You may have noticed that many students and staff are having issues with files not appearing in the Google Drive app. I have a shared Google Drive folder with students and, for some reason, new files that I’ve added are not appearing in the folder. It’s as if the folder can’t refresh to show these new files.
I’ve been using iPads in my classroom for almost two months now. As much as I’m trying try “modify” and “redesign” learning with the iPad, I’ll be honest in saying most of the day-to-day work involves Notability. I wasn’t a huge fan of Notability at first. However, I’m becoming more of a fan as I see just what it’s capable of doing. Sure, students can add typed text and handwritten notes to PDFs, but there’s so much more.
1. Add pictures
This may not sound like a huge deal, but it’s become very handy in my science classroom. Not only can they insert images, but they can crop the photo from within the app itself. We have already had a few science investigations where students must make observations, collect data, and analyze that data. They intuitively take photos to document their observations. They have taken pictures of density columns, white powders (to help identify them at a later date), bowling balls floating in water, etc. The best part, something I’m not accustomed to, is they then refer back to those images as evidence for the lab. We use a “claim, evidence, reasoning” framework for science labs. When referring to data as evidence, students will take a screen shot of their data tables and/or their graphs, crop the photos, then highlight the specific data they want to use. It works very well.
2. Back up to Google Drive
I know many Sherwood teachers already know about this feature, but I just learned it a few weeks ago. One potential drawback to using an app like Notability is that if the iPad gets lost/stolen or destroyed, the data may be lost. There is a way to have all of their notes automatically backed up Google Drive! It’s easy to set up (see link below for instructions), and students can set up a folder to save everything to. They can also decide whether to save everything as a “note” or a PDF file. When I had my students set this up two weeks ago, I noticed about half of them had already done this in 5th or 6th grade. We created a new “8th grade” folder so they were organized. One of the best parts about this is that it automatically creates subfolders based on notebooks in Notability. If they have a different notebook for ELA, Math, Social Studies, and Science, then those four subfolders would automatically be created. Then, just like the good ‘ol Ronco rotisserie, you just set it and forget it!
3. Add or delete pages
This may not be a feature that gets used very often, but it’s very useful when it is needed. I gave my students a lab handout as a PDF last week that was still formatted the same as last year. As a result, there were two pages of “class data tables” where students used to copy data down from other groups in class. Since all class data was shared this year using Google Spreadsheets, those two pages were no longer needed. Students asked if they could delete the pages from the PDF. I said yes, not really believing they could do that. Sure enough, they could. I have also seen a few students add on a page if they need more space to answer a question or add more photos/drawings.
4. Merge PDFs
I just stumbled upon this feature a few days ago. The 8th grade science teachers are having students research a manufactured object. They must research the materials that are used to make that object, focusing on the intensive properties of those materials, to determine why those specific materials are used. Students will communicate their learning by writing a magazine article. As teachers, we hope to combine all of these articles together into a digital magazine of sorts that can then be shared with parents. After looking into many options, the easiest way of doing this (I think) is to have all students share their final PDF with the teacher, who can then use Notability to easily merge them all together.
5. View Google Presentations
As technology teacher leaders, we are always looking for tech tips to share with you. My two main curation tools for doing this have been Feedly and Twitter. Feedly is a news aggregator that replaced Google Reader some time ago. I subscribe to many different blogs that share ideas on education, education technology, science, etc. The feeds for each blog gets sent directly to my Feedly account. Every other week or so, I scroll through all of the recent blog posts and read the ones that sound interesting. Depending on what it is, I may bookmark that particular article on Diigo or share it on Twitter.
First, for all of the new teachers at Oak and Sherwood…welcome to Shrewsbury! We are the Technology Teacher Leaders (TTLs) for Oak and try our best to send out “tech tips” that we think will be helpful in the classroom. Tech Tips from the last few years can all be found on our blog. If you have any tech-related questions, please feel free to send us an email!
All of our blog posts focus on ways of integrating technology in the middle school classroom. However, there are a lot of uses outside of the classroom as well. This blog post describes how I used utilized technology to make my trip to Iceland such a success.