Why I love iPad’s in the classroom and the apps I can’t live without…

I am a huge fan of using any hook at all to get children engaged and motivated with learning. Whether it be a mantle such as a letter or competition, a popular film, game, toy, or an interactive and creative way of working.  A few years ago, by total chance, I came across a brilliant blog by Lee Parkinson,  Mr P’s ICT blog Tech to raise standards.  Lee is one of my favourite bloggers, as well as a really inspiring educator. I have followed him with interest in the past 2 years, and tried lots of his original ideas, as well as tweaking some to fit my children’s needs.  One of the most fascinating things is his rationale of “Camouflage Learning”.

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Camouflage Learning is where the children become immersed and engaged without realising they are actually learning.  I felt the urge to try this immediately.  In just over a year, I went from using iPad’s in the class sporadically, to incorporating them as an integral tool.  It was fascinating learning with the children, but also changed my perception of how they could be used to enhance learning, not teach.  Rather than looking for apps to teach certain subjects or topics, I began to see how apps could be integrated to bring topics and subjects to life, with learning objectives at the very heart.  My app library changed from 100’s of specific apps for maths etc, to a bank of apps that could be used all across the curriculum to enhance learning and understanding, and present and display work in a variety of ways.  Apps such as Explain Everything, iMovie, Book Creator, Pic Collage, Adobe Voice, Puppet Edu, Aurasma, YAKiT Kids, DoInk Green Screen, Qrafter, Class Dojo and Showbie have changed the way in which we learn and how we show our learning in our class, becoming indispensable.

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My favourite comment from a child this year has been “HA HA HA Mr Tullock, all we’ve done is play on the iPads!”.  In actual fact, the Year 3 boy in question had been learning how to find a fraction of a set of objects, and explain how to do this using Explain Everything.  This was from a boy who was reluctant to pick up a pencil and paper, but is brilliant at verbally explaining his ideas and reasoning.  By using a different medium to record his work, he rapidly grew in confidence.  Over the course of a few days he went from recording audio of his methods, to recording diagrams of his methods, to writing explanations about his methods and diagrams. 3 days to go from no writing through his own choice.  This happened not just with one child, but right across the class.  The power of hidden learning.  It has revolutionised the way I teach, the way the children learn, and the rate of progress and attainment.  The children no longer wait to be taught; they are independent learners.

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