Planning for today began back in November 2014. I saw an interesting post on Trey Ratcliff's blog, Stuck in Customs about a photography trip he was running to New Zealand. Interesting destination and I thought why not?  I was following his blog for about 3 years and watched a YouTube video he created that made me think that he might be the right person from which to learn the art of photography. 

I did some research about kiwis and Hobbits and the land of "the Rings". Although New Zealand is a small country it is composed of 2 large islands, North and South, aptly named and hundreds of smaller islands around them. The geography is diverse from beautiful beaches, to mountain ranges and even some hot springs. I didn't want to miss anything. That meant that my journey would extend beyond the 5 day photo workshop in Queenstown. My mother was worried about me in a strange land for so long. But there is a little difference in language and I've always been independent. 

The deposit of $1000 was sent over Thanksgiving weekend. I was asked many times who I was going with and decided to go it alone since many of my friends were still working. Some others who are also retired already had obligations for April so this adventure is mine. It seemed so far away, geographically and in time. 

At this point I purchased travel insurance for my whole journey. As I was going to spend over $9000 for 3 weeks in NZ I wanted to be covered for trip cancellation, illness, dental issues and I added identity protection all for around $450. The next week I developed a severe back issue with leg pain. After 4 months of physical therapy and many tests and doctor visits there is a disagreement about the cause and treatment. In February I got a shot in the back and the pain disappeard, but I am left with pain and sensitivity in my left leg making progress with therapy and a leg brace! Not letting that stop me. 

I use my iPhone for so many things so I created a new note for New Zealand to begin making lists, but also made a spreadsheet on my MacAir of trips, tours and costs. There were so many tour companies to explore and after a month of comparison I liked what had to offer. I did not want to rent a car and drive on the wrong side of the road. That was a disaster in England. That cost me a new tire, a broken mirror and the rental company said we scratched the Mercedes, but we did not do that!

I got a gift card for Christmas so off to buy some travel books about NZ, but they were to expensive so I settled on doing my research online. I tried to learn about the public transportation, planes, trains, and automobiles and just called the travel agent with a list of places I wanted to visit and she took charge. Within 3 weeks she created an awesome tour of North and South Islands. You know how it goes, I found a tiny town on the East side of South Island called Dunedin that was a no miss location. 
It was described as little Scotland and since all four of my grandparents came to the U.S. From there, I had to go for several days. As it turned out there is quite a bit to do and I'll tell you about it when I get there. 
In March the final payment of $3999 was due for the photo seminar. Now I was committed - no refunds. 

Today  I am writing this on the first leg of a journey that was not even on my bucket list! I am a bit worried about making my connection in Denver as I only have 50 minutes between flights. The Southwest attendant assured me I could get from gate 30 to 33 without any problem. We will see.

I will have a long layover in LAX of 9 hours, so I'll explore and recharge devices and myself to leave at 11:30PM for Auckland, NZ. 
More later,
Flying solo!

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I really want to be more organized, but I keep failing. BUT I have found that keeping a digital calendar has helped me the most. I put in all meetings, class information, class projects and personal appointments. For important events I set double reminders. I have used several apps for this purpose, iCal, RemindMe, and Reminders. 

Using iCal and RemindMe(FREE app) are the most useful because I can see them from any device or online. One way this could be used by students of any level is to create a class account and have students input the important dates for assignments, projects, class field trips and more. Parents could subscribe to this calendar to keep up to date about classroom events!

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I am participating in a blogging challenge for the next 20 days. It is sponsored by Kelley Hines from North Carolina to encourage teachers to learn to blog. Here is the list of challenge topics:

If you would like information about creating a blog, see Kelly's post here. Invite a friend to create a blog as well, so you have someone to work along side of you through the process. 

BC#1 - Recently I have been reading books about life in Scotland. My heritage is 100% Scot since all four of my grandparents came here in the early part of the 20th century. Even though these novels are historical fiction, they explore life in different part of the country. Sometimes the story takes place in another time in history, some of the books take place in modern day.  What I really liked about them is the connection the people had to be loyal to their nation and culture. Each of the books simply describe customs, language irregularities and make personal connections.

