Holiday Diversions on the iPad

No really. I’m working. Well, at least I am making this work.

Learn a New Skill!

Learn to Draw with Foster Wallace

Price: free

Or at least, learn how to draw on the ipad. The lessons take you through the different steps for different  subjects. I tried the portrait one:

It gives you an outline and then you copy it:

They give you a choice of pencils, and refer to them in the instructions, but for a neophyte like me, I had no idea which one they meant when they said the sketch pencil, etc. However one of them shades, the one beside the eraser makes hard, black lines and I assume the right one is the sketching one. This was my final product:

Who needs eyeballs?

Okay, so are you actually going to learn to draw?

Probably not.

Is it fun?

heck yes.

Play Word Games!

Price: $0.99

I just found the Scrabble app. OMG. I might not do anything else this Christmas. It works just like the actual board game but without the peril of losing your tiles under the coffee table. I will no longer have to beg my husband to play with me, at once satisfying my craving for wordplay and saving my marriage! Long live Scarbble app!


Here is a game I started. I am totally kicking the computer’s butt:

Word Genius

Lite version: free

Upgrade: $0.99

I’ve reviewed this app in another post and have to say, it just gets more addictive. I have now gotten my whole family hooked- instead of being sprawled on the couch watching TV, we were all huddled around the iPad swiping at words.

I am actually upgrading right now. Yay! in the upgraded version, you have the choice whether to play against the clock or not. This will be better for my girls and I. If you do choose to play against the clock, you can set your time limit. These two options are not available in the lite version.

Cook! Bake!


So far, I’ve used recipes in the AllRecipes app. Or I should say, my husband used the recipe for baked falafel.  I ate the recipe. Free. Easy to use interface. If you upgrade for $4.99, you can save your recipes in a recipe box as well as print, share and organize your shopping lists.

Read to your children!

Alice for the iPad

Lite version: Free

Full version: $8.99

Holy moly. Anyone afraid that devices like the iPad are going to negatively affect literacy have not experienced the new interactive books.

I haven’t taken the plunge yet and purchased the full version, but I can’t imagine how it would be better than the lite. Beautiful illustrations, with fun, interactive add-ons. For example, while you read the story, the kids can then make Alice grow or shrink:

A wonderful way to introduce your small people to this classic!

How are you going to use your iPad during the holiday? My enquiring mind wants to know.

Happy Holidays!

Behold the future of gaming: Playing with Real Live Pigs!

With real pigs!

I came across this little tidbit on my morning troll through my RSS feed. Checking my Disinformation feed, there was this little tidbit about an app that allows you to play with real pigs.

My first reaction, of course, was to try and find it in the App store (because really, who doesn’t want to play with real live pigs?) but it isn’t quite there yet.

So I read the rest of the article and discovered another weird and wonderful (totally iPad unrelated tidbit):

Since 2001, law has required pig farmers in the European Union to provide some form of entertainment to their livestock as a way of keeping them in good emotional health, which in turn helps curb aggression and anxiety. Often, toys and other materials are placed inside the sties for animals to interact with, but perhaps unsurprisingly, some farmers have found it quite difficult to turn their pigpens into playpens.[treehugger]

Who knew? They should extend the same courtesy to child labourers.

Have a look at the video from the actual project, designed by the Utrecht School for the Art, whose motto is “Creative desgin for playful impact” ( so cool):

Playing with Pigs: Pig Chase from Utrecht School of the Arts on Vimeo.

Hopefully soon we will be able to do our part to keep the European pigs sane and stave off the dreaded mad pig disease.



rAPPido Review: Encyclopedia Britannica

Encyclopedia Britannica

Price: Free (lite version) $1.99/month for full access

Yes, I’ll admit it. My library world slows down a little during this last week of exams, which gives me the opportunity to troll the app store. Checking out what’s new in the Features section, I came across this app, released in November by the folks at the prestigious (some would say crusty) Britannica people.

Now. If you have never seen their full online Encyclopedia, you have not witnessed the transformation of this reference institution from voluminous, cumbersome tomes to easily accessed information, including hyperlinks, images and media as well as the ability to bookmark your preferences ready made citations as well as what we like to call in library speak, Xrefs (which is now commonly known as related articles).

I love online Encyclopedias, I won’t lie. So yes, I jumped at thew chance to download my very own Britannica app for free!

Here is the search interface. Simple. Elegant. Easy to use.

Now be warned:  the free version doesn’t give you access to all content, as witnessed by the the first article I searched for:

Oh. And on the subject of the deceased North Korean Dictator, I happened to read this article in the New Republic listing his greatest crimes. I am suitably appalled at my own ignorance. The only thing I knew about him was that he was building his army along with a cache of nuclear weapons. Didn’t make the connection (though I should have) that it was on the backs of his starving people.

However, I digress.

