Thursday, August 31, 2017

Apple Classroom & 5 Reasons you need Apple Classroom in your iPad classroom

If you don't know already, I am using Apple Classroom in my technology classes this year. I talk about how it came about, how we use it, and what it is like to set up for multiple classes in another blog post here.

Today, I want to focus more on what Apple Classroom does, and why I think that it is such a valuable tool to use in any iPad classroom. Here are my top 5 reasons that you should look into Apple Classroom.
  1. Screen Control: Did you know that you can view all of your students screens at one time? It also tells you what app they are on. You can see what program they are using, and close them out of it if they are not on task. Talk about having eyes everywhere - you're like Santa Claus. You really can see everything they're doing. 
  2. Instant App/Internet Opening: With just one click, you can open any app on the students device. You can do the same thing with any favorite that you have on the internet. How great is it to be able to say go here, and it open automatically on your students. With my older students, I like them to navigate the iPad and get to where they need to be. My younger students, I love this function because it could take half of my time in their classroom getting each student unit the program I need them to be in.
  3. Locked Devices: At any point in time, you can lock the student devices. This means that their screen turned black, says that it was locked by you, and they can't do anything with it until you unlock it. 
  4. Sharing via Keynote: For those of you that  are like me and are a Microsoft school instead of a Google one, it seemed that I was out of luck when it came to Shari g presentations and activities with my students. While I can't do everything that a GoogleDoc or Slide can do, I can share any presentations that I make in Keynote (like Slides or PowerPoint) with my students in an editable form. 
  5. AirDrop Turning In: Again, while it's not quite as easy as Google Classroom, Apple Classroom does allow students to turn anything into you via AirDrop. You can then save those files into anything on your device for easy grading. 
 If that doesn't convince you, I don't know what will. Seriously, it is fabulous and I love the way it works. Let me know if you have any other questions. I would be happy to answer them! 

Happy Teaching,

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Apple Classroom Thoughts

About a year ago, my principal and I started discussing what it would look like to use Apple Classroom with our class sets of iPads. From what I had read, this was a relatively new tool and although lots of people enjoyed using it, there were still some kinks that needed to get worked out.

My IT director and I began to work on setting up Apple Classroom about 2 weeks before school started. There was a steep learning curve and it took us a while (along with all of our other projects) to get this up and running. If you aren't a tech genius, and you don't have one at your school, this could be a big road block for you. The biggest thing you need is a CSV file with all of the students information. (talk nerdy to me, am I right?) If you don't pull a CSV file (it's just a fancy Excel spreadsheet), then you will have to input each students information by hand - no fun!
**Again, I think that reason that it was so time consuming for us was that we were trying to get 10 class profiles on each iPad. I'm sure that if you were just using them in your one class that it would not be as difficult or time consuming.

Anyways, it did take about 2 weeks to perfect it with all 200 of our students in there. It is also difficult to add students once the school year started, so we waited until a week in to hopefully catch most of the stragglers. Once we got it all set up though, it has worked so wonderfully. We did lock our students down on some of the settings so that they can't do things like use the iPads to text, email, or airdrop (unless it's to the teacher). These are settings that I recommend you think through before you begin this process.

After this ridiculous process, we were ready to take them into the classroom. I was kind of like a little kid in a candy store the first day in the classroom. A whole class set of iPads and a fun cart to carry them in! Best Present EVER! It was so fun to be able to have a program that allowed me to control all of the iPads. I was excited to see how this helped with kids staying on task.

Overall, I would HIGHLY recommend Apple Classroom. It is a fabulous way to see everything that your students are doing on their iPads so that you can make sure they are on task. It is also a great way to quickly push out websites, or to lock them into apps.

I will share more about the features of Apple Classroom later, but wanted to give you the thumbs up or down on it. So definitely two thumbs up.

Do you use Apple Clasroom in your class? Do you love it? Hate it? 
Tell me about it. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

iPads: Week 1 - PicCollage Student Introductions

One of the first things I do when I get a new tool is check out all that Google search has to offer about how other educators are using it. This year, I really wanted to use Pic Collage with my students. I found this post on the Pic Collage page and figured this was as good a place as any to start.

I know that Pic Collage can be a fun way to incorporate technology into many different aspects of your curriculum, so I figured I would start out my tech lessons with teaching the students how to use this simple app. I went ahead and walked them through how to add a background, take pictures, add text, and doodle within the app.

At the end, I had the students save it to their library, but I also had them Air Drop it to my iPad. I then collected all of the students portfolios, and I am going to put them together in a slideshow for our elementary team. I think it will be super fun to see all of the facts about our kids (and all their silly selfies!).

Of course, I had to have a handout or visual aid for my students to use. You can download the one I used from my TpT store here.

Here are some fun ways you could use Pic Collage in your classroom:

  • Share information about a famous person or a state of your choice just like they made their About Me but with information about this other person or place
  • Have students compile pictures from an event at school or a field trip to share about their adventures to share with their families
  • Go on a nature walk and have students add pictures and text to share their findings
  • Have students interview a classmate, teachers, parent, or friend about how they feel about a particular topic and share the information they collect in a creative way 

**If you don't know about my iPad mobile lab adventure, you can read my post about my new job this year here and how it ties into this blog series on iPads.

How do you use Pic Collage in your classroom? Have you?

Let me know. I would love to hear :) 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

New School Year. New Job.

For the last two years, my job has consisted of working with our 5-12 graders and their 1:1 devices. I set them up with emails, passwords, and train them on how to use Canvas, our Learning Management System. I have also worked with new teachers to train them on these same topics.

The other half of my job was working with K-4 students one day a week when they came to the technology lab. In discussions after school last year, we decided that this was a little outdated and we needed to up our game in the technology field. Enter the mobile lab.

We purchased a class set of iPads, put them on a jumbo charging cart, and decided the best way to integrate technology within the curriculum was to send me into the classrooms to work with the teachers directly. My job is to take what the teachers are teaching in their classrooms and find some technology that integrates with what they are learning. Sometimes it will just be using Word or Google Docs to type about a topic they are learning in their classroom, while other days it will be using fun and interactive apps to cover topics.

I will be updating my journey within the classrooms throughout the year on my blog. They will be title iPads: Week __ so that you can check them out if you’d like. I am hoping that some of the apps and ideas that I use with my K-4 teachers will be useful to you in your classroom as well!

It’s going to be a GREAT school year!

- Hilary 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Solar Eclipse Resources

How fun is it to hear all about this Solar Eclipse that is happening? I was doing some research to see how I could share it with my students!

I found some great information about the Solar Eclipse 2017 on Space.coms website. It has a countdown until the eclipse and answers a lot of questions that your students might have.  

This YouTube Video tells students what a Solar Eclipse is in terms that they will understand.

Kids Discover has some great discussion questions to use in your classroom or with your kiddos at home.  

Look What We're Learning shares an easy and inexpensive Solar Eclipse craft using coffee filters. 

Any why not let your kiddos chew some Eclipse gum while you talk about this years Solar Eclipse?

Are you planning to talk about the Solar Eclipse with your students? Tell me how in the comments below!