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

When the Rules Get in the Way

I have been having an interesting discussion with a mother of one of the students at our school. Her daughter is very responsible and always on task and was one of the students we looked at when modelling the kind of behaviour with the iPad we would like to see in all our students.

The discussion is centered around the new iPad rules we put in place after taking stock of our lessons learned last year (where we did not develop a set of rules regulating appropriate use). We looked at the survey we took of the Grade 7 class and made the following recommendations:



The grade 7 class were walked through these rules at the beginning of the year and a couple of weeks ago I went to speak to the grade 8 class (our first 1:1 iPad class). While the grade 7s dutifully took it all in without a peep, the Grade 8 class naturally had some issues.

One issue that has come up is that the girl (in Grade 8) uses her alerts to remind her of lunchtime meetings and other school-related meetings, which is great! Except for the fact that we tell them to put on the Do Not Disturb during school hours which means they won’t receive their alerts until the end of the day.

HUh. Problem. I really really hate when too many rules get in the way of innovative, efficient use of technology. I have had some experience at other jobs that have so many filters and blocks and security precautions that it almost renders the machine useless. I am very wary of doing that with the students.

The unfortunate truth about rules is that they are usually a reaction to a problem only the minority of a population have. The rules were created above for those students who had said yes to all the push notifications of all the apps they purchased so they were constantly being distracted in class by someone posting something on Facebook (eg. I just had a glass of  orange juice! Alert!) or any game they happen to be playing.

So what to do? I personally believe we can keep the spirit of the law (turn off most notifications except the ones used for school) and leave the reminders and alerts a student needs for the school day.

Having said that, I still think the alert needs to be on mute. It is one thing to have it pop up on the screen, another to remind the whole class you have a science tutorial at lunch….

What do you think?