Monday, February 25, 2013

1 iPad? Seriously? What can I do with 1 iPad?

1 iPad? Seriously? What can I do with 1 iPad?

I run into this question sometimes when working with groups or individuals with the iPad. Some schools choose to pilot the iPad by starting with the teacher getting a device and going from there. I'm ok with that method. For some, that may be the toe dipping into the water method, and it may work for them.

Honestly, I'm a jump right into the pool. (Or, push one of your best friends into the pool with an iPhone in his pocket. Ha! @glarizza) I love to explore with the pressure added. Not everyone likes that method.

And, there is a large population of educators that would probably go for the in between method. Give them a teacher iPad and a supporting cast of 5-10 iPads, and they would be thrilled!

Regardless of what we want and are most comfortable with, some times the decisions are made without us. That being said...this post is thinking of the iPad as 1 device only. Even though I have a class set, many times I will narrow down the use to 1 or a group of 5. There is SO much you can do in these environments to bump up the engagement

This chart shows apps that I have used and can recommend for a variety of grade levels/content. I identify my thought with ways to use as well. Honestly, you could shift these apps around based on your needs, creativity, and student population!

Also, these are a couple of suggestions before rolling out any apps...

  • Test out the app yourself, then with a student or two. If the app passes your test, and the student gives it a thumbs up, it usually is a winner.
  • Have a way to share your iPad screen...whatever works for you. Reflector Software on your computer (hooked up to your projector), Apple TV, or a VGA cord. (There are more ways. These are the 3 that I can attest to.)
  • Be OK deleting an app. You will come across a variety of apps that are CRAPTASTIC. They look like they will be good. You may even think that they will be good. But, they fail. Period. Delete.
  • Start with your content or goal. Don't use an app just for the sake of using it. Even if it comes highly recommended, it may not be what you, your content, and your student need.
  • When using an app with students, THINK ALOUD. Model problem solving and thought process. Trust me...just like modeling solid reading skills, students need to see modeling of thinking skills and technology problem solving. It will pay off later!
Ok...enough. Now, how do you use 1 iPad?

Camera- Document, document, document. You will probably use those pics and videos later! Your class will make books, videos, and cartoon strips together. And, there is nothing more engaging than using your own image in a creative piece!

Photo library/Albums- I love using the album feature on my iPad. Whenever I am gearing up for a new content, I save images from google into my photos. Then, I build albums to use for discussion points, warm ups, projects, and review. Right now we are covering, those albums are made. I also have pictures of warm up and cool questions to use.

iBooks- Read aloud anyone? You can even model reading/thinking skills by adding notes and highlighting.

So far, these are all apps that are pre-loaded. Now, here are a handfull that I can see teachers walking around the classroom using, handing off to a student, having a single student use, and having small groups explore.

iMovie- The mileage that you will get off of a $5 app is amazing. The quality and ease of use is unbelievable. Videos can be shared many different ways, and the review potential with those videos is powerful! There are many tutorials available, but just diving in is pretty cool, too. I would model this one as a whole class activity and problem solve and think aloud together. When you want students to become the "independent film maker", the problem solving you did earlier will resonate!

ScribblePress or CreativeBookBuilder- Both apps will get you into book building. It just depends what level you are interested in. Scribble press is primarily picture and text. Very solid app. Lots of choices, not overwhelming though. Creative Book Builder allows the creator to add video, URL links, and audio clips to the pictures and text. Both apps allow for sharing and later review. I love reviewing our content with our books in iBooks, and the students do too! FYI- When we build books...we PREWRITE. I want the best work my students can do, and prewriting is an integral part of the process. So, passing out a template for prewriting is a scaffold that I provide. We also build a book together, then they work in teams, then independently...scaffold! (Both apps are around $5.)

MentalCase- Starting off class with a review of content vocabulary, famous faces, key concepts, or ANYTHING is pretty powerful. And, this is a flashcard app that goes beyond the norm. By having student voices and drawings/pictures with each card, you automatically engage the student even more. Building the cards can occur by passing around the iPad or using in a center. Sharing the cards can happen on the big screen. And, you can build suitcases for the specific content. This screen shot shows you the cards we are working on...electricity. The students used my iPad to take pics and use web pics to add. They recorded their voices reading the prompts and definitions. Pretty cool review the next day! Class edition is FREE!

Educreations- This is my recordable white board of choice...for now. ;) I use this app to record lessons, while streaming to the projector (for review and absent students). I ask students to record ideas (preassess, assess). This is a great app for sharing ideas, and students LOVE to hear their voices! The ability to change colors is huge for student comprehension. You need to set up an account. But, this is great for later storage. I also model the use of this app and require PREWRITING! FREE!

iTalk Recorder Premium- At $2, I have definitely gotten mileage out of this app. I love to use it for recording student answers, recording myself reading a passage for the students, and recording group work sessions with students. The ability to email and drop into dropbox is nice, too. I can easily drop the reading passing file into dropbox for any student that needs a little audio support. Or, I can email a student recording for a test to myself for later review. Sweet!

Popplet- An oldie, but goodie! I love the way you can use this app to brainstorm in a whole class session, one on one with a student, or in small groups. Using color, pictures, and text, you can map out a ton of great ideas! Very easy to use AND versatile! I use this app when creating my lesson plans to think through all my resources and content. You can share as a PDF or image file to your photo library...or email. Love it! $5

So, for $17 (ish), you have a suite of apps that can be used with the whole class, small groups, one-on-one, and just passing the iPad around. Pretty good! Remember when software was far beyond that for 1 program. YIKES! Now, you have all these wonderful ways to engage students. With use, familiarity will grow. Soon, you will be roaming the room with the iPad flipping in and out of apps...rotating uses and students, and you will be amazed at the productivity. (Doesn't happen immediately. Just like anything worth doing, it takes a little practice.)

