Not too long ago I sat in a parent meeting listening to our school’s plan to expand technology in the classroom. At the time I wondered what all the hubbub was about. Why did every classroom need a smart board? Did resource teachers really need iPads for learning assistance? Did kids need all that technology just to learn the basics? What happened to the good ol’ chalkboard?
Since then I’ve learned a lot about how these resources are being used in the classroom and I’m impressed with the level of detail teachers can explore with students and the motivation kids have using these devices to learn.
You can call me a convert now and I’m spreading the word on the wonderful benefits of using iPads and the iPad Mini for education. Lighter and cheaper than a laptop, kids can easily hold and share devices. Very user friendly kids pick up how to use it quickly and spend more time learning. You can use apps as well as websites on an iPad and iPad Mini.
Apps and websites for learning
There are over 700,000 apps available in the Apple App Store today with 275,000 specifically for iPad. The choice of apps is amazing with many free choices. I find most of the apps I download are free, or if paid, are priced between $1.99 to $4.99. Websites can be viewed through the browser on the device.
My daughter was having struggles with reading fluency and wasn’t super excited to be getting extra help at school. Enter Razz-Kids a browser based, pay subscription service. The resource teacher selected a reading program that my daughter could use by herself and tracked her progress in a fun and engaging way. The school paid for the subscription and we could access it at home as well and the teacher could monitor her progress.
This year we’ve been using IXL.com on our iPad and it is a great math program that keeps the kids on their toes while they learn. I’ve featured it in the Top Math and Science websites and apps for homework help posting along with some other great resources. My daughter’s math grade in school really improved when using IXL.com.
My other favorite use for the iPad and iPad mini is for spelling lists. After five years of written tests I feel liberated using apps like Spelling Hero by Tap To Learn featured on the best Top Apps list. No more battles just a friendly reminder to take the practice test. We start the week by entering all the words which gives me a chance to see she may have trouble. Each day we do a practice test and isolate words to focus on. These apps allow custom lists so you can even put in different languages like French or Spanish and record the word yourself.
The difference between iPad and iPad Mini
If you’re wondering what the difference is between the newest iPad and an iPad Mini – is size. The iPad is similar to a writing pad of paper and the iPad Mini is roughly half the size of an iPad. The iPad Mini is easier to hold in your hand and some say easier to read e-books on because of the smaller size. You can share apps between devices and all iPad apps work on an iPad Mini and since you can sync your iTunes and App store account to 5 devices you get a great value in paying for one download that works on multiple devices.
Another main difference is image quality. The newest iPad has retina display which mean crisper images. The iPad Mini doesn’t have the retina display yet. Honestly I’m not sure kids see the difference but if it matters to you then check them out side by side.
Price is another factor. The iPad with retina display, the Wi-Fi version, is priced between $499 to $699 depending on the hard drive (16GB, 32GB or 64GB.) The iPad Mini Wi-Fi version is priced between $329 and $529. Check your local Apple store for exact prices as these change. We chose the Wi-Fi version so we didn’t need to pay a monthly fee for service choosing instead to connect on Wi-Fi connections at home, work and school.
If you’re thinking about investing in one of these devices take the time and visit an Apple store if there’s one nearby. Touch and feel the different options and take them for a test run before making your decision.