Tuesday, October 29, 2013

App Review: MyScript Calculator

Hey, all you teachers of math out there. Here's a nice little app for you to check out. It's called MyScript Calculator and it's a free app. Basically, it lets you use handwriting to write your equations. Then the app transforms your writing and solves your problems. Not all your problems, just your mathematical ones. Here's what you'll see. 

The main screen is very basic. Just write your equation. You don't even need to include the equals sign.

Then MyScript Calculator transforms your handwriting into text and solves. 

So then I got cocky and entered a second equation under the first. As you can see, it got pretty confused. But at least it's honest.

And there are export options. You can easily share your work via Airdrop, email, or Twitter. 

So it's a simple, but effective app. Gotta give a shout to Jill Villasana for showing it to me.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Use slow motion in your iMovie videos

I'm loving the new iMovie app. Not only does it have a cool new look, it has some new features that make it easier to use and more functional. My favorite addition so far is the ability to slow down your video. There are all kinds of reasons why you'd want to use this feature. Kids can slow down a video of a process to break down what's happening. They could use it to add drama to a production. Not to mention sports applications. Coaches can dissect why a batter is popping out all the time, demo proper tackling technique, or figure out why I can't hit a fairway. Such possibility. Here's a quick tutorial of how to add slow motion to your video editing arsenal. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Set iPad alarms to guide your day

The clock is probably one of the most under-utilized apps on your iPad. It's sitting there on everyone's screen. But still we ask ourselves, why would I need to use the clock? I can see the time on the top of every screen. Well, here's a reason why.

Alarms. Especially in the elementary realm, teachers want a way to get reminders during the day. There is just so much going on during the course of the day, why not get a little digital assistance? Here's some simple directions for setting your alarms.

First, dust off and open up that clock app. Choose "alarms" from the bottom of the screen. Then press the "+" in the upper right corner to set your first alarm. Set the specific time for your alarm by moving the dials. 

There are options for repeating your alarm as well. You can set them up to play on particular days of the week. You can also label your alarm to specific events like "send Matt to speech" or "time to order lunch". 

Now choose the "sound" option. There's a wide variety of default sounds to choose from. You can also pick a song from your iTunes library. 

When you get it all set, choose "save". It should send you back to a view of the entire week so you can see all the alarms. Kind of a nice reminder of everything you need to do. If you need to change or delete one, choose the "edit" button in the upper left. 

Now you're all set, so to speak. Siri will also set alarms for you if you prefer to command others to do your bidding. You might need to make some adjustments for volume. Small bluetooth speakers could be something to check out if you prefer a noisy room. Or you could try connecting to Airserver to play the sound through your computer or projector speakers. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Zinio and DBRL

So you think that OverDrive is great for checking out books? Then you're going to be blown away with this little nugget. The Daniel Boone Regional Library has recently purchased over 100 magazine titles that you can download to your device. FOR FREE! Here's what you need to do.

First, get a library card. There are three easy ways to get a card. Visit DBRL's card page for more information. 

Then visit DBRL's magazine page. Click on the link to browse digital magazines. From there, click in the upper right corner to make an account. This is where you'll need to enter your library card number and create an account with your email address and new password. 

Once you are in, you can browse their extensive selection of current and relevant titles. No, it's not just limited to titles like "Midwest Basket Collecting". There are current editions of real magazines and some even offer back issues. Here's a quick look at some of the great stuff you'll have access to:

  • Newsweek
  • Men's Health
  • Car and Driver
  • Cosmo (personal favorite)
  • ESPN The Magazine
  • Field and Stream
  • US (my wife will love this)
  • Popular Science
  • Oprah (I can't believe I mentioned Oprah)
Just click "checkout now" on the ones you want to add to your account. But now you need to have a vehicle to read them. This is where the Zinio app comes into play. Download it on your device for free and create an account. Use the same email address you used to create your DBRL digital account. That's how they communicate. 

When you get signed in to Zinio, you'll see a "read" button on the bottom of the screen. When you select it, you'll see the titles you checked out from DBRL. Simply press the down arrow on the cover to download the magazine. Now, be careful about how much you download. The magazines will take up a good amount of space on your device. I downloaded the current version of Newsweek and Men's Health to check space. Those two took up 168 MB. So you'll likely need to manage your space by deleting issues when you are finished.

