Saturday, October 29, 2011

iPad Project: Post #1 Setting up iPads in a classroom

Due to the generosity of a private donor, I have the opportunity to experiment with the educational and academic possibilities ipads afford a third grade public school classroom.  These were privately purchased and donated, and therefore not serviced by the school district.  School and district level permission was granted to use them in the class, but support is not possible.  That being said, the technology specialist that serves our school two days a week is very knowledgeable and offers assistance and advice as time allows.   An older, 5th grade, student offers her support and help once a week after school.  Another technologically-apt friend, who is interested in seeing the advent of the better use of technology in schools, offers his time, assistance and expertise as circumstances allow.  I am grateful to all of these people for their assistance as we try to find the most appropriate means of educating the 21st century digitally native student. 

“That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the task itself has become easier, but that our ability to perform it has improved.”
                                                -Ralph Waldo Emerson

I embark on this experiment with the hope that we will all become better teachers of the next generation!  I intend to blog about both the successes and failures, as it will take both to find our way through these ever-changing waters of educating the digital generation.  I welcome all ideas, concerns, comments, and suggestions!

My concerns in obtaining, setting up and managing ten iPads in a public school classroom were fourfold.  I needed to store, secure, charge and sync them on a routine basis.   Scouring the web for recommendations and ideas, I found this wiki website to be beneficial.

The donor would like to gift a class set of iPads, but we agreed that we should begin with 10 iPad2s, with the possibility of getting another 10 of the iPad3’s when released, and some of the initial management issues get settled.

My steps:
1.  Unboxed.  Each ipad came engraved with my name and a number 1-10 on the back.  Although it is possible for that to be removed in the event of theft, it is beneficial in classroom management.   While I am still searching for a cabinet to secure and sync the iPads, I purchased an inexpensive rolling cart with 10 trays from Office Depot.  This will serve to store the iPads.   Until a means of securing, charging and syncing the iPads is found, the iPads are not left at school overnight. 

2. itunes Account.  I set up an itunes account on my computer.  I synced all 10 ipads to this account and will have identical apps on each one.  Having one laptop, this was a time-consuming task.   Until a better solution to syncing the ipads is resolved, this will be a weekly job for my 5th grade student helper. 

3.  Select and Install Apps.  The core apps I wanted on the ipads for my students were iMovie, Garageband, Pages, Keynote, dropbox, Schoology and a typing program.   Other than that, I searched for applications that would enhance the third grade curriculum.  I download the free “lite” versions of applications that have potential for teaching academic subjects.  My 5th grade student helper tries them out and makes recommendations based on her experience. 

4.  Introduce Students to iPad:  To introduce my students to iPads, I created an “ipad scavenger hunt”.  Students work in pairs to complete this google doc.


  1. What a fascinating story. (Well, fascinating to me as I'm not the one having to work out the logistics.) Do you ever watch Big Bang Theory, and did you see the episode where Penny buys Sheldon a Christmas present? He exclaims: "You haven't given me a gift! You've given me an obligation!"

    I can appreciate the logistical gymnastics of managing a stack of iPads. We have a stack of old MacBooks that we loan out to our Lab Specialists, and it's a similar circus to keep them charged, updated, serviced, etc.

    Now that your class is using iPads, we should talk about a possibly synergy: I have a couple dozen students who need to build iPad apps every month. If you run into times where you think "gee, I wish I had a really simple iPad app to do Thing XYZ", if you can articulate those thoughts on paper I can pass them along to my students to build. We encourage our students to do something personal and meaningful, so I can't promise anything, but a number of them will also be starved for ideas and looking for some guidance.

  2. Very cool, I might need to ask a few questions about your experiences with the roll-out. I'm doing a talk about BYO-Tech in the classroom at macworld in January... :-)