Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Entry 7 A Paperless Paper

This post is reflective and slightly different than my previous posts on our paperless paper project. I don't have any how to's today or problems to solve. Things are running smoothly in our 4th grade class. Using Notability, Dropbox, Gmail, and Preview seems to be working quite well for both the students and Mr. Sims.

At this point the kids are using the ipads as a normal tool in their classroom.  Isn’t this the goal?  To have a device that becomes the norm?  They aren’t ooh-ing and aahh-ing about it anymore.  Just like when you first fall in love you become so excited and it is all you can think about.  And then you commit to it and just ‘have” it.  Our 4th graders are doing just that.  They pick up their ipads, go to their apps, and begin working.  Just the way it is supposed to be.  

Not only have our kids increased their writing, but they have learned a bunch of other cool skills that they can use in many environments.  For example, they know what a web-clip is.  The know what the word “export” means.  They understand different hand gestures essential for the proficient ipad users.  Their typing skills have improved because they are doing it every day.  Or how about using text wrap in a document.  These were unplanned learning experiences that just happened throughout our project and the students are better for it.  

For the next 9 days the students have the ipads to use for writing.  I know they will be sad when I have to take the ipads back for our next curriculum project, but maybe, just maybe there is hope in the future that their ipads can come back and stay in their hands for more fabulous learning!  Check back for some final written work by these fabulous kids.  

Written by: Jennifer Krzystowczyk

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Big G Black Bar Sorter

Another simple, yet awesome Google Chrome Extension is the:


For me personally, I would get so annoyed by the items in my Black control bar and there location within my Google account.  Particularly, when the one I wanted to get to was under the "More" drop down menu.
You know, this Black Bar:

This Chrome Extension fixes that problem!  With BIG G BLACK BAR SORTER I can now customize where literally every word goes on my Black Bar!  How fabulous is that?  Check out the difference now in this screenshot below compared to the one above:

Hopefully you can see some differences, but perhaps most importantly notice Groups is gone and I added Reader in its place which used to be under the "More" drop down!  Now I am a couple less clicks to get to Reader and my efficiency has just increased because I use Reader more often and maybe not Groups and I save myself the step of having to click on "more" and pull down and click the one I need.

So, why not customize your Black Tool Bar!?!?!  Put the words you want up there and in there.  Maybe you only want three of them.  No problem.  Drag the ones you don't want to see or you are not using over to the "More" area and now they are gone.  You have to have the "More" pull down clicked to pull words to it and from it to your Black Bar or away from your Black Bar.

It could look like this:

So customize away my friends!  Use the Chrome Extension BIG G BLACK BAR SORTER to make it happen.

A Real Gem: Chrome Extensions

"Work smarter, not harder." Google makes it easy to make this phrase reality with Chrome Extensions.  What is an extension?  According to Wikipedia, a Chrome Extension is defined as "... small programs that modify the Google Chrome browser. These extensions are written using web technologies like HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. Google Chrome Extensions are downloadable through the Google Chrome Extensions Gallery.

My favorite Chrome Extension right now is the URL Shortener / QR Code Generator.  Click this LINK to go to the Google Chrome Store and download the extension. The extension will sit in your Chrome browser next on the right side of the URL.  

Just click icon of the extension and the URL is shortened and a QR code is created!

Ideas for use:  
  1. Create shortened URL’s that are easier for students to type.
  2. Make QR Codes to YouTube Playlists, websites, calendars, and more.
  3. Copy / Paste / Print QR codes and hang in the classroom / workspace that link to interesting information.
  4. Use the zoom feature to make the code larger so students can scan URL right off the screen.

Do you have a favorite Chrome Extension?  Add it to our growing Google Doc HERE that I started during the #nebedchat. 

View the doc and go to the Chrome Store. Install a few extensions that help you “work smarter, not harder.”

-Ann Feldmann

A Paperless Paper Entry 6 Feedback and Revisions

Entry 6 Giving Feedback and Doing Revisions

If you haven’t read my previous posts on a paperless paper feel free to take a few moments to get caught up here.  Now we are ready for feedback!  Mr. Sims is using preview with the annotation tools to guide his students to a better piece of writing and contacting them using student gmail accounts.  

