And the First Block Goes to…

duplo-blockJen Robinson, Math teacher extraordinaire! Jen’s goal was to learn how to use Socrative so she could begin using it right away to assess the understanding of her students during math class.

I asked her to answer some brief questions about her experience. Here are her answers:

1. Was Socrative easy or hard to use? 
It’s very user friendly and doesn’t take long to make a quiz
2. What issues did you encounter while setting up Socrative, if any?
Math notation!!!!! Getting an image that was clear and didn’t take long to download.Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 8.41.56 AM
3. How did you resolve them?
Greg helped and with a good internet connection, and a bit of time, the images download easily but it does require extra steps.
4. What do you like about Socrative?
Instant feedback as to students answers and email of the results.
Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 8.43.05 AM5. What would you change about the app?
 I would allow the students to be able to go back over their quiz once finished to see their mistakes. When you answer, it tells you the correct answer (if you answered incorrectly), but it would be nice to be able to review it with them. Also, I can’t review it with them right after without signing out since I wouldn’t want them to see how the other students are doing in the class.
6. How are your students responding to it?
So far so good. I’ve done a total of 4 (2 in Sec 1 and 2 in Sec 2). It will be good to track their results throughout the year.
Note: Socrative has undergone a significant makeover since I first tried Socrative in 2012 (as blogged about here). The interface is prettier and you can now add images. 
Thanks Jen!

PD Gamification: Building Blocks of Learning

duplo-blocksLast year I was able to attend a couple of interesting workshops on gamification in the classroom. It has been stewing in the back of my mind for a few months, wondering in what way I can apply these concepts to the work I do at the school. As I was preparing for the teacher entry in August and the beginning of the PD for iPads, I got to thinking.

This is our 4th year with iPads at the school. Most of our staff is beyond the basics- we all know how to turn it on, take screenshots, use the camera, make folders, use the calendar. Many of the teachers use it for recording their lessons and making videos in a hybrid form of flipping the classroom. Still more use it to do research with their students, record discussions with audio or video apps. We even have our science teachers who have made amazing iBooks for their students.

So what shape should our PD take this year? What is the one thing our beleaguered teachers need more than anything? You got it- TIME. I wanted to have less  of me speaking at people and more time for people to try things out.

1. So the first thing I asked people to do was to send me their Tech goals for the year. I asked them to follow the Smart Goals format as much as possible:


2. Although many of the goals didn’t come in time for me to tailor the first sessions to them, I did end up getting most of the staff’s goals. These ranged from using the iPad more in the classroom to more specific uses such creating digital scrapbooks  or using it for formative evaluations. I have gathered all of the iPad goals in a google doc and can now check it regularly to see if someone’s self-imposed deadline is coming up and how I can help them achieve the goal they set for themselves.

3. iPad sessions: The first session we had, I got the staff to divide into departments and take the time to brainstorm about what apps they own as a department (each department has their own iTunes account) and what they would like to do with the iPad in their classes. It was also a time for them to hear wheat their colleagues were doing and get some ideas for the year.

4. The second session is where the Gamification came in. I brought out a huge bag of duplo blocks. During the year, they will have a series of challenges. For each challenge they complete they will get a block. For every personal goal they achieve they will also get a block to add to their tower. At the end of the year, we will take all the blocks and put them together to create our own castle/tower/fort/suburban house of learning.

I have to admit, I wasn’t sure how this idea was going to fly with the staff. Was it too cheesy? (yes. I am the first one to admit it. but sometimes cheesy is fun, right?) But the idea was very well-received – in fact, in some instances a little too well (who knew how competitive people could be?)

To start the staff off, the teachers had three challenges to complete, 20 minutes for each challenge:

  1. Make an outline in an iBook
  2. Annotate a PDF in Notability
  3. Use a whiteboard app to make an explainer video

We divided the staff into three groups and off they went. At the end of each session the leader of the challenge gave the teachers a block for completing the challenge. It was fast, furious and hopefully, fun.

This will be the model we will follow for the rest of the year. We are given some time about once every couple of months in our Wednesday meetings. The IT committee plan to fill those up with challenges led by teachers who have used the tool.

I am also happy to announce that one teacher has already achieved one of her goals, but more about that tomorrow!

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!

For beginners: a selection of How To’s from the iPadyouPad archive

I am in the midst of preparing for tomorrow’s introductory session  to the iPad and  thought I would post what I am going to talk about, just in case there are any keeners and want a headstart. That way we can skip over the stuff you already know and go straight to what you don’t.

1. Setting up your itunes account

Apple’s tutorial is pretty handy, so take a look. If you are using your department’s account, make sure you have the password.

2. How to configure your mail app

3. How to make folders for your apps

4.Workshop challenges: includes how to take a screenshot, how to move between apps, how to move your cursor, how to make a passcode, how to add to your homescreen and iTunes U.

