Getting Disruptive Technology Ready

We’re at the cabin for one last relaxing weekend before school starts. (We’ll be here Labor Day weekend, but as that is closing weekend, it’s hardly relaxing.)  My son brought his new iPad with him. We’ve had many conversations about how to handle it. Here are some rules we agreed on:

  • No Netflix app on the iPad. While this wasn’t his choice, he understood and agreed that it is too much of a temptation. That is exactly part of why kids need exposure to these devices – they need to learn how to focus even with the distractions.
  • Games are limited to those I approve. While I think games can be a great learning tool (just watch my 6-year old nephew figure out Angry Birds) I know his teachers aren’t at that place yet. We agreed that he will not play the games at school.
  • Handling with friends: as he will be probably the only one with an iPad, he needs to know how to handle this. We agreed that he can’t show off with it. It’s just a tool, like a notebook. He decided that my rule is that he can’t allow others to use it. This gives him an out when kids ask to use it.
  • Theft: We are still discussing how to keep the device secure when he’s at gym or lunch or recess. (Yes, they still get recess in 7th grade!)
  • Charging: he will be responsible for bringing the iPad home every night and charging it.He knows he won’t be able to do that at school.


The big question everyone has is APPS. What apps do you use? (OK, no one has asked us, but I know that’s what we’ll get asked and I see this question all the time in other places.) Here’s what we’re starting with:

  • Evernote: I’ll show him how to take advantage of Evernote. We’re still having an issue because technically he can’t have an account because he’s not 13. I emailed Evernote, but haven’t heard back. We’ll add some other Evernote functions, such as Skitch and Penultimate.
  • iMovie: $4.99 well spent. It’s a powerful video editing tool and can be used for many purposes.
  • Explain Everything: whiteboard recording app for math, mostly
  • Garage Band: for a kid who loves to compose and play music, this is a must.
  • Free Graphing Calculator: $100 less than what I’ll have to spend on the free standing graphing calculator that I won’t buy.
  • Keynote: easy-to-use on the iPad
  • Voicethread: especially useful for Spanish, but also other assignments.
  • WordPress: app that allows him to compose on the blog I set up for him. Kidblog will have its own app soon.
  • Office HD or other suite: haven’t decided on this yet. Need to do more research about these tools.
  • Planner app: He found a homework planner app. He’ll also try using Google calendar.

There will be more. You’ll notice that there are really no subject specific apps. These are all productivity tools. We’ll add subject apps as needed, but for the most part, this is what he’ll use.

He’s already spent a few hours learning Garage Band and iMovie. As a matter of fact, he just went on a walk to our farm to take pictures to turn into an iMovie. I think I’ll suggest he compose some music for it, too!

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