Self-Evaluation after reading “5 Critical Mistakes Schools Make with iPads (and how to correct them)”

via Edudemic

The Grade 7 parent rep forwarded me this very prescient article on the implementation of the iPads in schools:

Read more…

As an interesting exercise, I am going to evaluate our own implementation in relation to these five common mistakes.

“1. Focusing on Content Apps”

 I see the danger in this, but I think we have been able to avoid it, as evidenced by this blog. Many of the lesson plans laid out have been using a creation app not a content app.  As well, the apps we have asked our grade seven class to use are all things they can use in any class (with the exception of the French/English dictionary and the calculator):

What iPad software must I purchase?

Pages @ $9.99 (similar to Microsoft Word, and allows compatibility with Word documents

Keynote @$9.99 (equivalent to Powerpoint)

Numbers @ $9.99  (equivalent to Microsoft Excel)

Garage Band @ $4.99 (music software)

iMovie @ $4.99 (video creation software)

Dictionnaire illustré Larousse @ $8.99

French dictionary
Dictionnaire Anglais / Français Larousse @ $5.99

“2. Lack of Teacher Preparation in Classroom Management of iPads”

Hmmm. Though I think we are doing our best with – giving the teachers the iPads before the students, organising workshops, training sessions and one-on-one sessions, the following paragraph made me pause:

Even the basics of workflow– sharing materials, collecting student work, making comments and grading, passing student work back–can be unfamiliar to teachers and quite complicated. The challenges of iPad workflow include understanding cloud computing environments and options, how different apps and types of files interact with each other, file format compatibility and file conversion tools, evaluating all-in-one management solutions, and translating these concepts simply and effectively to students.

Lately these questions have been popping up. Ms. Art teacher does many projects on the computer with her students and then needs a system to gather the large files from the iPad. Science teachers want to share their ibook with their class. These are questions that are super important in the daily working of the class and which we might not have addressed as much as we should. It’s hard to give one workshop on this as the need differs from classroom to classroom. However, I have addressed this issue with movies (uploading to your youtube account) dropbox, iCloud, etc. and I am always available to help find a solution to a problem.
Come and see me!
“3. Treating the iPad as a computer and expecting it to serve as a laptop”
Oooh- this is a very good point. The iPad is not a less effective laptop. It is meant to serve as an active learning tool when in school. Its effectiveness lies in its mobility, versatility and ability for easy collaboration and creation. I like how Mr. Daccord puts it:

Instead [of focusing on how an iPad is not as functional as a laptop], schools should focus their energies on what iPads do best to engender active learning. iPads enable students to kinesthetically connect with their work (especially important for young learners). These tactile elements – using fingers to zoom, rotate in, pinch close, or swipe across – as well as increasingly interactive and immersive apps, facilitate hands-on learning.

Students can take pictures with the iPad then use them in a presentation or as part of an imovie. They can record their own soundtrack, research and write their own script, videotape their friends all with one device:

In addition, iPad mobility means that students can take pictures, record audio, and shoot video, in any number of places. They can tell multimedia stories, screencast how to solve math problems, create public service announcements, simulate virtual tours of ancient cities, and so much more. Active consumption, curation, and creativity ssuit the device. Stand-up-and-deliver teaching does not.

I think that most of our teachers understand this. Certainly the different uses of the iPad in the school will confirm it. 
“4. Treating iPads as Multi-User devices”
It is true. The ipads are not meant to be used as public machines. I can attest to that as I am in charge of the 24 iPad lab and must figure out a way to make sure students can export their work off the ipad and that teachers can get to to the work without any technical snafoo (another user deleting the work, for example). Also the way Apple has set up itunes does not lend well itself to sharing very well. 
Until everyone at our school has an iPad this will be necessary. As our implementation of the 1:1 iPad program is gradual, this won’t be for a few years. However, the iPad lab serves its purpose. Many teachers book it when the library and the computer lab are taken in order for their class to do research. The Art teacher has it consistently booked for her class, as it allows the students to access the documents they need to look at while they are producing their work without having to get up and make several time-wasting trips to the library. Other teachers use it to videotape class discussions. In English class they use it as an option for reading their Shakespeare plays, a practice that has the more tactile minded students more engaged than they would be otherwise. Even though it is not ideal, it does have its purposes.
“5. A Failure to Provide a Compelling Answer to ‘Why iPads?'”
Whoah. I just had a look at our iPad FAQ pages and realised we are guilty of not providing a better answer to the parent. Though I write a lot about why the iPad is so useful on this blog, the reasons are nowhere to be seen on our website. 
This is what we have right now:

Why the iPad?

