Friday, November 1, 2013

The One Where I Try to Teach the Apps

My classroom is one of three K-6 classrooms in our district that has been asked to use a class set of iPads this year. That number will hopefully grow in a couple of months as several more K-12 teachers will receive sets. These teachers each went through the rigorous "Apple Foundations Training" and then have to apply to be considered. 

Over the first couple of weeks the biggest challenge had been training the students with the thought of iPads are "Tools, not toys". At home, most of my students only use their tablets to play games. While I am a big supporter of all the skills games can help us practice and strengthen, we were going to be using them primarily as part of our workflow. 

I had reminded them of the concept that "iPads are Tools, not Toys" so many times the first few weeks - I'm sure they were ALL sick of hearing it. 

Each iPad has roughly 50 apps on it. However, my plan was to have them become masters of 10 or so before we moved on to any others. The Apps we use the most are: Keynote, Google Drive/Docs, gMail, Kidblog, Keynote, Notability, and Strip Designer.

Time management was also a big struggle those first few weeks. Truth be told, it still is. While the students are quick to pick up how to use the different Apps, they still need some basic instruction before they are set off with them. I've used three different approaches to this, each with various success. 

1) In the beginning, I taught them each App and how to use it. This method worked ok, but I had a feeling it was slowing them down. I used this method with several educational games like Free Flow, Chicken Coop, and Chocolate Fix.

2) Next, I tried to have them teach themselves a few Apps. This worked ok, but I found they all had varying degrees of success with those Apps. There ended up being a lot more questions I answered then I would have if I just taught them the app in the first place.

3) The third, and most successful method I used was Self-Teaching with Peer Help. KEYNOTE is a good example of an App we tried this with. In this example, each student figured out for themselves how to learn Keynote and how it works. They did this while making a presentation to show their parents at conferences regarding what they learned in the 1st quarter. If a student had a question on how to do something, they asked several classmates how to do it. 

This worked for many reasons. First of all, it allowed students to be teachers and many of them relished in this role! I have seen sooooooo much pride on the faces of students that have been able to help others in the class. It has really boosted the esteem of several students who really "Get" technology. It also allowed for them to get their questions answered so much quicker than if they had to wait for me. As a result of that, it allowed the work to proceed at a much quicker pace!

I'd love to hear from others that use iPads in their classroom and how methods you have used to instruct your students in how to use each App.