iPad Cohort: Session 2


1. Take some candy.

2. Check your Interests, Skills, & Needs Inventory AND your enrollment in PGS .

3. Take a look at what we’re going to do today, and feel free to get started on your own.

Today’s Objectives: 1) know overarching goal of iPad cohort, its connection to Common Core and the PARCC, and agree on norms & expectations; 2) know how to access resources on iPad blog, school website; 3) know how to use Socrative to take an assessment and analyze data; 4) know how to use Google Forms for assessment/surveys.

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A Writing Exercise that “Narrows the Achievement Gap”

Two experimental field studies written up in Scientific American’s MIND blog found that a ‘self-affirming,’ values-oriented writing intervention conducted with minority middle school students at the start of the school year led to gains in academic performance and abstract thinking, with effects lasting two years after the intervention was performed.

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A Noisy Classroom = Creative Thinkers?

Coffivity.com makes streaming “coffee shop” audio available all the time, to solve the “too quiet to think” problem.

Peeking into some of my friends’ classrooms at a certain hour of the day, I see their students buzzing with productivity, chatting with partners and humming along to the music that the teacher plays while she works with small groups.  I marvel: it’s noisy, but students really are deeply engaged in learning even as they sing along.  And yet in my own classroom it’s so tempting to insist on silence.  When is noise a good thing, and when is it a distraction?

Newly published research reported on in today’s NYT article “How the Hum of a Coffee Shop Can Boost Creativity,” suggests that a too-quiet workspace can inhibit creative thinking. Ambient noise–the level of a coffee shop, about 70 decibels–frees your brain to think creatively.

So I should play music in my classroom, not too loud, whenever students are working?  Not exactly:

The benefits of moderate noise, however, apply only to creative tasks. Projects that require paying close attention to detail, like proofreading a paper or doing your taxes, Dr. Mehta said, are performed better in quiet environments.

Helpful to have some solid research to point me in the right direction.  For fine detail-work, a quiet room.  For creative thinking, turn it up.


Thanks New Leaders!

We had a great time planning and running a tech-heavy session for this very engaging, tech-savvy group of Baltimore City education leaders, and we learned a lot from the feedback, questions and the Educreations they left with us (read everyone’s stickies, minus identifying information, here).

The big question of the day:

What supports exist for teachers to increase their skills in using technology?

  1. BCPSS ITD/Teacher Student Support – We have been lucky enough to have regular visits from very-helpful Lakeisha Coleman and Sherri Harris from the Teacher Student Support group to support and train us in various tech topics. There are also brief, targeted Technology Learning Network webinars offered through the Professional Growth System.
  2. The Maryland Society for Educational Technology and International Society for Technology & Education are both membership organizations that offer PDs, grants, conferences, and other resources on tech topics.  MSET just posted a Maryland Technology Leadership Toolkit for Administrators that looks interesting.
  3. Virtual PLNs: Technology opens up all new possibilities for Professional Learning Communities; we’ve linked some of our favorite blogs and websites, and are also using Twitter as a PLN tool.

How can you push content onto all devices?

Solutions for this depend on whether your devices are one-student-only, and whether you’ll have individual email or file-sharing accounts connected to each student. We are roughly 3:1 in our classes, so here are some of the solutions we’ve explored:
  1. Set up one generic gmail address onto all iPads. that means we can easily send content via email or put it into the corresponding folder in Google Drive, and it will appear on all students’ devices.
  2. Blogs, class websites, Edmodo, and TSS are also great ways of making content available to all students without the need for individual accounts; you can embed presentations, videos, PDFs, and many other types of files very easily into most websites where they can be accessible for students to use and come back to, as well as create an electronic portfolio for the educator.
  3. Paid services are available to do this in different ways, including nearpod & MyBigCampus.

One final resource that we’d love to refer you to is the iPad deployment website created by the incredible principal, media specialist, and teachers at Emma K. Doub Elementary in Hagerstown, MD, which carefully documents every step they took, what worked, and what didn’t.  We met them at last week’s MSET conference and they are knowledgeable, helpful, and happy to be a resource.

We’re Curious About: Using Twitter in the Classroom

Lakeland School is on Twitter!  We’re inspired by these tweeting kindergarteners in NYC. Student quote: “We tweet because parents want to know what we’re doing in school.”

More Intriguing Twitter Resources: 35 Interesting Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom, a Creative Commons Google Doc.
100 Ways to Use Twitter in Education, By Degree Of Difficulty from Edudemic.

Follow our school @lakelandschool (or @MsHorrigan, or @MarissaKnaus) to see what we’re up to.

First Grade is Online!

First grade has a website!  You can find us on our new KidBlog site.

We are learning how to leave comments on posts, and how to respond to our classmates’ comments with questions and compliments.  Thanks to the ease of KidBlog, all of the teachers on the first grade team can post and moderate comments, and the site can be made private or public for school and parents to see (ours is public for now).

We’re inspired by Ms. Yollis’ Family Blogging Month, and aim to get parents and family members engaged in reading our posts and leaving their own comments.  And thanks to KidBlog’s iPad app, having first-graders ultimately create and publish their own blog posts looks like a realistic goal.

Come check us out, and leave us an encouraging comment!



Great Resource: Technology Integration Matrix

The Florida Center for Instructional Technology has developed an incredibly useful site for their Technology Integration Matrix.  The TIM is a great tool for self-assessing where you are in implementing technology for meaningful student learning, and being able to talk in concrete terms to people outside your classroom about where you are and where you’re going with technology.

Their site is full of resources that break down what these levels of tech integration mean at different grade levels and in different content areas with lesson plans and classroom videos.  Their Digital Tools Index lets you search indicators by tech tool, for example to see what the Infusion level looks like with Interactive Whiteboards in 3rd grade math.

Favorite Apps: Flashcards Deluxe

We love Flashcards Deluxe Lite for focusing on target vocabulary words within a unit, and supporting understanding with text and visuals. We really love that there are multiple ways for students to engage with the words and their meanings. Haven’t tried the Text-to-Speech (TTS) feature yet, but it sounds like a great option.

Why we like it: tons of options can be enabled for each deck
– multiple choice
– spelling quiz
– write or draw on either side of the card
– can check stats for a given deck, click whether the quizee got the word right or wrong
– syncs with Flashcardexchange.com and Quizlet
– can create flashcards on the ipad or online through your computer
– connects with Google Drive, Dropbox, and iTunes
– can upload from thousands of available decks

– switching between different testing and study modes can be tricky, and has to be done individually on each deck
– free version only allows 4 decks, each with a total of 6 cards

Here’s a great informative review from I Educational Apps Review.

Favorite Apps: Educreations

Ms. Knaus and her fourth-grade class have been using Educreations to create brief multimedia presentations that will teach first-grade students about goods and services.  It’s a very simple app that has lots of possibilities, and students found it very intuitive to use.

Why we like it:

– voice-recording screencasting function makes it easy to explain a process while showing with visuals

– inserting visuals from photoroll, camera, or the web is smooth and easy

– limited number of  options makes it uncomplicated for young learners

– it’s free!


– can’t export to any kind of media file; can only store and watch them on Educreations web server

– need a login to be able to save and access presentations

– if you make a mistake recording, can’t go back without starting over