How To Create Interactive Lessons for the iPad

interactive lessons

As a teacher, you are used to create your own lessons. The xerox, Microsoft Word, and PowerPoint are your trusted companions. But how can you effectively use iPads in your lessons?

The ebooks provided by publishers are mostly static and just not interesting enough for today’s students. Some educational apps are great, but finding the rights ones, figuring out how they work and getting them installed on all student devices can be a hassle.

Aren’t there easy ways to create your own materials for iPad? Yes, there are! Try these:

Re-use your existing material

All the material you’ve put together over the years isn’t lost. A simple way to re-use them is to convert them to PDF, either by exporting them from Word or Powerpoint (or most other apps) or by scanning them in if all you have is paper copies.

Students can view and annotate PDFs on their iPad using PDF Expert, GoodReader or one of the many other PDF readers available on the App Store.

If you really want to give those old Word docs an upgrade, convert them into an iBook by importing them into iBooks Author. From there, it’s just a small step to enhance them with interactive widgets such as those found on BookWidgets, Bookry, or those available from within iBooks Author.

Modernize your presentations

Most lessons involve some amount of teachers explaining and students listening. Powerpoint or Keynote were probably trusted companions in the past, but you can do more than that:

  • Prezi is a neat way to create captivating, modern presentations.
  • NearPod is a popular app that allows to add some interactive elements (like a quick poll question) to presentations and even has a store where you can buy ready-made presentations you can use as a starting point.
  • Finally, Explain Everything is a favorite among many teachers. Basically, Explain Everything is an interactive whiteboard, where you can record yourself as you explain a topic. Students can watch and rewatch this on their iPads as needed, so it’s a great study aid and can also be used to implement differentiated learning quite easily.

Integrate topic-specific apps into your lessons.

There are many educational apps available on the App Store, ranging from fun activities and games to more instructive apps. The EdTechTeacher site is a great resource for helping you out in this search. The Teachers With Apps and Graphite websites are other good sources of exceptional educational apps, reviewed by peers.

Or just Google “10 best iPad apps for …” depending on the subject you teach. You will easily find apps which are great to integrate into your own lesson materials. You are not the first to do this research…

Create your own assessments, exercises and activities.

You can make your own exercises and activities, and easily share them with your classroom, using tools such as BookWidgets. This puts you in control over your own content, so you can make sure it fits perfectly with the topic and your student’s interests and skill level.

You can think of these exercises as small apps with a very specific function. You create them by using one of the many wizards. Examples include simple quizes, specific math exercises, but also more fun types to bring some life into the classroom like Bingo games or hangman puzzles.

Depending on the course you teach, different types of activities might be more suitable. One which is useful across the board is the Quiz widget. Use it to create automatically graded assessments or homework, prepare students for PARCC testing, or quickly set up an exit slip.

edtechteacher guest blog2
Image Credit: BookWidgets

Other exercise types are made specifically for math (Active Plot), history (timeline) or language classes. But the basic idea is always the same: you are in complete control of the content, limited only by your imagination.

10 Creative Ways to Use Your iPad in the Classroom

If you’ve had an iPad (or several) in your classroom for any extended period of time, you’re probably familiar with the many practical ways this technology can be used as a central hub for learning. You know all about storing materials in iCloud, and collaborating via Google Drive. You know about the main apps you’ll need to run a classroom, as well as the best apps for World History, English and Math.

But these applications are just the very beginning. You can hack your iPad into any number of instruments, or use its current apps and capabilities in unexpected ways to encourage learning. Here are our top 10 favorite creative uses for iPads in the classroom.

 1. Turn Your iPad Microscope

Sure, you could buy a simple magnifying attachment for your iPad at any toy store, but why not go a step further and build your own microscope? This hack from Instructables is meant for an iPhone but is easily adapted for an iPad, and it only requires about $10 worth of materials.

The hack itself would make for an excellent group project, but that’s just the beginning of what you can do. Of course, any kind of scientific exploration or experiments you would normally do with a microscope can be done here, except now you can take photos and video of the action. As described in the Instructables video, students will be amazed to witness plasmolysis in red onion epithelial cells with time lapse photography. Or, take your iPad microscope out into the field for real-time magnification in the elements.

The fun doesn’t stop here. Students can then take magnified photos and turn them into photo projects, drop them into presentations or books, or even animate them for a creative story. The possibilities are really endless.

 2. Create Your Own Google Map Treasure Hunt

Field trips are even more fun when every step that brings you there is part of a treasure hunt. Orient students to the area by creating pins on a Google Map, whether they pertain to the local history or interesting aspects of the local geology. Then designate clues or objects for each point you’ll be visiting, send students the map so they can pull it up on their own iPads, and then give them time to hunt when you come to a marker. If your treasure hunt will stay near to your school (and its Wi-Fi), have students communicate with each other over Skype like they’re on walkie talkies.

3. Video Conference With a Sister School

Take pen pal projects up to the next level by having your pals or the whole class video conference with a sister classroom halfway across the world. Relationships will be so much more meaningful when students talk face to face. You can even do group projects together on air, brainstorm great ideas, and celebrate your respective holidays together. You can even archive the sessions via Hangouts on Air to YouTube for parents to see. While this can be completed on the class computer, student iPads make one-on-one hangouts a much more feasible possibility.

4. Control Your Very Own Drone

If your school has a robotic program or Maker extracurricular club, it’s likely that students are already getting their hands dirty in constructing their own drones. It’s just a hop, skip and a jump from there into controlling that drone with an iPad with this amazing hack:

5. Augment Reality

“What’d you do at school today, honey?” “Nothing, just augmented reality or whatever.”

