vintage chalk slate

vintage chalk slate

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Implementing iPad Technology in the Elementary Classroom

The purpose of this blog is to support and document the 2011 / 2012 iPad Collegial Circle currently taking place at Stewart School in Garden City, New York. We will be investigating the benefits and challenges involved in implementing iPad technology in the elementary classroom. This blog will add to the discussion and allow further collaboration and investigation to take place.

Student-Centered Learning

As the iPad evolves and new apps are developed, educators are exploring the possibilities in which this new technology can transform the ways in which teachers teach and students learn. In recent years, there has been a significant shift from traditional teacher-directed educational instruction to student-centered learning activities that promote interactive engagement, individual responsibility, and self-assessment. This is not to say that the role of the teacher in the classroom has diminished. In fact, teachers today now have the additional challenge of designing curriculum and learning activities that not only meet and exceed existing learning standards and prepare for the coming Common Core initiative, but also actively involve students in the development, implementation, and evaluation of their own educational experiences. Utilizing iPad technology, educators have the ability to integrate these student-centered learning activities into proven curriculum strategies and educational methods.

For example, a teacher may assign a standards-based research project that requires student groups to utilize the iPad to develop an interactive audio / visual presentation. As part of the assessment process, students can exchange iPads and evaluate their peers' projects through "hands-on" engagement. On an individual level, the interactive touch screen of the iPad fosters interest and encourages students to master skills and strategies that have been previously introduced in class. The portable nature of the iPad also makes it possible for students to easily share information with classmates.

"Primary school aged children can create all manner of wonderful things, teach their peers, and sometimes even the older people around them."

“The new iPad will transform the way our teachers teach and our students learn…we also see this as a valuable opportunity for our students to become responsible digital citizens in our global community.”

“The one-to-one iPad program echoes our commitment to deliver a student-centered learning experience that reflects today’s world.

"I can’t wait to see students engaged and learning in a digital environment that reflects the world in which they are growing up. I also look forward to collaborating with my creative colleagues to integrate the new iPad into our curriculum. The combination of inspiring students and invigorating our faculty will propel education…to the next level."

Please follow this link for more on this topic. 

QR Technology in Use

As previously discussed, QR technology is being introduced into the classroom in conjunction with the iPad. QR Code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is a scannable barcode first designed for the automotive industry. In recent years, QR technology has been adapted for use with the internet. Using a smartphone (including the iPhone) or an iPad (or similar tablet) equipped with WiFi or 3G/4G access, a person can scan a QR code and instantly connect to a linked website or transmit other forms or digital data  quickly and easily. 

This developing technology has now appeared at Stewart School! Fourth grade students recently completed a research project on famous artists and included QR codes for related student audio presentations. Mrs. Volpe's Quest students integrated QR codes into their presentations on Stewart School's 75th anniversary. Several classrooms, including the science lab, feature QR codes that link to important information. Many visitors to Stewart had the opportunity to use these codes during last week's open house. 

What do you use QR codes for? Post a comment and let us know!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall...

Earlier this week in our fourth grade classroom, we conducted a successful math lesson utilizing iPad technology in conjunction with existing interactive whiteboard and projection equipment already in place in the classroom. The objective of the lesson was to familiarize students with the iPad, while building essential mastery of basic multiplication facts and concepts. The lesson also served as an introduction to video mirroring, in which a digital AV or VGA adapter is used to mirror exactly what you see on your iPad on a larger screen, such as a SMART Board or eno interactive whiteboard. While there are some technological limitations (not all iPads and applications support full mirroring), video mirroring can be a very effective way of sharing iPad content in the classroom.

For this lesson, an iPad "station" was set up facing the front of the classroom. We used My Math Flash Card App for the lesson. Working together, the children attempted to solve multiplication problems as quickly as possible, beginning with basic facts and moving on to more complex problems. Paper and pencil were available for those students who needed to write out or double-check problems. During this problem-solving activity, the iPad screen was mirrored on the much larger eno board in the front of the room for all the class to see.

During the lesson, students were engaged and motivated. Working together and as individuals, they were able to improve on their results with each successive multiplication challenge. Several students who have previously struggled with basic multiplication facts were eager to participate and did not exhibit the anxiety or frustration that sometimes accompanies similar tasks. The app we used is relatively easy to use and engaging. The graphics are simple and the colors are basic; the children were able to navigate the app with minimal teacher assistance. However, it is important to note that one member of the collegial circle feels that the design of this app is flawed, as the input of two-digit products and sums in regard to place-value position requires calculations to be performed mentally.

We believe this lesson was a success and look forward to designing future lessons that combine various forms of technology while addressing common core standards and grade-level curriculum. Although there are certain technological limitations and issues to consider, combining interactive iPad technology with video mirroring can help teachers design successful lessons that motivate and engage a wide range of students.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Educational Apps for iPad Classroom Use

The Collegial Circle has been busy researching and testing various educational apps for use in the classroom. We are currently compiling a list of suggested apps that can be used with individual students, small groups, and in full class settings. Some things to consider are app design, curriculum compatibility, universal accessibility, the necessity of WiFi for app operation, pricing structure, and advertisement presence. One possible solution to the presence of advertisements (which may be age-inappropriate or simply distracting) is to manually turn off automatic access to WiFi networks. This list will hopefully serve as a blueprint for future iPad implementation and expansion in the district's elementary schools.

In the meantime, please take a look at the following apps. If you have experience with any of these apps, please post a comment and let us know your thoughts!

