Monday, February 25, 2013

1 iPad? Seriously? What can I do with 1 iPad?

1 iPad? Seriously? What can I do with 1 iPad?

I run into this question sometimes when working with groups or individuals with the iPad. Some schools choose to pilot the iPad by starting with the teacher getting a device and going from there. I'm ok with that method. For some, that may be the toe dipping into the water method, and it may work for them.

Honestly, I'm a jump right into the pool. (Or, push one of your best friends into the pool with an iPhone in his pocket. Ha! @glarizza) I love to explore with the pressure added. Not everyone likes that method.

And, there is a large population of educators that would probably go for the in between method. Give them a teacher iPad and a supporting cast of 5-10 iPads, and they would be thrilled!

Regardless of what we want and are most comfortable with, some times the decisions are made without us. That being said...this post is thinking of the iPad as 1 device only. Even though I have a class set, many times I will narrow down the use to 1 or a group of 5. There is SO much you can do in these environments to bump up the engagement

This chart shows apps that I have used and can recommend for a variety of grade levels/content. I identify my thought with ways to use as well. Honestly, you could shift these apps around based on your needs, creativity, and student population!

Also, these are a couple of suggestions before rolling out any apps...

  • Test out the app yourself, then with a student or two. If the app passes your test, and the student gives it a thumbs up, it usually is a winner.
  • Have a way to share your iPad screen...whatever works for you. Reflector Software on your computer (hooked up to your projector), Apple TV, or a VGA cord. (There are more ways. These are the 3 that I can attest to.)
  • Be OK deleting an app. You will come across a variety of apps that are CRAPTASTIC. They look like they will be good. You may even think that they will be good. But, they fail. Period. Delete.
  • Start with your content or goal. Don't use an app just for the sake of using it. Even if it comes highly recommended, it may not be what you, your content, and your student need.
  • When using an app with students, THINK ALOUD. Model problem solving and thought process. Trust me...just like modeling solid reading skills, students need to see modeling of thinking skills and technology problem solving. It will pay off later!
Ok...enough. Now, how do you use 1 iPad?

Camera- Document, document, document. You will probably use those pics and videos later! Your class will make books, videos, and cartoon strips together. And, there is nothing more engaging than using your own image in a creative piece!

Photo library/Albums- I love using the album feature on my iPad. Whenever I am gearing up for a new content, I save images from google into my photos. Then, I build albums to use for discussion points, warm ups, projects, and review. Right now we are covering, those albums are made. I also have pictures of warm up and cool questions to use.

iBooks- Read aloud anyone? You can even model reading/thinking skills by adding notes and highlighting.

So far, these are all apps that are pre-loaded. Now, here are a handfull that I can see teachers walking around the classroom using, handing off to a student, having a single student use, and having small groups explore.

iMovie- The mileage that you will get off of a $5 app is amazing. The quality and ease of use is unbelievable. Videos can be shared many different ways, and the review potential with those videos is powerful! There are many tutorials available, but just diving in is pretty cool, too. I would model this one as a whole class activity and problem solve and think aloud together. When you want students to become the "independent film maker", the problem solving you did earlier will resonate!

ScribblePress or CreativeBookBuilder- Both apps will get you into book building. It just depends what level you are interested in. Scribble press is primarily picture and text. Very solid app. Lots of choices, not overwhelming though. Creative Book Builder allows the creator to add video, URL links, and audio clips to the pictures and text. Both apps allow for sharing and later review. I love reviewing our content with our books in iBooks, and the students do too! FYI- When we build books...we PREWRITE. I want the best work my students can do, and prewriting is an integral part of the process. So, passing out a template for prewriting is a scaffold that I provide. We also build a book together, then they work in teams, then independently...scaffold! (Both apps are around $5.)

MentalCase- Starting off class with a review of content vocabulary, famous faces, key concepts, or ANYTHING is pretty powerful. And, this is a flashcard app that goes beyond the norm. By having student voices and drawings/pictures with each card, you automatically engage the student even more. Building the cards can occur by passing around the iPad or using in a center. Sharing the cards can happen on the big screen. And, you can build suitcases for the specific content. This screen shot shows you the cards we are working on...electricity. The students used my iPad to take pics and use web pics to add. They recorded their voices reading the prompts and definitions. Pretty cool review the next day! Class edition is FREE!

Educreations- This is my recordable white board of choice...for now. ;) I use this app to record lessons, while streaming to the projector (for review and absent students). I ask students to record ideas (preassess, assess). This is a great app for sharing ideas, and students LOVE to hear their voices! The ability to change colors is huge for student comprehension. You need to set up an account. But, this is great for later storage. I also model the use of this app and require PREWRITING! FREE!

iTalk Recorder Premium- At $2, I have definitely gotten mileage out of this app. I love to use it for recording student answers, recording myself reading a passage for the students, and recording group work sessions with students. The ability to email and drop into dropbox is nice, too. I can easily drop the reading passing file into dropbox for any student that needs a little audio support. Or, I can email a student recording for a test to myself for later review. Sweet!

Popplet- An oldie, but goodie! I love the way you can use this app to brainstorm in a whole class session, one on one with a student, or in small groups. Using color, pictures, and text, you can map out a ton of great ideas! Very easy to use AND versatile! I use this app when creating my lesson plans to think through all my resources and content. You can share as a PDF or image file to your photo library...or email. Love it! $5

So, for $17 (ish), you have a suite of apps that can be used with the whole class, small groups, one-on-one, and just passing the iPad around. Pretty good! Remember when software was far beyond that for 1 program. YIKES! Now, you have all these wonderful ways to engage students. With use, familiarity will grow. Soon, you will be roaming the room with the iPad flipping in and out of apps...rotating uses and students, and you will be amazed at the productivity. (Doesn't happen immediately. Just like anything worth doing, it takes a little practice.)

So, final thought...
There are a ton of app lists out there. I have several roaming around! It really goes back to how YOU, YOUR STUDENTS, and YOUR CONTENT fit. Maybe cartoons or cartoon strip making is more your stride. There are wicked cool apps for that, including Toontastic and StripDesigner. Maybe music is your area...Garage Band. Period. And, the number of really good games for skill acquisition is growing exponentially. So, start somewhere. Find your fit.


  1. I was just speaking about you to my administrator and mentioning your Problem/Solution post. This one is great too - not sure why I am so reluctant to get things rolling. I do LOVE Educreations and need to use it more. I let the kids use it to review what we read in small groups. They like added their voice and notes. This can be used in so many ways.

    Looking forward to checking out some of the others you mention!

    Once again you have inspired me to get those iPads rolling and into the hands of my students!!!

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great breakdown of what to use in the classroom when only relying on one iPad instead of each student having their own. You may be interested in checking out this article on using iPads in the classroom, which includes presenting from an iPad: