Friday, June 13, 2014

Guest Post from Meghan Harris: iPods and iPads Tips and Tools

What an honor to have been given this opportunity to write a post on Jayne's blog!  I'm so excited!  Thanks for having me!
I am a 10th year teacher from a small school system in Hart County Georgia.  I am currently an Intervention Specialist at my school, pulling out EIP students in grades Kindergarten through 3rd grade.   A huge part of my classroom is devoted to technology…specifically iPods and iPads!  I could totally be an Apple sales lady when I grow up :)  Today, I'm going to share with you a little of how I use iPods and iPads in my pull out classroom.
This is my docking/charging station in my classroom.  It is set up right next to my teacher station so that I can quickly charge, pass out, and pick up the devices during my 6 different pull out groups.  (To get a complete tour of my room click here.)

I currently have 15 iPod touch devices and 3 iPads for students to use daily in my room.  When I pull a group of 12-15 students at a time, the iPods/iPads keep the students who aren't directly with me for small group instruction quiet, engaged, and learning!

Here's another close up view… yep… it's a dish drying rack!  It holds all of the devices in perfect position, the small cup circles hold the chargers, and the utensil holder is perfect for styluses.  The small drawer next to it holds wipes, ear buds, etc.

All of my devices have backgrounds and lock screen with my name and the device's number so that students know which one they have and know exactly where to return it to.  This also works as a check out system for when students get to take them home.  YES, I might be crazy but I allow students to take the iPods home when they've done something amazing like learn all their sight words, count to 100, etc.  These were purchased from Amazon in used condition for $67 each.  So they are fairly cheap, great motivators and they have always been returned. :)

Here's a picture of how I send the iPods home with students in a little sleeve that we put into their homework folders.  I generally only send 4-5 home at a time so that I still have plenty for other groups the remainder of the school day.

For safety, I have all of the iPods and iPads locked from Safari, YouTube, adding/deleting apps, and other such sites.  This is very easy to do under the general settings of your devices.  You can easily add these features back when doing research or watching educational videos.  Even when the devices are taken home, I know that students are safe!!!  I suggest all classrooms that use these amazing tools to do this!

Now on to how I use iPods and iPads in my classroom!  I mainly use iPads for my small groups with me and the iPods for independent stations.

At the beginning of the year, we were using the styluses to practice our handwriting and fine motor skill using free apps for letter writing with my Kindergarteners.  First and second graders started with sight word apps.

Toward the end of the year, I added new apps to keep students engaged and challenged.  I was able to purchase a couple of libraries of books from the Read Me Stories app and loaded them on ALL of my devices!  This is amazing since most app purchases have a limit to the number of devices that you can load them on.  So all 15 iPods have two huge libraries of books to choose from.

If you have older generation devices click here for a search engine just for you!!!  It allows you to select your devices and find apps that are compatible.  It can be very frustrating when you are not able to find just what you are looking for.

Throughout the day, I pull anywhere from 15-30 small groups (6 periods and 3-5 groups in each period).  So it is important for me to find perfectly leveled materials for each differentiated group.  To best serve my students, I've found that using iPads at some point during my small group instruction has really enriched my teaching.  From QR codes to find answers, leveled readers with Hooked on Phonics or Reading A-Z, educational videos on YouTube, or just learning apps for sight words, my groups leave my table with a higher knowledge of content and more enthusiasm.
I use a ton of QR codes in all of my classes!!!  You can find a ton of QR activities in my TPT store.  One of my favorites are my QR Code Phonics Puzzles.  

I'm going to leave you with one additional tip that helps my iPad stations run smoothly and a freebie!  I've found that with tiny hands running devices, apps can suddenly be "accidentally" ended too soon and more "interesting" apps suddenly appear without being "clicked on."  Well teacher friends…there is a solution!!!  Let me share it with you…

Finally, as a HUGE thank you for Jayne for allowing me to be featured on her blog and to you for reading, I would like to offer you a free download of my iKnow My iPad Rules Posters.  

 I hope you have found some of these tricks, tips, and ramblings helpful for your classroom.  Please stop by my blog, TPT, Facebook page or Instagram so that you can Keep Up with Mrs. Harris.  I hope to hear from you soon!
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Thank you, Meghan, for packing this post with great information. I learned many new things and I know my Smart Kids readers will appreciate your tips! Be sure to leave Meghan some love in the comments!
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  1. What a thorough post! I am spending some of my summer in district technology training, and hope to become more savvy! Thanks for helping me understand how to organize the tools and introducing me to some great apps!

    1. Thank you Jennifer! I hope this helped some. I teach the technology professional development in my school system so let me know if you have any questions I might can help with :)

  2. Thanks for all the great tips. They will definitely come in handy since we are going 1/1 iPads this year.

    Luv My Kinders

  3. Great post.
    I'm having trouble accessing the link to the iPad rules posters

  4. Thanks a lot for your effective post.QR Code Phonics Puzzles application is a snappy and simple intelligent phonics habitat for some distinctive levels of learners. The two piece riddle sets incorporate a picture on one side and afterward a QR code which uncovers a saying to match.Have a nice day~Helen:)

  5. great idea for storing the ipads