Book Review: Goodnight iPad

As a child, one of the many bedtime stories I heard (and eventually read myself) was Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. The basic premise is a bunny who is going to bed and looks around his room and sees different objects and then says good night to them, including the moon outside the window.

Goodnight Moon was originally published in 1947 (Wikipedia). And though it still is beloved by many parents as they read to their children at night, some children may not connect to the book the way the parents did when they were younger. Now, there’s a parody for that.

Goodnight iPad tells a similar story of the bunny family at night. However, this family has so many electronic gadgets that the mother bunny cannot sleep. She says, “okay, that’s it!” and start’s saying goodnight to all the electronics…by tossing them out the window! She then tucks the little bunnies into bed and reads “Goodnight Moon” via flashlight.

According to the back of the book, the parody was written by Ann Droyd (get it?…android!), a pseudonym for an IRA/Children’s Choices winner who has written over 25 books. A quick visit to www.anndroyd.com and I found that Goodnight iPad was the first book in the parody series. There is another…If You Give a Mouse an iPhone! I may have to get that one too…

I love the book. I thought it was cute, however, some of my younger tutoring students did not think the use of digital devices was all the clever or interesting. Perhaps they had not read Goodnight Moon or maybe I’m too old and still fascinated by technology rather than it being everyday objects. Or most likely, it was just below their reading level. We all go through a “that’s for babies” phase. Perhaps I caught them in it.

You decide….On Ann Droyd’s website there was an animation of Goodnight iPad. Watch it below and leave your thoughts on the book in the comments below.

Guest Post: “Read with Me”- A Handy Schoology Tool

Schoology, the world’s best Learning Management System, brings educators and corporations around the world a collection of highly useful features. The amazing cloud platform has tools for schools that encourage and enhance blended learning. Whether you’re a teacher, student, or an administrative, schoology has a lot to offer through its application center.

read with me

Today, I’ll review the use of this handy-dandy application built by a team of creative teachers and developers.  Tired of endless piles of paperwork while assessing reading skills? Read With Me is the perfect application that will reduce loads of work when it comes to that.

You can finally forget about paper and pencil hassles. Read With me is designed to make life easier for everyone whether you are a teacher, student, or a parent. This brilliant application can be used in numerous ways with iOS 5.1 (or later) devices. This includes iPhone, iPads, and Apple computers.

Read With Me (Schoology App) Features:

  • Fast and accurate calculations of words per minute read, number of errors
  • Easy to share reports to parents, students, and staff
  • Benchmarks tied to National Fluency Norms
  • Bundled assessments for quick administration
  • Stopwatch and one minute countdown options
  • Track miscues across groups and over time
  • Optional comprehension questions with every passage

read with me 2

 

Read With me is a highly convenient tool for conducting reading assignments and assessing fluency. You can launch new assessments easily from the device. It allows you to manage your classes and assessments from an easy-to-interpret dashboard. The best part is that you can sync two devices by entering a token into any browser.

Read With Me has a built-in library with a collection of reading passages that are sorted in accordance with grade levels. There are three passages per grade level (Grades 1-8, Lexile range 40L to 1270L). If you’re not interested in their library’s collection, you may add your own passages through different sources.read with me 3

For children or parents, with eyesight issues, Read With Me allows you to increase text size as per your suitability. Scoring and assessment can be customized allowing you to bring your own guidelines and texts. Make it easy or difficult according to your preferences and the child’s fluency level. However, Read With Me also offers suggestions with concerning fluency assessments. Their grade level benchmarks are based on the national fluency level norms. This allows you to determine whether or not your students are reading at the benchmark levels.

Read With Me assess speed (word per minute) as well as accuracy (percentage). You can share the report with parents and other teacher via email. Students can use the touch technology to record their own videos and watch the videos later for referencing, etc. This is also a great form of automatic feedback, a means for self-assessment for students.

