Ipads in the Classroom Q & A

I have received quite a few questions about iPads and apps in the classroom; today I’ll be answering some of your questions here. Summer book study spoiler alert- the topic of this summer’s Book Study Blog Party is revealed in this post!

ipads in the classroom
Disclosure: Amazon links included below

Q: My school has not provided us with iPads for the students to use but I have one of my own, do you think it would be worth it to have only one iPad in the classroom or should I wait until I have enough for every student?

A: A single iPad can still be very useful in a preschool, pre-k, or kindergarten classroom. Some classrooms only have one student computer so why not one iPad? Use the iPad in small groups or assign certain students certain days to allow for turn taking. You can also project the iPad screen using a document camera so the whole class can participate and interact with it at the same time or connect it directly to your projector; this is also helpful for introducing a new app.

Q: I have an iPad for my own personal use but I’m afraid to bring it into the classroom because it might get broken, what do you think?

A: Just like any piece of technology, your students will need to be “trained” how to use the device. They will need to be taught where and when they can use the iPad as well as how to properly handle and use it.

I suggest designating one area of the classroom where the ipad(s) will be used that is not a high traffic area. If possible have the students use the iPads on the floor- it’s a long drop from the table to the floor but a much shorter one if the iPad is already on the floor. The Gumdrop for iPads is a kid-friendly case you can use to protect your iPad. You can also use the iPad in small groups while you are present if it is a concern.

Q: Why are you reviewing iPad apps?

A: This is a very good question which has several answers. First, because I have written about technology before, I was receiving e-mails from teachers asking me to recommend apps for their classroom. Now I can point them to my collection of What’s App Wednesday posts.

Second, there are thousands and thousands of apps out there targeting the early learning market and many of them are poorly designed or lack educational value. My goal is to highlight apps that will enhance early learning in a variety of ways so you can make informed choices.

My third and final reason is because… (drum roll please) this summer our Book Study Blog Party will be about technology in the early childhood classroom! Our focus will be on appropriate uses of technology and how to use technology to enhance instruction, not replace it. If you are not familiar with this concept check out last year’s Book Study Blog Party here.

Q: My school does not budget for technology in pre-k or kindergarten; we are always left out while the other grades get everything. How can we convince our administration that technology can be used in the younger grades?

A: This is a very common problem; many school districts do not understand how technology can be utilized in the early childhood classroom. Others feel that the expensive equipment might be broken by little hands. My first suggestion is to not only ask for the technology but also provide your administrators with an overview of exactly how the technology would be used to enhance learning in your classroom. If you only want a projector to show videos then most likely your request will be denied. However, if you list the multiple ways a piece of technology can be used to support your local, state, or national standards your chances of approval might increase.

You might even consider including a “Plan of Action” in your request listing the phases of implementation and the goals you hope to achieve at each phase. For example, Phase 1 of implementation would start on the first day of school and last until October 1st. Your goals during Phase 1 might include familiarizing the students with the particular piece of technology and how to use it appropriately. A learning objective for an iPad in Phase 1 of implementation might be “taps screen appropriately to open apps.”

Q: I like the idea of technology in the classroom but the reality is that it is very expensive and most schools don’t have a budget for this right now, do you have any affordable suggestions?

A: I agree, technology can be expensive but there are some new products on the market now that offer more affordable alternatives such as the iPevo document camera at less than $100 and the Now Board by Learning Resources at about $500. Schools can no longer use cost as an excuse to exclude technology from classrooms as it becomes more affordable.

Digital and media literacy skills are now being assessed in some states; if they are assessed on it then it will become a priority. Our students today are digital natives and therefore should be taught 21st Century Skills that will prepare them to be successful in the digital revolution, not the industrial revolution.

How do you use technology or iPads in your classroom? Please leave a comment below, it might help others

Photo Credit at top: Getty Images

About Vanessa Levin

Vanessa is the creator of Pre-K Pages and author of the book A Fabulous First Year and Beyond: A Practical Guide for Pre-K and Kindergarten Teachers. She has more than two decades of teaching experience and enjoys helping kids and teachers through her professional development sessions. Follow Vanessa on Facebook, Google +, Twitter and Pinterest.

