Saturday, February 22, 2014

13 Apps for iPad Workflow in the Classroom

As an Apple Distinguished Educator, and an Instructional Technology Coach, I recently gave a presentation at the Apple Innovation Institute in Reston, VA regarding how I teach educators and students to use iPads in the classroom.  After my presentation I was asked to share my slideshow with the audience, but at the time I did not have a slideshow of resources and examples.  My presentation was was simply a live demonstration performed on my iPad.  Based on this request, I decided to create a slideshow that contains the apps that I use most frequently at my middle school to enhance "iPad Workflow".

I first learned about the term "iPad Workflow" from my Apple Distinguished Educator colleague, Camilla Gagliolo.  I really liked her model because it organized and categorized different iPad apps to help students and teachers maximize productivity and efficiency when using iPads in the classroom.

The resources that I have created for this blog post simply highlight the apps that I use in my middle school, along with examples that my students and I have created within the past year.  I hope that you find these apps and resources helpful if you currently use iPads at your school, or if you plan on using them in the future.

Here is a list of "iPad Workflow" apps that I use with my teachers and students.

Sharing and Publishing

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Did You Know? AutoPlay Google Presentations

Did you know that there is a way to automatically advance your Google Presentation to the next slide?  All you have to do is publish your presentation to get these additional options.

How it Works

When you are editing your Google Presentation, simply click "File", then select, "Publish to the web".

Then simply go down to the option that reads, "Automatically advance presentation to the next slide" and select preferred amount of time between slides.

In addition, you can even get your presentation's "Document link", "Embed code" and you can even change the "Presentation size".  Finally, you can also choose to "start your slideshow as soon as the presentation loads", and to "restart after the last slide".  These settings are particularly helpful if you plan on embedding your presentation into a website, or if you plan to share the presentation with others. 

Here's an Example

If you notice, there is now a little "Play" button in between the arrows to advance my slides at the bottom of my Google Presentation.  I purposefully set the slideshow to advance every 3 seconds while it plays.  Click on the "Play" button and try it out for yourself.

Another great use for this feature is if you are interested in doing a live Pecha Kucha style presentation. If you set your slideshow to advance to the next slide every 20 seconds, then it will force you to create a Pecha Kucha style presentation.  Therefore, keeping it short, sweet, and to the point!

Now that you know
  1. The next time you create a Google Presentation, consider publishing it to the web so that you can embed your slideshow, and customize its playing settings.
  2. What might be some other advantages to setting your Google Presentation to "Autoplay"?

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Engaging the Unengaged

Image is CC licensed by Wikimedia Commons.

Now here is a tough one!  How do we reach our "bored" students? You know these students. They are the ones that are either staring off into space, doodling, or getting distracted by their devices. Some people blame the students, but shouldn't we really be blaming ourselves?

George Couros recently wrote a blog post titled, Stating the Obvious, that really got me thinking.  In his post, George "states the obvious" ... that students are just like adults.  If we are not interested or engaged in something, we naturally become distracted.  I'm sure many of us have sat in faculty meetings, professional development workshops, or even keynote presentations bored out of our minds.  So what do we do? We either stare off into space, doodle, or take out our devices.  Sound familiar?

Below is the comment that I left on George's blog post, Stating the Obvious:

"George, I completely agree with you. The best behavior management is classroom instruction. If students are interested in the lesson, then they will be engaged. However, I think it is very difficult to engage "every" single student in the classroom, but this is the challenge that we as teachers must strive to overcome. Here are some variables to consider when trying to keep students engaged everyday.
Content: (can't be too familiar, nor too unfamiliar)
Challenge: (can't be too easy, nor too difficult)
Interest: (students should be interested)
Curiosity: (students should be curious)
Connection (students should connect with the lesson)
Meaning: (students should perceive the lesson to be meaningful or purposeful)
The challenging part about this is that students are all over the spectrum for each of these variables. So, it is our job as teachers to try to creatively reach all of our students. Student engagement should not be the objective. It should be the byproduct of great instruction!
If students have all of these variables at ideal levels, then they will be engaged and will not get distracted easily. Moreover, if teachers allow students to use their devices to engage in these types of lessons, then students will not only be engaged, but they will be using technology tools to interact with the lesson.
Thank you for writing all of your blog posts, and thanks for entertaining my two cents!"

After rereading my comment, I noticed that most of these variables seem to be intrinsic motivators. From my experience and research, I have found that intrinsic motivation is often more effective than extrinsic motivation when it comes to learning.  I have also noticed that a lot of intrinsic motivation comes from inquiry, meaning and relevance to the real world.

When you think about it, it really has a lot to do with the Art of Teaching (the why we teach and how we teach).  The ability to connect with students and craft engaging and empowering lesson plans, day after day.  One strategy to increase meaning and relevance is to encourage students to view different topics and concepts through different lenses.  This helps students to gain additional perspectives and to think about content in different ways. Another strategy is to try and elicit an emotional response from students, just like commercials and advertisements try to do. If we can elicit an emotional response from our students, then they will be more likely to connect with the material and apply it to other real world situations.

Finally, after we have our students interested and engaged in the lesson, let's empower them to use their devices to create something meaningful and relevant to the question or problem of the lesson. Let's empower them to use their devices to research, explore, communicate, collaborate, and create. And let's support our students on how to do all of these things effectively and responsibly as digital citizens.

Only then will our students have the opportunity to reach that desirable state of "flow".  And to make a conscious choice to either put down their devices, OR eagerly take out their devices to connect to our lessons and create something that is meaningful and relevant to them.  After all, we are the students we teach!

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