Students need to be able to view their annotated piece of writing and then edit what they have created.  My brainiac idea was to seek out some amazing, and by the way, nonexistent app that would allow students to look at feedback on one side of the screen and revise at the same time on their saved note on the other side of the screen. Essentially cutting the screen in half like two iPads.  If it does exist, it really isn’t that great of an idea because the screen size will be cut in half and that minimizes the experience of using an iPad to create a good piece of writing.

What I discovered is that sometimes the low tech solution is the way to go.  This low tech solution was evident in a training I did with an Apple trainer.  He was asked during an iPad training, “Can we highlight sections in an ibook for our students?”  He replied, “Of course!  Just walk over and highlight the text in their iPad.”  The solution was literally hands and feed.  I had to chuckle, because in our high tech world we expect our solutions to be so much more complicated.  

So the solution on viewing feedback and reworking student writing is going to be a simple four finger hand gesture on the iPad- no app necessary.  

Here is how it looks for work flow:
1.)  Student logs into their dropbox account
2.)  Student opens up their note that Mr. Sims has annotated over
3.)  Student opens up Notabiity and opens the note that is also saved in their Notability app
4.)  Now the student can take four fingers and gently swipe left and right to move back and forth between the two documents

In some ways, it might work better than paper in that the student is required to concentrate and understand the feedback.  Instead of having the paper right under their nose and looking back and forth, this method of swiping between apps demands a bit more concentration on the part of the student.  

I am anxious to see how the students feel about reworking their papers this way.  Check back in next week to see how our students are feeling about the workflow and experience!  

Writing by: Jennifer Krzystowczyk

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Paperless Classroom Entry 5

Entry 5 Annotating over PDF's from Dropbox Using Preview

At last entry I was pondering our choices for providing feedback to our students.  I’ve since decided to go with the laptop tool Preview.  One reason is there just isn’t another iPad to go around and the second is that Mr. Sims is pretty comfortable in the laptop environment.  

So here is how you use Preview on a Mac to annotate over a PDF.  Once your PDF is open in Preview, click on tools on the tool bar menu.  From there scroll down to annotate.  Here you will find a variety of tools to use for marking up a PDF like a thought bubble, a speech bubble, arrows, shapes, and text. If I were still in 4th grade, I would much rather receive feedback in a hot pink thought bubble rather than a red ink pen, but that is just me. Take a look at the example below:  

Once the PDF has been checked over and some feedback has been provided to the students, the teacher can save it back to the dropbox folder for the students to view.  Using the students gmail account is another great way to communicate to the kids that feedback has been given. The great thing about this is that the students still have the copy in their Notability app so they can edit it based on the feedback given by their teacher.

So here is my next wonder..... How about a screen splitting app so they can view the feedback and their copy at the same time! Check in next time to see if I solve it!!!

Written by: Jennifer Krzystowczyk

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Google Vision: Video Sharing

I have Google Vision! What does that mean? It means I see the workflow we have always known transformed with Google tools. Organizing and sharing videos has never been easier. The playlist feature makes is very simple to collect, organize, and share videos with others. (For more on how to create and share playlists, CLICK HERE to watch tutorials from #tt4t.) Once a playlist is created, it can be shared via a link or embedded on a blog.


 Below is an example of middle school book trailers. Think how video can be used in your classroom/library. Do you have Google vision?

 -Ann Feldmann


Flip For Mac

Need to watch a .WMV file created on a Windows machine on your Mac?  Flip for Mac is the software to make it happen.  Click HERE to download Flip for Mac on your machine.  After the software is installed, each time you open a .WMV file on your Mac, it will play on your computer!  Check out our screencast for details on downloading and installing Flip for Mac on your computer. -Ann Feldmann

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Paperless Paper Entry 4

Creativity in Notability and Exporting Files!
If you haven't read my previous posts about a paperless paper, take a few minutes to get caught up! Today's lesson allowed 4th graders to create new notes in the app Notability, do some writing and illustrating and export it to their 
shared dropbox folders. The students only had one folder created so this was basically just walking them through the steps.  After clicking on the “happy share arrow” they choose the email button> dropbox> folder> and export to dropbox.  Students were thrilled to go into their dropbox app and see their note sitting in their newly created folders.  

