The Best Free Online Rubric Makers | Edudemic

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 8.44.55 AMHas anybody used any of these? Not knowing much about rubric making, I was just wondering how useful tools like these are for you…


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iOS 8.3 on iPad: Is It Worth Installing Now?

I have to admit, I didn’t even think twice before updating my iPad to 8.3. I just saw that big red number and updated it. But it is good to know about the new features and fixes 8.3 gives, as well as a review of its performances on the different kinds of iPads.

For example, there are some improvements to the keyboard, as well as to the overall performance:

Apple delivers performance fixes for major iPhone and iPad features and tasks. With the iOS 8.3 apps should start faster and be more responsive. Apple also boasts that Messages, Control Center, Safari Tabs and WiFi are all faster in iOS 8.3.

Keyboard shortcuts should work better and third-party keyboards are now much faster to switch to and to use. We’ll be testing just how much better the update is, but so far the iOS 8.3 vs iOS 8.2 performance is way better for third-party keyboards.

Read on for more features !

Three weeks ago, Apple released its iOS 8.3 update for the iPhone, the iPad and the fifth-generation iPod touch. With this three week milestone in mind, we want to take a look at how the iOS 8.3 up…


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Youth Privacy

I received this Graphic Novel in the mail months ago and am only now getting to it. Although the actual Graphic Novel has only limited uses in my opinion, there are some good resources on the Youth Privacy section of the Officer of the Privacy Commission of Canada’s website. I especially like how they tell parents in their 12 Quick Privacy Tips for Parents to:

11. Let your kids know that you are there if they make a privacy mistake.
Stay calm if your child makes a mistake, like posting something they shouldn’t have. Help them remove the post, where possible, and talk with them about how they can avoid a similar mistake in the future. If you “freak out” or deny access to them, they may not come to you for help when they really need it in future.

Check it out!


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iPad Challenge of April 22: Accessibility Tools (Guided Access)

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Do you have a student that simply can’t concentrate when using the iPad? Do you need to help them focus on the task at hand? Guided Access might help. It is a little heavy-handed, but could be very useful. This also could be useful in certain test or exam situations.

What is it?

Guided Access allows you to restrict the use of the iPad to a certain app. For instance, if your students should be writing a document using Pages, you can set the Guided access so that they can only access Pages.

How does it work?

Go to Settings–>General–>Accessibility


Scroll down and tap on Guided Access:


Tap Guided Access on:


Now tap on Passcode settings. This means that you will be the one in control of the Guided access. You will enter a password for Guided access. Once they are in the app and Guided Access is activated, they will need your passcode to disable it:

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Once you’ve set a passcode that you will remember, go to the app you want your student to use. I am using pages. Triple tap the home button to access the Guided access settings. At the bottom of the page you will see some settings. For some reason it won’t let me take a screenshot and my airplay isn’t working so I will use a generic screenshot from


At the bottom you can set how long you want them to stay on the app as well as circle areas of the app you would like to disable. To activate Guided access, simply tap Started, located in the top right corner.

Now, this isn’t just for students – we all get distracted and sometimes need a little help concentrating. Why not use Guided Access for yourself? I know I could use some guidance sometimes…

Thanks again to Melanie Leblanc for demonstrating these tools!

iPad Challenge of April 22: Accessibility Tools (Voice Over and Keyboard features)

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VoiceOver is a feature that is mainly useful for the visually impaired. Here is the little blurb from the Apple site:

VoiceOver is a gesture-based screen reader that lets you enjoy the fun and simplicity of iOS even if you can’t see the screen. With VoiceOver enabled, just triple-click the Home button to access it wherever you are in iOS. Hear a description of everything happening on your screen, from battery level to who’s calling to which app your finger’s on. You can adjust the speaking rate and pitch to suit you.

It is worth reading the different things you can do with VoiceOver here.I have to admit, I find it a tad unwieldy to use. As Mélanie said yesterday, it changes the whole way you interact with your iPad, making it less intuitive and, if you have no problem seeing or reading, annoying as it reads everything on your screen. For example, on the screen below, once Voice over is turned on, it will start by reading the word “Settings” and then go on down the page.

So why use this? Well, once again, if a girl is visually impaired or has trouble reading, this could be very helpful. Although I would urge you to check out the text to speech feature. You do have to select the text you want to read, but it is much easier to turn off than Voice Over.

