A Day in the Life of an iPad Teacher

6.30 am: Woken by the dulcet tones of Lana Del Rey and a new ‘Wake up Light‘. Contemplate staying in bed then notice the email icon flashing with a number of new messages – check twitter.

7.00 am: Access news app whilst devouring breakfast. Apologise for spraying coffee during reaction to latest education announcement. Carefully wipe iPad screen and check all is in working order by scrolling twitter timeline.

7.20 am: Plug iPad into car stereo and load ‘Driving’ playlist. Remember not to play air drums as last nights altercation with a kerb was too close for comfort.

8.00 am: Deal with overflowing inbox on iPad whilst waiting for school computer to load. Share amusing photo with colleague that is doing ‘the rounds’ on twitter. Feel thankful todays lesson presentations and resources are accessed on iPad via Dropbox as school network is down.

8.25 am: Contemplate handing in resignation as only free period of the day has become a history cover with year 10. Decide against quitting after discovering appropriate work has been set and history teacher is on a school trip not skiving to write reports.

8.45 am: Take staff briefing notes on iPad and share with form group on Edmodo before walking to classroom. Complete registration on iPad and discuss the u14 football victory last night. Enjoy presentation by school council member made with Keynote and iMovie.

9.10 am: Lesson one with year 7 and they are all excited to share their completed projects. Regret allowing them to use any app they wanted as assessment point looms. Group complete a mind-mapping exercise whilst projects are checked and uploaded to class Dropbox account. Students share mind-map with class via Appletv and each group discuss their findings. Extended writing task is completed with detailed mind-map as a resource.

10.10 am: Lesson two starts with a mild panic as projector isn’t working. Student suggests uploading presentation to Dropbox so everyone can access it on their iPads. Feel thankful for the ‘work around’ and award commendation to student. Secretly wish more attention had been paid during that iPad training session on workflow. Concern over the lesson objectives is relieved by a Socrative quiz to check progress. Report is downloaded and sent to email to dissect later but initial answers appear correct. Development task is completed in ‘Pages‘ and uploaded to Edmodo for assessment.

11.10 am: Break-time and the slow walk around the playground begins. Twitter conversation is instigated with  ‘virtual friend’ about the alarming changes to exams announced this morning. Thankful to colleague who brings out cup of coffee. Shake head when he mocks being on twitter again.

11.30 am: The dreaded cover period is made easier by the history students engaging in research on their iPads. Remember that the software that blocks inappropriate apps on the wireless network will stop them playing games. Still walk around room to check the research is relevant. Mark assessments on iPad using the annotation tool in Edmodo and send back to students for correction. Nostalgically reflect when assessment was a two week process with a single lesson per week.

12.30 pm: Lesson four begins with a pre-recorded Explain Everything slide. The idea is that students will work together to discover the answer to the problem. Share different slides with improving students via Edmodo and encourage them to listen to the hints and tips. Annotate one groups work with the Airpresenter app and display to the group. Stand back and realise how much energy is in the room and check to see if all students are on task. Ask class to complete Socrative exit ticket to show head of department later.

1.30 pm: Lunch-time and after a quick sandwich join the badminton club. Happy to help the PE department as it allows for some exercise during the day. Feel a little sheepish when a student analyses your jump smash with an app on his iPad. Somehow he has managed to illustrate five different faults but accept his ‘experimenting for A level moderation’ excuse.

2.30 pm: Lesson 5 and the inevitable post-lunch malaise is alleviated by a learning challenge. Using any app (why do it!) students are required to teach the lesson objectives to a ‘virtual alien’. The best two will be shown at the end via Appletv and receive commendations. Headteacher walks in just as one group complete their ‘stop-motion‘ animation. The smile and nod has the feeling of ambiguity but hopefully errs on the positive side. After receiving numerous commendations the students are disappointed to learn homework is an extended writing piece. They are sated by a reminder about the examination process and the need to complete writing tasks.

4.00 pm: With double strength coffee in hand, set about annotating syllabus sheets for sixth form using Goodreader app for iPad. Upload sheets to Dropbox and inform group, via department twitter, that they are available. Mark assessment papers for year 11 and promise to ‘unleash hell’ if tomorrow’s free period is taken away. Check personal twitter.

5.45 pm: Drive home with second half of ‘Driving’ playlist passing the time. Ignore the ‘ping’ of new notifications on the iPad thinking they can wait till tomorrow.

6.30 pm: Stay in car and check twitter.

