Starting Out With iPads: The First Weeks

Starting Out With iPads: The First Weeks

Lately I’ve had several people ask me about how I get started with iPads in my classroom each year. Specifically, about the first week. So I thought I’d write about some procedures and activities that I find work really well to get our 1st grade classroom started creating and collaborating.

Starting Out With iPads- The First Weeks

Please remember though, when you plan, if you find yourself planning an “iPad activity”, stop and rethink. I strongly believe it shouldn’t be about the iPad, but creativity, making learning visible, and our students exploring and innovating. If you haven’t read Rabbi Michael Cohen’s incredible article, The Invisible iPad, stop right now and read it before you go any further!

iPad Procedures & Set Up

Starting Out With iPads: The First Week

Expectations with Popplet – Making a set of visual iPad expectations with your students can be really effective and fun. We always do this as a collaborative project, with the iPad displayed on our big screen. Pass the iPad around and involve everyone, or maybe even split up into groups and let each one make a thinking map on Popplet.

Google Drive & YouTube – We have shared iPads (2:1 student to iPad ratio), and I find it easiest to sign in with one account on each iPad before students put hands on them. That way when they need to upload something, access something or post a video to our class YouTube channel, everything is already set up. You can give each student a folder to turn in work if you like. There is also Google Classroom, but I haven’t dove into that with my 1st graders yet.

Assigning iPads – In an effort to keep things organized I assign each iPad to 2 students. They get really good at sharing and working together as the year goes on, and actually I really like the collaboration that it creates. In case we (mostly me) forget, I post a iPad number list at the front of our classroom. We don’t always stick to these assigned iPads, but it’s a great way to keep track of projects.

Starting Out With iPads: The First Week

Selfie Covers for App Journals – Are you planning to use apps like Book Creator or Paper by 53 to have your students keep journals? Let them take a selfie and use it the book cover. They can also use an avatar that they drew or created. This is an awesome visual way to keep students working in the right space.

First Week Activities

Why Not Give Time

Play Time – This is SO important! As your getting your literacy or math stations started why not add some creativity and exploration time? I use the same concept for math manipulatives, never asking them to “work” with a tool before they’ve had a chance to play. Trust me, they’ll need just about no introduction to most tools, and when they share what they’ve made the whole group benefits.

After you make your Popplet of iPad expectations, send them out to make their own Popplet. Maybe it’s about things they love or wonder, or even just some things they’re thinking. Visit this page for a list of some of my favorite apps / tools for creating that you can explore.

Avatars – I love to have students use Paper by 53 or Doodle Buddy to draw a self portrait of themselves. Each one is so unique and expressive of that child. We then use them as each student’s blog avatars. It’s a really fun first post. The avatars are so handy for all sorts of projects throughout the year.


Blog & Tweet – Get your students set up with their blogs and introduce them to the class Twitter account. Their first post is always done together in small groups (it’s so much easier to ensure success with all the steps to a Kidblog post this way). After everyone’s posted we visit the blog and celebrate each other’s work. We also check out our class blog together. The class blog and Twitter are great places to share collaborative projects that your class creates. I have a “Tweeter of the Day” that is in charge of helping us share our day. Especially at the beginning of the year our Tweets are collaborative so that we can help each other decide what to post and how Twitter works. (Here’s the icon I created if you want it.)

Collaborative Projects – I LOVE collaborative projects. They bring us together as a class, teach us to respect others ideas and have patience. Here are a few ideas, that can be done in the first few weeks of school, or all year long. Please note I have not done all these projects in one first week of school, they’re just ideas I love and have used before.

  •  My Teacher Is A Monster  – Read the book and create a list of positive teacher traits. Then make an iMovie out of student work and thinking.
  • Goal Setting with The OK Book –  After reading The OK Book, students draw two pictures. Wouldn’t it be fun to animate the pictures with ChatterPix Kids and make a book or movie of what the class is OK at or wants to be experts at?
  • Class Procedures – Share about class schedules or procedures with simple iMovies.
  • Write A Social Story – Write a book together to tell about your class, or how to remember to treat others with kindness.
  • Make a book of Pic Collages to share about each student or make a class Pic Collage of everyone’s avatars!

The possibilities are endless! Just think creation and collaboration!

If you’d like more resources here are a few posts to read –

4 Tech Tips to Create a Collaborative Learning Environment – Fractus Learning

Kicking Off Back To School With Camera Fun – Shaelynn Farnsworth

Rules, Routines & Procedures: iPad Edition – Kelly Smith

Managing iPads In The Classroom – Lisa Johnson (H/T to Kelly Smith for sharing this awesome resource!)

MZ Sig

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