Shrewsbury EdTech

Tech resources for Shrewsbury Public School educators

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Using iPads in the 1-to-1 Middle or High School Science Classroom

I taught a course this week at the Shrewsbury Summer Institute on how to utilize iPads in our middle and high school science classrooms. This “Tech Tip” is a summary of what was covered over the last few days. Regardless of what subject/age you teach, I’m hopeful you will still find most of this information useful.


General iPad tips/tricks

Schoology Overview

Since Shrewsbury has committed to using Schoology as our Learning Management System (LMS) platform moving forward, Schoology was a big focus for the week. All participants had a sandbox course to explore. They added content, assessments, and spent time exploring the features using a laptop and iPad in both teacher and student views.

If you are unfamiliar with Schoology, visit their Help Guides website. They offer a lot of valuable information for teachers, students, and parents.

Notability, Pages, and Google Docs…the “Big 3”

In a science classroom, much of what we do revolves writing notes, annotating worksheets, and writing labs. While these three apps all have a slightly different focus, they are the apps I use most in my classroom for day-to-day work. We also spent some time creating data tables in these three apps, which is an important element in the science classroom.

1. Notability – I use Notability when I have a PDF worksheet and want students to annotate that worksheet. Data tables cannot be easily made within the app, so the worksheet must already have a table for them to fill in.

5 Notability features you may or may not know about

2. Google Docs – I use Google Docs when I want students to collaborate on research or a lab and I plan to give them frequent feedback (best example is my science fair project). It wasn’t long ago when students couldn’t even view a table within the app. They can now make data tables that are pretty functional. The only missing ingredient is the ability to merge cells. However, a workaround to this is opening the document in Safari in desktop mode. This allows them to merge cells!

3. Pages – I use Pages when I want students to write up their own lab report, complete with data table, photos, and graphs. It has the best formatting options and creates a “prettier” product.

I have found that many times, it does not matter to me what app students use. They all have their own preference. For this reason, I usually share resources as Microsoft Word files. Students are able to “open in” using any of these three apps. Once finished, they can submit their final work back into Schoology.


Creating Tests and Quizzes in Schoology

Participants spent most of the afternoon creating quizzes and tests in Schoology using point scales and rubrics. There are a lot of wonderful grading features in Schoology, and most of the questions can be automatically graded for you!

Creating Graphs on the iPad

I rarely have my students hand-draw graphs on graph paper. If you prefer that option, they can easily take a photo when they finish and insert the photo directly into Notability, Pages, or Google Docs.

Create a Graph (Safari)

Download the graph when you are finished as a .jpg file. On an iPad, the graph image will pop up. Press down with your finger and choose “Save image” to save it to your camera roll.

Pages app (or Numbers)

Creating a graph in both of these apps is very similar. You can create graphs that look more professional compared to the previous option. Graphs cannot be saved to the camera roll. However, you can “copy” the image and paste it later wherever you want to put the graph.

Data Analysis app

TuvaLabs doesn’t actually let you create a graph, but it’s worth mentioning because it’s so cool. They have a huge collection of data sets that you can manipulate and visualize in a variety of ways.

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 11.11.28 AM

Using Photos in the Classroom

I think the camera is one of the greatest features on the iPad. Being able to take/share photos and videos allows for a lot of creative ideas that were not previously possible.

A few photo ideas…

Annotating Photos3975108995_a7c5e48ae7_b

When students are able to annotate photos with text and shapes, they are able to demonstrate their understanding. Instead of using that old diagram of a microscope, students could be asked to take a photo of an actual microscope in order to label different parts. It makes learning more authentic.

Here are three apps that my students have used  to annotate and label photos.

  • Skitch
  • Explain Everything (This app costs $2.99 but should be free for all teachers and students at the middle and high school.)
  • Notability (This app costs $3.99 but should be free for all teachers and students at the middle and high school.)

Student and Teacher Created Videos

Like with photos, the ability to create and share videos on an iPad opens up some pretty awesome ideas. As teachers, we can now begin to “flip” parts of our curriculum by creating videos and sharing them with our students. These videos can be lectures, instructions for a lab/project, demonstrations that may not be safe for the classroom, etc. Most students are comfortable using iMovie. That is their app of choice, but there are some other useful apps I recommend as well for different purposes.

Here are a list of apps for you to consider… 

iMovie – the gold standard

Explain Everything – lets you or students make a “screen cast”. You can embed practically anything (images, documents, presentations, other videos…)

“Green Screen” app by DoInk ($2.99) – This apps lets students create engaging “green screen” videos. You will need a solid color backdrop (does NOT need to be green). You can also utilize a green screen within Explain Everything if you do not have an actual screen to use.

Time lapse videos are useful for long exposures. The iPad takes repeated photos at a set interval (every 2 seconds, 20 seconds, 1 minute, etc.) then combines those photos into a video. The camera in newer iPads already have a “time-lapse” function. Otherwise, you can use a specific app such as Lapse It or Hyperlapse.

