Sunday, April 29, 2012

Paperport Notes

If you like Type on PDF or Neu.Annotate, you are going to love Paperport Notes. It has the simplicity of Type on PDF with some of the freedoms of Neu.Annotate. This is a simple way you can save paper in the classroom and get yourself as well as your students comfortable using the iPad as a learning tool on a regular basis. You can create PDF files using Microsoft Word or there are also apps out there that allow you to take pictures of documents and create PDF files (DocScan.) This PDF editor is easy to use. I do have a basic instructional video (sorry for the poor quality) that you may view yourself or use in your classroom.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDtM0aGpqt0?rel=0&w=480&h=360]

Friday, April 27, 2012

Digital Citizenship

I was back to my old roots today; teaching fourth grade at Wayne Center Elementary. My old teaching partner, Mrs. Page, graciously lets me visit her classroom to throw any technology I want at her students. A few weeks ago I introduced Scribble Press to her class, and they loved it. They started making books about predictions in their text. They would write what was happening on one page, illustrate it, and then write their prediction on the next page. However, we never got to the part where they need to sign-up for a Scribble Press account to be able to publish their piece. I have found it to be easier to teach them how to use the app first then later have them get an account so that they are not twitching with boredom in their seat.

Before we even got to the point of putting in their personal information to get an account, I spent a lengthy time discussing what it means to be a digital citizen. We started with discussing what being a good citizen is. After some discussion, they came to the conclusion that being a citizen means to do things that will benefit everyone as a whole. Perfect! That is exactly what it means to be a good digital citizen. We talked about all the garbage that people put on the internet that really just wastes everyone's time. We talked about how irritating it is when someone litters on the ground, and it is the same when someone litters the internet. It is an annoyance to other people. I think the greatest example (and most relevant to them) is YouTube. There is some great stuff on YouTube that is worthwhile watching, but there is also an abundance of litter on it with pointless videos and reckless comments.

So...how does this all relate to Scribble Press? Scribble Press is a site where the students can upload their books for the whole world to see. I stressed how vital it is for them to be good digital citizens, and not litter their website. So before they post, they must ask for permission first.

It is ironic however, because the students as soon as the students were in, they were able to download books from people on Scribble Press. What did they find? Quite a bit of litter. Here is an example you could even use with your students to discuss being a good digital citizen

[caption id="attachment_731" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Angry Bird book on Scribble Press"][/caption]



I understand this example could have been a legitimate attempt for the child that created it (which is why I didn't include the direct link to the book), but generally the students understand that this book could be of better quality. It isn't even necessarily that bad of an example, but I think we have to show the students a book that is just substandard enough to communicate the expectation there needs to be when posting online.

I encourage any of you using apps that post materials to the Internet to have this discussion with your students. It will benefit everyone in the long run. It is never too early to discuss it with your students. The earlier they learn this lesson, the less likely they are to behave poorly online in the future.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Storylines for Schools

I am happy to announce that Storylines for Schools is now working on the East Noble Network. I posted about this app way back in February, but we had quite a few issues with it being blocked. If you would like to know more about it, my old post is found here.  Please make sure you download the Storylines for Schools version. There is a regular Storylines app that is for the public to play.

[caption id="attachment_58" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="Storylines is like playing telephone with sentences and pictures."]Storylines for Schools[/caption]

 

Britannica Kids: Rainforests

Britannica Kids has multiple quality apps on various topics spanning the subjects of science and social studies. At this moment, this app is a free one and worth your time. (Thanks, Julie Becker, for bringing it to my attention.) It has articles, vivid pictures with captions, and puzzles all relating to the rainforest. The contents will keep the students engaged as they learn about various plants, animals, and landforms of the rain-forests. What a great opportunity for students to explore our world!
(There is a spanish version available at the moment as well.)
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Math is Fun

Math is Fun is a great resource for students and teachers alike. It provides numerous tutorials on math concepts as well as interactive examples. (Most of the interactive tools do not work on iOS devices.) I came across this site because I was listening in on a lesson in a small group. There was some debate upon the different types of triangles (isosceles, scalene, equilateral, etc.). Not only did this site clarify the definitions of the triangles, but also provided interactive examples to change the degrees of the vertices and length of sides. Part of the reason I like this site is that it is pretty straightforward. There isn't the huge distraction of flashy games or advertisements.

