Thursday, February 21, 2013

World Education Games

Literacy  Maths

Our school subscribes to Mathletics, an online math program.  March 5th is World Literacy Day and March 6th is World Math day.  This year there is even a World Science Day on March 7!  Students are encouraged to play as much as possible on these days to earn points.  

This year there are 3 apps available for the ipad to access these games.  Click here for the link to the apps.  Students can start practicing now with their Mathletics user id.  Since this is a WORLD event.... we actually get an extra day of play time because March 5th comes earlier in Australia!  

Download your free apps and get practicing.  Let's put our school at the top of the leader board!


Friday, February 15, 2013

Doodlecast Pro

Our school chose to celebrate 101 days of school this year instead of 100 Day.  We had a dalmation theme and the kids did all kinds of counting.  Now being the tech lover that I am, I named my pup techie, decorated my classroom door like a dog house and had the kids answer questions about 101 while I recorded their voice using Doodlecast Pro!

My original plan was to use Sonic Pics, but you could not add more photos once you started recording voice, so I quickly went in search of a new app!  Doodlecast Pro did the trick.  Now we certainly could have been MORE elaborate in our video, however, we were quickly rushing 30+ kids through the station with only 20 minutes available.  We sorted the kids by grade and then quickly snapped a photo of each of them... once they had been at the puppy ear station they looked adorable!  Next we opened up Doodlecast, inserted the picture and had them record their voice (I could eat 101 Smarties etc).  Once they were done speaking they went off to color a dalmation while the next person had a turn.  We inserted, recorded and moved on ALL AFTERNOON! 

Speaking is an essential part of the curriculum and it is difficult for so many kids to do.  This project certainly highlighted that, but also reinforced the need for technology and how kids can simply make their own creations.

Here's the grade one finished video...............

And here's the practice one I had done in my own classroom the day before.  We talked about our 100 Day posters.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Air Server

Last Friday I had another "ah ha" moment.  Why am I not using Air Server?  As I was sitting in the presentation about document cameras, we had the opportunity to share some of our favorite sites.  I'll be honest, I was a little unprepared for that part of the session.  I had focused all my energy on planning my own presentation for that day.  I thought surely there would be lots of others to share sites and I could get away without sharing.  No such luck.  We were a small group from a wide range of backgrounds and we did not have a lot of common teaching ground (music, home ec, junior high, grade one, resource etc).  When I realized this I began frantically searching my wiki for a favorite site or two that just might interest some of the crowd.  When it was my turn to share I offered to come up to the desk top and type in my sites.  It was then suggested "well just turn on the air server and share from your ipad."  Air server?  My ipad to your lcd?  Wirelessly?  Yup - it was true.  Our school purchased some licences for air server ( I am unclear on those details).  I do know our tech person had to install air server on the desk top hooked to the lcd.  From there, any device in that room could connect to the air server with nothing installed on the actual device.  How do you do it?  First you need air server installed on your computer, then..........
  • Double click your home button fairly quickly
  • When the bar of running apps appears at the bottom of the screen, swipe to the right with your finger to get it as far to the left as it will go.  You will see your volume controls, your music icon and and a little button that kind of looks like a pointing up arrow.
  • Tap the little button
  • This will open a screen of all the available computers with air server installed asking you which you want to connect to.  Our school has it set up by room number.  
  • I chose the room number and turned on the button that says allow mirroring
  • After about a 15 second delay my ipad took control of the desktop.  My home screen was mirrored on the desk top screen and on the lcd projector!  So cool!  
  • When I was done I clicked turn off mirroring and away it went!  My ipad was private again!  So COOL!  
So I tracked down the tech guy and had it installed in my room too!!!!!  And then I discovered I can mirror both my ipads at the exact same time if I want to.  Not sure why I would, but also a very cool feature!  I am sure as I learn and play I will discover so much more.  

Tip:  When it is mirrored on my screen if I click the view button and choose full screen it will make my ipad as large as my desk top screen (16:9). 

I found a you tube tutorial video in case you are interested.  There is also a 7 day free trial available!

And are you a tiny bit curious about the sites I shared?  Well I went for some art sites.  

Monday, February 4, 2013

Drop Box

Dropbox - Secure backup, sync and sharing made easy.
Do you Drop Box?  I personally don't know why I waited so long!  

I've wondered about it since September, but finally took the time to figure it all out on Friday!  Oh how it makes my life easier!  Gone is the memory stick I used to lug back and forth between home and school!  Gone is the carting of my laptop between home and school (this is only possible because we got new - fast desktops in our rooms!)  Gone is my ridiculous looking walk around the school as I search for a printer signal from my iphone to the printopia app on our secretaries computer!  