7.15 pm: Discuss days events over dinner and promise to show how the twitter world has been up in arms about the government announcement. Ignore the eye-rolling and suggest twitter is for everyone – do the washing up as penance.

8.30 pm: Watch favourite programme in the bath using TV Catchup application for iPad. It still feels that the bathroom has been upgraded now it has a ‘television’ in it.

10.00 pm: Reset alarm for a ten minute lie-in tomorrow. Check twitter one last time.

11.15 pm: Fall asleep.

About Daniel Edwards
Director of Innovation & Learning at the Stephen Perse Foundation schools, Cambridge, UK (stephenperse.com). Interested in global connectivity for all and risk taking in education. Keen to discuss all aspects of learning and digital strategy. Also @syded06 on twitter.

51 Responses to A Day in the Life of an iPad Teacher

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  3. Sam says:

    Great post! I would suggest teachers to try Nearpod as an all-in-one solution to create presentations and work w/ synchronized iPads. It’s a great tool I have been using lately and it has really impressed me. I’m amazed by its possibilities, this is why I wanted iPads in my classroon! Hope other teachers can try it! Their website is http://www.nearpod.com

    Thanks for all the other tools suggested here! And the post on students is awesome too, certainly not far from reality!

    • syded says:

      Thank you for commenting. I’m just waiting for nearpod to allow students to go through material at their own pace and review content.

      • Ali Jabry says:


        Great Work! We have created something to address this issue. However we are targeting Android given that it is cost effective for different populations and have implemented it in majority fo South America,Africa and the Middle East. It is a kernel locked solution thats only purpose is to be channeled for Education. Have a look at http://www.tabacus.in and please write me an email if you are interested we are working with alot of Global Organizations who are making it possible to reach high social risk communtiies and at the same time more comfortable schools. Its always a pleasure to see teachers take the initiative of incorporating ICTS in Classrooms. alijabry@tabacus.in

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  6. throughipads says:

    I am very glad I have found your blog as I am very new to iPad and need to teach through iPads only from September. I see you use a number of platforms such as Dropbox and Edmodo to share files. Yesterday, I failed to create a document in iPages and upload it to Dropbox. Have you any recommendations of sites, instructions that can help me work on these interfaces? Students will not have hardcopies of anythiny, not will they have a laptop. I will all be iPads based. So we will create in iPages and move things around.
    Thanks for all you have shared so far. It will be of great value to me.

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  19. Charlotte says:

    Great especially the links to tools. Will use Edmodo more fully this fall.

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  24. Clemmie says:

    Hi Daniel,

    Just discovered your fantastic blog today. I am currently working on a new magazine called Education Technology and your post ‘A Day in the Life of an iPad Teacher’ would be a perfect feature. Would you perhaps be interested in contributing? Please do get in touch. Many thanks,

    Clemmie Robinson

  25. Reba says:

    Great post! Thanks. Question: Were you using Explain Everything when you made these post? I ask because I noticed the recording timer was not going.

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  30. Ben Stanerson says:

    Thanks for your insights. Great to see the creativity in your lessons and the motivation in your students.

    We are implementing a 1:1 iPad inatiative with two high school grades this fall. We did a successful pilot last year with just ninth grade.
    What filtering or monitoring software do you use? Your comment about the student research and them having restricted access to apps intrigued me.
    Thanks for taking the time to share. Enjoy your posts.

    • syded says:

      I would take a look at Casper software if you are looking for a filter on your own wireless network. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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  37. Mark Pecot says:

    I’m not a Luddite, but I am curious if you’ve examined any research has been done into the effect staring at screens (iPad, Smartphones, computers, TVs) has on the adolescent brain.

    Longitudinal studies are lacking, but there is evidence that 2+ hrs of “screen time” is linked with a host of behavioral, academic, and health problems (eg insomnia) in elementary grade students.

    Schoolwork is in front of a screen. Homework is in front of a screen. Leisure time is in front of a screen. Adolescents now take their phones to bed. Wired and connected 24hrs a day…but to what end?

    In addition to teaching history, I also do wilderness outdoor education, and the transformation I see in students from disconnecting for even just three or four days is remarkable.

    • I agree – it is important to make sure the device is used where appropriate. Hopefully as tablets are normalised the desire to ‘play’ with them will decrease and reduce screen time. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  38. Joel Birch says:

    Only just came across this – it does a really nice job of capturing the kinds of digital habits I spend so much time talking to teachers about. I love the implied “I didn’t train in any of this, I just played with it and worked it out, and I use it because it works” tone that sits underneath it as well.

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