One simple way you could use it is by sending the link to concept you would like the students to use as a reference tool. For example: Mrs. Sibert contacted me today asking for supplemental resources on fractions. I sent her the direct link to this page so that she could send it to her students as well. Now her students can create a homescreen button and refer to it throughout their fraction study.

[caption id="attachment_45" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Math is Fun offers a simple explanation on a wide range of mathematics concepts. It also provides a simple dictionary for math vocabulary."]Main Menu[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_46" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="An example of a concept explanation."]Examples[/caption]

 


[caption id="attachment_47" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="An example of an interactive tool. In this example, students drag coins over to match the dollar amount."]Interactive Tools[/caption]

Monday, April 23, 2012

Explorer: The American Museum of Natural History

Explorer: The American Museum of Natural History is a great iPod app for the purpose of touring the museum in New York City. Not all the features are available since the user is supposed to actually be inside the museum while it is in use. This mostly includes the mapping portion of the app. However, it will provide a great virtual tour for students with short snippets of facts about the exhibits. You as a teacher could create a questionnaire/scavenger hunt as the students visit different parts of the museum. It would be a fun way to take a field trip...without the worry of losing a student. You could still have parents come in as chaperones!

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Got Brainy



www.gotbrainy.com is a fun word site where you can upload pictures, choose a word from their list to match the picture, and write a sentence using that word. This is good that they have their own word list otherwise the risk of inappropriate material for school would increase. This site provides a great opportunity for students, as well as adults, to improve vocabulary in a fun interactive way. You also have the opportunity vote on the usage that others have posted as to whether or not they used the word correctly.



The main issue is that students need to create an account in order to contribute. For those of you that are in the elementary realm, this is a genuine concern and I do have some suggestions for you as to how you could use this site. (Also, it is because you cannot upload pictures to this site with an iPod/iPad.)

1. Have one account for the whole class and have students only post on your computer or only use it as a whole class activity. This will allow you to also ensure that the content that your students are submitting is under your approval. Maybe keep the word list available, have students look up the words, and think about pictures they could take to match the word prior to posting.

2. Only read examples and use it for voting purposes. It would a fun activity for the class or a group of students to make decisions as to whether or not the author is using the word correctly. This would eliminate the need for an account altogether.

3. Have students do a similar activity using an app like Doodle Buddy. Then the students could have a picture, vocabulary word, and the sentence matching the picture. This would avoid the issues of students having accounts, but yet they are still integrating technology into their vocabulary study.

SumDog



www.sumdog.com is a great website for math-fact practice. It takes math and puts it into a great interactive format because the games are fun, competitive, and many require strategy. Creating an account is free (which is what I will show you). Detailed reports require a paid membership. This site does work on the iPad, however, you must use the Rover app to use it because it is Flash-based. (As of 4/23/2012, Rover is not working on the East Noble network.)

First, you start out with creating a class and the students get a username and password. You do have the ability to adjust their passwords.

      

Once the students login, you will be able to see how many games they have played and questions they have answered. A paid membership will give detailed information as to what areas are their strengths and weaknesses.



Now about the games...

Your students compete against random students in a variety of interactive games. Some of them require strategy along with their ability to answer math problems quickly so students will not bore quickly.  Not only do the games force students to practice basic math facts, but apply those skills to more difficult math problems: Adding and subtracting larger numbers, decimals, fractions, doubling, halves, etc. The game below is called "Junk Pile." When the student chooses the correct answer, they get a random piece of junk. The aim of the game is to have the highest stack in the end. However, if you do not stack correctly, your pile may tip over, which effects your ability to win against your competition.

                   

How are your students enjoying Sumdog.com? Share a comment/reply and let the readers know how it is working for you.

 

 

Wonderopolis

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www.wonderopolis.org. If you have never checked this site out, please do not delay. This site is maintained by six educators that attempt to answer the questions that many students, as well as adults, wonder about on a daily basis. They have subjects categorized for ease of searching as well as numerized for each wonder that has been answered. It also provides the opportunity for dicussion and feedback with each posted wonder. (The feedback portion may require some lessons in regards to digital citizenship and cyberbullying.) The authors provide answers using a voice with which students can relate, and would be appropriate for all elementary readers. This site may prove useful for your students that are reluctant readers, or for researching needs. The best part of it all...it is free!

