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Posts tagged ‘ipod’

7 sweet iPod Touch / iPad apps and a special bonus

Later this week, I’ll spend part of my time at the NCSS conference sharing about ePUBs and mobile devices. So, of course, rather than spend time messing with ePUBs over the weekend,  I got sidetracked browsing for sweet mobile apps. So today . . . sharing my discoveries.

And after you make it through all seven apps, you’ll find an extra bonus prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack box.

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Social Studies really is about stories. And iPads.

It’s a bit of a whirlwind week. A couple of meetings Monday and Tuesday in Kansas, fly to Washington for the National Social Studies Supervisors Association conference then quick jet out to Colorado for the Association of Educational Service Agencies conference this Friday and Saturday.

Not a big fan of the whole cattle car airplane ride, Homeland Security, tiny bag of peanuts traveling thing.

But I’m a huge fan of talking with teachers from all over. Especially social studies teachers from all over. So this is a great week!

Part of what I’ll be doing this week is sharing ways to integrate iPads (and other mobile devices) with the Common Core, 21st Century Skills and social studies. So it was awesome listening to the NSSSA keynote, Kathy Nordmeyer, talk about almost exactly the same thing. It was a little bit weird . . . I think she stole my notes.

Kathy started with a few questions:

How do we engage our kids in learning?

How do we help insure that our students use 21st century skills?

Are we using the same tools that our kids are using?

How do we shape a learning environment that provides for life-long skills?

She went on and shared how kids love stories – hearing them and telling them.  Social studies instruction should not be just about facts but all about finding, analyzing, synthesizing and communicating stories. I really haven’t thought about history and social studies quite like that.

I’ve always pushed the idea of mystery and solving problems and using raw materials and collaboration and strong narratives. But I like the idea of describing the social studies content area as one that is all about stories. What would a social studies lesson, or unit or scope and sequence look like if we started with the idea that it’s all about listening to and telling stories?

Mmm . . .

We would need to think more about teaching and using narrative structures. When students write in appropriate ways, the process helps them retain what we read – rather this is a textbook, primary sources or even multi-media. And when we have kids create digital stories and actually publish their work, we’re doing two things – engaging kids in content while also creating great assessment opportunities.

And this is not just engagement with social studies stuff but kids are also learning and practicing 21st century skills and common core stuff. Kathy said something at the end that caught my attention:

Digital storytelling encourages imagination in our students.

I like that too.

I’ll still do my own presentation but will be incorporating some of the cool things that Kathy shared about stories as a key part of instruction. And if you’re interested, I’ve embedded a short version of my mobile devices and social studies presentation below.

Much of what I’ll be sharing is a few examples of how teachers can use iBooks, Book Creator and ePUBs to push out their own content and Evernote to pull in the work of their students.  Let me know what you think.

View all of my presentations
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ePUBs, dotEPUB and mobile learning

I am in love with iBooks. iBooks is Apple’s version of the Kindle or Nook. With the app, you can download books and mags allowing quick and easy access, anywhere / anytime.

And, yes, several weeks ago I wrote some disparaging remarks about digital media. I was in newspaper withdrawal and without a sports section, bitter and forced online for crosswords. A great print paper such as the New York Times or Washington Post still gets the nod over digital but I’m coming around on the book idea.

But it’s not published books that make iBooks such a great little app. What makes it great is that it allows teachers to begin creating their own teaching materials and getting them in the hands of their students in ways not available even a year ago.

Textbook publishers and school material companies have long controlled what we share with our kids. With iBooks, you can develop your own textbooks and materials, publish them in PDF or ePUB format, kids download the file onto their iBook app and, volia, anywhere/anytime learning. What I like about ePUB docs over PDFs is that you can highlight, type notes and leave bookmarks in an ePUB, making it better for studying and review.

Both Microsoft’s Word and Apple’s Pages now allow you to save documents in PDF and ePUB formats. Wikipedia has a cool Create a Book feature and there are awesome iDevice apps such as Book Creator that allow you and your kids to begin to develop your own mobile learning materials.

(Getting the files to your kids can happen in a couple of ways – upload the files to a website that kids access on their mobile devices. This could Facebook, Edmodo, a blog page or a site provided by your school. You can also simply email, text, or Skype the files to your kids.)

And I just ran across another cool way to create iBook viewable ePUB documents.


dotEPUB is a simple bookmarklet that pulls content from webpages and gives you a downloadable epub file. So now you can begin to incorporate online content into your growing library of personalized teaching content.

Head over to dotEPUBT to get the handy bookmarklet. To install, all you need to do is drag the logo to your bookmarks toolbar:

convert webpages to ebook

This handy tutorial should help:

There’s something called Immersive Mode that you can turn on or off before installing the bookmarklet. Immersive Mode is the default, and removes all links and images from an article being converted, so you can focus on the text and nothing else. I left my turned off, giving me the choice to include images if I wanted.

