rAppido Review: The HW App

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 9.31.14 AMToday I begin to review the homework agendas. I had a little setback, as I was going to start with the ones reviewed in the article I posted the other day only to find out that many of them were either no longer available, or not available in Canada.

Fine then. Be that way stilly app store.

So I resorted to typing in “homework” on the app store and choosing one that caught my eye. The first one I tried was The Homework App. There is a free version, which means you’ll get ads and an upgraded version for a U.S. dollar, which means there are no ads and a few added features, including one that I am particularly excited about, sub-tasks.

The clean, block like interface caught my eye. This is how it looks like when you open it:

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 9.34.12 AM

To begin you tap the + sign in the upper right corner. It will take you automatically to adding a task:

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 9.36.15 AM

When you tap on the subject heading, you can then add all of your subjects, colour coding them of course!

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 9.37.58 AM

And here is the part I really like, the sub tasks! Say you have a big project due, like an English essay or ahem, a science fair project. You can have your own big task and then list all of the little steps inside that big task:

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 10.09.34 AM

Of course the only problem with this is that you cannot set a reminder for each of the due dates of the sub tasks. Nor can you repeat a reminder on the actual task, unlike the built-in reminders app on the iPad.

You can also add a classification to your task. Eg. Is it an exam, essay, etc.?:

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 10.12.45 AM

Hmmm. As I wrote this, the app closed on me and it deleted everything I just did. That is worrisome…

Here is how a completed task looks like:

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 10.17.09 AM

Here is how it looks when you have several tasks to complete:

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 10.26.53 AM

Where this app fails spectacularly is in the calendar option. It is a built-in calendar and does not sync with iCal or google. But most importantly, it doesn’t really work.  It says to pinch out to zoom, but I’ve tried and tried and the thing won’t budge. I have had to tap several times to be able to move forward. Although there is a dot below the date when an assignment is due, that’s about it. There is no broad view of what the upcoming week looks like:

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 10.23.47 AMIt is also very messy, like there is some sort of glitch in the system, so maybe it would be worth to come back and check out the calendar at a later date.

So. How does The Homework app stack up to our criteria?

  • Easy and quick to use: (2/2)

Yes. The Homework app is simple to use. It was as easy as reminders, even a little more easy. Adding subjects and classifications was also a nice touch.

  • Clean, intuitive interface: (2/2)

Yes. Lovely, simple and elegant interface. Not too crowded and not too many bells and whistles. It is as intuitive as finding the + sign and adding your tasks.

  • Different views (daily, weekly, monthly) of all assignments:(0/3)

Epic fail. Although you can sort your tasks by due date or by subject or by importance, the only view is a list of tasks. The calendar app should have addressed this but it didn’t work very well. All I could see was a cursory monthly view.

  • Different colours for different classes:(1/1)

Yes! It was very pretty.

  • Alerts for assignments (.5/1)

Yes, though there were no repeat options on the tasks and you could not add a due date to the sub-tasks.

  • If not free, then cheap (2/2)

Yes. The free version is pretty good though you cannot add sub-tasks and the upgraded version is only a dollar.

  • Easily synced with your other devices: (0/3)

No. It doesn’t sync with anything which is a major drawback. I think they are making an upgraded version that will cost $2/year that will allow you to sync with all your devices, but it hasn’t happened yet. This is something you can only use on your iPad.

Result: 7.7/14

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Code Club: First Meeting a Success!

Last Thursday we had our first meeting of the Coding Club (hopefully we can find a better name for it). A dozen students came to the library after school as well as three teachers who wanted to learn how to code. 

Maja Frydrychowicz, a computer science teacher at a local Cegep, generously donated her time to get us started. She began by showing us how a whole block of code looks like by running a program she developed that demonstrated how cells would react in a petrie dish. She ran the program once and then changed just one line of code and ran the program again. What we saw on the screen was completely different. This was a great way of showing the students how every little bit counts. She also emphasized that programming is one of the most social kinds of work (contrary to popular belief)- most programs are written by a group of people in constant communication. She also warned them that it can get frustrating and that there is a lot of trial and error in programming, so not to get discouraged if it doesn’t work right away.

Then she showed us Scratch and we paired up to work on a few of the challenges she set for us. She concluded with a take home challenge of making a labyrinth for our cartoon cat in Scratch. The hour went by very quickly, with many people staying on to work on their projects.

This week we are going to continue where we left off. There are also a few students who have their own projects they would like to work on – Maja will be around again this Thursday and is very willing to share her expertise!

Below is an article about some amazing youth innovators to get us more inspired!

See on Scoop.itipadyoupad

Here are 10 youth innovators, from ages seven to 15, particularly worth noting and working on projects ranging from games to anti-bullying apps.

See on mashable.com

rAppido Review: Curator

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 10.06.00 AMI received an email this morning from our lovely art teacher who had discovered the perfect app to help her with an upcoming research project. First of all, thank you Ms. Art teacher for letting me know about Curator – it is simple, elegant and extremely user-friendly.

It is essentially a visual bookmarking system, where you can save images, text or websites. In terms of an art project where the students must find images from a certain era or genre, it would be perfect. It is a little like Pinterest, but made specifically for the iPad and, in my opinion, with a cleaner, more intuitive interface.

There is a free version which allows you to make up to five boards but if you want to create a 6th you must pay the $6.99. 

I decided to try one out by making a board about vintage dresses. First I searched the internet for the images I wanted, then saved them to my camera roll. Then I double tapped one of the grey squares in the board:

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 10.13.38 AM

 

The magnifying glass searches the web for you and when you find a website you want to add all you have to do is leave the square while you are still in that website. The text is a little small to be useful in terms of a screenshot, but it would be possible to use one square for an image and the adjacent square for an annotation. One would need to zoom in to see the text though.

