Friday, 13 December 2013

December 13, 2013 – 'Appy Holidays to You'

Happy Friday the Thirteenth everyone!!

This week I have chosen to pass along a few iPad apps which I have found to be beneficial for staff and students in the classroom.  I hope that you can find something of interest here for you...


ShowMe – Free  
I have found this app to be terrific for students who have limited written output and could benefit from verbal assessment and evaluation. Here students are able to capture an image of work they have done with manipulatives, a drawing, or simply use the whiteboard feature to write their name.  Next they record themselves discussing what they have done or responding to test questions, etc.  Teachers can then listen and assess the students learning from the iPad file or upload the audio files to the ShowMe website and listen to them directly from their computers. Additionally these files can be further downloaded and stored on the computer for instructors to access later (i.e. for parent conferences or to review at a later time).  Although it sounds like several steps, the process is quite intuitive and allows the teacher to have direct record of the student’s achievement and learning without requiring written work.

SnowDrift – Free
This is a fun, wintry app which allows student to practice their spelling or fine motor skills in a fun and engaging way.   When in the draw mode, you write on the screen and cause the snowflakes to swirl around the letters.  Shake the iPad to erase or use the eraser function in the tool bar.   In the play mode, (snowflake icon in the toolbar) your written words are recreated with the falling snowflakes.  Turn the device to have the snow fall in a different direction, or swipe your finger on the screen to cause the snow to be swirled away. Use the email icon to send your snow drawings and words to someone else. This app is also available as an online game at the web address http://snwdrft.com/   

10 Frame Fill – Free
Ten Frame Fill is a great app to help students practice recognizing additive ‘10 Families’ by completing 10 frames.  To begin tap the new frame button and a set of blue chips are placed in the ten frame.  Students are asked to determine how many more will be needed to fill the 10-frame.  Drag the yellow chips to help determine the answer, and then choose your answer from the numbers offered along the side of the screen.  Additional options include being able to have the frame fill sequentially or randomly, show number sentences and the length of wait time before providing feedback to the student. 

World Map for iPad – Free 
This app for the iPad lets you quickly share with students where various countries are located in the world.  Additionally, it allows you to view the time zones around the world and is able to be viewed Offline!  So if you are having difficulties with the wifi in your class, you can download the app when you are connected and then be able to access the maps whenever and wherever you happen to be.


Google Drive – Free
Once you to sign into your Google account with this app, you have access to all of your Google documents, spreadsheets and folders.   It also allows you to create documents and spreadsheets while you are on the go and have them available to you from laptops or Chromebooks at a later time.  One of the best features which is available on this app is the ability to utilize the iPad camera to instantly upload images to your Google Drive - a great option for recording student work and saving it for future reference.

These are only a few of the super apps which are available for use in the classroom and provide teachers with new and innovative ways to engage and support student learning.  If there are any apps which you have found that you feel would benefit other teachers, please feel free to share and I would be happy to pass them along.  Past Tech Tidbits posts can be found on the blog at

Thanks and I hope everyone has a safe and relaxing winter break!

Cheers,
Stace



Saturday, 7 December 2013

December 6th, 2013 – Surfing in a Winter Wonderland

Wow, I can hardly believe that another year has come and gone and the holiday season is upon us once again.  This week I have some holiday websites you can use as resources to learn about celebrations around the world at this time of year, in addition to some which add a fun holiday twist to math and reading practice, as well as entertain.

ABCya.com http://www.abcya.com/ - This website offers word and math games for students in kindergarten through grade 5; many with a holiday twist.  On the home page you can choose one of the featured games or click on the grade level in the tree to the right, to be taken to a variety of games at your student’s ability level.  When you visit the grade level page, you have the opportunity to view the games and activities grouped into categories such as ‘Letters’, ‘Numbers’, ‘Holiday’ and ‘More’.  One feature which stood out to me was in the Christmas and Hanukkah word search and crossword activity.  It asks how you would like to play your puzzle (computer or printer).  By selecting printer, you will be able to print off a paper copy of the word search or crossword for your students to use should the internet go down or if the technology is not available. 

