Tag Archive for apps

I have a secret…

I am leading a session on use of specific apps on the iPad for teachers in my building tomorrow and I am NOT an expert on any of the apps I’m sharing. That’s right. I’m showing how to use them, giving ideas of how they can be used and I don’t know everything about each of them and I probably can’t answer all the questions that may be asked of me.

But, I do know that if there are any questions I can’t answer I can tweet them out and am 99.9% sure that someone in my Twitter PLN will have the answer for us.  I have used Educreations in 4 classrooms, showing the teacher and the students all at once how to use it.  Each time, a student (or the teacher) discovered something new or came up with a tip to help everyone.  Every time I use it, I learn something new.  Even if I did become an expert on any one of these apps, the developers are constantly listening to feedback from the users and updating the features, so I would have new features to learn about each time they are updated. I also know that as teachers begin using the apps in their classrooms they will come up with great new ways of using them for student learning and share them with others.

We do not have to be experts at the tools…we have to be experts at learning and show students what it is like in real life to not know the answer or not know how to do something.  To be successful in life you need to know how to find it out.  Or as Will Richardson says we have to be able to “learn, unlearn and relearn.”


Using the Educreations app

Today I taught a class of 5th graders how to use the app Educreations for their “Math Talk” time.  We have just implemented Math Expressions in our elementary school and love how our students are really benefiting from the “Math Talk” time in which they explain how they would solve problems with a partner.  After seeing the Educreations app I thought it would be a perfect use in math.

I went into the class after I had played with it for a bit, asked others on twitter how they used it, and even asked direction questions of @Educreations and was amazed by their super fast responses to help me (THANK YOU!).

First I showed students an example from the Educreations gallery, so they could see what a finished product looks like.  I then hooked up an iPad to the SMARTBoard and walked them through the process of finding the app, getting started, how to login (with my account) and how to make a new lesson.  Students were told to start thinking about what math problem they wanted to show/explain while iPads were being passed out.  Once they got their iPads and got to the app, I walked them through the login process to have them login to my account. I was told this was ok and that their creations would then show up in my account.  Unfortunately, this did not work to have everyone login at the same time.  You can still work in educreations without an account, so those that didn’t make it in were just told to cancel and go back to the beginning.

I let everyone spread out around the room (since they would all be talking into their iPads) and told them to just take a few minutes to just play with the app–record something just learning each of the features on it.  I had only shown students how to add text and use the colors, but was amazed by how fast several of them discovered how to take pictures (although they wished they could crop/edit the picture within the app) and add new pages when they ran out of space.  Once they got the hang of it they had to start explaining their math problems. I know there are many that think the iPad is just a toy, but guess what these kids did for 30 minutes straight?  Solve and explain math problems on their iPads!  I could hardly get them to stop!!

I was a ping pong ball around the room helping show students how to save them (while trying to get some to login to my account then), delete them, start over, etc.  They were SO into what they were doing that we ran out of time to have them swap with a partner to share or to share any in front of the whole class (which I had planned).  As we finished up I did ask students how this helped them with math and what could we do differently next time.  Here were their answers:

  • I got to show my work in a different way and it was fun.
  • When I listened to myself talk about my math problem I realized a mistake I made and started it over.
  • I’m totally downloading this at home tonight to try!
  • Can we PLEASE stay in at recess and keep doing our math on the iPad like this!!?? (I was on recess duty so I had to say no.)
  • We have to talk quieter, because I could hear others when I listened to my creation again.  Could you say “pause” before you say something to the whole class, because your next directions were in my creation? (That was for me when I started talking to the whole class)
  • We could use our earbuds to make it easier to hear ourselves when we are reviewing them.
Just from using this one app in the classroom, I can easily see how having an iPad cart to share is not enough. If I were in the classroom, I would be totally hooked and want the iPads all the time to continue finding ways to use them!
I’m going to be sharing this app with staff next week. Before I do, I’m hoping to get some feedback from others on some of the issues we encountered….
  • Did we have the login issue, because everyone was trying to login at once? Any suggestions on how to deal with this?
  • I had everyone logout at the end (for those that were logged in) and when they were in the app it still showed the videos they made so whoever uses the iPad next will see them.  Why is that? If students from different classes use them and login with a different teacher’s account and then logout will all the videos still be on that iPad?
  • Once you start recording, is there a way to rewind or back up? We only found that you had to just start over completely.
  • When I login to my account on my iPad, I only see the videos I’ve created and not the ones students published while logged into my account on other iPads. When I login to my account on the browser/desktop, I do see their videos. Why aren’t they showing up in my iPad app?
I’d love to hear how others have used Educreations in the classroom, no matter the grade level or subject. If you come across this post and know of another on using it, please share a link in the comments.

