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.