This is a fun website which allows you to choose one of the buildings in Santa’s village and learn about the activities going on there.   The reindeer barn you can read (or have read to you) holiday stories, the mailroom allows you to write letters to Santa and view his responses to your messages, and in the kitchen you can try out some of the recipes from Mrs. Claus’ own cookbook. This is a really cute website with a wide variety of activites.

This website offers a wonderful variety of resources on the Kwanzaa celebration – from lesson plans to art activites. Additionally they have a full page of winter activites (https://www.teachervision.com/winter/teacher-resources/6677.html) for teachers who prefer not to specifiy a particular holiday and still want to celebrate the season.

NORAD Tracks Santa (http://www.noradsanta.org - also available as an app for iPhone and iPad).
The North American Aerospace Defense Command has set up Santa’s sleigh with a radar system so they are able to track him as he travels around the world making his deliveries.  This is great fun for students to watch as he travels all the countries of the world and there are even some videos of him visiting important landmarks.  Until he begins his journey, the website lets you play some games and learn more about Santa. 

New Year’s Traditions Around the World (http://www.fathertimes.net/traditions.htm). This website contains brief descriptions of New Year’s traditions from countries around the world as well as how to say ‘Happy New Year’ in many different languages.   What a great way to remember that the world is a much larger space that what we interact with on a day-to-day basis. 

These are just a few fun and educational holiday activity websites available to you.  If you find others and would like to share them, I would be happy to pass them on.  Past Tech Tidbits posts can be found on the blog at http://techtidbitz.blogspot.ca and if you have an idea for a future blog topic, please feel free to pass it along to me.

Cheers,
Stace


Thursday, 28 November 2013

November 29, 2013 – On Your Mark, Get Set, GoNoodle!

Happy weekend everyone!

Has DPA become a challenge to come up with new and interesting ways to keep kids moving? This week, I have a novel and attention-grabbing way to incorporate tech and keep kids moving.  It’s called GoNoodle and it is an online resource for DPA moves and motivation.

GoNoodle requires the creation of a free account for yourself and your class and keeps track of your fitness activities.  When you connect your computer to a projector and log into GoNoodle, you are able to choose a ‘champ’ for your class – a mascot of sorts who will encourage and grow as your children complete fitness tasks.  Then you are able to choose an activity for your class to complete.
·         ‘Air time’ offers some deep breathing activities to calm and focus your students.  Although American Geography based the deep breathing activities are beneficial.
·         In ‘Run with Us’ Olympians coach you on real life Olympic events (i.e. 100m hurdles and long jump) then compete in a series of competitions.
·          To the Maxima has children stretching with Maximo the Magician.  There are several stretches to choose from and they leave the children feeling focused.
·         Additional activities include Zumba videos with fun kids themed songs (such as Wipeout and I Like To Move It) and vocabulary linked actions.

GoNoodle provides quick (3-6 minute videos) for grades K to 6 students to use as class transitions or brain breaks during the day.  Have a look and see if it might be the change you could use in your day.

Cheers,
Stace


Friday, 22 November 2013

November 22, 2013 - Read&Write Update

Happy Friday Everyone!

Considering everyone is busy with parent teacher interviews this weekend, I thought I would pass along a quick update on an earlier post – ‘Getting started with Read&Write and Google Docs…’ (bit.ly/1aUPxYq)
If anyone has been working with Read & Write for Google Docs lately you may have noticed a new icon on the left hand side of the study skills toolbar. 

This is Read& Write’s version of Word Q for students and it is currently available on the Google Documents with presentations and webpages being added soon. 

By clicking on this icon while working in a Google doc, a small window will appear near the cursor and will begin to offer potential word options as you begin to type.  When the word you wish to use appears, simply click on the word in the box to insert the words, or hover their mouse over the words to get them read aloud.