As you can see, we only get 100 out of a 1024 word article. We are cordially invited to subscribe however.

But the lovely peeps at britannica has made it easy for us frugal educators, and posted a link to all of their full-length, free articles:

These include full length articles on many scientists, countries such as Canada, and even the whopping World War II which clocks in at 137 pages (don’t worry- they give table of contents with hyperlinks).

Here is the article on the atom:

If you click on the image, it gets bigger and gives you a caption.

The link map option at the top right hand corner is extremely cool. A replacement for the old school “related articles” hyperlink, the Britannic app gives it to you as a visual map:

Articles connect to the Atom article

Click on any of the icons and the map will expand to include all related articles to that article. To actually view an article in the link map, you simply press and hold.

All in all, the Encyclopedia Britannica is intuitive to use, provides easily understandable and accessible information. With the free articles, they also offer the possibility of saving for offline viewing, the ability to star an article as well as the option to change the font size. The help pages are actually helpful. The only thing I can’t find and (I am very sad about it) is the already configured MLA and ALA citations they provide in their online version. Hopefully this will be added soon.

Oooh. And in honour of the newest member of the Traf community, they also have an “On this Day” page on the app, where you can browse the people born on this day from the 16th century on as well as peruse the events that happened on this day in history. It turns, out that little Sophia shares a birthday with Billy Bragg!

Here is Mr. Bragg with his love song, The Milkman of Human Kindness:

Happy Tuesday and remember to always leave an extra pint.


Today’s iPad tip brought to you by your friendly neighborhood tech guru

You will remember that in my previous post, when I had just discovered there was a wordpress app, that I could not figure out how to post a link to the actual app.

Well, Beth heard the plea and responded with this tidbit:

How to get an app link into your blog on your iPad.

1 go to app on app store, and select “tell a friend” and email the link to yourself.

2 in the email you get, hold down the “view item” button and select copy

3 Paste the copied URL as a regular link in what ever you want to put the link in, when it it clicked, it will open the link in the app store if you are on an iPad, or in a webpage if you are on a computer.

Let’s try it!

20111216-130124.jpg here I am, emailing the wordpress app to myself.

20111216-130350.jpg And here I am copying the item!

Okay. So. Check out the wordpress app!

Thanks Beth!

Dear Apple People, Figure out the garageband/imovie connection on the iPad please.


First thing this morning, three Grade 7 students, panicking at their looming multimedia deadline, came to me with their iPad.

Students: Please, can you show us how to put our garageband song into the imovie?

Me: Sure!

Should be easy enough, right?


After going through the same steps over and over, I capitulated and called our tech guru, who was already annoyed at all the Grade 7 last minute tech difficulties (with good reason).

Me: Hi Beth. Sorry to bother you, but could you tell us how to get a song from garage band into imovie?

Beth: Sure!


The bell rang, the students had to go to class and Beth had to take the iPad away (one of the iPad lab iPads) to figure out how to get imovie and garageband to talk to each other without the need to sync to another device.

Should be easy right?


A visual of imovie and garageband resisting the bucket. I know. Talented.

This is what Beth had to do in order to get a song recorded on the iPad, into the itunes library of the same iPad so that they could use it in their imovie produced on the same ipad:

1. Plug in Ipad to desktop.

2.Go to itunes

3. Click on the iPad icon in itunes and sync.

4. Scroll all the way down in same iPad icon to the File sharing table of contents. Click on Garage band.

5. Find song and save to desktop.

6. Go to File in the general itunes library and click Add to library.

7. Add song to library.

8. Go back to ipad in Itunes.

9. Click on music tab.

10. Choose sync selected songs.

11. Find song and sync.

12.Eject device.

This is crazy. I know, Apple people, that you have thought of many things. That our world is better for your big brains and ingenious ideas. And believe me, we want to use your products. We recommend them to students. Usually we are stupendously grateful at the way you help us help students learn.

But this is not helpful.

The students will only have their ipad at school. They need to be able to have as much functionality without having to sync to an external device as possible. This particular project required them to make a movie using original photos, an original script , their own filming as well as an original soundtrack. They did all this on the iPad, which is outstanding, until it came time to insert their song into imovie.

It seems like such a small thing. I know it probably requires some magical concatenations I can only imagine. But if you would like to give educators and students using the iPad a wonderful gift, please make it possible.

We will be even more grateful than we already are.



PS. This is a visual of what I would love for Christmas:

True love in the exotic location of the iPad. Please?

Random iPad Discoveries

Blogging on the iPad!


Sometimes I am quite the ninny. Although I figured out how to make a nice wordpress app for the viewer, it never occurred to me to look in the App store to see if wordpress might have a blogging app. But then our tech guru had to hang out in the library to update the computers, and she told me all about it!

