Author Archives: Mathew

If You’re Dying by Powerpoint Don’t Try Prezi

I’m happy that many educators outside of the blogosphere are beginning to recognize that sitting power points that are chock full of bullet points are not the way they want to engage and be engaged.  However, I believe if they think the answer is to switch from Powerpoint to Prezi, Haiku, or any other brand of slide deck they might need to ask themselves what the problem with powerpoint is.

1.  Powerpoint is presentation software, that is to say it is intended to support a speaker when delivering a speech.  If you are using powerpoint as a substitute for a web site, a movie, or a student portfolio  or anything that does not require a speaker you are likely using it wrong.  Words come from the speaker, images when they support what the speaker is saying, can be used in the powerpoint.

2.  If Powerpoints are ineffective in supporting a speaker’s presentation, we need to teach some presentation basics, not necessarily pick up a new tool (though I prefer Keynote).

If we don’t teach students to be effective communicators, they will communicate ineffectively no matter what tool they’re using.

Further reading/watching:
Don McMillan’s “Death by Powerpoint“, Scott Elias’s Taking Your Slidedeck to the Next Level, and Dan Meyer’s “Powerpoint: Do No Harm.

Using Google News to Uncover Primary Source Documents

Update:  This was cool while it lasted but Google has apparently removed this functionality from their news search.  Supposedly there’s another way to get it to work but it hasn’t worked for me.

This is a cool tool for finding archived newspapers from at least one hundred years ago via a Google news search.  Particularly, as examining primary source documents can be an effective component of Common Core instruction, I hope you’ll find this useful.

1.  Visit news.google.com

2. Enter a search time in the search box.

3.  Click the triangle at the end of the search box to bring up the advanced search.  (If you don’t see the triangle, your page hasn’t loaded completely.  Refreshing the page sometimes fixes the problem.).

4.  Scroll down to date range and select “specified dates”.  Then enter dates.  You can choose specific dates (month/day) or years.  I chose to search from 1910-1920.

5.  After hitting the return key or clicking on the search button you will be presented with a page of results from the actual date range you specified.

6.  After choosing one of the links you can move around the document from the navigation pane on the right.

Instructional Uses

To get beyond simple recall of historical events, students can look at historical events from different perspectives.  As our perception of events changes over time, it’s interesting to track how people felt about an event while it was happening.

 

Four Steps for Troubleshooting iOS Devices (Updated)

I’m updating my steps for updating iOS devices to include the new process of force-quitting apps in iOS 7.

There’s not too much you can do to fix a problem when your iPad or iPhone stops working…that’s the good news.  There’s just a few things you can try and these usually work.  Try each of these one at a time and see if one of them will fix your problem.

 

1.  Update your apps.

2.  Force quit the app.

In iOS 6:  Double-click on the home button.  Find the problematic app on the bottom of your screen where it shows recently used apps. Press and hold on the app icon until it wiggles.  Click on the red circle with a minus sign.  Your app icon goes away.

In iOS 7:  Double-click on the home button.  Find the problematic app image and swipe up on it to flick it away.

When I’ve used this successfully: iMovie was crashing.  I forced it to quit and then it worked fine.

2.  Restart the device.  You don’t normally need to turn off your device.  However, if you’re having problems, it’s a good idea to do so.  Press and hold the power button on the top right of the device until you see “Slide to power off” on your screen.  Now, swipe to power off the device.  Then press the power button to turn the device on.

When I’ve used this successfully: A strange fluttering was showing up on the screen in all apps and on the home screen.  I restarted and problem went away.

3.  Delete the app and reinstall (use this for app-specific problems).  Press and hold on the app icon on the home screen until it wiggles.  Press the red circle.  The app will be deleted after you confirm.  This sometimes might also delete your data for that app so only try this when you have to.  Then go to the iTunes store and download the app again.  You will not be charged twice if you are using the correct account.

4.  Restore the device.  This wipes out everything and is done by hooking up the device to iTunes.  I’d only use this if a bunch of apps are giving you problems as it’s a headache having to set up all your apps again.

If you have any other troubleshooting steps, please add them below.

 

Using Notability for Classroom Observation

This article describes how to use the app, Notability, to assist in classroom observation.  Classroom teachers can easily adapt these directions for student observation.  I recommend Notability at a cost of $1-$2 over any potentially costly commercial classroom observation system I’ve yet seen.  Notability provides the most flexibility for meeting individual needs.

If you’re looking for a checklist system of observation, Google Forms provides a free system that’s fully customizable.  Notability offers a blank page for handwriting notes, typing notes, and adding pictures and audio recordings.  If you’re still using Apple’s built in notes, stop.  Here are step by step directions for using Notability as a classroom observation tool.

You will want to create a notebook for each teacher.

1.  Create a notebook by tapping the plus sign.

2.  Tap the edit button to bring up the option to color code your notebook.

 

 

 

 

3.  Choose a color.  You may wish to color code grade levels so that all first grade teachers are blue, for example.

4. Create a new note.  You’ll use a new note for each observation and store all notes in the individual notebook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.  Add a photo by tapping the plus sign towards the top right and choosing “Take a Photo.”

 

 

 

 

 

 
6.  You can either handwrite or type or your notes by selecting the appropriate icon.

 

7.  Share the note by tapping the universal share button and sending it by email.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s it.  Repeat this for each teacher or student you wish to observe.  You can move notes around between notebooks by dragging and dropping them into a different notebook.

One of the best things about Notability when used this way is that each teacher/notebook will have a number next to it showing you how many notes/observations have been completed.  So, you can clearly see how many visits each teacher has had.

Please leave your tips or suggestions below.

Update:  You can import PDF documents and then handwrite and/or type on them.

How do I import a PDF?

There are several ways to import a PDF into Notability:

  • 1) If importing from an email attachment or Safari browser
    Tap the PDF to preview. Then select Notability from the
    “Open in” list.
  • 2) If importing a PDF file from Dropbox and other cloud services
    Tap the Import button on the top toolbar in the library and select
    the desired service.

iPhoneography Resources (Great Apps and People to Follow on Instagram)

Here are my resources on iPhoneography from the 2013 CUE Conference.  Keep reading or iPhoneography CUELA.

People to follow on Instagram:

needleworks (your presenter)
magrelacanela (grade 4 teacher)
fisler_school (see learning)
joshhohnson (for contests)

Here’s a list of apps sorted by Tiers.

Find app sales:

AppShopper (free)
create an app wishlist and receive notifications of sales

Tier I (Everyday Use—iOS/Android)

Instagram (free)
the go to app for sharing, community, and photo editing

Snapseed (free)
simple navigation, provides filters for grunge, vintage, drama, and fine-tuning

Tier II (Heavy-duty editing)

Photo Wizard ($2 sometimes free)
clunky design but has very powerful tools beyond Snapseed

Photoshop Touch ($10)
elegant design with advanced features like layers

iPhoto ($5)
strengths include albums, sharing, and transferring photos between devices

Tier III (Great once in awhile…cost $0-$5)

Camera+
better camera app

Hipstamatic
fun vintage filters

Old Photo Pro
old time looks

Color Effects
mix b&w and color/recolor

Percolator
fun color effects

Pixlromatic, VFXStudio
special effects apps

ScratchCam
add scratches/grunge

FrameLens or Diptic
make collages

WordPhoto
add words to photos

Fracture
Van-Gogh effects

Slow Shutter Free
for blurs

MySketch
turn photos into sketches

Cinemagram
animated gifs

Film Director
for silent videos

Action Movie
cool video effects