Gradually I populated my board:

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 10.11.24 AM

 

You can annotate your images, which, for an art history project is very valuable.

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 10.15.10 AMYou also have the option to mail the photo, but it doesn’t mail the annotation.

The downside to this app, and it is a considerable one, is that there is no way to share your board. You can present it via projector (I myself am using air server to screenshot the images on my desktop, but you cannot share it. In terms of grading students work (if that is indeed your goal) it would be very hard to do so without physically taking the students’ iPads.

However, if the goal is to have your students project the app and present their research, than this would be a very easy, aesthetically pleasing way to do it. 

 

Homework Planners: The beginning. Again.

It is that time of year again, where I have been asked to review our decision to use the built-in tools on the iPad for the students’ agenda,Reminders and Calendar.

Which, by the way, I think is a good idea. Is it working? Are the students using it? Is it helpful? Efficient? Practical? What are the challenges? These are questions we should be asking ourselves every year.

In order to get a better idea, I conducted a very brief and wholly unscientific survey of the Grade 7 class to see what they were using. I was able to survey 23 out of 24 students. Here are a few of the results:

  • 13 use either Reminders or Calendar or a combination of the two  as a homework agenda.
  • 2 Use an outside app called ABC Notes (which hurts my brain a little, but there you go- different strokes for different folks)
  • 3 Use the paper agenda provided from the school on the recommendation of the academic counselor
  • 5 have bought their own print agenda

Which puts me in a bit of a quandary. As yesterday’s post pointed out, there are advantages and disadvantages to both print and electronic. Add to that the variety of learning and organization styles of our students and it it is hard to figure out what to recommend as the best option.

However, I do think it is important to get students used to using online organization tools such as e-calendars, etc. Personally my life is lived on my google calendar. My husband and I share each other’s calendars so we know what it is going in each other’s life. My daughters have their own calendars for their activities. I have one for work and one for home.  When I look at my calendar I get a good picture of how my week is shaping up. The best part is, it is synced with my iPhone, iPad, computer at work as well as anywhere I care to look for it.

However, I also keep a print list beside my desk at work and my computer at home for tasks that need to be done. This method works for me because I am pretty sedentary- I am usually only in one place. The list allows me to look away from the computer for a moment and regroup.

See? Everybody is different. Having said that, It would be nice to find a Homework agenda that encompasses the best of these worlds. So in that vein, I am going to start reviewing (and in some cases, re-reviewing) some homework agenda apps in the next couple of weeks.

I have taken my criteria from last year and revised it, putting the new text in bold:

  • Easy and quick to use
  • Clean, intuitive interface
  • Different views (daily, weekly, monthly) of all assignments
  • Easy to input assignments
  • Different colours for different classes
  • Alerts for assignments
  • If not free, then cheap
  • Easily synced with your other devices

I have taken out:

  • easy to import schedules

Importing schedules is less important I think as our students already have their schedules in other places.It is nice for them to have the option, but less of a priority than I originally thought.

  • It would be great if it could talk to our intranet, but that might be too much to ask.

Yeah. Not going to happen for a while.

I am going to start by reviewing the apps in the article below, then by trying out something called Fantastical 2.

If you have any suggestions, or feel like I should add something to my criteria, please let me know!

See on Scoop.itipadyoupad

See on www.educatorstechnology.com

11 Note-Taking Tips For The Digital Classroom – Edudemic

I was visited by a teacher yesterday who was wondering what the best way was to use the  iPads in her class for research. This teacher had a couple of sites she wanted the students to explore but wanted to make sure they were actually engaging with it.

I have been thinking of this ever since and I am not sure I have a good solution. The only thing I can think of is what our math and multimedia teacher mentioned in his Flipped Classroom presentation- that taking notes are a very important part of making sure the students are viewing the presentations/videos,etc he wants them to view.

But is paper better than digital? According to this infographic, it seems that our instincts were right-the answer differs for everybody:

Note-taking-Effectiveness-in-the-Digital-Classroom-Infographic-620x2962

Some ways the first teacher could go about it would be to have them do what Mr. Math teacher does- make them take notes on paper and then take a photo of their notes and post them on a class blog. Or, as the sites includes many images the students will have to explore, they can save the images to their camera roll and then stick them in a place where they can annotate them (whiteboard app, keynote,etc.). Or a combination of both.

Her concern is that she wants to be able to retrieve all the documents in one place- not to be bombarded by a bunch of emails. I am intrigued by the idea that pen and paper and technology are not mutually exclusive-there is no need to throw the baby out of the bathwater.

What do you think? If you get your students to look at certain websites on their iPad what are your tips and tricks to ensure they are engaging with the site and not with instagram?

Below is the article where I found the infographic.

See on Scoop.itipadyoupad

Does the physical act of writing something down help you to remember it? What is the most effective way to take notes? How does all of this play into a more digital classroom?

See on www.edudemic.com

My Paperless Classoom: Differentiation: Programming and Geometry in Second Grade

Although this article is about the experience of a second grade teacher, I think the idea of melding programming language with geometry instruction brilliant. It made me wonder if coding could be applied in anyway to the secondary curriculum?

Would love to hear your comments!

See on Scoop.itipadyoupad

See on www.mypaperlessclassroom.com

50+ Editable iPad Graphic Organizers and Project Templates

Lisa Johnson has just posted some great templates for the iPad. From graphic rganizers (think cognitive males, note-taking templates, etc) to project templates- the one that struc me the most was the newspaper article template- I know an English class has an assignment where stye have to recreate a news article.

Check it out!

See on Scoop.itipadyoupad

» Freebie Friday: 50+ Editable iPad Graphic Organizers and Project Templates |

You will need Pages or Keynote to open and edit these.

See on www.techchef4u.com