I am planning on an extended trip to Scotland in 2015. My hope is to exchange or rent a home in the town of Glasgow so I can lean about the area where my grandparents lived. It will be just a short train stop to Edinburgh to explore some really old buildings, nature areas and of course the famous Edinburgh castle. One other book I have been devouring is "Dummies Guide to Scotland". You can't go wrong there!

Curricular Connection: Students could read a book about a country of their heritage and they could compare information with each other using the Board Builder in Discovery, Glogster or a PhotoCollage app for an iPad. There are so many different types of geography in this country to compare to parts of the US. A math lesson could consist of learning how the UK money is different than other European nations. Naturally a Google Tour would be a fantastic way to share the locations mentioned in the story.

The books are 1) The Winter Sea and Shadowy Horses by Suzanna Kearsley. You can find more information about her on this website.

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First you must put the DE site on your home page on the iPad. Open Safari and go to the DE website. Click on the "send to" arrow right next to the URL and a new window will open. Choose ADD TO HOME SCREEN and a nice DE icon will be placed on your ipad screen. It appears like an app, but is not. This is a direct link to your DE log in page and it is a nice shortcut.

Where to you find good apps?

I read blogs and professional journals, follow teachers on Twitter, and ask everyone at workshops and seminars where they find apps. This really saves time because these are already vetted by someone else. Knowing which apps are not good is useful as well. So start asking people for their favorite app and you will get a list very quickly.
Here are some sites I consider to be some of the top critics of apps. So if you do not have a starting point yet, try these sites.

How do you integrate apps with DE Resources?

Don't overlook the photos, images, songs and sounds in the DE library. Most people do not even search these assets but there is gold in there, but you need to mine it! There are over 7400 audio files, songs and sound effects from rainforest sounds to a snare drum. You can use these in presentations, projects and more.
Organize your classroom iPads by using some of the fantastic DE photos as the background screen. There are penguins, insects, plans, animals, or famous people you can "Save Picture (Photo Album)". Then go to the background setting and choose from camera roll for the photo you saved. All of the backgrounds below are found in the DE images.

To download a DE video to play on the iPad, you should use an app called iCab(free). Your selection will download to your Camera roll. Once in there, when you play the clip, notice at the top of the screen there is a place you can "trim" the video if you need to make it shorter. Here are two places to visit to read more about iCab from some STAR DE educators;
  1. Carolyn Stanley's blog post -
  2. Mark Hammon's YouTube video tutorial -
Once you use iCab, be sure to connect it to Dropbox for storage of your projects so they do not take any of the precious iPad memory.

Turn that lesson into engaging and meaningful activities.

  1. Give students the assignment to find photos in the Discovery library, import them into Educreations. Students can narrate the slide show.
  2. Students create a conversation between the four gentlemen in the painting with or
  3. Use photos from DiscoveryEducation image library to create a poster of the water cycle using Popplet Lite mind mapping app.
  4. Try Pic Collage to create a poster of information about China. Finding photos and information in DE photos.
  5. Download images from DE to create a digital, but not multimedia poster using Text on Foto. Use this app to label a photo before using it in a slideshow.
  6. For a different style of writing, have students find images in the DE library and create a postcard using PhotoCard app.There is an option to actually mail it for$1.99 or send to photo library so you can print and post around your room.
  7. Create a slideshow with Lodge McCammon music - first download his songs on a computer then put on iPad -  (as ipad is connected to computer, don’t sync, just select View->Show Sidebar and drag Lodge songs to the iPad device). It will put Lodge in iTunes and make it available to other apps on your iPad that use music. But first use Text on Foto to label the photos before importing to ProShow to make a musical slideshow.
  8. Tech Smith has come out with a new app called Ask3. The concept "Ask 3 before me". So when a student has questions in class they should ask 3 others first. This app allows teachers to create an assignment by video/audio from within the app and describe what students will complete. This gets posted to a "bulletin boaard". Students do their assignment an then come back to Ask3 to record their images and message for the assignment which also gets posted to the bulletin board. The collaboration begins when others in the class make comments to their peer about the work submitted. The product is in beta, so your comments to TechSmith are appreciated. You can have an influence on how an app develops.

The sample projects are contained within the presentation attached below.

