day for a variety of activities, small group, whole group, and individual. My main focus of use is to increase achievement in literacy.

  • What if the kids get tired of them or bored with them?

OK, seriously?  They are not toys.  They are learning tools that are essential to 21st century learning skills.  If teachers teach using best practices, kids will never be bored with them.

  • How do you get the work off of the iPads?

Legit question here…it’s not always been easy.  We are still unable to email from the iPads.  The best work around at this point for me is Simple Transfer app.  Anything that can be saved to the camera roll can be transferred off of the iPad.  My other option is PaperPort Anywhere.  My kids can save work to their folders on the PaperPort app.  I can access it, print, save or email work.  I’m excited that Pages now uploads to PaperPort!

  • How often do you have breakage or damage?

In 14 months of iPad usage with 3 different kindergarten classes: ZERO. They are very careful with them and I make sure we model and teach iPad procedures regularly.

  • What are your must-have apps?

Ah….these change as I come into new apps.  Currently, I love Montessori Crosswords (ELA), Park Math (Math), Pages, Book Creator, Simple Transfer, and Whiteboard. Oh…and Starfall.  Ok, making myself stop right there.

  • How often do you sync?

In the first few months of using them, A LOT.  I was constantly finding new apps and was a syncing mad woman.  Currently, not so much.  I will sync books or photos if I want them all to have them.  I use my class wiki to get work to student iPads and they then upload to PaperPort to get them back to me.

  • What do you like most about iPads in the classroom?

What’s not to love? I can’t imagine ever teaching without them.  They take learning to a whole new level with personalized instruction.  Being able to meet each student where they are instructionally is priceless.  With 25-30 students each year, I need all of the instructional support I can get.  iPads make it possible to differentiate instruction every day.

  • Are there any drawbacks?

As to the use of the iPads: absolutely none.  The only thing that could be a drawback is the cost of apps when you multiply it out over an entire class or school.  Get your PTA involved.  Hold fundraisers, donate blood (kidding, sort of) whatever it takes to bring in some extra money for those apps.

So there you are…hopefully this provided some insight into using iPads in a 1:1 classroom.  It can seem overwhelming, but it really is manageable.  My students, even at age 5, are quite capable with these devices.  The investment is worth the cost to reach every learner every day.

I’d love for you to leave a comment, subscribe to my blog, and/or share this post with a friend.

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PaperPort Anywhere

Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up. -A. A. Milne

One of the few challenges we have faced in implementing iPads has been the inability to get work off of the iPad.   Our district network is not set up to allow student email at this time, although I hear it is in the works.  Teachers are able to send email but students are not.  Dropbox is also not available as an option through our network. There are times when I have photographed student work with my iPad camera so that it is on my iPad.  We have also set up class wikis so that we can upload items to the wiki for a variety of uses.

On PaperPort, I have created a variety of folders.  Each child has a folder and I have a folder for images as well as iBooks that I have created on iBooks Author. The original account is created online at the PaperPort website. The PaperPort App is free and is downloaded on each student iPad.  As students create work or books to be saved, they choose to open the document in PaperPort and upload it to their folder.  It’s very simple and my kindergarten students can all do it themselves.  They are also able to go into the PaperPort app and download books that I’ve uploaded into their own iBooks libraries.

From Paperport, I am able share documents with parents or administrators as needed.  The iBooks I have created, I have shared with my grade-level team through PaperPort.  They simply go to the folder and download it to their student iPads.  This app makes it easy to scan, organize and share documents.

With a classroom full of busy children, we all need a little easy!

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The Experts Speak

Everyone’s an expert. -Seth Godin

My very seasoned kindergartners are total iPad experts.  They know all the tricks.  They are able to put apps in folders, search for apps quickly using the search screen, save images from the internet, import images into a Pages document, save the document on PaperPort, take a screen shot, use the camera, save a document as  PDF, and if I would let them, they could probably order a pizza from Pizza Hut or a movie from Netflix.  As with all experts, they love to share what they know with others.  In their own words, they are sharing their advice for using iPads with next year’s kindergarten students and with you.

Always carry the iPad with two hands for safetyness.-Jason age 6

Never pick your nose and touch the iPad screen. That is gross. -Hagan age 6

Keep the volume on low or the teacher takes it away. -Parker Jane age 6

It is never ok to stomp on the iPad or throw it. -Kade age 6

There are lots of cool apps and you can learn very lots.-Amantay age 6

You will like the iPad so much you will want one for Christmas, but your parents will say no.  -Ella age 5

Don’t share your ear buds with anyone because your earwax is disgusting. -Jacob age 6

There were more, but these are the highlights.  They also had good things to say about how they can read a lot on the iPad, write stories, use it for learning new things, work on projects with other students, learn math and science, and blog with others.  Can you imagine being a 5 or 6 year old, and already know how to do the things these children can do? Next year in first grade, they will continue to grow in their skills and knowledge.

With all of this wonderful technology, comes responsibility.  Just as we aren’t gaining all of our adult knowledge from our smart phones, laptops and mobile devices, our students also need to learn from multiple sources.  Social skills, responsible behavior, courtesy, manners, and interpersonal relationships aren’t learned on the iPad.  Teachers and parents are role models for our children.  We still need to take our children outside and show them nature, curl up and read real books together, play board games together, ask children what they think and why they think that, model appropriate electronic device manners (put it away when you are at dinner or having a personal conversation), and model how and when it is appropriate to use technology.  While my students are very knowledgeable on the workings of the iPad and they are gaining 21st century skills in kindergarten, my role is more important than ever.

Being an expert often means someone who knows a lot about the past.  Moving into the future, means we all learn together.  Technology changes by the millisecond.  I have no doubt that my students will be on top of every advancement.  I just hope I can keep up!

I’d love for you to leave a comment, subscribe to my blog, and/or share this post with a friend.