  • The iPad is by far the most developed tablet format on the market, with many more applications available for iPads than for other platforms. Other platforms (like Android, Blackberry or Microsoft) are not as well developed and have fewer applications.
  • Apple’s strong quality control ensures that applications work once they are installed.
  • By requiring that all students use the same system and platform, we can provide an integrated network and ensure that devices always work in the school environment.

Though this information addresses why the iPad as opposed to other tablets, it does not address the issue of why a tablet at all?

Here is what Daccord thinks should be included in this section:

School administrators should be explaining to their constituents that the iPad supports essential skill areas — complex communication, new media literacy, creativity, and self-directed learning. Instead of focusing on the convenience of ebooks, they should instead be emphasizing the incredibly immersive and active learning environment the iPad engenders and the unprecedented opportunities to develop personalized, student-centered learning. They should highlight some of the beneficial consumption, curation, and creativity activities the iPad facilitates — as well as the student empowerment it inspires.

Yeah. What he said. It is funny how it is always the case that what we are doing in the classroom always exceeds our own promotion of it. Although we know how we are using the iPad in the class and can see the benefit and efficiency of it, we have not given any argument whatsoever on our website telling our parents why. This is an omission I hope to fix, so stay tuned!

So how did we fare? 

I think we are on the right track, but there is definitely room for improvement especially in the area of teacher training and a written, compelling argument accessible on our website.

What do you think?


How to Share Documents with your Students via Dropbox

Via Powerful Learning Practice

After the science teachers’ dilemma we all hard about in this morning flurry of emails, where they were trying to figure out how to share a large file with their students, the question of how to share files via dropbox came up.

I came across this excellent post by Jennifer Carey that takes you through the the different steps:


Read more…

Another option is to upload your file to Dropbox and then to create a link to the document. This is good for any sort of document meant only to be viewed and not edited:

Read more…

NOTE: if you are trying to open an epub file, you may get a message like this one:

Don’t fret! Just click on the “open in” icon and open it in another app:

43 things for your iPad

I had a conversation with a teacher last week who was bemoaning the lack of time to figure out the iPad. She knows she is supposed to use it in class, but she doesn’t have enough time to figure out how it works, let alone how to integrate it effectively into her lesson plans.

My answer to her was to play with it for fifteen minutes a day. That is how this blog started- I challenged myself to learn one new thing about the device per day. I spend a maximum of 15 minutes just figuring stuff out. This 15 minutes can be directed (you know exactly what you want to learn and set about learning it) or you can browse the app store or play with a particular app.

As adults, we tend to forget that the most effective way of learning something is to play with it. Hold it on your hands for awhile. Start pressing buttons. Meander. Get lost. Digress from your original intention. This will accomplishment 3 things:

1. You will take the pressure off yourself. Nothing is learned in a day and one can’t use a tool effectively without knowing which end is up. Learn it bit by bit, at your own pace without any other goal but to figure it out.

2. You will learn much more about it then if you were sitting in a workshop listening to someone rattle on (though that can be helpful too). Nothing beats trying and failing then trying again and succeeding. Nor is there any better way to to learn than setting your own goals, finding the information by yourself and then putting it into practise.

3. You will be much more at ease with the device and less scared of breaking it. The iPad is not a delicate little flower- it can take some wrong turns.

For those of you who need a bit more structured playtime, I have compiled a list of  43 things to learn on the iPad. The website 43 things, a popular goal setting website, actually has an app- you can download it, add your goals and then check it off when you have completed the task! ( I love lists. I love checking things off).


Here is how it looks:

And here is a list for you to plug in:

NOTE: Most of these topics have been covered on this blog. Use the handy search field to look it up. Also, don’t panic if you have no idea what I am talking about. If a term is unfamiliar to you and you can’t find it on this blog, use my motto: when in doubt, start googling!

  1. Configure your email.
  2. Add your contacts.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the multitasking gestures (listed in the settings–>general–multitasking gestures).
  4. Take a screenshot.
  5. Create a document in Pages. Email it to yourself.
  6. Create a document with Notes. Email it to yourself.
  7. Create a google doc using google drive on the iPad. Share it with someone. Collaborate in real time!
  8. Explore the whiteboard apps.
  9. Record one lesson using a whiteboard app.
  10. Check out the google doc of apps on the iLab.
  11. Check out a news aggregator app (e.g. Flipboard, etc.)
  12. Read a book on the iPad.
  13. Make a presentation in keynote.
  14. Facetime with someone.
  15. Make a short imovie.
  16. Upload it to your youtube account with the “private” settings.
  17. Take some photos with the iPad.
  18. Put the photos into albums.
  19. Put your apps into folders.
  20. Try typing with a split keyboard.
  21. Find a website you use a lot. Add it to your homescreen.
  22. Find a recipe app. Use your ipad as a recipe book.
  23. Record something with garage band.
  24. Browse apps in your subject.
  25. Watch a movie on your ipad.
  26. Make a passcode.
  27. Change the language of your keyboard.
  28. Sync your calendar with your google account.
  29. Use reminders.
  30. Search for the school and your house with the maps app.
  31. Print something from your ipad.
  32. Turn off auto-correct.
  33. Talk to Siri (if you have the iPad 3).
  34. Sync your apps with iCloud.
  35. Change the wallpaper of your iPad.
  36. Turn off keyboard clicks.
  37. Try making a quiz using socrative, a “smart student response system” in class.
  38.  Dictate a list to your self with Dragon dictation.
  39. Make a spreadsheet in numbers.
  40. Try out dropbox for the iPad.
  41. Organise your bookmarks in Safari.
  42. Explore itunes U.
  43. Make your own list of 43 things to do on the iPad (because there is always more to learn!)


