Sunday, January 20, 2013

How Apple Has Changed My Primary Classroom

Apple technologies have transformed my learning environment from a 4-wall classroom to a no wall classroom.  Never before, were we able to connect, communicate, collaborate and create on a local, national and global scale with such ease and transparency.

My primary classroom has gone from using large quantities of paper to going virtually paperless.   Dropbox accounts on the iPads are used to save work.  Students use blogs as digital portfolios.  The ease of the Kidblog App has ensured that my students can independently upload videos, text, and pictures to their blogs effortlessly.  Apple intuition makes these apps a breeze for my early learners.

My students are no longer “absorbing” the curriculum through the teacher.  They are creating and playing with the information we discover together.  They are using the iPads to create videos to teach other students how to make patterns, how to read and how to tell time.  They are creating interactive books about insects and spiders and “how to books” using video they have taken themselves.  They are making their learning visible for the world to see using content creation apps.

When you combine the power of an Apple TV, projector, and the iPad the adaptability of technology is endless.  We use the Apple TV, iPad and projector in various combinations to enable different types of activities.  My students can now share what they are doing to the entire class with the touch of a button.  My students are all physically involved in the learning instead of 20 children watching one child up at an Interactive Whiteboard.  As for transforming my teaching, Apple TV has provided a mobile platform from which classroom activities can be initiated.  I can now use different apps to display video, and teach lessons from anywhere in my classroom and allow my students to participate from wherever they are seated in a variety of interactive activities.

Apple technologies have allowed my students to be able to connect with students from all over the world.  The world is larger than my students had imagined and Apple brings it to the carpet.  As well as learning from each other, we are learning from other students and teachers in different cities, provinces and countries.  We learned about perspective this past month on Google Hangout by a teacher in British Columbia.  When the hurricane hit New York last year, my students wanted to send out a tweet to their Twitter friends in New York to make sure they were okay.  My learners have a wealth of information at their fingertips.  Students are able to connect with others individually or in small groups using Facetime, Google Hangout and Skype.

We have connected with other classrooms through our classroom blog and the students’ personal blogs.  We share our learning and our questions using our classroom Twitter account.  We have also participated in a collaborative writing unit.   The students wrote their entire rough draft on their blogs and a class from British Columbia provided feedback.  We wrote our final drafts using the LittleBirdTales App on the iPads and uploaded the final projects to our blogs.
Just this past month, we created a video using the green screen and iMovie to illustrate our traditions and cultures.  Other classes responded to our video and made their own media projects to share with us about their personal traditions and cultures.  The best way to experience what learning in 1/2W looks like is to take a look at the following video:

If you are interested in the iPad Expectation posters you saw in the video (my talented husband @mrwideen made them).  You can download them here.


  1. Thanks for sharing your Apple experience. We too are slowly pushing down the walls! It is an exciting time in education! I have to say though, that I LOVE my smart board and the students and I using it are engaging in an important tactile/visual experience that is different from iPads. We do not have 1:1 iPads, but 5 dedicated to our class. While I sometimes am frustrated by the difficulty of sharing iPads (multi-user), I am not fully convinced that increased screen time afforded by 1:1 iPads is beneficial. I'm full of questions!

    I am worried about students becoming involved in a "screen" of their own vs. a community of learners. How do you find this or take steps to avoid this? I like (sometimes) how only 5 available iPads forces us all to have a balance in activities.

    Apple TV is still new to me and I am only just discovering its capabilities in the classroom. Im learning lots - Thanks for sharing! Loved the Google Hangouts btw!

  2. I do have 1:1 capability in my classroom--combination of desktops, laptops, and iPads-- and this year my youngers K-2nds are so facile in their use of technology in so many different ways. To me, this is so important for what lies ahead for them in the future, BUT I have some of the same questions as Lora: are we losing the creative thinking that happened in projects -- we do less now than we did before because the computer is so adaptable and easily shared around the world. When we learn to make iMovies next, then another door opens, but I don't want to close the others. I realize that I am in control of the balance, but it is something I think about each day. Sometimes we are on screen for at least half the day -- doing very good and relevant things, but I'm not convinced this is the best use of their time. Would love to continue this conversation.

  3. Thank you so much for your comments ladies. YOU are in control of the balance. I think there are many factors that play into this discussion. Choice is a big thing in my classroom. Students are allowed to choose how to show me their learning. If they choose paper, over tech that is completely fine. I want the tech to make them more creative! An example that just happened today was, we are learning about 3D shapes. My students could build a tower out of 3D shapes and fill out a worksheet about their tower or build a tower, take a picture of it, upload the picture into Draw and Tell, explain their picture using the correct terminology and then upload it to their blog if they wanted to. Both ways allowed me to see if they knew their 3D shapes and I gave them a choice of how they wanted to complete the assessment. I think the tech makes the lessons more engaging, creative and thought provoking. I do have 20 iPads, however I share them with another class, therefore a lot of the time they are not working alone, they are working with a peer so they are not solely involved with the "screen". Lora, I had a smart board in my room until I got Apple T.V. now my students can do everything the smart board can do from their iPad. If we are doing something tactile, they pass the iPad to each other instead of getting up and touching it on the smart board. I love the comments lady and would also like to continue the conversation.

  4. Thanks Kirsten, Another question from other teachers in my school are what about printing skills? With more of my work being digital in grade one will the students loose some of their skills holding pencils and crayons and printing properly? Is this important?

    I think choice is very important in the classroom especially in how students show their learning. I love how your students have visual examples of their learning on their blogs. We are only beginning to get there!

    Thanks for responding back!

  5. Sorry - That last comment was me. Another hazard of teens sharing my computer. Something else for me to be aware of!