The app is also very child-friendly. Although it is intended to be used with adult supervision, the app is designed to be fitting and appropriate for a child’s unsupervised during the time the adult is preoccupied elsewhere. There are no pop-up advertisements, tabs or links to social media, and there is no direct access to the internet. The children can also choose their own reading passages and set up pages from the homescreen. The online system cannot be used unless a token is provided. This can only be done by an adult.

Read With Me is a brilliant app designed to decrease the work load of teachers. It is not only an assistive monitoring and assessing tools, but also a very efficient one. Unlike the many applications previously built for reading assessment purposes, Read With Me is not that time or energy consuming. You can effortlessly assign your students their reading work without even having to interact with the students directly. The audio and video playback can be used to make evaluations later on.

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The app is a must have for all teacher, tutors, and parents who are looking forward to teaching their children or students effective reading. If you factor in the convenience and time saving aspects, this is a very economical and useful tool that can truly make reading fun and easy-to-learn.

Author Bio

Eric Philip is a veteran writer having diversified expertise in education, career, health and technology based writing. He is currently working for a well reputed dissertation writing service which is dedicated to providing better academic consultancy to post grad students.

EducationWeek Free Webinar—Smart Classrooms Need Smart Wi-Fi

I subscribe to EducationWeek. It sends me lots of emails and, unfortunately, most get deleted because I just don’t have the time to read them. Anyone else have this problem with awesome newsletters that you’d love to read but just don’t have enough time for?

I attempted to tackle the growing unread count in my box and maybe read one or two that jumped out at me. One did jump out at me…so much so that I’m passing along the information for a free webinar they mentioned. Please feel free to share your comments if you participated in it.

Smart Classrooms Need Smart Wi-Fi!

Incredibly powerful cloud-based services like Google Apps for Education, Microsoft Office 365, and other popular online tools demand the very best wireless solution. With so much at stake, deploying and managing this critical system must be as simple and reliable as a light switch without eliminating functionality and flexibility. Ruckus Wireless Smart Wi-Fi is the clear choice for simple, reliable, high-performing wireless access in today’s smart classroom.For years, technology use in schools had a limited role, primarily as a supplemental tool, sometimes only for computer science or word processing by students to type reports. Today, mobile technology access in schools is critical for educators and students to meet the most basic teaching and learning requirements. State standards like common-core online assessments mandate access to connected devices. Whether it’s Chromebooks, iPads, Windows laptops, or smartphones they all share the need for reliable high-performing wireless access.

Guest:

Erik Heinrich, national education manager, Ruckus Wireless; former director of technology infrastructure, San Francisco Unified School District, Calif.

This webinar will be moderated by GT Hill, director of technical corporate marketing, Ruckus Wireless

Register now for this free live webinar.

Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, 2 to 3 p.m. ET

Can’t attend? All Education Week webinars are archived and accessible “on demand” for up to four months after the original live-streaming date.

Guest Post: Why Should You Teach 7-Year-Olds To Touch Type?

Guest Post by: Chassie Lee

Your day is already full of things you’re required to teach to your second-grade students. They’re focused on learning how to print letters and spell words correctly, filling page after wide-ruled page with their newly-learned vocabulary. Some of your students are still having trouble with reading simple texts, much less writing them out – and you haven’t even started the lessons on cursive handwriting. So why would you want to take time away from these basic skills to teach your class how to use a computer keyboard to type their words instead? Because it’s a skill they’ll need in the future, and that future is as close as their next school year.

The new Common Core tests for English Language Arts and general writing skills are computer-based. Starting in the third grade, students will need to know how to use a mouse, how to navigate through computer screens, and how to type longer text passages. While the younger grades will still be able to get by with point-and-click selection and easier fill-in-the-blank test questions, third-graders need to be able to type in their own answers to questions. By the fourth grade, each student is expected to be able to type a full page without stopping; in the fifth grade, that’s increased to two pages, and by sixth grade every student must be able to type at least three pages in one session at the computer. The longer it takes for them to type out their texts and test answers, the less time they’ll have to think about the questions they’re trying to answer.

