Tuesday, May 28, 2013

iPad Housecleaning End of Year

The end of the school year is upon us. 1:1 iPad classrooms should think about housecleaning student iPads. It is much easier for teachers to have students take care of this task. Plus students will want to keep their digital work that was not already saved in accounts. There is always the option to wipe the iPads back to factory settings, but some teachers may want some content to remain on the iPads and wiping them could make saving complicated depending on how you have your iPads set up. Whether a teacher decides to take the iPads back to factory settings or to pick and choose what is removed, students should store their work in their digital portfolios.

Photos and Videos

Two great places for students to store photo and video projects like Popplet, Pic Stich, Graphs, Splice, screen shots of work, etc. are the student's Evernote and Google Drive accounts. However, Evernote will not store the videos.  After students upload their work to their Evernote or Google Drive accounts, they can then delete all photos and videos from their iPad. Cleaning task number one complete!

ScribblePress Books

There are a variety of ways to share and store ScribblePress Books. I have included photographs to
help explain some of the sharing and storing options. You will need to have a ScribblePress account in order to share or save. I suggest creating one account with a student friendly password and all students can use the one account. After students save their creations, let them know that they can open up their work with any device that has software for opening epubs. It may be helpful to demonstrate. This is also a great way for students to share their work with each other during the school year. Another option is to email the link to students' parents. Once parents receive the email, they can choose to download the book as an epub or a pdf.

StoryKit Books

StoryKit books do not have as many options for sharing or saving. I came up with a way to get the book into Evernote, but students will need access to a computer as well as their iPad. First, have the students click share and email the book to their teacher. Then the teacher can forward the email to their students. (If students can receive email from outside domain addresses then have students email the book to themselves.) If students do not have an email account, then you will want to work with one student at a time using your own email account. Then students will need to log into their email account to get the link to their book and click the link. Next students should use Evernote Web Clipper to add the books to their Evernote account.

Signing Out Of Accounts

When students use iPads from a cart, it is protocol to sign out of all accounts used during a session before iPads are put back on a cart, however in 1:1 classrooms it has been a luxury to set up student email accounts and leave all accounts signed into for quick use any time. Make sure students delete their email account and log out of all other accounts like Educreations, Evernote, Kidblog, etc. before the end of the school year.


If you are not going to restore iPads back to factory settings you may also want students to clear history and all of the tabs that have accumulated in Safari. I have seen some student iPads with over 20 tabs open in Safari.

Educreations or ShowMe

In Educreations students can copy the embed code or lesson link and paste it on a note in Evernote or Google Drive. In ShowMe it is slightly more work, but can be done. Click Open in Safari, Select all of the address and copy it, then paste in a Google Drive or Evernote note.

All Pic Tutorials Created using Skitch

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sharing the Great Events in Your Classroom

Sometimes technology can be used for the simple things like reporting out what is happening in the classroom, school, or district. It is a great way to keep family informed about what their children are doing while at school. Often parents appreciate the effort because many people work long hours and can not volunteer or visit the classroom on special occasions. To give parents a glimpse of what their child is doing can go a long way in building positive relationships with parents and guardians. It also is a great way for grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. that live a distance to feel a part of their relatives' education and lives. I have received many email thank you messages from relatives and when I run into people in public they often mention how great it was to see this event or that event.

It is fairly easy to upload a video to sites like Vimeo, YouTube, SchoolTube, TeacherTube, etc. and then embed the video on a blog, website, or wiki. Once your site is established and added to regularly, your students' family will visit the site often. If you want to spend a tad longer, you could use iMovie, other software, or an app to add a title, effects, and credits to polish up the video a bit. No matter how simple or elaborate your video is, it will be a wonderful addition to your communication with parents. Our district has parents sign a form at the beginning of the school year giving rights to post student work and pictures. Make sure that you have permission from each parent/guardian before uploading your videos.

This short video is an example of something really cool that was happening at one of the schools that I work at. Most likely parents would have not known that a local celebrity singer visited the school during lunch time and sang with students. I thought it would be good for parents to know about it so I took some footage using an iPod Touch, pieced it together in iMovie, and then it was embedded on the school's website, plus it will be on our district's television station. Share, share, share! Parents love it.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

StoryKit and Scribble Press Apps Enhancing Literacy

There is more to book creation apps than just writing books. Students can use the apps to create fictional stories, but beyond that students can create math stories, research reports, tutorials, and much much more. Students can also share their work in a variety of formats and read other students' work, therefore creating an authentic audience. Two wonderful apps for creating books on iPads are StoryKit (free) and Scribble Press (no longer free). Both apps have some really great features.

StoryKit has been around for a very long time. I originally used it with my students on iPod Touches before there was even such a thing as an iPad. The app has never been updated and that could be a good thing. If you want to purchase the app while using an iPad, you need to make sure that you click on iPhone when looking it up in the store. It is also good to know that apps purchased as iPhone apps will not be pushed to all iPads under one Apple ID like it normally can be done for iPad apps. (If you did not know about this setting, go to iPad settings>iTunes & App Stores>Automatic Downloads> turn Apps to on) This feature really is a timesaver!

