Here’s my attempt to share my own 3-4 year learning journey in the use of iPads (teaching use, not management use – managing a class sets of iPads is a whole other post that I will write sometime!)
So, I’ve been using iPads in my Junior Class (5-8yr olds) for maybe 3 years now. Certainly in the first year, I fell foul of adding a billion apps, categorising them into folders ‘Maths’, ‘Reading’, ‘Writing’, ‘Games’, etc. I thought it was awesome, look at how engaged the children were in number bonds to 10!! Well, so I thought!
The main purpose for using iPads was for the children to have an independent activity, that kept them engaged (i.e. away from me and the group I was trying to teach – vital in a multi-age class!), and some constructive learning thrown in too.
I quickly realised that many apps certainly engaged the children, but not in a meaningful way. For example, they’d find the pairs that made 10 by ‘random tapping’ to hear the funny sounds (getting as much pleasure from the incorrect sound as the correct one!), rather than actually learning any pairs to 10. Hmph. So, I set about finding cheap (i.e. free!) apps that provided self-correction, as in the children really wanted to get it right, not just play a random tapping game. That was tough – I can probably list on one hand, really good apps that do this that don’t cost a small fortune (small school – our budget is teeny weeny!).
Over the last year, I have come to the conclusion that this is just not the way to use iPads. I was beginning to use them as a reward – finish this and you can go on an iPad. Egh – not the teaching attitude I wanted to adopt and definitely NOT what I wanted the children to associate iPads with – reward only. I have tried to use the SAMR model and although I understand it, and have made a concerted effort to truly be transformational in their use, it is tough!
I feel now that I have finally made the leap from knowing all of this ‘good practice’ with iPad stuff, to now really figuring out how to apply it. So, what I’ve done is remove all the ‘babysitting’ apps from the tablets and only added apps that allow research and creation. As an independent activity in Maths for example, the students no longer play a pairs to 10 game, they make their own pairs to 10 lesson in ShowMe. Well, this is the plan – I’m a week into binning all the babysitting apps (for all the iPads in the school).
As I’m writing this, I am remembering all of this stuff that amazing and inspirational people have told me over the last few years and I’m finally at the stage where I can apply it. So, my advice to you, whatever stage you’re at, is to take your time, keep pushing yourself and challenging the boundaries of the box you’re in, but don’t expect to create this incredible transformational class overnight! It’s a very cool journey to be on, enjoy it.