Friday, December 21, 2012

School District 211 will expand their bandwidth again

District 211 will nearly double their bandwidth again during the winter vacation.  A new contract with Comcast will increase the Internet bandwidth from 340mbps to 640mbps.  It is scheduled to go into effect on January 7, 2013.  The district has further plans to expand to a full 1GB of bandwidth during the summer of 2013.

Demand for more bandwidth is being driven primarily by two factors - more Internet content and more devices used by our students.  There has been a sharp increase in the amount of Internet-based content used by schools.  Schoology, Khan Academy, YouTube, Google and Twitter are becoming major components of a 21st century classroom.  There has also been an increase in the number of mobile devices used in school: students are bringing their cell phones, computers and tablets on their own, and the district has also begun to purchase large numbers of mobile devices (iPads) for students to use on a one-to-one basis.  With more devices accessing more content, it is critical to monitor and grow the capacity to connect to the Internet.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Directions to access electronic textbooks from Pearson

If you use a textbook from Pearson, and if there is an electronic version of that specific book available, then you are likely eligible to use the electronic version for free.  A list of all eligible books was given to the technology coordinator in each high school.  Please see your technology coordinator before you continue on to the directions below.

If you are eligible to use the free e-textbook, use these directions to help you set up accounts for your students.


If the title is Higher Ed, the registration process is as follows:
  1. Teachers register at: (underscore between access and request), is Option 3
  2. Teachers will receive access codes for the teachers and students within 72 school hours with directions enclosed
  3. Students will register after the teacher has registered at:

If the title is School, the registration is as follows:
  1. Teachers go to
  2. Teachers register with code sent in mail with order; or from account representative
  3. Teachers set-up class with class code
  4. Teachers provide students with class code
  5. Students register at:

If the title is School – Successnetplus, the registration is as follows:
  1. Teachers register at:
  2. Teachers enter school code using look-up tool, or provided by account representative
  3. Teachers or IT department uploads student roster using template.  User names and passwords are assigned.
  4. Students login immediately at using assigned user names and passwords.

If the title has an IPAD app, the registration is as follows (world history and AHON):
  1. Teachers register at:
  2. Teachers register for a new account
  3. Teachers use school code using look-up tool or provided by account representative
  4. Teachers upload student user name and passwords
  5. Teachers and students download free app, “Pearson eText for School”
  6. Teachers and students login using user name and password

Video modules can be found on all of these logins at:

Monday, October 1, 2012

A student's perspective on the iPad program after three weeks

My name is (name withheld), and I'm a senior at Hoffman Estates High School. Enrolling in a Consumer's Education course as a senior is never really a proud thing to admit, but this year is very different than I expected. 

I was never on board for this iPad program or whatever it is; in reality I still don't know what exactly it's called. When I first received the paper during the summer I was actually more angry at the fact that the board was spending money on another pointless program that the student body was just going to forget after a while.  I mean, I'm an old soul. I love big band jazz, hard candy, and suspenders and fedoras are a big enjoyment in my life, and with those qualities, technology doesn't really become a good friend. So having something so complex as an Apple product was more of a nightmare than a present. 

The very first day of school, something abruptly changed. Yes, of course, the possibility of goofing around with technology is always going to be a factor. Games, entertainment and other apps are widely available to anyone who has an Apple ID. Nevertheless, I was sitting in my first gym class - doing nothing, of course, because what is there to do on the first day of gym?- when I realized I could entertain myself with my new-found gift.  I started first with games, but I have never really been a gamer so I then switched to the camera and photo booth. Oh my - I could document my life though this. Maybe it was the fact that it was my senior year, but suddenly I was reminded of of all the possible memories I could make. That was the start of a lot of great adventures. As a musician, I also have the chance to record myself and get apps to improve my technical and intonation skills, as well as the chance to have the music I play with me any time of any day. 

Besides the extra-curricular stuff, it has also benefited me in my classes.  I am buying a house in Cons. Ed. and creating a budget using the iPad.  Even though I may never have the opportunity to buy a house, I now know how to do it using the latest technology.  It has also helped me in classes besides Cons. Ed. If I have any trouble with a word in AP Language class, I can just look up the definition. In AP Bio, I can investigate the reproductive cycle of termites, if it ever came up in class. Or the latest news in politics for Intro to Gov't. It's also a notebook, and the green thing about it is that it's paper free and easy to copy and paste if needed. Flashcards are now on an app instead of worrying about losing them or wasting money on going to Staples and buying them. My Vocab fiestas are now easier and more enjoyable with the flashcards being on them; it is a very efficient way to study them. 

