iPads in the Classroom
Barnesville employs iPads in the classroom in both Lower School and Middle School. We see the iPad as a portable technology tool that is easy to use and support, with a significant number of applications and resources for creativity, organization, and research.
In the Lower School, students make use of a shared iPad station under the direction of their teachers. Prekindergarteners use iPads to practice their letter and number formation, read and listen to stories, and strengthen spatial recognition. They also develop a digital letter book. In kindergarten and first grade, students receive weekly iPad lessons from a teaching technology specialist. They learn photography and story composition, and hone their literacy and numeracy skills. First graders also take their iPads on field trips to help with classroom research, and create movies based upon their research.
Currently, students in prekindergarten, kindergarten, and first grade use the iPad station. Each year, teachers evaluate possible expansion to other grades or changes to the current program.
In Middle School, students bring their own iPads and use them throughout the course of their middle school years. Teachers have chosen student-use of iPads for the following reasons:
- The number and variety of organizational tools available on the iPad has allowed the students to select one that best suits his or her needs and learning style. Eliminating paper planners (except for those who prefer them) means one less item to carry, and it ensures that students are always prepared to record homework. Apps such as Notability and Pages offer another way for students and teachers to create, complete, organize, and share daily class work and homework. Fewer paper handouts are necessary and fewer opportunities exist for important papers to be lost.
- The iPad greatly increases the teacher’s and child’s ability to address strengths and weaknesses. Multiple sources can be chosen on any topic, providing a variety of reading levels while covering the same topic. This kind of individualization ensures that all are challenged and can achieve success. Adjustments can be made as the child progresses. The individual screen provides more privacy and makes accommodations less obvious. Additionally, iPads allow the students and teachers to use a variety of media to share what they have learned.
- In some cases, class novels and/or textbooks are available online. Students can still highlight and make notes as they read, and the definition of unknown words can be found with minimal disruption to the reading process.
- Cloud networking allows the students to access their writing on an iPad and on a desktop or laptop, both at home and at school.
- Teachers have the ability to “flip” their classrooms and assess their students in real time. A discussion room via Edmodo quickly engages students and allows the teacher to serve as moderator for their reflective learning.
- Students have instant access to current information, which is particularly important in social studies and science. Multiple perspectives are available, which help students evaluate sources and to see events and hear opinions from many sources.
- Students can become even more mobile in the classroom, and they are not limited to the traditional “sit-down” desks. Students can perform audio and video projects on the go.
- iPads bring a new dimension to preplanning assignments and field trips. Prep work or follow-up is often available online. Information or thoughts are recorded with the camera, the use of the audio, with the video function, or by using the keyboard or drawing apps.