The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.-Chinese Proverb
As with all things new, starting small often helps lead to bigger things. Many classes with iPads aren’t fortunate enough to have 1:1. Looking at maximizing learning and use of the iPads is key. In our early days of the pilot program, I originally was scheduled to have only 12 iPads for use in small groups/centers. Within the first hour of using them, I knew we needed (and could do amazing things) with a class set. By the end of that week, we had a class set. But what of those first few days with 12 iPads?
My first priority was to get them in the children’s hands during guided reading. That is where we established expectations, learned how to use them, and began the important work of setting up personal learning plans. Since I had only 12 for such a short time, I didn’t have the issue of storing work on only 12 iPads. However, if we had remained at that number, I would have assigned children to specific iPads and would have had them upload their work to their individual folder in PaperPort. Beyond guided reading groups, I wanted them to use the iPads for some writing activities and self-selected reading activities. Kindergarten is never “all or nothing” learning. We do some writing with pencil and paper, and some on the iPad. We read some books on the iPad and some regular books. We do word work, math, and phonics at times on the iPad and at times with manipulatives. By starting small, the children (and the teacher) gain confidence in guided use. Starting small also gives teachers a good idea of which children need close monitoring and which ones can handle a little more freedom.
Even though I have a class set now, I still like small group work best. I like being a close observer of what the children are experiencing. Where are their successes or their areas of struggle? Are they guessing at answers or do they know them? With the new iOS6, there is a new feature called Guided Access. It allows a parent, teacher, or administrator to limit an iOS device to one app by disabling the Home button, as well as restrict touch input on certain areas of the screen. It lets you control what features are available during use. Just go to Settings, then General, then Accessibility, and turn guided access on.
So, whether you have a class set or just a few iPads, keep it simple, start small. As you find your children progressing, you will find limitless uses for the iPads.
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