Monday, June 11, 2018

iPad Lab Reflection - Year 1

For those of you that have been following along with my iPad journey, I wanted to reach out and share my thoughts on our first year with an iPad lab. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you might want to start here

Brief Overview of our goals: I work at a K-12 private school. We purchased 21 iPads (5th Gen) to suit the needs of our 1st - 4th grade classes. The way that our school does electives, I went to each class one day a week for 40 minutes. When the iPad cart wasn't in use (3rd-7th period each day), teachers were able to "rent it out" from me for full use in their classroom. I had two teachers that did this weekly from day 1, and a few others took advantage of it throughout the year. 

Recommendations: 
1. Buy big iPads. We set up Apple Classroom on each of the iPads and because each student had their own log in, it stores each profile as it's own app owner and in turn saved each app 8 times (one for each class). We quickly realized that this was consuming so much storage so we spent a lot of time adding and deleting apps in an attempt to save the most room possible. I would sometimes forget what we deleted and want to go back and use it later in the year and wouldn't be able to. 

2. Plan ahead. Again, it isn't super easy to add apps to each iPad. I didn't really know what to expect with an iPad mobile lab so I didn't do a ton of planning ahead of time. I wish that I would've done more research on apps that I wanted to use, because it would've made sense to teach some of them in a different order. 

3. If you don't use Google Classroom (or the like), invest in teaching your kids to use Seesaw. What I love about Seesaw is that your students can turn in any work that they do on the iPads into you. I love that they can share their work with one another and even comment and give constructive feedback to one another. At the beginning of the year, I wasn't using Seesaw and was having a hard time collecting the work that the students were doing. If they know that they aren't turning it in, then they don't give it their best effort. Adding Seesaw and collecting everything they did (done or not) was one of the best decisions that I made this year. 

4. Be PATIENT. This is a learning curve. You are going into another teacher's classroom to work in their environment. Whether you like it or not, their classroom management styles overflow into your technology time. Also, there are days when all the apps will crash, when the internet won't work, or when half the students won't listen to your directions. Just breathe. Take it one day at a time.

5. Allow for some "fun time" or "free days" for those classes that need that extra push. One thing that I loved to do with my classes was allow them 2-3 minutes of 'fun time' on their devices if they had good behavior all class. This wasn't complete free reign of the iPad, but it was allowing them to choose an app that we have worked on before to play on. I typically didn't let them on the internet because it is just far too much to manage. If they were talking when I was or off topic or not paying attention, I would take their free minutes away one minute at a time. This was an effective classroom management strategy for me. With my lower grades who don't move to apps as quickly and wouldn't benefit from 2-3 minutes of fun time, I instituted 'free days'. This would be once (maybe) a quarter when they got to pick any app to play on during class time. I would take time away from this day, and I even ended it early a few times due to behavior. These were just simple ideas that worked for me to get kids to stay on task and follow directions. 

Have you tried an iPad lab in your classroom? If you have, let me know!
- Hilary 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

iPad: Week 25 - Swift Playgrounds

So I know that I have already shared with you some of my favorite coding apps on my blog both for iPads and desktops, but I wanted to get back on here and share with you about Apple's Swift Playgrounds that they released as their version of a coding app. As always, something that is based on the device on which it is being played is going to function beautifully, and this is no exception with Swift Playgrounds. I love that Apple shares user guides, help guides, and starts with the most basic versions to get you coding. I wouldn't recommend this as the very first coding you ever do, but I sat in a classroom with many other educators who had never coded before, and they did just fine on this. It does require more reading, so I would recommend it to students who are readers, but we all know that our students are smart enough to figure lots of things out without reading the directions.



I love the cute little character that Apple came up with and I also like that there are many levels and layers to the Playgrounds app. I have been working on it in my free time since FETC (end of January) and I still haven't completed all the levels. 

I look forward to using Playgrounds often in my classroom next year. 

Happy Coding,
Hilary 

Monday, May 21, 2018

iPad: Week 24 - Play & Learn Science

Play and Learn Science is a PBS Kids game that is aimed at PreK-2nd grade, and is great for exploring science topics in a hands on way through technology. None of the games last forever or have a million levels, but they are just long enough that they get the students engaged and they start to better understand the topic. The science activities that are covered are as follows: 

Weather Control: Read the Temperature, Weather Controller, Thermometer Picking
Gear Up: Photo Weather, Gear Up, The Amazing Umbrella
Ramp & Roll: Explore the Roll, Hit the Target, Surface Challenge
Shadow Play: Exploring Shadows, Shadow Scenes, Guess the Shadow



Part of what I love about this game is all the discussions that you can have after have students explore different aspects of the app. I share what discussions I have had with my students in my resource here

Let me know if you try this app out,

Be a scientist,
Hilary 

Monday, May 7, 2018

iPad: Week 22 - Draw & Tell

One of my favorite parts of Draw & Tell is the freedom to have students draw freely. I love to use this for them to create a word picture while we are reading a book to keep their hands busy. It is also a fun way for them to just color for a brain break and to fill in a little free time while they wait for their other classmates to finish. Honestly, who doesn't love to color?! While they are coloring, they can also add clip art or extra designs to the picture and they can color in patterns - say what?!


If you want to see how I used Draw & Tell in my classroom, check out my resource here! Also, any of the other Duck, Duck Moose Apps (like Superhero HD) are pretty much the bomb.com, too! 

Happy Drawing,
Hilary

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

iPad: Week 21 - Lego Creator

Lego Creator is a game that all of my students have enjoyed working on over the course of the year. I originally found it as entertainment for my boys when I had a small group project that I was completing with my girls, but it has honestly been enjoyed by all. You essentially start out with an empty island and you collect blocks to use as currency to build up your island (and add future islands). Each time you are able to build something new, it gives the students choices on what they can pick. They really enjoy the creative part of it, as well as seeing how many blocks they can collect. (As you can see in the picture below, I hold the record with 1500+ :p) 


To read more about Lego Creator and see how you might use it in your classroom, check out my resource here

Happy Building,
Hilary 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

iPad: Week 19 - Newsela

Newsela reminds me of an app that I used 5 years ago when I was doing my Student Teaching in a Special Education classroom. We used it often because we loved that we could so easily change reading levels. We also loved that our simplest readers could still read the current events that we were discussing. Honestly, I can't remember the name of that site that we used, but Newsela is so similar and I have loved using it in my elementary classrooms. 


I'm not going to go crazy in depth, but you can see that the premise of this app is the ability to assign articles for your students to read at their reading levels. They can also work on vocabulary and reading comprehension through the quizzes that are attached to many of the articles. There is also a feature on many articles that allows the article to be translated into Spanish. What a great tool for bilingual students/teachers. 

There are a variety of articles to choose from - kids, arts, health, arts & culture, science, government & economics, war & peace, science & math, world history, sports, etc. It is important to keep our upper elementary and secondary students somewhat in tune with what is going on in the world around them. It is also important for them to read news type articles and for them to have discussions about the truths and opinions in articles. This helps our students think for themselves and form their own opinions, which grows strong men and women in the future. 

For tips on Newsela & a good place to start, check out my resource here to help you get started. 

If you check out Newsela, let me know what you think!
- Hilary @ MrsTech

Monday, April 16, 2018

Earth Day Resources & Activities

Earth Day is April 22nd, and even though it is a Saturday, it is definitely something that you should plan to discuss with your students the week before or after!

There are some great resources out there to teach your students about Earth Day and it's importance.


If you like Digital Resources, be sure to check out my digital resource for Earth Day.

Happy Celebrating,
Hilary

*Originally posted 4/17/2017 on MrsTechs Blog