We are gathering a small consortium of local schools that are implementing, or preparing to implement iPads. On Tuesday, tech coordinators from National Cathedral School, Concord Hill School, and I drove to Bel Air, Maryland to visit Harford Day School. This fall they purchased 20 iPads and 20 iPod Touches to see what they could do with them. The iPads are stored on a rolling cart and are shared throughout the K-8 school.
We first visited a Kindergarten class where students were have a 20 minute session, some using selected apps on the iPads at a table in the classroom, some working on website activities on eMacs in the small classroom computer lab. The students using iPads were happily engaged practicing math with "Dino Math". The teacher explained that they use the iPads once a week to review and practice math, although they do some work with phonics using "Pocket Phonics" and "Digraphs and Phonics" as well. In general, it seemed that the iPads serve as a practice and review tool.
The iPads were due in the First Grade next, so the cart was wheeled there where a small group of students were waiting. They selected from a choice of apps written on the whiteboard. These students also used "Dino Math", while others engaged in Tangram activities, and "Undersea Math". The iPads have about seven pages of apps, since they have selected apps for teachers and for students from grades K-8. There was a variety of choices for Tangrams, the best of which was called just that, "Tangrams". We noticed that since the version of "Undersea Math" was the "lite" version (meaning free), the younger students repeatedly clicked on the offer to upgrade and had to be helped to get back to the game. It reminded me of the value of paying for something to avoid the advertisements!
Next we wheeled the cart to an upper grade music class where they were going to be using them to do research. The cart is neatly arranged with iPads filed sideways and a power cord for each slot. As far as having a cart goes, this is a very practical arrangement. In the Tech office they have an interesting set up with USB adapters strapped together to allow 10 iPads to update at a time.
We are looking forward to speaking with more colleagues who are launching iPad experiments in a couple of weeks when we meet to learn about AirWatch as a means of wirelessly updating and managing iPads.