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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Productivity Applications

Happy Saturday morning!

This week in my mobile technology course we focused on productivity applications for mobile devices.  Since I have iPads and use iPads in my classroom, I stuck with applications for the iPad/iPhone.  I believe that iPads need to be equipped with productivity applications in order to be as valuable as possible for the classroom.  Games and interactive applications are great, but in education, sometimes you need presentation and word processing tools.  Our assignment this wee was to pull together our top 5 productivity applications.  I am not sure about the rest of you, but this changes on a regular basis for me depending on the needs of my classroom or updated applications.  I HATE to be repetitive, but I feel in order to properly address this week's topics I need to post my top 5 applications.  Below is the assignment I turned in followed by a little bit of additional reflection.  I have included a few examples of how I would or have used the applications selected in my classroom.

Stacie’s Top 5 Productivity Applications

Name of the App: Pages
Type of Productivity: Word Processing
Cost of App: $9.99 (student edition/school discount - $4.99)
Description of App: Pages is a word processing application made by Apple specifically for the Apple iPad.
Justification: I chose Pages as one of my top productivity applications because of ease of use on the iPad.  After experimenting with GoogleDrive (which has the potential to become VERY awesome) and CloudOn, I found Pages to be the easiest to use in terms of text manipulation and image upload.  Documents created in Pages can be emailed or saved to a WebDAV drive (file storage) which allows teachers to collect assignments.  There are many ways to convert .pages documents to .doc or I can collect and read student assignments on my iPad (so I am on the go.)  Overall, when I am typing an assignment or preparing anything in a word document, I do not want the majority of my time spent fighting with the formatting and selecting a font.  I have the same expectation for my students.  The Pages application fits the needs of my classroom and the assignments I assign my students.


Name of the App: Prezi
Type of Productivity: Presentation
Cost of App: FREE
Description of App: Prezi is a non-linear presentation tool that can be accessed and used from multiple mobile devices as well as the computer.  By creating a Prezi account all of your devices have access to all of your presentations.
Justification: While I was not blown away with the Prezi application for the iPad in terms of creating a presentation, I do adore this productivity application in the sense that I can access my presentations on any of my devices without any problems.  I have shown the same Prezi from my computer, iPhone, and iPad without any problems in the flow or formatting.  This is by far one of the most valuable features of the Prezi applications.  As I have mentioned before, downloading my Prezis to my phone has been a lifesaver when the Internet suddenly goes down in my class.  Since the iPad application allows you to create or edit presentations, if I find an error in a presentation while I am presenting or information needs to be updated, I can do it without interruption or stopping at home/school to update from a computer.  I demonstrated this mobile technology while presenting at a symposium in May – my Prezi was shared from my iPad.


Name of the App: Qrafter
Type of Productivity: QR Codes
Cost of App: FREE/$2.99
Description of App: Qrafter is a QR code reader that allows the user to save QR code images with text and notes.  It also scans the website associated with the QR code for problematic content.
Justification: Qrafter is a great application for organizing QR codes.  I have used other scanners in the past, but none have done such a thorough job of organizing the site content, user notes, and the QR code in one place.  This is an application that I would recommend in a 1:1 setting for students or for teacher use when there is only one iPad in the classroom.  In a 1:1 setting students can scan QR codes, organize the information, and then access it whenever they want.  This is great for study guides, helpful websites, and assignments shared in GoogleDocs.  On the teacher’s iPad, he/she can do the same (organize codes) but can pull them up at any time to display on the SMART Board for students to scan.  In my opinion, most QR codes look the same, so by having them organized with words and user notes, it makes accessing codes much easier!


Name of the Bookmark: dotepub
Type of Productivity: Converts any webpage to an e-book
Cost of Bookmark: FREE
Description of App: Dotepub is a website with code to save on your iPad that allows the user to turn any website into an e-book accessible through the iBooks application.
Justification: While this is not an application, it is a VERY handy productivity tool for the iPad.  By following the directions on the website and installing the bookmark, I can turn any webpage into an e-book that I can access through iBooks without Internet or 4G connection.  As an educator, I found this to be very valuable in the classroom.  I teach a number of intriguing adult topics like clean energy, sustainability, restaurant management, etc.  With adult topics come adult advertisements on websites.  By converting websites with ads to e-books, none of the ads or images were saved, just the content.  I have done this for a number of websites and created articles the students can read in the Reading Nook station or during activity rotations for a unit.  I have also used it for articles I find interesting and want to be able to read later when I won’t have access to the Internet. 