Stop motion apps allow you to make an animation video using a series of photos. Here is a great stop motion video a teacher created to model chemical reactions. There are many stop motion apps out there, but my students have used the free Stop Motion Studio app.

While time lapse videos produce a video that is sped up, “slow motion” apps can be used to slow videos down. Newer iPhones have a “Slo-Mo” function in the camera roll. For iPads, you can use the SloPro app.



This wasn’t initially going to be part of this course, but Doug Kiang’s morning keynote was all about gaming. I created a badge system this year and hope to include more gaming elements moving forward.

General iPad/iPhone Recommended Apps for Teachers and Students

Here is a list of general apps that I feel everyone should have to stay organized.

  • Some type of task manager or “to do” app (2.Do, Any.Do, Google Keep, or Reminders)
  • Calendar: Google Calendar or Sunrise
  • Password app: 1Password
  • (apps gone free, apps discounted, and new apps)

General apps for Science class:

Science Probeware

The high school teachers practiced syncing their Vernier probes and LabQuest 2 interfaces. Students can connect their iPads to the LabQuest 2 interface over a WiFi connection. The middle school teachers spent time learning how to connect iPads with our Pasco probes using the AirLink 2 bluetooth interface.

Presentation apps

Students are very comfortable using Keynote on their iPads. While this is a great app, there are many other wonderful options for both students and teachers.

Google Slides and Keynotes can be opened in Notability and/or E.E. This allows students to annotate and take notes while you present.

Curating and Sharing Resources

Where will you keep all of your “stuff”? You must consider whether you want it to be private, public, or shared only with your students. Personally, I use Google Drive and Dropbox to save all of my documents, photos, and videos on my computer. I then upload handouts from those folders into Schoology for students to access.

I bookmark all of my online resources using Diigo. It’s fantastic. For you Twitter users out there, you can even have all of your favorite tweets automatically saved to Diigo! I will put some online resources into Schoology for my students, but I’ve found that if there are too many links, it’s easier to provide them with a single link that sends them to my Learnist site. Learnist is like Pinterest, and it’s where I bookmark academic web resources for my students.


Infographics are graphical representations of data. They are especially useful for sharing out a lot of information. and both have plenty of examples you can search through. also lets you customize templates to make your own infographics. STEM Literacty Through Infographics is a great website that includes a lot of published student-created infographics. Compound Interest also has a great collection of chemistry-related infographics.

My favorite tool for creating infographics is Canva. Both the website and iPad app are easy to create visually awesome infographics.

Project-Based Learning (PBL)

One of Shrewsbury’s district initiatives moving forward focuses on project based learning.

Here is the updated Professional Practice Goal:

By the end of the 2016-17 school year, all grade level and department teams will have re-designed and implemented an existing learning experience for students that includes:

  • An open-ended question that requires students to think critically about an engaging topic
  • A special introductory event to the learning experience that generates curiosity and motivates students to learn more about the topic
  • Multiple pathways to demonstrate learning
  • Opportunities for students to share their thinking and collaborate with others
  • Work shared with an audience beyond teacher and classroom
  • Technology integration that enhances learning at the Modification and/or Redefinition level (SAMR Model)
  • The resources for this learning experience will be organized digitally to support team and department collaboration and innovation.

General PBL Resources

Buck Institute Website

Buck Institute – Gold Standard PBL: Essential Project Design Elements

Buck Institute – Essential Project Design Checklist

Project-based learning ideas

(These are resources that participants in the course found and shared.)

List of physics PBL from

Blocking Sound PBL

Eggstreme Sports

Go, Score, Win with Physics

CASES Online

Free Project Based Learning Resources That Will Place Students At The Center Of Learning

Effective teaching methods —Project-based learning in physics 

IOP Institute of Physics – Problem based learning modules

Chemistry PBL Ideas:

  • Water quality – ions (nitrates, phosphates, chloride), dissolved oxygen, turbidity, pH, etc of different bodies of water and well water sources
  • Nutritional analysis of various drinks of choice
  • Combustions reactions – production of CO2 with various forms of travel

Biology PBL Ideas:


If you’ve never heard of Kahoot yet, you’re missing out. It’s a very fun (and very competitive) online quiz game that lets students compete against each other. You can create your own quiz games or you can use public quizzes. The quicker you answer a question correctly, the more points you earn! – Use this link to set up an account and run a quiz

Kahoot – Use this link to take a quiz


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What’s on your iPad home screen?

While reading through my RSS feeds the other day, I came across an interesting blog post by Justin Reich at EdTechTeacher called All the Good Apps Fit on One Screen. One of his focal points was that teachers have a core set of apps that we use the most. All of these core apps should fit on just your iPad’s home screen.