Sight Words List
Free (iPad / iPhone)
Preschool - 4th grade

Sight Words, also known as the Dolch List are an integral part in learning how to read. The Dolch Word list contains 315 words that are broken down into appropriate age groups. Contains 6 sets of prepared flashcards, which can also be customized. Words are easy to read. Voice feature is also available. Font size is small in quiz mode, but should be able to be adjusted. No advertisements

Times Tables Quiz! 
Free (iPad / iPhone)
2nd grade – 5th grade!-multiplication/id441001315?mt=8

Design is simple and easy to use. Adults may find the app repetitive, but children will find the app challenging and engaging. Works well as a skill builder or independent activity. No advertisements. This application features:
Questions from 2x2 to 12x12
Smart multiple choice answers generation

  • Progressive difficulty
Best score

U.S. History Timeline
Free (iPad / iPhone - upgrade available)
3rd grade and higher

This application shows a timeline of important events from US history. 
Each event includes a hot-link to the appropriate entry of Wikipedia. 
This will help users get more information about the event. 
The application also features territory maps of important times in U.S. history, a list of important people, and a comparison timeline of US history and World history. Fairly easy to navigate. Not all events contain links to additional information. Wikipedia links should be monitored and used as a starting point to find verifiable research sources. No advertisements, although apparently there should be according to the description.

Kids World Maps
Free (iPad / iPhone - upgrade available)
2nd grade and higher
Kids World Maps is specifically aimed at 5-9 year olds and is based on the best selling Primary School World Map series. The maps are designed with these ages in mind, are high resolution, have clear graphics, engaging fonts and a level of information that can be understood by children of this age. 

Design is simple and easy to use. Maps are very informative, but not complete. No advertisements. The Kids World Maps app contains 6 World Maps each with a different focus as shown below:

  • a brightly coloured Political colored world map

  • a world map with physical coloring

  • shows the continents largest cities.

  • shows the continents major deserts
  • shows the continents major mountains

  • shows the continents major rivers

Telling Time
Free (iPad / iPhone - upgrade available)
4th grade and higher
Telling Time Free is an app designed for people of all ages. The user inputs the digital time based on the analog time. There are two game modes, Practice and Quiz. In practice mode the user must input the correct answer in order to move on to the next question. In quiz Mode, users only have one chance to get the question right. Users also have the option to turn on a timer. Once the time runs out, the user will not be able to answer any more questions. Users can also decide whether they would like to have a letter grade on their report. Advertisement bar across the bottom of screen. Features included in this app: 

  • timer can be set to 1 min., 2 min., 4 min., and 8 min.
questions can be set to 10, 20, 30, and 40
can control minute hand by increments of 1 minute, 5 minutes, and on the hour

  • sound effects
- scores and grades the users answers 

  • uses standard grading scale 90-100=A, 80-89=B, 70-79=C, 60-69=D, and lower than 60=F 

  • sound can be turned off or on
-clock animation

The following two time apps are similar to Telling Time and can be used with younger (and older) students:

Interactive Telling Time
Free (iPad / iPhone - upgrade available)
2nd / 3rd  grade and higher
No advertisements
Tell Time – Little Matchups Game
Free (iPad / iPhone)
2nd / 3rd grade and higher
No advertisements

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Testing iPad Technology in the Classroom

Working with individuals and small groups, we recently introduced the iPad to several students in our 4th grade classroom. The students were given the opportunity to explore several free educational apps that do not require WiFi access. Direction from teachers was limited, allowing us to observe how successfully the children were able to navigate and utilize the iPad interface and app software. The overall response was positive, indicating that student interest in iPad technology is high and future activities will be well received. The challenge for teachers is to design meaningful curriculum and lessons that take advantage of this interest while enriching the learning experience. Check back soon for comments from the students involved in this initial activity!

Monday, January 2, 2012

iPads in the Classroom?

Should iPad technology be implemented in the elementary classroom? On the surface, this seems to be a simple question. However, there are many issues involved that need to be resolved. Educational philosophy, technology support, Wi-Fi access, classroom management, core curriculum content, financial concerns, and many other issues must be considered before determining what role iPad technology should play in the elementary classroom environment.

Please take a minute to answer some related questions in the latest poll, which can be found in the sidebar. Have fun!


Updating iOS Software

Checking for the latest iOS software updates from Apple is an important part of maintaining your iPad. Although this is relatively simple, it can be a confusing prospect for some users. Any school that considers implementing iPad technology must be prepared to offer teachers and technology support staff the proper training to successfully complete this process. The good news is that updating your iOS software is something the average user can easily complete on their own once they understand the steps involved.

Updating your iOS device (iPad):

iTunes can update your device to the latest available iOS software. An update doesn't affect your user content or settings. iTunes creates a backup of your iOS device and then performs the update. Follow these steps to update your device:

  1. Verify that you are using the latest version of iTunes before attempting to update.
  2. Connect your iOS device to your computer.
  3. Select your iOS device when it appears in iTunes under Devices.
  4. Select the Summary tab.
  5. Click "Check for Update":

For complete information on how to check for iOS updates, please check here. Always remember to back up your data before updating!
Information about the latest version of iOS can be found here.

First Steps


No iPads in the classroom.

We did, however, have an excellent turntable. I have clear memories of bringing in my mom's Beatles records and listening with friends through headphones in the back of the classroom during recess. In many ways, this was a defining moment of childhood and helped influence my decision to pursue a graduate degree in education and career in teaching. Technology in many forms has long been present in the classroom and continues to have the ability to bring students and teachers together in ways that have lasting impact. The iPad represents a significant opportunity to continue this trend and develop new ways in which students can be become active learners and take responsibility for what they learn both in and out of the classroom.