Top 10 Uses for an iPad in K-2 classrooms

10. Reader (iBooks, Type on PDF, eBooks) - iBooks is where I store all of my articles I am reading (I even have libraries within iBooks for Special Ed, Common Core, etc.).  However, I am the type who likes to take notes while I read and iBooks does not have that ability.  So if I am reading a research article I usually open it in Type on PDF so that I can take notes, type comments, and highlight on the article and then email it to myself and I can open it again in iBooks with all my notations.  You can also use iBooks to share eBooks with the whole class.  Check out my list of eBooks that are math related HERE.

9. Whiteboard (Dry Erase) - If you are lucky enough to have a 1-to-1 iPad classroom, getting the Dry Erase app lets the students use their iPad like the whiteboard.  Then you can have them hold up their iPad to show answers or quickly share it via AirPlay to the whole class (see #4 below).  If you just have a teacher iPad you can have the kids write on it and it will project up so that everyone can see their work.

8. Create Presentations (Keynote) - Keynote is the Mac version of PowerPoint.  I create all my presentations on Keynote.  There might be other options - let me know if you have a good one!  Just an FYI, the functionality of Keynote on the iPad is not the same as it is on a Mac computer.  I used to create on the iPad until I got my Macbook, now I create on my Macbook and use the iPad to present.

7. Record a lesson for an absent student (Educreations) - Educreations is a virtual whiteboard, but has the capability of recording (drawings and sounds).  You can import pictures from your camera, if needed, to help illustrate a certain concept.  Or just draw right on the blank screen and discuss the concept your class is working on.  Once it is recorded, you save it to your lessons and when a child returns from an absence you can have them watch it, or if their parents have the Educreations app on their device you can send them a link to watch it while the child is with them.

6. Virtual Notebook (Penultimate) - Penultimate is a virtual notebook that will enable your students to save their notes or their work in that notebook format.  You can create multiple notebooks within the app, which is great if you have to share iPads with other classrooms or if you just have a small number of iPads that kids have to share.

5. Videotape student thinking (the built-in camera & Vid Editor FREE) - A great way to enhance a student‘s portfolio is to record their thinking.  If a student has come up with a great strategy or you just want to document them reaching a certain new level of achievement, open up the Camera on your iPad and record a video.  Then if you want to edit that video, use the Vid Editor FREE app.  It will allow you to cut out parts of a video you don’t want or you can even combine multiple videos (like to show where a student was at the beginning of the year to where they are now).

4. Instantly share student work (AirServerApp, Skitch, & iPad Stand with CamDraw) - Ok, this one might be long...there are so many ways you can share students’ work! 
  • If you only have one iPad, the Skitch app allows you to write on an image.  So, if I see a student who has a great strategy, I go into the Skitch app and take a picture of it.  Then when I have it projected on the screen and we are talking about the strategy I can circle or highlight certain parts as we are discussing. 
  • Your iPad can act like a document camera.  Anything you point the camera at will show up on your projector, but I highly suggest getting an iPad stand (there are a few out there, this is the one I found that wasn’t extremely expensive).  When your iPad is placed in the stand it stabilizes the iPad and allows children to slide their work underneath the camera.  The CamDraw app allows you to “write” on the document that you are seeing through the camera.
  • If you have multiple iPads in your classroom feel lucky, and then go get the AirServer App (or an Apple TV).  The Apple TV does exactly the same thing as the AirServer App (as far as I can tell...I have not found anything different)...however, the AirServer App costs $15 where the Apple TV costs $99.  So I suggest the AirServer App!!!  Before you download the AirServer App, check with your district’s tech person to make sure it will work at your school.  Basically, the app downloads on your computer that is hooked to your projector.  That computer and your iPad(s) need to be on the same wireless internet connection (this is how they talk to each other).  When you double-click the home button on your iPad and swipe left, the AirPlay button will be there and you select the computer you want to project to and toggle to turn Mirroring On.  Then whatever is on your iPad gets mirrored on the computer and thus projected onto the screen (wirelessly).  So if students are working on their iPads and you want one of them to share what they are doing all they have to do is double-click the Home button and get to AirPlay so they can turn the Mirroring On.

3. Record student justifications or have them collaborate to create a lesson (Educreations) - I have already mentioned Educreations, but it is so fabulous I thought I’d do it again!  My favorite way to use this app is to have students recored their thinking as they justify how they solved a problem (Think Video Portfolio!!!).  Once you download the app on your iPad you can check out my 5-year-old son justifying how he knows an amount during a subitizing activity HERE, (FYI...he was just learning how to use the app and liked playing with the pen function:).  You can also have a group of students collaborate to create a lesson to share with the whole class.  Sometimes children are shy about getting in front of a whole class, this will allow them record themselves talking and creating and then share it without having to physically be at the front of the room.

2. Compare/Contrast Strategies or compile pics of students’ thinking throughout the quarter (the built-in camera & PicStitch) - PicStitch allows you to make a collage out of pictures.  I’ve used this app to take two pictures of student strategies, put them side-by-side and project them up so we can compare and contrast.  However, you could also compile multiple student work samples and then use it as another piece to place in a child’s portfolio of work.

1. Build Mathematical Understanding with all the amazing math apps.  That's right, that's the name of this blog, so the math apps had to be number one.  Check out all my pages of apps, organized by the mathematical concept they address.  I will be posting another Top 10 Top 10 K-2 Math Apps, which is proving to be very difficult to narrow down to only 10.  So check back soon, or better yet, JOIN the site! :)

What do you think?  Did I leave out your favorite way to use an iPad?  If so, leave a comment below.