Monday, January 28, 2013

Power of Creating Books in your Classroom

The power of creating a book as we roll into I love to Read Month here are a few apps to check out.

Scribble Press is a storytelling app. It use to be free but now cost $3.99 and is for the iPad only.

Scribble Press has 50 built-in story templates that you can use as starting points for a story, or you can choose to start with a blank book. I like the fact that even if you start with a template story you can add to the text or edit it once it is on the pages of your book. You can also add more pages if you want to.

There are plenty of options for illustrating your story. There is a vast array of 'markers' in many colors - enough to provide plenty of options, but not an infinite color palette that would make it difficult to match a color if you wanted to. If you prefer, you can add a photo to a page by taking one with the iPad  camera or choosing one from your own photo gallery on your iPad. There are also some 'stickers' included that allow you to quickly add some images to your story.

Finished stories can be read in the app itself by tapping on the front cover of the book to open it. Stories can also be saved from the app as an ePub file that can be added to iBooks to build a library of student-created books on the iPad. Unlike some other ePub books, you cannot change the font size in the book when you are reading it in iBooks.

The app is practical to use on a shared iPad because a story in progress can simply be saved. The book is saved to the 'My Books' shelf and when you open it up again instead of tapping on it to read it, you can choose Edit from the menu underneath the front cover.

Another great feature is that teachers can create group accounts. Visit Scribble Press Group Account Page to set up student accounts without email addresses. These will work in the App and will allow you to privately share books the class creates on a dedicated landing page.


The developer says:
Scribble Press for iPad includes:
- 50 story templates
- over 500 drawing tools, including markers and stamps in a vast array of colors
- a unique sticker collection
- your own photo library
- an easy and fun to use book layout tool
- shopping cart so you can order printed copies of your book and other cool stuff
- sharing tools that make it easy to show the world – or just your family and friends – your great creation PLUS, you can use Scribble Press for iPad to read books created by other kids, from all around the world!
Here's a video tour of Scribble Press from the developer:

Hip Hip Hooray! Scribble Press has introduce a new app for the iPad called Scribble My Story in partnership with Fingerprint Play, an innovative learning platform for students 3-8.  Scribble My Story is similar to Scribble Press with just a few key differences to support the younger creators:

  1.  It has audio!  Pre-written stories are read aloud, and there is also the option to record your own voice as you write your own story. 
  2.  Scribble My Story takes advantage of the Fingerprint platform so parents can keep in touch with what their kids are learning and what books they are creating. 
  3. There is a wealth of new artwork available
  4.  it's FREE to download!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Maximize Digital Classroom Resources

Have you ever said "If I only had one more computer or iPad in my classroom?" Well maximizing our digital resources within the classroom is at a premium these days as more teachers are using digital devices.  As more app developers are producing for both android and apple devices its getting easier than ever to maximize resources.  So let's take a look into the google chrome web store and app store to see what we can find:

 Sumopaint is fully featured online (and offline) image editor and graphics app with nearly over 1 million monthly users. They have also developed an app for the iPad and added it to the chrome web store. Sumo Paint provides a great feature set with tools ranging from basic shapes to advanced painting tools. Unlike most other other online graphics editing apps, Sumo Paint also has an online community. It’s far from a new app, but it’s one of the standbys that come up in every list of great web apps.

BeFunky is actually a pretty sweet online photo editor.  With BeFunky even the less tech savvy can transform their pictures into amazing works of art in just a few clicks! Not only does this Web 2.0 tool offer tons of neat effects and features, but users can give their creations more character by adding speech bubbles, frames, graphics, text and more!  Changing your pictures into oil paintings, vintage polaroids, or pop art has never been easier.  BeFunky’s sleek and simple tools also allow users to make corrections such as red eye, poor lighting or dull colors in seconds. The best part is that you can find it in the app store for your iPad or in the Chrome web store.

The Google Drive iPad app or chrome web store has improved over the last couple of months to the point where it’s not as robust as using Google Drive on the web or on an Android device, but it is much more functional than ever before. In fact, it’s now possible to create student portfolios through the Google Drive iPad app.  Greg Kulowiec, Edtech teacher, wrote up a fantastic set of directions on using the Google Drive iPad app to have students create portfolios. You can read Greg’s complete post on the topic here. The how-to video that he made I have embedded below.

