Friday, May 31, 2013

Year in Review

School's out, and summer is about to begin in earnest next week with the start of summer school and training sessions. It's been a busy year here in Columbia. I thought it would be fun to take a look back at what we've done.

Completed another great year of EnTICE
EnTICE is our year-long edtech course for teachers. This year, we had 17 elementary teachers and 16 secondary teachers in the program. The learning was fabulous. It was so impressive to see the growth these teachers made in such a short time. We are excited to make the move into buildings next year. We have five elementary schools and one high school signed up. 

107 official elementary EnTICE visits
And those were just the official visits. Getting in the classroom and working with teachers and students is the highlight of our jobs. This year, Ken and I made 107 visits with our elementary EnTICE teachers. Visits could include everything from planning, lesson observation, team-teaching, to training sessions. I don't keep track of visits to other teachers, but I would bet that number would easily double.

Integration sessions
Maybe another stat I should start keeping. I just don't want to look back through my schedule right now. But we had a huge number of targeted sessions at buildings to help teachers utilize district resources. Once again, Evernote, iMovie, and other apps were the popular sessions. But I also got to meet with many pre-service teachers to discuss integration: Google Sketchup at Benton. SmartNotebook at Gentry. "Speed Apping" at Alpha Hart Lewis. And everywhere in between.

Trained teachers and distributed 950 iPad minis
It was a busy spring. The district decided to get a mobile device to every teacher. That meant a lot of organization and sessions for us. But the reward was huge. The enthusiasm, especially from elementary teachers, was well worth the effort.

Moving forward...

The summer and next year is already looking packed. The biggest new piece to the puzzle is the 1:1 iPad pilot at the new Battle High School. Not only will every student be issued an iPad mini, but all teachers will be using MacBook Airs. In addition to Battle, all AP students at Hickman and Rock Bridge High Schools will be issued an iPad mini as well. It's going to be great to have an opportunity to help those teachers in their journey. 

You probably won't be hearing a lot from me on this blog over the summer. I'm going to be spending a lot of time in training in June and then I'm off to Disney with the family after that. But when July comes around, it will be time to get ready for another adventurous school year. Have a great summer!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Forgot your passcode? Students locking up your iPads? Read more.

USB cord pointing the iTunes symbolHere's another issue that Apple needs to address. It seems like a very simple thing, but it has yet to be fixed. We have upwards of 150 iPads out at different schools around the district for student use. They are all set up with restrictions, locked down for appropriate content, and account protected. But there's one thing that can't be stopped: having kids put passcodes on the iPad.

With that being said, it's only happened about half a dozen times. And only at one school which I won't name (any purple and gold fans out there?). When an iPad has been "passcoded" (not official, but what we call it), there's only one way to get it fixed. You have to put it in recovery mode. Here's how:

  1. Shut down the iPad completely by holding the power button and sliding the red bar
  2. Go to a computer with iTunes installed. But here's the issue in our district. It doesn't seem to work with our networked computers. So we've had to take care of it using our Macs.
  3. Hold down your home button and then plug the iPad into the computer. Continue to hold the home button until you see the cord and iTunes appear on the iPad screen.
  4. Then restore the iPad by going through the prompts on the computer screen.
The good news: you can use your iPad again. The bad news: you have to start over. So there's another reason to make sure you have your devices backed up. For our cart iPads, I start over with the original backup. If it's an iPad from a forgetful teacher, they can either restore from an iTunes or iCloud backup, or start fresh. I'm guessing if they forgot their passcode, there likely won't be a backup to use.

Now back to Apple's lack of oversight. It seems really simple to add something in the restrictions area about not allowing passcodes to be added to the iPad. I know it's a "personal" device, but they have to realize by now that countless thousands of iPads are being used in cart settings around the world. Time for Apple to step up and make this simple change to help make our lives a little easier. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Use your iPad as a document camera

The iPad camera is probably the most popular feature of the iPad. It's easy to use and teachers, no matter how "savvy", can find ways to use it in their teaching right off the bat. And with the iPad Mini's high performance HD video, it's only getting better. So it makes sense that teachers start using their iPads as document cameras. Paired with Airserver or Apple TV, it makes a powerful combo.

At this year's METC Conference, I came across a booth from a company called MAX Interactive Cases. But it wasn't their cases that caught my attention, it was their iPad stands. We recently purchased a few to check out their pros and cons. Here's what we learned:

MAX Handstand:
$59.95 ($49.95 educational pricing)
Works well with iPad and Mini

This is a nice low-cost stand. It's basically a gooseneck with a mount.  I was a bit skeptical about the sturdiness of the neck, but was pleasantly surprised when it arrived. It's fairly easy to use (I don't think I'd want it to be really easy). I imagine it will loosen up over time. A "C" clamp attaches the stand to any table. The mount has a ball and socket joint that lets you move the iPad freely. It also came with two mounts, one for the full sized iPad and one for the Mini. The only knock I have is with the actual mount. It has a four point clip that you connect to the iPad holder. I can see the possibility of breaking one of the clips if you aren't careful.

