Saturday, March 8, 2014

A One iPad Classroom: Week One

My name is Brittany Braasch and I am a fourth grade teacher in Nebraska.  This is my fifth year of teaching.  I love working with elementary students and seeing them grow and change throughout their year with me.  I enjoy trying new things with my students, and try to include technology as much as possible.  This year I have had the wonderful opportunity to participate in an Apple Foundations Training where I have been learning about how to utilize my Macbook and an iPad in the classroom.  I received my classroom iPad a little over a week ago and immediately began exploring.  We have just finished our first week of being a one iPad classroom.  I can already say that the iPad has completely changed our classroom.

At the beginning of each day I have my students complete a Daily Oral Language sheet.  This is a great way for students to practice editing and revising, identifying different parts of speech, and improving their language skills.  Over the course of the school year I have noticed that my students are not as engaged with this activity.  When I received my classroom iPad I was excited to try using Notability and AirPlay to project the DOL on the board and then have students take turns answering the questions and explaining their reasoning while using the iPad.  The second I pulled out the iPad, all eyes were on me, and the students were completely engaged.  They loved being able to write on the iPad and explain what they were thinking.  Our discussions about the language amazed me.  Even my quietest students were excited to explain their DOL.

Now came the difficult part…how do I choose who gets to use the iPad next?  Luckily, I have a wonderful coworker across that hall that has a 1:1 iPad classroom.  When I talked to her, she suggested the GroupMaker app.  I downloaded the app, input my students, and immediately noticed a difference.  My students enjoyed watching the app pick names, and were shocked to find out that they could be called on more than once.  This kept the students engaged, even after they had been called on once.  Plus, they didn't question the app like they would question me if I called on the same student more than once!

After lunch my students complete a Daily Spiral Review for our math curriculum.  This review allows students to continue practicing math skills after we have already learned the skill.  This has helped immensely with retention of different math skills.  However, the students were getting tired of going over the spiral review.  I had the same students participating each day, and the students that I was most concerned with continued to struggle with staying focused during this time.  Since I've been using the iPad (again using Notability and AirPlay), the students are once again engaged and the discussions have been amazing.

Our classroom is going to be Pen Pals with a classroom in Arizona.  We are getting ready to write our first letters to the other classroom, but before we started our letters, I wanted to introduce our class to our new Pen Pals.  We decided to make a video to introduce ourselves and show our Pen Pals around our classroom.  Using the iPad we have been able to film ourselves and will then use iMovie to put together our introduction video.  My students have enjoyed creating a script of the important things to include in our video.  We were also able to take a virtual field trip to our Pen Pal's school using Google Earth.  This led to a discussion about the differences in landforms and even the formation of the cities which tied in perfectly to our study of the West in Social Studies.

On Friday we tried a new app: Too Noisy.  During the winter it always gets a little loud in the classroom because the students aren't able to burn off that extra energy outside.  When looking on Pinterest for ideas, I found several references to the Too Noisy app and decided to give it a try.  I didn't say anything to my class, just hooked up my Macbook to the projector, turned on Reflector, and used AirPlay to mirror my iPad onto the screen.  It took about 10 seconds for my students to notice and quiet down.  They knew exactly what it was for!  After a couple of minutes, we talked about what the Too Noisy app is used for, and I challenged the students to transition to the next activity without going above a certain point on the Too Noisy app scale (I just drew a line on the marker board).  The students were shocked to see that simple things like pushing in their chairs would cause the noise level to spike above the line.  This led to a great discussion about how noisy the classroom can become, and how difficult it can be to focus when it is too noisy.  We were able to finish our reading testing in complete silence and the students did so much better on their tests!  This is definitely an app that I will continue using!

So in one short week we have used: Notability, Google Drive, GroupMaker, Too Noisy, Google Earth, and iMovie.  Next week we will be using Tellagami and Keynote.  Students will be working in small groups and creating a Tellagami for the reading vocabulary words.  They will also begin researching a state from the West and creating a Keynote to present to the class.  I can't wait to see what my students create!


  1. Woo Hoo! You are doing so many great things Brittany! I am sure your kids love learning the new apps! I can't wait to see how your pen pal activity goes! I will look forward to reading your posts!!

    1. Thanks Michelle! I love seeing how engaged my students are as soon as I start using the iPad! The kids just finished their pen pal video, so I'll share that soon!

  2. Awesome post, Brittany! So glad you are across the hall and we get to work together! You are rocking having a 1 iPad Classroom! It is impressive what you are doing with your students.

    1. Thanks Monica! I don't know what I would do without you!