Friday, May 10, 2013

We won 1:1 iPads!

We did it! We won a grant for 1:1 iPads for the boarding school in Guatemala where I work. This was the best teacher appreciation gift I could receive-something for my students (haha!).

Our goal is to provide first class education to children in these multi-age classrooms in a school where teachers have little access to materials. The iPads should make it easier for teachers to individualize learning.  I can't wait for the teachers to fully implement the iPads.  No more trying to create teaching materials with simple paper and marker and no more trying to teach an entire class with one 8.5x11 workbook!

I ran a pilot program with one iPad in the Kinder/First grade class. I brought in my personal iPad loaded with bilingual educational apps.  I selected three students to join me at a table and I handed one of the girls the iPad.  I then began to take photos.  She tried to get me to teach her how to use it once, but I encouraged her to try to figure it out.  Within minutes she was deep in concentration and fun learning animal names in English and Spanish.  Within the space of an hour, the students explored about half a dozen apps.  It wasn't long before I had almost the entire class around the table observing and begging for a turn.

My students' favorite app is "Kinder Add" which they have nicknamed "quesito" (little cheese) because the app gives brain breaks which involve the students solving a maze for a mouse to his cheese.  Each student has their own profile on the app.  Students solve a series of addition problems with the app guiding them through varying solving methods (counting on, using a number line, etc.) in the beginning.  The app even gives single question exams periodically.  My students love this feature!  They also love when they level up in the app.  I love that the app tracks data on the skills students are working on.  I can see their progress and areas where they need more practice. 

My students get to watch one movie a week at the boarding school.  On a rare occasion we give them an extra movie, usually for a reward or party day.  One day they got a surprise movie, but rather than watch the movie I had three little kids begging me to let them play the addition "game." Now the students ask daily to use my iPad for educational apps.  (Did I make a mistake letting them use my iPad?!)  Thankfully they should each be getting one to use in the school very soon.

To get the grant, I wrote up (more or less what I wrote here above) about the pilot program.  I also included research on the educational benefits of iPads in third world countries.  Kids in rural Africa are learning English by simply being given a tablet!  We priced out the iPads and accessories and their availability here in Guatemala.  I attached some photos of the kids with my iPad. My grantwriter wrote the formal ask and confirmed with me a budget based on the amount she thought we could win.  Well, she worked her grant magic and we won!

Now the real work begins of purchasing, installing, and implementing the iPads.  I plan to give the students an iPad boot camp to teach them some of the ins-and-outs.  I will also be giving some professional development technology courses to the teachers.  Implementing 25 iPads seems like a big project!

Do you have any recommendations for implementation?  Great apps?  Especially for Spanish speakers?  Any and all iPad related advice is appreciated.


  1. Congratulations! Math Bingo is a great math game for kids to practice their math facts (not sure what year your kiddos start to learn them.) It is a favorite of my students.

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

    1. They start with addition in Kindergarten. My students really need motivation in math, especially the boys. Thanks for the great app suggestion. I love how versatile it is. I can use it with the Kinders and Third graders!

  2. I don't have any great Spanish apps to recommend at the moment, but I just wanted to leave a great big CONGRATULATIONS!!! Something like this will be a game changer for the futures of your kids! What a blessing that your students have you there, putting in the work on their behalf... because we all know grant proposals don't write themselves. Now it will be fun to follow along with how this evolves. Can't wait to read about it!


    1. Julie, thank you for the kind words. The grant proposal was a lot of work, but worth it to help me think about our goals here and the importance of technology in learning. I am still waiting on the money to come through and to find reasonable prices here in Guatemala. I am researching parental controls while I wait to have the iPads in my hands. More blog posts to come soon!