iPads Are GO!

Categories: The Classroom
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Published on: November 1, 2011

Our iPads have iOS 5 loaded up, new cases, a preliminary set of apps, and they’re going into students’ hands!

We started simple with high school students last week, where the freshman class used the iPads as part of their Career Cruising work. We brought 50 students into the lab, put 25 of them on computers, and then surprised the other 25 with the iPads.

The morning went very well, and the site worked just fine on Safari on the iPads. The students enjoyed being able to spread out and to work in small groups rather than being confined to the computer tables, and when their work was finished they were able to explore the iPad, watch YouTube videos, and generally use them for leisure time. There were several instances of two or three students gathered around an iPad to share.

This week, the iPads went to the elementary school, and the kindergarten class has already begun using them in their small group “centers” at the end of the day.

iPad Center
Mrs Betts works with the students and their iPads

It surprises me how unafraid the students are of the iPad. They immediately start tapping and touching and swiping, and as we hoped, they understand the interface almost by instinct. We have apps for grades K-3 loaded up at the moment, and each child was quick to find their favorite game.

Teacher Assist
Mrs Betts observes a student's phonics game

The popular apps so far appear to be a pair of phonics games (ABC Pocket Phonics Lite and Dot-to-Dot ABCs), with a Halloween Puzzle and Toy Story close behind. Many students playing or working in the other centers around the room often stopped by to look over their classmates’ shoulders, and they were all happy to share and show off their work.

Kindergarten iPad
One student, already familiar with the iPad, shows her friend how it works

One lesson I did learn is to be sure to set the slider switch on the side to Lock Rotation. The students picked up the iPads frequently and were confused when the orientation kept changing. (To be fair, it stumped two of the adult helpers, too!) Once I made the change and helped them lock it down, they were good to go. Turning the screen to read better is a natural movement for them, and they were much faster at it than the accelerometer could cope with.

In general, the teacher is already very pleased with the results. Mrs Betts is one of the members of our iPad team, and she is already seeing many more possibilities for the iPad in her classroom, even just using five of them in a small group setting.

I will continue to work with her class this week, and I expect the other classes will be exploring the iPads soon. Later this month they will go to a high school class in a 1:1-type setting.

Exciting times for our district!

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