With iPad apps like Layar and Aurasma, this conversation will soon become the norm. Augmented reality apps are fantastic for demonstrative purposes, and they’re great for studying as well. Want to help students learn European geography? Have them scan a blank map with their iPad camera for a sneak peak at the answers. Add as many rich layers as you want and create a unique experience that blends the digital and the physical world to drive the lesson home.

6. Encourage All Forms of Digital Storytelling

You already know that the iPad is a fantastic tool for customizing the learning experience; this is especially true when it comes to teaching digital storytelling. Have a student who learns best just by listening? Encourage them to make an audio diary of a big life experience or interview family and friends and turn it into a podcast. Taking the kids on a field trip to the museum? Have your visual learners record via photo and video, your more verbal students take notes on the notepad or in Stickies, and your audio students record everything they hear. In this way, you can use student iPads to customize the learning experience.

However, it is also important to encourage students to explore all modalities to expand their storytelling horizons across their senses. Who knows where they’ll find inspiration?

7. Create Your Own Teleprompter

All of those creative performances may be exciting, but they’ll go even smoother when students have a little prompting here and there. The Telemprompter Pro Lite app, which turns your iPad into a teleprompter, may be a simple concept, but it will sharpen your students’ reading skills in the moment, and reduce the amount of editing your students will need to do once filming or podcasting has wrapped.

8. Turn Students into Teachers With Screencasting

There is a distinct period during the learning process when a student understands a concept, but may not have it deeply embedded, making them apt to forget important pieces within the hour. Having students teach other students what they know is a great way to help them form deeper connections — essentially, by having them apply that knowledge in real time. Screencasting is a great way to do this, and it comes with the added benefit of being recordable so you can add your student’s video to the class YouTube channel. Kathy Schrock has a complete listing of iPad screencasting apps here.

Alternatively, you can also use screencasting for show and tell or to let a struggling student tell the class all about his or her favorite hobby. Done the right way, screencasting teaching can be a great confidence booster, teaching storytelling and presentation skills along the way.

9. Make 3D Models

With apps like 123D Catch, students can capture everyday objects using their iPad camera and turn them into 3D models. If your school has invested in a 3D printer or has a relationship with a Maker studio, these models can then be printed out. Whether students use this to create their own toys, take a model presentation up to the next level, or miniaturize their own classroom, an app like this will encourage imaginations to run wild.

10. Sketch Over Live Video

You know what would make that iPad microscope even cooler? If you could animate the screenwhile you recorded video of those cells in action. With Stage Interactive Whiteboard and Document Camera you can do just that. Point out essential features on live video, add helpful notes, or simply draw a dancing stick man to lighten the mood.

We Want To Hear From You

iPads are so much more than what they first seem when you first pull them out of the box. Let us know your most creative iPad hacks in the comments below or via Twitter @Edudemic!

Three iPad Apps for Creating Multimedia eBooks

One of my favorite things about iPads and the web in general is the ease with which anyone can create a multimedia product. Teachers can create and organize multimedia reference materials for students and students can create multimedia products to show off their ideas. The following three iPad apps allow you and your students to create multimedia ebooks.

story_creatorStory Creator is a free iPad app that makes it easy to create narrated picture books on your iPad. To create a narrated picture book on Story Creator start by inserting a picture as your book’s cover. To create a page just tap the “+” icon and import a picture, draw a picture, type some text, or do all three. After completing one or all three of those previous actions tap the microphone icon to record your narration. After making your recording you can quickly adjust it so that each word of text is highlighted to match the timing of your narration.

storymakerLittle Story Maker is a great little app that adults and children can use to create their own custom books on their iPads. The app provides book templates that you complete with your own images, text, and voice narration. All of the books that you create are stored in your Little Story Maker bookshelf. To create a book inLittle Story Maker start by adding a title, add a cover image by selecting from your iPad’s camera roll, then choose a template for your book. On each page you can add an image from your camera roll and type the text for your page. If you want to add narration to your book simply click the “record audio” button after typing your text. Then you can add narration that will play on the page.

book_creatorBook Creator allows anyone to create their own books using images, text, videos, and audio recordings. You can arrange your book in three different formats; portrait, square, or landscape. Each page in your book can include pictures and videos from your iPad’s camera roll and or from your iTunes library. In addition to the pictures and videos you can include as much as text as you can fit on each page. In fact, if you just want to have text on a page you can do that. If you would like to narrate your book you can tap the record button to add your voice to each page of your book. Every page in your book can have a custom color scheme. Your completed Book Creator projects can be sent directly to your iBooks library or shared to a service like Box or Dropbox where they will be available as ePub publications.


The Best iPad Apps to Use with SAMR Model ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning


The Best iPad Apps to Use with SAMR Model ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning.

iPads vs. PCs in Teaching


This is an opinion piece for the pros and cons of using both iPads and the traditional PCs in teaching. Since I am beginning my fourth year of using an iPad in my classes, I thought it would be great time to compare how each device is used, as well as state how they can complement one another. I contacted my colleague Jonathan Wylie, and we brainstormed together some ideas for this post.

If you are unaware of my current teaching setup, I am a roaming teacher at my school, teaching five grades of French to fourteen classes in many different classrooms throughout the week. I have brought my iPad to literally every single class in the past three school years. It has been utilized in almost every one. I can’t see myself ever teaching without an iPad in the future. Also, I have recently purchased a MacBook…

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