Monday, August 29, 2011

iPad Licence

Today was the third day of class for my students and I.  We have made personal introductions, gone over procedures, and discussed  classroom expectations.  Now it is time to get down to the business of introducing my students to the iPad.  

On the first day of school I did an informal poll to see how many students had used an iPad before.  What I discovered from this poll was roughly less than ten out of one hundred students had experience using and iPad.  Since few students had no experience with the iPad I decided to spend one of my "early" days introducing the iPad to the class.

My goal was to keep the lesson simple, yet informative.  I began by letting the students know that the only way they should clean the screen is by using one of the lint free cloths. I explained that using their sleeve, tissue, or hand could scratch the screen and once the screen is scratched there is no way to fix it.  Next I moved on to turing the iPad on, scrolling to different pages, and using the home button.  My classes were all amazed when I showed them what happens when you double click the home button moving all of the app icons to the bottom of the screen.

I also decided to demonstrate a few of the accessibility features next.  I let the classes know that the iPad could read for them, but I strongly suggested that they leave that feature alone (if anyone from Apple is reading this please improve this feature).  One of the most popular accessibility features was the white on black, however this was short lived.  Most of the kids thought it was cool until those who choose to leave it on decided that they could not focus on text and pictures.  Some students did find the feature very helpful.  The final accessibility feature that was demonstrated in class was the three finger zoom.  As we continued to work with the iPads most students decided that pinching and stretching the screen was a much more effective way of zooming in and out.

One of the last iPad features introduced was the rotation lock.  I explained that they had the ability to lock the screen in one position.  This feature was popular.  Most of the students preferred to lock their iPad in landscape.  I think this had a great deal to do with the type of case that we are using.

At the end of class I gave an eight question true/false assessment.  Most of my students got 100% of the questions correct.  As a reward for passing the quiz I plan on making "iPad Licenses" for all of my students.  I hope this gives a since of pride and encourages the kids to take care of the machines.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Year Two

A new school year is starting up and I've had a chance to recharge my batteries.  Now it's time to plug in the iPads and get them charged up and running again too.  I'm very excited to have the opportunity to use the iPads in my class again and my plan is to continue to document how I'm using them.  If you have any suggestions for me on how to best introduce my students to them let me know.  I've got a few ideas and will post them as soon as I hammer out the details.

Stay tuned year two is gonna be a great.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

App suggestion

I have been looking for an app that will best work with using the "interactive note takeing and reading strategy."  I have posted a YouTube clip the illustrates how the strategy works.  Once you have checked it out let me know if you have any suggestion on apps that would best fit.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

How are i-Pads being used

I have been using i-Pads in my class since November.  While learning how to implement this technology in a way that is most effective for student learning I have made a rather startling observation, at least in my opinion.  With this machine that was designed for consuming media of all types the main use I have for it in my class is connecting to the internet.  

I do use several apps specifically the Pearson e-Text, Pearson Games, Neon lite, and Stack the States, but when it comes to everyday use I typically send my students to the internet.  As I use the i-Pads more and more I find myself having students respond to questions on my class website.  Quia is a site that I have written about here previously is internet based as well.  Many times in class when a question arises I have my class researcher use the i-Pad to find the answer.

This makes me wonder if I am using this technology the way it was intended.  I haven't had my students master several different apps and they are not using the iBooks.  It's not that I don't want to use these things and I fully intend to integrate them into my class, but as of now I am finding myself using the i-Pads as a way for my students to respond and demonstrate their learning.

If you are an educator who is using i-Pads I would very much like to know how you are using them.  I would also like to know how much you are using the i-Pad to access the internet as compared to using apps, viewing video, or reading.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What the kids think - Quia

After using Quia for about a week in class I asked my students what they thought about this website.  I was interested in their responses for two reasons.  
  1. I wanted to know if they acutally like using the site.
  2. I wanted to know if I should approach my school administrator and ask him to purchase a subscription to the website.

My original post to the students

Earlier this week we started using a website called Quia to help review for the nine weeks test during warm up time.  I am very interested to see what you think about this site.  Think about the three different types of activities that we have used -
  • Cloze (fill in the blank)
  • Rags to Riches
  • Ordering (time-line). 
Of these three which helps you the most and which helps you the least?
As always write in complete sentences, and please don't just write "it's cool" or "I hate it," give me some reasons why you like or dislike it. 

Student  Response

I think that Cloze and the time-line helped me the most. I enjoyed using Quia to review. 

Student  Response

I hate it because it is boring.quia has no fun games and there is just games where you fill in the blank and numbering stuff. The most boring one is rags to riches. I like cookies better. 