I have become a tech-savvy old soul, and I still record my adventures of senior year whenever I get the chance I get to. The year has only began, and after only a month I dread the day I have to give this iPad up. The program has done more than just teaching me the course it was assigned to, but it has also benefited someone like me, and I have no doubt that it will benefit many other students where the possibilities of the Internet are limitless. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bandwidth is vital to a school district's long-term technology plans

Internet connectivity is critical

Internet bandwidth is critical for every school.  Teachers depend on videos and files that they find, store, and share on the Internet.  When the Internet goes down, the school begins to grind to a halt.  The technology people in every district must maintain that connection to the outside world, and they must increase the amount of bandwidth on a regular basis.

What is driving demand?

Increased amounts of data is biggest cause - namely videos that have become an important part of the instructional process. Don't think about the 45 minute videos you had to watch in class.  These videos are short, specific, and highly engaging.  Teachers are showing 5-10 minutes as part of the lesson instead of using videos that take the entire class period.  

The shift to mobile devices in the last two or three years is also a big factor.  Students are bringing laptops, smart phones, tablets, and any other device that can connect to the Internet, and this is exactly what we want to happen - if your wireless network can handle it, that is.  Where I work, the high schools probably had less than 100 mobile devices brought in from home two years ago.  That number is over 1,000 per building today.  Elementary schools are feeling the biggest burden because they didn't foresee dozens or even hundreds of kids bringing in iPad and iTouch devices to school with them.  Kids and parents expect to get on the Internet when they come to school, and your wireless network and your bandwidth had better accommodate them.

How much is enough?

There are people who like to answer this question by saying things like, "You need 1.21 gigawatts of Internet per student if you are going to be successful."  I disagree with making a statement like that because gigawatt is a measure of energy, but at the same time how can you argue with anyone who can quote Back to the Future? I disagree because whatever number you set is going to be obsolete next year.  Instead of focusing on a number or ratio, look at what you have today and ask yourself, "Is this enough?"  Look at how much bandwidth you use on average during a really busy time of day.  Look at how much bandwidth you use when that usage spikes during your peak times.  If you are at maximum capacity - if you are not meeting demand - you need to double your bandwidth.  Double.  After you re-evaluate your situation once you have more bandwidth in place, you will likely have to double it again within the next year.  This will only get you to where you should have been all along.  How do you get ahead of the game?  You guessed it - you will need to double it.  Every time you propose an increase, you should be doubling your amount.  I think this will hold true until your district reaches 1GB of bandwidth. At that point, a new rule will probably need to be applied.

Our bandwidth over the last four years

In June 2010 our district had 50mbps of bandwidth to share among 2,000 employees and 12,500 students.  It was inadequate, but no one was really complaining.  YouTube was just hitting its stride in 2010, and 95% of our teachers weren't storing their data online, so it was not a serious problem.   But you could just tell it was going to be a major issue at any moment.  

We increased our bandwidth from 50 to 80 in August 2010.  In December 2010 we increased from 80 to 240.  In June 2012 we increased again from 240 to 340.  This December (2012) we plan to increase again from 340 to 640.  In July 2013 we will increase again from 640 to nearly 1GB.  We didn't quite follow the "double every year or two" rule because we were following a personal rule of mine - "keep your costs the same, but greatly improve what you offer".  Our 80mbps bandwidth in August 2010 cost $4,000 per month.  Our 240 mbps in December 2010 cost us just under $4,000 per month.  When we increase to 640 it will cost a little more than $4,000 per month.  When we hit 940 next summer, costs will dip down again to just under $4000 per month.  We have worked very hard to keep our costs constant, which is important to our school board, but at the same time we kept up with demand, which is important to our students and teachers.  

Bandwidth 2009 - 2013
ICN is the key to future for most Illinois school districts.  They have provided free bandwidth to schools for a long time, but they could not keep up with the demand of the last two years.  We were getting 40mbps for free from ICN.  When we needed more, they could not provide that for a low cost.  Thanks to a federal grant, lots of work, and the driving belief that schools need the Internet to do their core business of teaching students, ICN will be able to offer 10 times that amount for free starting July 1, 2013.   If you are planning to increase your bandwidth, contact ICN first to see how much you will get for free next year.


Keeping up with bandwidth demand is a technology department's highest priority.  Keep an eye on prices, shop around for the best provider, and do not sign a contract that is longer than two years unless you have the right to renegotiate it (i.e. get more bandwidth for the same price).  Every student and every adult will be bringing a device to school with them some day, and at the rate things are going, it will probably be in the next two years.