Although this version does not build a vocabulary file of frequently used words as Word Q does, it offers a wide variety of options and words for students to select from.

Cheers!
Stace 


Friday, 15 November 2013

November 15, 2013 - Password Proficiency

Hello everyone,

This week, I thought I would try to take some of the frustration out of Student Log-Ins on UGCloud.   Many times teachers come to me asking who they need to speak to so that they can have student’s passwords reset because the student has forgotten them.  The good news is that teachers can now perform this task for their students, on their own quickly and easily.  

Begin by signing onto UGCloud (www.ugcloud.ca) from a laptop, Chromebook or iPad using your windows username and password.  You will then be directed to a home page with many options such as the one below.

Under ‘Apps & Other Services’ you will see a variety of bars indicating links to various UGDSB frequently used websites. By clicking on the top orange bar in the left hand list marked ‘Student Service (Teacher Only)’ you will be taken to a new webpage where a pop-up window will ask you to log in once again (the board is working towards having staff required to only sign onto the system once in order to have access to all of the resources, however this remains a work in progress).   Once logged in, you will be able to search for an entire classroom or individual student by name using the drop down and fillable menus and by clicking on search.  

Once you have identified the student you wish to change the password for, click on the linked word ‘select’ to the left of their name.  Next, return to the top of the page and on the upper right hand side you will find a fillable textbox in which you can enter a new password for the student (and confirm it by re-entering the same password).
 Passwords entered at this point need to be 8 characters long – one simple choice which can be used frequently is ‘student1’.  After this process is completed, you will note a message above the password entry boxes stating ‘Reset StMan1234’s Password Succeed’.  This is your indication that the password has been reset and the student can try to log in with the newly reset password (student1, etc.)  Finally, when the student logs into his or her account after this process, they will be asked to reset their password to one which they will remember.  This time the new password is not required to be eight characters, so while it is not recommended for security purposes, students can choose shorter words which they will be able to easily remember. 

If there are any questions or ideas for future Tech Tidbits topics, please feel free to pass them along to me or visit the blog at techtidbitz.blogspot.com .

Cheers,
Stace


Friday, 8 November 2013

November 8, 2013 - Using the Template Gallery

Happy Cold and Snowy Friday Everyone!!

By now I’m fairly certain that almost everyone has become at least a somewhat familiar with the creating of Google Docs, so today I’d like to share how you can use templates to enhance your writing experience. 
http://fc.ugdsb.on.ca/Login/FOV1-00058FB3/S068CB84B.0/from_template.png

Begin by logging onto your UGCloud account and clicking on the drive icon.  From here, click on the red ‘create’ box and choose the type of document you would like to create (form, spreadsheet, document, presentation, etc).  Once your new document has been created, click on ‘file’ in the toolbar and select ‘new’ from the dropdown menu.   Here another menu will open to the right of the current menu and you can select ‘From Template’. 

Another window will open which will display the various types of templates available (i.e. resume, newspaper, storyboard, etc.)  In the search box you can type a keyword to search all templates or you can use any of the more specific selections on the left hand side of the webpage (‘narrow by type’ or by ‘category’). 

The templates default to searching the ones created by the UGDSB Staff as indicated by the highlighted tab at the top of the page.  To change to ‘Public Templates’ or ‘Templates I Have Used’ simply click on the hyperlinked words and the search category will change as well. 

http://fc.ugdsb.on.ca/Login/FOV1-00058FB3/S068CB84B.2/Tabs.png





Once you have found a template which you feel may be suitable for your task, simply click on the thumbnail image of the template.  A preview of the template will open in a new window so you can take a closer look and determine if it is what will work with your assignment.  If you feel that this is not what you were looking for, click on ‘close this window’ in the upper right hand corner or ‘browse template gallery’ and you will be taken back to your previous search.  If however, this template is suitable, simply click on the ‘Use this Template’ button in the upper left hand corner and a copy of it will be downloaded and added to your Google Drive where you can begin typing.

