Getting an iPad for my Classroom

I can hardly believe my good fortune; the PTO bought all the classroom teachers in our building iPads!  My third thought after "wow, how generous," and, "I hope I don't break it," was how to use one iPad in the classroom in an efficient, productive way.

So having had it for less than a week, I wanted to post my experiences with it so far.  Keep in mind that I'm a novice when it comes to iProducts and exclusively touch screen devices (my cell phone is a slider because I like a keyboard).  That way hopefully someone can learn by my trial and error what was easy, what requires a bit of a time investment to pull off, and what, as far as I know, is just not worth it!

1.  Turning it on.  Yeah, we're starting from scratch here, haha.  The on button is not the front middle button, oddly.  It's the top right.  *shrug*  Then it automatically wanted me to get on iTunes or the Cloud or whatever upon startup, but I didn't have wifi at home.  Plus of course typing on the thing (like figuring out caps and numbers) was a new experience.  For me the whole startup process was a slight hassle, but if you have wifi already and use a touch phone it's probably very easy.  At least it connected automatically at school, where wifi is already set up.  Difficulty:  medium.

2.  I took pictures with the camera.  That was easy.  Figuring out what to do with them after is what is difficult.  I had to ask a student to show me how to delete them.  And what I use them for is to put on our classroom blog, but the iPad is not set up like a file locations that I can see.  I'm not sure exactly how to access them and transfer them to other programs.  The kids suggested I Email them to myself just like I was doing with my (Android) phone.  I suppose that will work, but the bottom line is, I'm not totally comfortable with pictures at this point.  Difficulty level:  medium.

3.  I set up school Email and synched my calendar.  The skins on these programs are slick looking and intuitive to navigate.  Difficulty level: easy!

4.  I already looked at Class Dojo before, and signed up, knowing I'd be getting an iPad.  If you don't know about this classroom management system, check it out!  It's got so many great features, and you don't even have to go to the effort of typing in your students' names!!  You can just copy and paste your roster in if you've got it on your computer already.  It is customizable in terms of you can add or delete positive and negative behaviors, and change each students' avatar, but all that stuff is fun for me so I don't even count it as time consuming.  Finally, I was shocked how easy the parent notices were to print:  they come up 2 per page with the student's name and a code for parents to enter when they log in.  All I had to do to let parents know about their child's behavior for the rest of the year was to click print and cut the pile in half!  Difficulty level:  easy!

5.  I created bookmarks of websites I need for school: our classroom blog, our school's website, and even Pinterest and Google Reader, since I honestly do use them exclusively for school ideas.  Obviously I won't be using either for other purposes on the iPad.  I figured this out by pressing the buttons up near the url window, so difficulty level: pretty easy.

6.  I researched cases.  I actually went against majority vote when I polled other teachers, and I really hope I'm not kicking myself later.  I knew I either wanted a durable case so that if kids dropped the thing it wouldn't smash, or one with a keyboard.  Others told me to get either the Defender or the Otterbox, but well, I really wanted a keyboard.  And I know what you're thinking, "Amber, you could have got a bluetooth keyboard separately from a durable case!"  But that would require shelling out a lot more money for something that doesn't truly feel like mine; it's school property.  And if I'm going to use it to type with on the projector (which will also probably be school issue soon; most classrooms already have them) I feel the need to have a keyboard.  Also, I feel like the kids are a little older, and a little more respectful of the tablet.  So in the end I went with a Kensington with bluetooth keyboard.  I really really really hope I didn't make a mistake here.  I agonized over this and even after I ordered it I almost canceled the order and got the Otterbox.  Difficulty level:  HARD.

It's exciting and intimidating to have this new expensive, fragile bit of tech!  I did more within the first few days of receiving it, but I'm going to cut this post into two so that it doesn't become unreadable.  I'll post the rest of my iPad-exploring next week!  In the meantime, can you recommend any apps or useful tips regarding how to use an iPad in the classroom?  Please leave a comment if so!
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  1. I just got an iPad for my 4th grade classroom too. Tomorrow my students will see it for the first time. I am still at a loss as to what I'll do with it at this point. I look forward to hearing what you do with it!

    1. My advice: don't do much until you've got a case and screen protector on it! And again, taking pictures is easy. Start there to start getting used to how to go back and forth between applications and the home menu. I'll post more on Wednesday :)

  2. If you don't want to keep e-mailing the photos to your computer, you should download dropbox on your ipad and set it up on your computer as well. You can upload photos to that and print them off on your computer or send them to Walmart or Walgreens, etc.

    Good luck!


    1. I keep hearing about dropbox, and I'm tempted, but I'm concerned about privacy. I assume there are ways to control what is shared and what isn't, but it's a little intimidating to get the ball rolling! Maybe I need to make it a priority to figure this out one day this summer. Thanks for the tip. :)

  3. Anonymous1:44 AM EDT

    Hi you can upload photos straight to your blog from your ipad. Download blogger app from the app store and use the image button at the bottom left to access your photos.

    By the way you can set up easy access to your blog and any other website via the home screen button> Open the website, Click on the share button top left (its a oblong with an arrow pointing out of it) click on add to home screen. The website link will appear like an app icon on your ipad screen.

    Enjoy your ipad - I love mine and the children are so creative with them.

    1. Thanks for the tip. :) However I don't use Blogger for my classroom blog; I use Weebly. There IS a Weebly app, which I've installed, but it's so new that it's really buggy. I'm sure they'll work out the issues soon, but until then my posts turn out better if I write them on my desktop.

    2. Anonymous8:54 PM EDT

      Hi - I'm 59, only one year left, and I'm not one to just bide my time. I want to do my best for my students. Each teacher got an ipad during postplanning, and no training. Well, some of us around my age are ipad morons at this point. I've noticed remarks about the students using them (like what case to get, etc.) So do the students use that ONE ipad I was given? It's connected to the network and can show up on the Promethean board? They just said to us "play with it over the summer." I was one of the ones that was a leader back in the day. Not anymore - I hate texting (but type 115-1120 wpm!), and am just now getting used to my touch phone. ;-D HELP... please? I am so clueless - like can I create document? Can I print from it?

    3. Really sorry I didn't reply before; I was away over the summer!

      I know exactly how you feel with the whole, "Just play with it" thing. Imagine if we taught that way: "Just look over your math book, kiddies." Hah.

      I don't think that creating documents or printing are really what the iPad is designed for. It's not to CREATE content, it's more to CONSUME content. You can play games on it, but not make games on it. Read Emails, watch movies, browse websites, view multimedia presentations...but no, I wouldn't use it as a word processor and I have no idea about printing. I've personally never seen anyone print from one! I'm still learning though. Good luck with the rest of your last year; I hope you enjoy it and don't have to worry too much about iPads and so on!

  4. Anonymous8:57 PM EDT

    By the way, I LOVE your title. I really wish they would just let real teachers really teach. I don't care about closing the door... I just want to teach.


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