Monday, September 3, 2012

How the district iPad insurance plan works

Over 1,500 students are borrowing iPads this school year just like they borrow their textbooks and other class materials.  However, the financial liability of a $400 iPad is a little scary for some people.  Insuring the iPad is one option that helps protect the families from paying for the loss of or damage to an iPad.

Some people might already be covered for the loss of an iPad through their homeowner's insurance.  YOU NEED TO TALK DIRECTLY WITH YOUR HOME INSURANCE TO VERIFY THIS.  Every company and every policy is different.  The effect of making a claim against your policy might not be worth it either if you have a high deductible.

Families can choose any insurance company to protect the iPad, and they can shop around for the best deal.   Worth Ave Group is a major provider of iPad insurance for many districts in the surrounding area, and the following information is related to buying insurance through Worth.

Worth has three policies to protect your iPad, with each cost dependent on the level of your deductible.  

The first policy costs $42 per year which is not refundable.  $42 is the cost of the insurance.  For that $42, you are covered for one year.  If your iPad is lost or damaged, it will cost you an additional $25 to get your iPad repaired or replaced.

The second policy costs $36 per year which is not refundable.  $36 is the cost of the insurance.  For that $36, you are covered for one year.  If your iPad is lost or damaged, it will cost you an additional $50 to get your iPad repaired or replaced.

The third policy costs $31 per year which is not refundable.  $31 is the cost of the insurance.  For that $31, you are covered for one year.  If your iPad is lost or damaged, it will cost you an additional $100 to get your iPad repaired or replaced.

You can sign up with Worth through their website.  By using this link you will save approximately $13 per year off their regular price.

The school district is not affiliated in any with with Worth Ave Group.  Worth provides a service to families that you may find beneficial.  Please contact Worth through their website for more information and decide for yourself if their insurance policies are right for you.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Better Internet access for your personally-owned computer or phone

Our district previously had two wireless networks for a majority of our data.  There was the network for district-owned computers, and there was the guest network for all other devices.  The guest network was fine if you didn't have any other options for getting on the Internet, but it simply wasn't as good as the district network where the Internet seemed faster and it was filtered less stringently than the guest network.

Cell phone users were especially frustrated by the guest network, though.  The Internet provided by your cell phone company is completely unfiltered, which lets you access Facebook among other things.  People would rather be on their own Internet rather than the guest network for this reason.  Unfortunately, our high schools were built before cell phones were invented, and there are many places in our buildings where there is simply no cell phone reception.   You could see students and staff alike cringe as they walked deeper into the school, not because of their upcoming class but because they knew their cell phone would lose reception... right about... here (draw an imaginary line on the ground right now).

This year, the district has created a new wireless network called StaffNet which fixes the problem by allowing you to have better, faster Internet on any device you own.  Your Kindle Fire, Nexus 7, Mac laptop, iPad, and of course your cell phone will now be filtered less and will have faster speeds on the Internet.

Choose StaffNet from the list of wireless connections, then open up an Internet browser.  You will be asked to "Login for Web Authentication", which is the nerdy way of saying, "What's the username and password you use when you log on to your school computer or email?"  Enter the correct information and you will have the same Internet access that you currently have on your district-owned computer.

And it's okay to bring in that Kindle Fire, Nexus 7, and Mac laptop all at once.  This summer we added new access points that can handle 7,000 more devices across the district.  The bandwidth was also increased from 240mbps to 340 mbps and next summer it is expected to rise to over 500mbps.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Apple helped kill off Flash a little too soon

The biggest complaint about the iPad is that it does not run Adobe's Flash, which is used to display videos and animation on the Internet.  Steve Jobs called Flash an old technology in 2010 and said the iPad would never support Flash.  Unfortunately, millions of web pages still use Flash, so if you are a teacher who wants to watch some really great educational videos with your students then you're in for a bad experience.  There are some apps (like Rover) for the iPad that try to run Flash, but they are unreliable and buggy.

So if Flash is part of the past, then what is the future of videos on the Internet?  It is called HTML5, and there is no doubt that it will be the format developers use moving forward.  Apple, Microsoft, Google, and just about everybody else is supporting this standard.

But when will HTML5 actually arrive?  It is available right now, but it has not been fully embraced yet.  The first television broadcasting station started in 1928, but televisions weren't really popular until the 1950s.  Blu-ray officially arrived in 2006, but DVDs still outsell Blu-ray six years later.  The claim that Flash is "dead" isn't entirely accurate considering Flash use still far exceeds HTML5 use.  Flash is a goner, I agree, but not yet.

