Thursday, January 31, 2013

An iBook from the Great Perhaps

“Francois Rabelais. He was a poet. And his last words were "I go to seek a Great Perhaps." That's why I'm going. So I don't have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps.” ― John GreenLooking for Alaska

“For she had embodied the Great Perhaps--she had proved to me that it was worth it to leave behind my minor life for grander maybes"  ― John GreenLooking for Alaska

Confession time, my latest obsession is with John Green's writing.  His books are insightful, wise, and utterly brilliant.  However, this post is not about John Green or his novels but about a heavenly iBook titled  Hot Apps for HOTS by Lisa Johnson and Yolanda Barker. Lest it seem misleading, Hot Apps for HOTS is an educational book featuring free apps to use to engage Higher Order Thinking Skills in the classroom. I use the quotes as a metaphor hoping this iBook with all its adventurous possibilities will lead your classroom to grander maybes.

Lisa and Yolanda have smartly assembled this book with fun tasks related to cooking, tapping into the secret foodie in all of us. Each task utilizes one or two free apps and includes thoughtful, easy to follow instructions. They list the goal of each task and the level of Bloom's Taxonomy it incorporates. With minor effort and imagination it is easy to see how you could take their tasks and recreate appropriate ones for your curriculum at your grade level. They are that transferable!

In short, Hot Apps 4 HOTS is free and uses free apps in educationally sound, easily interchangeable, engaging ways. Teachers at all grade levels that have access to iPads in their classrooms are missing out on an invitation to a great perhaps if they do not download and add it to their bag of tricks.

Screenshots were taken directly from Hot Apps for HOTS and annotated by moi. 


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Beware of this App

Snapchat is meant to be silly but can be scary.
Parents need to beware of the Snapchat app on their child's smart phone or mobile device. I recently learned of Snapchat from a parent who attended a presentation I gave on Digital Parenting.  SnapChat can be downloaded for both Android and iPhone. Try as I might to be up on the latest in social media no one can keep pace with the vast network of ways in which kids can communicate these days. However, this is one app that you should actively look out for and discuss with your child. 

Snapchat was created to be a picture sharing app that makes it safe to send silly photos to others without the long term consequences. The idea or hook being that Snapchat will permanently delete the photo after six to twelve seconds depending on the settings the sender selects. It is also designed to notify you if someone takes a screenshot of the picture. Note that it DOES NOT prevent the screenshot, just notifies the sender. There are already hacks and work arounds for this and they are widely published. Regardless of the embarrassing digital footprint that could develop for your child, believing they are safe from such consequences, you probably do not want them sending pictures and text that you cannot monitor.

These are two of the tamer Twitter posts I found when using the hashtag #snapchat.

I learned of  more great tips in Patrick Larkin's Blog Post "Are you sure your Child isn't using Social Media?" I would carry that question one further and ask, are you sure the social media sites your child is using are the only accounts they have? In my experience, there are kids, even kids widely regarded as role models, who have opened secret email accounts and social media accounts under pseudonyms believing this prevents them from ever suffering consequences for their online behavior. While I am not a fan of helicopter parenting and I am certain no parent can completely protect their child, I do believe consistent communication and a proactive approach can minimize the risk and maximize the learning and social benefits. The secret is balancing latitude and limits. Leading by example and encouraging positive ways to manage their online identity are also critical. For more information from greater minds than mine please visit these resources.

Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is a must bookmark for any parent. They review games, websites, apps, movies, books, albums etc. for age appropriate material. They also give critical reviews.

OnGuard Online   This site offers a free online comprehensive guide to protecting your child when it comes to all things digital

Raising Digital Kids   This is made by the gentleman who created many of the slides in my presentation, David Truss. Of special interest here is his guidance on how and when to set limits on digital time.

Connect and Protect Wiki Dave Sands is a District Principal and father of four. He put together a wiki that offers insight into a lot of social media tools as well as Internet based tools used in education. It is also a portal to many other resources

The Door That is Not Locked  This site by Canada is separated into age appropriate resources.

Instagram What Parents Need to Know

SnapChat Photos That Self Destruct  This article is a great write up for parents on how to handle this app.
Tumblr Why Kids Love it and What Parents Need to Know

A Parent’s Guide to Twitter
Twitter is the new Facebook but most parents do not know how it is used and do not monitor. There are less privacy controls than Facebook and a greater chance what gets posted can go viral. Because it works in the same way text messaging works many kids are posting more private and inappropriate content.

Google + Safety Center


MinorMonitor  This free resource will monitor your child’s Facebook page and send you e-mail alerts when there is inappropriate activity

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Picture Issues

Sometimes you have to listen to needs of the people. The Grosse Pointe Academy moved from the PC world to the MAC over the past year and one of the most frustrating issues teachers face involves iPhoto. It is a great program for creating instant slideshows but try to send a parent a picture via email or upload a single photo to a newsletter and the hoops are insurmountable. iPhoto wants to import photos automatically from any storage device connected to a your Mac. The key is closing it out or importing both to iPhoto and to the pictures file. I have created a screencast on how to upload photos directly to your picture file on a MAC below. There are also written instructions with pictures if you prefer to learn that way in this Google Doc. The print instructions go on to explain how to import the pictures into the new interface of gmail. 

Another frustration users run into is that now that we all have better digital cameras the file sizes are enormous. This makes it difficult to send lots of them via email and it makes loading times lag on websites and online documents. The best way around this problem is to resize the photos prior to mailing them or inserting them into digital documents. Online content does not require the vast size and pixillation photographers prefer for printed photos. You can still see a beautiful image with about 75% less of the file size. My favorite tool for this, picresize, is free and online. You can resize your images one at a time or in large batches. The upload and download is smooth and fairly speedy. There is a screencast for this process posted here.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Show Me and Prezi Offer Student Accounts

Show Me is a wonderful iPad app that students can use to show what they know. They can draw on a blank canvas or import pictures and backgrounds. When they click on the record button it records their drawings and their voice as they explain. Previously, if a teacher wanted the video file of their work it required a student email account. Recently, Show Me listened to teachers of students who do not have email accounts but really want their students to have access to this tool. The staff at Show Me added a way for teachers to create student accounts with log ins and passwords. Everything a student creates get emailed to the teacher automatically.  This is a link to Show Me's tutorial on how to do this for your students.

Show me is free and the learning opportunities are tremendous. Additionally, they are very responsive to user comments, suggestions, and seem genuinely interested in meeting the needs of teachers and students. 

Prezi has long been a favorite tool of mine and yet I did not know they had accounts for education until our Head of School at The Grosse Pointe Academy, Lars Kuelling shared it with me earlier this week. You can go directly to the Education Page and sign up here. With the Enjoy Edu package you get Private Presentations, Use Your Own Logo, and 500MB of storage. The Pro Version offers the same features and in addition, off line creation and 2GB of storage for 4.95 a month.