Using iPads in the classroom

December 5, 2014 Published by

At Fundamentally Children, we are always interested to hear about how schools are using iPads and other tablets to support learning in the classroom. Corsham Primary School was one of the first schools to introduce iPads in the classroom. We spoke to Gemma Wade, Foundation Stage teacher at Corsham Primary School, Member of Pickwisk Learning about this subject.

Why did Corsham Primary School choose to introduce iPads in the classroom?

Henri_Le_Worm in the classroomMy school has always been ahead of the game with computing as we are very aware of our rapidly changing world and the fact that as teachers we must enable children to become independent learners with the necessary skills for the 21st century web based world. I once heard a quote that 80% of the jobs that our 5 year olds will be doing by the time they are in employment don’t actually exist yet. The world is moving on so rapidly with IT that our role as teachers is to ensure our children become lifelong learners and not educating them simply for exams. At Corsham Primary School we do this by teaching what we refer to as BLP – Building Learning Power. Through this we teach children how to be Resilient, Resourceful, Reflective and use Relationships (the 4R’s) and a key part of this involves the use of technology.

“I once heard a quote that 80% of the jobs that our 5 year olds will be doing by the time they are in employment don’t actually exist yet. “

Before iPads became a household product, our school used PDAs in certain year groups within the school. These palmtop computers were used in class to enhance learning as they enabled children to research topics and access additional resources to support the curriculum and therefore using all four of the ‘4R’s’. Children were also given the opportunity to take these devices home to further their home learning and this scheme proved very successful with the support of parents, children and teachers alike. Therefore once iPads became the new ‘must have’ tablet then Corsham Primary School were on board. 

So how many iPads to you have?

Being a large school of 22 classes, we now have 44 iPads in school for children to access.

How are the iPads supporting learning in the classroom?

They are empowering children to learn in new ways; being resourceful as well as collaborative, being imaginative as well as logical, teachers are using the iPads in various ways according to the pupils age. 

Reception year: The Foundation Stage, we use the iPads in every session to support the learning objective. Whether the lesson is maths based or communication and language based, there is almost always an app that can support the learning. Also, of course the use of the iPads means that children are developing areas within understanding of the world as well as physical development (in line with the EYFS curriculum). 

A teacher reads to schoolchildren in a primary classAcross other year groups children are not only using iPads to extend their learning through challenges set by the teacher but also to support the learning.

Supporting additional needs: Whether, a child needs EAL support (where English is not their first language) or a child has special educational needs (SEN support) the apps used can be chosen specifically for individual learners.

Supporting guided reading: Another excellent use of iPads in the classroom is within the guided reading session. Whilst children are either reading with the teacher or using their ‘4R’s’ during independent learning activities, children are accessing some wonderful reading and phonics apps in pairs. Many apps have several levels to choose from and particularly the phonics and comprehension apps are often specific in the phonemes targeted and/or the reading level required therefore the app and level can be chosen by the teacher for the individual pupils.

Can you give me some examples of apps you’ve found particularly good in the classroom?

As teachers we are always on the look out for new and exciting apps to use in the classroom. Fundamentally Children’s Good App Guide have begun making this search so much easier for us. We love the way that the level of skills developed are already rated for us!  

Favourite apps to use in my classroom include;

Read with Biff Chip Kipper logo* Read with Biff, Chip and Kipper and Forest Phonics for early reading and phonics skills

* Maths age 4-6  and Moose Maths for all areas of the maths curriculum 

* ABC joined up and Funny Letters for handwriting because we teach cursive writing from Foundation Stage at Corsham Primary School. 

We aim to ensure the apps we use also fit in with our class topic. For instance when we had our communication and language topic on ‘Bears’ we had the Three Bears Cottage as our role play area, the Bears Cave in our outside area and our maths learning all about counting and positional language with bears. We therefore also had several apps to do with bears from Teddy Bear Maker to Goldilocks jigsaw apps. This does involve a little research time and having fun playing apps at home to check content but it does assist in providing children with an all rounded creative and stimulating topic. 

How do you keep children safe when using the tablets?

Of course there are a few things to watch out for when allowing children to access iPads. We take esafety extremely seriously at Corsham Primary School and therefore the same filters are used on iPads as on class PCs but in addition to this, staff are aware that additional protection needs to be established for the ipads.  For example, many teachers use iPads for their own use as well as the children’s therefore emails need to be password protected.

To summarise – what is your experience of using apps to support child development?

I have found that if chosen appropriately, apps can help develop specific skills, excite children, allow them to take risks and develop confidence. In my experience they consolidate learning without children even realising it!

This article is taken from an interview with:

Gemma Wade, Foundation Stage teacher, Corsham Primary School, Member of Pickwick Learning

Please share your comments or contact us if your school has iPads or other tablets and you are interested in sharing your experience or if you are a parent of a child who uses tablets at school.

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