Monday, September 23, 2013

iPads in the First Grade Classroom: Start of Year 2

We are starting Week 4 of school and already I can see a difference in the way we are integrating iPads into our classroom.  A main change I can see is that we are rolling things out slowly.  Last year, using iPads in the classroom was such a new idea, I felt that I had to just jump in and try things.  Many times, we had to scramble to figure out where to go next, or we completely failed in our attempts to use iPads in certain areas.  I spent countless hours thinking about and planning how to possibly use the iPad in the classroom only to realize that it wasn't the right place for this tool when actually working with first graders. All that said, I feel that was the right way for me to try to integrate this new tool into the curriculum.  It gave me a good idea of where it could fit and where it could be left on the shelf.

This year, we have learned to roll this tool out with purpose and not just jump in.  We started with a review of the device itself.  What do the various buttons do? Where is the volume? How do you turn the device on and off? How do you know how much battery power is left? When do you need to tell a teacher your device needs to be charged? How do you take a picture? Where is the front camera? Where is the back camera?  It was a great review for the students and teachers alike.  And the big idea that this device was to be used differently in school - it's not your mother's iPad!  

Since it is still the beginning of school, another routine practiced over and over again was "belly buttons down" - a favorite of mine.  This is the signal that all students must stop working, turn their iPad over, and listen to whatever message needs to be delivered.  We practiced this signal many times, the message always being that you can always return to your work, but you need to listen now.

Our grade level team has started discussing where we can go with this tool.  How do we want students to use it in the classroom? Are there certain skills or experiences we want all kids to have before the end of first grade?  We haven't come to any conclusions yet, but are thinking and talking about it.  I am excited for another new year of growth! 

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