One of the key questions I’m asked when working with schools is “What are the best apps for the classroom?” This is a difficult one, as the answer will largely depend on how familiar the school is with using iPads.
A lot of schools we work with often find drill apps beneficial as they reinforce key skills and enhance what are sometimes pretty dull activities.
As engaging as they are, there’s a lot more that can be done with the device to enrich learning. Some tools are easier to access and implement than you may think. If you're at the stage where you think you'd like to make the leap to something more challenging check out the S.A.M.R model. Especially if you're looking to move beyond those 'drill apps'
Here I consider what advice would have helped me when I first started, all those lonely years ago..
These are my top tips for teachers looking to embed this technology more meaningfully into the classroom.
1) CREATE A TEACHERS TOOLKIT FOR YOURSELF.
Become familiar with a handful of apps that you can use across multiple subjects.
These will become your go-to apps.
If you have one or two apps that don’t require the internet you will always have a fallback in case of any connection difficulties. Some good examples of these would be Explain Everything and Book Creator. Think of them as the students digital workbook.
2) WORK ON THE UNDERSTANDING THAT EVEN IN LOWER PRIMARY, 95% OF YOUR STUDENTS WILL KNOW MORE THAN YOU!
Embrace this and encourage a few gifted students to become your ‘tech experts’. Get them a purple t-shirt with a certain fruit on it and they will fall over each other to be part of your 'Apple bar'. There's nothing more powerful than students teaching teachers.
Encourage students to go to them first before they come to you!
They will work out apps incredibly quickly and will happily share their knowledge with you. What could be better than teaching the teacher?
3) GET CONNECTED!
There are so many resources on social media. Think, for example, Pintrest, Twitter even various Facebook groups.
If you can imagine it, someone has probably already done it and shared it with the world. No point reinventing the wheel if you can borrow from an awesome source.
4) USE A FORM OF CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT TOOL SUCH AS SEESAW OR SHOWBIE.
These apps allow students to upload work to the cloud directly, meaning you can keep a digital portfolio of their progress. The best way to think about these apps is the digital version of your students drawer or 'Tote tray'
Using technology in the classroom can sometimes take teachers out of their comfort zone.
So, my final piece of advice is to keep experimenting, there is a wealth of incredible resources out there that will engage your students and revolutionise the way you teach.