So now that you are cautioned, here is how you access it.

Go to Settings –>Accessibility
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Tap on VoiceOver

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Tap on. Notice how the word “Settings” is framed in black. Voice Over is reading it out loud. I would recommend you really read the instructions. Tap once to select an item. tap twice to activate. You can also ask Siri to turn VoiceOver on.

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I would also urge you to practice first.

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Predictive text

Have you seen some of our students’ fingers fly around their keyboard and watch words magically pop up whole instead of letter by letter? Well, that is the predictive text feature. Predictive text is like a word soothsayer – it tried to predict what you are going to write next. Eerily enough, it is usually pretty dead on.

Go back toSettings–> General–> Keyboard

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Make sure predictive is turned on.

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Then try it out! I am about to write Hello in Pages. Predictive text gives it to me after 3 letters.

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Here it is with a bigger word. I am trying to write fabulous:

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Not being a big fan of the text culture’s obsession with abbreviations and acronyms, I always ignored this feature. But Melanie made a good case for useful ways to use it in the class room. And she happened to use a word I have always had trouble with in french – aujourd’hui (I never know where to put that darn apostrophe).

Let’s go back to our Keyboard settings. Tap on Shortcuts:

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Then add a shortcut. Or get your students to add a shortcut that would help them spell troubling words.

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Now let’s go back to our Pages document. All I do is tap auk and the predictive text gives me my word!

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Hello you fabulous aujourd’hui!

Next post: Guided access

iPad Challenge of April 22: Accessibility Tools (Safari Reader & Dictionary)

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A huge thank you to Melanie Leblanc for leading our iPad workshop yesterday. I thought it would be useful to give a quick reference of the built-in tools on the iPad she demonstrated as there was a lot of information and once again, little time to really explore these tools.

Safari Reader

What is it? This feature allows you to get rid of all the ads and other features on a website and focus on the main content.

How is it useful? When you want your students to read a certain text without getting overwhelmed by all the visual bells and whistles of a site. I know that I will personally use this as I like to read long form articles online and I find the ads and sidebars visually exhausting.

How do I use it?

Open Safari and find the article you want to read:

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See the lines beside the URL?


Tap it. This is how it looks like:

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I know, right? Why did I not know about this before? I was looking online to make sure I got the name right while writing this and the articles about it date back to 2010.


NOTE: I used this article from the Atlantic as I had just read it and the ads gave me headaches, but I just realized that they only allow the first paragraph to be read in Reader. I guess they really want you to see those ads.

Double sigh.


What is it? Umm, a dictionary? Duh? Sorry. My ‘tide came out there. The dictionary feature is where you can hold your finger down on a word that you do not know in your article and  it will give you a definition or at least take you to a website with more information:

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Now, the first time I tried this, I highlighted the word “women” and got a “No results” message. that is because I had no dictionaries downloaded. You need to tap the manage button and then download your dictionaries:

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As you can see, you can have dictionaries in many different languages. You can also search the web for more information. Here I highlighted the phrase digital revolution and tapped on define:

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No definition was found for “digital revolution” so I tapped the “Search Web” option and got these results:

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Both of these tools are simple, built-in the iPad and extremely useful for the classroom, not to mention our own online reading!

Tomorrow: Voice Over and Keyboard features!

Digital Natives, Yet Strangers to the Web

This is a very salient article on the need to integrate digital citizenship skills in the curriculum. I have been thinking about this for a long time, even made a schedule of ways we could do this, but Mr. Loewy, the teacher featured in this article, has designed a whole curriculum.

This isn’t a new idea, and in fact, we have some very good Canadian initiatives to bridge the gap like the OSAPAC Digital Citizenship page, Common Sense Media and Social Smarts.

But if there is one take away from this article is that even though youth spend a lot of their time online, does not necessarily mean they are Digitally literate. I will conclude with this quote from Danah Boyd (also quoted in the article):

Teens will not become critical contributors to this [Internet] ecosystem simply because they were born in an age when these technologies were pervasive.

Neither teens nor adults are monolithic, and there is no magical relation between skills and age. Whether in school or in informal settings, youth need opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge to engage with temporary technology effectively and meaningfully. Becoming literate in a networked age requires hard work, regardless of age.- Danah Boyd

Today’s schools are focusing on boosting kids’ technological proficiency and warning them about the perils of the web. But something critical is missing from this education.


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