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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Initial Impressions of "My" iPad2

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pollyann/
     On Tuesday I received "my" iPad 2 from our principal.  I put that in quotes because the iPad, like the MacBook Pro I am using right now, is not mine.  The school district owns it and I am being given it to use in my classroom.  Of course this means that there are some responsibilities and expectations that I incur by having this in my possession.  One is that I will use it as it is intended - a tool to improve or upgrade my teaching skills and a way to involve my students, collaboratively, with other students in their class, the school, or the world.

     In anticipation of receiving this tool I had been reading and listening to those people I feel are either experts on using iPads in the classroom or are people who are collectors of information and have lots of good data on iPad use.

     The first place I went to was the Mobile Tech Learning site.  This site, as the name implies, has links to articles on all things "mobile."  Actually, to be fair, I went to that site first but the first place I intended to go to was Mr. Reliable - Cybraryman.   Jerry Blumengarten (Cybraryman)  is a collector and if you need something related to the teaching profession then he's the man to go see.  Finally, I joined the iPads in Education Ning Group.  The great thing here is that these are teachers who are using the iPad and are willing to answer questions and share information.

     On the surface this looks like I only went to three places to get information.  What I really was able to do is access dozens of sites filled with anywhere from great to worthless information.  But by containing all of these in three areas I was able to glean the cream of the crop, so to speak.

     After turning on the iPad and getting oriented to all of the basics (thanks to the iPad 2 manual in PDF form that is available all over the place), I knew that I wanted to have folders for my apps.  I created folders for My Class Stuff,  Social Media, Music, Movies/Videos, Photography, and Books.  I'll concentrate on the folder with My Class Stuff but it really is nice having all of the other apps I have collected in nice tidy boxes.

     Here are the apps I have in My Class Stuff: (1) Clock Pro, (2) Pick Me!, (3) ShowMe, (4) Prezi Viewer, (5) AudioNote, (6) Evernote, (7) ReplayNote, (8) Dropbox,  (9) Splashtop, (10) Google Earth, (11) Quick Graph, (12) Mathemagics, and 4 of the Khan Academy apps - (13) PreAlgebra, (14) Algebra 1, (15) Geometry, and (16) Algebra 2.

     Clock Pro gives me various timers to use with students as they are working.  If you can break the class period into set times for work then the students can, usually, be more productive.

     With Pick Me!, you can put your roster into the app and then students are randomly selected.  There is an opportunity to give each student a thumbs-up or down to show how they did with their answer for later.  This is great for getting a feel for levels of understanding and for making sure that all students are paying attention.

     ShowMe will allow me to use the iPad as a tablet where I (or students) can work on problems, draw diagrams, or myriad other possibilities.  The beauty, as I see it, is that this is recorded and can be shared with students.  I could even work problems at home and share them with the class at night.  And, in conjunction with Splashtop, can be shown on our  Smartboard as it is being done in the classrom.

     The next three apps AudioNote, Evernote, and ReplayNote are ways to take notes and make them available to the students.    They are each different and have plusses and minuses.  I may end up using just one or maybe two but I will end up getting rid of at least one.  And, Dropbox is an app that could be used similarly.  Lots of evaluation this summer will help me decide.  If you have a preference please tell me in the comments section.

     And so, in less than 48 hours, I have a starting place.  What I'm hoping to do over the next few weeks is to hear from people and to read more so that I can update and improve this folder.  Then, as the month of August rolls around I will be able to decide exactly which apps I will be using on a daily basis.  Please let me know any apps you love to use in the classroom.   And let's start being productive.