Amazing article by a sixteen-year old on reading Shakespeare on the iPad

Read more…

A very interesting account of how an iPad is used in the classroom by a very articulate sixteen-year old teen from California.

Although she is enjoying the iPad and relishing the ease with which she can access explanations to words and phrases she doesn’t understand in Shakespeare, she makes this very prescient observation:

As I stare down at my own screen, I realize that I’ve developed a habit of submitting to my annoyances rather than accepting the challenge of trying to grasp what I can before turning to other sources. I have no lessons in patience, only a reliance on the here and now.

“Accepting the challenge to try and grasp what I can before turning to other sources.” This is a very very good point and I think is worth discussion.  I came across a TED talk from a high school math teacher who brings up the same point:

What do you think?

How to Organize your Data on the iPad: Put your Apps into folders

Okay- so I have already blogged about this twice, but maybe three times is a charm:


Folders? What is that you are talking about? Beth (IT Guru) showed me how to collect subject specific apps all in one place!

A view inside the Books Folders
    1. Press for a couple of seconds on an app you would like to move.
    2. Drag it on top of an app with a similar subject (eg. ibooks on top of the kindle app).
    3. This will create a folder – you’ll see a black box form around the apps. Let go.
    4. Your two apps will appear inside the folder. Click on the name bar.
    5. Rename your folder to whatever you want.
    6. Click anywhere but in the black box to exit.

How to Organize your Data on the iPad: Pages

Ahhh, pages. It takes some getting used to, especially if you are a longtime Word user. As in the software not actual words.



Somethings you need to know before we start:

1.Pages saves your document automatically, so don’t go on a wild goose chase for the save button. You won’t find it.

2. To name your document, you have to first create it:


3. Then go back to documents:



4. Then click on the title:


5. Then name it:

I am not sure why they don’t make this easier, but there you have it. You can’t name your document until you have actually created it.

I recommend always naming the documents and I say this by experience. I had months of notes from meetings with the title Blank 1, blank 2, blank 3, blank…well you get the picture.

Okay. Now for the good stuff. How to put your documents in folders. Super important to know so that you can teacher your little grade seven grasshoppers how to organise their notes.

1. You take your finger (doesn’t matter which one)

and press the doc you want to move until it starts a jiggl’n:

Alas, you can’t see the jigglin’

Then, as if you were executing an unsure chess move,

drag the doc on top of the other doc

and feel that file folder groove:

The folder magically hugs

your documents in a nice rectangular rug:


Then give it a name and avoid the generic folder name shame:


Next up: Organise your apps! Because nothing is too small to organize. Nothing.




How to Organize your Data on the iPad: Photos

Because organization is my middle name, yo.

Let us start with Photos. Did you know you can create albums with your camera roll (the app with the pretty sunflower on it)?

1. Tap Edit.

2. Select the photos you want to gather in an album by tapping the image:


3. Tap on “add to…” and select new album (or previously created album of which I have none):


4. Name your album (white album has already been taken)


5. And if you decide that your album is full of bad photos and should be all deleted now like me, just tap on edit, tap the photos you would like to remove and then tap on the big red REMOVE FROM ALBUM BUTTON:


And voilà the making and unmaking of a photo album on your iPad.

Remember- you can also sync selected photos from your iPhoto on your laptop or desktop to your iPad, either with a wire or through the cloud.

Here is what you have to check when syncing from your desktop:

Here is the settings you must select before doing it over the iCloud:

Just be careful- syncing via the iCloud eats up bandwidth like the Giant ate villages (what giant? I don’t know! How many giants who ate villages were there?)

You can also share them via dropbox:

I look cray cray…I think this one will be removed from album.

or email them to yourself. When you save the photo, it goes directly into your camera roll and then you can sort them into albums.

Tomorrow: folders on your home screen and in Pages!