Monday, August 15, 2011

Magic Wand Scanner

Check out this scanner.  It is the Magic Wand Portable Scanner, from VuPoint.  It's a AA battery-powered wand scanner that stores the image on a mini-SD card.  Really, this scanner takes about 5 minutes to setup and with some practice allows you to digitize just about anything you can hold flat.  The wand is about 9 inches wide so it has the ability to scan a sheet of paper, making it easy to scan a student's work without having a flatbed scanner in the room.

Once the scan is complete (and you can store many scans on the same card without having to unload), you hook the scanner up to your computer.  It uses a standard USB cable, which is included.  Once plugged into my mac, iPhoto opened and the images were ready for uploading.  No software to install.  Easy!!!  We are hoping that this wand will make documenting student work a little more accessible and convenient.

We also hope that it will help organize paperwork around the house.  My wife can use it while traveling to organize receipts, so that will save us some follow-up work when she returns home.  Also, it will allow us to throw away papers that we can scan and keep digitally.  We'll let you know in a few months just how helpful this device is.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

3 Free iPad Drawing Apps

Here are three drawing apps for the iPad.  They seem to be pretty good for kids to be able to produce work.  Thanks to Shannon Miller for mentioning these.  There are different features available for each program.  These product are free and can be used by students of all ages.  They can play and create.  Check them out.

Crayola's ColorStudio HD - You can make pages using animations, clip art, and free writing.  Work can be saved or shared via email.  The user can also save a picture of their page with a screen-capture.  

Doodle Buddy for iPad -  You can create pages of artwork.  Doodle, stamp, add sounds and pictures to create you work.  Share your work via e-mail or save a picture with a screen-capture.

SketchBook Express - A high-quality tool for creating art.  Use tools to create pencil, pen, or brush marks.  You can also use shapes to create lines, circles, squares, etc.  You can even use layers to add depth to your creations.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

10 iPad Apps Every Teacher Needs

9.99 (4.99 for schools buying at Volume Pricing)
Pages is a word-processing application.  It is designed to allow the user to edit, create, and view documents.  The documents can easily be shared via e-mail, or iTunes.  You can add photos and graphs to your word-processing and you can also utilize some standard templates to create new documents.  Pages is a necessity for the iPad user.

9.99 (4.99 for schools buying at Volume Pricing)
Keynote is a presentation application.  It is designed to allow the user to edit, create, view, and share presentations.  Like pages, Keynote presentations can be shared easily via e-mail or iTunes.  Photos, graphs, charts, and other media can be added to your presentations.  It is an outstanding application for the iPad.


9.99 (4.99 for schools buying at Volume Pricing)
Numbers is a spreadsheet application.  It is designed to allow the user to edit, create, and view spreadsheets.  It is easily share via e-mail and iTunes.  Data entry and chart creation are nicely accessible in the iPad app, making the Numbers app quite helpful to teachers that utilize spreadsheets.

9.99 (4.99 for schools buying at Volume Pricing)
Air Display is an application that allows the iPad to take control of the users computer.  The display of the iPad mirrors the display of the other computer.  The user then utilizes the computers software and documents to perform tasks.  Teachers with LCD projectors on their computers can get the iPad to perform like a Interactive White Board if their computer has software that allows writing.  See information by Wesley Fryer with regards to that process.


Dropbox is a free online storage application.  It is a site that installs on iPads, iPods, iPhones, and computers so the user can store files and have access to them no matter where they are.  Sign up for your free account at and get your friends to sign up as well.  Them more people you get to sign up, the more free storage space you get.


Evernote is an outstanding note-taking and idea-organizing application.  It can be used on an iPad or computer with an account that syncs the information between the locations.  It is easy to record audio, take photos, and write notes that can be organized into topic notebooks.  Your account will even give you and email address to e-mail notes into Evernote.  

Google Search makes searching the internet extremely easy, by saving you keystrokes.  Google Search utilizes Google's searching capabilities - like Voice Search (speak into the phone or iPad and it translates and starts the search), Google Goggles (searches using photo recognition - take a picture and it tries to find it), and it also uses your location to find information that is in your vicinity.  This is an outstanding application.

Dragon Dictation is a voice-to-text translator.  This application records your speech and translates it into text with outstanding accuracy.  The text can then be sent to others by text message, e-mail, and cut to your clipboard.  Dragon Dictation also connects easily to social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Show Me is a screencasting application.

Screen Chomp is a screencasting application.

Here are 10 applications that your iPad would love to have.  The applications will help you be productive and efficient.  As you can see, I like "Free" and feel like there is so much out there to help you do good work.  Here are some.  Send me your others.

Honorable Mention
Scan - A QR Code Reader - A Dictionary and Thesaurus look up.
Keynote Remote - Allows you to control your Keynote Presentations from your iPad.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Flipped Classroom

This past year, I heard a lot about flipping a classroom.  We had some teachers in our school who were flipping their instruction.  It has become a fairly common practice from what I am seeing.  What is flipping?  Having the students receive instruction at home, via podcast or screencast, and then spending class time working, with teacher support, on problems and applications regarding the instruction.  At BLC11 this past week, I was lucky to see some of very good presentations that involved flipping instruction.  The presentations mentioned a couple of great points to why you would flip instruction as well as what you need to do to make that happen.

First off, I would like to thank the speakers that I saw - Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams (from Colorado) and Garth Holman and Mike Pennington (from Ohio).  These guys have worked together in their preparation of lessons to share with students.  I am finding that the effectiveness of this type of instruction can be greatly influenced by two people providing the instruction by asking questions and explaining the concepts.  Bergmann and Sams have a ning that they share some of their information - Flipped Class.  Holman and Pennington have just started using flipped instruction and are planning on doing more of it this year.  They have a website called TeachersForTomorrow.Net.  The feedback they received from students was outstanding.

There are many reasons why flipped instruction can be very successful.  First off, the students can work through applications and problems with the teacher in the room for support.  The teacher takes on more of a "coach" role, as the students work together to solve problems that would have been difficult to solve on their own at home.  Flipping also allows the students to view the instruction at their own pace.  They can pause videos, rewind to see again, and watch multiple times, if necessary.  And another good reason is that when a student is absent, their instruction is available at a later date.  These reasons make the idea of flipping the instruction quite helpful.

What do the teachers have to do to flip instruction?  Many teachers record their teaching with video.  They can record with their SmartBoards, or set up a video camera in their classroom and record their instruction.  Some use tablet computers to record their voice and writing, then create a video with editing software.  This process is called screencasting.  Others use webcams and create interview shows with other teachers, recording their explanations of concepts with their computers.  There are many ways to record your instruction so that it can be shared with your students.

My hope is that as more and more people will flip their instruction, then more and more lessons will get shared.  There are many awesome teachers that have excellent ways to teach concepts and that students could benefit greatly from being able to see those recordings.  Give flipping a try.  Record your instruction, let the kids see it ahead of time, and enjoy the time working with kids on new problems that they can solve and work through with you in the room with them.