It’s easy to assume that children already know how to use a keyboard to type, because many children own and use tablets and smartphones on a daily basis. A recent study by The NPD Group confirms that the majority of US families own at least one smartphone, and as NPD states in their report titled “Kids and CE: 2014,” a third of those families said that their children use smartphones. However, while devices like tables and smartphones will help children get familiar with using the internet and computer hardware and software in general, it doesn’t help them learn how to type on a keyboard. Even if they see the standard QWERTY layout on a smartphone screen, they’re using their thumbs to select the letters, and the auto-complete feature eliminates the need to type complete words. This isn’t going to help when these children are put in front of a computer to take an online exam using a full keyboard.

Fortunately, there are time-efficient and cost-effective ways to introduce keyboarding in your classroom. When you use professionally-designed typing tutor software that combines kid-friendly games with touch typing instruction, you won’t have to develop your own course outlines or typing tests. Depending on the software, you may even be able to let most of the class work on their own, while you focus on helping the students who are having the most trouble.

Look for touch typing software that is suitable for children of any age, so that your students will want to continue to improve their typing skills over the next few years. Since they’ll have to use the computer for online research and writing assignments all the way through high school, their typing skills need to keep up with their class requirements. If your school is looking for a way to teach keyboarding at all grade levels, pick a software product that can be scaled to the size of the student population each year, and one that allows each teacher to manage their own students by grade, by class grouping, and one on one.

By teaching your students to master touch typing early on, you’ll help them get the skills they need to master the tests and exams they’ll be facing in the future, and you’ll prepare them to enter a job market where nearly everyone is required to use touch typing to communicate and collaborate.

 

About the Author: Chassie Lee is the Content Expert for eReflect – creator of Ultimate Typing EDU which is currently being used by tens of thousands of happy customers in over 110 countries.

 

Guest Post: 4 Classroom Presentation Tools For The Educators

Guest Post by: Lim Chuwei

Education and technology goes hand in hand. Devices like laptop, iPad, etc. have become an indispensable part of today’s education system. The learners and educators can make best use of technology to simplify the learning process. For the same reason the developers have come out with a number of applications, tools and much more. Check out the best iPad presentation tools, which will be of great help for the teachers.

With so many evolutions, the world of teaching has gone through the sea of change. No more the schools are constrained to ‘blackboards’ and ‘chalks’. Although the methods have changed yet, the motive behind remains the same, i.e. to inspire, educate and better engagement and interaction with the students. Following the same practice, teachers can make use of PowerPoint and Keynote for representing different ideas in the most beautiful way and helps in creating a fun learning environment in the classroom. For the tech savvy teachers, here is an insight to different classroom presentation tools for iPad which they can use for better teaching:

  1. Keynote:

Let’s start with the app Keynote, which is one of the top solutions for presenting all your ideas to students. In addition, this amazing tool brings forth astonishing features. Have a look;

  • 30 stunning preset themes
  • Easy import and edit of Microsoft PowerPoint files
  • Direct addition of photos or videos from the iPad’s camera
  • Insertion of 3-D charts and graphs to the slides
  • Auto-save option for the presentations to iCloud
  • Enormous animation effects can be added to charts and transitions
  • You can also add advance slides using a secondary iOS device (like an iPhone)

 

  1. Templates for Keynote Pro:

If you are looking for more themes and layouts, the Templates for keynote Pro will prove to be a great add-on for iPad users. It will get you more than 30 new templates, distributed into six different categories. The usage of this app is easy and simple. All you need to do is just search for the right style, take it to the Keynote app and add your content. You are done with an informative and interesting presentation.

Some striking features;

  • Fast import to Keynote with iOS “Open In” feature
  • Easy editing options for chart data and customized charts
  • Option to create a customized template with easy copy elements from other templates

 

  1. SlideShark:

For those, who love to prefer working with Microsoft PowerPoint, SlideShark stands first in the list of top contenders for working with PPT presentations.

It is simple to work with. You just need to create an account (which is totally free) on their website, install the free app to the iPad, upload a presentation or make a new one and download it directly to the device.