I will be adding this site to the East Noble Symbaloo pages so that your students will have access to them. Image

Explorer: The American Museum of Natural History

Explorer: The American Museum of Natural History is a great iPod app for the purpose of touring the museum in New York City. Not all the features are available since the user is supposed to actually be inside the museum while it is in use. This mostly includes the mapping portion of the app. However, it will provide a great virtual tour for students with short snippets of facts about the exhibits. You as a teacher could create a questionnaire/scavenger hunt as the students visit different parts of the museum. It would be a fun way to take a field trip...without the worry of losing a student. You could still have parents come in as chaperones!

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Friday, April 20, 2012

ISTEP

This week we have been consumed with getting the online practice ISTEP to work properly. We have been spending a lot of time uninstalling and reinstalling the program, attempting to communicate with the technology department on the issues, and working around our latest network changes. This includes not being able to access Google and iTunes which we use on a daily basis.
Many of you are wondering what the issues are, and Zack and I cannot really give you a straightforward answer. What I do know is that Rick has been working hard to reconfigure the new filter for our network. At some point in time, we will be better off than before.
We will continue to attempt to add materials to this website, but it will be a little more limited because we never really know when we will be able to access it. I also have found it to be helpful if I download a plethora of apps in the evening so that I can test them while the network is not cooperating with us.
Nevertheless, we will continue posting about apps and websites as we are able to gain access to them. I am confident that we will be able to assist you in getting these apps onto your devices in the future but cannot give you a definite timeline.
We also added a few new sections as an attempt to better suit your needs. The "Teacher Tools" section will cover apps or websites that may serve as a resource to you as a teacher. The "Special Education" section has not had a contribution added as of yet, but we will be looking for materials to add there. If you have any recommendations, feel free to contribute via email.
Lastly, if you have tried any of the apps that are posted here, tell us about them. We want to hear about it. (This is not limited to East Noble employees.) Feel free to click on the option to comment on any of the posts.

3D Brain

3D Brain gives students a glimpse of the complexity of their Brain. It features a fully rotational model along with descriptions of the various parts. The text reading level is pretty complex, however, the biologist in your classroom will be hooked.

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Geometry Pad

Geometry Pad would make a great app for students studying angles, triangles, and quadrilaterals. Students can make the angles and shapes, and also keep their work directly on the iPad. It does not have an export feature, but students could easily take a screen shot of their work and email it to their teacher if necessary.

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Google Translate

Google Translate is a language tool that is extremely relevant in today's classroom. Numerous times this tool could have been useful for me to communicate with parents and students of different nationalities. The great part is, you can also record your voice. However, it does not always accurately script your voice. I also had the opportunity to check with some Arabic speaking students to check the accuracy of the translation. According to them, it translated correctly. The iTunes version is linked on the title of this app, but you can also use the web-based version at translate.google.com.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cursive Writing

Cursive Writing is exactly what the title says. The free version has advertisements, but they do not seem inappropriate nor are they extremely distracting to the user. It is made for the iPod Touch, but of course it is still useable on the iPad. You may just need to double the screen size. It includes practice sessions for individual letters as well as full words. This could be a simple way for teachers to have students practice cursive and save paper at the same time.

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Chimani National Parks

Chimani National Parks provides a sneak peek into what our nations parks have to offer. Students can search by type, find out the historical significance, as well as view great pictures of our country. As you can see by the picture of the map below, there are quite a few parks this app reports on. This would be great for students studying the United States geography, geology, and history.


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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pic Collage

Pic Collage provides a quick and simple way for students to put together thoughts in the form of pictures and text. You can select pictures from the Internet, camera roll, or take a new picture. You can also place text anywhere on the collage. This app would work well for a quick, high-quality product that can be easily emailed to you as the teacher.

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National Geographic Today

National Geographic Today is a great app for science and social studies. It covers a variety of topics all over the world relating to nature, history, and discovery. The app includes frequently updated information organized by subject and when it was released. Contains vivid pictures with detailed captions, articles, and videos. A great app to check out.


