We have the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 for all students PK-1. These tablets came with a rubber protective case, which is nice, because we would have needed to otherwise purchase them separately.
A few suggestions if you are deciding to include Android tablets and Google Play into your school’s curriculum:
- You will want to label each tablet. Writing with a silver sharpie on the rubber case doesn’t work. It will come off. We had each teacher select and image. She include her name in the image and way to differentiate between the tablets. For example: Mrs. Smith, A, and an image of an apple. Each tablet had a different letter of the alphabet and the name of the teacher. This way we were not only identify which class the tablet belonged to, but also we were able to sneak in some curriculum. Each student is then assigned a letter that they need to remember. Keep a list of these.
- Use it with a purpose. Like everything, make a plan and have the tablets be used to accomplish this goal.
- Teach them how to use the app and explain the purpose of it. Connect your tablet the projector and go through the steps they would take to use it.
- Use apps for whole class learning. If you don’t have a smartboard, connect your tablet to the projector and use a pointer. Select students to come up and point to the correct answer. Repeat the answer together as a class.
- Change things up. Don’t always say, today we’re working on…, instead say, I would like you to practice your Math skills today. Please choose one Math app.
- Have a system. Elementary teachers are awesome at developing procedures. Have a role for someone to distribute or help put the tablets away. Where are kids allowed to sit while using them? How long are they allowed to use them?
- Use this time to target student needs. Work with the high and low students one on one while everyone else is engaged in their game. Use the apps to target more advanced or lower level skills.
- Allow teachers to choose the apps they want. Many times administrators make the mistake of wanting to control every aspect of technology in schools. Teachers are credentialed professionals, allow them to make choices that are appropriate for the needs of their students.
- Don’t just limit the tablet’s use to gaming. Allow students to create and explore with it as well. Otherwise, they will associate the tablet with just games. It does that, but also much more. Take a walk outside and have them take pictures of three things they see that start with a certain sound or letter. Have the students share their photos with the class.