I started with one iPad before anyone realized how they would change our classrooms. My staff made fun of me. My principal at the time thought I was nuts. Parents could not understand what their kids were doing. No one believed my one iPad mattered, but I knew, and the kindergarten kids knew, our classroom would never be the same.
Three years later, I cannot imagine teaching without iPads. I currently have a 2:1 iPad ratio. My students are engaged, they believe their work matters, and they are confident learners. They have become independent, curious students. Their work is differentiated. Some days, when I look over my classroom and realize that every student is on task, and there is that quiet hum of contentment, I know having iPads is part of that success. We are not working harder, we are working smarter.
I started small, and still do. At the beginning of the school year, I introduce iPads by modeling. They just watch me, and I begin to instill in them how I care for and use my iPad for learning and sharing. I do whole group work using my iPad under my document camera so the children can interact with me, and we model iPad skills together. Within a few days, I begin what I call a "slow release." I teach a few children at a time how to access an app, or login with a password. We begin with a few apps at a time. I do a lot of monitoring, and have a "no tolerance" policy for iPad antics. We learn in small groups. And then magic begins. They can do it. They work in pairs. The collaborate to solve problems. They can move in and out of apps on cue. And sometimes, they carry their iPad back to me with that confused look in their eyes, and reteaching or troubleshooting begins. We are learning together.
What about you? What will you do with your iPads? Remember that little blue engine that taught us the power of the words, "I think I can, I think I can"? I love that story. That little engine moved forward one little chug at a time. You can transform your classroom too, one little chug at a time. Try one app. Draw a digital picture. Create a digital story. Take a photo and email it home. Just do one new thing with your iPads today. I think you can.