Seriously, it's free. If you are a high school teacher with student devices, you need to get your students to get their library cards to make accounts. If you teach elementary, you can download magazines to model skills with your students. One of the best reasons to have devices is the access to relevant resources for learning. Daniel Boone knocked it out of the park with this one. Now let's use it so it sticks around!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New Options for Airserver Mirroring

The newest version of Airserver has several different security features to control who has access to display on your computer. In the previous versions, you could decide on having access for everyone or through a password. Check it out for yourself by going to the Airserver preferences on your computer. Here's a rundown of the new options. 

Airserver Preference

No password - anyone can display their device on your computer. Best if you are a trusting person because anyone in your school network can mirror at any time.

Fixed password - this is identical to the previous version. You enter your password on the computer. Anyone who wants to mirror their device would need to enter the password to get permission. 

Onscreen Passcode/Password option
Onscreen password - a great option for classroom use. When this option is selected, a four digit number appears on the computer. That number has to be entered on the iPad in order to connect. When testing, I saw that when I disconnected the iPad, I could reconnect without entering the password a second time. However, after shutting down Airserver and restarting, I had to reauthenticate with a new password. A nice option if you have different classes during the day and want only the students in your class to have mirroring access. 

Onscreen passcode - the same as above. Not certain, but I think this feature is good for devices running iOS6 or greater. So if you haven't upgraded in the last year and a half, you can't use this one.

Ask me - when this is selected, any iPad that attempts to connect to your computer will need to be given permission. You'll get a pop-up on your computer screen (two, actually) to approve an iPad for sharing audio and video. However, we've had mixed results to get the iPad to mirror. Maybe not the most reliable option.

Monday, October 14, 2013

App Review: 30 Hands

I found another app a few months ago that has really helped transform learning in several classrooms already this year. It's called 30Hands, and it's offered at the great price of free. There are several things I look for when recommending apps. It needs to be applicable to a variety of ages and contents. The product needs to be easy to export. And it needs to be very easy for students (and teachers) to use. 30Hands delivers on all. Here's what you need to know.

Essentially, 30Hands is a way to create informational videos from your iPad. I describe it to teachers as "Photostory for the iPad". The app lets you create a video using still images, drawing on a whiteboard, and narration. I wrote about an app called PixnTell last year that has the same function. However, 30Hands doesn't have a limit to the number of images like PixnTell.

When you launch 30Hands, you are given the option to create an account or get started without one. This is another great feature because the need to have an account can be limiting for elementary students. So I always choose "skip this step" and jump right in. 

The first screen shows your list of projects. It's always nice to be able to save projects so you can revisit them down the road. Another benefit. Press the little "+" in the upper right corner and you can get started on a new project. Then you can add slides. 30Hands lets you take pictures from inside the app or import from your camera roll. Like other apps, pictures you take in the app are copied to the camera roll for use in other locations. Once you've added pictures, you can easily rearrange the order by drag and drop. Now you're ready to record.

This feature is what makes 30Hands great for schools. The app allows you to record narration on individual slides. That way, students don't have to worry about recording the entire narration at one time. Practice one slide, record, and move on. Perfect for elementary students. When you finish, simply publish the finished project to your camera roll for easy export. 

Although it's early in year, I've seen 30Hands used all over the district. Here's a short list of projects that teachers and students have used the app to accomplish:

  • Teacher created video about playground expectations
  • Tour of the classroom
  • Procedures for checking out a classroom book
  • Daily Five learning activities
I would consider 30Hands to be a must-have for teachers. It's easy enough for elementary students, but still functional for high schoolers too. Give it a try. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

iOS7 Photo streams

Maybe you're like me. You were used to adding pics to your shared photo streams in the old operating system, and are frustrated to learn a new way. After a lot of looking around, I finally figured out the method in ios7. It's backwards. 

Previously, you'd go to your camera roll, select the pics, and choose add to photos stream. Not anymore. Now you have to go to the photo stream first and choose the blue + button. Then search for your pics and add. 

Not tough, but it took me some time to relearn. Happy sharing!