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Blended Learning: Working With One iPad

P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School

Grades K-12 | Gainesville, FL

Kristin Weller

University School Associate Professor
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Working With One iPad (Transcript)

Kristin: I will load up three or four problems and I'll have them in pairs. I'll hand them the one iPad. It is possible to actually use one iPad and get this done in a class, 'cause that's all I have. And I'll say, "All right, you teach him how to do this problem." And you can get help from the person next to you if you need it. It's okay, it's a team process.

Student: MD is twenty-one and D equals RD.

Kristin: When they're finished, I save it and then I'll pull up a problem very similar to it, and I'll hand it to their partner. And say, "Okay, now it's your turn, you do the same thing."

Okay, this is a question. Make sure you read the question carefully.

Student: Thank you.

Kristin: Okay.

And they hand it back to me, I make sure it's all saved and then I move on to another pair.

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  • Producer: Kristin Atkins
  • Field Director: Sarita Khurana
  • Editor: Julie Konop
  • Production Coordinator: Julia Lee
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  • Graphics: Cait Camarata, Jenny Kolcun, Scott Hartwig
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My class has one iPad. Just one. But I have found ways to put this single iPad to use in such a way that everyone in my class benefits. 

Having mastered one app -- the Show-Me app -- I have been able to create podcasts for my students, allowing them to access my help on their assignments while they are at home or when I am unavailable for face-to-face teaching or tutoring. 

After I became comfortable with using this app, I began to brainstorm ways I could use it within my classroom. One technique is to have my students create their own podcasts. The process looks like this:

  1. First, I take pictures of selected problems that align to the standards I am teaching. Then, I load the pictures into the Show-Me app on my iPad.
  2. After direct instruction, I pair students based on their levels of confidence in solving these types of problems. The goal is to match up a confident student with a student who is feeling less secure about the lesson concepts.  
  3. I choose a problem for the more confident student to teach to the struggling student, I hand the iPad to that student, and I walk away to let the student independently make a podcast without me hovering nearby. During the recording of the podcast, the first student, solves a problem, explaining the process to the less-confident student and recording all of the work, step by step.  
  4. The pair of students lets me know they have finished, and I choose a similar problem for the less confident student to teach to her partner. This student then teaches her partner, explaining each step.
  5. After one pair finishes, I move to another pair of students in the room and repeat the process, using the same or similar problems. While the iPad is making the rounds from pair to pair, the rest of the class is working on either pencil and paper assignments or online activities related to the day’s lesson.  

With help from my technology coordinator, I learned how to project the podcasts that my students made onto my whiteboard. When students volunteer to show their podcasts publicly, everyone in the class receives additional opportunities to learn problem solving which may be different from the “teacher’s way.” 

Although the idea of students teaching each other is not new, utilizing this app as the means to do so provides additional benefits beyond the immediate process.

  • Students talk through each step of their problem-solving procedure while they are recording their podcasts, increasing their understanding of the mathematics through their detailed explanations. 
  • Students learn how to analyze and critique each other’s work and engage in classroom discussions about different ways to solve problems.  
  • Using the iPad increases my students’ engagement and participation in class, as they all want their chance to use the technology. My students are more motivated to show what they know, and they learn to provide assistance through difficult steps as their partners are working through their problems. 

I have found that I can use student-produced podcasts as formative assessments. Being able to save their work allows me to watch their podcasts later. I can view the podcasts throughout the week and ascertain the standards with which my students are struggling. I make notes while I am reviewing their podcasts so that I know in which areas they show strength and can determine areas to be addressed during individual teacher-student conferences. If I notice that many students are having similar difficulties, I use that information to help me plan for future instruction.

Having only one iPad has not limited my ability to use technology effectively with my students. It is a great tool for analyzing what my students know and can do, and it definitely increases their participation, motivation, and success in the mathematics classroom.

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Kristin Weller

University School Associate Professor

Comments (11) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Scott Rosenkranz's picture
Scott Rosenkranz
Teacher and Ed Tech Developer

I really admire teachers who come up with ways to use limited tools to improve instruction. Faced with a similar one iPad dilemma, I created an app called Oncore. To follow my project visit

S_A_Smith's picture

Thank you for this post. As of now, I just have one ipad for the room and haven't found a way to consistently use it in a good way. I like the idea of students being able to verbally explain something while writing it out and recording it!

Teresa Almeida d'Eca's picture
Teresa Almeida d'Eca
EFL teacher, Teacher trainer

Hi, Kristin!
Great strategy! Students are really engaged!
Let me share with you a presentation about the "one-computer classroom" strategy I used ten years ago. And still valid today, I believe. Students were totally engaged and collaborating every minute. :-)
Teresa (in Lisbon, Portugal)

carlsw39's picture

Love it! I'm still trying to gather the courage to do some screen casting with my students! I know my students are ready, just need their teacher to practice and take the leap:)
My students like for seeing other students explain strategies and I know my group this year would be able to do these. Thanks for sharing!

EMS0930's picture

Working with iPads is a great way to teach informational literacy and twenty-first century technology skills. I've used Field Day in my classroom for PBL activities; it works with individuals or groups for guided inquiry:

cgonzales1's picture

I really found your thoughts and experiences to be helpful as I find myself beginning to explore the blended learning classroom. I as well have access to mini i-pads and feel lucky to be able t use them in my classroom to help engage my students, but I would like to take it to a new level and I liked the pod cast app that you spoke of. I think it would be another great way to get my students to access additional lessons that I can not do with them when I am working with another group. I think I will try this when I implement a flipped classroom. Thank you again for sharing your experience and thoughts.

Summer's picture

I am curious to know what grade you teach. Currently I am a reading interventionist but next year I will be teaching 1st grade. Next year we will be switching to blended learning in mathematics and wanted to get your opinion as to whether or not something like this would be effective with 6 year olds. Maybe there is a way that your idea could be tweaked to work with younger students? It is definitely possible but would take a lot of repetition and consistency. Thank you for being willing to work so hard with your students. Saving their work and then taking the time later to go through each podcast must be extremely time consuming but it shows your dedication to each student.

Angel's picture
Television en vivo

I really found your thoughts and experiences to be helpful as I find myself beginning to explore the blended learning classroom.

Laticia's picture

The teachers at my school received one iPad per classroom this year. Many teachers were upset by this. I was just glad to have the one. I've been allowing groups of students to rotate everyday working on the iPad using a green screen app to demonstrate their understanding of a standard but I like your idea of the podcast. This is something that I will definitely implement during my math period.

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