iPads in my classroom

I love my iPad – such an obvious thing to say as a teacher, as I know so many people are using them in their daily practice. I have my own personal one, but have also been issued one by my school to use in class. I use them for everything at home; shopping, note-taking, scheduling, banking, research, planning, organisation, writing, listening, watching. But why don’t I have such a range of school uses? It’s such a great resource, so how do I use it more?

At my school we have a bank of iPads to share with other classes and they are not always readily available so I have been increasingly looking for ways I can use my own single iPad effectively in the classroom. Here are some of the ways I’m using it at the moment (beyond web browsing!):

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1) The first use, which you’ve probably all heard of, has been as a visualiser. I’ve recently found Alan Peat’s iVisualiser to be the best way of doing this. I love how you can annotate photos of children’s work easily, and I use AirServer to show this on the IWB. The highlighter tool is helpful for enforcing our pink and green marking policy. The children can also come up to the front and underline areas for improvement or of success. Before this app, I was awkwardly using the camera function, though the children loved it when they’d accidentally get caught in the crossfire and end up projected on the whiteboard!

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2) Another way is to help facilitate the writing process. Some children can find it helpful to use the app to draw their ideas before writing. Why not use paper? Using an app like ShowMe means children can draw slides of pictures, developing their sense of story structure, and these can then be shown to the class via AirServer – my trusted ally! I’ve found this is doubly effective when it has followed storyboard activities, with children arranging parts of a story and then using the iPad to sequence their own.

Apparently ShowMe also provides the opportunity to view other slideshows that people have created and uploaded. I haven’t looked through the options yet but this may be a helpful function for small group activities or extension tasks for high abilities.

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3) Another quick use of my iPad in lessons is as a dictionary or thesaurus. If a child uses a word like ‘nice’, for instance, I might hand them the iPad and ask them to look up the word and then find alternatives.  Cue AirServer again where the screen is projected on the IWB for the rest of the class to use! Likewise if we come across a word in reading that we don’t understand. We bring it up on the iPad and show the others the meaning. I often use the Dictionary.com app for this (free version, see above). We would talk first about the words that would better fit their sentence.

Before the weekend I heard Alan Peat at one of his workshops mention a website where you can use synonyms in the classroom. Visual Thesaurus is a subscription service that creates maps of synonyms for any word you search for.  Alan Peat suggests getting the child to do this, and then print it out. You can then highlight several of the most appropriate words and staple it alongside their writing. I’ll definitely see if I can start doing this in the classroom, I hear they offer a 14 day free trial!

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4) MyScript Calculator is another good app I like to use in maths for whole class discussion. If we are looking at mental maths calculations, children using this app to write a number sentence with their finger on the iPad and see it turn into typed numbers. You can then choose whether to automatically solve or reveal when you click. This app is helpful for keeping up engagement when we are going through  answers, but it would be helpful if it worked for column addition and other non-linear calculations!

This isn’t a huge list so you can see I need some inspiration! I have a few apps that I sometimes use on a 1:1 basis but nothing that is firmly embedded in my practice. I will keep scouring the Internet for ideas and trying them out. Ideas welcome!

– Miss T

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