Tips for iPads in Classroom

We are starting our second year of having iPads in our elementary classrooms, our Title I CCJH classrooms, and some of our AJHS classrooms. We've created a list of tips for managing the equipment in our classrooms.

Tip 1: Team decisions regarding equity
  • Will you break the cart up across your grade level? If so, who will host the cart in their room?
  • Or, will you rotate the cart from class to class? If so, will you do it on a daily schedule or by time slots during the day?
  • Whatever you choose, revisit those choices every quarter or every month. After reflecting, you may come up with a better solution, or decide to try a different system, or a hybrid of both. Be flexible and work together as a team. 

Tip 2: Marry the devices with the cart, and return them to their homes
  • Each of our carts has its own MacBook Air computers dedicated to your iPads. Once you place the iPads in the cart, it'll sync with what's on the MacBook Air using Apple Configurator.
  • Make sure you only use the cart that your iPads are dedicated to. 
  • Each iPad should have its home in the cart. The iPads are numbered and the slots in the cart are numbered. 
  • Keep your homes neat. In other words, keep the cords tucked in the right places so they are easy to plug in to recharge.

Tip 3: Have a procedure for passing out and returning the iPads to their carts.
  • Define and model the procedure for unplugging and returning the iPads to their cards. 
  • Remind them how to walk with the iPads once they are unplugged from the cart.
  • When will the students get their iPads? Will they get their iPads at the start of class? When will they return them to the cart?
  • Will there be a tech classroom job for the students to get/return the iPads to the cart? If so, will part of their job be reporting any missing devices from the cart upon checking out and returning the devices to the cart?
  • Make sure your team follows the same procedures, especially since you are sharing the cart.

Tip 4: Create a list of common sense expectations, such as:
  • Walk with the iPad safely secured in hands.
  • Keep drinks and all liquids away from the iPads.
  • Put them somewhere safe when they are not in use. 
  • Have clean hands when you use the iPads.
  • Put iPads in sleep mode when you need the students' attention.
  • Use them appropriately.
  • Model and discuss these expectations.

Image is licensed under
 Creative Commons by Tony Vincent
Tip 5: Set each device's wallpaper with the number (or name)
  • Set each device's wall paper with its number. If you've decided to break the cart up, you can also add the teacher's name and room number to allow other teachers to borrow for specific special projects where they need extra devices.
  • Tony Vincent has created a fabulous post about how to do this, which includes images to download as wallpaper.

Tip 6: Downloading new apps
  • To download free apps, you'll do that from the iTunes account on the MacBook Air that is dedicated to your cart. Then select the iPads you want that app loaded to.
  • Eventually grade levels will also be able to purchase apps by buying a voucher through our Tech Director, Jon Castelhano
  • Here is a must read by Jennie Magiera on the process of selecting, reflecting, and using apps for learning in the classroom.
  • Here is a quick read from Langwitches, There is More to iPads in the Classroom than Apps.

Tip 7: Create shortcuts for sites you visit most frequently
Add a web clip icon to the home screen
Image licensed under Creative Commons by Tony Vincent
  • You can add the URL to your home screen by touching the plus symbol at the bottom of the screen. Then select Add to Home Screen, and edit the title if desired. Then select Add to complete the process.
  • Use QR codes or URL shorteners to easily navigate to new sites.

Tip 8: Regarding earbuds
AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by keoshi
  • Have earbuds for each student. I recommend purchasing from Walmart, a dollar store, and online (thanks Tony Vincent, for the link). 
  • I've also heard of teachers putting earbuds on their list of school supplies. Check with your site administrator what his/her thoughts are on that.
  • I recommend discussing that listening to devices at levels over 85 dB is dangerous to your hearing. Here are two interactive sites students could explore: How Loud is Too Loud? and What's that Sound? 

Tip 9: Keeping the iPads clean
  • Use microfiber clothes to clean the screens. 
  • If the screen can't be cleaned by a dry microfiber cloth, then put a few drops of water on the microfiber cloth to try to wipe it clean.
  • Never use Clorex wipes to clean the iPads. Tony Vincent's suggestion of using an UV light to sanitize the screen such as Germ Guardian UV-C Light Wand is brilliant.