Monday, May 13, 2013

End of the School Year Project

Let's Celebrate and Reflect!

I would like to recognize my final second grade class before I took on a new role in my school district. I have been able to be their technology integrator for the last three years after being their second grade teacher. It has been wonderful to be a part of their growth during four years of their educational experience. Next year those students will be attending the middle school and I will certainly miss them. As a tribute I remixed a video I created with my second grade students three years ago. Back then I was using an older version of iMovie and the video did not come out very good... Once it was rendered for uploading to YouTube the faces were washed away. Check out the technology from three years ago! Now our classrooms are full of iPads!!!

What We Did

I also would like to mention what we did as a class to create this project because it was a very enjoyable end of year experience for all of us and it may be something you would like to do with your students. First, I had all of my students reflect on what they learned during their second grade experience and write down everything they remembered learning. Some of the students had a very long list. That made me feel good about my accomplishments and theirs. Then I had students suggest their favorites and as a class we tallied how many students had that same learning experience on their own lists. Using their math skills, the students figured out what the top 20ish were. Next, I recorded students talking about or acting out each of the top learning experiences. I then put all of the clips together into an iMovie. Lastly, we invited parents in for an end of the year slideshow and as a finale we watched the short movie. I also posted the video on my blog for family and friends that could not visit the classroom on the day that we celebrated the end of second grade. For those of you unfamiliar with iMovie, here is a link to a quick video created by astonishing12 on YouTube.

What You Could Do

  • For teachers who have access to more than one recording device, you could have students shoot their own footage and then together make the final cut video. 
  • Students could look through all of their digital files on their iPads or laptops and find their favorites for a final video. This can go hand in hand with students making sure that everything that they want to save has been moved to their Google account, Evernote account, or other form of digital storage.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Educreations Deserves a Big Thumbs Up

The Educreations app keeps getting better and better with each update! One of the biggest problems my students had with Educreations was... they would set up their project with excellent slides and then they would start recording and make a mistake with what they said, or an announcement would blare over the intercom, or a teacher had to say something out loud to the whole class, or students accidentally started recording when they had not planned on recording. Then disappointed students would have to delete their whole project and start over. With the latest update an eraser has been added to the available tools so that users can delete their recording with the rest of their project left untouched. The eraser will also clear an entire page rather than having to click the undo option several times or the user can clear just the ink and leave any pictures that were imported. Another wonderful new feature of Educreations is the ability to sign in with a Google account. Many schools have gone the Google Apps for Education route. For students, this is an awesome feature because there are so many great iPad apps or 2.0 tools that require an account. Students and/or educators are having to create a gazillion accounts, ok, not that many, but definitely more than they can keep track of. This will mean one less account for students and teachers who have a Google account.

Wish list for the next update... If the lovely developers of Educreations were to add a laser pointer and the ability to export an Educreations to the iPad's photo gallery, this app would be one of the most useful apps for a classroom. The laser pointer would be helpful for students who are using Educreations for fluency practice and reflection and exporting to the photo gallery would allow for easier sharing on blogs, websites and wikis. As of right now Educreations does supply an embed code, but when an Educreations is embedded onto a web presence the Educreation can not be viewed right from the blog, wiki, or website. Instead readers have to be redirected to the app for viewing. This feature would also allow the user to use an Educreations within other applications like Splice or iMovie. It would be very nice to take Educreations a step further and be able to use it in a work flow from one app to another.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Tar Heel Reader to Create On-line Books

Tar Heel Reader is a simple book creating and sharing website that can be used on computers as well as iPads. I used Tar Heel Reader with a lot of my K-3 classes on computers before our district was blessed with iPads. The site had kind of disappeared from my radar this school year until one of my third grade students emailed me a couple weeks ago during school vacation and asked for a user name and password so that she could create a book on Tar Heel Reader. First thought... I loved the fact that she wanted to create a book during school vacation and second thought... I wondered if Tar Heel Reader is compatible with iPads. So, I responded to my student with the information she requested and asked her to try it out for me on an iPad, but I was too curious to wait so I tried it myself and to my amazement, Tar Heel Reader worked wonderfully on my iPad. I could search pictures, upload my own photos from my gallery, and type my story. Completed stories can be read silently or out loud by using a computer generated voice. Published books can be downloaded as a PowerPoint or an EPUB to be read in iBooks on an iPad. I also noticed that a published book can be opened or saved in other apps like Evernote, Schoology, Edmodo, Google Drive, Showbie and Dropbox. When I opened a completed book in Edmodo the file was uploaded to my backpack. From there it can be attached to an assignment or shared with the class through a post. I am assuming all of the other apps that the Tar Heel book can be opened in will work just as smoothly as it did with Edmodo.

There are many many many possibilities to be discovered with Tar Heel Reader plus the added benefit of projects being stored in the cloud! Students can work on their creations from any device with access to the internet. I used Educreations, Screencast-O-Matic and iMovie to create the short video included in this article. The clip demonstrates some of the Tar Heel Reader features and a student example.