Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Google Chrome Extension - WOW:)!!

  If you are a Google Apps for Education district and use Google Docs a TON - you MUST check out Read&Write for Google - A  M  A  Z  I  N  G!!!  In a nutshell - you can take ANY Google doc, presentation, form, PDF, etc. and have the option to have it read to you, highlight, annotate, find definitions for - etc.. UNREAL! It really it SO SO cool and I can think of about a GAZILLION ways that this would be a valuable tool for students in any classroom.  It is simply an add-on extension that you download in the Chrome web browser and use with Google Docs, or actually ANY website as well.  I took this graphic from the SpeechTechie blog - if you want to check out his article in entirety!

  This is something that I am TOTALLY going to start spreading the word about.  It's FREE for educators, and a cost for students - I am checking into it as we have many students that would benefit from this greatly!!  A single license for a year is $100, but if you buy in bulk - it's like $10 per student with a minimum requirement of course - info here:)!

CHECK THIS ONE OUT FOR SURE - it TOTALLY blew me away - not going to lie:)
Happy Tuesday,
Mrs. I:)

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Dilemma Continues......

   We have been in the process of trying to figure out exactly "WHAT" to do for next year.  We KNOW that are getting iPads for sure, that question has been answered.  The problem lies in how to trade in, swap out, buy new, etc... Here are our options:

1. Sell our iPads to Company A, and they will come and package everything up.  They grade each iPad on an A, B, C level - and give us the money after they evaluate them.  We can then buy NEW iPad Airs from Apple with a one year warranty; just like before.

2. Sell our iPads to Company A, and they will come and package everything up, and then trade in for iPad Airs that are ONE YEAR OLD.  They have been used with another "company," for a year, not in student hands.  THEN the best part - they will give us a four year warranty.  If something goes bad, we send the iPads to THEM and they take care of it!

I REALLY like option 2 because of the extended warranty, but I don't like the idea of buying one year old iPads - not sure on this one?  Lots to continue to discuss and think about - but ultimately the school board will make the decision.  Either way, we are saving WAY MORE money than the initial $55 that a company that Apple gave us offered!

Happy Friday - Heading to Bemidji for the Girls Basketball Section Championship game today CAN  NOT  WAIT - GO TROJANS:)!!
Mrs. I:)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Starfall Website......

  I am not sure if I have shared this website with you, but our Kindergarteners are ROCKING IT OUT!  The site is Starfall and it has SO much great content on here.  Below is a list of content for the little ones:

   The kiddos today were working on the Learn to Read section.  They had to listen to words, add beginning and ending sounds, and read stories and click and find things as they went.  They were TOTALLY engaged!  They even had a checklist to do once sections were completed to track their progress.

   A SUPER fun one for the kiddos is preK-1st grade I would say FOR SURE:)! Bad news - NO iPad as it's flash based:(  - but still PLEASE CHECK IT OUT
Happy Monday and night,
Mrs. I:)

Decision is MADE:)!!

   Casey and I went to the school board meeting this past Monday and gave the recommendation from the technology committee.  After months and months of researching, compiling data, and talking to other schools, we are going to stay with iPads for our next go around!  We will be ordering the iPad Air this spring for ALL students again in grades K-12.  The technology committee, Casey and myself have gone round and round.  As you know, we have Surface RTs in Mr. Askegaard's business lab and he really likes them.

There were a couple of things that we DID NOT like:
1. Their tech support is NOTHING compared to what Apple has in place.  Obviously this will continue to improve, we just aren't willing to buy 300+ of them and then struggle with people helping us.
2.  There isn't a great case for it, and the ones were found started making the device not even affordable for our district
3. The keyboard that goes with it is fine for personal use, but when you think about students carrying it around and using it in multiple settings, other than a flat table, we didn't feel it would hold up
4. Networking was a HUGE issue as you have to pay a fee per student to be able to put them on our network - again, another cost that goes with them

End Result = NO SURFACE!!

However, we also DID go and order a few Thinkpads and had a few students use them over Christmas break.  One student really liked it, another one didn't because there was no touch screen.  As we thought more and more about these, we thought of our teachers and all the time they have spent in Schoology uploading files and documents to be used with writing on the iPads - they WILL NOT work on the Thinkpad, so that was a concern for us as well.  Also, viruses and networking seemed a nightmare for Casey.  The weight was heavier than the iPad, and breakage was a concer.

End Result = NO THINKPAD!

So, here we are with the iPads again.  I talked with a few districts about what THEY are going to be doing, and with the new operating system coming out this summer for the iPad, one that WILL NOT work on the iPad 2s, some are going to pray hard that they DO last another year, others, like us, are going to buy new and avoid the issue altogether!

Wherever you're at - GOOD LUCK!  It was NOT an easy process for us, but one that makes TOTAL sense! The teacher will have NO learning curve, EVERYONE will have them, and ALL will work!

Happy Monday and Major Decision Making,
Mrs. I:)