Until HTML5 becomes part of the mainstream, should we worry that the iPad will not be the amazing product it could be until it that day?  Gartner reported that HTML5 will not be officially adopted as a standard until 2014, and that it could take between 5 and 10 years from now until it is fully embraced (like the television and Blu-ray examples above).  I don't believe it will take ten years or even five.  I do believe it will take three years, though, which means the freshman walking into school today will not truly take advantage of their iPads until they are seniors.  That worries me.

Until those old videos run on the iPad then we will continue to be frustrated.  I know no one at Apple will change their mind about using Flash, and I also know that HTML5 is on the way.  The future is coming... eventually. I am really hoping that until we see full adoption of HTML5 that better apps arrive to run Flash videos on an iPad, and I hope that developers are willing to work backwards to convert their web pages to HTML5 as quickly as possible.

Get your class online with these six steps

Teachers want to build an online environment for their classroom but they don't know where to begin.  It's an overwhelming task considering how much technology has changed in the last two or three years.  But you have to start somewhere, and you need to start NOW.  Here are six steps for you to begin moving forward.

First, choose a Learning Management System (LMS).  Blackboard is what you probably think of when you hear "LMS", but there are many other choices that have many of the same features, are easier to use, and are also free.  Schoology is my personal favorite because it has some of the best communication features like wall posts (similar to Facebook), text messages, and a classroom calendar.   It also contains offers a well-organized classroom environment to place your assignments, videos, discussion boards, and presentations.  Schoology also integrates with Google Docs and Khan Academy.  Other very good LMS choices include Edmodo, CourseSites, OpenClass, and Haiku.

Second, get all of your current classroom materials online. For most people, this will mean scanning all of their documents into PDF format and posting them on their LMS, which is fine for your first year of going towards a digital environment.  The PDF format is great for viewing a document because you can view it on a PC, Mac, tablet, iPad, or cell phone.  The drawback is that most users will not be able to type or write on it without some form of conversion or software.  At some point you are going to have to answer a very serious question - are you ready to convert all your documents to something else like Google Docs?  Until you are ready to ask that question of yourself, just get your things online so your students can access them.

Third, find the best resources to supplement and expand your instruction.  The fact is, everything you teach is being taught by someone else, and they can probably say it or explain it better than you. Find videos, lessons, activities and games created by others that support what you teach.  Khan Academy has thousands of videos but they focus mainly on math and science.  YouTube has excellent videos if you can sort through the clutter of baby videos, pet videos, rambling video blogs, and 10,000 renditions of Gotye's Someone That I Used To Know.  A new site to consider is Sophia which has instructional modules for students and also for teachers' professional development.

Fourth, decide if you are going to use a textbook as the main source of information, as a supplemental resource, or not at all.  Once you make that decision you will be able to decide how much of your students' reading will be online.  Start by contacting the textbook company and see if they are willing to provide you with an electronic version of your current book.  Some of them will do so for free.  If you are looking for a new textbook, consider sources such as CK12 which creates actual classroom textbooks for free in a digital format. Another option is browsing the iTunes U catalog to see if another teacher has created a book or a course that your students could use.

Fifth, choose sites, materials, and software that are free, Internet-based, and work on multiple devices.  Evernote is an example of this. It is a powerful online notebook that can be used with your computer, tablet, or cell phone.  Free materials and apps allows your classroom to become a model for other teachers, and choosing resources that can be used on most devices allows all students regardless of location or income to access your lessons.  What is the importance of being accessible on multiple devices?  Well, look at what you currently own.  I use a computer at work, a tablet on the couch, and a cell phone on the go.  We own different devices, and nothing is more frustrating than having access to data on one device but not another.  Also, you have no control over what your students will bring to school.  Students will bring every device ever made, and you have a responsibility to make sure your materials and assignments are available to the widest audience possible.

Sixth, expect to tear your site apart and start over next year.  For every assignment posted on your site, you need to ask yourself, "Is this really what I want my students to do with their time?"  The answer is usually, "no."  You will slowly get away from worksheets and readings and move more towards discussions, videos, and collaborative assignments where students create new bodies of information and share it with the world.  You might even move towards a flipped classroom model (search flipped classroom, Jon Bergmann, or Ramsay Musallam).  A traditional classroom involves a teacher providing instruction during class time, and then students practice their work at home without the benefit of a teacher to guide them.  A flipped classroom involves providing as much instruction as possible online through videos and other means which allows you to use classroom time for guided practice.

