Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snow Pad

We've been having lots of snow here in Seattle, so we're going on our third snow day as of tomorrow.  That means not much activity with the iPads.  Last week I did get to show my students a quick StoryKit book I created.  It was about them, so they really seemed to like it.  I think they're getting very excited about producing their own books soon.  StoryKit would be very easy for them to be able to use, but I don't like the limitations of the program for creating something lasting that can include audio.  Once you e-mail it and someone reads it on their computer, they can no longer listen to the audio.  So I'm still on the search for another app to use with my students.
The iPad symposium at PSESD was really great.  My presentation seemed to be well received and I came away with lots of great ideas from other people's presentations.  Actually I really came away with a full brain and much to explore.  Truthfully these three snow days have been a wonderful opportunity to do just that!
One of the apps I learned about is Sock Puppet - it's a hoot.  It's just fun to play around with, but you could also use it with students in creating plays, videos, etc.
I also came away from the symposium determined to spend some time using Evernote.  I've had this app for ages, but I've never really used it, though it's supposed to be a great organizational tool.  I'll let you know.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Creating an ePub

I spent most of today getting ready for a presentation I'm giving at an iPad symposium on Wednesday.  By "most of the day" I mean all the time that I wasn't being distracted by something else on the Internet.  I decided to create an ePub out of this blog so that I could share it with people who come to my presentation.  I'd never created an ePub, but I didn't think it would take long using Apple's iWorks Pages program since I already had written the blog.  Yes, I was wrong....I can hear people snickering.  It did take several hours and many exports to actually produce an ePub that looks somewhat how I wanted it to look.  It was mostly a matter of getting the photos to place properly within the text and getting chapters to begin at the beginning of pages.
For those of you who aren't sure of what an ePub is, it's an electronic publication that can be read on iPads, Nooks, and other e-book readers.  At this point, you can use Pages on a Mac to create one and then drop it into your iTunes account.  When you sync your iPhone or iPad, the book goes into your iBook app. I was hoping to use it with my students, but unfortunately the Pages app for the iPad doesn't yet create ePubs so I'm going to check out an app I downloaded the other day called Book Creator.  I actually think Book Creator will be easier and more manageable for my students anyway.  I'll let you know how it works.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Set Up

I thought I'd share how I have my iPad presentation set up in case you're trying to figure out the best way to do it.
Here are some photos:
This is my LCD projector, laptop, iPad, speakers, and my Point2Vue doc camera by Ipevo.

I was at an Adobe Photoshop User group meeting and someone was presenting with this doc camera.  I love it because it's so small and portable and yet has great clarity and the ability to zoom.  This lets me show the students where I'm placing my fingers to open apps or swipe.
Carrying Case open
Carrying Case closed

The VGA adapter lets me project exactly what is on the iPad.

 The splitter lets two students work together using two pairs of headphones.
This device lets a group of five students listen to one iPad.

I do have another couple of photos with the new headphones I bought.  They work much better with the iPad and take up much less room.  They're made by iHome and cost just $20 at Office Max.

The speaker is closed here and ready to be put into its traveling bag

Friday, January 6, 2012

Trapped by an App

Objective:  Students will improve their reading comprehension by using context clues while reading and by using digital tools such as the Dictionary app.

I used the app Miss Spider's Tea Party to have students work on using context clues to determine word meaning.  In their pairs students listened to the book being read as they read along.  Before I gave students instructions, I handed them a list of words which I thought they might have trouble with in the story.  They were instructed to put a check mark in the column that best fit for their knowledge of the word:  Can Define, Recognize, Don't Recognize.  In addition there was another column for Other Words.  Afterwards they were told they could watch an animation of the book being read to see if that helped them to understand the words better.

I also instructed the students in how to use the Dictionary app to look up words by typing them or speaking them; how to listen to the words pronounced; and how to create a Favorites List of words.

All in all this was a bit of a frustrating lesson for me.  I had planned on using a different app, The Unwanted Guest, but when I watched it through and listed all the vocabulary words my students would need help with, it was just not feasible to use it.  I listed over four pages of vocabulary words my students probably wouldn't be familiar with. So then I searched until I found Miss Spider's Tea Party, read it and came up with only one page of vocabulary words (still too many, but usable).  The first major problem I ran into came when I downloaded the free app and got caught in its web.  With no warning or indication that it would happen, the app downloaded along with about 13 other unwanted game apps and advertising apps.  Since the iPads are linked to the same account, I then had to go into each iPad and delete all the superfluous apps.  What a sticky web was weaved for me. You can see why I'm not hyper linking the app on this blog; I don't want anyone else falling into the trap.

Correction:  I found out later that the reason the unwanted apps appeared was that my principal had downloaded the apps to his iPad which is linked to the same account as the student iPads.  His iPad has since been unlinked.  Lesson learned.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

iTalk update

Earlier I wrote that with the free version of iTalk, I couldn't save the students' recordings and upload them to Dropbox.  I accidentally discovered that when I have the iPad synced with iTunes and I scroll down to the bottom, I can transfer files from iTalk to my computer with File Sharing.