Back to Mac

It’s been 3 years since the school district that employees me switched from Mac to PC. After the initial shock of the sudden change subsided, I had no choice but to embrace Windows 7. It didn’t take very long for me to become a highly knowledgeable and high powered PC user, although It never felt quite right. 

I’m fortunate to be a chameleon who can adapt easily to change and I believe this is one of the reasons I have been successful at using technology as a tool for learning. I’m happy to be able to have learned to work seamlessly between platforms to facilitate tech integration, but I’m really glad that my school district is going back to Mac!

Although I have always preferred Mac over PC, I do recognize some positive changes that resulted from our 3 year long switch to Windows 7. We were able to put cost efficient mobile carts of netbooks into our schools, greatly increasing our student to device ratio. We have had a sufficient supply of netbooks to be able to launch the implementation of Google Docs as an efficient and effective collaborative instructional tool for students and staff. Cost efficiency of the netbooks allowed us to increase the number of projectors in classrooms too. Although we had the best of intentions when we tried to save a few trees and encourage teachers to grade papers online through comments in Google Docs, the enormous and heavy Dell “laptops” teachers were given for their use were much heavier than a pile of papers, so that initiative has not worked so well up to this point. 

But, like the title says, it sure looks like we are going back to Mac! We have provided each school with a mobile lab of MacBook Airs for use in the classroom. Teachers will have iPads and Apple TVs in classrooms this week and we are hoping to kickoff a 1:1 iPad rollout starting this fall. Teachers will get MacBook Airs and students will gradually get iPads and ownership of their own devices. Ah, this is going to be an exciting and fun challenge!

Resources for students and staff to introduce our mobile labs of MacBook Airs.

And what a great time for this! iPads have been successfully rolled out in many forward thinking districts and the process is now streamlined and efficient. Districts who have had successful experiences are eager to share their guidance and expertise with us. We recognize the need to collaborate and appreciate the opportunity to be connected .

In house, we finally have a team of instructional technology coaches in place to help teachers find their comfort zones, set goals, and have fun as they personally move through the stages of tech adoption and begin to shift instruction. It will be exciting to be able to help teachers facilitate Common Core aligned learning experiences with the help of interactivity, digital supports and multimedia.

So, I must say that I am ecstatic to be back to Mac and excited about a new journey that will ultimately lead to a lot of learning for myself and others. I am looking forward to the near future when our teachers and students will leave school at the end of the day with a lighter load and some powerful portable personal digital tools for teaching and learning to use whenever needed. This initiative will definitely help extend the walls of our classrooms.

What I will miss about Windows 7

I made the switch back to Mac a few weeks ago. Right away I noticed how comfortable the Mac feels with it’s lighted keyboard and intuitive interface. But, I’d like to note a few things I do miss about Windows 7 as I put this chapter to rest.
  1. The snipping tool I take a lot of snapshots. I know how to do it on a Mac of course, but the process is not nearly as slick as the handy snipping tool on Windows 7.
  2. Snap WindowsI appreciate the ability to work between two active open windows side by side and snapped into place on Windows 7, a feature I used every day.

    Podcast: Apple TV in the Classroom

    All classroom teachers in our schools will be getting an IPad, an Apple TV for projection and a stand to utilize the device as a document camera. The initial goal of this one iPad classroom is to allow wireless mirroring of an iPad through the projector in the classroom. This will add some interactivity and recording capabilities

    Here is a well done and nicely paced podcast by Jeff Herb to explain using the Apple TV in the Classroom. The podcast is published on Education & Technology’s Instructional Tech Talk and I recommend listening to it if you are fortunate enough to have an Apple TV for use.

    Enjoy the podcast!

    3 Engaging Note-Taking Apps

    As a teacher and life-long learner, I take a lot of notes. One of the best changes for me has been taking notes on my iPad because now I often find myself having fun trying to create attractive and useful notes. The note-taking process keeps me amused during meetings and the task keeps me challenged and attentive as I try to draw and explain the ideas being shared.

    Here are 3 engaging apps to try to help put a  little fun back into note-taking sessions. 

    Live Notes

    Live Notes is a colorful note-taking and sketching app that allows for simultaneous audio recording. Draw shapes and doodles during a lecture or meeting. Type text and choose from a variety of fonts and bright colors. Tap parts of a sketch to hear the audio that was recorded at the specific point in time when the sketch was drawn. 

    Live Notes is a paid app, but you can try Live Notes Lite for free. 

    Note Anytime

    Note Anytime is an app for taking notes, sketching, and annotating PDFs. Caligraphy tools support improved letter formation providing assistance with sloppy iPad penmanship.  Use the app to easily import and markup PDFs. Export notes to popular social media sharing sites, like Twitter, Facebook and Drop Box. 

    Note Anytime is currently a free app available in iTunes.


    ScratchWorks is a note-taking app that allows users to take notes on one side of the screen and browse the web on the other. Type text notes or insert a sketch area into the notes for doodling. It also provides a custom math keyboard. 

    ScratchWorks is a free app, available in iTunes.

    Exploring Apps Today

    Today I get to collaborate with my peers to explore and share iPad apps for teachers. With so many apps, so little time, and so many contributors, the decision about which apps to share could get complicated so I tried not to over-think it. Here are some apps I’ve chosen to share. 

    Watch this list grow as I add the ideas of others to my playlist!

    Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!

    Pulse for iPad: A Gorgeous News Feed Reader

    Pulse is an iPad app that collects multiple sources of your favorite news feeds and displays them in a convenient and attractive way to create a highly enjoyable reading experience. 
    News sources you select are arranged as a stream. Just drag the screen vertically to scan all your sources, then drag it horizontally to view particular articles within each source. Tap the screen to read an article in text view or  view it as a full webpage. Pulse will even collect and display your Twitter stream.  Sharing is as easy as a couple of taps.
    To get a glimpse of what Pulse can do, please watch the video below and try Pulse for yourself, available from the iTunes store.