Using the iPad to Increase my Productivity

Even though there are numerous other blog posts by principals using the iPad, I have said numerous times that my blog is a great place for me to reflect on my practice and seek the feedback of others. I have learned a great deal of iPad tips from other princpals, and I will list those blog posts/helpful sites below. I plan to use this post to explain how I am using my school issued iPad to increase my productivity and spend more time in classrooms (my ULTIMATE goal as a principal).

As basic as it sounds, the top 2 reasons I use the iPad more than anything else are to keep up with emails and my calendar. Since I spend more time out of my office than in it, I am able to quickly read emails while walking the hallway and delete, respond or file for action later. I have a busy schedule (what administrator doesn’t) so I love having my calendar right there with me. This year I am planning to switch to google calendar so that my secretary can add to my calendar during the day if I’m out and about.

When I am walking through classrooms, I have just used the Notes app on the iPad to quickly type feedback to teachers and email them. We do not have wifi throughout our building, but I could still use the email feature and have this sync when I went near the wifi hotspot. I also emailed these to myself and kept them all in a folder for teacher feedback. So here’s what you would actually see me doing when I’m making rounds-when I enter a classroom I would open up a new note and start typing “Dear Ms. Carson, When I visited your classroom…” I will either type one handed (I’m getting good at that) while in the classroom or wait until I get in the hallway if any students seem distracted by what I’m doing. Then I email the teacher the note right away. Then I open my Simple Goals app (see below) and tap on my classroom walkthroughs goal to add another one for the week. Then I go to my clipboard (here’s when I need a suggestion) to find my teacher spreadsheet and write the date of my walk through. I still do this because I like to visually see who I haven’t been to yet. I would love any app suggestions to still do this and get rid of my clipboard!

I have just begun to use Evernote in place of the Notes app. Since Evernote is a web based virtual cabinet, I love that I can access my notes on my iPad, iPod, or desktop. When typing up teacher feedback, I can also add a “tag” so it will organize my notes by teacher instead of having them all within one of my email folders. The only problem I’ve found is that when I email the note to a teacher, it goes straight to their junk mail file thanks to our web filter, so I don’t think I can use this for my walk throughs.

I keep track of my daily goals with the app “Simple Goals.” This is a simple free app that just lets you keep a running total of goals for each week. This is where I keep track of the number of classroom walkthroughs, 1:1 discussions with staff, if I leave my office with a clean desk, and if I exercise (that one is usually a low number!)

I used to be the queen of post-it notes of to-do lists each day, but I have now been using the app “Get it Done.” What I love about this app is that I can organize To Do folders and categorize them by when they’re do. It is easier on my eyes/brain to just see the list of what I need to do for the day and not my entire list of EVERYTHING! Every time I remember something I need to do, I just add it in there, put a date on it and add it to a special group/folder if I need to. Some of the group/folders I’ve had running for to-do lists include: staff evaluations, summer school preparation, To Learn, etc.

Those are the main apps I use each day, but I do also utilize the following apps:
-Twitter (only can use this at home, no twitter access at school)
-Google docs
-Google Reader
-App Shopper (I love seeing when apps are down in price or FREE!)
-Various news apps
-Kindle (I also love that this syncs with the kindle reader on my iPod)
-PowerSchool shortcut (this is our student information system)

The Complete List of iPad Tips, Tricks and Tutorials

10 Ways to Work Smarter on Your iPad

iPad Resources for Administrators

Blog posts by other principals:
The 21st Century Principal

A Principal’s Reflections