Friday, 21 February 2014

Digital Story Telling & Portfolio Creation on an iPad or Tablet

Having students publish their school work online has been something I have been interested in over the past five years. Once I started using iPads in the classroom I began to think about educational artifacts that students could be proud of that would last beyond their time in my class.
Last year I began to experiment with publishing eBooks on Apple's iBook Store. My students and I have now published 4 digital books and made several revisions.

Here is a list of books that have been published:

Apple iBook Store:

ePub Books:

Google Play Store
  • TBA
Lately I have  greatly influenced by the S.A.M.R. Model by Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura. This model has encouraged me to move more and more from Enhancement to Transformation.

Below is a  presentation/workshop that I gave on February 21st, 2013 for a group of public school teachers in SD73 Kamloops.

In this workshop, I focused on powerful apps to use as a teacher for digital story telling in the classroom. These will work if you have 1 or 30 iPads in your classroom. A copy of the presentation can be found here.

Or view my embedded presentation below.

Leave me some feedback on your thoughts, feedback, or ideas.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Why Every Teacher Should Have iPads

I have had a keen interest in using technology in school for as long as I can remember -- even way before I even thought of being a teacher. I can remember when I was in elementary school in 1984 when I used my new Apple Macintosh computer to produce my own report on Argentina. This report was fully typed in Venice 14 point and contained a drawing I did in MacPaint. I was way ahead of my time and I think the only report in the class that was produced digitally.

Now I have been a high school teacher for 13 years I am still working and using technology in new and creative ways.
Over the past two years I have been eating and breathing iPads. Not because I am an Apple Fanatic (but I might be close) but because the ease of use for educational reasons. Over that time I have had alot of trial, error and troubleshooting. But now I have the benefit of being familiar with iPads strengths and weaknesses. Most of the apps that I have listed in the presentation are ones that I have used myself or with my students. These apps have survived the test of being easy to learn, easy to use, and powerful. They are basically my top picks.

I gave my presentation/workshop on February 15th, 2013 for a group of public school teachers in SD73 Kamloops.

In this workshop, I focused on powerful apps to use as a teacher on the back end & great apps to use in the classroom. These will work if you have 1 or 30 iPads in your classroom.

I have organized the student apps into three categories:

  • Consuming 
  • Collaborating 
  • Producing

Below is an embedded copy of the presentation and a direct link to it in Slide Share. Also included are some recommended resources, sample student video's and criteria rubrics that are mentioned in the presentation. I hope you enjoy.

Slide Show:

Rubric Attachments:
      -Rubrics courtesy of Mr. Beeds

Science Dissection Lab Video's:
      -Links courtesy of Mr. Beeds

Other Interesting Blog posts on iPads I wrote earlier.
 Extra Links for iPad information:

Thursday, 18 October 2012

15 Ways to Use an iPad in Middle & High Schools

I have had the privilege of being able to plough new ground in my classroom with a class set of iPads. I now have over a year of experience in using them with my students everyday. Over that time I have had alot of trial, error and troubleshooting. But now into my second year I have the benefit of being familiar with iPads strengths and weaknesses. All of the apps in my list of 15 Ways to Use an iPad are ones that I have used with students.

Below is a copy of my presentation/workshop I gave on Friday October 19th, 2012 to a Middle School who just received a set of iPads.

In this workshop, I focused on some easy to use and powerful apps that I use regularily in a High School. I tried to focus on some quality apps that I have found great to use with students.

I have organized the apps into three categories:
  • Consuming 
  • Collaborating 
  • Producing


Here is a Direct Link to the SlideShare above.

My list of favorite apps for use in High School.
Other Interesting Blog posts on iPads I wrote earlier.
 Extra Links for iPad information

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

What Can You Do With iPads in Your Classroom? | A Workshop

What Can You Do With iPads in Your Classroom? If you have wondered what all the hype is about iPads and other 1:1 technology in classrooms, then this is the presentation for you.

Here is the workshop that Jim & I gave to Kamloops teachers on our 24 Feb 2012 Professional Development day at TRU campus. This workshop was designed to be hands on, so we brought a dozen iPads so attendees could try out some of the apps we regularly use.

Below is the presentation and links that we went over.

More details on my favorite apps for use in High School.

Links to example Student Work

Other Blog posts on iPads


Jeremy Reid 
   twitter: @MrReidWSS

Jim Beeds
   twitter: @MrJBeeds

Friday, 6 January 2012

Holocaust Education via Skype at its best

I recently had the opportunity to link my Grade 11 class with a Holocaust survivor. So we put the iPads away for a class and linked up over Skype with the Vancouver Holocaust Centre Society in Vancouver, BC (VHEC).