Name of the App: iMovie
Type of Productivity: Digital Movie Creation
Cost of App: $4.99
Description of App: iMovie allows users to create and edit movies or movie trailers and has templates that users can use for their films.
Justification: This is an application that I have recently begun finding value in as I spend more and more time playing with it.  I have just finished creating a Back to School night trailer introducing my class to the incoming students and parents.  I can also see students using the iPads to document (in pictures) their progress through an assignment or project and then creating a movie trailer as their culminating activity to share with the class what they were able to accomplish and learn.  I have not done anything with the full movie aspect of the application, just the movie trailer part and what I have done I LOVE!  It is also incredibly easy to use and does not require any of the movie editing skills Window MovieMaker does (which is easy to use, but can still be tough when you start to layer things.)  My students can pull photos from the photo stream stick them in the movie trailer template they have chosen and have a video by the end of my 47 minute class period.


I am a CRAZY multitasker and adore finding more and more ways to do at least two things at one time.  My husband considers this a flaw, especially when he wants to sit down and watch a movie with me and I HAVE to be doing something else (like cutting out lamination or planning our weekly menu) at the same time.  All of the applications above make my life easier and/or more mobile.  I love that I can convert all of my graduate reading articles and journals to e-books to read while I am waiting for the oil to be changed in my car or the at the doctor's office.  Pages has allowed me to complete assignments while in the car so that I can submit them as soon as I can connect to the Internet.  In the classroom, I am far more organized and can provide my students with the same flexibility.  This summer I am drafting a BYOD (bring your own device) plan for my classroom in hopes of allowing my students to bring in their mobile devices.  Through the use of productivity applications like the ones above, my students will be able to work on the go.  I have a number of students who end up "stuck" at the little league fields because of a siblings game for four or more hours in one night.  If the student has not taken their books along because they did not expect to be there all night, they can now do their work on the go and submit it as soon as they have service/Internet.  I can think of a number of parents that would appreciate this option as well.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Mobile Presentations

When it comes to large scale projects and assignments, I tend to favor a computer.  I feel that a larger monitor set at eye level and a full keyboard with mouse is much easier to see/use when manipulating text in a document or pictures in a presentation.  This past week I was without my computer and my patience was truly tested...

This week's creation assignment was to create a mobile presentation with at least five images.  Seeing that I did not have my computer, I was left to create my presentation using my iPad.  At the start of the week I was very excited to do this since I had not done what I would consider a quality presentation on my iPad yet.  After reviewing the tools Dr. McCullough suggested, I chose Prezi.  Prezi (on the computer) is something that I am familiar with and my students like using.  Since I have an educational account I figured I would download the application for the iPad and give it a whirl.  I have presented Prezi's from my phone via my SMART Board (when the internet is down) but I have never created a presentation using the application.

First I took pictures using my iPad of Smith Mountain Lake (my family and I were on vacation).  I then used an application I downloaded called PicShop to edit my photos.  I believe the application was originally $4.99 but I was able to download it for free a month or so ago when AppsGoneFree (another free application) posted that it was free for a day.  While I have taken many pictures with my iPad, I have never used a photo editing application prior to this assignment on my iPad.  (I was a fan of Picnik when I completed my M.S. at Wilkes.)  In my presentation you can see how I adjust the color and frames around many of my pictures.   The kids use these types of tools when posting to Instagram and appreciate having these applications available.  I have BookCreator on all of my student iPads and plan on adding PicShop so that the kids can tweak their photos for their creations.

As for image hosting sites, a long time ago I created a Flickr account to upload photos.  However, I see little to no value in sharing my photos or storing my photos on an image hosting site (I prefer an external hard drive.)  I am very particular about my privacy and do not like the idea of my vacation photos being uploaded to a website.  Even with secure settings, accounts are "hacked" and photos "borrowed" or used in an inappropriate manner.  The only place I currently share some of my photos is Facebook (and I share very few photos outside of my dogs.)