Here are the resources mentioned in my DEN GURU Webinar.

AppsGoneFree - Free - sends notification about paid apps that become free.
AppShopper - Free - Enter all of your apps into this web data collection. Also enter any apps you have on your "Wish List" and   AppShopper will notify you of any updates or drop in price.
Dropbox - Free - to move files from your computer to iPad easily
Educreations - Free - Make tutorials, slide shows and narrate them.
iCab Mobile - $1.99 - Download DE videos on the iPad.
Keynote - $9.99 - Create presentations on the iPad.
PhotoCard - Free - Make a postcard that you can print or mail using any photos or DE photos
Pic Collage - Free - Digital poster with photo, text and sticker support. No multimedia.
Popplet Lite - Free - Mindmapping app in which you can insert DE images or photos in the Popplets.
ProShow - Free - Create slideshow with music like Lodge McCammon's songs.
Text on Foto - Free -Enter text with over 50 font styles on DE photos or images.
All in all you could spend so much time evaluating apps and creating lessons to use them in your classroom. But by visiting the sites suggested you can find some excellent resources to make going mobile more fun.

Excellent Starting points for finding apps for education

  1. Interesting Ways(to use ipad in classroom) by Tom Barrett -
  2. Review of apps by Apple Distinguished Educators -
  3. Robin Martin’s iPad links -
  4. Tony Vincent’s iPad links -
  5. Robert Byrne’s -
  6. ADE reviewed apps -
  7. Teachers with apps -
  8. TCEA matrix of apps -
  9. Real Teachers recommend apps -
    AppoLearning -
  1. Educational Technology and Mobile Learning -
  2. 15 iPad skills every teacher and student should have -
  3. 20 Random iPad Math Apps -
  4. 26 categories for teachers using iPads in class, from math to notetaking apps -
  5. 50 of the Best Resources for iPads -
  6. 100+ Tips on how to integrate iPad into your classroom -
  7. 1000 apps organized by subject and price by Texas Computer Education Assoc.-

iPad blogs:

  1. -
  2. iPad AppStorm:
  3. Kathy Schrock’s - Bloomin’ Apps -
  4. Linda Nitche’s -

Sites that review apps

  1. - Consume the information here or help to create a library of reviews
  2. Kathy Schrock’s - iPads in the Classroom -
Kathy Schrock’s - Kathy’s Katch - post on iPads and Assessment -


eBooks by Robin Martin available on iTunes bookstore.



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I am having trouble embedding the video here. Sorry for the extra click, but here is the link to my digital story for #etmooc. The Popcorn Maker style was really fun and easy to create. The way you showed us in the introduction video was quite appealing. This is something our teachers could use right away!

Make one of your own at Popcorn Maker by Mozilla.

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I have read about moocs before, but have not had a chance to experience the group learning process until last night as Alex Couros kicked off the session. There were over 190 people in the session I was viewing and the chat was fast and furious, I couldn't keep up with listening and reading all of it! There was good discussion from the followers and I surmised that the skill level of the group was so varied. This is so great and I look forward to being a learner as well as a helper along the way.

In the past, I have been a part of online instruction and this feels very similar. The fact that the sessions will be archived is helpful for those unable to attend at the set time. In fact, I will be pointing some of my colleagues to the page to watch some of the archived sessions. Giving them bits at a time often works better. Some people new to web tools are often overwhelmed and then back off.

Thanks for organizing this learning experience for all of us!

Join the #etmooc HERE

Follow on Twitter by typing in #etmooc in the twitter search box.


About me

I am a middle school computer specialist. Along with teaching seventh graders iMovie, GarageBand for  podcasting and Keynote. The rest of the day I am involved with helping teachers to integrate web2.0 tools and iPads into their curriculum. My support can be in the form of lesson planning or tech support.

Over the years I have become involved with DiscoveryEducation Network (DEN as a STAR), presenting at NMSA, ISTE, PETE&C and PA Middle School conferences. Recently I was inspired to create some tutorials for our students using the iPad. My two tutorials are published in the iTunes Bookstore, GarageBand Podcasting and iMovie Basics on the iPad and working with some colleagues to produce an iTunesU course for our iPad program (still in progress).