Once we got through these steps we let them have some free journal time.  The objective was to have them create a document and practice exporting it out to dropbox.  

These 4th graders were working for almost an hour on writing.  You could have heard a pin drop in the classroom.  These kids were so engaged!  Some students were writing full paragraphs and inserting in web clips off of Google and Wikipedia. Other students were using the drawing tool and illustrating their stories.  I love the creativity that is available in Notability!


Our next challenge is to allow Mr. Sims to provide paperless feedback.  We have two choices.  One is to use preview on the laptop and save the notes back to the dropbox folder.  The other is to scrounge up one more iPad and use Notability to annotate over student notes as 
Notability allows users to import a PDF and add to a note. Check back to see where we go with this decision and how it affects the work flow of our paperless environment!  

 Written By: Jenny Krzystowczyk

A Paperless Paper Entry 3

"You came back!" said a bright eyed 4th grader as I was walking down the hall to my iPad group. Yes, I came back! How could I stay away? These guys were sharing out Dropbox folders to their teacher today. On this day we let the students get more familiar with dropbox, while we pulled students in small groups to learn how to not only log into their dropbox accounts but also their gmail accounts. 

This step is key in making sure each student remembers his or her student logins and passwords. We made sure that usernames and logins were the same for both accounts in order to avoid confusion. We also put the account names and password on a google doc and shared it between myself and @gtwitsims.

Here is what excited me the most about today's experience... Kids were writing right away using Notability. Worried about what they were to write, one student asked, "What's the topic of our paper?".

"Anything you want!" I replied back to him. 
With a huge smile he continued writing. These kids were ready to begin exporting their first paragraphs to Dropbox before I even got everyone finished with their sharing task. How great! This is going to be fun!

Written by: Jenny Krzystowczyk

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Turn OFF the LIGHTS!!

It's Time to Turn OFF the Lights!  

I have always enjoyed going to the Movie Theater to catch a couple of hours of some mindless entertainment in the dark with my pop and popcorn!  I could go to the Movies every weekend if the wife would let me.

It also so happens that I love YouTube!!  Maybe I am a sucker for a good movie or video, but I seriously LOVE YouTube!  Movies and video can alter how we think.  They can change our mood.  They can motivate us to want to be better.  They can inspire us!  They can enhance our classroom lessons!  We can learn from them.  I learned of a gem that you can find in the Chrome Web Store.

Recently, I attended the Google Certified Teacher Academy and @remedy1978 showed us this awesome Google Chrome Extension called “Turn OFF the Lights”!

Turn OFF the Lights is a fantastic little extension that will take YouTube videos and darken the entire screen around the video and leave your video lit up!  The focus will solely be on your video you want to show the kids in your classroom!  No distractions!  

I love the feature of having a blue light behind it like you see in the screenshot above!  It really makes it POP!!  You can choose from four other background colors in the settings:  red, yellow, green, and a different blue.

Simply go to Google Chrome and head to the Chrome Web Store to download the extension.  It is FREE!!  Of course, it can only be used in the browser Google Chrome because this is a Chrome extension.  

Watch this quick tutorial put together by the #tt4t YouTube Channel Team on how to get “Turn off the lights” on your computer now!  CLICK HERE TO VIEW.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Playing Windows Movie Maker Files on a Mac

Our district is going to begin the process of collecting almost 800 old HP laptops.  Teachers might be getting a little nervous when thinking about their documents, videos, and pictures they have saved on these computers.

I've had the pleasure of helping out our excellence music teacher Mr. Johnson to clean out his old laptop.  He has a lot of videos that he has made over the years using Windows Movie Maker.  The problem is that our version of Quicktime on the Mac won't play the MTS and MPEG files that his movies have been saved in.  I discovered that the free download Burn will convert the files to an mpg for me and then burn them.  This will give Mr. Johnson the option of watching the videos on any DVD player.  So he will go to five flash drives to a couple of DVDs.  Apple online support also recommended Telestream Flip4Mac free download to play Window's Movie Maker videos.  Telestream was easy to install and does play his Windows files.  Thanks Apple Support!