Justin (@bjfr) took a screen shot of his home screen and shared this image on Twitter. He then encouraged others to do the same, using the hast tag #onescreen. For those of you who know Derek and I, you know that neither of us like Twitter. However, this was the first time I found a reason to actually engage in a Twitter feed. I began by clicking on the hash tag link above and lurked around for a while, looking at all of the images other teachers have shared of their home screens. I then took the plunge and tweeted out a pic of my own home screen and added to the conversation. A short time later, Justin Reich retweeted my comment on his own feed. I gotta say, I’m not quire ready to embrace Twitter just yet, but this did give me a snapshot into how it could be a valuable tool for collaboration.

This experience inspired me to initiate similar collaboration here in Shrewsbury. Since very few of us use Twitter, I created a Google Presentation that is public and can be edited by anyone. I am asking as many teachers as possible to take a screen shot of your iPad home screen, then share that image onto the Google Presentation for others to see. There are directions in the presentation itself, but I would also like for you to add your name, grade, and subject taught. Access the Google presentation here. Please remember that anyone can edit this slideshow so please only edit one slide. Do not edit another slide that was already created. 

Now, this isn’t just for teachers. Even though some apps will vary based on grade and subject, there are many apps that can be useful to everyone. Therefore, I encourage everyone who sees this to participate: teachers, aides, curriculum coordinators, principals, and other administration. Even if you happen to be reading this and are not affiliated with Shrewsbury Public Schools, we would love your participation. If a lot of people get involved, this could be a great starting point to finding out about some new apps.

The images shared can be viewed in the embedded slideshow below. Click on the “full screen” button at the bottom to view the presentation in full screen mode.

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Finding great apps for your iPad without spending a lot of time and money

The Apple “App Store” has over 500,000 apps available for download, and this number is increasing every day. There are apps for science, reading, note taking, video editing, and basically anything else you can think of. As the saying goes, “There’s an app for that.” With so much stuff out there though, it can be very tough, not to mention time consuming, searching for apps that are beneficial and free (or very cheap). This tech tip is to share two valuable resources that have done all of the work for you.

AppAdvice is an EXCELLENT resource for iPhone/iPad apps.

You can search for apps in a few different ways: app reviews, app lists, app guides, and an app base.

App reviews: Read their reviews of newly-released apps.

App charts: Search through the App Store charts by category just like you would within the App Store itself.

App lists: One of the coolest features of this site…they handpick apps to fit your lifestyle. Find “apps to help you be green”, “apps for car drivers”, “apps to plan events”, and so much more!

App guides: These guides are all “best of” apps for various topics. For each one, they break down the apps by rating: essential apps (the top 2-3), notable apps, decent apps, and other apps. Check out their appguide for best handwriting apps on the iPad.

App base: Browse new apps (free or paid) by category.

Apps Gone Free

Appadvice has also released a free iPad app called Apps Gone Free. Ann Gustafson brought this great little app to my attention! Each day, when you open the app, it lists about ten paid apps that are free for that one day only. Some usually cost 99 cents, but there have been some that usually cost around $5. Many of them are silly games, but once in a while you find a really interesting app that’s worth checking out. 

Edtechteacher: The iPad as… offers a lot of teacher professional development related to technology and the use of iPads in the classroom. They helped to coordinate the Shrewsbury Summer Institute and are currently offering the T21 program at Oak. 
They are also hosting the iPad Summit 2012 on November 7-8. 
The Edtechteacher website has a lot to offer for teachers. One of their best resources though is their “The iPad as…” page. They categorize iPad apps by learning objectives, as seen in the screen shot below. 
For each iPad learning objective, they list recommended apps, give a brief description, and rate its usefulness and ease of use. A site like this can be really handy because apps are always improving. Just when you thought you found the perfect app, another one comes along that’s even better. We don’t have time to keep track of all of these apps, and we don’t have to. Edtechteacher will update these apps as newer, better ones come along. Below is an example of some apps they recommend for recording and editing video on the iPad. 

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Making passwords easier to remember

How many passwords do you have to remember?  Between school sites, various home bill and credit card sites (not to mention fantasy football leagues) most of us have well over a dozen passwords to remember… Many people cycle through the same couple ones, depending on the site.

How often have you forgotten a password?

Here’s a simple way to keep all your passwords random – difficult to hack – yet easy to remember:

Choose a word with a capital letter, and a random number.  This becomes the base for all your passwords.  Between the word and the number, insert the initials of the site or service.

For example, if you chose “Firetruck 284”  your password for Verizon would be FiretruckV284…for Xfinity it would be FiretruckX284.  Simple to remember – a word and number – but different for every site.  The mix of characters – letters and numbers, capital and lower case, keeps it random enough to protect your identity.

Managing your passwords
If you already use numerous passwords and have trouble remembering them all, there are numerous applications for computers and smart phones that help you manage all of this important information. I use an app called Msecure that can be used on a Mac/PC and any Android or iOS device (iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad). It does cost money ($7), but I use it to manage all of my passwords, usernames, credit card information, membership numbers, and just about anything else I ever need. Another option is to make a file or an entire folder on your computer password-protected so only you can access it.

Additional Resources