I’m a teacher at an elementary school in Minnesota, and this is the best tablet/learning tool/classroom purchase I’ve ever seen! The reviews I’ve read so far and blog posts are really about using the tablet at home, but as a teacher, I think there’s a huge opportunity for tablets in classrooms and there are some key features on this tablet that make it perfect for school AND home…
1. Comes with a TON of apps, games, ebooks, etc, all focused around a particular subject area (ALREADY ORGANIZED! Perfect for teachers!). We do a unit on the solar system and the Astronaut “Dream” category is perfect as a supplement to my teaching and as something for kids to explore at home. We do a unit on bridges, and the Engineer category has an app for that! The science apps in the Scientist category are extremely useful, especially for kids who are really into science but whose parents don’t want to be building volcanoes and whatnot at home every night! I can keep going on and on about the various category and how robust the content offering is… from programmer, to photographer, to environmentalist, to artist… so much variety! I can easily think of a way to incorporate each of the categories into my existing lesson plans and really enhance the learning experience since kids love tablets and technology so much. Best part for teachers: content is already organized by subject AND by level, so your kids can really explore/learn at their own pace… For example, some of my gifted students need to be able to work on more challenging activities, and they could easily use the “Advanced” category and be very satisfied!
2. With that said, I can see how it would be perfect for families and home use… if a student is struggling in math, they can use the tablet at home and use the mathematician category to practice math, all while having fun. In my own classroom, sometimes students who are struggling in match can feel singled out, but if everyone is using their tablet at the same time, the students who need the math help can use it for math and no other students will need to know. Again, since the apps are organized by subject and level, very easy for whole families with kids of varying ages to use it and share it.
3. Comes with a “journal” so I can see how a student is using the tablet. I can understand why a teacher or parent might be a little nervous about giving an elementary-aged child a tablet. There are parental controls that I set up in under a minute (set up a parental control password, turned off the browser/internet and turned off the Google Play Store), but even better, there is a “journal” so I can see how each child is using the tablet. For example, a child might use the tablet in my classroom for awhile and I want to know what they were working on… I go to the journal and I can see what percentage of time they were spending in a particular area. It can be hard to really understand what a child is interested in at times, but I can go to the journal and see that she/he is spending a lot of time in the doctor category, for example, that would help me connect to the child and tailor the lesson plans to their interests. I can also see it being very useful at parent/teacher conferences because I can share insight into the child’s interests with the parents, in addition to their strengths and weaknesses.
4. Has a great case that comes with it for free! The case is textured (I’m assuming to help kids grip it better) and seems to be very shock-absorbing. I was at first a little critical of the case because I didn’t know if it would be thick enough padding for classroom wear-and-tear, but once I saw my 9-year-old nephew using it, I realized that the size is perfect for smaller hands and it isn’t too bulky or heavy. Of course, it still will need to be treated with respect and care in the classroom, but I prefer that and I’m glad that it will fit comfortably in their hands.
5. Overall value is AMAZING! I don’t know how it is possible for this tablet to cost less than $150! It is an Android tablet and is very responsive to touch (what you would expect from an iPad or any tablet, but half the price). Again, comes with a ton of apps and eBooks (forgot to mention that the content is available in English AND Spanish… I need to show our English Language Learners teacher because she will LOVE it)! Perfect for classroom, perfect for home use, perfect for a variety of ages.
My only criticism is that I went to their website and I wish they had some materials for teachers to use to help write a grant, because I really want a tablet for each student in my classroom!