rAPPido Review: Side by Side

Side by Side Price: Free

Side by Side
Price: Free

One of the more common objections to the iPad is that it does not allow several apps to be open at the same time. Although sometimes I think this might be a good thing in terms of focus, the complaint resonates with me. I am writing this on my desktop at the moment and have a total of 3 applications open at the same time: Firefox for my research, Safari for writing this blog, mail where I have emailed my screenshots from the iPad, and so on and so on.

So when I posted the 24 apps to support Bloom’s taxonomy the other day, and I came across this app called Side by Side, well. You could have just coloured me intrigued.

Side by side allows you to search the web, download documents and take notes all on one screen. So I did an experiment. I know the Grade eights are in the middle of reading Twelfth night so I used that as my theme. In one panel I used the web option to access the school’s encyclopedia Britannica subscription. In an other panel I downloaded the html text of Twelfth night from Project Gutenberg. I left the whole right side for note taking. This is how it looks:

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Pretty Handy! The files application took me a moment to figure out. I was expecting to be able to access a file from my dropbox or other app on the iPad like iBooks, but no. When they say Files, it means only that you can take a website, save it and download it. This means that you will be able to access the file offline.:

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To download a file, you have to tap the star and then save. Then they are saved under the files–> all section:

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You have several options for the layout:

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And you can email your notes:

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I also tried uploading a youtube video through the web option and it works fine! A student can watch a video and take notes without having to change screens!

This is a great option for web research on the iPad- the student can have their notes right beside the text, easy and accessible. The temptation to copy and paste is neutralized by the fact that the student can download the website and have it available to them offline.

Here is a youtube video that gives a nice, clear robotic-voiced tour of the app:

Lesson Plan: Exploring your Digital Footprint

Via educatorstechnology,com

I came across this wonderful lesson plan on exploring students’ digital footprint this morning:

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Read more

Although I have covered many of the topics covered in this lesson plan, (even using one of the videos suggested) I like the group activities and discussions. Also the idea of getting them to make a profile online and then have them peer evaluated is genius:

7- Show them how to use social media 

Social media websites s are among the top sources of your digital footprints.Here is an activity to do with them on this. Get them to pair up in small groups and ask them to create a profile on some social networking website you select for them. When they finished , get them to share  their profiles with other groups. Give them time to peer edit each other and make the editing process interactive by allowing each student to assess others’ profile. Finally,  Give your feedback to each group.

I think I will be incorporating these ideas next year!

Hidden Experts in the School: Mr. H, Math Teacher, Science Teacher and Ed Tech duderino

Mr. H: Hidden expert

Mr. H: Hidden expert

One of the unexpected but amazing outcomes of the iPad survey I’ve been conducting is that I am ferreting out the hidden experts in the school. Okay, in all fairness, my library seems to be the black hole for all rumours and gossip and grapevines (ironic for a place of knowledge, I know. Great on book knowledge, not so great on people knowledge) and I am probably the only one in the school who didn’t know about this, but still. Yay!

Mr. H is an Ed Tech dude! As well as being a teacher, he has had experience in the business world, and worked for LEARN where he could meld his interest in technology and education.

When asked about whether student engagement increases or decreases when he uses tech in his classroom, he brought up a point I had never thought of:

The students respond well if you start using a technology they have never seen before. It has an impact..they have the ability to suck it up so fast. Because button pushing is now in their DNA, when you bring something new to them it excites them.

He also thinks that that integrating technology in education is essential:

You have to put these [iPads, probes, computers] in kids’ hands because that is the environment they are going to work in.

My H. gave me some excellent places to find resources for integrating technology in the classroom. Most work on the iPad:

  • Phet: Interactive simulations (they don’t work so well on the iPad because of the pesky flash thingy- though some of the simulations are in java).
  • Edmodo: He will be giving a tutorial to our teachers soon about how to use it effectively in a classroom, so watch for it!
  • Schooladvice: This is his own website – Mr. H. maintains it as an unpaid, volunteer thing because he believes knowledge should be shared. Check out his Resources for teachers!
  • Sharemylesson.com: Thousands of lesson plans by teachers for teachers:

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Thanks Mr. H!

24 iPad Apps to Support Bloom’s Taxonomy

Via Libby via Fluency21.com (Thanks Libby!)

I know, I know. Another list. But this one gives you a finite amount of apps that can be used  across the curriculum:

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Read more

Diigo was presented at a recent conference and I am in the middle of installing it on my iPad. So far, I am intrigued with the possibility of having not only a place to bookmark websites and access them across platforms but also being able to add notes and images. A tool like this could make project work way more efficient between students.

