March Break Reading: iPads in the Classroom by Annalisa Kelly

Via Lisa Johnson’s page

Forget that new thriller, or the steamy new fifty shades book. Whether you or lying on a beach or cuddling up by a nice fire in a chalet or simply camping out on your couch this March Break, why not cozy up with the ibook, iPads in the Classroom by Annalisa Kelly?

“This publication is an essential beginner’s reference for teachers at all levels of primary and secondary schooling, inclusive of special needs, regular stream and gifted students, who are intending to use, or are currently using, iPads and other iOS devices (iPods, etc) to augment their lessons. ” iTunes description

photoThe beginning chapters focus more on the whys and whats of iPads in the classroom, citing studies about student and iPad. However, there are a few interesting tidbits that I want to look into, such as the volume purchase program and this neat feature of ibooks which I had no idea about:



Check it out!

rAPPido Review: Sound Uncovered

Attention all science and music teachers (and other scientifically curious individuals: You have to check Sound Uncovered out!

Price: free

Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 9.19.06 AMI was scanning the email from the itunes app store to see if there was anything new and interesting and I cam across this app created by the San Francisco Exploratorium (and if winter is not enough to make you want to go to the west coast right now, this interactive museum of science and art would be enough to get you to browse airline tickets).

I learned two new things in the couple of minutes I spent browsing and playing around with their well-designed activities.

Here are a few screenshots:



So I spent a couple of minutes pressing each key and marvelling how the notes seemed to keep on rising. Here is the explanation:



Here is the Table of Contents:



Easy- to use, uncluttered interface, accessible explanations and fun interactive exercises, this is an amazing app with a lot of potential for some fun in-class exercises!

Lesson Plan: Embedding Visuals Into Teaching and Learning

Via Langwitches

As the teacher advisor for the school’s online magazine, I encounter certain perennial issues (and yes, quality of the writing is one of them and no that is not what I am going to talk about right now). My writer’s send me a large block of text and think they are done.  They don’t take advantage of the advantages of an online form: they don’t hyperlink text that could be linked to more information. And they hardly ever add visuals. I was talking to the teacher in charge of the grade eleven integrative project and she was telling me the same thing about the students who chose to start blogs- they think they are done once they plug in their text.

It just occurred to me that this problem might stem from the fact that they view articles as static pieces, as assignments to give to their teachers.

So when I read this article from Ed Tech Guru Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano it struck a chord:

Screen shot 2013-02-22 at 8.09.32 AM


This is not the first time I hear about Haiku Deck– am most definitely going to give it a try!


Food for Thought Wednesday: Seth Godin and 10,000 Kinds of Education

I am a big fan of Seth Godin. I subscribe to his blog and even use one of his quotes as a guideline for my own professional life. The following Ted Talk is worth watching if only for some of his more controversial statements: “open book, open notes all the time. Anything worth memorizing is worth looking up.” But really he asks the main question: What is school for?

Although he spends the first half talking about the same timeline Sir Ken Robinson does in his amazing Changing Education Paradigms, the second half of Godin’s talk is devoted to his prescriptions for the future of education.

Check it out and let the conversation begin!

Learnflow? A thoughtful article musing on the journey to fluency

Via Langwitches

Just came across this thoughtful exploration of the process by which we learn a new skill:

I have been intrigued with the relationship of being skilled, literate and fluent in the Digital World for a while. We are focusing at school to look through the lens of fluency using technology as tools (e.g. using the iPad as the device and apps as the tool to achieve fluency), not as the end. I am wondering if the word “fluency” in the digital world, sparks the same thoughts or activates the background definition in other educators? I have heard others in the edubloggersphere use the word “workflow” instead of “fluency”.

Workflow is defined by Wikipedia as:

The sequence of industrial, administrative, or other processes through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion.

The world “workflow” c-o-u-l-d work, but still does not sound right. What about a LEARNflow? The goal in education is for our students to learn, to become life long learners and do do so unconsciously, smoothly and [as] effortlessly [as possible]… I am still mulling over the semantics here… Your input is appreciated… Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

The main point is that our end goal is not simply literacy but fluency. She also has a pretty darn fancy slideshow to go with this:

Check it out!

The Search for the Perfect Student Agenda App: MyHomework

I was perusing this article entitle The 16 Apps and Tools Worth Trying this Year on Edudemic (my new favourite resource for iPad related stuff) when I stopped at #7:

Screen Shot 2013-02-18 at 9.05.27 AM

Screen Shot 2013-02-18 at 10.26.54 AM A new homework app to review! So I mosied over to the app store and checked it out…it looks like it might be free as well- I don’t see an lite or pro division!

