Sunday, January 27, 2013

Key to a Paperless Classroom, the Skitch APP

Skitch is a remarkable app that allows students to annotate over images.  I am currently working daily with Bree Campbell , @breeanneshay, at Bellevue East to implement iPads in her English classroom.  We used Skitch in the classroom to it’s fullest potential in our effort to create a paperless classroom and a learning environment that is ubiquitous, not device dependent.

One of the challenges we faced this week was taking a character analysis chart and and transforming it into the digital, cloud-based world so students can interact with the content anywhere. Since the chart contained a table, Google Docs mobile was out, because the table feature is not available yet on the iPad.  We brainstormed several alternatives including Pages, Notability, and Doceri, but settled on Skitch since it allowed students to type on the image, size it easily, save to a camera roll, and can be uploaded to Google Drive.

Step 1:  Getting the image to Skitch

First we tried to take a picture of the paper and import it into Skitch. The quality was of the image ok, but we weren’t quite satisfied.  There had to be an even better solution.  And we found it!

On the computer, I copied the chart from Word (edità Select All-> Copy)  to a PowerPoint slide (New Slide à Paste) and saved the slide as an image, a JPEG. 

To Save a PowerPoint Slide as an image do the following:

      1.     File -->  Save As

       2.    Click the Arrow and select   JPEG from the choices listed.
3.  Voila! A crystal clear chart and NO PAPER!

Note: Remember where you save the image. I like to save to my desktop. 

Then, we e-mailed the image to all the students to save in their camera roll.

Photo taken of the chart.
Chart saved as a JPEG from PPT

Step 2: Editing and Saving the Image

The kids saved the image into their camera roll on the iPad, then opened Skitch, and imported the image.  Each student added information to the chart daily and saved the image to the camera roll at the end of the class period. 

The classroom workflow for the week was, students open Skitch, import their edited image from the previous day, and keep adding content.  On Friday, students saved it to the camera roll and e-mailed the completed chart to us for grading.  

Camera Roll = Save; E-mail = Hand In

Here is a sample of the completed chart:

 Now on to paperless grading!

Written by Ann Feldmann

Friday, January 25, 2013

Google Workflow for iPads in the Classroom

Google Apps for education allows for a whole new way to manage the classroom workflow and create a paperless environment.  This is especially powerful on the iPad where Google Drive is instrumental in creating an uncomplicated paperless system that eliminates the need for multiple apps to collect student work.  

Sharing material and collecting papers can all be done digitally by taking advantage of the shared folders feature in Google Apps for Education.  Shared folders creates a seamless workflow between student and teacher.  Not only can assignments be created, shared, and graded without a single exchange of paper, it can be done anywhere in the world that can access the web.  Have materials to share with students? With a click of the mouse and a simple drag into a shared class folder, the document is available to all students.

Let’s talk about the details.  Here is how to get started on the iPad.

Apps Needed: Google Drive

Initial Setup


1.  Students personalize the iPad with their gmail account and login with Google credential into the Drive app.
2.  Students drag the Mail and Drive apps to the doc for easy access.
3.  Students create a folder in Drive.  Students share the folder with the teacher so the teacher can view and edit all material in the folder.  Students will submit work to the teacher via this shared folder.

1.  Set up gmail and Drive on the iPad.
2.  Create a folder for the class.  Drag all the folders students have share with you from Share With Me to My Drive in the folder created for the class.  Then drag all student folders into one folder called, for example, Period 1.
3.  Create a folder in My Drive to share material with students. Set the share settings to View Only.  As you, the teacher, share information, student can view the material but do not have rights to edit or delete items.  Their workflow is to copy/paste content to drive.

Classroom Workflow now looks like this!


Written by Ann Feldmann


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Recipe for Successful Classroom Collaboration

How many students participate in a class discussion?  A handful? Five to ten?  Answers vary depending on the class, time, and topic, but to get all students to have a voice is every teacher's’ challenge.

Today, all 26 students in Jeff Bernadt’s (@jbernadt) history class thoughtfully participated in a class discussion using their iPads and a back channel at  

Students were given a choice of 12 different articles to read about the Holocaust from the American perspective and the following writing prompt on the back channel at
“What are your thoughts after reading about the Holocaust from the American perspective? Reference information from readings in your post.”

Students began to read with a purpose, the room fell silent, and the conversation lit up online.  Students purposefully posted comments to the back channel using their iPads and shared facts, feelings, and questions based upon the article(s) they read.  Mr. Bernadt, spent his time reading and responding to students throughout the activity.

The class period zipped by at 4G speed! Before we knew it, we had 19 pages of discussion and the class period was nearly over. 


“We had a great little discussion,” Bernadt said to conclude the class.  “I am hearing lots of voices today.  In a traditional class discussion, there are always just a few that have a voice. Here it gives all of you an opportunity to have a voice and listen to alot of view points very quickly.”

Written by Ann Feldmann

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I Love Technology, But Are Those Worrisome People Right?

Like many of you, I have read several articles in the past year that reeks of worrisome parents and teachers about the overuse of technology and the distractions our students and children face in today’s world of technology.  Now I usually scoffed at this idea and always cheered on the use of handheld devices, texting, social media, and instant access to the digital world.  I firmly believe in the freedom this attitude encourages, but like everything wonderful it does come with a price and extra responsibilities.  Driving a car requires a license and lessons in safety. Shouldn't the frequent use of technology demand some lessons about attention skills, time management, and safety? Recently, I have witnessed how distracting our handheld devices can be for kids.  

I heard it firsthand from a high school student at a school in the thick of a 1 to 1 environment with ipads.  “It’s a huge distraction!” She said.  “I often find myself getting on Twitter when I am supposed to be reading an article online.”  I saw it this week in a classroom.  A student decided to play a round of Angry Birds on his cell phone while his ipad was downloading a pdf.  I experience it every afternoon when I am asking my son to do his homework instead of texting people from his school.  

It is a huge responsibility and we must take the time to talk about it with our students and our children.  Just like any lesson that is worth revisiting, it is important to raise our kid’s awareness of how they are spending their time and the outcomes of their choices.  I love hearing about families that totally unplug for vacations.  I have to be honest, I have tried it and even I can’t do it 100%.  Maybe that is the key-  the happy medium.  Our kids need to know that every text message isn’t critical.  That people and angry birds can wait.  

The ability to stop and focus on what is right in front of us is so important.  It helps generate quality work, creative ideas, safe roads, not to mention less stress and pressure in the moment.  Just in the time I have taken to write this post my ipad has beeped at me three times and my phone has vibrated five.  It’s all I can do to not touch it.  Quite simply put, things can wait.  It’s a lesson we must master and we must teach.  How long can you stand to just leave it alone?  I gotta go, my phone is ringing.  

Written By: Jennifer Krzystowczyk