Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Interview with a 7th Grader

Vinny, 7th grade
Favorite food: Nutella
Favorite class: language arts

Question: What's your favorite app to use in school?
Usually when I'm studying I use a flash card app to study vocabulary. It not only saves paper and trees, but it's easier and efficient.

Question: What are the benefits for using technology in school every day?
In 2014, more and more technology is being used for many different things.  From using a Skype app to talk to your boss or going on to google docs to work on a project. Most jobs use iPads and if we learn how to use them like that in school, it will benefit us later on.

Question: What are some things you would like to do if you had your own school iPad?
Not only could I work on homework, a teacher could send a google document to everyone and they could look at their iPad.  

Friday, April 25, 2014

Photo Apps for Families

Check out some of these awesome photo apps that you can use with your family!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Coach McDaniel Dreams of 1:1

Michael McDaniel, 6th grade Social Studies teacher and coach, shared the following:

My GT learners recently learned about the Middle Passage of the Atlantic Slave Trade.  Studying the history and economics of slavery, they created sensory figures as they imagined the life of a slave.  They also created diagrams of the Triangular Trade between Europe, Africa, and the Americas to show the economics of slavery.

The activity itself could be improved through the use of technology by allowing a sensory figure and the diagram to be created on an app that has more options for those students who don't like to draw.  But the real benefit of 1:1 would be the apps that allowed the students to share their work to create a more comprehensive understanding of slavery.  For example: The students could each pick a part of the slave's experience and create a Google Drawing for their section of the story (slave ship, plantation work, slave market, etc.) and combine them into a single collaborative piece with that could then be shared with non-GT students who could use the mapping function of Meograph to see the slave character's journey.  Using Shadowpuppet, the non-GT learners could narrate over the Meograph and explain where each sensory figure is in the Atlantic Slave Trade process.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Managing Distractibility in the Classroom

The following presentation is from one of our recent parent workshops.  

First, managing distractions in the classroom is not new and technology is just a different type of a distraction.  Teachers have always had to have plan to address the distractions through different methods regardless of the technology.  We polled a handful of teachers and they shared some of these strategies that are specific to technology and device use in the classroom.

  • Establishing procedures - educators begin the process of establishing expectations, class norms, and procedures from the moment that learners enter their classroom for the first time.  This is fundamental to good classroom management.
  • The stoplight - Two different examples of device stoplights are given here.  Many times we, as educators, know when we are transitioning between different segments of the lesson and know our own expectations of learners within those different segments.  The stoplight helps us to communicate to learners what type of personal device management is expected of them during various activities.
  • Active monitoring & engaging lesson design - By pairing an engaging lesson design with active monitoring, learners are more likely to stay involved in their learning and less likely to be distracted.
  • "Apples up" or "pac-man your mac" - These are both ways that educators communicate with learners that they need to focus their attention on the teacher instead of their device for the moment.  By flipping the iPad over or lower the screen on the mac, classwork can be briefly paused without losing any information or connection.
  • In plain sight - one of the best management techniques for personal technology, such as learners' cell phones is to ask them to put it on their desk each day during class.  With the device out in the open, it is less likely that learners will attempt to sneak in a text or two and if they do grab their phone (assuming it is not a time for personal technology use) it will be obvious to the educator.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Apps for Managing Chores

There are several recommended apps for chore management - some that will make chore tracking FUN for your kids!

Check out this site to learn about 5 different apps that offer different features like earning stars to cash in for rewards or "leveling-up" (video game style).

These apps are not all free.  There are free chore apps available in the iTunes store.  This list was selected because the rating of each app in the iTunes store is high.

If you try one out and love it, please leave a comment below to let other parents know what has worked for you and your family :)

5 iOS Apps that Make Chores Fun

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mrs. Hawkins and Ms. McMeen Dream of 1:1

Donna Hawkins and Kristen McMeen, 6th grade Math teachers, shared the following:

During a one-to-one pilot for 6th grade standard math we were able to see our learners grow and deepen their understanding in unexpected ways. A snapshot of one class period with one-to-one technology shows our learners engaged in experiences that allow them to research information, generate new ideas, collaborate with peers, and use critical thinking skills.

In a recent lesson, students traveled around the room and worked in partners to write inequalities from given situations. For instance, "A child must be over 3 ft. tall to ride the roller coaster." Learners used an interactive whiteboard application, Baiboard, to show that this is written x > 3 in mathematics. Using this application partner pairs can see each other's work, discuss their answers, and get instant feedback from their teachers before they move on. We were able to instantly see if our students had any misconceptions and get them back on the right track. Our learners then created their own inequality situations, which they posted to the educational platform Edmodo. Students interacted by solving each other's problems in the comments section of their posts.

Throughout the one-to-one technology pilot our learners kept track of their progress by using the application Blogger. We posted screenshots of their work and wrote short entries about their understanding of the material. As educators, we were able to decide if our learners were able to move on the next day or if we needed to slow down our instruction for their benefit. We shared blog links with our learners' parents so that they could easily keep track of our progress.

We feel that the use of technology as a tool in our classroom allowed for our students to be innovative and helped prepare them for a future that is sure to require untold amounts of technological skills. We were able to better understand what our students truly knew and identify when additional instruction was necessary. The one-to-one technology pilot showed us that the sky is the limit for our learners.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Perspective of an 8th Grade Learner

Marc, 8th grade
Favorite food: Chicken nuggets
Favorite class: geometry

Question: How could you see yourself using iPads in school if we were to go 1:1?
I could see myself taking notes or filming the lesson. Researching for a project, playing games or reading. 

