Saturday, July 28, 2012

First Steps to an iPad Classroom

iPads are intuitive and easy to use... the set up and management of a classroom set- NOT so much!  It's much better to thoughtfully plan out your iPad deployment than to start over when things don't!

Before you invest in and unpack your iPads... check out this link on for some very thoughtful questions to consider and answer as many as apply to you.

Tony Vincent's Learning in Hand site has a good round up of Classroom Do's and Don'ts to follow.

Straight from the source, Apple's Education IT Resources page is full of all sorts of helpful information and has this handy ios5 deployment guide.  It's a bit techy but you can pass it to your tech support at school unless you're it!

If you're starting with one iPad, don't despair- I had one, then six, eleven and finally a class set.  This blog has great info for the one iPad classroom.  It is best to set up your account properly though to make it easier when you get more.

Above photo by 
Yutaka Tsutano
licensed under Attribution License.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Twitter: Source for Professional Development, Community and Authentic Teaching Opportunities

I tweet, therefore I am?  Not at all.  I try very hard not to tweet what I eat, where I am, or what I am doing unless it might be beneficial to someone.  Specifically the 200+ people who follow me (which means they receive my tweets in their timeline).  Thanks by the way, if you follow me AND read my blog!  Sometimes I tweet about something funny or interesting.  Mostly though, I tweet to communicate with other teachers and for professional development.  I LOVE that it is short and concise- 140 characters does not take much time to read over.  I may check my Twitter account several times a day, or I may go a week without checking in.  Many of the 1,156 times I've tweeted (thus far) have been conversations with people who follow me or the #kinderchat hashtag.  Tweeting is a bit like instant messaging all your virtual friends about a topic- and then some of them reply.  Anyone following you or the hashtag can see and take part in the conversation.

If you're clueless about Twitter check out this tweet/link:

Blogging : For Twitter newbies: "What’s a # mean on Twitter and what is a Twitter “Chat”?" Shout out to

Here are some of my tweets from #kinderchat past- I like to think of the #kinderchat as a station- everyone tuning in is for some reason interested in K and most are experienced educators.  When I am facing a dilemma, a frustration, or want to share a laugh... I go to my #kinderchat peeps.

Every Monday night at 9ET/6PT  a bunch of kinder teachers gather round the world wide web and share ideas, resources, frustrations...  During the school year there are scheduled topics- theses tweets from me were on using tech with kinders.

@i_teach_K Handwriting practice on iPads- if you gotta do it, it might as well be fun.

@i_teach_K tweeting w/kiddos= meaningful reason to read and write

[re: skype play and twitter with kinders] @i_teach_K increases communication skills and teaches manners... The kids LOVE it, good enough reason there

[re: skype play and twitter with kinders] @i_teach_K helps children consider others point of view, learn about culture and geography in meaningful ways  

@i_teach_K I like StoryKit, free for drawing, adding text and recording them speaking about it  

@i_teach_K Instead of whiteboards we write on iPads with sketchio  

I love Twitter for professional development.  If I'm following someone it's becasue I trust their judgment and value their opinions.  So when someone tweets about an article, I can trust that I want to read it.  I don't subscribe to professional magazines (who can afford to, really?) and don't have time to search for articles.  Yet on Twitter I can find articles and websites that are amazing and timely.  

New guidelines for tech & young children by and

Think Share Teach: Teaching in the one-iPad Classroom | blog post of things you can do with the lone iPad.

One  of the best ways for free professional development is to follow a conference hashtag such as #iste2012 or #mobile2012 or #naeyc12 - attendees tweet quotes, key ideas, resources and links... which you can digest in the comfort of your comfiest chair while they sit in a cold or hot, crowded conference room on hard chairs.  
Good Teaching nuggets

I don't look at the app and try to teach it. I teach math and find an app that goes with it. - Go !! 

From Graham of Learning Without Frontiers on QR Codes "just because it's digital doesn't mean it's good ;)"  

Twitter also is a GOOD source for free apps/websites
45 of these 60 educational iOS apps are free: (via &

New free iOS app BrainPOP Jr. Movie of the Week is fun for students in grades K-3:

Through Twitter I found out about Daily Five- which revolutionized my literacy instruction this year.  My kids BEGGED for Daily Five time.  
For your reading pleasure: archive to tonights re: . Enjoy!

And Symbaloo and the AWESOME #kinderchat mixes

Here is the link to the webmix of youTube songs to get them moving

AND Wonderopolis

BTW is brought to you by the great people at

And my classroom families LOVED when I discovered how to use Facebook to connect and share daily what we were doing in class

RT : I use a closed group for my class FB page. Little more info here

Resources too great to miss

Kids loved that THE author was rdg it RT : The Kissing Hand B&N online storybook: .

Tweeting is not just for adults- get your kinder kids involved next year- as I tweeted ealier it is a way to connect them with the world, give them authemtic reasons to read and write, an audience, and expose them to culture and diversity AND timezones!  
Great blog post about tweeting with kinders

more re K and tweeting

Another about tweets in K

Lastly, the laughs on Twitter are awesome when it's humor you totally get becasue it's from the kinder-universe:  Hint- look at the picture in the link!

Sometimes play is awkward worst part "Mr. Gomez you are the one on top" ... I changed tables after that

So,  if you've been hesitant to join Twitter... I hope you'll dive in and discover it's amazing opportunities for connecting, learning, and especially teaching!  Follow some of the people I copied the tweets from @matt_gomez @tonyvincent @hechternacht @mr_fines @tcea and definitely check out #kinderchat on Monday nights or anytime for great kinderworld inspirations!