(Sorry Internet Explorer users, dotEPUB does not work with IE, so you you’ll need to upgrade to Chrome or Firefox to use dotEPUB.)

So you’ve found a useful site you want to convert. Check to see if the article is split into multiple pages. If so, use the site’s “print” function to see the entire article on one page. The rest is simple – click your newly installed  bookmarklet. You’ll be given a popup asking you to download the converted ePUB document.

You now have an epub file ready to share and are one step closer to mobile learning for your kids.

iPad favorites for improving student “workflow”

I’ve been messing with a ton of Apple and iPad stuff in the last few weeks. Some of it interesting. Some of it frustrating. All of it fun.

Part of what we’ve been working with has been trying to find useful ways to deal with what Apple and educators are calling “workflow.” Put simply, workflow is the process of getting student stuff off the iPad into the hands of the teacher.

And it’s harder than it looks. Maybe Apple’s new iCloud will help solve some of these issues. Until then, we’re living by the seat of our pants. But there are some apps that seem like they can help us.


This handy app splits your iPad screen in half providing you with a Internet Browser and a Document writer. Kids doing research can easily copy and paste content into a text editor. But what I really like about PaperHelper is that it has a feature that allows kids to save their final copies to a web site with a unique URL. The teacher heads to the web site, types in the specific code and downloads the student work.

The even cooler thing is that the download process works on both “regular” computer browsers and browsers on an iPad. Pretty slick.


Mover+ is a lot like Bump, the app that let you easily slide contact info between phones. The difference is that Mover+ lets iPads (or iPods / iPhones) on the same WiFi share more file types than just contact info.

So kids can send teachers images or video taken with the iPad camera, any image created in Sonic Pics or Comic Life or any app that stores stuff in the Camera Roll or copied text from any text creation app. The larger the file, the longer the “sliding” takes but it’s even slicker than PaperHelper.

Okay . . . this isn’t really a mobile app. And it works just on Macs. (I searched near and far for something like this for Windows and found nothing. Though your version of near and far is probably different than mine so there’s probably something out there.)  Printopia is a piece of software you install on your computer that is actually designed to take advantage of the iPad’s AirPrint feature. But it also allows content to be sent directly to your computer rather than a printer.

Kids create a document on their iPad, select the Print option and, if the iPad and your computer are on the same WiFi, they’ll see a list of “printing” options. One of the options is Send to Mac. The kid selects that option, clicks Print and a PDF version of their document slides onto your screen. Super slick.

So if you’re still trying to find solutions to the student / teacher workflow using Apple mobile devices, these might just be what you’ve looking for.

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10 ways to use QR Codes in your history classroom

I’m sure you’ve seen them. They are showing up everywhere.

QR codes. Those little, square squiggly barcode looking things.

A QR code is a handy way to share all sorts of information quickly and easily – the QR part actually stands for Quick Response.  QR codes are designed to be de-coded by dedicated QR readers and smartphone apps. Codes consist of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background that is unique to specific information. This information might be text, a web site or all sorts of stuff.

And I know you’re asking yourself

So what? I teach history. I got better things to do with my time.

I know . . . cause early on, I was saying the same thing. Kinda cool technology but it doesn’t really help me do my job. But the more I play with them, I’ve become convinced that teachers can use these things to help kids learn.

Especially as more and more of our students are carrying around smartphones and other mobile devices like iPads and iPods, the use of QR codes can be incredibly powerful. Part of the beauty of a QR code is that you don’t need a computer lab or laptops or really anything other than an understanding administrator and a couple of kids with mobile devices in their back pockets.

Kids can learn when and where they want. You provide choices. Individualized instruction. Rapid dissemination of information. Fast feedback. Pretty much what most 21st century education pundits are pushing for.

So I started looking around for ways to integrate the use of QR codes into history instruction. And ran across a great post by Kerry Turner that gives some handy advice for history teachers titled, wait for it . . . 10 Ways to Use QR Codes in a History Classroom.

So with thanks to Kerry, here’s five of the ten.

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10 Best Apps for Social Studies Students

Lindsey Wright from the Online Schools people put together a nice list of mobile apps useful to social studies teachers and asked to post them here. Let me know what you think.

Smartphones and tablets have become some of the greatest tools for social studies and history classrooms. Programs or apps available for these devices are useful for more than killing time or listening to streaming music. They are advanced programs allowing individuals to carry out research, write dissertations, share information with users from around the world, and everything in between. Here are a few of the top mobile apps for social studies, history, economics, political science, and more.

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