Monday, March 26, 2012

How on earth do you...?

There is a question buzzing about my team wondering how to securely accept and respond to student work using iPads.  Currently, we have 54 students sharing a cart of 20 iPads for use with 4 different teachers.  I've begged and pleaded for a 1:1 program, but it isn't going to happen, at least not this year.  So, we're left to find another option.

Currently, we have one generic gmail account to which all twenty iPads are connected.  That means that students may email us their assignments.  However, should we respond, we would potentially tell the entire class the grade for that student. 

How do you do it in your school?

We have considered giving all students a gmail account and they log in to that account when they pick up the iPad.  That doesn't work because switching the account through settings is not password protected.

We have considered having kids log on to gmail through Safari and sending us emails that way, but not every app gives you that flexibility.  I'm sure that you've noticed that a number of apps will just send the product off using the "logged into" account. So, this won't work.

Our IT department is playing around with Google Apps for Education, but they aren't ready to roll it out to everyone yet.  I'm not sure if that will answer our question.

I think I'm at the point where I'll accept something emailed to me from the generic email account, type my response, and print a hard copy of the response to send home.  It's not perfect, and I'd love to be paperless on this... but I can't think of a better way.

Can you?

What do you do in your school?

Saturday, March 24, 2012


I just found out about an app called Rover.  You can read the review that introduced it to me here. The magic of Rover is that you can use it when you are using Flash-based web sites.  When you first open up Rover, you will see a number of sites already programmed into it, which you can play with.  I choose not to bother with them but to put in sites that I'll be using in school really soon.

You'll see at the top of the page, a navigation toolbar similar to what Safari offers you.  I typed in a couple of sites and explored.

My take on it... It does the job.  It will show you the pictures and text.  I got sound out of it once in a while.  It's just slow though. The pictures come in all pixelated then eventually form the effect the creator wished for.  When I look at the same site on my Windows PC, the picture comes up immediately.  (Try it.  The site is

If you can live with the slower speed, then I say to go for it. I have four student PCs in my room and a cart of 20 iPads that spend most of the week in my room.  If I have my 12 social studies students all wanting to get online at one time, we can't use the PCs.  However, we can use the iPads.  Rover makes using Flash-based sites possible again.  I will definitely have Rover loaded on the student iPads really soon and train the kids one how to use it so we can have more possibilities in the future.  I'm sure that as time goes by, the quality will get better and we'll be glad we got in on the ground floor.

Have you been using Rover?

Toontastic Review

Click here to see my review of Toontastic on their blog.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My New Word Game App Addiction

It all started with Hanging With Friends. When I got my iPad, my friend downloaded a bunch of apps for me, and this was in the batch.  A fun game, but you kinda get tired of Hangman.  It's really hard to predict what the other person is thinking.

Next, I went to Words With Friends.  Hanging With Friends is no longer on my iPad.  I'm still addicted to it and love crushing my opponents.  There are still a few friends that I struggle to beat and cheered with glee when I destroyed one by over 100 points recently.

WordsWorth is an app that I found via the blogs.  Fun and addicting but ultimately not challenging.  I feel that it's more a measure of how fast your fingers move than how fast you think. That went by the wayside when I found the next one.

7 Little Words is a great app for building vocabulary.  My wife and I blew through the Sunrise free games and  we bought our first in-app purchase: Coffee! I love the game, but my wife is addicted.  Once a night, she takes the iPad and plays a few rounds.  Thankfully, they have a free daily game; otherwise, we'd be buying a lot more in-app purchases.

I recently discovered my new addiction: Word Jigsaw.  It combines word knowledge and jigsaw puzzles.  Sometimes I put the puzzle together using my massive jigsaw skills.  Other times I use my vast vocabulary to win.  Then, there are times I need a hint because I'm not as good as I thought I was.

Every other Friday, we have what I call Station Day.  The kids move around the room to 5 or 6 stations where they do various activities: some on technology and some without. We have a massive checkers station and a hink pink station. We do board games and coloring.  I usually try to have at least one iPad station.  I'll sometimes use these apps (not the "With Friends" apps) at the iPad stations.  WordsWorth is a big winner.  I'm finding kids getting into 7 Little Words when I let them play what they want, which I'm happy about.  They haven't hit Word Jigsaw yet, so I'm waiting to see how they react to it.