Templates for resumes, newspapers, lesson planners, daily schedules, brochures, storyboards and more, can all be found in the template gallery.  Have a look and see if there’s something you might be able to use for yourself or your students’ next project.

Cheers,
Stace



 

Friday, 1 November 2013

November 1st, 2013 – Shift Your Reading Into Overdrive

I hope that everyone had a Haunting Hallowe’en!!

This week I’d like to highlight one of the new features of the UG2GO website – Overdrive Books.  This new and exciting application allows students and staff 24 hour access to e-books and audiobooks from their iPads, desktops and mobile devices.  There are over a thousand of English language e-books, 175 audiobooks and over 300 French language books, ranging from grade 2 to 12 with more being added all the time.

By visiting the UG2GO website (https://www.ugdsb.on.ca/ug2go/) and signing in using your computer log on and password, you will be taken to the UG2GO home page. Here you will find a variety of online tools and programs to use with your students.  On the left hand side, under the sub-title ‘Read’ you will see the icon for OverDrive.  When you click on the icon you will be taken to the OverDrive webpage.  In the upper right hand corner you will find a search box where you can search out books by author, title, category or keyword. Additionally you can use the dropdown menus to locate books by reading level, collection, or subject.   Once you have located a book which you would like to read, check the upper right hand corner for one of the following symbols: 

This indicates it is an e-book  this an audio book,and when the item is grayed out like this one , it has already been checked out.

Luckily with Read&Write (see last week’s Blog post at techtidbitz.blogspot.com for more information) any text online can now become an audiobook for our students (and staff). 

Once you have located a book you would like to ‘check out’, simply click on the cover and you will be taken to the overview page which shows the book’s availability, gives a description, excerpt, ‘about the author’ and reviews.  When you click on the ‘Borrow’ button, the book will be checked out to you.  Next, you can choose to download the book by clicking on the download button and choosing the format for the download (i.e.mp3, etc.) or open the book by clicking on the cover.  When it is opened, you will be given a brief tutorial of how to turn pages, bookmark pages and look up words in the dictionary.  There will also be a menu on the right hand side of the webpage that allows you to jump to different chapters, change the size of the font, and even the background colour.   Books will remain on your ‘virtual bookshelf’ for three weeks, and then they will simply disappear, to be returned to the library. 
Books are also available on the iPad; however you will need to install the ‘OverDrive Media Console’ app from the App store.  It is a free app and can be found by using the search feature. 
Overall this new program is a great option for all of our students, whether they are struggling readers or just looking for new books and formats to read them on. 
As always, past Tech Tidbits posts can be found on the blog at  http://techtidbitz.blogspot.ca  and if you have an idea for a future blog topic, please feel free to pass it along to me.
Have a great weekend!

Stace

Friday, 25 October 2013

October 25, 2013 - Getting started with Read&Write and Google Docs…


Many of you have seen this icon appearing when you open the documents on the UGCloud.  Today, I’d like to offer a brief outline of how to use it…

First, when you open a document you may recognize
 this toolbar at the top of the page. This is called the ‘Study Skills’ toolbar and is where you will find the icons for the app.  If you are having trouble seeing the tools for the document you can click on the double arrow on the icon it will hide it for you.  Similarly, if you would like to use the study skills toolbar just click on the double down arrows.

With the Read & Write app, you are able to have documents (including scanned and uploaded PDFs) read to you.  There will be no need for Kurzweil any longer, and anyone, not just students with SEA equipment, will be able to have text read to them.