Tell me how you use it in your professional life and say hi on twitter: My accounts are @i_teach_k or @tweetsueh

Friday, July 13, 2012

Protecting your iPad


My lovely iPad was thrown to the cement ground in a baseball dugout while unprotected by a 4 year old (not mine) a couple of weeks ago and suffered significant cracks in all corners similar to this picture.  I was playing softball at the time and when I saw it I had a really hard time focusing on the ball- I felt nauseous and shaky- and going through my mind was: My iPad, my baby!  My husband's going to kill me! I was an idiot to let my kids play it and share it with friends, I can't afford a new iPad... Upon arriving home I did a patch job using packing tape over the corners, what a sad sorry sight!  It worked though and felt safe  Then a few days later my son was using it and I heard a pop and watched as those corner cracks spidered across my screen and now I have a completely cracked screen.  I am using it gently with saran wrap (necessity is truly the mother of invention and it actually works pretty well as a screen cover- although it does scratch easy) over it to test an app and to access apps as I work on an upcoming presentation.  My husband tells me I can send it away to Apple or a repair shop and for about $200 I can get a new screen.  He also found instructions online for do it yourself repair instructions.  A new screen can be purchased through (all links on this post will go to Amazon- I don't get anything from it, it's just the easiest way for me to comparison shop) here for about $30.  That is the route we are going to try.  I will let you know how it goes.  I miss my iPad and am anxous to have it restored to it's former glory.

I mentioned in an earlier post how sturdy the iPads are and that my classroom set has survived two years of daily use by 5 and 6 year olds.  They are ALWAYS protected in a folio style cover which has shock absorbing rubber at each corner. The raised corners also protects the screen from direct contact with a table or floor if dropped.

One of the best ways to protect your classroom iPad(s) is to TEACH proper care and use.
My rules:   iPads are carried with two hands (similar to library books, and yes, we practice!), one iPad at a time.  At cleanup time the children like to take as many as they can to the shelving cart- this is a no no.  iPad 'folders' must be closed when walking and stay on at all times.  iPads are used only when sitting- exceptions being when doing a marching band, taking photos or videos or other project related activities- playing Angry Birds does NOT count.  iPads do not belong at the snack table.  iPads left unattended on the ground will be confiscated and placed into protective custody.

There are man, many options available to protect your iPad.  Covers (the so called 'Smart Cover' does NOT belong in a primary classroom as it falls off much too easily), screen protectors, and stands to name a few. I was given an Ekto2 by Uziball to try out and I am positive if it had been on my iPad at the time of it's abuse it would have escaped injury completely unfazed.  It's silicone cushiony goodness would keep an eggshell from cracking (I think.  I have not tested it out!)  However, on MY iPad the case always hit the power button at inconvenient times and would power off my device.  So my children (and I) were always removing it to be able to avoid that pesky flaw.

I have a Kenningston Bluetooth Keyboard Folio Case which I love.   It was not on my iPad because it needed to be charged.  The folio probably  would have protected the iPad (the corner protection is a little skimpy), but it's not conducive to play (too bulky) so I am sure the kids would have taken it off too during play so the screen still would have cracked. At least I am telling myself that!  This case is great for adults and older students though.

IPEVO Perch Sofa / Side Stand for iPad 2 & New iPad 3 - Black (M)IPEVO (the same people who made the amazingly affordable document camera P2V- Point 2 View USB camera)- has a nifty product called the Perch.  It it good for an iPad in a play center or at a desk.  It is not easily portable by children (lets face it- it's during transportation that the iPad is most vulnerable to dropping) but holds the iPad snugly and would eliminate accidentally knocking the iPad to ground from a table.  It is easy to adjust the tilt of the screen.  There are three options: the tabletop Perch, the couch or podium height- S,M, or L.  I prefer the couch height/M for classroom use.  What is not convenient is transporting from the perch to a case so that it can be handheld and used by students in other locations.  Plus, you'd STILL need a good sturdy case.  Certainly this is a good option for students who'd use the iPad only at their desk/table or a teacher with a one iPad classroom.

Some other options that I have NOT tried:
iGuy (fits all iPads) The iGuy has good reviews and look at that playful appearance! but one mentioned some difficulty hooking up the charger (a common complaint amongst cases/covers). 
GRIPCASE FOR iPad 2nd & 3rd Generation - BLUE

OtterBox Defender Series for The New iPad 3 3rd Generation & iPad 2 - Black
Otterbox Defender  (left) has a built in screen protector apparently and good reviews.
amCase (TM) Premium Screen Protector Film Clear (Invisible) for Apple iPad 2 and the New iPad (iPad 3, 3rd Generation) (2-Pack) NEWEST MODEL

The Gripcase (right) is recommended by Melissa who chronicles her iPad journey in K here.

Screen covers MIGHT be a good investment (your first scratch will make you wish you had used one), however, with a good case, the screen SHOULD be safe with normal K use. 

A good source for screen covers,  cases and other iPad accessories would be  Their cases aren't as classroom friendly as I would like to see, but for screen covers and even iPad stands- check them out.
Ziploc Freezer Bag, Gallon Value Pack, 30-Count

Lastly, (for now) I will leave you with my cheap protection idea for using the iPad near water (I KNOW it sounds terrible) but just think of science experiments, outdoor videos...
Think Ziplock!  Gallon size ziplock backs seal in iPads beautifully and sandwich bags work great for iPhones and iPods.

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