Your students are going to love your new classroom, but it takes time.  A lot of time.  Today is the day you should get started.

Free apps vs. paid apps

Using apps on your tablet or cell phone is fast and convenient, and they provide access to your personal data as well as to specific information related to a specific topic.  But should you use paid apps with your students?  Paid apps definitely have advantages, and there are examples where a $10 app can replace a $100 scientific calculator.  But can you get a free app that replaces that same $100 calculator?  Most often the answer is yes.

Whenever possible, choose free apps when working with your students.  There are thousands of free educational apps, and many of them are VERY good.  They might not be perfect, but they should be close enough - and aren't the free app still better than what your class was using a year ago?

Paid apps become a barrier for many students, teachers, and school districts.  There are three inter-related reasons you should try to use only free apps: accessexample, and finances.

Your online classroom should be available to all students - your students sitting in your class, other students in your school who are not fortunate enough to have you as your teacher, the students across the country who have Internet access but do not have teachers who place any of their materials online, and every kid throughout the world who can find your site when they search on Google.  You are not teaching 25 students - you are teaching all students.  Those kids need access to your classroom, your materials and your assignments.  Paid apps prevent access if a student cannot pay for them.

Free apps are available to anyone and any school district.  By eliminating cost you allow other teachers to mimic what you do in class regardless of their school's budget and allows your classroom to be an example for other teachers to follow.  At the district level, creating a one-to-one program that only uses free apps allows other districts to follow your example and move to a one-to-one environment.

Your school district might be able to buy apps for your students this year, but what is the long-term cost of purchased apps?  We have over 3,000 incoming freshman in our district.  If we spent just $10 per student on apps, we would have to pay $30,000 annually just in apps.  Yes, you can probably save money elsewhere like lower printing costs or reduced textbook purchases.  But those savings went towards purchasing the devices - not the apps.  It is important for teachers to help protect the finances of the district, especially when trying to create a cost-neutral one-to-one program.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Password changes to your computer logon (Active Directory password)

You can change your password at any time by pressing the CTRL, ALT and DEL buttons at the same time.  Pressing those three buttons at the same time will reveal four choices.  The third one is "Change a password."
The "Change a password" screen will ask for your old password.  Below that, you will enter your new password.  Below that, you will be asked to enter your new password again to make sure you entered it correctly. When you are finished, click the arrow button next to the password box.

The rules for creating a new password are these:
  1. Passwords will be a minimum length of seven characters
  2. New passwords cannot be the same as any of your last four passwords
  3. Passwords will require three out of the following four complexity conditions:
    1. Upper case alphabetic character
    2. Lower case alphabetic character
    3. Numeric character
    4. Special character [@,*,#,$,!,%,&,^,_,+,-]
If your password change was successful, you will receive a message that states, "Your password has been changed."

If your password change was not successful, most likely because you did not meet the rules listed above, you will receive a message that states, "Unable to update the password. The value provided for the new password does not meet the length, complexity, or history requirements of the domain." You will need to try again. 

Examples of good passwords that are at least seven characters long (remember the "3 out of 4 rule" listed above)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Five key factors to consider when choosing a tablet

I read an article called, "How To Choose the Right Tablet For Your School".  It lists the five key factors to consider before choosing a device for your students.

Overall, keep this in mind before you choose a device - it is the way you teach and interact with your kids that matters the most.  Place your materials online, structure your lessons to take advantage of the Internet, have your kids collaborate on projects, and offer immediate feedback if you want your classroom to truly change. Ultimately the device shouldn't matter in the end.  You can create a one-to-one program with Kindle Fires ($200), netbooks ($300), Chromebooks ($400), or the new iPads ($500) if you have the right people and the right motivation.

The five key factors from the article are:
  1. Consider your learning goals - your focus needs to be on improving instruction 
  2. Figure out your digital curriculum strategy - teachers need to build their curriculum first before a device is chosen
  3. Pick your management style - determine if or how or who you will manage the devices
  4. Set your price point and refresh cycle - know from the start how many computers you will buy each year
  5. Choose your top features - each device has different features; know what you need before you choose

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Subscribe to news sites using your cell phone

One of the best changes in technology in the last two years involves improvements made to our cell phones.  The cell phone has become the center of information for many people.  We use apps to have the information delivered straight to us, rather than having to go to different sites to get information.  Groupon deal of the day?  You can check their site daily, or you can subscribe on your phone and have that little DING go off telling you that a new deal has arrived.  Your friend just announced on Facebook that he got engaged.  Yes, you really found out through Facebook.  Did you get the alert on your phone as soon as he posted it, or did you find out two days later when you logged on?  The cell phone has become the instant connection to news that is important to us.

