Teaching with Tablets

Kids with tabletsTablets in the classroom are a hot topic, and I’m not talking about pads of paper. iPads are the main points of discussion and more and more school districts are requiring that every student, even those in the elementary grades, have an iPad or other brand of tablet to use every day in the classroom.

Are you ready to use this technology in your instruction on a daily basis? Do you know which apps are appropriate? How can teachers control what is happening on each individual iPad?

This post focuses on what to do once the tablet technology is in the classroom. A good first step is deciding which apps resonate with students and actually aid in the learning process. Take a look at these popular options:

  1. Xtra Math (tracks student progress across various concepts)
  2. Spelling City (spelling tests and games)
  3. The UnStealer (fun way to learn about the un prefix)
  4. Seesaw (kids build their own learning portfolio plus it contains great teacher resources)
  5. Hopscotch (teaches coding)
  6. Kahoot (creates fun quizzes)

You will learn through trial and error how to implement the use of the apps in your classroom. Sometimes the instruction will happen while everyone follows along on their tablet, or kids will use the apps individually or in small groups.

Keep in mind that creating content is a great way to really take advantage of tablet technology. For example, it’s common for middle school and high schools students to create slideshow presentations of a science experiment or a coding assignment, etc. Even kids in kindergarten and 1st grade can practice similar concepts by working with an app like Lego Movie Maker or Glogster to make cool posters, movies or other presentations using their own words.

What about down time? Consider whether you will allow your students to play games on their tablets during RTI or other times when they are free to read or visit centers. Many studies have shown that taking multiple breaks from instruction throughout the day can make students more attentive, so you may want to let your class occasionally play iPad games that are just for fun. (Minecraft is a good one that is appropriate for all ages).

An easy strategy to keep the amount of recreational screen time under control is to restrict non-educational game playing to just a few days per week. Another idea is to have the class earn free iPad time by reading a set number of pages per day or by practicing math facts for a certain amount of time.

While we’re on the subject of control, it’s worth noting that one teacher cannot monitor what is happening on every iPad in the classroom at all times. School administrators will likely have a plan in place to block inappropriate sites as well as discourage distractions like texting and posting to social media.

Using tablets in the classroom is a concept that is undoubtedly here to stay. Notice what works for the kids and be open to trying new approaches and new apps.