Question: What's your favorite app to use in school?
Educreations, Edmodo, iMovie, Google Drive, QR Scanner

Question: What are the benefits of using technology in school everyday?
The benefits of technology are for researching and creating projects. Sharing work and working together. Its really organized. It makes grading really easy for teachers as well. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New Technology Misuse Plan

We listen to you!  One thing we have been hearing is that learners that are misusing their technology are not being held accountable.  We have worked with all educators and educators and our leadership team to develop our new technology misuse plan.  We are currently planning an implementation pilot before a complete implementation next school year.

Friday, April 11, 2014


SymbalooEDU is both a web tool and an app.  You can put all of your most used sites in one place for quick access.  You can even set the page you create as your homepage in your browser so that every time you go to the Internet, your most commonly used sites are right there at your fingertips.

We asked Brittany Reese, our local theatre teacher and Symbaloo advocate why she loves Symbaloo.  Here is what she said...

"The Need for Symbaloo - As a working mom, I always feel like I am juggling a million things.  One of the most difficult areas for me is keeping up with the technology websites for myself, a teacher, and my two elementary-aged children.  Check the portal, do RAZ Kids,  IXL, PebbleGo, Super Hyper Spider Typer, Fun Brain, Math Lingo, Funschool, and Edmodo, just to name a few.  How can any one person remember all of this?  The answer- Symbaloo!  Symbaloo is a organizational home page that has links to all the websites you need.  Add a site once, and then every time you open the internet, Symbaloo has it right there!  No more searching for links!  No more juggling technology!  This technology application  changed my life for the better!"

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mrs. Randall Dreams of 1:1

Marsha Randall, 7th grade Language Arts teacher, shared the following:

We recently completed a Hero's Journey group project. In groups, the students were creating a digital portfolio that contained one activity completed by each member, plus an activity completed as a group, so a minimum of 5 activities total. We were only able to get hold of the library Macs occasionally, and even then, we were sharing with another class. Each class had about 10-13 Macs, which meant that each group had 1 or 2. Students were having to look over each other's shoulders to collaborate on the portfolio and to check one another's work on individual activities.

If we were a 1:1 school, students could have been on the site for the portfolio and the activities at the same time, completing, collaborating on and correcting the work as a group, instead of individually on one or two devices. Students were frustrated at only having a few devices, and I was frustrated having to keep track of who had which device when and whose turn it was to have more than one device.  Students would also have the ability to work at home on their own device, instead of having to share with family members, who might also have work to do.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Perspective of a 6th Grade Learner

Anna, 6th grade
Favorite food: corn
Favorite class: math

Question: How could you see yourself using iPads in school if we were to go 1: 1?
"I would love to use iPads 1 to 1 because we could access Edmodo, and Safari all the time for research and to see what we need for homework. 

Question: What's your favorite app to use in school?
"My favorite app to use for learning purposes is Educreations. I like how you can video your work and if you forget it, go back and watch it."

Question: What are the benefits of using technology in school everyday?
Some benefits are that you don't have to worry about losing or ruining homework done on paper. With technology you can save it to your drive. 

Question: What are some things you would like to do it you had your own school iPad?
I would like to add apps that could help me with my research and classes. It would be easier than going to safari, or even using research books. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Trello - Get organized!

Trello is both a website and an app (iOS & Android) that will allow your to get organized - collaboratively!

Read one dad's account of his family uses Trello stay organized by clicking here.

Want a cool idea for using Trello?  Sign up each member of your family with a Trello account. Then you can assign task "cards" to any member and see their progress or their notes!  Each member can have personal to-do boards as well as share boards with their whole family.

Visit the site.

Take a tour of Trello to learn about all the features.

Get the iOS app here.

Get the Android app here.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Ms. Bottom Dreams of 1:1

Julie Bottom is a veteran at North who teaches 8th grade Social Studies. She shared the following:

I've seen a lot of changes in 16 years of teaching.  When I started we had overhead projectors and vis-a-vis markers.  If you wanted to be super fancy you used colored vis-a-vis markers!  I visited a school where they had 1:1 iPad implementation last year, and I admit that I was initially skeptical.  However, I was so impressed by what I saw.   I spoke to a shaggy-haired 8th grade student, and he told me that the best thing about having his iPad is that he never loses his work anymore.  He said in the past his work would be in his locker, his backpack, or at home.  He said he could never find anything, but now he always has it with him. I can say without hesitation that giving kids quick access to databases, educational games, recording apps, and document sharing is a benefit to my students, and it's why I'm dreaming of 1:1.

In the following she shares some of the activities and tasks from her classes this year:
1.) Recently the students have read primary and secondary sources about the Mexican-American War, Transcendentalists, and reformers.  I made a class set and the students recorded their analysis on paper that they turned in to me.
2.) My students are expected to write down their agendas every day so they can keep up with due dates.

In comparison, if we were a 1:1 iPad school:

1.) Every learner could have pulled up the primary and secondary sources on their device.  They could each highlight them, record their thoughts using audio apps, and submitted them electronically.

2.) My students could add due dates to calendar apps, they could take a picture of the agenda and store it on the camera roll, or they could write the agenda down in the notes app.  This would allow them to access their due dates in one place.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What app do you use the most?

Katie tells us a little about what app she uses the most and why she likes it!