Back to my presentation, I have had many experiences creating presentations on my iPad with Keynote, Educreations, ExplainEverything, ShowMe, iMove, Animoto, and HaikuDeck.  Since I had not created a Prezi on my iPad, I chose to try that application.  I was able to complete 95% of the presentation before becoming so frustrated I had to pull it up on the computer to finish the presentation.  I struggled with positioning and sizing the images and text so that it was appropriate for the presentation and editing the path.  As for presenting a Prezi on a mobile device, I can speak from experience when I say that it is a piece of cake!  I love that I can have access my Prezis on my computer, tablets, and phones.  As I mentioned before, the wireless internet is frequently down in my hallway.  By having the Prezi application on my phone I can use my 4G to present my Prezi to my students on the SMART board.  My kids get a kick out of it when I have to "ghetto rig" my SMART Board for the day's lesson with old speakers I plug into my phone and the long cable I use to connect my phone to the SMART Board. 

All in all, I highly recommend the integration of what I refer to as creation applications for students.  As a STEM teacher I strive to provide my students with opportunities to produce their own unique projects.  In order to do that they need a variety of tools available.  If I were to assign this creation assignment to my own students I would make a handful or presentation and photo editing applications available to them so that they could explore and find what works best for what they are trying to create.

To see my Prezi on Smith Mountain Lake, click HERE!  (I just couldn't stretch it to ten full slides...sorry to disappoint!)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

To Blog or Not to Blog

This blog post will differ greatly from my usual content since I will be using my blog for a very fascinating graduate course I am taking this summer on mobile technology. To start, I will note that I am writing this particular post on my iPhone in a vehicle with my husband as we are on the go. I am using the FREE Blogger application to check, manage, and post to my blogs. The Blogger application is incredibly easy to use and very simple. I don't know about you, but when it comes to my productivity applications I like them SIMPLE! (Below is a screen shot of the Blogger iPhone application after the user has logged in and selected the blog they would like to manage. It was incredibly easy putting this picture in this blog post as well!)

I have used (and still have) a blog through WordPress. While I found it to be a very nice blogging option, I always return to Blogger. I find Blogger VERY easy to use and I love that it is linked to my Google account. Anytime I can minimize passwords, accounts, and links I do. In addition, I am comfortable with the layout and options Blogger offers. It is easy for me to adjust my background and customize different parts of the blog. I even linked up Google Reader so that my favorite educational blogs appear on the right side of my blog. (Of course I will need to change this soon since Google Reader will be leaving soon...) 

This blog is traditionally used for me to post all of the interesting things I do and find for a middle school classroom. It started as Stacie's Acute Math Blog (I taught 6th grade math...do you get it?!?!)    When I was hired by the Greencastle-Antrim School District I became a 7th grade STEM teacher so I adjusted the name of my blog. I usually post the activities and units I have created for my classroom as well as links to fantastic STEM resources (that are usually FREE!).

So, this week's question is "who are you?"

Well, my name is Stacie and I am currently a 7th grade teacher in south-central Pennsylvania.  I have two Rottweilers that keep me very busy and a loving husband.  This summer I have been blessed with the opportunity to attend the Siemen's STEM Institute.  This is an opportunity awarded to only 50 educators across the nation (3 from Pennsylvania).  Prior to teaching I attended Shippensburg University and obtained a B.S. in Elementary Education with a minor in reading and a mathematics concentration.  At the end of my first year of teaching I began my M.S. in Instructional Media through Wilkes University which I completed in a little less of a year.  Currently I am wrapping up my Instructional Technology Specialist Certificate program at Clarion University.  

As for my experience with mobile devices, I would say that I am very experienced.  I have three iPads, multiple laptops, an iPhone, and another tablet device.  I use all of my devices without much frustration and for a variety of reasons.  This past May I took a course with a friend on iPads in the classroom which helped expand my knowledge base of creation applications.  In my classroom I have ten iPads to use with my students and an Apple TV attached to my SMART Board so that I can project (through AirPlay) my iPad or any student iPad.  One of the reasons I chose to take this particular course was to continue to expand my knowledge of how I can use my iPads in the classroom and get the most from the devices.  An iPad should not be put in front of students to entertain them, but to enhance instruction and motivate students to learn.  (The other reason I am taking this course is because it is the only one offered to fulfill my final ITSC course requirements.)  I am REALLY looking forward to this course as well as blogging about what I learn on my classroom blog!  I hope everyone has a FANTASTIC week!!!