Four days... that was the length of time my multiage class of fourth, fifth and sixth graders were able to use iPads and needless to say, they were sorely disappointed when their time was up.
Part of the focus for the week was the Oregon Trail because I was in charge of teaching social studies for the week. The first activity we did was walk the "Oregon Trail," while students counted their steps with a iPad. Using the app, Touch Counter, students were able to record each step they made by tapping the screen, while a timer kept track of how long it took them. Students walked the 1/2 mile trail in partners, complaining at the end that their hands were frozen from the 6 degree temperature and needing ungloved hands in order to operate the iPad. However, all the students enjoyed the activity and with the data they gathered, discovered that it took approximately 4.3 million steps to walk the Oregon Trail (only counting forward progress).
Another big activity we used the iPads for was to record student-written Oregon Trail Songs. To the tune of "Home on the Range," students rewrote the verse and chorus to reflect the Oregon Trail landmarks they had researched for a Google Earth project. The songs turned out to be much harder than I had intended, but most of the students seemed to enjoy the process and they really enjoyed getting to record their voices on Garage Band. I had made a recording of the tune using the guitar on Garage Band and students recorded themselves singing to the music. The songs the students made are very fun and reflect a range of musical ability.
In addition to using the iPads for the above mentioned purposes, students played a variety of math and word games throughout the week. Times Table was a huge hit, with students competing for the top record in the class. Some students downloaded the app on their own devices at home and continued to practice, setting extremely high records over the weekend. Word Abacus and Worcle were also some of most chosen apps. The iPads were also used at the end of math class, which comprises students from multiple classes in the school, for students to practice their skills with math games. The students from other classes enjoyed getting to tell their classmates that they had been able to use the iPads.
My students were all really sad when they realized that the iPads were gone and they keep asking me when they will get them again. So I keep reminding them that we will get to have them for another five days after Thanksgiving. Several students reflected on their time with the iPads, using Moveable Write, writing what their favorite thing was and what they might want to do or learn the next time we have the iPads.
[Editor's note: Student reflections are below exported directly from Moveable Write (click to enlarge) and as converted text-- with a few spelling corrections.]
I really liked having the iPads because they were fun to use and they had more things on them than the laptops. Thank you for letting us use them! I iced it when we used them for the presentation thing because it was fun not to have to put together a book for it. I also liked singing on them even though I'm terrible at singing. I was playing the song when I hit Hard Rock. It sounded really cool!
I would like to make a presentation on the iPads because it was really fun fun when I did it at school! We should have to make something! Anything!!!!!!! I wish we could have them instead of laptops. Laptops aren't as good as iPads.
My favorite activity we did with the iPads was the thing when we walked the Oregon Trail and counted our steps. I also liked the free time when we got to play the games. My favorite game is Worcle.
The next time we get to use the iPads I would like to do something kind of like the counting steps activity. The only thing I didn't like about it was that you had to take off your gloves and your hand got really cold. My hand got sort of numb.