Subscribing to news sites can be a little harder, but as usual, someone has an app for that.  It is called an RSS Reader, and you can download one for your Android or iPhone.  To use the app, you visit the web page where you read your news, open your RSS Reader app, and click on a "subscribe" button.  Any time a new article is posted it will automatically be sent to your phone.

I can download all the latest news from D211 by subscribing to their new blog called D211 Post, a new blog that is very mobile-friendly. 

Click here to download "Feedly" for free on your Android phone.

Click here to download "Free RSS Reader" for free on your iPhone.

Friday, March 16, 2012

iPad Integration by Chris Grattoni

The most thought-provoking breakout session I attended at the ICE Conference on Friday, March 2nd was entitled "iPad Integration." The presenters used this time to outline a variety of apps that can be used to facilitate learning in the 1-to-1 classroom.

Perhaps the most enticing was the eClicker Response System. This app is reminiscent of the CPS clicker remotes that many of us have used in our classrooms. However, having this system on a 1-to-1 device overcomes the main challenge of the CPS remotes: the logistics of handing out 32 remotes to your students and tracking who has which remote. Now the students will come into class with their remote, and we will know how each individual student responds. Teachers can gather formative assessment data throughout their lessons and identify individual student who need additional help. The students get immediate feedback on how well they understand the material.

Next, the presenters showed us two apps that students or teachers can use to record their voices over content written on a digital whiteboard: Chomp and Show Me. In a math classroom, we could have the students record their explanation of a homework problem or a summary of an important mathematical idea! If they uploaded the video to a Moodle or Sharepoint page for the course, the teacher could use the videos to assess the students' learning, while students could watch the videos of their peers to assist with their own learning.

There were many other apps we looked at during this session, but the next one that really got me excited was Stick Pick. This app is just like the jar of Popsicle sticks that teachers used to keep on their desk so they could call on students in a truly random manner. But Stick Pick goes one step further! You can use the app to record whether the student you called on gave a correct answer, and you can use the app to give you question prompts that use Bloom's Taxonomy.

Finally, one of the session attendees told me about GoodReader, which can be used to ink on PDF documents. We will need an app like this in a math classroom if we want to go truly paperless in the course. Another person sitting next to me told me about some apps out there that allow easy tablet access to Moodle.

I was very impressed not just at the knowledge of the presenters at the ICE conference, but at the passion and knowledge of those attending. I was learning between sessions as well as during them.

IAPPS: Coache's eye, apple TV and evernotes.

Duirng the presentation on IAPPS, several teachers showed and suggested several apps that they use in the classroom.

coaches eye was one that i think could be of great use to the coaches at d211.

Another piece of technology that could be useful is apple TV. The presenter mentioned that you can mirror the teacher IPAD through apple tv. this could be useful in the classroom.

Evernote appears to be an awesome way students can create interactive notes.

March 7th ipad 3
Better than blue ray, thicker, better camera, 4g, faster processor, 128g, apple tv to screen, projector with HDMI, ipad apps
30 dollar vga adaptor
Panaromic 360 (1.99), image
Flipclass room apps
Showme, create a picture, with audio, share with network, creating content that you tie in with lesson, seconds to create, second to share
Showme channel, share videos from device
Evernote peak, create notes or notebooks, great way to study, the students create the words



ICE Conference Thoughts

Below are several apps that can be used with the IPAD. I provided a list that categorized by topic. Several of the apps are free and there are some free app finders included.

Bottom line, there are several apps available for the ipad that can be integrated into the classroom in several ways. I was especially intrigue by the apps that allow the user to integrate sound and video seamlessly together.

Ipad integration

·         Appstart
·         Appsgonefree
o   w/ push notification for daily free apps, can volumize it, NCTM, around holidays
·         ipadeducator

eclicker response system
·         eclicker is free
·         host is 9.99, then you can put it on the student machines
·         up to 30 students can be hosted at once, the closer 30 but it slows down
·         send question and pushes to device (can be timed, and gives feedback on performance)
·         bonjour needs to be disabled for the e clicker to work on the network
·         you can bring your own device, iphone or itouch, not android or blackberry

Show me or screen chomp
·         free app
·         math, English (sentence structure), geography (maps)
·         great for alternative assessment
·         you can search for teacher and student work

Flashscards Deluxe
·         3.99
·         Create flashcards with (Free)
·         Create cards with real pictures from flicker
·         Create or search for shared cards
·         Kids can assess themselves

