Parental Power with Our Pact


I am the mom of two heavy technology users (ages 11 and 14). They love surfing the web, playing games, being social, texting friends, and watching videos. They are active boys, but during these summer days, they can become quite lazy and at times they want to do nothing but be on their devices. I take the devices away, hide them, you name it. Until now. Now I hold all the power. Is it bad that I secretly love this? “You want me to give you your apps? Take out the trash, wash the dishes, make your bed, brush your teeth, then I’ll grant you access for 45 minutes.” It’s amazing how all of these daily chores are magically completed if they want to use their device. What’s even better is that I can control their iPad and iPhone ANYWHERE! Let me say that again…anywhere! It’s parental bliss! If I sound somewhat evil, it’s because I totally am! 😜

Here’s the first text I received from my youngest son once he figured out what was going on! I almost wish I would have taken video of the reaction I received from my 14 year old. I think there was a “you’re ruining my life” thrown in there!  It was then that I realized I was doing my job as a mom to find a sustainable way to limit their screen time, especially with social media. However, now they’ve come to terms with this new sheriff in town and they’ve accepted the rules. 

My son’s first encounter with Our Pact 😜

All joking aside, I think this is by far the best parental control of any app that I’ve tried. You can put restrictions on your child’s iOS device, but you can’t limit their time like this. I like the ability to grant or block them from being able to use their devices…anytime, anywhere.

What happens when you block their access?

Well, it’s like magic! All of their purchased apps, including Safari, go away. Only the native iOS apps remain. I’d assume it works the same way on an Android device. You can grant or block them access “until I say so” or for a set amount of time. Additionally, you can set rules for bedtime so that your kid isn’t Snapchatting until 2 AM on a school night! 

Here’s how to set it up:

Download the app onto your phone. Click here for the link to the iOS App Store.

Once you download the app, then create a profile for each of your children, or if they have multiple devices, create a profile for each device.

Then, you go to this address on your child’s device and follow the instructions to install a device profile on their phone. This is what manages the device and allows you to grant or block access. There are some paid features, which I have yet to explore, but I did upgrade so that I can have more access. I’d recommend upgrading because the free subscription only allows for a set number of blocks/grants. The premium features look really great and include blocking specific apps, including text messages. 

Hope Our Pact will be as useful for your family as it has been for mine so far! Happy summer!! 🏖

Exploring Quick Draw

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A neural network is described as a computer system modeled on the human brain and nervous system.

Google recently introduced a pretty awesome tool called Quick Draw! If you’ve ever wanted to play dictionary against your computer, you will love this! It’s a game that uses a neural network to guess your drawings. The more you play, the more the computer learns. It’s a really interesting concept…the computer learns what you are drawing by the way you drew it. The computer analyzes how many strokes you make and the sequence of those strokes as well as the direction in which you drew your strokes. The computer will not always guess your drawings, but it will eventually learn the patterns of all the different ways we draw various objects.

This brings up some great conversations with kids. Here’s some great talking points:

  • Neural network
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Algorithm
  • Patterns
  • Additionally, some of the drawings are objects that kids have never heard of, so it’s a great vocabulary building tool as well!

Here’s a video from the creators of Quick Draw that helps explain how it works!

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Creating a Student Film Festival

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This year, I really wanted my SWAT Team students (Students Working to Advance Technology) to help create an event to reach out to other students. We decided on creating a film festival to promote video creation. At first our goals were quite high and I knew that our first year we needed to start small and build on what we learn in year one. So, that’s just what we did. We decided to create a completely online film festival and we opened the application process to students in grades K-5 in our local school district. We marketed our event, gathered sponsors to award the winners with great prizes (a wonderful incentive to get student participation), and we advertised through our school district and various social media outlets. The films were due on March 3. We received 7 submissions and although I was initially disappointed by the lack of participation, I realized that this year was completely focused around the learning process in order to make next year’s event even better. As I look back, I now understand how this event taught my SWAT Team students so much more than I initally thought! They learned how to create and market an event, how to reach out to our school district, how to create a site where students can upload their videos, and how to gain sponsors. Once the submissions came in,  my students learned the true art of critiquing the videos which were submitted. We talked about various film elements to look and listen for as they watched the videos. We had great discussions after we viewed the videos about what was good about each and what could be improved. We talked about using various filming techniques and camera shots. We talked about how using apps such as Puppet Pals and Drawing Pad within iMovie could enhance films that were created using other methods. I was proud at how my students viewed the videos and how mindful they were to celebrate the risk each of these students took to put their work out there for the world to see. We celebrate the creation of each of these films!