VHEC has an outreach speaker program where they link a Holocaust Survivor with a classroom for a 60 minutes. This could be quite expensive for our class to travel down to Vancouver, so I asked them if they would consider connecting over Skype. And they said yes!

During the last week of classes on 12 December 2011 we linked up with  Lillian Boraks-Nemetz over Skype. Lillian told her testimony of what happened to her in Poland when the Germans took over and she found herself living in a ghetto. We did not know until later that she is great story teller and an author of an acclaimed book titled:  Old Brown Suitcase.

For the most part the Skype connection went very well and everyone learned alot.  During our video conference by Skype we had only a few times where the connection was hard to hear. But overall, the students felt that this glitch was not that bad and should not prevent us from hearing from others in the future.

There was 20 minutes at the end of her testimony where she answered questions from my students.

As a Social Studies teacher I felt that this was such a great learning experience for everyone involved. The students experienced first hand what the Holocaust was like, and they did this without their textbook!

I am really thankful for the VHEC deciding to take a chance and try using Skype to connect with teachers and students. I hope they will continue to use this as a way to reach those interested and I hope to do this again in 2012.

After hearing from Lillian, I asked my students to write down some thought on their experience. Here are some of the student responses to our Holocaust Speaker:
Jews aren't respected as they should be...there is still a fragile amount of people who are still effected by those events.
I feel I have alot more knowledge of how seriously the people were effected by the war and learned how serious the Germans took punishing the Jews
I liked hearing about everything that happened coming from someone who actually witnessed it. 
I liked being able to hear her story and it impacted me in a big way.
This was something that we wouldn't learn from our textbook.
Her testimony impacted me because I never knew much detail about the holocaust before hearing her speak. It was really sad to learn about the things she went through as a child.
It impacted me just by the emotion in her voice, you knew she suffered from her experience.
You can't see facial expressions out of reading in a text book. It was a real eye opener.
Lilian told her story in a way that kept us interested. When she told us the last thing she said to her sister was "leave me alone, can't you see I'm sick!", I felt very sad because I imagined how I would feel if that was the last thing I said to my sister. could hear her emotions as she was telling her story.

Friday, 4 November 2011

How to setup iPads for school rollout

In September 2011, I completed a roll out a complete class set of iPads for use in Social Studies, History and Astronomy classes. The big question that I have sought to figure out is how do I setup these tablets in a quick and efficient way.
Here is what I have learned so far:

How I Set them up
1. I got a Bretford iPad cart to charge and sync all the iPads. This cart arrived in one piece, no assembly required. It is made of solid steel and has heavy duty castors that enable it to be moved around easily. This car has one electrical plug to go into the wall, very convenient. It also has all the slots and cables ready to go for all 30 iPads: they are even laser engraved with numbers 1-30 to organize and keep track of them easier. There is also a shelf inside to hold your laptop. What I loved about this cart is that it is all pre-wired and ready to go; except for plugging in the power supply for the laptop...but this was easy.

Recently I got some vinyl numbers and put them infront of the iPad slots because I found students had trouble matching up the laser engraved numbers above.

2. Next a 15" Macbook Pro computer was purchased. A Macbook is required to use for syncing to the iPads, a PC won't do. My understanding is that only a Mac computer can sync 30 iPads simultaneously to one USB port. I went through the setup on the Mac and charged it (its really easy). Then I had my school computer tech to setup some logins and printers to access. I love this computer. If you get a Windows computer then you will have problems syncing multiple iPads at once. So insist that you get a Mac so you don't waste your time syncing and upgrading.

3. Next I setup a school itunes account. You need an email address to setup this account, so I had a special school email account created called
I think this is the best way to proceed since you don't want it linked with your personal account. I also bought some itunes gift cards and loaded up the account with some money to purchase apps. Mostly we are using free apps and they will sync automatically to all devices with easy account management. I await the App Store Volume Purchase Program for the Canadian market.

4. Open up itunes on the Macbook and sign-in to your newly created itunes account. Then I started to download apps that I wanted to use that fit with the teachers and classes that will use them. I will be doing another post later that will go over my app choices and reviews. I tried to keep my choice to mostly free apps, but I have a few exceptions.

5. Our school district requires all technology to be bar-coded and serial numbers recorded for inventory purposes. This was handled by our library and didn't take too long. These codes will be covered up when we get the Incipio iPad 2 Smart feather Ultralight Hard Shell Cases. Eventually we will get matching SmartCovers for them, but they are too expensive to afford at the moment.
NGP Matte Semi-Rigid Soft Shell Case
UPDATE: These Incipio Smart Feather cases started to break. Incipio took them all back and swapped them out for another model. I think that this new model is much better to protect the iPads. I ended up getting the Incipio NGP Matte Semi-Rigid Soft Shell Case. This case does not work with the SmartCover, but we have now decided we don't need it.