So, final thought...
There are a ton of app lists out there. I have several roaming around! It really goes back to how YOU, YOUR STUDENTS, and YOUR CONTENT fit. Maybe cartoons or cartoon strip making is more your stride. There are wicked cool apps for that, including Toontastic and StripDesigner. Maybe music is your area...Garage Band. Period. And, the number of really good games for skill acquisition is growing exponentially. So, start somewhere. Find your fit.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Possibilities with AR

Ever since using NASA's Spacecraft 3D app in the classroom to enhance our exploration of space vehicles, I've been a little obsessed with the possibilities of augmented reality apps! From this video, you can see why...

The kids loved the app. We placed the marker code all over the place and had great conversations about how NASA's exploratory vehicles have progressed. Students were excited and wanted to show the app off to EVERYONE, and it has had my wheels spinning since! 

I know that there is a ton going on out there for augmented reality, and I'm sure that I'm a little late to the boat. But, I also had a great experience with Paul Hamilton's Science AR app to explore the water cycle.

So, where do I go from here?

Wikipedia starts with, "Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data."

I can do that, right? 

After reading Steve Clark's post about Aurasma's app at, I decided to try it out today (at a very low level). I created my own quick activity using a print out of 10 Electrical Safety concerns. I knew that my students would be working with that content on Friday, and I wanted to roll out the app to them to see what ideas they would later generate with different content. 

So, these were my steps using Aurasma App:

  1. Download the app.
  2. Play by creating a goofy video with my daughter. (I always start off playing with the app with kids. They have a 6th sense when apps are winners. Needless to say, Jay and I loved it!)
  3. Print out the site that I was going to be working with to explore electrical safety.
  4. Add a little monster sticker in the corner.

Then, create a video entry of myself reminding students about how dangerous electricity it and link it to the monster sticker with the app. 

Finally, add some fun animations to match the pictures...

(Imagine fire shooting up from the crowded plugs. Pretty cool, right! And, accurate.)

(This animation has electrical current coming from the side of the page.)

You can see that my first run through with the app was not incredibly complicated. It is basically a reading passage with cool animations. While it may help students remember the content a little better with the visuals, I know that there are many more possibilites. But, I'm pretty excited to try it with students tomorrow!

I think the true fun is going to occur when students dive into creating their own cool content with the app. They can create their own AR products using the science that they are learning. The work could be embedded into
"}\ their science notebook, and it could be accessed through the app by other students and me (for fun assessment).

Can you imagine? In other content areas, you could work this into writing pieces with fun images and videos pop up out of a poem or writing prompt to add to the mood. You could have students create really cool multi-tiered time lines in social studies. You could have students create a set of instructions with markers spread throughout the work. And, I'm sure a math teacher could have a fun way to integrate this into word problems!

I just think we have some really cool opportunities coming up in education...get ready, get set, explore!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to work with a phenomenal staff at Rock Academy in San Diego, CA. The teachers were SO excited to find ways to implement their newest tech acquisition, an iPad! Sweet!

Being such a diverse group and having just the one iPad in the room, the day soon became a VERY personalized training. We brainstormed ways that each and every teacher could use the iPad, like:

  • Using the camera mirrored to the projector as a document camera and to show student group work instantly.
  • Using the slide show function with albums to show content specific images to activate prior knowledge, intro or conclude an activity
  • Using Speak Selection text function for websites and iBooks for the emerging reader. (And, those teachers that lose their voices! Ha ha!)
  • Using the Reader function to help with distractions on web pages.
  • Navigating the App Store.
  • The power in connecting with Twitter!
  • And, apps that each teacher could utilize for whole group, small group, one on one instruction-
    • Clock App
    • Mental Case
    • iBooks
    • iMovie
    • Educreations and ShowMe
    • Popplet
    • My Whiteboard
    • Scribble Press and Creative Book Builder
    • Voice Thread or PixNTell
    • and more...
Teachers were also just given time to explore, network with each other, and share in an App Smack Down. The individual teacher could mirror to the projector through my computer and the Reflector Software. This was excellent practice for using that slick device in the classroom.

But, enough about the day...

Let me share my main message-

Utilize your iPad to solve problems. Start your implementation by addressing those areas that you want to better in your classroom. Go with the mentality that the iPad isn't being forced into your lesson. It is being utilized to compliment the great work that you are already doing, AND it can be an amazing problem solving tool in your toolbelt!

For example, do you want a more interactive way to solve math problems? Pass that bad boy around and let students use the app My Whiteboard and change colors as they work through the problem. Or, allow students to record the HOW behind their problem solving with an app like Educreations. Do you think this would bump up engagement?

Or, do your students struggle with some content vocabulary? Utilize the Mental Case app and have students record their voices and pictures after inserting the word and definition. THEN, jump start class with a quick review...using their voices!

Or, want an alternative assessment? Try out VoiceThread out!

Need to give your students (and yourself) a guideline on time? The clock app is there for use!

The list goes on.

While the teachers were exploring the apps, I heard some great conversations!
  • "So, you know (insert student name)...this app is perfect for helping them with language support."
  • "I just found this app for solving your cursive writing problem! Check it out."
  • "Just found a way to bump up the engagement level on memorizing countries. This is definitely going in a station!"
  • "What do you think about using this app for creating cartoon strips?"
Teachers were just diving in! They were critically examining their classroom, students, and needs. And, they were solving problems! I stressed the importance of taking the one iPad and making it a community iPad. Passing that device around is key!