Six months on… Has the iPad Changed My Life?

By the end of this week I will have owned an iPad 2 for six months. It was a bit of a jump for me. Never had an iPhone, always been a Microsoft man; but I took the plunge, sold on the sleek design and potential for real classroom development and change in my practice. A brave new world and all that. Six months later and you’ll be expecting a blog post full of inspiration and invention. Well, not quite.

There are many things which have changed in my classroom because of my iPad but there have also been frustrations. Could I have achieved these changes anyway, without fancy technology and greater willpower? Perhaps. Six months seems like a good time to reflect on the changes.

First of all, the apps that I use.  In class, I make most use of the ‘Kindle’ app to present pages from books I’ve been working on very easily to the class. We worked on pages of ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ and ‘Lord of the Flies’  and the iPad allows me to display important sections and annotate very quickly. I’m sure I could have achieved this with other technology but the iPad allows me to quickly connect to a projector if there is any confusion in the class without having to set up things beforehand. Very handy indeed. I also used the ‘Shakespeare’ app for similar purposes.

Perhaps the most useful app for me, however, has been ‘Essaygrader’. This app allows me to cut down on hours of marking by using a checklist of comments, which I can adapt to my own classes if I don’t want to use the existing generic ones. My students have all said that they find the comments much more helpful. They say that the advice is much more focused and I can use the saved time to concentrate on more evaluative advice. Not a replacement for hard work just a readjustment. I no longer feel that my written comments are often ignored. Highly recommended

More recently though, after reading a marvellous blogpost by Laura Knight I have returned to ‘Evernote’ with vigour. Following in Laura’s shadow, I now plan all of my lessons on this. The simple format allows me to plan much further in advance than I would have done. Or at all. Formal planning has never been a strong point for me. With ‘Evernote’ I can jot down ideas and resources every night and have them handy on my iPad during the school day.

I can attach weblinks, photos or simple reminders which will be there forever. No ground breaker but one which suits me and has helped me improve immensely in this area. Essential.

‘Tomorrow HD’ has been a wonderful list making app which has allowed me to ditch the post-its. I can add tasks all day long and it allows me to score them out as I go, anything undone can be easily transferred to tomorrow. I never forget anything now which, believe me, was often a problem. I’ve even started numbering tasks in order to prioritise. A life saver.

There have been others, less successfully implemented. I briefly flirted with ‘LessonPlans’ and ‘Teachers Pet’ but found that both need more input time than they would actually save me so I dumped them. ‘Machinarium’. I need say no more other than see previous post. 

I love my iPad. In many ways it has completely taken over the planning and organisation of my working day – sometimes even beyond. I do all of my writing on the ‘Pages’ App, catch up with the newspapers and Twitter. I am more organised, more productive, certainly more effective because of that. However, I am aware that many of these tasks could also be achieved through others means, mostly time and planning.

I could finish this post by mentioning that I’m fiddling about with this new device when the kids in front of me are not even allowed to turn on their phones. It’s a hugely relevant point but perhaps I’ll leave that for another post.

9 thoughts on “Six months on… Has the iPad Changed My Life?

  1. Another example: Teacher’s Assistant. I made notes on all my S4 kids, grades, estimated grades in April etc etc. Parents impressed and I found it so easy to chat using the notes to show strengths and areas for improvement. Plus I now have basis of report notes for next Feb when I write them! I use it all the time, adding quick notes for kids bad/good/learning incidents/report notes/personal things such as birthdays etc.

  2. Hello. ‘spoke’ to you on twitter yesterday. Have signed up to your blog – it looks really good. follow me on twitter and I can send you a direct message/ email details & contact you in real life re Glasgow schools. Best, Victoria (V Campbell).

  3. Inspirational as always! I’ve been looking at the iPad for a while now and am seriously thinking about getting one. The only problem is that I’m not too sure about word processing on this device. I’ve been told that the “Pages” app is fully compatible with Microsoft Word – would you agree?

  4. Hi Kenny,
    Great post, I am also reviewing the impact my iPad has on my teaching. I am not taking it into school given the high numbers of sticky fingers in our place, but your use of evernote is making me reconsider. My organisation skills are some what lacking, so always looking for new ideas to help me address this.
    A great app I have just found is ‘educreation’. It’s free if you search the App store, and allows Khan Academy style videos. It’s well worth a play around with.

    • Thanks Chris. Really appreciate your comments. Evernote really helped me this year so highly recommend it. Will check out educreation,

  5. Pingback: Will schools go for iPads? | Kerry Turner

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