iPads in the Classroom

The journey of a thousand learning outcomes begins with a single click…

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Are you a Holistic Educator? Or a dancing monkey?

I really admire Deborah McCallum’s articulate reflections on authentic teaching practices. Check out her blog. Everyday I try to be less of a dancing monkey and to give over control and ownership of my students’ learning.


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These are a few of our favourite (Math) apps…

Working with grade two and three students for the past year, we have explored and learned about many different apps. To answer the question, “Is there an app for that?”, the answer is always “Yes”.  The more relevant question is. “Which app is best for….?”

So, in no particular order, based entirely on anecdotal non-empirically-based evidence, below is a list of apps that our students choose to go back to again and again because they like them.  They find them engaging, fun, with no glitches.  We as teachers like them because they have educational value, little or no violence, and no American content in  areas such as measurement or money.

Do not feel overwhelmed.  Try some out.  Just like shoes, it is a matter of personal preference and fit.

1.  Math Bingo.  Kids like to win the bingo bugs at the end.  They can flick and spin them. 🙂

2. The Pirates.  Solve problems, gather bits of a treasure map, and find the treasure.  The Pirates is multi-disciplinary; students solve problems involving literacy, patterning, spatial sense, and number sense. They have to go through  many levels to achieve their ultimate goal, but they never seem to tire of the quest.

3. Math Minis. Really engaging, sweet little kids that look like fruit and hop out of trees when you answer questions.  Their giggles are infectious.

4. Money with Leo.  Lots of exciting games, all Canadian money.  Kids can navigate to different games and never run out of fun things to do while solving money problems.

5.  Hungry Fish.  It is a very simple game where students  simple number sentences by moving bubbles together for the fish.  We found it a little boring, but it holds a strong appeal for the kids. They are learning their fact families, as well as the consequences of not feeding your fish correctly. :0

6.  Telling Time.  Lots of interactive time games – analog and digital, am and pm.  This app addresses many curriculum expectations, and gives great positive feedback.  Students like the rewards when they achieve certain levels.

7.  Jigsaw Puzzles.  Kids can put together puzzles without losing any pieces!  They can also determine the difficulty level of the puzzle by choosing the numbers of pieces. Some apps even let you personalize the picture by using photos from the iPad’s camera roll.

8.  Math Puppy.  Cute puppies.  ‘Nuff said.

9. Math Racing.  This app appeals to kinesthetic learners; they have to physically move the iPad to navigate their car around the race track, all the while solving math questions.

10.  Number Run.  This is a fast-paced game where students can target the specific skills they want to work on as well as their level of challenge.

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Why is TLLP an Exceptional Professional Learning Opportunity?

TLLP is action research and genuine profession learning at its finest.  

The program allowed us as teachers to define an issue we wanted to target, create a plan, and carry it out.  Along the way, we were given tools and advice when we requested them, but at not point were we ever told what to do nor how to do it.

While at times it did seem strange, to be given the budget and told to go figure it out, it was necessary and valuable. For teachers who are used to being told to follow directives and mandates and the to implement what the research says, it felt a little bit scary or dangerous to be out on our own, making the decisions, spending a budget, reading the literature, creating the research methodology, designing and implementing the project on our own.

It forced us to “own” our learning in every sense of the word. The TLLP program respected our expertise and professional judgement.  We designed and implemented our iPad project on our own, cognizant of our accountability to the Ministry, through the TLLP program, but also aware that – just like our students – given the support and the resources, we have the ability to succeed and to learn valuable lessons.


Some things we learned?

1.  Network.  Get connected with people who have been there before, through personal connections and through social media.  No need to limit yourself to Board colleagues.  

2.  Be meticulous in your research practices.  Make notes when reading because you will forget where you got that great idea – trust me!  Plus, nothing says professional like an annotated bibliography.
3.  Communicate clearly and widely with your school team, administration, technical people within the Board – but also be aware of what each group needs to hear at the time.  Being able to give a brief executive summary is priceless.
4.  iPads make learning fun and kids who are having fun want to stay engaged in learning activities. Our experiences clearly support the theory of gamification. 
5.  It is hard to let go of control -in two main senses:  of the iPads within the school as they head out with other teachers, but also of the direction the learning might take when you give your students greater control of their learning trajectory. 
Some comments from our students when we asked them what they liked about learning with iPads:

When we asked our students what they liked about working with iPads, “FUN”  and/or “It helps me learn” mentioned in 95% of responses.

Some specific comments:


  • It makes Math more interesting
  • We can use our hands
  • iPads have music and action
  • When you play math games, you earn points and can buy stuff for your avatar
  • Glass Mosaic:  You learn about shapes and you can move them around
  • Geoboard: You can move things around when doing geometry and working with shapes
  • Jigsaw puzzles:
  • You can do a jigsaw puzzle and not lose any pieces
  • You can make it easier or harder depending on what you want
    • Math Bingo: It makes adding and subtracting FUN!!!
    • River Test: It is challenging and it helps you with spatial sense
    • Math Puppy: it has cute puppies so people want to play it
    • My Math App:  It wakes up my brain
    • Math Bingo:  You have fun and learn at the same time
    • All About Time:
    • You can turn the hands on the clock
    • It tells you if you are right or wrong right away
      • Hyper Blast:  It helps me improve my adding and subtracting
      • Splash Math 3:  It is fun
      • Math Racing: It is fun because there is racing so you keep playing


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Great Blogs

The internet is an amazing place where we can find many people engaged in similar journeys of learning.  Throughout the course of our TLLP project, I have been fortunate to find many blogs hosted by teachers more knowledgable and experienced that I in regard to the use of iPads in the classroom.  Below is a list of great blogs I recommend:





Edudemic .com

This is a great site for teachers integrating technology in the classroom.  It has great tips and sources.