How I Teach a New App to The Students

How do I teach a new app to the students?

I don’t…

Well, sort of…

Let me explain….

With productivity apps like iMovie, Keynote, Pages, iA Writer, and Show Me I give the students time to explore and ‘play’ with the app prior to a learning activity that I know is coming up that will be using a particular app. I begin the lesson by saying to the students that I would like them to have some fun with this new app. I just give a quick overview and show some things what the app can do and then I send the students off to experiment on their own.

While this exploration stage is going on I observe what the students are doing and listen to their conversations. It is amazing to observe these students apply their 21st Century thinking skills and direct their own learning through trial and error, problem solving and collaboration as they openly discuss what they are doing with their small group peers. These young wired brains are quite fearless and the notion of risk-taking is very natural to them when it comes to working with their iPad.

I also enjoying watching what experimental things they create as they explore the new app. For example, when I had my students familiarize themselves with the app Show Me, I had one student create a ‘Tic Tac Toe’ game and proceeded to find other students to play the game with. In a short period of time several students were into creating their own Show Me game boards. My initial reaction was to judge this choice as being evidence of poor quality use of learning time but I immediately changed my mind when I say what the students did with it. The app was relatively easy to learn so the focus became on the game. The students did not turn on the record button while they played the game but they did review it afterwards. What I marveled at was how they intuitively engaged in metacognitive thinking and reviewed the strategies they used with each turn. They were teaching themselves where to place the X or the O in order to win the game. That was a teachable moment that we teachers always look for and it reminded me of watch a ply back on a televised football game where the sports announcer goes over a play and the viewer can watch the drawn circles and arrows on the screen.

After the students have had their exploration and play time we use the Apple TV which I wrote about here for some of the students to show and share what they discovered about the app. They turn on mirroring on their iPad and teach the class some aspect of the app. The students then quickly check out what was shared on their iPad for a little practice time. The number of show and shares varies but I usually have from 5-10 students contribute something, depending on the complexity of the app.

With this system for teaching apps I have created an environment of a community of learners. Not only are my students engaged in self-directed discovery and learning, they are teaching each other and they are teaching me as their teacher. I do not have the time and nor do I want to spend hours becoming an expert on every single app. I prefer to have my focus be on the learner and the learning and how to effectively integrate the apps on the iPad to support a deeper understanding and high level of learning skills.

How I Teach a New App to the Students…. Lessons Learned… Lessons Shared








My Classroom is Completely Wireless

Thanks to our school tech Craig, he has made it so every classroom in the school is wireless. How did he do this?

He first installed Apple TV inside each projector. The Apple TV allows for any iPad in the classroom to be shown on the whiteboard. Not only myself as the teacher, but every student in the class can go into mirroring and their work or interesting website, image or video can be displayed for everyone to see. We call it ‘bumping’ each other out. It is soooo easy and so doable. It makes the lessons run smoothly.

The second thing Craig did was purchase an Air Parrot site license.

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How My Students Back Up Their iPad Work

Backing up productivity work on an iPad isn’t something that is often discussed but from personal experience and from some disappointing experiences a few of students have had, it is an essential habit to have. The iPad does not have a ‘Save As’ function that is found on the computer so other systems need to be put in place.

I have the students always back up their work after working with such apps as iA Writer, Keynote and Pages. The methods they use are:

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How to Select Quality Apps For Your Students – Part 3

Yes, there are even more things to consider when selecting quality apps for your students. This posting is part three of this very important topic.

Similarly, provide apps for the students that allow them to learn and demonstrate their learning through different modalities and even better, multiple modalities. The feedback from my students is that they like the math games that give instant auditory and visual feedback to keep them motivated and challenged to work for the higher level.

I am a firm believer in allowing students to demonstrate their understanding through both text and with visuals like diagrams, graphic organizers, sketches and student drawn pictures. The students’ iPads have a folder of Art Apps that they can go into to create their visuals and import them into whatever productivity app they are using. I love the intuitiveness of the iPad with its capacity for my students to be able to flow from one app to the other. These are the apps in the Art Folder:

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How to Select Quality Apps For Your Students – Part 2

In my last post I talked about a number of considerations when selecting quality apps for your students. This post is a continuation of that discussion:

Be cautious when reading online recommendations about what are the best apps. Thinking I was doing my homework and researching online I have purchased some apps based on these recommendations. However, I have been quite disappointed after downloading them. I am not sure if the app did not fit the learning and instructional outcomes I intended for my students or if there is a whole lot of recommending going on just to push out apps into the market. I can only suggest to review several sites when researching your apps to make sure you are making an informed decision.

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How To Select Quality Apps For Your Students – Part 1

An interesting phenomenon has occurred when it comes to buying apps. The conversations and focus have been on the apps, how many we can find out about and how many we can buy. Let’s face it, there are so many to choose from it is overwhelming, daunting and very time consuming to search them all. It also doesn’t help that many of these apps are free or inexpensive and that it is so easy to just tap the ‘Purchase’ button without putting much thought into whether the app is applicable or appropriate for what we are teaching. In comparison, we never go into a bookstore and buy loads of books even though there are so many available to choose from and we don’t sample every dish at a buffet dinner just because they’re available. But why are we doing this random on mass purchasing of apps when common sense tells us not do it with other purchases in our lives?

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The Story Behind iPads in the Classroom

Please Note: This is a restored blog previously written and posted.

I am a grade four teacher with Rocky View Schools. This school district has embraced the use of numerous innovations and initiatives in order to enhance the learning of the 21st Century Learner. One initiative available to teachers is to apply for a “Technology Innovation Grant”.

The purpose of this initiative is to provide funds and support in order to pilot new technologies in various instructional settings in an action research format. Successful recipients of this grant are expected to share their experiences, challenges and new understandings in a format reflective of how we learn today in a digital world. I love to write, photograph and work with technology so this blog was a natural choice and a natural fit to share the new information I will learn, the insights I will develop and the ideas I will pick up along this journey of learning.

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iPads in the Classroom – Just an Update

The Situation

Hi All! If you have recently visited this blog you may have noticed that there was nothing to visit.

The Problem

Recently this blog was hit with a deluge of spam to the tune of about 8000 hits. I don’t know if this is true but I was told that if your blog is hit by a significant amount of spam, apparently it is apparently quite popular. I don’t know the Google Analytics or have any record of the number of visits to this blog so I am not sure how many visitors have stopped by and from where the visitors are from around the world. So I deleted all of the posts in order to delete all of the spam.

The Solution

The spam filters are in place and I am working on rebuilding this blog beginning with previous blogs posted last spring. I am fortunate to continue this iPad project this year with a new group of students and have so much to share. Therefore, the Rocky View Schools Technology Innovation Grant action research continues.

I love comments and questions so I invite you to join in on the conversations that stem from this blog.

Take Care,

Thea Morris

Using iPads to Develop Writing Skills

The students in my class recently completed a writing project entirely on the iPad. Here is an explanation of what apps were used!


The students planned their story using the app MindMeister a brainstorming app.


First Copy:

The draft copy was written using the app iAWriter. This is a very simple and uncomplicated word processing app. The keyboard is very basic and easy to use. The students quite prefer doing their writing projects on this app. I also really like the word count on this app. The students were given a guideline to write a story that was to be about six hundred words. They also used the word count to ensure it had a balanced beginning, middle and conclusion.

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