First, open the document from your Google drive (simply click if it is a Google Doc, if it is a PDF right click on the title and select ‘open with’ and then select “Read&Write for Google”).
When the document opens, highlight the text by clicking and dragging the mouse along the text you would like read.  Then in the toolbar, click on the black triangle and the text will be read to you. To stop the reading, click on the square box or tap the double bars in the ‘study skills toolbar’ to pause the reading. As the text is being read aloud it will be highlighted so that it will help the reader with comprehension and word recognition.

The voice of the reader can be altered from male to female and from a faster reading pace to one which is slower.  To change the voice, speed, or translation language, click on the gear in the upper right hand corner and select from one of the voices in the drop down menu.  Of the available voices, I prefer the US – Ava, as I find she is the least robotic and recognizable.  By choosing French – Virginie, you are able to have Read&Write read French texts aloud for you.

One of the key features of Read&Write is the Highlighting aspect.  By selecting text, you can then click on one of the coloured highlighters in the ‘study skills’ toolbar to change the text to that colour.  Although this appears to be nothing new, the highlighted information can be collected and placed into a new document.   By clicking on the ‘collect highlights’ icon, only the information you have highlighted will be organized into another Google document.  You can choose to have it collected by colour (so say you highlighted everything about dogs in yellow, and everything about cats in blue, all the dog and cat information would be grouped together) or order it chronologically by selecting “position” from the drop down menu when you click on collect highlights.  This is a great tool for students who are learning (or need practice with) how to summarize key points in an article they have just read (CASI).  

Additional Fun Tools
Dictionary - by double clicking on a word (or selecting it with click and drag) and then clicking on the dictionary icon (dictionary), the app will give you what part of speech it is and a definition for it.

Picture Dictionary- by double clicking on a word (or selecting it with click and drag) and then clicking on the picture dictionary icon , you will be given a clip art of what the word means.

Translator - by double clicking on a word (or selecting it with click and drag) and then clicking on the translator icon it will give you a few translations of the word in French or Spanish.  If you find the translator is translating to Spanish, simply click on the gear icon on the right hand side and select French from the drop down menu next to ‘translation’.

Vocabulary builder - when you highlight words and then click on the vocabulary icon a new document is created which lists all of the selected words in a table, including their dictionary definitions, a symbol for it, and a place for students to write in notes.

Fact Finder - helps find information quickly by searching the web for relevant information about a topic.  To use Fact Finder, click on the fact finder icon. Type your search term in the Manual Text Search Box and click OK. Fact Finder will open another browser window and display search results for your keyword using the default search engine. Great for students working on research projects.

I hope these are helpful for you and for your struggling readers.

Cheers,
S


Friday, 18 October 2013

October 18, 2013 – Short and Sweet

Happy Friday Everyone!

Have you ever wanted to share a website or link to a YouTube video with a friend or colleague, only to find that the web address is so long and full of numbers and letters that it is almost impossible to get it correct?  This is where URL (uniform resource locator) shorteners come in handy.  Websites such as bitly.com, goo.gl, and tinyurl.com/ take website addresses and shorten them for easy sharing.  Simply find the webpage you would like to share and highlight the web address in the address bar.  Next right click and select copy.  Then type in the address of a web shortener such as the ones above.  When the web page opens up, there will be a bar in which to enter your web address.  Simply click on the bar and right click, then select paste.  When you click on the ‘shorten’ button, you will be given a new, much simpler, web address to share with your colleague.

If you are feeling a bit more ‘techie’ you can use the following shortcuts to select, copy and paste the web address.  Here are the same instructions using the shortcuts…
Click on the address bar, and type ‘Control and A’ to select all of the web address. Next, type in ‘Control and C’ to copy the highlighted text.  Finally, open the new website and in the address bar click and then press ‘Control and V’ to paste the address.  When you click the shorten button you will be given the new web address.

I hope that this is helpful for you.  If you have an idea for a future blog topic please feel free to pass it along to me, also Past Tech Tidbits posts can be found on the blog at

Cheers,
Stace


Friday, 11 October 2013

October 11, 2013 – Teaching Above the Line

Hello everyone,

This week while I was attending the last session of the UGDSB’s Bring IT In session, the SAMR model of technology integration was discussed and I thought I would spend a little time sharing what it is and how it can build your technology repertoire.