Here’s the video we made to promote the film festival:

North Star SWAT TEAM Film Festival 2017 from April Requard on Vimeo.

Here is a video we made to announce the winners of our first film festival:

2017 Film Festival Results by the North Star SWAT Team from April Requard on Vimeo.

Here are the top three films:

Here is a list of all of the films!

Thank you to all who participated!! We look forward to next year’s Film Festival!

Match Up Partners with Emojis

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If your classrooms are like mine, then you know that whenever you say “pick a partner,” kids automatically start looking around the room to make eye contact with their future partner.  Often times they want to work with the same partners time after time. I was recently talking to a friend of mine who is an AMAZING 4/5 grade teacher in San Diego, Dena Glynn (@Glynn_ed), and she mentioned that she matches kids up using emojis from an Emoji Memory Game. I thought this was a great way to get kids partnered up at random. So, instead of going out to buy the game, I decided to create my own. You can download the PDF I created (emoji-matches) which includes 42 cards.

If you want to make something like this on your own, here’s how I did it!

  1. I used Keynote and changed the size of my slide to a custom size to view my slide in portrait rather than landscape. Change the size of the document to 768×1024.
  2. I added shapes for the background of the emojis and made sure my emojis were brought to the front of the shape.
  3. One of my favorite sites is copypastecharacter.com and there you will find many of your favorite emojis. I like using this site rather than emojis within the keyboard on the Mac for projects like this.screen-shot-2017-02-22-at-9-06-22-am
  4. After your cards are complete, print them out and laminate them! You could also use these cards to play a fun memory game!
  5. In addition to creating these fun memory cards, there are so many other uses for using symbols and emojis from this website! Here’s an older post, where I wrote about creating rebus puzzles using emojis! Try it out! 😀

 

 

 

 

Remove Ads and Change Viewing Options in Online Flash Games

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Many teachers and parents want their child to practice skills with games that are available online for free. However, one of the main concerns I have as an educator is when I allow students to play these games and they come across advertising from outside websites (even with an Ad Blocker on). You know what I mean…the constant ads and it never fails…a kid is likely to click on one of those because they are shiny and blinking! Once they click on those ads, they are taken to a new site. This is especially difficult with younger students. Whenever I can, I like to create add-free games for my students when they go to the computer labs or for practice at home. I also like to increase the viewing size to a full screen so my students can see the game better. When you remove all of the ads and create a full screen for kids, it removes all distractions and allows them to focus on the learning game you want them to play. I searched for what feels like forever to figure out how to turn a flash game into its own file with a link. I finally figured it out! I hope this helps you as much as it’s helped me! It’s a bit more work, but so worth it! Here are the steps in creating your own links!

Step 1:

Install the Live HTTP Headers as an extension in Firefox.

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Step 2:

Go to the site you wish to remove the ads and view full screen (see all the ads as well as the small screen in this game?)

(example: http://www.abcya.com/dolch_sight_word_bingo.htm)

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Step 3:

Once you are in the game, Click on Tools, Live HTTP Headersscreen-shot-2017-01-30-at-11-28-31-am

Step 4:

You will then come to a window that looks like this:

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Step 5:

Now, it begins to generate the request. You need to save this as a .txt file.

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Step 6:

Open the file and search for the URL that ends in .SWF. Once you find it, copy the link and paste it in a new browser window (you can use any browser now that you have the new link).

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Step 7:

Paste your new link in your browser window and have fun! No ads and now it is in full screen!

