Thursday, December 27, 2012

An Expert or Not

 I've never thought of myself as an expert (someone who carries a briefcase and travels 50 or more miles away from home) on anything. By nature, I'm a rather quiet person that would rather blend into a crowd than to step up and lead. Writing for an audience and public speaking terrify me but over the past six to eight weeks my thoughts have started to change.

In April of 2010, my school district was given some grant money that was used to purchase iPads. When I was given the device I had heard of iPads but had never try one. What the device did amazed me and the kids loved it but I needed to find a way to use it to deliver the curriculum my students needed to learn not as an extra that I added to the learning. 

Over the past year and half I've spent thousands of hours reading, attending trainings and visiting with people about how they are using iPads in the education setting and finding appropriate apps to meet my students needs. What started out of necessity has now become a labor of love. I can't imagine not having an iPad to use with my students. In fact, this year I moved my record keeping over to the iPad and a colleague/friend saw my need for an additional device so I was given an iPad Mini for a combination Christmas and birthday gift. 

In early December, I was given the opportunity to attend one of the largest educational technology conferences in the state of Minnesota. There were hundreds of breakout sessions and what I discovered was that I was already aware of the majority of the resources that were presented. I also regularly visit with the itinerant special education professionals that consult in our buildings and they always are eager to see what I might have discovered or what I might recommend for an specific app that someone might be looking for. 

About six to eight weeks ago, I was approached by the administrators of an Facebook group called AppAble(They promote apps -and their Developers- that benefit students with special needs). They were interested in me joining them to help write app reviews. Initially I thought this was funny because writing is one of my weaknesses. I decided that I needed to stretch myself professional so I agreed to join them. I still get a smirk on my face every time I think about someone seeking me out to write something. Remember I'm terrified of writing. If your interested in learning more about the work of AppAble you can check us out on Facebook or take a look at our blog to read some reviews. We have a website rolling out sometime in the new year too.

I'm stepping out of my comfort zone against at the end of the semester also. The Elementary Principal has convinced me to help her with a smorgasbord of technology trainings that will be offered to the teachers in the district. My sessions are all going to be focused on use of the iPad in the school setting. 

Maybe just maybe I am starting to become a bit of an expert. I don't know the answer to that question for sure but I do know that I am starting to feel very comfortable in the iOS world and feel like I have knowledge that can  help kids benefit from learning with iOS devices. Do  I need to buy briefcase and start commuting? The decision is yours.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

All I Want For Christmas

December 15, 2012

Dear Santa,

I hope you are enjoying the holiday season and are preparing for your trip around the world. It has been a long time since I wrote you a letter but I decided that I needed to update you on what is happening in my life.

Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to be introduced the Apple iPad and have fallen in love with the endless possibilities that it offers. It has been an unbelievable addition to my classroom and I am seeing some of my students do amazing things thanks to this technology.

My Christmas list this year focuses on a few iPad related items that would be a wonderful addition to my classroom or my living room.

  • The Social Express App - This is an iPad app that works on helping kids learning how to navigate through social situations and develop social relationships. 
  • iPieces Games - In my speech program, I use a lot of games to assist in the leaning process. These games from Pressman Toys look wonderful. They are a combination of board game and electronic game. Currently there are four versions; 1) Fishing 2) Game of Goose 3) Air Hockey 4) Snakes and Ladders. They are also reasonable priced at only $12.99 each. I'm not particular anyone would do.
  • Giving Tree - At my house or in my classroom there are always multiple devices that need charging and cords  laying every where. This device would really help to organize this process.
  • Toontastic All Access - I have Toontastic and use it regularly to work on a wide variety of language development skills but have been limited by the small number of options available in the free version. Upgrading to the all access version would open up so many worlds for my students.
  • T-Shirts with the logos of my favorite App Information sites. I would wear them proudly as they all have helped me tremendously to learned how to navigate in the iOS world. Smart Apps For Kids, The iMums, and AppAble thanks for all you have taught me. 
  • iPad Mini - I am requesting this device so I no longer have to use my iPhone to take data on while my students are using the iPad in learning activities. I love my record keeping system. If your interested in learning how I do this refer back to the appropriate blog post.
Thanks Santa for taking the time to read my Christmas Wish List. I understand that your busy and I can not expect to get everything on my list. Anything will do because each of them will help my students in one way or another. Keep and eye out for the milk and cookies. They will be in their traditional spot.

Only 9 sleeps until you arrive..............