The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Breaking Out the iPads

Several months ago, towards the end of last school year, the general education teachers in our building were fortunate to receive a large grant for technology upgrades. Previous to this time, many of the teachers had very old Apple eMac computers that had been upgraded with software but not hardware. It was becoming increasingly difficult to use our computers for even the most basic functions. With the technology grant, each teacher was able to get a brand-new MacBook Pro (if they didn’t have one already) and several iPads (four to six, depending on whether or not the MacBook was needed).

The teachers decided to also bulk order some heavy-duty protective cases. I made the decision to not put the iPads into my students hands until the cases arrived. This didn’t happen until the very end of the year, and I didn’t have any apps for them.

So I wanted to make sure we used the iPads this year. I spent the summer researching quality, relevant, appropriate apps for students in fourth grade. I used iPads with the summer enrichment class I taught and learned more about using iPads in the classroom in the process. I told my class this year that we would be using the iPads soon and asked them to provide suggestions for apps that they have used at home, since the vast majority of my students had used iPads in the past. One student told her parents, who sent a gift to our class: an iTunes gift card and the suggestion to use the iTooch Fourth Grade app, designed by eduPad. I checked it out, instantly fell in love with this app, and installed it on all four of my iPads.

Due to my illness this week, we didn’t get to use the iPads until today. But I finally broke them out, spoke to my class about the importance of treating them with care and using them as educational tools, not toys. Then I showed them the iTooch app and divided the class into four groups. For the next 30 minutes, students were engaging one another in grade-appropriate topics related to English/Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science. It was awesome!

Huge thanks to the student and her parents who suggested we try out iTooch! I hope to find other worthwhile apps to use with my class as the year progresses. (I know we will be using Wonderopolis regularly, of course!) If you know of any apps that you have tried and recommend, please, let me know!

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