Thursday, October 18, 2012

Guided Access on the iPad

Guided Access is an accessibility feature on the new Operating System of the iPad. I highly recommend setting it up and using it when handing out iPads in a multiuser cart. Guided Access forces student to remain on the app the teacher selected to use. It also disables their ability to crank up the volume. Teachers can disable features inside the app if they do not want users to access them. Finally, you can turn off touch screen capability if need be, as well as lock the screen in landscape or portrait mode. 

You enable Guided Access through Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access

Once inside Guided Access, turn it on and click the Set Passcode tab. It will prompt you to input the code twice to ensure it is what you want it to be. Hint: Do not make this easy to hack, such as 1234 or 1111. My first graders tried that right off the bat. 

Once Guided Access has been enabled, you can decide when you need to use it. Simply enter the app for use, and triple click the Home Button. You will enter a precursor screen that allows you to circle features to be disabled, and select some of the other options I mentioned above. Click Start and the student is locked into that app with that volume level. When the learning session is over, the teacher can disable Guided Access by triple clicking the home button again and inputting the code. 

There is a slide show with pictures and annotations embedded below that explains this process. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Nearpod, Near Perfect

Nearpod is a free educational app that you would be crazy not add to your teaching toolkit. Nearpod works in much the same way as the Socrative App in that it turns the iPad into a sophisticated student response system. However, Nearpod has far more capability to integrate media. Nearpod allows you to upload presentations, pdf files, and video to create slides. It also offers interactive elements you can add to the presentation in between slides including: multiple choice questions, polls, short answer questions, drawings, etc...While Socrative works well on the fly, Nearpod requires careful preparation. The results are worth it on the back end. It will e-mail you reports of results on both an individual and whole class basis. Additionally, you can select share and send individual results straight to the students after they post. It has a feature to inform you if a student exited the presentation and allows you to control how the content flows.

Below, I have included two excellent video tutorials brought to my attention via John Evans. The screencasts were made by iPadagody which is based in Australia so they are fun to listen to as well as informative. They each run about 10 minutes and are well worth the time.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Class Dojo and Class Badges

Ever wish you could elicit the same enthusiasm for good learning behaviors as students show for games? Well, now you can do just that by using the free technology services called Class Dojo and Class Badges. Both resources help teach students the habits and behaviors we want them to develop to succeed. 

Class Dojo is both online and available as an iPad, iPhone, or Android app. Setting up classes is easy and intuitive with Class Dojo. You can quickly create a class set of monsters by copying and pasting your class list into the system. You can set the behaviors you want to acknowledge and those you want to correct from a list complete with badges. 

One of the greatest aspects of Class Dojo is that you can easily keep track of specific behaviors both positive and negative. You can also create individualized reports that can be printed out and shared with the students themselves or their parents. Student have the option of tracking their own progress online. You can decide to track progress privately on your phone or tablet, or display progress via your projector. 

Class Badges is designed for the sole purpose of marking progress and achievements on learning goals. It is also a free service and easy to set up and manage. Each student gets a private account where they can keep track of their own progress. There are hundreds of badges to select from and several that apply to each subject area including foreign languages, PE, and the arts. Kids love earning badges. Studies show that badges are a good bridge toward the development of intrinsic motivation. Hat tip to Richard Byrne Free Technology for Teachers

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Thinkfinity, Think Incredible!

One of the greatest free technology integration services out there on the Internet is Thinkfinity. Its list of offerings is deep and the tools are engaging and rigorous. The latest offering by Thinkfinity I came across is Science NetLinks via a post by Richard Byrne on his Free Technology for Teachers site. Science NetLinks offers free detailed lesson plans and outstanding web based interactives on a variety of science topics. They are sortable by content and grade level. I highly recommend any science teacher, not matter the grade level bookmark this site and consult it when planning a unit. You may find it especially valuable for planning for a guest teacher.

Among Thinkfinity's other offering are Read, Write, Think. My guess is most educators are aware of Read, Write, Think but if not, please go and acquaint yourself as soon as possible. Before iPads and Web2.0,  Read, Write, Think had to foresight to create interactive tools that captivate students of all ages and levels into the writing process.  It also has interactive activities that include the best practices of early literacy instruction. Once again, you can sort the tools and lesson plans by grade level, skill, or concept.

For IlluminationsThinkfinity partnered with the NCTM. They offer over 600 lesson plans, activities, manipulatives, and weblinks sortable by skill, grade level, and standard.

Wonderopolis is the Bomb dot Com! Use this site to enrich your instruction for your gifted learners and to establish the habits of inquiry, imagination, and wonder into your instruction. You can bookmark it and you have a solid enrichment tool for the students in your class to go to when they finish early with out any extra effort. See the video embedded below.

Thinkfinity wisely partners with the leaders in their field for each of their other content offerings. For example, for Art's Edge they partnered with the Kennedy Center;  for History Explorer they worked with the Smithsonian; EdSitement the best of Humanities on the Web was created with the National Endowment for the Humanities; National Geographic's education site was made in partnership with Thinkfinity and is the one stop shop for social studies, geography, and science resources. Finally, the council for Economic Education also collaborated with Thinkfinity to create their EconEdLink site of economics and personal finance resources site for K-12 educators.