As iPads and tablets are gaining popularity in schools, I often hear questions from teachers like ‘I’m getting some iPads for my Year 3/4 class what apps do you recommend?’ That question is often loaded with the expectation that somewhere out there is an app which will drag an existing classroom programme into the 21st century with just a few downloads from the app store.
Anyone know of a good reading app?
Yes I know of an outstanding reading app, it’s called a book. There are thousands of them at your local library. But surely we’ve all worked out that plonking students in a library and leaving them to it will not on its own ensure kids learn to read?
Which is why I feel so uneasy about app farming.
There are plenty of apps out there that seem educational and undoubtedly find their way onto classroom iPads without much thought. However once you take the bells and whistles away many apps don’t do much to enhance student engagement. Lots of skill and drill but is that what really engages learning? If the app keeps the kids quiet while you get on with group work, then it must be good right?
What happens when the kids tire of the gimmick?
That’s an expensive piece of hardware on the table.
For me it always comes back to purpose.
What is it your kids need to learn?
It’s such a simple question that gets lost in the quest to get technology into classrooms or the latest and greatest app on your device. In fact without knowing your kids or your classroom it’s probably impossible for me to recommend effective apps for your students.
Do your kids to show in words and writing a maths strategy? Explain everything is pretty cool.
Collaborate with others? Skype, blogger, twitter, gmail.
Create a rap to explain key ideas from a novel. Garageband is awesome.
Show fermentation at work. iTimelapse is fabulous.
I often wish there was label on each new classroom iPad warning the teacher in charge of the device that just like the book or a pencil, there are millions of ways that the tablet could be used in your classroom and it’s your job to figure out how to make it work best for your learners.
If you don’t know what the specific app does and why you need it what is the point in having it in your classroom?
Lets take the focus off the technology and bring it back onto the learning. Figure out what your classroom needs are then start looking for tools to do the job.