Before you proceed, check out its startling features:

  • You can directly upload your presentation to the SlideShark website
  • Simple process; open it from an email attachments to your device or import it from the cloud storage.
  • Just press ‘Play’ and start with the process on your iOS device.
  • There are options to tap or swipe for advance animations and slides
  • Want to go back? Just swipe back!
  • And swipe up for specific slides and access to various other features
  • For presenting it in-person, internet connection is not required when presenting in-person.
  1. Presentation Notes:

Wish to keep things secure and private? For such concerns, where your safety of your files become important or you need to keep a check on who all can access to your files, the Presentation Notes is the best solution. While other apps use cloud-based technology (the third party Cloud services) for faster access and sharing, it highly emphasizes on approach to save and store your files inside the iPad’s memory. Have a sneak peek at some outstanding features:

  • Unlimited number of presentations can be stored on the device
  • And, you can imported presentations with unlimited number of slides
  • It is compatible with .ppt, .pptx or .pdf files
  • Complete freedom to add files; whether directly from the computer, Google Drive™, Microsoft™ SkyDrive, DropBox™, Box™, or from your email account
  • The speakers notes will be accessible every times on the iPad’s screen
  • Presence of interactive laser pointer
  • Exclusive whiteboard, you can use it for additional explanations
  • Different time and slide number counters
  • iPhone can be used as a remote with Presentation Note Remote

 

Lim Chuwei is a Teacher in Singapore at ChampionTutor and highly advocates the use of cloud based application for teaching and learning.

Take a Look, It’s in a Book!

Earlier this summer LeVar Burton and Reading Rainbow created a Kickstarter to raise $1 million dollars.  There were two goals: everywhere on the web and free subscriptions to 1,500 classrooms who want Reading Rainbow but can’t afford to pay for it.

Burton set a timeline of 35 days.  It wasn’t necessary.  He was fully funded in 11 hours.

The campaign stayed open for the full 35 days and when it ended on July 2, the Kickstarter had raised $5,408,916.  To top that off, Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy and American Dad, “promised to match every dollar pledged following the $4 million mark to the $5 million mark if the campaign reached $5 million.”  In other words, if the Kickstarter made it to $5 million, MacFarlane would match the last million, making the $5 million dollar benchmark all the more sweeter (by turning in into $6 million).  Since Kickstarter has a $10,000 limit on donations, MacFarlane’s donation is not added into the number seen on the Kickstarter site.  Thus, the final total that the Kickstarter raised is $6.4 million dollars.

The Reading Rainbow Kickstarter is the 5th most funded campaign on Kickstarter.  According to Forbes.com, “The top four are: Pebble ($10.2 million), OUYA ($8.5 million), Pono ($6.2 million) and the Veronica Mars movie ($5.7 million).”

There is one record that the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter broke: the most backers.  Over 105,857 backers pledged to bring Reading Rainbow to all mobile devices, consoles, and OTT boxes as well as 7,500 classrooms who can’t afford it.

If your book adventures took you away to magical places and were unable to join the Kickstarter, you can still donate through Reading Rainbow’s site.  You can $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, $125, $175, $375, or $5000.  While all the packages have names based upon the dollar amount or rewards you can earn, the last two are special: $375 is the perfect amount to pay for a “adopt” a classroom and $5000 will allow you “adopt” a school.  If you really want to know exactly where you money is going, those two cannot be any more specific.

The Reading Rainbow Classic Series is available on Amazon Instant Video (free to Prime subscribers) and on iTunes (video).

The Reading Rainbow app is available for iPad and the Kindle Fire.

Though time has passed, Burton has aged, and the books have gone digital, the fact remains that Reading Rainbow is still enchanting as ever for the next generation of readers.  Then again, LeVar Burton always sticks around for The Next Generation.

