Teacher iPads in the Elementary Classroom

By Michelle Fikac

As we move forward into the last few months of the school year, I have been amazed at all of the natural ways teachers have embraced and utilized their iPads in the classroom setting. I asked several of the teachers that I work with to share how the iPad has changed the way they teach and what impact it has had on student engagement. As Levar Burton would say, “You don’t have to take my word for it!” Read how elementary teachers across the district are embracing this new teaching tool and the impact it is having in the classroom.

Anna Villanueva, Kindergarten teacher at Leon Valley Elementary, uses her iPad in a variety of ways:

“I have really enjoyed finding new ways to use my teacher iPad. While I'm still learning and progress is slow, I feel the iPads have helped my classroom management. Where before I had to sit at my desk and show students how to complete a task using my ELMO, I can now use my iPad to mirror the same information and write on top of the image while simultaneously moving about the room. This allows me to provide instant feedback and support to my struggling students in a discreet way and redirect those more active students without having to address the entire class. I am able to move more freely in my classroom while teaching.  Whole group lessons look differently now because I do not have to sit in one spot or stand at the front of the room.”

The iPad has also been a time and resource saver for Mrs. Villanueva:

“I started using my iPad to administer my reading assessments using Explain Everything. I used to have to run copies of a 6-8 page long assessment for each student, but now I keep digital copies of those same assessments and do not have to waste time making copies or the paper needed for those copies.”

Mrs. Villanueva’s students have also enjoyed using her iPad as well:

“My students are learning to refine their fine motor skills when I ask them to write an answer or draw a picture that we are mirroring on the board. I've done some very simple things with them using my iPad.  For instance, we read and learn a weekly Focus Poem. Part of our weekly instruction is finding the sight words in our poem. In the past I would write the sight words on cards, and then have students match the cards to our poster on the wall.  Recently, we've begun mirroring our poem on the projector and using the stylus and the highlight feature in Explain Everything to highlight the sight words they find. They get a kick out of using the stylus then seeing it show up on the projector.”

Teacher iPad being used in an exercise at Carlos Coon Elementary.Student-led conferences looked different this year for the students and parents of Angelica Medrano’s 3rd grade class at Carlos Coon Elementary. Mrs. Medrano used her iPad to share technology based evidence with parents during student-led conferences. She created a Padlet for each of her students and used it to display photos, videos of presentations and examples of student work. What an innovative way to showcase student learning with parents and others!

Assessments are now faster and paperless for Laura Lewis, 3rd grade teacher at Timberwilde Elementary. Mrs. Lewis loves utilizing her iPad to access student progress and assess student understanding via two of her favorite apps, Plickers and Padlet. Explain Everything provides her the portability and access to use her iPad as an interactive whiteboard from anywhere in her classroom. To sum it up, “I love my iPad!”

When Ellen Webber, 1st grade teacher at Myers Elementary, was asked how the iPad has changed her teaching she responded:

“Wow! It’s very hard to imagine teaching without my teacher iPad. I am able to be better organized and prepared for my students and meetings. Instead of carrying a binder around with all of my conference notes, teacher observation notes, and running records....I carry around my iPad where I can easily access these files. I am able to collaborate more effectively with my teaching partner and share documents with her via Google Drive. Accessing all of our documents via Google Drive is such a game changer for us.”

“The teacher iPad has helped give me a boost of excitement for planning lessons,” says Kristin Hinojosa, 2nd grade teacher at Timberwilde Elementary:

“First thing I do now is look at the curriculum and see how I can implement a newly learned app. The first few times I started mastering Padlet and Nearpod the kids literally kept repeating how much fun they were having or we love this! The iPad plus the training we received is what has given me the courage to actually fully implement these new ideas and apps. I am so glad we were given this opportunity!”

“I would definitely say that Mirroring360 is what has made the biggest impact,” states Vanessa Hannah, 4th grade teacher at Rhodes Elementary:

“With only one device in the room, I feel like 360 is the best way to use my iPad to its fullest potential. The best part, I can walk around the room and monitor kids while I'm teaching. When we're not using it for whole group instruction, I have the iPad at a table for students to load their favorite work for the day into the Seesaw app. They use this app to record themselves and take pictures of the quote of the day and then explain what it means to them.” The Seesaw app serves as a digital portfolio where students can preserve work to share with the teacher and parents. Mrs. Hannah also uses the iPad to help dyslexic students in her classroom. “I record myself reading test questions and allow my dyslexic student to use earphones to listen and playback. This allows me to monitor the rest of my class and allows the student to work at his own pace.”

While these are only just few example of how teachers are utilizing their iPads, it’s safe to say that these devices have made a noticeable impact on today’s classrooms. As we continue to move forward and begin the implementation of iPads for students this spring, one can only imagine the endless possibilities awaiting our students!

Northside elementary students learn to use portable devices in the classroom