The basic interface is simple enough. It asks you to add a class:



And here is where I get stumped and have to go into my account to choose either a period based schedule or a block schedule:


Okay. That done, let’s go back to my English class and add my times:


Period based. Definitely period based. But will they allow for our crazy alternative week schedule?


Why yes!

Okay. I’ve added my class time. I have a lot of English classes:


Now for adding homework:


I like the scroll down list for type of assignment….





You have a lot of options in terms of when you want to receive your notification for your homework.

You can go to your homework icon and view all assignments due:


Okay. So let us go through our criteria:

  • Easy to use: Check
  • Clean, intuitive interface:  Ads in the free version
  • easy to import schedules: There doesn’t seem to be any syncing with iCal  but it does sync with a program called If a teacher uses this free program, they can add their classes and assignments and all the students need to do is find their teachers and classes and sync.
  • It would be great if it could talk to our intranet, but that might be too much to ask: No
  • Easy to input assignments: Yes
  • Different colours for different classes: NO
  • Alerts for assignments: Yes
  • If not free, then cheap: There is a free version with ads but to get rid of the Ads you have to pay $1.99/year
  • Easily synced with your other devices: Yes
  • A space to add teacher contact info…(perhaps even sync with the contacts in iTunes?): You can add it in the description for the teacher of your class but there is no special place for contacts.


4 iPad Search Engines in Screenshots

Yesterday Ms. Thewhite came to me and asked if she could download Chrome on the school iPads. She wanted to access a certain video site but that site wouldn’t work on Safari.

So this got me thinking…I have been using the default Safari on the iPad but I am actually not a big fan of it. I mostly browse on Firefox on my desktop. What if I could do the same on the iPad.


Here are screenshots of 4 search engines you can download for free on your iPad. Which one do you like best?

1. Izik



I love this interface, but if you want to bookmark pages or do anything personalized you are out of luck. Still, for simple searching, this is a very elegant looking interface!

You can see what is trending:



Here- let’s try searching for something that will have more info:



Weirdly enough, I had to search for Lance Armstrong Videos to get a row of videos. Not sure why it isn’t on the bottom…

Still, I like the quick answer section at the top and how they divided the search results in categories.

2. Chrome

It looks a lot like Chrome on the desktop:



Although the interface is less jazzy than Izik, you have the advantage of signing in to your google account and accessing all your shtuff…Bookmarks, gmail, what have you:



3. Mercury Browser Pro (aka Firefox)

The first thing it asks you is if you want to sync your bookmarks:



But then it looks a lot like your average Google on Firefox interface search:



Oh and there is a lite version for free but the pro version costs $0.99. Not sure what the difference is- the descriptions look the same for both of them.

4. Atomic Web Browser

This one is billed as an “advanced web browser” and the first page that comes up seems to confirm it with its no-nonsense interface:



Yeah. A tad intimidating.

But then:



Wait…are we back in Safari?



Toto, oh Toto. We are not in Safari land anymore…

Atomic Web Browser is the browser for the discerning interface user, the one who likes to play around with fonts (of course, you might just have trouble with small print,in which case this might be a good option for you).

The settings give you another whole layer of choices. My brain is reeling:



And this is the lite version. The pro version will set you back $1.99.


Hacker Scouts! Why We Need to Teach our Students to Code

Via Edudemic

I am so excited about this for several reasons. One, I read this article about how academics in fields other than computer science who had spent some time learning code were more likely to get hired than those who didn’t (I can’t find the blog post at this moment but am working on it).

And then this:



I have no idea about it. But my kids will need to know about it. And thinking about how they will need these skills whether they become an English Literature professor or an engineer made me rethink how I was understanding the concept of creation online.

I have always viewed the idea of creation, one third of the holy trinity of technology in education (the other two are connection and collaboration and yes I am making this up as I go along) as meaning creating content on already built platforms. Blogging on blogger or wordpress, uploading videos to youtube and all the other myriad tools and templates available online (don’t get me wrong- I am a BIG fan of the WYSIWIG).

But I think it might go deeper than that. We scratch the surface of what it means to create with technology if we don’t understand the infrastructure of what we are using.

So yeah. I am excited about Hacker scouts.


Read Edudemic Article


To conclude, a little anecdote. I have a friend who had the benefit of participating in a pilot program in about Grade five. They were taught how to use Scratch, the program the TEd Talk dude above is talking about. She went on to get a degree in linguistics and then working in dot coms in San Francisco on the strength of her completely unofficial diddling around with code. I met her in library school and now she does knowledge management consulting work for the UN. She attributes her ability to learn and understand different coding programs to her initial introduction to coding at such a young age.

What do you think? Perhaps a Montreal Chapter of the Hacker Scouts?

More on the subject:

Should Kids Learn How to Code in Grade School?

Why all kids should be taught to code

36 Resources to help you teach kids programming