BONUS: LeVar Burton, Reading Rainbow, and Star Trek: The Next Generation

Kindle Unlimited: Not Worth Your Money

Have you heard?  Netflix for books has arrived!  Amazon now offers a new service called Kindle Unlimited.  For a nominal fee of $9.99/month ($119.88) you can “enjoy unlimited access to over 600,000 titles and thousands of audio books on any device.” Sounds excellent, right?  Sorry, no.  It’s not worth your money.  Here’s why:

    • Borrowing books, not buying them…so there is a limit on how many you can have out a time.
    • Not included in Amazon Prime
    • Do not have access to all Kindle books
    • Better/More Popular selection available for FREE through your local public library using the app OverDrive.
    • Not a new, innovative idea

Borrowing Books, Not Buying Them Did you actually read the all the fine print or just watch the sailboat video?  I’ll say it plainly so there are no questions: you are borrowing books, not buying them.  The subscription service is not “get unlimited books for $10/month”, it is “borrow 10 books at time, as frequently as you want for $10/month”.  That’s right, you’re actually restricted to “ten books at a time and there are no due dates.”  While the restriction seems logical…it’s not so awesome if your family shares an Amazon account. A caveat of borrowing Kindle books is this: once you return the book, any annotations and notes you make are gone.  Technically, they are inaccessible because they are saved as a separate file on your Kindle, so if you borrow the book again your notes will be there…as long as you didn’t accidentally delete the “letter” that states your rental expired.

Not Included In Amazon Prime Kindle Unlimited is not added into the Amazon Prime subscription.  It’s an extra cost.  However, if you have Amazon Prime and a Kindle, each month you can read free books through the Kindle First and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (about 500,000 titles).

Do Not Have Access to All Kindle Books Did you read the first paragraph thoroughly or did you just skim right over the 600,000 titles number? Or did the difference simply not register?  Amazon boasts “over 1 million books are available for the Amazon Kindle”.  Let’s do some simple math: 1,000,000-600,000=400,000 Kindle books that Amazon has that are not available for Kindle Unlimited. So what accounts for the large difference? Five major publishing houses opted not to participateSimon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, MacMillan, and Penguin.  So while Scholastic and HoughlinMifflin Harcourt are participating, there is a noticeable lack of New York Times Bestsellers.

Better/More Popular Selection Available through OverDrive and Your Local Library OverDrive is a free app that you can download to your iPad/iPhone/iPod, Android, Windows Phone, Kindle, Nook, Mac, and Windows.  Once downloaded, you log into OverDrive using your library card and pin/password that was given to you at the library.  If you have any trouble with this, consult your local library. Be advised: the availability of books for you may differ from someone else as availability depends on what subscription your public library has with OverDrive. You can filter search results by format: Audio book, Adobe ePub, OverDriveREAD, Adobe PDF EBook, and Kindle.  Yes, you can borrow several Kindle books through OverDrive that are unavailable through Kindle Unlimited.

Not a New Concept There are already a few eBook subscriptions sites available: Scribd, Oyster, and Entitle, just to name a few.

Not Worth Your Money So, why is Amazon charging an extra $9.99/month to borrow books that I can digitally borrow on my iPad through OverDrive and my local public library for free?  It’s a great business endeavor for them, but bad for the consumer.  You’re better off either buying the ebooks, borrowing for free from your local library, or using a different subscription service that actually has some of the top publishing houses.

Stick Pick: Web 2.0 Popsicle Sticks

Popsicle sticks have been a popular choice for teachers to randomly draw names of students.  However, keeping classes organized can be difficult.  Standing in front of 30 students is not the time foStick_Pickr a game of pick up sticks.

Stick Pick is an app by Buzz Garwood and available for both the iPhone and iPad.  It costs $2.99 and can hold as many electronic Popsicle sticks as you want; all organized by class.

Stick Pick will keep used and unused names separate so keeping track of who has already had a chance to speak won’t be an issue.  When you get to the end of the tin, you can just simply reset.  Of course, you can reset the tin at any time to start over.

You can operate Stick Pick in just “Stick Only” mode where names are being drawn, or you can operate in one of several modes with stem questions being prompted from either Bloom’s Taxonomy, Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy, or ESL.  You can customize a different mode for each student as well, to apply differentiated learning strategies to your classroom.

Additionally, you can utilize a few feedback buttons and gather statistical data on your discussion.  In other words, you can draw a name and click “assess” and mark if the student answered the question correctly or incorrectly.  Then, at the end of the discussion, you can go look through statistical data.