Next Mr. Johnson's task should be to upload all of his documents to the cloud so he can really be free of all those flash drives.  So all you awesome BPS teachers, give the G-Migos a shout out if you are need of assistance to convert files, transfer files, or double check that you've got what you need before going all out Mac!
Written By: Jenny Krzystowczyk

A Paperless Paper Entry 2

Today I introduced the students to their iPads!  Their little faces were literally aglow with excitement.  First I had them “name” their iPads using photo booth and photos.  They simply took their own picture and then saved it to their home and lock screen.  That way, each student will be able to use the same iPad day after day.
We made sure we allowed them to spend time playing with photo booth.  Giving kids time to play with new stuff is essential to avoid distraction later when we want them to really dig in and work.  Demystifying apps and tools is key in making room for the real learning.  

We had 2 ipad1's without cameras. In that case we took some screen shots of things that the students identified with. You can take a screen shot by holding down the home button and the power button at the same time. For example, one student enjoyed a certain reading series, so she took a shot of a book cover and made that her home screen.  

Next, I showed them some very basic features of the app, Notability.  After about 15 minutes of doodling time with the app I paused and showed them some more tools in Notability like the filing system, web clips, and drawing tools.  It will probably take a few more sessions with the app before we begin any serious writing.  

Classroom management is key in a successful project. So for this project we assigned 2 trustworthy little 4th graders to be the ones to pass out the iPads and check for charging needs after each session.
We also used Apple TV to model some iPad basics. Apple TV requires users to be on the same network and have the same apple ID entered on their device. So here is a little tip for those of you interested in using Apple TV in your class.  Create a class Apple ID so that you can have your classroom devices using the same ID and then they can jump on the Apple TV without having to touch the devices that want to share.  

Written By:  Jennifer Krzystowczyk

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Paperless Paper

I am excited to begin an iPad writing project with @gtwitsims and his 4th grade students.  Our goal is to have the students write a completely paperless paper.  I was inspired by an article I read from ipadders off of Twitter, along with our tech committee’s plan to begin introducing tablets into the classroom.  One hot topic that always comes up is, “How can our students write a paper on an iPad?”.  This project will answer that question and allow us to problem solve any issues that might come up throughout the process.  

Our plan is to use notability and dropbox folders.  I created a dropbox account for each student.  We will have each student log into their accounts and create a writing folder.  Then students will share that folder with their teachers.  This way Mr. Sims will have access to the students’ work.  I can’t wait to see how it all turns out and what these kids will create.  We chose Notability because it has the capability of doodling, web clips, and paper preferences that I knew the kids would love.  Pages would also be a possibility, but because Notability lets the kids have so many creative options we plan to stick with that.  

Check in periodically to see how our project flows.  I am thinking we need at least four weeks to make this happen, and I can’t wait to share the results with you all!  A big thanks to Mr. Garrett Sims for letting me invade his classroom with ipads and technology!

Written by: Jennifer Krzystowczyk

Thursday, October 4, 2012

APPYTIME - Paperless Storytelling via Stop Action Movies and

iKids are children born into a world with iDevices. They integrate iPads / iPods into their play, love to be creative, use their imaginations, and publish their work.

Creativity, play,  and story telling come together in stop action movies.  These are movies where figures are moved little by little to tell a story.  Stop action movies are easy for iKids to film and publish with these apps:  Stop Motion Studio and Lego Superhero Movie Maker.

1. Stop Motion Studio
Strengths:  Easily add music, narration, and upload to YouTube. Cost =  $.99

2.  Lego Superhero Movie Maker 

Strengths: Ease of use, keeps a "shadow" of the previous frame, uploads easily to YouTube.
Cost = FREE

Check out an interview with an iKid, Matthew.

-Ann Feldmann

Need to burn a DVD on the MAC? Try BURN!

Burn is a free download from source forge that allows you to burn DVD's on your Mac.  The app allows you to create CD's or DVD's of data, music, or video.  In addition, you can also copy DVD's, even if you only have one drive on your machine.

Watch these two tutorials from source forge, click HERE, and start burning your DVD's today.

-Ann Feldmann