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National Geographic Today

National Geographic Today is a great app for science and social studies. It covers a variety of topics all over the world relating to nature, history, and discovery. The app includes frequently updated information organized by subject and when it was released. Contains vivid pictures with detailed captions, articles, and videos. A great app to check out.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Building Titanic

Building Titanic is a great app if you are interested in the history of this legendary ship. You can use a timeline to guide your way from birth to sinking of the Titanic. Each stop on the timeline provides points along the ship that gives facts to read as well and real photos and videos.


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How Do You Like the New Look?

If you have not noticed, the blog got a "facelift." Yes, you are still in the same blog as before, just a different theme. You will also notice some different features that have been added.

This page will remain the main page. Here is where Zack and I will post from time to time to let you know what we are up to or even what other teachers are up to in the realm of EdTech in East Noble School Corporation.

Subjects/Categories:
At the top of the screen, you will notice different subject areas or categories if you wish.
In these locations, Zack and I will post about apps for the iPod, iPad, and websites that we come across. We are hoping that this will be a resource that you will be able to use on a regular basis. Originally, Zack and I were creating a Google Document that had it all in a spreadsheet type form. We decided to abandon it for a couple reasons: 1. It was too cumbersome to navigate through. 2. It was hard to tell when updates were placed into it and unorganized. So we are attempting to use the blog route thinking it would be better to give reviews of apps or websites in smaller bits rather than pumping large amounts of data into a spreadsheet.

RSS Feeds:
You will also notice on the right-hand side, there is an RSS feed for each of those pages.

The idea is that it will show you the newest post that has been placed on that site. It will be an easier way for you to tell if the subject area has been updated. If you want to see the full page, just click on the subject area.

Twitter Feeds:
Also on the right-hand side there are mine and Zack's Twitter feeds. We frequently use Twitter to communicate articles or other ways to grow as a professional in the EdTech realm. Typically, you just need to click on the links we provide to access these materials. You do not need a Twitter account to access them. This is one way you could stay connected without having a Twitter account.

Email Notification:
To stay in touch, there is also the option to be contacted via email. This will ensure that you receive notification anytime this blogpage has been updated. However, it does not notify you if something has been updated in one of the subject areas. Those areas you will need to check regularly yourself.

iPod/iPad/Website Categories:
Lastly, each subject area linked above will have the blog posts categorized according to whether it is for the iPod, iPad, or a website. The example below is from the "Language" link:
There you can see that the reader can click on either iPod or iPad to see which device it will match to. This will sort all the posts according to what you want to see. Right now, we do not have a lot posted so there is not much to sort. In the future, this feature will be much more useful.

Your Input is Necessary:
Lastly, I want to encourage all of you to treat these blog posts as your own. Please feel free to add comments, advice, or suggestions on any of the materials Zack and I post. Under every post (or at the top of this one it says "reply") there should be the option to add comments (If it is not there, please let me know). We need you to tell us how it went in the classroom. We need you to tell us how to better organize the implementation of these materials. We need you to throw out alternatives to the apps or websites we list that you think are equally, if not more, effective. The big point I am trying to drive here is...WE NEED YOU. Otherwise we are just a couple of guys sitting behind a computer screen thinking all this great stuff we find is the best the internet has to offer. Let's build a community here. Let's build some discussion.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Totes M' Notes

Totes m' Notes is a great way to get away from paper and pencil note taking. You could really use this in any subject area, but I placed in in language because of how some of our teachers in East Noble have been using it. You may want to contact Angie Sibert and Andrea Everage if you have questions about the implementation of this app. They have been using it for a reader's notebook and word study folder.
The whole idea is that you have virtual folders that the students are able to design (yes, it has stickers). Then the students can keep track of notes based upon those folders. It even time stamps and dates the last time the paper was edited. You have a choice of lined, grid, or blank paper to meet various subject areas. You also have a marker, pen, pencil, and a word processor for the actual note taking.
When the students are finished, you can have them email the paper to you. It comes in the form of a PDF so that you could grade it in Type on PDF or neu.annotate. (There are various PDF writing apps.) When you are finished grading, you could email it right back to them. Otherwise, you could use it strictly as a note taking tool.

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