Comments

  1. I do not have an iPad but I do have something very similar and less expensive. Though not a true tablet, it does work similar to a tablet. I have the Kindle Fire. The students love playing the educational apps on my Kindle Fire. I only have one, of course, but the students take turns. Usually when their turn is over, they go entertain themselves with another center or activity and then return to the Kindle Fire table after other students have had their turns. They love it. And they are good at it too.
    http://www.brennaphillips.com/preschool-educational-apps

  2. Carolyn says:

    I take in one or two personal iPads to my classroom because of my 6 students, 5 are drawn to the sound, music and images. I have been using a Baby Sign app to teach simple signs since I don’t have a computer screen large enough for all to view. You mentioned a document viewer for projection. Does that include the Elmo? I can get access to one of those if it will project and that would enable me to teach to the entire group. Thanks! I love technology and agree it’s never too early to be introduced to it, particularly now that it is included in everything we do.

    • V. Levin says:

      Hi Carolyn, thanks for stopping by! Yes, Elmo is one of the brands of document cameras. You can use the document camera (which is hooked up to a projector and computer) to show the ipad screen to the whole class. If you have a mac computer there are also apps that will allow you to project the screen of the ipad directly, bypassing the need for a document camera. I don’t have a mac computer so I have not tried this method. I love the idea of using the iPad to teach sign language, thanks for sharing!

  3. Heidi Butkus says:

    Hi!
    A nice post, Vanessa!
    By the way, I use a PC at school, and I still project my iPad directly onto my screen! All you need is an adapter that can be purchased at the Apple Store. Go on their live chat and tell them what model of projector and iPad you have, and they will direct you to the correct adapter. As long as you have an iPad 2 or later, it will work! The original iPad one does not support full mirroring except on certain apps.
    I also have some blog entries with a bunch of reviews of apps on it for PK/K/1, if anyone would like to check them out.
    Heidi Butkus
    http://heidisongs.blogspot.com/2012/03/great-ipad-apps-for-pre-k-and.html
    Heidi Butkus

    • V. Levin says:

      Thanks for stopping by Heidi :) It’s good to know that it can be done on a PC too, thanks for sharing!

  4. Kim Floyd says:

    I have been using iPads in my classroom for over two years. I started with one that I received from a grant through a local Kiwannis group. After the parents and students saw what benefits the iPad brought to the classroom, I wrote a second grant. This year I have received an additional 15, yes, 15 iPads through local grant funding. They have transformed my teaching, and have enabled my students to collaborate, create and share their own cartoons and stories. I teach kindergarten, however I used iPads last summer for an all ELL class with great success. iPads are an exciting tool for young learners. They offer tech at a level that young children can easily access independently. (I recently completed my thesis on iPads as a tool for vocabulary development in young learners.) My favorite app, as of today, is one called “Art Maker.” It is free, it is fun, and it has unlimited uses for the early childhood educator.

    • V. Levin says:

      Kim, thank you so much for sharing your expertise with us here! Congratulations on your iPad grants and for completing your thesis, that is awesome! I would love to hear more about your thesis, it sounds fascinating! I hope you will join our book study this summer. Thanks also for the app recommendation, I’m off to check it out!

  5. Jodi Altringer says:

    Our early intervention department has been using iPads in the classroom for 2 years. We continue to find strategies for integrating the technology into the classroom in a way that it supports and enhances learning while maintaining a balance of play, and hands on experiences. There are so many apps that promote creativity, collaboration and problem solving but there are also a lot of duds. App developers need to hear from EC professionals so that they are providing developmentally appropriate apps, make sure you provide developers feedback and suggestions regarding apps you are using. I will check out what the book study blog party involves, sounds interesting! I am starting to document our experiences with the iPad at http://eiplayground.blogspot.com. Thanks for the app reviews.

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