Google for Educators – Resources for using Google in school

Do you ever have that feeling that there is more to Google than meets the eye? That it is more than a search engine, mail server and place to create and store documents (which by the way is already a lot, in my opinion) ?

Well, that might be the understatement of the year. The article below gives a whole list of useful things Google has to offer educators, from mind maps, to search tips to tutorials.

Check it out and tap into the power that is Google!

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Shakespeare: Blending the Bard with 21st Century Technology

I know the Shakespeare unit for the junior classes is coming up which makes this article below very timely.

TechChef4U offers up a whole bunch of ideas on how to enhance Shakespeare in the classroom with technology. From exploring Shakespeare, some amazing Shaksepeare apps to even a Globe Theatre built in Minecraft, there are some very cool ideas here.

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Lesson» Shakespeare: Blending the Bard with 21st Century Technology |

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rAPPido Review: Smart Recorder 7 – the voice recorder and transcriber


Ms. History tried using the free version to send a recording longer than three minutes- it didn’t work- she had to pay for an upgrade. I say an upgrade, as their features are set on a menu, where you have to pay a certain fee for a certain feature, more for another. Hmmm. I think I am revising my review to say this is a great option ONLY  if you are making your comments less than three minutes. I am still in the midst of finding a better option.

It turns out that you can use Explain everything simply as a recorder- I tried by making a recording that was over 5 minutes and exported it to my google drive. It totally worked!  NOTE- Explain everything costs $2.99

Late yesterday afternoon I was visited by Ms. History teacher who was trying out quick voice to send feedback on student presentations. It all worked fine until she tried to email  herself the file. Though quick voice (free) lets you make recordings up to five minutes, it only allows you to export by email. Yet a five minute audio recording is a way bigger file than email will allow you to send. Consequently, she finds herself with some feedback she has no good way to give to the students.

My mission: find a free voice recorder with a user-friendly interface that allows different export options.

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 9.25.13 AM

After a very quick perusal of the following articles:

I decided to try Smart Recorder 7.

The interface is pretty simple, with a large red button you need to press to begin:

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 9.03.42 AM

As you can see, it also gives you handy little tips from the get go.

Here is how it looks while you are recording:

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 9.33.05 AM

You can pause your recording and the begin again. Once you are done, press done. You will then be asked to name your recording:

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 9.33.20 AM

I tried the transcript option, but alas, I think you have to pay:

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 9.33.58 AMI didn’t want to pay so I opted out.

Then I uploaded it to my google drive, where I could send the link by email, or share it with whoever I want:

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 9.34.28 AMAs you can see, you can also send it to dropbox, save it on your camera tool, sync it via wifi and open it in iMovie, web dab, and many other options.

Here are my recordings in my google drive:

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 9.40.54 AMAnd here is the link to my recording (honestly not worth listening to the whole thing- I am just attaching it as an example):

My recording

All in all, if your goal is to make quick comments and share them in a quick and effective manner to your students, this is a good option. The free version is easy to use, does not impose a time limit on recordings (YES IT DOES) and has many options for exporting.

Stylus Reviews

I have been thinking of styluses lately (styli?). I think more and more, the ability to also write on the iPad is becoming more important. Whether it is a teacher who wants to demonstrate how to solve an equation in geometry, or simply wanting to highlight a concept on a whiteboard app, or a student who feels more comfortable writing their notes instead of typing.

The problem is the only styluses I have used have been very cheap and hardly work.

An example of me writing with a stylus:

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 8.47.54 AM


I had to press really hard and it took me a long time. Also, I have an odd, fist-like way of writing (which my mother tried unsuccessfully to cure me of) which doesn’t help.

Writing with my fingers gives the impression that I am a toddler, playing with her mommy’s pens:

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 8.51.15 AM


The stylus is only a little better. But what if you could have a stylus that feels like a pen in your hand? That reacts to the screen the way an actual pen or pencil reacts to paper? How would that change your use of the iPad? Would I still feel the need to have my paper pad beside me? The thought intrigues me.

Here are a few articles I found reviewing some of the styluses on the market. Unfortunately, the higher end ones are prohibitively expensive. The idea of providing one for each teacher at $75 bucks (at the high end)- $50 bucks (for a decent one) per stylus seems impossible. Still, I am hoping for the day where the use and need for styluses will cause cheaper and just as effective to appear on the market.

What do you think? Do you feel the need for a decent stylus?

The Verge gives the most comprehensive look at the styluses on the market, though it is a little outdated, having been written in April 2012 (though it has been updated a couple of times).

A Review on for Pencil, from the makers of Paper and one by Macworld with a slightly different view of the same product.

And finally a more recently penned iPad Stylus Buying Guide on Tech Hive.


Wednesday iPad Workshop: Ms. K takes it away!

This morning we had brave Ms. Science and vice-admin give a show and tell on her adventures using Notability, Explain Everything and Showme.

She needed a good way to annotate PDFs while recording her voice in order to post her lessons for her students to review on their own time (or shorter version- flipping the classroom).

Yesterday, in true Flipped Classroom format, she sent out the following videos for us to watch before the workshop:

Introduction to her workshop in Showme

As well as a 5 minute Trig video she made by importing a PDF into Explain everything and then sharing it with her students via google drive:

Although I wasn’t able to attend the meat of her presentation as I was giving one myself, I did talk to her beforehand. Some of her problems involved an attempt where she mistakenly paused the record button, so that half her presentation had no voice. As well, she tried a few times to export it as a project instead of a video and was wondering why she couldn’t view it in that format. However, once she got the hang of it, she found an easy effective way of creating videos of her lessons for her students.

Yay, Ms. K!

I am looking forward to having more teachers share their amazing use of tech with us in the following iPad workshops!

The Cultural Phenomena of Selfies

Two things caught my eye this morning as I was pursuing my RSS feeds. First was the article on Langwitches abut Selfies.  The second was this infographic on how kids use Social media. Now we have seen many of these infographics, but the one fact that made me pause was in the “Harm” section:

  • Increased narcissism

33% surveyed said being famous was either somewhat important, important or very important


But then I looked at some of the slideshare presentations Langwitches provides in her article that give a different perspective on the selfie. Could it be that the Selfie is not so much narcissistic as a way for people to begin re-defining our beauty norms? How we view each other and ourselves? A way where the average person can highlight they own everyday selves and celebrate that?

Intriguing thought. I am not sure I am convinced however. When people (and I am thinking especially of young girls) put up Selfies on instagram or Facebook or snapchat, they mostly do it in the hopes of receiving likes, or hearts or whatever the thumbs up option is on their platform. They are seeking to define their own beauty in the eyes of other people, by external approval. My worry is that their self esteem will now depend on that instead of being grown from within.

What do you think?

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The impact of the SELFIE on our culture has started to intrigue me. As I see my little granddaughter love looking at (and taking) pictures and videos of herself on the iPhone and iPad… I wonder w…

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