The SAMR model was first introduced by Dr. Ruben Puentedura and identifies different levels which technology integration can progress through as we become more adept at teaching and learning with different forms of technology.  It is especially helpful for teachers to use when reflecting on their own tech use as they begin to make small changes in how technology is utilized in their class and illustrates next steps for future implementation.

Substitution
The first step in the process is substitution.  Here computers are used to perform the same tasks which would have been done in classrooms previously.  For example, students use a word processing program to type up a research project.  In this level there is not much of a significant impact on teaching and student learning; however it is a step in the right direction when beginning integration of technology.

Augmentation
Next comes augmentation and this involves slightly more planning and effort on behalf of the instructor.  In this phase technology can offer a more effective tool to perform common classroom tasks, such as using a Google form for taking a quiz or a virtual ‘sticky note wall’ as a parking lot for questions.  The technology is a direct substitution and as a result there can be immediate feedback on students’ level of understanding and student engagement increases.

Modification
This is the first step ‘over the line’ as they call it – where we move from enhancement to transformation.  In this level, the technology allows for significant redesign of parts of the task.   Some examples include students using Google docs to collaborate on an assignment using comments and share features and creating an audiovisual presentation for an authentic audience.  Here students are becoming increasingly more active in questioning and the lessons become student driven.  One drawback at this level, however is that without technology your lesson is not possible.

Redefinition
The final level is redefinition where technology allows for new tasks to be created which were once impossible to perform in the classroom.  Collaborating and connecting with other classrooms around the world via Skype or Google Docs is one example.  Here the student and teacher’s worlds are expanded far beyond the traditional classroom.

There are many great resources available to further your familiarity with the SAMR model.  I encourage you to examine your technology use and question how you can ‘bump it up’ to the next level to encourage student engagement and build on the student centered learning in your class.

Cheers and have a Happy Thanksgiving,
Stace


Friday, 4 October 2013

October 4th, 2013 - Technology that VROCs!

Hello everyone and congratulations on completing another week in the most important profession in the world!

Students often do not connect their in class learning with the day-to-day occurrences in the world.  They feel that the study topics and assignments are of no use in the ‘real world’.  Well, that is all about to change with the addition of VROC in your classroom!

VROC stands for ‘Virtual Researcher On Call’ (http://www.vroc.ca) and connects Canadian classrooms with present-day researchers and professionals in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).  There are several ways which you can incorporate VROC into your classroom program such as Experts on Demand, Career Video Podcasts, and video podcasts on This Week in Science and Education. 

Career Video Podcasts include such great topics as Science Scoop’, ‘Tech Talk’, ‘Engineer This’ and ‘Why Math?’ These energetic and entertaining videos show experts in the various STEM fields discussing what they do and highlighting new careers in their area. 

This Week in Science and Education contains enjoyable videos featuring emerging technologies such as ultrasound in the treatment of cancer, Bucky Balls and environmentalism. 

The best feature of all (in my opinion) however is Experts on Demand.  This feature inspires young students’ interests by connecting current researchers with classrooms via video conference and mentorship, and allows them to interact in real time and participate in rich collaborative discussions.   

The best part is that all of these services are completely free to public and Catholic elementary and secondary schools in Canada! By simply visiting the vroc.ca website and signing up for an account, a VROC coordinator will be in touch with you to discuss how they can best support your classroom curriculum.

This is just another way that technology can enhance your teaching and bring down the walls of your classroom to introduce your students to the world around them.

Enjoy
Cheers,

Stace

Friday, 27 September 2013

September 27, 2013 – How Do You Like This Apple?

