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Even the most reluctant learners want a go with an iPad!

Last year, Grant’s Braes School purchased five iPads. These have been so successful that they’re planning to get more, as ICT lead teacher Craig Kemp explains.

At Grant’s Braes School not only is education engaging, fun and exciting but there’s a new word on every student’s lips: iPad.

In September last year, we joined the iPad revolution and purchased a pod of five to help encourage learning in the classrooms across a range of subjects: spelling, reading, maths and inquiry in particular. A few months down the track and they’ve been so successful in engaging even the most reluctant learner that we’re looking at ways to get them into every classroom – our aim is to set up another pod, so we have one for the juniors and one for the seniors.

I cannot believe the excitement the new pieces of technology have caused within the school. The children picked them up and without any teaching knew exactly what to do. They love to use the new technology and it’s brought our whole community together. Every day sees a new child bringing a family member into my room to show them the iPads and what they can do. I encourage it, too. It’s great to see so many people excited about learning.

Used by everyone

We started off with a goal of leading the way with ICT in our region and we are achieving this. After a lot of research, we got the iPads and decided to involve as many experts as possible. We talked to people around New Zealand and the world as to the best educational apps to use – we now have more than 130 free and paid apps that the children utilise in their learning every day. I download and then sync them to the machines, and try them out with my kids before sharing them with staff during weekly PD sessions, both as a whole school and in syndicate meetings.

Initially, I was worried they may just be utilised by the senior students but boy was I wrong. They’re used by every classroom in our school and by all children, from five to 11 year olds. Their ease of use is what makes them so appealing – anyone can pick one up, quickly learn how to use it, and play a game or use an application to help with their learning. They’re an amazing tool!

More iPads for more students

As a school that prides itself in giving our children every opportunity and that every child matters, trying iPad was an opportunity that we could not turn down. We now realise five is not enough and plan on expanding into several more. We want to expose more children, more often to the fantastic learning benefits that this type of technology offers.

The challenges have been that it takes time to get to where we are. It takes time to download and read through and try each and every application to make sure it is suitable. Reading blogs and articles about their use and benefits is time consuming but worth it. There are a lot of fantastic mathematics apps out there and some great ones to incorporate into inquiry – it’s now about diversifying and seeing what else there is. Making the iPad an eBook reader combined with all of the other great features is a treasure.

Just let the kids play

Things are going so well. All classes now use them all the time. There’s never a time where they’re not used. Our brilliant caretaker has made a pod and painted it so storage and charging is easy! My senior pupils are in charge of charging them when needed and looking after them (such as screen cleaning, etc.).

One of the most important things that I have come to learn from experiencing iPads in my classroom is to just let kids play and that collaboration is the most powerful tool this technology provides. There’s an unwritten rule in my room that these devices should be used by two people at all times. The children love this and get so much more from it.

Overall, they’re brilliant, 10 out of 10. People cannot compare them to a computer because they’re different. They’re collaborative tools for use with children in groups and independent – great for consolidating numeracy strategies and knowledge, reading and recording/

assessing children’s abilities, spelling practice. We’re just providing what children of the digital generation need: access to the most up-to-date technology to aid in their learning.

Craig Kemp is ICT Lead Teacher at Grant’s Braes SchooL in Waverley, Dunedin.

http://www.weareroom1.wikispaces.com
Email: craigk@grantsbraes.school.nz

Comments
Pad or Not…   Posted: 7/08/2011 9:43 PM
I notice curiousity is growing. Like any classroom, we need to select tools for their best purpose and potential. We have decided that I-Pads will best suit targeted groups and teachers using creative/ critical thinking are best matched to laptops….
Craig Kemp   Posted: 28/03/2011 10:54 PM
Hi Lorraine That is excellent 🙂 Would love to touch base about apps that you have enjoyed using etc. add me on twitter @mrkempnz or email craigk@grantsbraes.school.nz – alternatively you can contact me on our class wiki – weareroom1.wikispaces.com – would love to chat soon Craig P.S. Thank you to those people who have been contacting me for info re: ipads – will respond in due course – please feel free to touch base.
Lorraine Taylor   Posted: 26/03/2011 8:23 PM
We have had a similar experience. We have 6 ipads which we are using in our junior classes. Our 5 year olds who have been at school 8 weeks took to using apps on the ipad with no training or direction. It is amazing to watch. We are keeping a video diary of their progress to see where they go over the next 6 months with ipad apps.
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