Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Updates on Google Drive, Blogger, and Bump

Over the past few weeks there have been updates to many of the apps we work with often. Here's a recap of a few of the apps that have added some great features or new interfaces which make them more user friendly. 

Notice the added Spreadsheet option! 
Google Drive recently added the ability to do spreadsheets within the app. I know there were many that felt that just editing documents was limiting. With the add of spreadsheets, it gives me hope of seeing Google Presentations and other features added in the future!

Basic Interface and Editing Features 
Also a feature that is often overlooked with Google Drive is the ability to upload video or pictures from the photo album on the iPad or take a photo or video inside the Google Drive app. This feature can make it easier to move video files that are too large to email, yet you do not want to use a secondary site like YouTube. Once the photos or video are in google drive you can share them as you can any document on your Google Drive.
Take Photos or Videos Inside the App

New Blogger Interface 
Ability to Adjust the Image Resolution
Blogger also recently released a whole new updated interface on the iPad. Many teachers use Blogger (blogspot) for classroom blogs. The updated app makes it easy to quickly upload photos with a brief dialogue to post, keeping your blog easily updated in a short amount of time. Other added features include changing photo resolution sizes.

My last "update" on "updates" is Bump.  Bump is a free app that we've looked at for ways of sharing pictures between devices or "bumping" photos to a computer. Their last update has added the ability to bump audio, video, or documents as well. It's an easy way to share items without emailing.   Students do need to create an account in order to bump.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

Vocabulary Lesson with iPads/iPods

Example from 3rd grade student
One of the great advantages of using iPads or iPods is the opportunities to be creative, especially using the camera tool.  I had an opportunity to peak into a classroom on a learning walk and that is exactly how the students were using iPads and iPods.

The students had a list of vocabulary words.  For each word they had to write a definition using their own terminology.  Once all the words were defined, they could insert a picture next to each definition demonstrating their visual understanding.

For example use the word "elate".  Once the word is defined by a student, like "being happy", then they take a picture of their friends pretend cheering in all smiles.

Scribble Press and BookCreator are two of many apps students could use to create story books for their vocabulary words, and save their finished product into iBooks.  This will allow students to keep a journal of all their words to review at a later time, or read through other students books if sharing iPads or iPods.

In one classroom students were using PicCollage and creating a VocabCollage, while in another room students used LifeLike Cards to create a vocab postcard.

Those students that finished their assigned tasks before others, could extend their learning by including pictures of antonyms for each term.

There are many apps to choose from, and the iDevice allows students to use the one app that stands out for creativity - camera tool.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Snapchat - Digital Safety Can NOT be Taught Enough!

Before I start about the app, this is not a post about how to use an app in the classroom.  This is more of a "heads up" post, especially for those of us teaching upper elementary to college aged students.

The basic premise of Snapchat is to be able to quickly snap a photo and send it to another user and the photo will "self destruct" in a matter of seconds.  

Quick, easy, share a funny moment with good friends..... but it creates a false sense of security in thinking that it will be gone within so many seconds of the receiver opening the picture.  But it's not gone.  One simple screen capture and that photo is now in the hands of someone else and can be sent anywhere.  

To get the full idea,  this app came to our attention when the Today Show ran a segment last week.  You can watch the segment here.   

This app reminds me of the importance of digital safety talks with our teens.  

Common Sense Media has great Educator Resources for Digital Citizenship content aligned with the Common Core.   

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Subtext Will Read To You

We're often visiting with teachers that need to have accommodations allowing a device to read text to students.  They ask, "Is it possible to have the iPad read something like a Tween Tribune article"?

Subtext, the collaborative reading app, free at the time of this post, has an option that does just that.  Inside the app you find the article on the Internet, add it to your Subtext bookshelf, and use the "play" button when reading the article.  The voice reading the article provides good articulation with voice inflection for a computerized reader, and the app  highlights which sentence is being read.

Let us describe the steps here.
A. Open the subtext app and find Add Books and Docs button

B.  Choose to add "Read web pages in Subtext"

C.  Find your webpage/online article, use the google search tool from subtext if needed, and then click Add to Subtext bookshelf button.  Close this window when finished.

D.  On your book shelf click Read It button

E.  Find the Play button when reading an article

F.  Click settings (gear in upper left) to turn on this feature and set the reader speed.

Subtext has much more to offer, which we will cover in a future blog post.  However, this feature can be a great addition for your reading resources.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

QR Code Math Problems

QR codes, that little square box that leads to mystery and engagement.  Such is the case for the typical worksheet of math problems.

For example, you have the standard worksheet of several story problems that students need to complete for practice.  This daunting worksheet where teachers find students practicing all the excuses to postpone the activity like "my pencil broke" or "can I use the restroom".

What if each story problem were revealed as the product of a QR code?

I was visiting a classroom last week, and looked at the walls noticing many QR codes scattered about.  I asked what they are used for?  The teacher stated she just put all the problems from the worksheet into QR codes; that students weren't motivated to complete the worksheet but eagerly engaged to complete the QR code tasks.

Try this strategy with your next worksheet for student practice, whether it be solving math problems or writing sentences for vocabulary words.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Math Activities for iDevice Centers

Agenda for November 28, 2012 Training

Rover App to use with flash based online resources
GTKY Activity
  • Basics Settings to Review - Group Time 

Math Apps Exploration
Creation Apps
Exploration for ideas - Personal PD.
Online programs 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

iPads in Special Ed Agenda

           Username:  Wireless
           Password:   Access
LUNCH On your own!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mathemagician - Flash Based Games

Mathemagician is a nice online resource allowing students to practice math facts, similar to the Mad Math Minutes lessons.  Students are given a goal of so many problems in a time limit.  When the time limit is over they are provided with a percentage of how well they did.  Students can choose from different operations at different levels.