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Last year at PETE&C I saw a presentation by Chris Penny, Christine DiPaulo, and Steve Zalot about using iBooks Author to create content. It looked pretty intuitive and as long as you had content ready. So I started exploring the possibility of creating something. But I needed  a purpose.

Fast forward to this fall and the talk of a 1:1 project is more serious, so I had a brainstorm. The following week I saw a post about the ADE program and thought I would combine the two ideas into one project.

After I started working with iBooks Author, I found it to be very smooth. Choosing the template took me some time, as I wanted it to be just right. I wanted a good clean cover where some school cover art would stand out. The page templates were already connected so the text wrap from page to page was great. There were several books from our library and eBooks that I consulted for technical support. They included:

iBooks Author for Dummies - by Galen Gruman
Lecturing with an iPad by Perry Samson
iBooks Author: Publishing Your First Ebook by Maria Langer
Create your First Interactive Book - by Ted Bendixson & Niels Van Spauwen

Begin by looking over the template to see what you would like to include such as Copyright, Preface, Dedication, Foreword, and Chapter Headers. I found that using sticky notes to create a basic format for the book really helped me make some decisions about the structure and organization of the material.

Once I completed writing the supplementary pages like previously mentioned, I was ready to tackle the content. Once the content was written, I found some student projects that would serve as examples. During the process of creating a podcast for this book, I took screen shots of GarageBand, so I could use them as well.

Citing work used is a very important part of the process. I feel very strongly about including a bibliography, just as we require students to do so for their work. This was completed through a web service that we pay for called NoodleTools.

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Frequently I come across a blog post or an article that lists great apps. Judge for yourself, as I am not a critic, I am just providing the links:

  1. What's On My iPad - teacher features
  2. 11 iPad Apps to Show Off
  3. iPad Apps - Top Apps
  4. PC Magazine (Aug 11) 100 Best
  5. iEar - I Education Apps Review - iPad Apps Reviewed
  6. Links and stories about apps
  7. App News - Android and iOS
  8. iPad recommended education apps
  9. Tony Vincent's recommendations
  10. Tech Radar - Best apps 2012
  11. 2012 - Larry Ferlazzo's list of places to find apps for education
  12. Tom Barrett's iPad page of links and suggested apps and how to use them in the classroom
  13. Top 10 Apps for Digital Storytelling - Paula Nagle
  14. 29 Days of Andriod Apps by Richard Byrne
  15. TechChef4u Recommends - Lisa Johnson
  16. 21st Century Learning - At Martin J. Gottlieb Day School

As you can imagine, this list will be already out of date as soon as I push the publish button. I will try to post more sites as I see them in various places online. In the meantime, enjoy!

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Walnut iPad cover by MiniotWalnut iPad cover by Miniot (Photo credit: Stewf)I have a few new "toys" to share. First of all our school purchased iPads for a few projects. After working with them and students I must conclude that the Apple designed magnetic cover is not great for middle school students.  There are so many better choices for students to hold the iPad, prop it up and easily type on the screen. One of my favorites is PropUp iPad case. The cost is $30, but will fit an iPad that has a silicone cover as well. Yesterday another tacher showed me the $5 stand she bought at the store Five Below. It is plastic and the angle can be adjusted easily.
I found the silicone covers for under $10 at discount stores like TJMaxx, Marshalls, Target, Wall-Mart and Ross. There are some at Five Below, but the quality is questionable on those. Cheap screen savers can be found at Five Below as well. There are other bargains to be found on ebay if you like looking there for items.
Some students will enjoy using a stylus and these too can be found at discount prices. Once again Five Below has one for $5, but it is thicker than a pencil. The best bargain can be found at 3 Pack of Universal Touch Screen Stylus Pen (Red + Black + Silver): Cell Phones & Accessories for $2.00. They are fine even if you get them and your kids do not like them, not much is lost for $2 for three stylus pens is a good deal. If you want to spend more you can purchase ONE from Apple at $15. Happy shopping.

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iPad miniiPad mini (Photo credit: patrick-allen)This is a blog site that has some recommendations for apps both free and paid. Most are recommended for the iPad, idevices and are for grades 2-6.
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