Tip 10: Decide how students will share their creations with you
  • DropBox is a simple way to share content. Here's a tutorial for using DropBox on Kathleen Morris' Teaching Generation Now blog. Here's a tutorial for using DropBox and DropItToMe from the Edublogs Web Tools Teacher Challenge.
  • ShowMe and Educreations are apps that function as interactive whiteboards that record what you say as you write on the screen. Once logged into your teacher account from the iPad, content can be saved to your account, which can be retrieved online from your laptop. This is another easy way for students to share their creations with you.

Closing thoughts

This list of tips is a good starting point, but I'm sure there are many items I've missed. Please add to the conversation and share your thoughts in a comment.
  • What tips would you add to this list?
  • What tips hadn't you thought about before?
  • What questions do you still have regarding getting started?

Special thanks to Tony Vincent for his post, Classroom iPod touches and iPads: Dos and Don'ts, as the inspiration for this post. Special thanks also to my boss, Jon Castelhano, for helping me reflect on the ten tips in this post, and for setting up the iPads and figuring out the syncing with Apple Configurator.


  1. Tracy,
    Thank you so much for putting this all together! Although we don't have a large supply of iPads, we do have two carts of laptops (15 sets each). They are numbered which helps make sure they are returned. Our tech specialist also numbers the charger cord - that way if the kids are using the device and it runs out of battery they can easily grab the corresponding cord.

    The reminder about the correct listening decibel and those sites for students will help insure we are paying attention and being safe. I am one of those teachers that asks parents to provide earbuds but I had not spoken about the listening level (which I will defintely do this year).

    For the students the sharing part of projects is the most important. Sometimes I feel rushed and I would not get to that part immediately - but I am making it a goal to share in a timely manner. Not sure if I thought to use DB with my students - will check out that resource as well.

    Thank you so much for sharing these ideas - they are wonderful and complete....a good reference for all those who deal with multiple devices!

    Take care!

    1. Hi Nancy!

      That's wonderful that you have some iPads to share. The learning curve on them is rather quick to get started for students and teachers.

      I'm glad that the reminder about listening decibels was a good one. I was once in a conversation with one of our district's OTs and she shared that earbuds were not great for really young children because of the shortened sound wavelengths hindering the full development of hearing. When I went to research this to place in my post, I couldn't find it; however, I did find those interactive links about the listening decibels, which was well documented. -- Just one of those safe practices we can pass onto our students.

      I found that teachers typically had students share the content with the teacher through the physical device, however time sometimes limited that. So those cloud options were fabulous, especially since their emails weren't easy to get to from the devices.

      Kind regards,

  2. Great post, Tracy! There is so much to think about when integrating iPads and iPods in the classroom. I've learned a lot through trial and error over the past couple of years. One other tip I'd add is to seek out recommendations from experts about what types of apps to download and how to use the technology with students. You can spend hours searching the iTunes store (and I have), but it's a better use of your time to read blog posts and reviews of other teachers who have actually tried the apps. Tony Vincent is an amazing source of knowledge, as is Lisa Johnson at Reading her blog has led me to some truly inventive ideas for using iPads to promote higher order thinking, not just simple practice.

    1. Hi Shauna,

      Thanks so much for all of the tips. You were the first person to share Tony Vincent's site with me after one of my first posts, and glad you shared Lisa Johnson's site also. I couldn't agree more about how to use iPads to promote higher level thinking as a must. Just using them for practice doesn't use them to their potential what-so-ever. I saw a cartoon once of someone asking, "Where's the app for Bloom's level of creation?" =)

      Kind regards,

  3. Morning Tracey.
    Great post on iPads.
    This year, next week, my school an inner city comprehensive is looking to expand our use of iPads for learning across the whole school.
    We are also looking at it as a device to support teachers' capacity for planning, learning, communication and class Presentations.
    In the process of finalising next weeks training program and subsequent teacher support program.
    Any ideas resources you might have would be most welcome.
    Cheers Tracey.

    1. Hi Dan,

      Thanks for the feedback! Here are a few ideas for expanded use of iPads: Teaching and Learning-Using iPads in the Classroom and iPad deployment at BHS. BHS has a plethora of insight and resources to share.

      Some fabulous iPad consultants are Tony Vincent and Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano.

      I hope this helps! Good luck!


  4. We are just about to have a cart with ipads that will be shared across grade levels in elementary. This certainly gives me a great starting point for organization.

    1. Thanks Annie! I'm glad this was helpful, I appreciate the feedback.



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