My 1:1 iPad Classes

AUGUST 2014 UPDATE:  Skipping into my second year as a 1:1 teacher, I’m thrilled to share my experiences with Schoology and iTunes U here on my professional site.  I am still using both platforms, and excited about the updates both have to offer:  iTunes U offers the new capability to manage courses on the iPad as well as the new class discussion feature; Schoology offers numerous updates to material folder identification (loving the color and photo id option!!), edit discussion capabilities and system administrator functions.  My freshmen exclaim that iTunes U looks “professional and clean” and appreciate the iPad notifications while my seniors enjoy the material organization and easy-access in Schoology.  I am productively using both platforms for these different classes.  Until one platform proves its advantages far outweigh that of any other, I’ll continue to use the best of both.  Never one afraid to try something new, I may indeed add another platform to my repertoire next semester for my sophomores – Google Classroom.  Being that it’s so new, I’m letting the growing pains subside before I get my feet wet on that side of the pool.  In the meantime, GAFE applications will continue to be the main means to share documents and work with students while iTunes U and Schoology are the landing page.

As a new 1:1 iPad teacher this year, I am learning EVERY day along with my students. There is such a variety of platforms and applications to try that it’s no wonder this is my most challenging yet rewarding year-to-date.  Not one to settle, I want to ensure I’m communicating information to my students in the best possible way.  That said, I’m concurrently using iTunes U with my 1:1 Pad classes while utilizing Schoology with my expository writing students.  There are unique advantages and disadvantages to both.  My observations at this point in the year appear below.  I will keep adding to these observations as I dig deeper into the functions of each:

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iTunes U Advantages:

– I’m able to draft as many posts ahead of time as I wish without having to push them out immediately to students.

– It is extremely easy to add a variety of material – documents, pdfs, videos, links, etc.

– The unlimited amount of posts and material allowed is comforting.

– iTunes U allows for “announcements” to be posted.  I use this when I want to send students quick reminders about class the next day or a special project.

– Students easily access all material and lesson plans from their iPads.  Receiving notification when new material, posts, or announcements are added is advantageous as well.

iTunes U Disadvantages:

– The iTunes U manager is not available via a mobile device.  To enroll, create or modify posts, add material, etc., I must access from my laptop.

– Once the material is posted, it is placed under the material tab.  It would be nice to categorize these items under a clear label.   Within the material tab, I’m able to move items but I’m not able to clearly label categorizes for these items.

Schoology Advantages:

– I can easily access all functions of Schoology via my laptop or iPad.

– Schoology easily links with teacher and student Google Drive and Dropbox accounts.

– Creating, administering and grading assessments is a snap.  Students voice they appreciate the ease as well.

Schoology Disadvantages:

– I’m unable to save drafts of course updates. I’m a planner and many times, I’ll think of something ahead of time that I wish to include in tomorrow’s lesson yet I’m either not ready to post or don’t wish to preview early to my students.   It would be great to be able to draft until I’m ready to communicate the lesson to my students.

Overall, I am very glad I’ve chosen to use both platforms this year and it’s fun getting versed in both.  My plan right now is to use both next year as I move to an entire 1:1 course load.  I’ll use iTunes U as the main communication line and Schoology for assessments.

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Summer Reading 2019

 

It would not be summer without summer reading books!! Here are just a few of the titles I’ve read. For more, check out my GoodReads page!

Radical Kindness – The LIfe-Changing Power of Giving and Receiving BY Angela C. Santomero

Written by the co-creator and producer of Blue’s Clues as well as the PBS series Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and other children’s series, I can wholeheartedly recommend this book to everyone I know – students, colleagues, friends, family …

The book is organized as a brisk, friendly read with practical pointers, reminders and guidance for living more graciously and kindly with one another, Santomero offers worthwhile words on every page about adding more kindness in every aspect of our lives. She talks about the random, small acts to spread kindness such as tucking your chair in whenever you leave a location to the larger acts to spread more kindness in our local and global environment such as getting involved in meaningful movements (and she offers examples). I love Santomero’s section titled “Active Listening 101.” She scribes step-by-step to do’s to be fully present when someone else is speaking. This important communicative skill is too often taken for granted. Children are taught how to speak, read, write from an early age on but very little formal instruction is ever offered on listening. With today’s technology distractions, active listening is more imperative than ever to improve communication and strengthen relationships. I’ll be referring to Radical Kindness again and again.

————————————————————————————————————–Dry BY Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

Truth be told, I had personal reasons for wanting to read this book. Some of my very dear family members live in Southern California, and I know firsthand of their already imperative need to conserve water and the many residents who scarily ignore that need. Moreover, I met Neal Shusterman when he paid an enjoyable visit to the school where I taught quite a few years back. I enjoyed Unwind immensely but hadn’t read his more current work until now … and this story does not disappoint.

Co-authored with his son (how cool is that?!), this story was a literal page-turner for me. The narrative centers around a disastrous drought that overtakes Southern California, leaving the region with an empty water supply, and follows the plight of a group of teens who ban together to attempt survival. Dry reads as a cautionary tale that is all too possible. What was truly intriguing was the fast yet scarily believable way friendly neighbors turn into dangerous threats within the span of a few calamitous days. The Shustermans develop characters with eery realism and I couldn’t stop reading.

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Meet Cute – Some People Are Destined to Meet BY Jennifer L. Armentrout and various authors

This varied collection of “how they met” short stories has something for everyone – romantics and realists alike. Read them all at once or read one at a time. I myself couldn’t put the book down, finished it in two sittings and still could have read more. 

Some memorable highlights:
– Jennifer Armentrout’s sweet story about finding love from a missing library book 
– Jocelyn Davie’s illustration of beating the statistical odds to meet again (I’d love to see this one as a movie!!)
– Nina LaCour’s piece about two girls meeting via a customer service complaining Tweet! 
– Nicola Yoon’s metaphoric look at breaking up and making up (some great lines to underline here)
– Katie Cotugno’s narrative of two teens hiding out from the police at a party gone wrong 
– Katharine McGee’s futuristic (yet realistic) flirting fun
– Meredith Russo’s transgender transition tale
– Julie Murphy’s surprise on reality dating show contestants 
and more…

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Fact Vs. Fiction – Teaching Critical Thinking Skills in the Age of Fake News BY Jennifer LaGarde and Darren Hudgins

I’m so glad I purchased this from ISTE! I will be using it in some manner in each of my classes this year. As the authors write, “… helping our students develop the skills they need to discern fact from fiction, in a world where creating viral content is the first goal and getting the facts right comes second (if at all), is the fundamental skill of citizenry” (7). In a world where fake is taken for fact, it’s more imperative than ever for students to have ample practice with critically questioning, thoroughly researching and articulately discerning between credible and fake news, and weak vs. provable narratives. There are many, many sources linked within this book. I even have a bulletin board idea for commenting with kindness. Stay tuned!

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