My iPad2 was my constant companion throughout my PGCE course, much to the amusement of my peers. I found it a great way to take notes an pictures, and of course to use social media to keep up with colleagues and news.
I spoke to my Head Teacher and she was happy for me to use it in the classroom, even though it is a personal device. Obviously there are risks to this, in particular that my iPad may be damaged or broken, but I felt it was a risk worth taking. I have not made anywhere near the use of it in the classroom as I would like, mainly as I still haven’t figured out how to connect it to my Interactive Whiteboard (I have a VGA connector, and two AV inputs on my board, but I can’t get the board to ‘see’ the iPad as a source on the second input when I cycle through the input sources. Any tips would be appreciated!!). However, I am starting to increase the times I factor it in and started slowly with the children using it in free choice during guided reading to read comics, books and now to listen to podcast stories.
This is what I did to get set up for classroom use.
1. Deleted most of the apps I had on there, including all social media. Re-organised the apps so that the first page shows the apps I want children to look at for guided reading.
2. Enabled the restrictions in settings and locked everything down, particularly apps and mail.
3. Linked the iPad to our school wifi and set up the proxy (Mike McSharry’s guide is helpful for embc but you may need to ask your local school administrator for help). Of course, once this is done, it has remembered the network and settings for ever.
4. Set up my work email on the iPad but then locked it off so children can’t use it. If I need to email files out, I can by turning off the restrictions. Over half term I plan to change this and make a generic class email account that we can use for blogging.
5. Synced a bunch of storynory podcasts for children to listen to. Created a ‘guided reading’ playlist by sorting by time and just adding those under 15 minutes in length (some of them are really long which is great, but not helpful in the classroom!).
6. Bought a TeckNet case and earphone doubler so two children can listen at once to stories. The case was recommended by @elsweb and has been brilliant. I tend to remove it for taking photos, as the back flap gets in the way.
7. Loaded some free iBooks – Gulliver’s travels, Alice in Wonderland. Added the Wallace and Gromit free comic app I have had for ages when it was on free offer!
8. Loaded the Beano Comic app in the newsstand, which is fabulous and has plenty of free editions. I tried a few other newstand children’s comics out, but all the ones I tried seemed very complicated for the children to access easily and only have one free edition. So I’m going to take them off.
The children use lollipop sticks to draw at random who goes on the iPad in free choice time. I intended to keep a list of who had been on, but they have been very good at remembering. I may set up a logging system on the iPad itself over half term, but we probably don’t need it.
I told the children that this is MY iPad and I expect them to look after it. They only ever carry it with two hands, always sit down when using it and work in pairs. One using the home button, the other swiping or touching. They have ben fantastic with it and in fact were appalled when it was found out of its case during our alien invasion this week!!
The iPad has been used a lot as a camera, it is easy to plug it into my PC with a USB cable and it is recognised as a ‘camera’ and I can transfer photos to ‘my pictures’ really quickly. We have used it as a dictionary to look up words (google is great for suggesting spellings, though obviously you need to be careful what they look up when autocomplete is on!). After half term I will increase the use of the iPad in lessons if I can and perhaps add some more apps for children to use. As an NQT it often falls off my radar! Using it in guided reading has been a quick way for the children to use it regularly with little input from me.