Now I can work where I want, save it to drop box and PRINT when I get to work where I have a printer!  Yay!!!  

What is it?  Well it's an app you can install on your ipad or iphone for free.  You also download the program onto any computers you want to use it with.  You do need to set up an account, which is basically your email and a password.  This gets you 2.5 GB of free space in your drop box.  You can then save "drop" your photos, pdf files, word documents and even mimio lesson files into the dropbox folder.  Once it's in the folder you can access anything in the folder from any device you have linked to your drop box!  You can also log in online and access your stuff from anywhere in the world as long as you have internet access!  

Drop box also has some cool features like share folders where you can collaborate and share files with others that you have invited into the drop box.  
I am excited to use it more and learn all of what it has to offer.  So far it has me impressed! 

Friday, February 1, 2013

My Ipad Presentation

I have been using and Ipad in my classroom for almost 2 years now.  I was asked to present to staff how I have incorporated ipads into my grade one classroom.  I wanted my session to focus on the projects that my first graders have done, it is not just about the apps.  The apps are a tool to achieve an outcome!  When I sat down to plan my presentation I wanted to make sure some basic ipad skills were taught as well.  And of course what would an ipad presentation be without sharing of apps!

What were my projects?

What skills did I teach?
  • Locking an app (guided access) - very cool if you have kids that like to wander off task
  • Moving apps in and out of folders
  • Renaming folders
  • Taking a screen shot
  • Opening pictures from camera roll within another app
  • Printing from the Ipad
  • Photo Streaming
  • Adding short cuts to the home screen
  • Searching for apps you know you have... but where?
  • Deleting apps and finding them in your purchased part of the app store to add them back later
What are my favorite apps?
  • All the ones I blog about of course!
Of course I asked them all to follow me here!  So welcome if you joined!  And I shared the site I follow to find amazing new apps!

And what is a presentation without getting a little personal?????  I shared my ihealth blood pressure monitor   and my Weigh Watchers app My Score Plus.  

So in a nutshell, that was it and it was fun.  I know a few left inspired, a few left itching to buy their own ipad and others left with the notion that "hey, maybe I can do that!"


Document Camera

Today was tech pd in our division.  This morning I was one of the presenters talking about ipads (I will share my presentation in another post).  This afternoon I learned about document cameras.  I happen to have one on "loan" in my classroom for the time being.  Many teachers in our school have them in their classrooms and our library has 5 (I believe) to borrow.

What inspired me to try a document camera?

Initially I wanted to scan some photos of my dad that were beautifully scrapbooked so that I could include them in my Shutterfly books I am creating for my children.  The first week I had it, I tried the scan option with no luck - my photos seemed to be of very poor quality once scanned.  Then it sat for a week or 2.  One day I got inspired to use it in a lesson.  I was literally "winging it" as it was a very last minute decision.  The lesson went well, but then when I wanted to capture my creation I realized I was in the wrong mode and could not take a picture of it.  I put it away again!  Finally today I learned the tricks and I think I am hooked!  

Our session went through all the bells and whistles of a document camera and basically explained all the features.    If you are familiar with a mimio board and its tool bar, then the document camera is very similar.  It was cool to see the record mode.  You can create videos of kids demonstrating a skill or of you teaching something, very cool.  The organization using folders is much like windows, so it's easy to use.  The scan option allows to to photograph items under the camera..... this is what I wanted to learn!!!!!  When I had the basics I went off to my room to "play"!

What did I discover...... I had been doing it right all those weeks ago! LOL! Scanning photos is a bit finicky!  If the lighting is not quite right, even excellent quality photos do not scan well.  That was my problem!  I had googled it weeks ago and it was recommended to scan under high florescent lighting with the document camera light off, but even that was not perfect.  Today I played just a little bit more and the trick to a good scan is moving the top of the camera lower so it is much closer to the picture.  The picture also needs to be perfectly flat.  (A little sticky tack helped!)  Even a slight bend catches and reflects that florescent lighting and puts glares on the photos.   I also discovered glossy prints do not scan nearly as well as matte.

Here is what it looked like when I was scanning.......

And here is what the camera normally looks like when it is not being used to scan photos.
In 30 minutes or less I scanned about 25 photos out of my albums or photos I had loose and even had them uploaded to my Shutterfly account.

I must admit I am a little worried about the resolution, they uploaded really quick which leads me to believe they might be a very small file size.  I'll let you know how that works out when I find time to make the books!

For now I am eager to plan some lessons using the document camera..... I am thinking some estimating might be a great start!