One iPad, 36 children and a wireless connection to one whiteboard

I read a great post about how to make the most out of using one iPad with a whole class of children. I have 36 year 4 children and my own iPad, so I wanted to make the best use of it that I can. I started by introducing it in guided reading, and this week is book week, so it was an ideal time to try some new things. Over half term I had the chance to do some research on how to use the iPad with our interactive whiteboard (or any PC/ dataprojector combination!) having had some problems connecting using a VGA cable directly to the whiteboard. Inspired by David Andrews to try a wireless solution (also called ‘mirroring’ as whatever happens on the iPad is shown on the whiteboard), I starting looking at the options.

There are two wireless solutions to be able to connect the iPad to a dataprojector. Reflection and AirServer. There is a really useful comparison of the functionality of the two, which I only discovered after I had got reflection installed. We will soon be rolling out iPads into all our classes, so AirServer may be a better choice across the school network, but for now I’m using a single license of Reflection. Both work out cheaper than the other option of buying individual Apple TV units to connect to your whiteboard and work on Mac or PC.

Reflection worked really well, and the mirroring is easy to work over airplay. Just double click the home button and scroll across to find the mirroring icon, select it and turn mirroring on. That’s it, the ipad appears on the whiteboard to gasps from the children and you are good to go. It carries sound and video as well, so you can listen to recordings that children have made, or watch videos with sound which plays directly through your whiteboard speakers.

To start us off, we read a from a free eBook using the iBook app (see our class blog post). I gave one of the children on the carpet the iPad and the rest could watch on the screen. I explained that as we were reading the child could click on words to find out what they meant. We read aloud together and the child with the iPad immediately decided which words he didn’t understand and started to click on them. We then decided on a definition we understood and the child wrote a note explaining it in their own words. Other children offered advice on how to use the iPad, how to correct spelling and use the autocorrect. It was brilliant to see them working together and leading the pace of what we were doing, a great experience for me to step back and let the children take control.

iBook annotations
screenshot of iBook annotations

The notes from the iBook can be emailed, but I found that only the comments the children had written would be included in the emailed notes, not the underlined words from the text, so instead I have taken a screenshot. I had made a link to the blog post using a QR code and add it to our reading display, so the children can use the iPad and a QR code scanning app to take them directly back to the original post to remember what else we did that day when we were reading the book (a great idea adapted from John Sutton’s post about supercharging your class blog) . As David Mitchell points our, this is a brilliant way to link any digital work the children do to the physical environment of the classroom through displays or in their books and I’ll be adding QR codes to our displays whenever we have digital content to enhance it.

QR code link to blog post
QR code link to blog post

I made the QR code by using a neat trick on the the link shortener to make the short link I then just added .qr to the end which makes generates the QR code image, right clicked and saved the image to a file for printing.

4 thoughts on “One iPad, 36 children and a wireless connection to one whiteboard”

  1. Thanks for the informative post, Jo! I’m about to try this with my own ipad and my classes, so it’s perfect timing and really helpful! I think initially I’m going for a single install of reflection too – as I can just buy it & get it up and running (fingers crossed!). I’ll let you know how I get on, but thanks for the heads up! 🙂 Z

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