I remember my biggest frustration as a classroom teacher was not being able to install apps on my classroom iPads as I needed them. The process to get an ACADEMIC app installed was ridiculous and it took weeks.
My biggest frustration as an ITRT is installing iPad apps for my teachers. They have to email me and then WAIT for me to come to their classroom to install the app(s) since we aren't allowed to reveal the secret password. Often times they have to wait several days since I am only at their school once a week. We have had issues with our iTunes' account locking. We have to wait for one man in the county to call Apple and have it unlocked. Sometimes that teacher has to wait another week until I return to get the app they requested. There is a huge flaw in this system and it frustrates me beyond belief. We wait, and wait and wait...
Luckily times are changing and more and more schools are adopting better iPad management systems that will send out apps to multiple devices with a press of a button. However, how quickly are the iPad managers able to push out your requests?
Enter, my E-A-S-Y iPad hack...
This won't help with actual APPS. However, you will see how it is a quick way to push out websites, web tools, and Google files to your students in a matter of seconds.
Create a Google Doc and bookmark it on all of your classroom iPads. Ta-Da..that's it! On this doc you can then hyperlink websites that work on iPads, Google Forms, Google Slides, webtools, etc. that students can access in two taps. It will look just like an app...
When students tap on that "app" in the screenshot above, a Google Doc pops up on their screen:
On the doc above I chose to insert a table along with a few activities to show YOU an example of what you could add to YOUR doc. If I am working with younger students, less is more. For instance, if I was working with a kindergarten class, most likely I would only have one or two items on my doc. What you see above might work best with 2nd grade and up. Students can identify the activity by the picture and the word.
You can see that I inserted a links= for the popular student response system, KaHoot. KaHoot is a web-based tool that works beautifully on the iPads. Note: For some reason images that are hyperlinked do not work as well as text that is linked. That is why I hyperlinked the text. It might work better if you have the Google Doc app installed. Student response systems are always a great tool to use to start out a lesson to check for background knowledge and/or end a lesson to check for understanding.
I also added my Emoji Wrap-Up Google form (read more about it HERE and grab a free copy). Google Forms work beautifully on the iPad and you don't even need the Forms apps for student use!
BoardThing is one of my favorite web tools that works on laptops and iPads. I added this one because students can work collaboratively by adding sticky notes and images from their iPad's camera roll. I made a quick tutorial for this web tool for our Tech with Us FB Community if you are interested in checking it out:
Digital Dictionary is a great way for students to document their vocabulary words and/or word wall words with a visual component. In order for students to add to this using iPads, they would need the Google Slides app installed. However, if you are keeping ONE digital dictionary (great for younger grades) that YOU are in charge of updating, then all students need to do it tap the link and it will pop up on their iPad for them to click through the slides. This works the same with ANY Google Slides presentations :)
Another way I have used this bookmarked Google Doc other than linking in websites and web tools is adding a poem or text of the day for students to read for fluency practice. They tap the app and BOOM, there is the text I want them to practice reading!
I have even been known to link in Google Folders, Dropbox folders as well as Comemories' links filled with images I want students to save to their camera roll. There is A LOT you can do with this bookmarked Google Doc believe it or not!
Want to set one up? Here are the steps I took to quickly get my doc onto my classroom iPads:
- Create a Google Doc
- Add any charts, images, and links you would like to appear the first time your students tap the icon (you can always do this later and just bookmark a blank doc). To hyperlink words, highlight the word you would like to add a link to and click the link icon in the toolbar. Enter the url and press Apply:
3. Change the Share settings by clicking on the blue SHARE button in the upper right hand corner. Set it to Anyone with a link can view. Click Done.
4. Turn the url of your Google Doc into a QR Code. The absolute QUICKEST way to do this is to install the Chrome extension Goo.gl. Read more about this HERE. Have your Google Doc on your screen, click the Goo.gl extension that is installed and then click on QR Code. Grab your iPads and scan the QR Code straight from your laptop screen with a QR Scanner App (my favorite is i-nigma). You do NOT have to print the QR code for it to work.
Once you have the Doc pulled up on your iPad, bookmark it by clicking the square with arrow icon:
Click Add to Home Screen.
Click Add and then you are finished!
Like I said, this "hack" isn't a way around installing and using APPS. However, it has helped me push out a variety of activities for students without having to touch every single iPad. How else could we use these bookmarked Google Docs in our classrooms? Leave any ideas in the comments below!