What’s on my iPad: featuring Candy McMains

“What’s on my iPad” is a new series that features classroom teachers who are exploring various iPad apps in their classroom.  This includes not only which apps, but also what they use them for and how they structure the activities with students. If you would like to be featured in this series, contact Brian Abeling (see Contact Page).

Candy McMains
4th Grade Teacher
Hillside Elementary
Years in education: 40







Q1. What are your top 3 apps that are used in your classroom?

World Countries All in One

We just finished doing country reports for our writing curriculum. The students used this app for research to take notes. The opening page of this free app has very colorful icons with all sorts of categories for the students to pick.  It would be relevant from elementary to high school for research.  From every world leader in color to all their cabinet is featured.  Wikipedia is attached to this app through the factbook. It also has some games and quizzes attached.

Since this project is intended for partners the students worked in pairs. As the students also were using other books, it just became one more research the students used during their 15 minute daily time.  Thus their group had it for 30 minutes.


Quick Voice Recorder

This app is great for students to record themselves. We have used two different ways. First, I have a couple kids who have fluency goals in reading.  They use it to record their cold reads of a leveled passage and then later their hot (practiced) read.  I can then take it home and listen to it and it does not take up my time in class listening to one student read.  Secondly, we are doing our poetry unit.  The children practice reading a poem and then they record it on the Quick Voice App.  They like to play it back and listen to themselves. I can also listen to it.


Google Earth

We are getting ready to do our South West Bernstein Unit (Bernstein, as in Bernstein artful learning model), and we needed to update our inquiry center on SouthWest geography. This will be used for research. They will be tracing their route from our school through the SouthWest United States.  An accompanying worksheet will ask them to note the geography changes and landmarks that they will investigate.  It will also be their introduction to Google Earth. We will have 5 centers going on so the geography center will have the iPads.  There will be about six kids in a group so they will work in pairs.

Q2. If we asked the students in your class – what would they say are their top 3 favorite apps they use in your classroom? 

1. Factor Samari

2. Stack the States

3. Lobster Diver

Q3. How many iPads do you have in your classroom? and how did you get them?
I currently have three iPads in my classroom.  I received them by applying into the district iPad program, where classroom teachers received 15 hours of training and 3 classroom iPads.

Q4. You have more kids in your classroom than you have iPads, how do you possibly make that work?
At this stage, that is the significant question. I have the class divided into thirds.  On the shelf  (the dock on the main screen) sits the apps they will use each day.  The first two are always the same.  They are the notes which tells them their daily task, the timer that they set for 15 minutes and the apps they will use that day. (Friday is free choice) One day the kids work alphabetically down their list of names (also on Note page) and the next day they start from the bottom up.  We start the minute they come into the classroom and they are often done by the afternoon.  That frees them up for specific tasks that kids are assigned or they come up with a reason to use them. If something is going on that everyone needs to hear they pause their timer and resume when I am done.  They just pass it onto the next person.

Q5. What advice would you give to other teachers about managing the iPads in your classroom?  
I take the iPads home in my bag every night.  This allows me to download apps, come up with the daily assignment and get what they will need on the bookshelf.

Q6. How much money have you spent on apps so far?  Do you find that this takes a lot of time?  Any tips/suggestions on where you search for apps?
So far, I have spent about $19.00s on apps. Of the 190 apps I have downloaded it only equals a handful. I started out with a $25.00 card from our school.  Then our PTO gave us some money and I bought another $25.00 card. Yes, I spend a lot of time looking for apps, which I think is fun.  I also get a lot of suggestions from others who find interesting applicable apps.

Q7. What concerns or limitations do you have with the iPad?
I think the only limit on the iPad is your imagination.  I never seem to have trouble finding relevant apps that back up what we are covering in the classroom.  This week we are doing fractions and I had to create a folder of fraction apps because I had so many.  I think the kids have the ability to have so much more breath of coverage on a topic.  They are able through these fraction apps to see videos, play games, and learn concepts that we haven’t even begun to cover.  This background knowledge is so valuable.  In addition this week, the free Brainpop movie one day was on the ecosystem of the desert.  With starting that region next week, it was a natural to plug in. I can also customize the apps.  I have a Math Basics, Medians, and Challenge folder.  The kids can work through the topic from basic to challenge.  Another really fun thing we did last week was when I downloaded Flipboard (from listening to a blog on five favorite apps).  The information and format for this multi-magazine is amazing.  I customized it to include the section Kids Should See This.  We used it for several days because the students were so intrigued by the creative and interesting articles and videos they experienced.

Q8. What do you wish the iPad could do that it currently doesn’t? 
I wish the iPad could have folders for each student – where their projects and documents would be saved.  I also want to download my benchmarking, like what Crestview Elementary does, but I’ve not tried yet.

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