Oh. And how she thought it kind of sucked and had to resort to the blogsy app ($4.99) for it to be truly useful. So far, it seems just like pages for entering text (complete with my sausage finger typing non-abilities.) But let’s take wordpress app for a test drive shall we?

Hold on to your seats folks! I am now going to try to insert a link to the wordpress app.

Okay. I tried it, but safari doesn’t let you have urls for apps in the itunes store. Okay. lesson learned. (I am learning a prodigious amount today).

I am now going to link to Tech guru’s new Traf Trash article!

Did it work? I don’t know. I can only see the html…Oh wait! If I took away the keyboard, and tapped the eye icon, I can preview the post.

Now I am going to try and insert an image of the eye. here goes. Wish me luck!


Okay! Not as nice as the desktop interface, but at least doable. The only option to resize your image is with pixels. As well, you can only choose to add images above or below.

Okay. Last two mentions for today!

If you have already downloaded bluefire reader, you can download your approved galleys right on your ipad! Oh, and if you are not signed up with netgalley, you should be. Free e-advanced copies of new books.


Whoah! Hold your horses (okay, hold my horses). When you take a photo directly from your photo library without cropping or anything, it does give you the opt of small, medium, large, etc.

And last but not least, David would like to remind everyone that the mobileme service is very handy for when you don’t know where you left your ipad. Cough, cough.

What they are saying about the iPad this week

Or at least what my google alert filtered my way.

The first article I read was from PC magazine entitled Challenging the Education Status quo:

While other teachers are entrenched in a never-ending battle to get students to put away their smartphones and tablets, Jenks is putting them to use in his lesson plans. Upon entering Jenks’s classroom, each student is handed an Apple iPad (made possible by grants from the Wyoming Department of Education and the Hot Springs School District). Students can personalize their iPads and, basically, have open access to the Web. With the devices, they complete assignments, collaborate with other students (even those in other classes), use science-based apps, and go on research scavenger hunts by scanning QR codes with clues to the next location. Jenks’s physics, earth science, astronomy, and chemistry classrooms are largely paperless. They store assignments and other class documents in Google Docs.


Wait a minute. Don’t  we do all that?

Pause for a collective slap on the back, Traf. We are officially innovative!

The article goes on to confirm our philosophy regarding students and tech as well as our social media policy.

Here is another interesting article: Study Claims iPad App Boosts Student Skills.

Huge caveat: this study was sponsored by Motion Math app and the NoyceFoundation.

Still. Here is what they found:

Kids who used the app for 20 minutes for five days improved on a fractions test by an average of 15 percent compared to the control group. Using Motion Math also improved the kids attitudes about fractions by 10 …

This is interesting to me as a parent who, as I mentioned before am dealing with two children who have inherited my lack of math skills. (Which is too bad because I actually like Math. Especially the crazy advanced studies like topology, mainly because the idea of “properties that are preserved through deformations, twistings, and stretchings of objects”[definition from Wolfram Math] resonate with my philosophical soul, yo.

But I guess you gotta learn your fractions first.

Last but not least a very informative and easy to follow comparison of screencasting apps for the iPad:

Here is a screen shot, but best to click on the link and get the whole post from Apps in Education.




Friday Round up: Zooming and Green Screen!

Today I have a veritable panoply (isn’t that a wonderful word? I think it is a wonderful word. Panoply. And Iet to use it in a sentence. Pause for contented sigh) of neato stuff to show you (sorry. Had to bring the vocab down a notch after Panoply.)

One more time: Panoply.

I’m done.

This morning at the meeting Mr. Math Teacher came up to me in his festive green sweater, eyes aglow like Christmas lights, eager as a kid on Christmas morn (was that too many similes? I incline toward too many similes…)

What did he have to be so excited about? Well, had had just learned that you can zoom in camera! Al you have to do is pinch the screen or do the finger splits if going the other way.

Three cheers for finger calisthenics!

After the meeting, I mosied into the Humanities department to pick up my mail and chat up the elegant English teachers (felt the urge for alliteration. Could have used enigmatic, endearing, enlightened though I guess). During our conversation Ms. MK English teacher professed the desire for a Green Screen app. Well, Lady English, your wish is my command!

I did a quick search and found an app, apptly (couldn’t help myself. Sorry.) called, yes, you guessed it, Green Screen!

I tried the lite version, but the actual app only costs $2.99

Things you need to know when taking your photo:

1. Make sure you have enough light or it will end up looking like this:

However, you can use the erasor, to erase yourself back in:

The options for backgrounds in the lite version are six landmarks and what they’ve dubbed “cutesy” backgrounds. However, in the paid version, not only do you have more options in their library,  you can upload your own backgrounds from your camera roll.

Here are the editing options:

I took the photo in the hallway where the light is better, did some quick touch ups (erased myself in- I know counter-intuitive much?) and here is the result:

Look! I’m in New York!

Not really. I’m at my desk. But one can hope…