For some reason, I have a blockage with Evernote. It is possible that I haven’t given it enough time, but it has never been intuitive for me, though many people I know and respect use it religiously. So it sounds like I have some work to do here- check out Evernote again, figure out Diigo. I am also curious about Side by side- which sounds like it would allow you to have a text and a note taking app open at the same time. How awesome is that? The promise of it seems large- we will see if the reality lives up to the dream…

Check it out and help me explore these apps!

Lesson Plan: Photo Essay on the iPad, Option 2

Last year I wrote this post about how to make a photo essay on the iPad. But in spirit of giving the students a couple of choices, here is another way to do it, using keynote.

1. Gather your photos. Depending on your topic and the parameters of the assignment , you can either take them yourself with the iPad or download photos from the internet and save them into your cameral roll. Here is a photo from the library window:

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2. Then use a photo enhancing app like pixlromatic (free) to give it the look you want (optional):

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Warning: don’t take too long on this- there is an embarrassment of choices that can you paralyze you!

3. Go to keynote and choose your template. I recommend the plain black one. Add you photo and your caption:

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Repeat! Don’t forget to add a title page!

When you are done you can email it to yourself:

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If the file is too big for you to email to yourself (which happens quickly with photos), you can also import it into imovie and then upload it through your youtube account. Make sure to click on the privacy setting that allow only the person with the link to view it.

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10 Steps to a Successful iPad Program

Via teachthought

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So how are we doing on this list?

We’ve got 1-3 covered, though I like how Gliksman states the following:

This is possibly the only period in history where the younger generation has greater ease and expertise with the core tools used throughout society than older generations.  Moving the focus from teacher led instruction to student centered learning empowers students to use technology to explore, create and innovate with technology.

4. Develop Management Strategies.  Well, we are getting there. Having used the iPads for class projects and understanding some of the issues inherent in share-filing, I think we are very close to a standardized method of proceeding.

Here are a couple of more gems from the article:

6. Use Apps as Tools

Ask a carpenter to build a wine rack. They won’t go out and get a set of “wine rack tools”. A carpenter has developed expertise with a set of hardware tools that are used to build all types of furniture. We need to use a similar strategy when buying and using apps on the iPad.

Or this:

8. Developing an Ongoing Training & Support Structure

Organizational change requires adequate training and support … and it’s important to understand that “training” doesn’t mean a one day workshop at the start of the school year. Schedule time for ongoing training throughout the year. Develop teacher support groups within your school and with other schools, where teachers can exchange experiences, share their successes, and learn from each other.

I think we are getting there. My impression about large workshops is that they bore those who have a proficiency with the tool while intimidating and consequently losing the ones who do not. After speaking to most of the staff, it seems like a system of peer mentoring, an ongoing, one on one exploring time with a tech savvy peer is more helpful. That way they can address specific projects and explore different solutions in a convivial and non-threatening environment. This means that identifying the hidden experts in your school and then getting them together with the tech-reluctant. But more on that in a lter post…

One last point from the article, and I am quoting the whole point as it says it so well:

10. Embrace the Unpredictable

We’ll often give students a task with very specific expectations of the results they should deliver. Adherence to a strict top-down, curriculum driven agenda requires teachers to be classroom conductors that direct and control every instrument of the learning process. Asking them to relinquish control over student activity is often the hardest part of any technology implementation in schools.

Technology however is most effective when students are given the freedom to use it as a tool for creativity and innovation. The iPad classroom should be open, flexible and driven by passion and initiative. Don’t expect to control every aspect of students’ learning and don’t feel that you always need to be the expert on technology use. You already have rows of them sitting in front of you. Students look at technology as a canvas. Allow them the freedom to paint their own masterpieces.

Yeah. What he said.

 

 

 

Exercising my Dilatation Brain on the iPad

Once upon a yesterday, a math teacher asked me if there was something she could use to teach dilatations on the iPad.

I said sure!

and then quickly looked up what the heck that was ( a math genius, I am not). First question: what is the difference between dilatation and dilation? Has the math language police dropped the ball on this one? Are they the same thing? Please oh please math genius people, could you clarify?

Not that I was going to let a small issue of semantics stop me, not I. I was going to figure out how to dilatate on the iPad if it killed me.

It almost did, but not because of the iPad thing. No, it is because I am a reluctant mather, which in a way made me a perfect guinea pig as my skill level is on par with a 14 year old.

So the first thing I did was go to the amazing programs other Math teacher has adapted to work on the iPad:

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I clicked on Transformations (I knew that much) and went straight for dilatations, skipping all the other steps. Yep. I’m cocky.

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Ummm.

I had no idea what to do, so I thought I would google a useful tutorial on my desktop ( I know. Cheating). But where was the center of dilation? How can I do anything without the freaking centre????