5. Pages: a quick tutorial on how to use the word processing app.

6. Keynote: A quick introduction to the wonders of Apple’s presentation app.

7. What to do if your iPad acts up

8. We will also download two great ibooks for future reference:

9. Whatever you want! I don’t guarantee I will know right off the bat, but I guarantee I can find out for you…

How is that for a spoiler?

A Selection of Challenges from last week’s workshop!

Well, the internet is down and my world has come to a screeching halt. However, never one to indulge in an idle moment, I thought I would write this post on a good old-fashioned word document and paste it in to my blog when the internet is re-connected and the gears of my world start their incessant grind.
However. What can I talk about that doesn’t need the internet?
Aha! What about a recap of some of the challenges we had in last Thursday’s class? Yes? Okay then.
I still don’t have the complete list, but I can go through the ones people either taught me or I overheard. If your challenge isn’t here, could you please email it to me? I will cover it in subsequent posts!
Screenshots: covered in this previous post but copied here for your convenience
One last thing- I also learned how to do a screen shot on my ipad:
  1. Press the on/off button at the top of the ipad and at the same time press the ipad button in the centre.
  2. Once you pressed the ipad button let go- don’t keep on holding down as it will just power off your ipad.
  3. You should see a flash of white and then the sound of a camera taking a photo.
  4. The photo is then stored in your photos app (that comes with the ipad).

Double-clicking to move quickly between apps:
This came in handy for me when I was preparing the QR code scavenger hunt as I was switching between the QR reader and Safari over and over. Instead of pressing the center button, returning to the home screen and then scrolling to find the app you need, you can simply double click the center button and the open apps will appear on the bottom. It is similar to having tabs open in a web browser.
How to make folders: (also covered in this previous post with images)
As we saw on Thursday, the number of incredible apps can be an embarrassment of riches, especially if you have many on different subjects peppered all over your home screens. Avoid having to scroll through pages and pages of apps looking for one in particular by gathering subject specific apps in one place. Personally, I have grouped them by subject matter. Say you take two science apps: NASA and the body.
1.    Press down on one of the apps you want to collect until it starts to wiggle.
2.    Then drag it on top of another app you want to gather.
3.    This will automatically create a folder
4.     You can now change the name of your folder: just tap the circled X and it will delete the default title. Then you can start typing!
How to move your cursor: 
I covered this in my post about adding eprint to safari,a s it was my huge stumbling block.
1.    Hold you finger down in the location where you would like the cursor.
It works the same if you are in ibooks or in Safari or in any other app
2.    A magnifying glad will appear. Drag it until you are in the spot you need.
3.    Delete, add text, highlight, copy, paste. Do whatever you need to do!
Add to home screen: My favourite!
Do you go visit a certain site frequently? Don’t want to keep having to bring it up on safari?  This is so easy! I did it with what I like to call the language police dictionary- La Grande Dictionnaire terminologique. This is something I consult frequently as the French words are slipping out of my head faster then Greek drachmas from a European bank.
1.    Go to the website you want to add to your home screen (your home screen is the screen you see when you have logged in to your ipad- the one with all the apps on it).
2.    Tap the arrow to the left of the web address.
3.    Tap “add to home screen”.
4.    It will then appear on your home screen.
you can see it now on the last line!
5.    Use the above instructions to move it into a folder.
Itunes U
Annie and Gail made this wonderful handout about itunes U. I have asked them permission to share and they have generously accepted.
iTunes U
Lots of FREE excellent material from leading schools and educational boards (mostly American, but some European & Canadian, too!)
1. By Topic
Open iTunes  app (purple with white music note)
☐ type a subject into white search box in top right
☐ scroll through different types of info (audiobook, albums, podcasts, etc.) until you see iTunes U
☐ click on a episode that relates to what you want to know in order to see a) how much and b) more info
☐ click to download
☐ find episode in your iTunes library under iTunes U
2. By Publishing Organization
Open iTunes  app (purple with white music note)
☐ look at options at bottom of screen
click on iTunes U (second from right)
☐ There are 3 search choices: Universities & Colleges (search by school)
                                                Beyond Campus (search by publishing organization)
                                                K-12 (search by publishing organization)
☐ when you click on one of those 3 choices, you will get an alphabetical list of publishing organizations
☐ click on one of the choices to see what they have produced
☐ when you find an interesting episode,
☐ click on a episode in order to see a) how much and b) more info
☐ click to download
☐ find episode in your iTunes library under iTunes U
How to do an alpha numeric password to lock your ipad:
1.     Go to settingsà General.
2.     Tap Passcode Lock.
3.     Turn the Simple Passcode option off.
4. Tap “Turn Passcode on”.
5.     Type in your passcode.
6.     Tap next.
7.     Re-enter passcode
8.     Tap done.

I am hoping to collect more of the challenges in the following days, but even then- I still have so much content to go over from our workshop. So stay tuned all you ipad folk! More is on the way!