I have been working with LearnPads for almost a couple of years now, and in that time, the way that I have used them has changed (or perhaps developed) quite significantly. To me, there seems to be a natural progression in the way in which they can be used, which I would like to share here.
My initial use for the LearnPads was perhaps the easiest – using them to share collections of websites. I began by using them as an aid to delivering our Maths Passports – each passport had a collection of online games. The children simply scanned the QR code for their passport to access the games. This was ideal for a quick activity at the start of a lesson: the children could choose games linked to the objective they were working on, and having the QR codes accessible meant they could choose the relevant lesson without me having to send it out to their LearnPad.
The LearnPads are also great for independent research: by providing the children with links to websites about Henry VIII’s wives, as well as video clips and documents, they could focus on researching one wife in particular, without getting side tracked by all that the web has to offer them. Linking this with an app – SimpleMind+ – meant that the children could record their findings on a simple spider diagram as they found out new information. The children then took screen shots of their diagrams to hand in as evidence.
Combining the internet with apps and online programs can be easy to do, as well as very effective. Recently, I used a website for my guided reading text, and the children asked and answered questions collaboratively via Padlet – they each spent a few minutes reading the website and then making up questions, before choosing other questions from the Padlet to answer. Also, you can read my post here on how I used a QR creator to make a place value treasure hunt.
Pre-selected lessons and resources
This might seem the obvious starting place, but for me, I wanted time to get to grips with how to use the LearnPads, teach the children how to use them, and spend time researching what was available. There are enormous quantities of pre-made lessons and resources available, and they are constantly updated. I have used many of the Remembrance Day activities, and there are some great resources for comparing a Brazilian town with one local to me. One of my favourite LearnPad apps is their Animator – this has been hugely popular with the children! Hannah and Jess from LearnPad are coming into school very soon to provide staff with further training of what is available to use – there is so much to choose from, it’s great to have someone with expertise steer you in the right direction!
As I have become more adventurous with the LearnPads, I have begun to use apps together to create different end results. We have used Explain Everything to great effect to make e-books, creating simple animations and then recording the children reading their stories. I’m looking forward to the new LearnPad Author app which will also enable us to make simple e-books. We’ve combined the Animator App with Movie Studio, linking our stop-frame animations together and providing voice overs to go with it. Some also used Tellagami to make introductions to their movies.
Even common game apps can be a fantastic resource – read here how Candy Crush transformed my maths lessons!
A simple activity of recording explanations with the video camera can easily be transformed into something far more interactive – some of the children have made instructional videos in maths. Linking them to a trigger on a display using Aurasma means the children can use the LearnPads to access information when they need it. The next step for me is to work out how to keep some LearnPads accessible in the classroom at all times for the children – we have a small number of Decimos which aren’t currently used, so I think they may well be the solution!
More recently, I have begun to use the LearnPads as a “spur of the moment” tool. Only last week, we were using the 1418NOW website to read letters to the Unknown Soldier. The children wanted to read more independently, so a link quickly added to a lesson and sent out using the dashboard meant that the children could access them by themselves and read more. Again, last week, my teaching partner created a PowerPoint presentation about an artist we were studying. Knowing my children would struggle to sit and listen to me talking at great length about him, I uploaded the file to an existing lesson, the children picked up a LearnPad and scanned the QR code on the classroom wall, and were able to research independently.
For me, my LearnPad journey is well under way, but the more I read about how others are using Android and Apple devices, the more ideas I get. If you too are a LearnPad user, I’d love to hear how you use them so I can further broaden my repertoire!