I’ve heard this one a lot since we became a 1:1 school. Let’s face it, one of the real strengths of the iPad (for kids, perhaps, not teachers) is that it is a great, portable way of playing games. There’s a reason the games category far outstrips the other categories in terms of apps and sales. And the iPad makes it really easy for students to hide the fact that they are playing games behind a book, or under the desk.
And there’s the conundrum. You want the students using the iPads as more than a glorified e-reader. Otherwise it’s like a $400 textbook. But you only want them to use it for what you’ve got planned, and not spend most of your lesson trying to play Minecraft without you noticing. And let’s be honest, it’s hard for a teacher to keep an eye on 30 different students at once.
So here are my suggestions too ensure that you can make effective use of iPads in your lessons.
1. Have iPad up time and iPad down time.
When we had laptops, I used to make the students put the lids on the machines at 45 degrees, so that I knew they were listening to me and not talking. I do something similar with the iPads – when they can be using them, the iPads can be face up. When they need to be listening, they need to be face down. Too draconian? Perhaps.
2. Build games into the learning
Minecraft is a good example of this. I saw teachers setting classwork the other day that specifically required students to build things on mine craft. Zondle is another example of a simple games-based learning approach.
3. Hold them to account.
Don’t try to police the gaming. Simply explain to students (and I like to do this on an individual basis so I can differentiate where necessary) that they must have certain learning objectives complete by the end of the lesson. An they don’t get to leave until the do. Or it’s homework if it’s not finished. Kids will get it wrong the first couple of times. That’s the nature of being a student, but if you stick to your guns and insist upon it being completed, then you’ll find that they quickly fall into line.