It’s Friday!
Last Wednesday (September 18th), Apple released the latest update to its operating system for iPads and iPhones, iOS7. While there are many new and exciting features, and a sleek new designs layout, there are some drawbacks, not the least of which has been reported motion sickness with the zooming and animations.   Although you are not currently required to update the operating system on your iPad, you will need to upgrade at some point and I thought I would provide step-by-step instructions on how to complete this task as well as a few tips and tricks you can use with your iPad.

Upgrading:
First, be sure your device is connected to a wifi network such as UGDSB public or your own home wifi system.  If you are upgrading your own personal device, this is a key step too so that you will not be charged for large amounts of data usage.  Also, you may wish to connect your iPad to a power source, so there is no chance for it shutting down during the process.  Go to ‘Settings’, tap on ‘General’ and then ‘Software Update’. Your current operating system will automatically begin checking for updates.  If an update is available, tap ‘Download” and the process will begin.  Once the download is complete you will receive a notification that the system is ready to install, tap on ‘Install Now’ and wait for the device to complete this process.  If your iPad has a great deal of apps, videos, or pictures stored on it, you may receive the message that “This update requires at least X.XG of storage”.  In this case, you can use iTunes to complete the installation if you are able to connect it to your own personal device (many UGDSB desktops and laptops are unable to install iTunes) or simply delete some videos or apps you no longer use and begin the process.

So what’s new?
The first thing you will notice about the new operating system will be the look of the lock screen, password and home screen.  Additionally, the home page icons may not appear to all be there.  This is because your folders will now have multiple pages and there is no limit to the number of apps you can store in a single folder.  When you open a folder you may see dots along the bottom of the insert, these indicate how many pages are within the folder and which page you are currently viewing.  By swiping to the left or right, the next set of apps will appear for you to tap to open.  This will end the multiple folders titled ‘Math 1’, ‘Math 2’, ‘Math 3’, etc. 

You may be wondering where your search feature has gone, considering swiping to the right from the home screen no longer brings up this feature.  Instead, swiping from the top down on the home screen will bring up your search bar and keyboard. 

Closing running apps used to be achieved by double clicking on the home button. While this is still the case, there are a couple new changes.  Simply swipe each app toward the top of the iPad and it will disappear.  If you are feeling particularly savvy, or pressed for time, you can close multiple apps at one time by swiping upwards with multiple fingers on each app.  Swiping from the left or right and tapping on an app, will allow you to switch between apps that are currently open.
In mail or settings, etc. you can swipe from left to right (backwards swiping) and it will allow you to return to the previous page. 

iOS7 has some new sounds available for use as notifications, you may like to explore these by tapping ‘Settings’ and going to ‘Sounds’ 

Useful for teaching is the iPad dictionary feature.  When you are reading an ebook or article online, simply touch and hold the desired word and it will highlight, then tap on define. 

Finally, one key feature I would like to highlight is the restrictions function.  As a teacher, multiple students may be using the device in one day and some tech savvy children may be able to delete or install apps on the iPad without our permission.  Instead we can lock the ability to perform these functions unless a password is provided.  Go to “Settings” and tap on “General”.  You will have to scroll down to “Restrictions” and tap “Enable Restrictions”.  Here you will be asked to enter a four digit passcode.  Then you are able to allow or deny access to multiple features on the iPad such as FaceTime, iTunes store in addition to Adding and Deleting Apps.  Also, you can alter the level of content allowed for the various features, so there is no chance of students playing inappropriate videos or visiting adult content websites accidentally.

So, while it is not necessary to update your iPad with the new operating system now, it will become a requirement in the future; and although there may be a few bugs and kinks in the system, there is no reason to fear updating your iPad to iOS7.  I do however suggest trying it at the end of the day when you will not need it and getting used to the new features and app layout.  This way you will not be frustrated trying to find an app you had wanted to use in a lesson, or share with a student.

If there are any questions regarding the new operating system or iPads, please feel free to message me. 

Have a great weekend,
Stace