Friday, October 19, 2012

Best new iMovie feature

iMovie has always been a fabulous app. When people ask what apps they need to buy, iMovie is always the first one I mention. Last year, movie trailers were added to iMovie to make it so much better. For those of you who are new to iMovie, trailers are a fast and easy way to create professional-looking trailers. But there was one issue that was a pain to deal with: you couldn't import still images to the trailer. In order to use stills, you had to create a regular iMovie project using the stills and then export it to your camera roll. Then you could use them from the movie. Inconvenient. 

Now it's all changed with the newest version available with iOS6. In the iMovie template, you can now choose to import stills right alongside the video. Once you drop the image into the desired spot, you can pinch to zoom the image. There's also an easy way to change the "Ken Burns" effect (the dramatic slow-motion panning) to find the perfect start and end position.

So if you haven't played with the newest version yet, give it a shot. And if you have an iPad but don't have iMovie, you need to go to the App Store now and download it. It's a steal at $4.99

Yes, there is a right way

One question that continually pops up: how do I hold my iPad when I'm taking pictures or video? Well there is a correct way. 

Always hold the iPad horizontally with the home button on the right side. That puts your rear-facing camera on the upper-right as it's facing the subject. If you do it this way, your images won't be upside-down when you view, export, or use them in another app. 

Evernote at TAWL

I'm looking forward to presenting tomorrow at the Mid-Missouri TAWL conference. Our group will be looking at how Evernote can be a powerful tool for reading conferences. If you are new to Evernote or haven't used Evernote for anecdotal records, you can access my presentation below. It's not a step-by-step guide because I'll be presenting from it, but maybe it will spark some ideas about how you could use Evernote to support your teaching. 

Mid-Missouri TAWL Conference Presentation

Friday, October 12, 2012

App Review: 270 to Win

In the midst of feeling American after the recent debates, I went to the app store to purchase an app I'd see a year ago. At the time, it didn't seem worth it to purchase "270 to Win" because the election was so far away and I'm not a political person. However, I realized after purchasing it that I was wrong about the timeliness of the app. It's actually an app that could be used at any time by teachers who cover government. 

Let's start with data. And there's lots of it. This app has a great resource they call "the history". There you can find the election results of every presidential contest since...well, every single one. This feature shows a map of the US with a slide bar on the right to toggle between elections. States are shown with color to distinguish how they voted and includes the number of electoral votes at that time. They also include some basic information about the election that includes issues of the day, major events, and specific voting information (like in 1868, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia did not participate. I wonder why?). This would be a great resource for students to study history and voting trends. 

Another section shows detailed voting information for each state. Number of electoral votes per year, voting history, and state history are included. It also shows whether or not the state voted for the eventual winner. Again, very easy to navigate and obtain information quickly.

This last section is the best feature of the app. "The Library" offers templates for the current election. You can choose a template based on 2012 projections from NBC, University of Virginia, swing states, and Cook Political. There are templates for "same since" (states that haven't swayed since a certain time), "Other" (final results from each election), "all or none" (all democrat, all republican, or blank), or "2008 or 2004" (detailed maps from each election). Once you choose a template, you can rename it and then start making your own predictions for the election. Click on a color and then touch a state to mark it on a scale from "safe" to "undecided". As you mark the states, you can see the electoral votes added to that party's total. You can create multiple maps and share your predictions via email, facebook, or twitter.

I really like this app. Again, I think it's one that should be advertised better because it could be used in non-election years. Obviously, it's very relevant now because of the upcoming election. But the historical information is an awesome resource to discuss voting trends and how historical events and elections are intertwined. If you have $.99 cents sitting around, go ahead and take the plunge for "270 to Win".