After 1 semester of an iPad in the classroom I can tell you that it’s a great tool. I admit that when I first bought the iPad I tried to justify its purchase by telling my wife that, “Of course I’ll use it in the classroom too.”
The device on its own, right out of the box is good, but the apps make it great. Number one app for me? Bento. It’s a must buy for any educator using the iPad in the classroom. Bento is a personal database management tool. It is easy to work with and can be customized in numerous ways.
Bento allows a teacher to create a class list with any number of customized fields for each student. Currently mine is set up with nearly 20 fields and grows almost every day. Adding a field on the fly takes less then a minute. Some of fields I have are listed below:
- Last name (text box)
- First name (text box)
- Photo (photo inserted)
- Independent reading level (drop down menu)
- Identifies author’s message (check box: yes/no)
- Reads with expression (drop down menu)
- Writing Continuum stage (drop down menu)
- Spelling Continuum stage (drop down menu)
- Math (approaching, on, above) grade level (drop down menu)
- Notes (text box)
You can create as many fields as you like. My favorite part of using Bento is the sorting feature. I can quickly sort my class and find out who needs additional help. For example I can quickly sort the class and find out who needs additional with identifying author’s message. With two clicks I instantly have a small group of kids that I can pull for a strategy session.
Fortunately the novelty of the iPad has worn off for the kids and they know I’m not walking around playing the latest version of Angry Birds. I had a chat with them and showed them exactly what I’m using the iPad for while I walk around the room. They don’t even give it a second thought now.
I’m a geek and I love tech in the classroom. When the first generation of Palm Pilots came out I tried to justify the purchase with the same criteria, “I’ll use it in the classroom.” That never worked. The interface was not suitable. I’m so glad the iPad fixed that.