Let's hear about what apps you are using in the classroom that are found in both the google chrome web store and the app store on your iPad.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Keeping up with Technology

Keeping up with technology in the business offices, classrooms, and all points in between can improve the schools operations. 
For example, once you wake up, what is the first device you grab? For instance you might reach for your cellphone, iPad, or laptop to find out what has happened while you were sleeping. You might commute to work in a vehicle with global-positioning systems to show you the best route; we wait for green lights that are programmed to help traffic move with the greatest efficiency; and we are careful not to run a red ligt out because the surveillance camera hovering above the intersection will capture our indiscretion. Even before we stumble out of our beds for the day, technology is intertwined in our lives.

So how can we keep up with Technology?

Managing your reading and rss feeds

Zite is an awesome mobile app for educators. It “gives you personalized news, articles, blogs, videos and other content from a variety of both mainstream publications and sites”.  Zite attempts to customize and deliver the type of articles you like to read in a newspaper style reading. It's Wifi-Connection or 4G enabled which means that you can easily access news content with a tap of a button.

Here is a short video tutorial to help you understand how to use Zite on your iPad

Feedly is a cool mobile app. It allows its users to get the latest updates of their favorite blogs and websites right into their iPhone, Droid devices, and iPads. If you are already an existing Google Reader user then this is your ”faster and more visual overlay with lots for sharing options and seamless 2-way integration”. For me i look at Feedly as a learning app and stay up-to-date on blogs, and websites instead of bookmarking them in a browser.

Here is a short video tutorial to help you understand how to use Feedly on your iPad

There are so many rss feeders to assist you on the go for reading your different blogs and websites, you just need to find the right combination for your needs. So here are some more to check into and see if they fit what you might be looking for; FlipboardNewsSquares, NewsMix, and Newsify

Managing all those Tweets
If you feel overwhelmed with all of your tweets, check out tweetdeck. Tweetdeck can be accessed from Mac App Store or adding it as a Chrome extension. Similar to tweetdeck is Hootsuite. Its up to you to find the option that works for you as an educator. There are so many hashtags to follow: #2020howardwinn, #edcamphwinn, #iaedchat, #iPadchat and many more to explore.  If you would like to explore more about what the @ or # meaning check out our website twitter for teachers.

Maximizing your time for locating Apps

Time is always of the essence so when it comes to looking for an app its always great to find it in the palm of your hand. Check out these apps and hopefully they will save you valuable time for lesson plan ideas.

TechChef4u app offers multiple resources to support teachers and parents in their search for FREE quality apps for students. While the TechChef4U app is an educational app store that provides searchable and categorized lists of FREE apps for Pre-K-12, the app doesn't stop there. Check it out!

The TeacherCast app includes great App Reviews, Podcasts, Blogs, and Screencasts as well as links to their Twitter, FaceBook, and Daily Newspaper. This is the easiest and reliable one stop shop for all educational needs.

Last but not forgotten is the AppShopper. With out the AppShopper it would be hard to figure out what app happened to become FREE for a limited time frame. 

What app or applications do you use to stay organized or up-to-date with the latest technology?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Using Guided Access

Apple’s iOS 6 introduces a feature that will benefit teachers and parents alike. Guided Access is a new accessibility function on the iPhone and iPad that lets you disable certain controls within an app and prevents kids from navigating away. When I was a special ed. teacher, I would have loved something like this.
Guided Access lets teachers (and parents) disable certain app functions. It also locks an iPad into a single app, so that the Home button can’t be pressed, preventing a student from exiting the app s/he should be using. Here’s how to set it up.

In my experience, it works wonderfully. Disabled buttons do nothing when tapped. Additionally, pressing the Home button merely produces a message saying that Guided Access is disabled. I can’t leave the app without the passcode. To exit Guided Access, triple-click the Home button, enter the passcode and then tap “End” on the settings screen.
Special Notes

  • When orientation lock is disabled the access areas will change once switched from portrait to landscape or vice-versa. This happens because the regions remains constant on your iPad.
  • If you do to set a predefined password you will be prompted to enter it when launching this feature. Please make sure that you remember the password.
  • The lines drawn for restricted access can also be dragged to resize them accordingly.