Animation creator and flipbook
·         Creater 0.99
·         Flip book 4.99
·         Create animations to tell a story

·         Creative genius 0.99
·         Sparks thinking
·         3d math, get’s students to think about math operations

·         Motion math HD 2.99, good for fractions, decimals, percents. Use a ball to provide intervention, used for all levels
·         Factor samuri, free, slice through numbers until they are prime, similar to fruit ninja
·         Success maker speed games, 1.99, rti intervention, tracks progress        

·         Tools 4 student 0.99
·         Graphic organizers, used over and over again, can be emailed, monitors comprehension. Can be used across disciplines
·         Good for monitoring progress

Madlibs is a good way to teach using the ipad!

·         Spell board is 4.99
·         Create spelling lists
·         Good language practice, good practice with words, can share practice between devices, logs time spent on practice sessions

Story writing
·         Storyrobe is 0.99
·         Record a story, 3 min long, share by email, record story and draw picture

·         Oresome elements is free, periodic table app
·         Simple physics 1.99, figure out things work – simple machines, build and test
·         Build a bird free, teachers about structure and function
·         Hudson alpha is free, Icell 3d view of organism (animals, plants, and cells)

Social studies
·         Wordfoto 1.99, allows 10 words become part of a photo, great for vocabulary
·         Britannica kids apps are 4.99, several for social studies and science

Teacher tools
·         Stick pics, 2.99, questions starts based on blooms taxonomy

Flipped Classroom

Flipped Classroom
The basics of the flipped classroom:
·         Students watch lecture online or on a mobile device
·         Students complete homework during class time
·         The rationale is that students cannot ask for help with homework at home, but can receive instruction at home through the use of technology.
·         Some lessons even involved taping in class activities
·         I think this could be implemented in co-taught math classes
·         Used for laboratory experiments when students miss class.

Tech for the Behavior Needs Classroom

Tech for the Behavior Needs Classroom (Kelly Geigner)
Kelly discussed some of the high and low tech options for students her school.  The school is a self-contained behavior needs school with a small population (just over 30 students) and limited access to technology.  The sites she discussed were mostly free sites.  They involved little set-up or preparation and most of them could be incorporated into short lessons.  I’ve already used in one of my Science lessons.  A list of sites I found interesting are listed below, but a complete list is available at her blog (

Smart sync software
Picasso head
This is sand
Dogo news
10x10 news
Career information systems

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

When will blogging officially be dead?

I've read numerous times that blogging is a dead medium.  No one writes blogs anymore, they say. No one reads blogs anymore, they say.  Everyone is on Twitter and Facebook, they say.  Blogging is not a form of social media, and social media is where things are at, they say.

I started to have the same feelings - that the blog had passed its prime.  I recently began using Twitter as a communication and professional development tool, and soon I will use it to get kids to participate in discussions on the one to one program in our district.  I have a Google+ account which I use for creating communication groups for my various committees.  I contribute to wikis, save web sites to Delicious, post videos on YouTube, and use Google Hangouts and Skype for video chats.  And of course, I have a Facebook account for my personal use (sorry, but there's no way I am bringing my work life and my semi-dormant Rock Band obsession together into the same location).   With all of this going on, why would I ever return to blogging?

The answer is simple: a blog is the only place to lay out a fully-formed thought in one space that is easy to find, easy to search, and easy to manage.  It is easy to spit out fragments of ideas or to retweet someone else's post.  If Snooki can do it, so can I, right?  It takes time to write a blog, and it takes time to read a blog just like it also takes time to comprehend an idea and it takes time to form your own opinion.  Tweeting takes a minute to write and a minute to read - and it takes one minute before you move on to the next thing.

Besides, blogging is not dead.  It has evolved and gotten better.  Are you posting photos with captions on Tumblr?  That's blogging.  Are you publishing a web site on WordPress?  That's blogging.  Twitter is even technically a form of blogging in the short form - it reaches more people but contains less content.

Blogging is a lot like Facebook if you think of it.  They both give you the ability to post several sentences coupled with photos, videos, and URL links.  The difference is what surrounds your writing.  On most blogs, your posts are surrounded by links back to your other posts.  Your blog does one thing - highlights your writing.  In Facebook your posts are surrounded by photos from your grandma's birthday, offers for better cellular service, and your friend's latest high score on Bejeweled Blitz.  Yes, I know you are good at Words With Friends, but do you really need to post your score every day?  Some of these things are good, others are a distraction, and some simply don't make sense.  Here are the posts my friends sent out today:

There is something simple about using a blog.  I think its simplicity makes it powerful.  Write.  Write every day.  Write something meaningful.  Write something worthwhile.  If people like it, they will keep coming back for the words you write and not for any other reason.  Keep using Twitter, Facebook or any other social media form to send out your blog articles to your friends and colleagues.  But don't give up on blogs.  They're not dead yet.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Chromebook or iPad2?

