Monday, September 5, 2011

Laying the Foundation with iPads

This 2nd year with the iPads, I have dedicated time at the beginning to allow students to become familiar with the iPads. I want to give them the opportunity to get "good" at using the apps in smaller projects and activities. In the future, I am predicting that they will be smoother with the app use and integration. So, how did I do this without loosing ground on content and opening activities?

iPad activities

(Days are looking at days iPad used. We use the iPad ALMOST everyday...but, not quite.)

Day One-

  • Overview of storage, charging, iPad names and assignments.
  • Reviewed handling (2 hands at all times).
  • Practiced removing from cart.
  • Completed an app hunt. During the app hunt, I asked students to find the apps by using the iPad search screen. Not complicated, but I was able to help them establish a routine for finding the apps that I wanted to use. Also, I introduced them to the heavy hitters! (Keynote, Pages, Safari, ect.)
  • Learned how to "Kill apps", check for wi-fi, and basic maintanence.
  • Finally, the students learned my phrase, "Flip your lids." That is my command that I use to get students to quickly close covers and give me their attention.

We used this opener day to sign up for edmodo accounts, check out the class page, and learn to use safari.

Day Two-

  • Used site for building our Mystery Skype clues. This site is an easy way to poll, question, and assess students. The teacher secures a "room", and the students join the room to receive the questions.
  • Students also used edmodo to respond to a National Geographic article.

Day Three-

  • Students used a drawing app called "DrawingPad" to create designs of boats that they were going to test in an investigation. This led to us learning how to save to our iPhoto library and how these pictures can be emailed. (I am setting them up for later emailing of work to their google accounts for their electronic portfolio.)

Day Four/Five-

  • iPads were used extensively during our Mystery Skypes. Students were using apps such as: the map app, edmodo, safari, ChirpUSA. Just navigating back and forth through the apps was great practice. And, I was really impressed how students made solid decisions about where to look for clues.

Skype Beginnings from Leah LaCrosse on Vimeo.

Day Six-

  • Edmodo app used to "back channel" during a viewing of TED talk about bioluminescent creatures by Edith Widder.

Day Seven-

  • Camera app and iMovie used to document our boat lab. Only 4 groups completed the lab and movies. Links of completed videos soon...

Science Onvestigations from Leah LaCrosse on Vimeo.

The entire direction that these first weeks have taken is one of viewing the iPad as a resource...not a toy. Using for our research, sharing of ideas, and creation is key. Letting students explore in down time is important as well. Allowing some freedom to check out the fun apps (like World of Goo, Frog Dissection, and more) isn't a negative. Total restriction/direction will not benefit our room in the long run. Get it out of the system, I say!

Upcoming weeks use...

  • Vocabulary review with Mental Case app. I made the first set of cards with my voice, pictures, and words. They get to create the next!
  • Continue use of Edmodo for class discussions, polls, and resource links.
  • Document next investigation (leaf blower and Bernoulli principal) and possibly make class video with iMovie.

The key here (I think) is to let them explore the iPad THROUGH the content. You don't need to go app by app. Go content activity by activity. But, give the time at the beginning to explore.


  1. Thank you for posting about your ipad routines and how you are using them. I have 5 ipads in my room and have struggled to find new meaningful activities. I have some good reliables but am always looking for something new! BTW...I use Edmodo for Skype backchanneling too.

  2. Thank you, Amy! It is such a fun learning process. I love how my students are just as excited as I am.

    The frustration eventually gives way to is like a learning coaster with ups and downs. I think I should give more examples of my downs b/c I have had some epic fail lessons that I have learned a lot from. Trying to do too much, using the iPad for the sake of it, and rushing kids during the "explore" part of the process were my biggest mistakes in the beginning.

    This second year has been even more fun. I keep seeing more and more out there! This is a fun time for learning. :)