This is mostly all I did to start. Then I waited for the iPads to arrive.

Now when the iPads finally arrived.
I waited with anticipation for the first shipment of iPads to arrive. We waited about 2 months for the first 8 iPads to arrive. The rest of the 30 arrived a couple of months later. Once they arrived I was eager to get my hands on them and begin the setup.

6. The first thing that needed to be done was to get the iPads inventoried, labeled, and bar-coded. This again was done by the library. The serial numbers are really small numbers and hard to read on the back of the iPad, so I recommend that you read the number off the iPad box instead.

7. Now the iPads are all mine to begin to setup. The first thing I did was to unpack them and take off the protective plastic cellophane wrap. Since I don't have hundreds of these to do, I don't need a big production line. I got some help from another teacher who will be using them also.

Example of background image I used.
8. What about numbering the iPads. Originally I was hoping to be able to have Apple do free engraving on the back with "Property of School District# " and also add a unique number to each. But, this was not possible because purchasing of them was done at the School Board offices and I had no control over where they would buy them. Also, If I put a number on the back of the devices, it would be likely not seen because they would be covered up by a case. So what do you do?
I ended up setting the lock screen image to be different on each iPad and contain a unique number with the school logo. Then I  put a passcode lock the device with that same number. This, I think will make the iPads easy to identify because they will fit into the Bretford sync cart's individually numbered slots.

This will make it clear to each student and me what number each iPad is. This will be important because students will be required to use the same numbered iPad each day.

9. The iPads are really easy to setup. You just plug them into your Macbook via a USB sync chord and follow the onscreen instructions. Unfortunately, you need to do this individually for each device for the 1st setup. Once I did the iPad setup and logged into the itunes account, I was able to do my first sync of all the devices at once.

10. I have found that for major iOS updates that you can't use the Bretford Cart to sync and have to plug in each device one at a time. For more thoughts on this I did another blog post that you can read here.

Now that the iPads are fully setup, the most difficult part is integrating them into your everyday classroom. What will you change? How?
You can't keep doing things the same way that you always did in your classroom. But, on the other hand you don't want to over rely on the device and loose focus on curriculum and instead put all your focus on an iPad.

Here are some really good sources that I consulted before starting:

A ning page with info on iPads/eBooks in education

Managing a Major Deployment

3 Ways to Manage Student iPads in the Classroom

How to setup iCloud for "Find my iPad"

39 Sites for using iPads in the Classroom

iPads in the Classroom Resource Page

iPad App Tracker

Sites for Using iPads in Education

Wiki on iPad in Education sponsored by the Department of Educational Technology in the School District of Palm Beach County

iPads in School Wiki - Huge resources on all areas

Great Question Checklist from Palm Beach: Preplan List

Friday, 28 October 2011

My Report Card on BCED Plan so far...

I have been kinda busy lately with my masters project and have neglected a blog post about using iPads in my classes. But I will try to pump some more valuable ones out next week.

I wanted to comment briefly on the BCED Plan that was unveiled by BC education minister George Abbott.
In case you haven't seen it check out the new website launched @
and read the plan @

Here are my thoughts on this plan that stood out to me...

Specifics of plan: C
The plan is very vague and many teachers already do what is mentioned. What does it look like? Is it going to be a wholesale change like some Swedish schools?

Consultation with Teachers: D
Putting up a website isn't consultation with teachers. You need to work with us and the union. This plan won't work without full teachers support and buy-in.

Professional Development: C-
I have been to many Pro-D's that were organized by others (including admin) where I got nothing out of it. I even had an administrator give me a work sheet to complete! The best Pro-D was when I got to choose and was part of the planning. I am worried by the language that teachers will have no say in Pro-D activities.

"It is important that teachers are able to refresh and develop new practices throughout their careers by participating in professional learning opportunities."

I am lucky if I get $70 a year from Pro-D funds, let me tell you that there are many conferences that I would love to attend but can't afford it. Also many occur during days that aren't Pro-D no luck there. We need some funds to be able to really expand our learning.

Technology: D
"Educators will be given the supports needed to use technology to empower the learning process"
I heard the minister say on CKNW today that extra funds are not needed to supply technology in schools, its already available through the Computers For Schools  program. Sure, give schools old technology hand me downs from business for us to use. Don't mention that its hard to get product from them because they run out most of the time. Also don't mention that some school districts don't want these old computers anymore because they take too much time and maintenance to be worth it. This isn't looking forward, but looking in the past...literally.

There also seems to be some contradictory messages that on one hand call for more accountability and testing, then there is the move towards less curriculum and more "personalization". I don't know how those can both fit together.

Anyway, just a few thoughts. Let me know what you agree or disagree with.