Educational technology tips for teachers, librarians and schools.

5 Ways to Integrate New iPads in the Classroom

5 Ways to Integrate New iPads in the Classroom

By Lauren Steinmann

Before I had iPads in my classroom, I would dream up scenarios in my head about how fabulous my life would be if I had them.

The kids would be so focused if they had iPads!

I bet there’s an awesome app to teach States & Capitals instead of these boring flashcards.

If everyone had an iPad in my class, the learning would shoot through the roof!

However, when I actually got iPads in the class, mild panic set in: what was I supposed to do with these things? I had dreamt so long about what I wanted, but didn’t actually think about how it would be used.

“When I actually got iPads in the class, mild panic set in: what was I supposed to do with these things?”

Should I download an app for every topic and subject I taught? Should I throw away all the paper in my classroom?

The iPads were not immediate solutions to my instructional problems. I realized that in order to implement the technology well, I needed to be thoughtful and purposeful.

More: My Love-Hate Relationship With Technology in the Classroom

By using my Personal Learning Network (PLN) and the SAMR Model, I came up with a game plan: I gathered ideas from blogs, Pinterest, Twitter and colleagues. I tested apps, looked at online programs, and sifted through lesson plans. Through all this research, a pattern started to emerge—good teaching with iPads starts with one common element: Good teaching.

The reality about using technology in the classroom is that it is not a solution for all your classroom ailments; technology simply enhances good instruction. Good teachers will be relieved to know that technology will not replace them. Rather, when used in the correct way, educational technology can help you transform your classroom.

Knowing this, where do you start when you get iPads in your class?

 1. Start Small

When you first get an iPad, it’s hard to focus on one thing because iPads are powerful and can assist in every subject you teach. Focus on starting small, on one subject area or project at a time. If you cast your net too wide, you can easily lose good instruction.

Trying one app in one subject area in a thoughtful way is better than having your students play games all day. Once you and your students feel comfortable, start broadening and add more options.

2. Be a ‘Learning First’ Teacher

As teachers, our #1 goal is always to encourage and enhance student learning and that should not be lost when you’re using educational technology. When you’re focused “Learning First” and not “Technology First,” the technology is secondary to your good instruction. Remember, the iPad is not replacing you as a teacher.

More: Foster Virtual Inclusion With a Classroom Blog

3. Avoid Going App-Happy 

apps ipads in the classroomRegardless of the subject, topic, idea or grade level you’re teaching, you can always “find an app for that.” With thousands to choose from, it can be overwhelming. As a Digital Learning Coach, I am frequently asked what the best apps for every subject area are.

However, when you’re ‘Learning First’ you can focus on teaching and bring in apps to enhance you efforts. Start small and become an expert with 2 to 3 apps. Utilize them as much as you can before moving onto something new.

4. Production vs. Consumption

When deciding what apps to use in your classroom, it helps to have discerning taste. Ask yourself: Are my students producing something with this app or passively consuming information? For example:

  • Rather than have your students use a quiz app to review information, have them collaborate and create the quiz themselves.
  • Instead of watching a video on a specific topic, have the students write a script, make props, act, and film the video as a group.

Using applications that allow students to collaborate and produce something will yield far better learning outcomes than passive apps that don’t challenge them.

“When you’re focused on ‘Learning First’ and not ‘Technology First,’ the technology is secondary to your good instruction. Remember, the iPad is not replacing you as a teacher.”

5. Build a Foundation

You build a foundation when you start small and focus on only a few production apps that can be effective for a variety of subject areas and grade levels. Set your sights on strong production apps such as Google Drive, iMovie, ThingLink or Popplet. By integrating these apps into your instructional practices, you will always have a solid platform with educational technology.

Try: Whooo’s Reading, A Free Online Reading Log

Bringing iPads into your classroom can be an overwhelming and exciting experience. Stay focused on a small number of production apps and learning goals, to transform the teaching—and learning—in your classroom.

Use iPads to enhance your Learn2Earn Read-A-Thon fundraiser.

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