Sunday, January 27, 2013

Balancing the Best & Worst of iPadLandia

I've been thinking a lot about lately about my class, in my house, with my kids, the best way to use them, monitor them, not get sucked into the vortex of them. (Parent, child, teacher all inclusive!)

The latest conundrum on that front has to do with how to balance the natural (yes, sometimes addictive) draw of the iPad, yet also drawing the lines on the shut-off switch. Similarly, it dances parallel-ly with how can I use it in the classroom to get the "biggest bang for my buck." And, I will be also has to do with this:  showing my own children that there is more to life than MineCraft. So upon this quest, I came upon 2 really great podcasts from NPR's 'On Point's: "iPads in the Classroom" and "KidPads." Truthfully, I think these two podcasts should be mandatory listening for all teachers--especially if they are at all interesting in moving with the times, whether in an iPad school or a school that invites a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program, or in a school thinking about it.

Listening to these 2 podcasts, I found myself realigning my perspective and vantage point as both a pro-iPadLandia teacher, and a techie parent of total tech-head children!

It's tough being a parent in the digital age!! Our generation of parents is the first to wrestle this digital age phenomenon and try to maintain a semblance of balance between time outside, time connected, time unconnected, time with books, time with art, time with building, time with others, and time alone. Here we are in this era with the li'lest of ones who think that magazines are broken mobile devices. "Angry Birds" is more of a cultural icon to youngsters perhaps than tried-and-true book characters such as Frog & Toad, Laura Ingalls Wilder, or Charlotte and Wilbur. It's a rapid moving world that we, as parents and teachers, weren't even imagining 3-4 years ago. The rate of change is exponential... which we all know, but perhaps lately it has become even more eye-opening to me in my own house than before.

Hence why I am here!!

So the moral of the story:   Strive for balance. Electronics and hand held devices aren't "shut up toys" to be used in restaurants or elsewhere. (Eek! I saw a child playing his DS in church last week as the li'l fella  accompanied his parents up for 1st communion!!!). Set the limits. Tablets are tools, not toys... and there is more than just eDevices to life. Bring out the books. Broaden their horizons. Kick them outside. Biggest thing--Be the parent.  Parenting: it's not for the weary or faint of heart!

All of these reasons are why, in my class, I demand that my cherubs ask if they can "learn" on the iPad rather than "play" on the iPad!
So..... when it comes time to have your youngsters "learn" on the iPad, have them do it in a directed way. Limit the gaming and introduce your wee ones to the apps that are good for them (in addition to the playful ones that they already know about).  These apps (and you know them or can find them on my Pinterest board) are certainly engaging, yet perhaps not on your child's normal radar. Use iMovie to record family memories. Read iBooks or Kindle. Use the Dictionary or Thesaurus or do internet research to widen their horizons. Write and be creative using Pages, Scribble Press, Keynote, Popplet or more. Practice math facts. Use flash card creators or make QR codes. Look at Google Earth. Check out the interactive whiteboards. Be musical or artistic. Be inventive!

Here are some of my latest finds on the subject of limitations: maybe this may be the end of my soapbox.
Ummm, probably not. 

My kid pic from my camera.  Angry bird pic from  iPad with "Magical" quote:

Audio from "iPads in the Classroom" Podcast from: and "Kidpads" Podcast from

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