Now that Apple has dropped the price of the iPad 2 to $379 we finally have a real horse race as we begin to pick a device for our one to one pilot program.  At a similar price point, we can now truly compare both devices in the most important areas - compatibility with curriculum and resources, access to new resources (i.e. apps), functionality of the device, and the ability to easily manage thousands of devices.  Both devices have advantages and disadvantages.  Both devices will serve our needs.  Both devices will do most (but not all) things we want to do.  Both devices will require us to give up something we really want to do because it simply will not do everything.  In the end, though, we won't go wrong with either one.

We are still responsible for choosing the BEST overall device.  At the end of the day, everyone involved in the one to one program will have to stand up and say that we made teaching and learning better and that we spent millions of dollars responsibly.

My personal opinion is that teachers should be able to choose the device their students use next year.  What better way to test a device's compatibility with ALL the web sites, electronic books, videos, learning management systems, interactive activities, and virtual science labs that we use in ALL of our classes than to put them to the test with actual students for an entire year? We know we will get some Chromebook users and some (i.e. MANY) iPad users, and whichever device that is not chosen in the long run won't go to waste.  There are plenty of other uses for Chromebooks or iPads in the library, in check-out carts, or in classrooms that are not yet part of the one to one program.

Stop Consuming and Start Creating

presented by Katie Seveska, Becky Labbe, and Courtland Funke

PDF list of Materials

Quicktime Movie of Presentation

The description stated that the session would focus on generating teacher created contend and student created work, and it certainly lived up to expectations. While the presenting team works at the elementary level, the concepts of simplicity and efficiently generating content apply to any level. The session used some simple apps for the iPad, along with the hardware, to help students create projects quickly and with minimal intervention. Some apps were also discussed that facilitated this creation.

The first app presented was Sonic Pics. This is a slideshow program that allows simple voiceovers. Simplicity is the name of the game, and this app fulfills that both in its ease of use and its compatibility with other computers. Students could take pictures of what they are doing, whether it is a field trip, group project, or homework, and then report on it using the voiceover feature. The second app, Moodboard, worked on a similar principle, but uses still images to build a bulletin board type story. Not as useful, in my opinion.

Photosync was the key to many of their successes. It is a program that allows the Photo Gallery to sync with a computer on the same network. With the push of 3 buttons, student’s projects were uploaded to the classroom workstation. Any app that would not export a finished product was put onto their Do Not Use list, and so every project that a student wanted to make can be uploaded. This program is similar to Dropbox, but does not use the cloud. It can, but it is faster and safer to skip this step. The only caveat was that they found the device and computer had to be on the same network, and they had split their network between devices and computers (they quickly changed this back).

Other programs such as Skype and Facetime were discussed, and you can find out more about these by watching the quicktime video. As a Choir director, this presentation sparked some thoughts about advantages and disadvantages of the iPad in a choir setting. These included: Sound Isolating qualities are excellent – students recorded voiceovers in Sonic Pics while on a Bus, and you can barely hear any road noise. Recording quality is very good – Little to no distortion, as there is on a smaller device with a small mic packed in. Record portions of class for home practice – Post videos online, then have students practice with them. Students can even record their practice sessions on the iPad to turn in at a later date. Section leaders are trainers – teach other students how to record class for posting. Voiceover for the assignments – no typing necessary for the teacher, simply speak in the directions.

Flipping the Classroom

This was an excellent presentation done by two middle school teachers in Kenilworth.

I have thought about doing this in the past, but after seeing the presentation, I am certain that this is something I will do.

Things they use:

Screencast -- video hosting site

They emphasized an the considerable amount of increased instruction time and measurable increases in student performance.  Their own videos are posted on screencast and encourage the use of other educational instructional videos such as Khan Academy or some others.  The advantage is that students can play the videos at their own pace, pause, fast forward, or rewind to view again.

The presenters discussed that from time to time students do not have time or the ability to watch the videos at home.  They said the students go the to the library before school or during thier lunch or study hall to view them.

Next week, I will experiment with this in my AP Government Class.  I will record a powerpoint lecture -- both audio and video -- post the video to Edmodo, and then do more applications in class.