Here is the catch with using iPads, Mathemagician is a flash based site.  Thus, you need a different app to use in order to interact with this site.  The app we've been using is called Rover.

Safari for the iPad is a better web navigator than Rover  so try navigating to the correct website in Safari, then copy the URL and paste it into Rover.  This way Rover takes you directly to the game and you are ready to play.  You may want to experiment with bookmarking the games into Rover as well.

The creators of Mathemagician (Oswego City School District) also have many other online practice games to choose from.  Click here to get to their table of contents.  Try playing any of the Speed Grid games, like Speed Grid Multiplication, and see if you can complete their task in the specified time limit. These games are reviewing math facts, but instead of supplying the answer you must determine a problem for a given answer. Another series of games to explore is Stop the Clock, for younger children learning to tell time.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Screenleap - Easily Share Your Desktop

Screenleap is a website that allows a person to share their desktop for viewing with any device with an internet browser. Great for districts allowing BYOD!

The first thing I think of  is sharing presentations out to the devices in the students' hands for easier viewing.  For students sitting in a large classroom, trying to take notes from the board, having the capability to snap a screenshot of the slides of a presentation to refer to later is a great tool.

A middle school math teacher in our region recently used this app with students in her class.  "I have the clickers out and students are working on problems and sending in answers.  It has been wonderful. Students are watching their iPad screens while I'm using Activeinspire and writing without any problems."

Ease of use for this site is great - no sign up required.  Once you choose to share your screen it gives a 9 digit access code.

Students access your screen on their device by going to the same site (www.screenleap.com) which could easily be added as a bookmark on their home screen.  They then enter the same 9 digit access code to view what the teacher is doing on their screen.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Just Books Read Aloud

Here is a great website you can use with an iPad or iPod, called Just Books Read Aloud.  There are over 100 books, a small sample shown below, available for read aloud.  All free and easily accessible, with great stories.

This would make for a great link on your iPads or iPods if you are using them as learning centers in a classroom. And with an audio splitter, you can have two students sharing one iDevice.

Another online resource for beginning readers that can  be used on an iPad or iPod is called Tar Heel Reader.  Books are designed with one sentence per page accompanied by some image. You can filter your search by topics to find books of a particular interest.  Below is an example choices from the category "Books from Alphabet". 

This website offers a collection of a few thousand books with options to have books read to the student, where you choose the voice.  Since the books at Tar Heel Reader are written for all beginning readers, most of the content is perfect for younger readers, though some of the books might be more appropriate for older students. Find the most appropriate category for your students and save a direct link to those books on your iPad or iPod.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Kindergarten and StoryKit

It's always great to see the fun things that our teachers in the region are doing with their iDevices.  Even better, when we get feedback at how the iDevices have changed the way students learn and how we teach in positive ways!  Here is a video recap of a kindergarten class that used the app StoryKit to practice identifying the beginning, middle, and end of the story The Grumpy Bird .   

Students identified the three parts on paper.  Then in partners they took turns taking the photo, typing the sentence, and recording their voice in StoryKit.  Ms. Evans explained that the students were engaged, excited, and worked very well together on their project.  

And to think these were kinders only three months into the school year!  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Augmented Reality: an Alternative to QR Codes?

Over the past year we have seen QR Codes make a mark in the classroom as an easy way to send students to a site, make interactive book talks, share information with parents at Open House, among many other uses.  But what is augmented reality (AR) and how does it match up for classroom use?

From dictionary.com:
augmented reality - noun - an artificial environment created through the combination of real-world and computer-generated data.
String - Free for iPhone and iPad 

Proto - example from String 
My first experience (other than on TV) was seeing a couple of our teachers play with String at our Regional Ed Tech Cadre.  This app works by printing images, called targets, already made by the company from www.poweredbystring.com.  This is a showcase app for the company but is a great way to demonstrate to students what AR is and the possibilities. Of the four examples, the targets demonstrate some of the more advanced features and capabilities that AR can do. Print a few out and try it!

After seeing this, it lead us to spend time experimenting with a free app called Aurasma Lite.  Aurasma allows you to view ARs in a visual browser - including ones you make yourself with the app or ones that appear with their big A on products, newspaper ads, etc.  More information on Aurasma can be found on their website.  

Aurasma Lite - Free for both iPhone and iPad
Making my own was pretty fast and easy.  The app includes some preloaded (and fun) 3D animations,  but for the classroom the biggest tool was being able to make a target show a video that I created.   While practicing, I made the power outlet in my room into a train depot (from the preloaded choices) and the room number on our door be a target for a video that I had created on my ipad.

Advantages to AR was that I could create a target and upload my own video all within the one app and device.  I didn't have to have an external place (like youtube) or print out my QR code.  I just used the pictures in my room.  AR is more limiting than QR Codes for what I can make it display - only videos and slideshows - unless you have time and expertise to create 3D diagrams and animations.  Possibilities though to add a new intractability with the students' surroundings: 
Interactive word walls with video definitions?  View video instructions at classroom centers?  Reading Rainbow book talks with book cover as target?  Any other ideas?

Check out how students and teachers are using AR:
Augmented Reality in Education:  Shaw Wood Primary School  
Bringing Augmented Reality to Life - in the classroom and the workplace

Other AR Experience Apps:
AR Flashcards - Animal Alphabet   For iPhone and iPad  $0.99 (print off 26 animal flashcards to use with app)
The Amazing Spiderman AR - For iPhone and iPad Free (interacts with targets from their website) 
AR Soccer - for iPhone and iPad $1.99  (play with a virtual soccer ball)