Student  Response

 I liked the Quia app because it gives us something funnier to do then just reading etex and I think it's a better way to review then just reading over the notes. I liked the Rags to Riches and Fill in the Blank game the best and those are the ones I think helped me the most. 

Student Response  

That quia game was good me and my sister played it to help me study:)

Student Response

I like the games but ETEXT has cool pictures. I dnt care too much fer the paragraph thingymajig game it doent make sense toooo me g2g byeeeeeeeeeee'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :):):):):) 

Student Response 

I like it, I like it because it has helped me study and learn a lot more so. But the cloze has helped me a lot too!! I'm not a big fan of studying but quia makes it fun. rags to riches and the ordering thing has helped too but the cloze has helped me the most!!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Brain Pop

One of my favorite educational websites to use in class is called Brain Pop.  For those of you who don’t know what Brain pop is I’ll give you a quick synopsis - Brain Pop is a website that has animated videoclips starring Tim (a model student) and his robot Moby (comic relief).  Tim and Moby answer letters about different topics covering all subjects covered in most  public schools.  After each Brain Pop video clip there are several extra activities that allow teachers to check for understanding.  The one that I use the most is quiz section.
When I discovered that Brain Pop had developed an app that would allow students to access their movies on the i-Pad I was very excited.  Unfortunately my excitement was short lived when I discovered that Brain Pop was only offering their featured movie of the week.  When I use this website I use very specific videos that align with what I am teaching in class.  I also found that the actual Brain Pop site does not work on the i-Pad because it uses flash to play its movies.
Since Brain Pop has been a part of my class for a long time now giving it up was not an option.  What I needed to do was figure out a way incorporate the i-Pads into some aspect of the Brain Pop activity.  In order to do this I thought though the process that was gone through when I used Brain Pop in class.  
  1. I introduce and concept or topic (eg: communism)
  2. We watch the Brain Pop Video as a whole group (unless we are in the computer lab)
  3. We take the review quiz as a group using white boards and dry erase markers to answer the multiple choice questions (unless we are in the computer lab).
After thinking about the process and understanding that students would not be able to view the Brain Pop movies on the i-Pads like I had hoped my focus shifted from viewing the movies to the quiz section of Brain Pop.
Since my class would normally use an old technology consisting of white boards and dry erase markers.  I decided that I would move that technology out and bring in the i-Pads to take its place.  Looking for the appropriate app was very easy.  There are several white board style apps that are free in the app store.  The one that I decided on  is called Neon Pad.  Students write with their finger on a black background.  The colors are very bright (neon) and they go across the entire color spectrum.   When I read a question from the Brain Pop quiz students use neon to write down their multiple choice response.  Next I count down from 5 to 1 as the cue for students to hold up their answers.
This is not what I had originally envisioned when I first decided to use the i-Pads with Brain Pop activities in class.  A great deal of thought went into what looks like a simple activity.  As of now this is one of my students favorite activities to do in class with the i-Pads (see the post “what the kids think”).  It is still my hope that Brain Pop will create an app that allows students to use their entire site using the i-Pads, but until then I have an alternative way of using this website.


As I continue to use the i-Pads in my class I am constantly looking for different ways to make use of them.  While looking for new actives I started to think about lessons that I had done in the past using desktop computers in the computer lab.  One of the first things I tried was “Fling the Teacher” that is made by  I learned very quickly none of the games from this site worked on the i-Pads.  Not only was this disappointing, but it was frustrating as well.  The reason that these games do not work is because they require Flash.  In fact many of the  websites that I use in class and in the computer labs require flash as well.  I asked around to other colleagues and none of them knew of any way to get Flash or Java to work on the i-Pads.  When I asked my students (lets face it they know more about this stuff than any of us) the only solution they had was to jailbreak the i-Pads.  They were very disappointed to find out that this was not an option.
I didn’t give up on looking for websites that would allow me to create interactive games that my students could use with the i-Pads, but my options were looking very limited.  Then one day I got one of those blanket e mails that are sent out to all teachers regarding a website called Quia.  I had used some Quia games in the computer lab before and I knew they relied heavily on Java to make their activities (you cant really call them games) work.  Even with this knowledge I decided to e mail Quia and see if they had a solution to my i-Pad not working with Java.  The response I got was a little surprising.  It turns out that not all of the Quia activities rely on Java.  Some of the actives can be created using HTML code that works well with the i-Pads.
After a little more research on Quia products and trying out activities that have been made by other educators I decided to sign up for the 30 day free trial to see if it would be a good match for my classroom.  So far Quia is a success, but I am still disappointed that I can not use all of the actives  that the website has to offer.  Some of the games, and these can be called games, don’t work on the i-Pad because they rely on Flash.  I still haven’t decided if I should go to my administrators and ask for money for this yet, but overall most of Quia’s offerings do work well with the i-Pads.