Mount for the Handstand. You set the holder on the mount and slide up or down to attach/detach. 
MAX Handstand DX
$199 ($179.99 educational pricing)
Works with iPad, but not Mini
Cupcakes not included

The DX is the high end model. It has a very sturdy arm that is also easy to move. The mount rotates so it's easy to position the iPad in any location. Another nice feature is the iPad mount itself. There is a locking mechanism that holds the iPad mount to the arm. It grabs the iPad on all four sides for increased security. I couldn't get it to securely hold a Mini even in its case. I didn't see if there was a way to lock the actual arm to the table, but I might have missed that. If you have the funds, this robust stand will do the job nicely. 

Overall, I don't think you could go wrong with either stand. Being able to get a $50 stand for a classroom is a nice buy. If you are careful with the mount on the Handstand, I think it's the way to go because you can get three Handstands for the price of one DX. 

If you are a CPS employee and want to test one in the classroom, just let me know. I'd be happy to bring it out to you and see what you think. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Elementary Principal - Angie Gerzen

Angie is the principal at Midway Heights Elementary School. She has led the charge for getting tablets in the hands of her teachers and students. They have done of great job of acquiring, managing, and integrating technology resources in their school. Here's a look at Angie's screen and her top five app explanations below.

Angie's top five apps:
1. Puffin - free web browser that allows you to view flash files.
2. Evernote - free app that allows you to take notes, tag them and organize them into files.
3. Dropbox - free app that allows you to access any file including pictures and video from anywhere on any device
4. CPS Drives - allows you to access CPS share drives instantly on the iPad
5. Smart Office 2 - $9.99 app that allows you to create and edit word, excel and PPT documents

Spanish - Donny Silver

Aquí está una mirada en el iPad de Donny Silver. Es profesor de español en Rock Bridge High School. Donny ha sido un innovador iPad y es un gran recurso para los maestros de escuelas secundarias. Echa un vistazo a sus cinco principales aplicaciones. (Estoy usando Google Translate, así que si esto es un error, yo culpo a Google)

Donny's top five apps:
1.  Doceri
2.  Splashtop
3.  Quizlet
4.  Class Dojo
5.  Timer/stopwatch on "clock"
6.  Tourwrist

Doceri is wonderful.  It is a whiteboard and remote desktop in one.  I use Doceri most for whiteboard and Splashtop for remote desktop control because I like the gestures of Splashtop better to control my PC.  Doceri surpasses all the other whiteboard apps I have used.  Doceri allows wonderfully legible writing without a stylus with tons of options for font, color, and pen types.  You can also record your work for playback so you don't have to redo it for every class.

Quizlet has endless study options in Notecard or flashcard form.  The same information used to create the flashcards is used for multiple other study activities.  Students did't use the app on their own until I created a class and flashcard sets.  Now, they love the ability to study on their device. Quizlet is supported on Apple and Droid devices.

Classdojo is fantastic for classroom management.  Even high school students like to see their progress.  They can create an account and their own avatar that shows up on your iPad ClassDojo app.  Behavior reports can be sent home to communicate with parents listing behavior by categories you create.  This app can also be used online on a PC or iPad.

Most don't realize that the standard clock on the iPad has a timer and stop watch, no need to have another app to have timed activities.  You can also select  from multiple sounds for the countdown timer.

Tourwrist is my most fun app.  You can select almost anywhere in the world and you find full 360 photos.  As you turn in a circle the 360 degree photo moves with you as if you were there.  Visit El Morro in Puerto Rico, or the forests of Costa Rica, or the Eiffel Tower......  You have to try it out even if you don't use it in the classroom!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

AHHH! My iPad isn't working! I hate this thing!

Whoa. Slow down. If you aren't used to troubleshooting Apple or other devices, then you've probably had that thought enter your head. But it doesn't have to be that way. To get you through the hard times, here are some common speed bumps and simple troubleshooting techniques that solve a lot of iPad issues:

Power Off: it's simple, but effective. Sometimes your iPad just needs a break. Hold down the power button until you see the red slide. Power off. Then hold the power button down to turn it back on again. 

Reset it: everyone needs a reset every now and then. Press and hold your power button and home button simultaneously for at least ten seconds. 

Update your software: updates happen quite frequently. And you'd be surprised to find out what won't work if it's not up to date. Go to your Settings, choose General, then Software Update.

Check your wireless: everything works better on the CPS private network. For example, you won't be able to use Airserver from the open wireless network. Look in your settings to make sure you aren't on CPS-Wireless. If you are on CPS-Wireless, talk to your media specialist about how to get on the private network. 

Your password is wrong: we get this a lot. Today, it's common for teachers to have many, many passwords. When you are entering your password, make sure you have the correct username and are entering the password to the right account. I encourage people to write your passwords down and keep them in a safe location. 

Wrong email account: if you have more than one email account on your iPad, make sure you are sending from your CPS account when you are in district. If you are on a webmail (like Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc), it may look like you are sending the email, but it's likely stuck in cyberspace. When you hit another open wireless zone, then it will send. 

Charge it: if you've kept it in a drawer for a while. First, I don't know why you'd do that. But if the screen is black, hold your power button. You might see a battery indicator with a low, red reading. Charge it for a few hours, and you'll be good to go. 

Close your apps: if you have a ton of apps running, you might want to close a few down. Double tap the home button to reveal your task bar. Then press and hold one of the apps until they start wiggling. Press the minus button to close them. 

Hopefully that will help some issues you've had or are going to have. If you are still really frustrated, you can always contact Ken.