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Managing Mobile Devices in Your Classroom

Last month, I was lucky enough to attend a seminar put on by the Bureau of Education and Research on using iPads in the classroom. The speaker, Zachary Walker, shared many valuable ideas and resources to help the attendees make the most of their classroom iPads. He also shared some easy to implement classroom management techniques to make sure that the mobile devices in your room have a positive impact on learning.

One of the reasons we like to use iPads and tablets with our students is because these devices are so engaging, but the engagement factor is a double-edged sword. When we want the kids to stay on task, it’s usually our friend, but when we are ready to have students pay attention to something else, the siren call of a colorful iPad screen can be a problem. Here are some suggestions from Zachary Walker that you can use to manage your classroom and help your students stay on task while they are using mobile devices:

  • Dock Your Device: Have students put their device face down on the far right corner of the desk. This ensures that they are not distracted by whatever is on the screen or playing with them under the desk while you would like them focused elsewhere.
  • Screens Up (or Apples Up): When you say “Screens up,” students should immediately hold up their iPads/tablets with the screen facing you. This allows you to do a quick scan of all the devices to make sure students are on an appropriate app or website.
  • Hands Up: Students should leave their devices face up on the desk and put both hands in the air when you say, “Hands up.” You can continue talking while you walk around the room and scan the devices to make sure everybody is on task.
  • Time the activity: Let the students know before they begin how much time they will have to work on the devices. Use a timer so they can keep track of how long they have. Any timer you can project for them will do. Try typing “2 minute timer” into Google or, for a more entertaining interface, install the free application Howler Timer on your computer.
  • Noise meter: Finally, if you have your own iPad, install the Too Noisy app. Put the iPad where students can see it or project using your Elmo or Apple TV. Let the students know that if the noise level gets too high, the mobile devices will have to be put away, and let peer pressure help keep the volume at the level you have set as acceptable.

Zachary Walker’s website,, is an excellent resource for mobile learning ideas and lesson plans. I highly recommend checking it out. If you are on Twitter, you can follow him @lastbackpack.

This entry was cross-posted on the LVUSD Ed Tech Blog.

Tech Tuesday: Guided Access

Guided Access is a feature of iOS 6 that allows users to prevent app switching and/or disable parts of the screen. It does not affect the way the app works unless you specifically set it to do so.

There are many reasons teachers might want to enable this feature on iPads in their classrooms. It may be a simple matter of keeping the students on task. Teachers may want to prevent students taking online tests from having access to Google or other search engines. Teachers using iPads in small groups may find that the minute or two spent enabling Guided Access is time well-spent when the iPads are ready for the next group without need for further teacher intervention. Guided Access can also be helpful if you want to disable areas of the screen, whether it is because you want to prevent students attempting to make in-app purchases, pressing the pause button, saving to the camera roll, or for any other reason.

First, enable Guided Access on your iPad. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access. You will need to set a passcode so you can turn Guided Access on and off and control the settings for each Guided Access session.

To start a Guided Access session, open the app you want to use and triple-click the Home button. If there are any areas of the screen you want to disable, circle them. You can use the handles to adjust the area. You can also set the iPad to ignore all screen touches by turning off Touch and keep it from changing orientation by turning off Motion. When you have set everything the way you want it, click Start.

To end a Guided Access session, triple-click the Home button and enter the Guided Access passcode.

The video below will give you a quick overview of what Guided Access looks like and how it works.

Originally published on Technology at Chaparral.