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Digital Citizenship Projects

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Each year I do a large unit on digital citizenship with grades 3-5. I introduce the topics and really have great conversations with my students about this very important theme that is so relevant to our kids. In 5th grade, we dive deeper into social media and the positive and negative effects it has on kids. For this particular project, I let students choose a topic from this list:

  • Digital Citizenship and Identity
  • Privacy and Security
  • Screen Time Management
  • Information Literacy
  • Digital Etiquette and Empathy
  • Cyberbullying Management
  • Digital Footprint
  • Self Image and Reputation
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I love this graphic by @sylviaduckworth

I give students choices to how they will present their information and allow them to be creative and expressive while addressing the topic they choose.

  • Create a PSA
  • 10 Facts About…
  • Create a commercial
  • Author a book on the topic
  • Record a puppet show
  • Create a presentation
  • Create a movie
  • Create a movie trailer

Apps Used

  • iMovie
  • Adobe Spark Video
  • Puppet Pals
  • Keynote and Quicktime
  • 30 Hands
  • Puppet EDU

The overwhelming majority of kids chose to use Adobe Spark Video to create their projects.

Sample Videos from My 5th Grade Classes

Check out Common Sense Media for a wealth of information on digital citizenship, including amazing curricular resources.

 

 

Become an Apple Teacher

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In September, Apple Education announced its Apple Teacher Program, a program aimed at helping educators unlock the magic and potential of Mac, iPad, and apps in the classroom. Teachers sign up and learn new skills, test their knowledge, and earn badges to be ultimately recognized by Apple as an official “Apple Teacher.”

The best part about this program is that it is self-paced and teachers can participate while in their pajamas at home! Teachers can decide if they want to focus their learning for the Mac or the iPad and choose the path that works best for them. Once teachers complete a module, they will be given a quiz. No pressure if you don’t get the questions correct, as you can test again. The purpose of the test is so that educators can truly get the most out of these modules and the tests force you to master the concepts rather than skimming through.

THE BADGES

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Once you earn a badge in each one of the categories and learn not only to use the app to get the best results, but you also learn how to infuse this into the classroom as a powerful teaching tool. Each module is full of ideas that relate to classroom content and help bring its use to life in meaningful ways teachers will appreciate. Click here to get started.

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You will use your Apple ID to get started.

I am a huge supporter of this program.  Apple’s commitment to education is evident and I appreciate the way Apple continues to give teachers quality tools to enhance learning and teaching. My favorite tools as a creative professional will always Keynote and iMovie. I couldn’t live without those two apps and neither could my students. If you choose to accept the challenge of becoming an Apple Teacher, I promise you that you will learn something to take back to your classroom TOMORROW as a result and perhaps you will have a new favorite tool.

TEACHER RECOGNITION

Since I am the instructional technology teacher and leader of the technology program, I am encouraging teachers at my school to join the program and earn their badges. I put together some fun rewards to recognize the commitment and time teachers put aside to further their learning in this area. We are an Apple school and we have access to all of these applications and tools, so I can’t think of a better way for teachers to learn on their own time, and I do think they should be recognized for their commitment!

  • Upon completion of the Apple Teacher program, teachers will earn a spot on the “Wall of Fame” located in the hallway of our school.
  • Teachers will also receive a certificate showcasing their skills at this will be hung outside their classroom.
  • Teachers will receive a “shout out” on our school Facebook page to congratulate them on their extended professional learning.
  • Teachers will receive the official logo from Apple to use in their professional email signature.
  • Most importantly, teachers will gain knowledge in unlocking the  potential with these great productivity and creative apps that are already on their iPad and Mac. These are the native apps and most people don’t realize the potential in these applications and how they can be used as tremendous tools in the classroom.
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The “Wall of Fame” located in the hallway of our school.

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Wall of Fame photo and school Facebook page recognition.

OTHER WAYS TO OFFER INCENTIVES

I have seen other schools and teachers provide a variety of incentives for teachers to earn their badges and expand their professional learning. Here’s two examples:

Do you have another idea? Please share it! #AppleTeacher

 
Here’s the link for further information: http://www.apple.com/education/teachers/
 
Here’s the link to get started: https://appleteacher.apple.com/auth/#/signin/
Good luck and happy learning!