What is your word game addiction?  How do you use it in school?

They Don't Teach This in College

I woke up this morning dreading today.  To be honest, it's not today that I dread but tonight.

After a full day of teaching, we start up parent/teacher conferences at 5:00.  Since we have 55 students in our 5th and 6th grades, our conferences are more a "come if you want to" event rather than having appointments.  This amounts to me having no idea what's going to happen.  You think you have all the plates spinning at the correct speed and all the balls moving in the right direction, then a parent walks in the door and lets you know that you're a flop.  Not cool.

That's not even what I am dreading.

Tonight, after the conferences, my colleagues and I will attend the viewing for the mother of a sixth grader at our school.  Let that sink in for a second.  One of my students lost his mother this past weekend.

There comes a time in life when math and grammar and reading and history just don't matter. I am well trained in how to be a professional teacher, but no one teaches you how to deal with a kid who is grieving the loss of his mother... or a class of kids who wonder who will be next.

Cancer is running rampant in our 6th grade this year.  One girl lost her mother four years ago.  A student who withdrew earlier this year has a little brother with leukemia.  I can think of two parents (a mom and a dad) who are both cancer survivors. And those are the cases I can think of off the top of my head.

We're all going through the motions of school this week like nothing is wrong, but you've got to know that there's this underlying sadness that we're all feeling.  You've got to hand it to this kid.  He's been here all week, and I fully intend to see him today.

As I drove to school today, I allowed the somberness wash over me as I listened to my new favorite album. "Oh great God give us rest."  May God give you peace and rest today as you deal with the entire child, not just the intellect.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Watch What Yer Sayin'

I had another ScreenChomp assignment due today, and I'm spending my entire planning period listening to the same problem 35 times.  Yes, I'm bored.  However, they love it, and it's a great way to make sure they understand the problem and the process.

The crazy thing is that I hear myself in the background numerous times.  With all these voice recording toys in my room, I just realized how I need to be careful of what I say.  When I think of the potential sound bytes that could be recorded and replayed for parents or administrators... Wow!

Take this one for example.  The young lady does a fine job of explaining the problem, but listen to me in the background.  Yes, I'm reprimanding a kid.  No, I wasn't particularly mean, but it does wake me up to realize that what I say is not just heard in real time but is now easily recorded for future use. Gulp.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Heaven and Hell

Our sixth grade students were encouraged to write down questions about heaven and hell this past week.  Here is my Bible class curriculum for the week.  Wow!  Deep stuff...


Are there animals there?

If hell is the bad people’s waiting room, where is good people’s waiting room?

I thought Heaven was paradise, but you said Jesus took people from paradise to Heaven.

If you go to hell and there is a second judgment, you can’t go to heaven, can you?

If we die and we got to heaven and the new earth and new heaven are created, where do we go?

When we die today, do we go to paradise or heaven?

When we die will we go to new heaven or new earth?

Does it say in the Bible that heaven will be on earth someday?

What is life like in heaven?

What exactly is the Lake of Fire?

Is there more than one heaven?

What is paradise like?

What is the difference between hell and the Lake of Fire?

What do we have to do to get to heaven?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

New Math Apps

Our tech guy is hanging out in my room today, playing with the iPads on the cart.  OK, he's not really playing.  He's doing work.  Anyhow, he showed me a bunch of math apps that one of our middle school math teachers uses. As you know, if you read my blog faithfully (all three of you) I'm on the constant search for the perfect math app.  Have I found it in this list?

I've downloaded them all to my iPad and they are in the process of getting them put on the classroom iPads.  Here's where I need your help.  Do you have any experience on these apps?  Which ones are worth our time and which ones should we delete?  Thanks!

Chicken Coop Fractions
Factor Samurai
Mad Math Lite
Middle School Math 7
Pearl Diver
Multiplication Genius x1
Math Drills Lite