Making a Single iPad (Teacher iPad) Effective for the Class

At AHS we have a few teachers who were issued iPads to go along with some other tools in the classroom and many are still trying to find ways to make these tools more effective for the whole class.  I think many would agree that we want to use focus on tools that have an impact on student learning more so than anything else.  There are definitely ways that you can use a single iPad as an effective tool for the whole class.

Must Have Apps
  • Google Drive = Log in with your school Google account and have quick access to all of your docs including the ones shared to you by your students.  You can edit documents and work collaboratively with students while being away from your desk.
  • Chrome = Besides being a great browser overall, if you are signed in to both the Chrome browser on your computer and your iPad you can access open tabs and all of your bookmarks easily.  This makes it so you can have some resources open on your computer and you can quickly access them.
  • Twitter = On the iPad this is still my favorite Twitter app but there may be others that fit your style more.  YOU SHOULD BE ON TWITTER!  Best learning/collaborating/curating/communicating tool out there for teachers
  • Threering = Allows you to easily create digital portfolios for students, including the ability to take pictures to upload to the server for each student.  I used this to keep track of quizzes, projects and formative assessments during the class period.  
  • Dropbox = Similar to Google Drive but you can not edit your files.  Great for quick access to files stored on Dropbox and easy to share those files with students.
  • GoodReader = Pdf viewer for the iPad that can allow you to annotate pdfs.  Can be connected to your Google Drive to upload Google Docs as pdfs and then annotate to provide feedback to students.  You can then push the doc back to the shared folder for the student to see and use.
  • Kindle = Great for access to your Kindle ebooks but also nice to use for viewing and annotating any pdfs you find online.
  • Splashtop = Combined with the computer program, you can control your computer over the network just using your iPad.  You could have some larger program or tool being used on the computer but still able to move around and have the flexibility of an iPad.
  • Explain Everything / Educreations / ScreenChomp = These three tools are very similar in that they allow you to create a video of you explaining or teaching something.  They have a digital whiteboard space you can draw on while recording your audio at the same time.  The video files can be shared with students or you can even have students use this to share with others.  
  • YouTube = YouTube is a great resource for videos that fit the many needs we have in the classroom.  You can show to a small group of students or use an Apple TV to project for the whole class.  Can be very helpful if you know of a video that explains or demos something and you can show it to a student who needs that extra information.
  • TED = Great inspirational talks that can get a good conversation started.
While these apps will get you started, the true effectiveness of having an iPad in the classroom comes in the use of that iPad.  There are ways that you can use this to help you as the teacher move around the room and interact with students more without having to be tied to your desk.  (For example, check out my post about using it as a digital whiteboard for the students.)  Use it to digitally record evidence of learning or to help take note of what needs to be changed.  Find the apps that can assist you in explaining the main concepts or ideas to students as you are interacting with them.  Use it to help you communicate better with students or just to allow them more options in the way that they ask you questions.  Remember that a shy student in a large class will have a really tough time asking a question, but give them a way to do that digitally without the focus of the other students on them and they will surprise you with the questions that they can ask.  
The best advantage to using an iPad in the classroom is to help mobilize the teacher.  Get up and away from your desk, get closer to your students and use the tool to help you help them.  A digital tool like this can really help you become more efficient while being more effective at the same time.  Do not focus on the iPad as a tool for just the teacher but as a tool that can help the teacher connect more with the students.

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