While the app is available for both iPhone and iPad, it does not appear to sync between the two devices.  This can be rather difficult if you have both devices that you use interchangeably in the classroom.  You’d have to set up the sticks on each device separately and the feedback data will not sync.

I have used Stick Pick in the classroom before to actually create more classroom interaction.  I have downloaded the app to my iPhone and then directly hooked up the phone to the projector.  I picked the first student and no matter if he or she answered correctly or not, that student still had to get up out of his or her seat to come up to the front of the classroom and hit the button to pick the next student.  There is a bit of audio noise of a tin can shaking and then all students see whose name was drawn.  After a few minutes it became more game-like to them.  They were more enthusiastic with answering and interested to see whose name would come up next.  Hint: Everyone’s name came up!  I used this to during an otherwise boring lesson on comma usage.

I have not hooked up the app on an iPad to a SmartBoard to see if the students could just tap the Smartboard and have the next stick picked, but I would definitely be interested in trying it!

Guest Post: Using Smartphones in Classrooms – the Emerging Trend

If you are a teacher and if you are a regular smartphone user, chances are that you have come across a plethora of education websites and apps. You may not, however, have realized that many of these can be feasibly used inside the classroom to improve learning. Most of your students (unless you are a primary school teacher) must also have access to smartphones and tablets and know their way around the internet and the app world. You may be the type with a zero tolerance policy when you see a phone out during class, but how do you know that the student is necessarily communicating with friends, and not trying to Google a word or phrase you just uttered, and which he or she doesn’t understand? Maybe the student is even brushing up on the topic of the lesson. How about trying to integrate all of this and create a more enriching teaching experience?

Step 1: Use Smartphone Apps

There are countless smartphone or tablet apps that you can use to supplement your teaching and add to your reference material database for the benefit of your students. For example, a language app called Courses123 allows the user to learn five new languages. It offers vocabulary training, definitions, pronunciation and usage guides. Wolfram Alpha, the big brother of learning apps, works like a search engine. Additionally, it answers factual queries in a unique way. It uses curated database of knowledge websites or pages to directly calculate and display the answer. So it is also an answer engine. School Fuel Apps connects teachers and students and acts as a learning platform, in the classroom and on the move. If you are a science teacher, you can recommend apps such as Science Glossary, Atomium and Skeptical Science to your students. Science Glossary is an extensive science dictionary app that provides definitions, short biographies and education modules. The Atomium periodic table app provides information about every element, while Skeptical Science addresses climate change.

Step 2: Access Online Resources

Websites, online tools and other such resources could be of huge help to both students and teachers. HippoCampus, for example, is a knowledge rich website where you can find instructional videos that are arranged by subject. The Jefferson Lab website contains knowledge resources and content on high school science. It is divided into a student zone and teacher resources, and also offers games and puzzles. Discovery Education gives you the best links to other educational sites, and lets you create your own classroom clip art and word puzzles. There is also a huge number of education blogs that you can find. E-pals lets you arrange safe online interaction and communication between your students and other students around the world. English as a Foreign Language (EFL) blogs include Kalinago English, EFL 2.0, TEFLtastic with Alex Case, Jamie Keddie.com and so on.

Step 3: Use Cloud Storage and Sharing

Cloud storage has given a facelift to teaching methods. For example, Dropbox and Sugarsync are resources that allow you to back up files and sync them across connected devices. You get to carry around all your teaching material with you, via these applications. With such effective utilization of cloud storage, you don’t need to worry about losing your data even when you lose a device. You can also share saved data and resources in the classroom, or with your students who have accounts in, say, Dropbox.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many more things you can do with smartphones in the classroom. If every other kind of technology is being allowed for teaching, why not smartphones or handheld devices? And with a more enjoyable classroom experience, there will be fewer chances of students being easily distracted.

Author’s Bio: Lynda Scott is an educationist, social media evangelist, and an ESL English specialist. She writes primarily on education and technology related topics.