iPads for the classroom

@flohrmatt22, this post’s for you!

Now that I have my own iPad, I am completely convinced that it is a great tool to use in the classroom.  For many of you, iPads may be provided by grants or through your IT department.  Let me just say:  I am jealous.  I received my own iPad this summer, but am so thrilled at the variety of apps that are out there for students to use that I am most definitely going to start utilizing it in class.

This presents a problem or two:  one, I only have a single iPad, so the way in which I use it is going to be limited to a few students at a time and is undoubtedly going to cause consternation among the others, who will constantly wonder, “when’s it my turn?” and two, the cost (all from my own pocket) could get a bit steep.  At first, I will most likely use my iPad to help my students who require extra reading or math support.  I know that the reading, spelling, vocab, and math tools available will be a great asset in their success, whether in the classroom or whether they decide to go and use them at home.

I have found that is important to be sleuth-saavy and search out free apps that are useful and instrumental in assisting with student learning.  This site has a great list of free apps to use in the classroom.  I had to invest some time to wade through all of these and sort out the ones that are worthwhile versus ones that are just “fluff” or won’t work for my students.

In addition to the apps on this list, I have explored Motuto, a free tutoring app that focuses on math and science concepts and does eventually cost money after a certain amount of time in a tutoring session; Whiteboard Lite, which is similar to other drawing board apps, but includes a collaborative tool that allows you to connect to another iPad in range and draw on one board from two separate devices (I see myself using this for students to practice spelling words, play a Pictionary-type game with vocabulary words, practice math facts, etc.); and Draw, which is another tool that is very similar that features a connect option as well.

Derek Keenan on his blog Developing Education, has an excellent post that lists the apps he has loaded on student iPads.  He offers insightful descriptions of and commentaries on each.  It’s worth a click over there to check it out.

As far as paid apps, there are a few I’ve found worth mentioning.  I am leaning toward springing for them because I know of several students who would benefit from using them in my classroom.  One:  SpellBoard–($4.99) allows you to create spelling quizzes in any language, has a share function to connect with others using the same lists, and a speak function so students can hear, see, and write the word; also has a drawing section so students can write the word with their finger or a stylus.  Spelling for iPad–($0.99) looks to offer the same features and comes in at a much more palatable price.  MathBoard–($4.99) offers practice for numbers and operations with a “problem solver” blackboard feature on which students can actually write the problems to practice regrouping/borrowing or write the answer to a multiple choice question.  This one’s been featured on some iPad commercials, so you’ve probably seen some screen shots of it being used.  Just as with the spelling apps, I’m sure there is one comparable for a much lower price or maybe even for free.  This is where the digging (and some time to invest in that digging) comes in.

By no means have I even scratched the surface here.  Visit the iPad Education App Store and start looking around.  Be sure to let me know if you find something good!

I am no expert on using these apps.  But, there is something to be said about how far a positive attitude and a willing spirit will get you, a spirit that I–and many of the colleagues I’ve met and connected with through Twitter and PD days–certainly display.

Do you use any iPad apps that have become invaluable in your classroom or for students to use at home?  How do you use your iPads in the classroom? Please share.

Remember, be a learner first.

 

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