Could there be two ways of doing this dilatation thing? Oh no. What have I gotten myself into?

Then I remembered that Mr. Math teacher made helpful videos conveniently located at the bottom of the page (these are screenshots of the beginning and the end of the video):

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And the answer!

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But wait…You mean dilatation is just an intimidating word for making it bigger or smaller?  Like, you just have to multiply it by the second number there? I can do that!

So back to the exercises ( I got the first one wrong so I had to try again):

photoTake that dilatation! I totally kicked your butt! Now the only problem with this program is that there is no place to show your work- it is meant as an exercise tool for the students, as individual practice. Still, I am using an iPad, which means my calculations are only a photo away:

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Aren’t you glad I’m not your student?

I thought I would try the same thing on the free version of geometry pad just to have a comparison:

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Geometry pad allows you to save your work as an image or PDF as well as mail it.

Math teacher’s amazing programs are great for students to practice. It keeps a tally of how many problems they get right and how many they get wrong and also gives the answer when it isn’t correct. This is great for the kids who have grasped the concept and just need to practice it. Also, the video was super helpful, at least for me, who knew nothing about dilatation.

However, if you are a teacher who likes to see the process of your student even during their practice sheets, geometry pad is an option. The only problem is that the student will have to input the first triangle they need to dilatate as it is a blank graph. And it might be annoying to receive a lot of jpegs of problems…However, it could be a good option in terms of presenting the concept to the class…

In conclusion, here is my brain before dilatation:

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After dilatation:

big.brain.alien

 

The Smart Way to Use iPads in the Classroom

Via Slate.com

It is day three in my quest to hear from every teacher about how it is going with the iPads and I gotta say, I’m tired. Physically tired, yes, as talking for a long time makes my librarian head hurt, but also intellectually tired. Effectively integrating technology in the classroom isn’t exactly hard, but it takes some time and thought, two things that work in tandem (you need time to think, yo).

About to drown in a sea of despair at all the barriers we need to break down and challenges to face, this article brought me back to the shores of hope:

The school has an unconventional take on the iPad’s purpose. The devices are not really valued as portable screens or mobile gaming devices. Teachers I talked to seemed uninterested, almost dismissive, of animations and gamelike apps. Instead, the tablets were intended to be used as video cameras, audio recorders, and multimedia notebooks of individual students’ creations. The teachers cared most about how the devices could capture moments that told stories about their students’ experiences in school. Instead of focusing on what was coming out of the iPad, they were focused on what was going into it.

This warmed the cockles of my heart because the teachers are using it as a tool to useful record, enhance and evaluate students’ work. Now, I know you know I have mentioned this before. But I think the point that the more you figure out how it can be useful to you, the better it will be integrated into the classroom.

I would also venture to say that the most active staff members with the iPad at our school are the ones who are doing exactly like the school in the quote: they are using the whiteboard apps to present and record their lessons to students and then linking them to the portal. They are using the video app to record students work for evaluation. They are using google drive and other collaborative software for group work.

As for digital portfolios for students, I don’t know if anyone is doing that but I think it is an amazing idea!

The author of this article Lisa Guernsey nails it on the head when she concludes:

My lesson from ZIS is that we should make sure we have teachers who understand how to help children learn from the technology before throwing a lot of money into iPad purchasing. It wasn’t the 600 iPads that were so impressive— it was the mindset of a teaching staff devoted to giving students time for creation and reflection. Are American public schools ready to recognize that it’s the adults and students around the iPads, not just the iPads themselves, that require some real attention?

 

 

Using Technology Vs. Technology Integration

Via educatorstechnology via teachbytes

As my iPad survey for teachers is in full swing and I am getting to talk to a whole bunch of teachers with different levels of comfort with the iPad and technology in general, I am struck by the prevalent feeling amongst the teachers that they need to be using the iPad for the sake of using the iPad when they cannot see how it fits into their lessons.

Now this is dismaying to me as I have always thought of technology as a tool- you use it when it makes your life easier to use it. For example, my husband boasts he can open a bottle of wine with his shoe. My argument for that (besides the fact that I don’t want his shoe near my bottle of wine) is why use a shoe when we have a corkscrew? Same with the iPad and teaching- use it when it enhances your lessons. When the task you have to do is made simpler by the device.

I would add this codicil, though: just because you can’t see how it could be useful to your class, doesn’t mean it isn’t. Take the time (I know, I know. That is the commodity nobody seems to have) to see how the iPad could fit into your lesson.

Here is an excellent chart from teachbytes outlining the difference between simply using technology and integrating technology into your classroom:

techintvstechuse