This year in the Middle School Computer Lab/MakerSpace/Nerdvana was a transformative one.
The space originally started as a computer lab. Rows of PCs that were outdated…so out they went. We now had a room with countertops but nothing to put on those countertops…so out they went. A peninsula, that housed some outdated technology and served no purpose except as an obstacle to quickly get to the other side of the room…so out it went.
You may ask, “What was left?” and the answer is absolutely nothing. Exactly the way I wanted it. Let the transformation begin…a clean slate, an open canvas, a blank Maxel XLII-90 minute cassette tape.
Here are my 5 steps to start a MakerSpace or as we call it at University School – NERDVANA!
For about an hour now, I have been working with an app that has made me forget that I was actually working. Do Ink’s Green Screen app is a wonderful new(ish) app that allows green screen video editing to be done directly on the iPad.
Simple enough to work with, it also comes with a very informative tutorial to help you navigate the work space.
From my poll that was conducted last week, I will put together a blurb about each of the apps for which you voted. In addition to a review of the app or site, I hope to find something positive to share about the featured app or site.
This week my focus is Yik Yak.
In a nutshell, Yik Yak is an app that allows anonymous posts to appear
on a message board. The message board uses GPS and allows messages
from approximately a 30 mile radius to appear on the user’s feed.
There is no log in for this app which makes the app completely
Yik Yak has been meant for colleges but it has been making it way into
high schools and middle schools. The app was developed as a way to
encourage the quiet students to be a bit more vocal, “Because that guy
in the back row of your science class might be the funniest guy you
never heard.” said Buffington, one of the creators of Yik Yak. It is
also mean to be a “Virtual Bulletin Board” and by using GPS this app
can update your feed with “Yaks” that are within a certain proximity
to your mobile device.
Recently, the Yik Yak app came under fire because of its use on high
school campuses. Students were using the app to cyber-bully other
students. Once the creators of Yik Yak heard about this, they became
very concerned. What Buffington and Droll (the creators of Yik Yak)
did next was very commendable. They contacted Apple to see if they
could get an expedited review of their app and updated it to a 17+ age
limit; Apple obliged. The reason why this is so important is because
parents can set restrictions on their child’s iPad/iPhone or iPod
Touch. These restriction allow parents to enable a function that will
prevent their kids from downloading apps that have 17+ ratings.
However, even with the 17+ rating, our students are not in the clear.
Parents need to take an active role in knowing what their child is
doing on and off line. Setting restrictions on the device is a great
step in the right direction however, having regular conversations
about what is going with your child and being an active participant
is the best solution.
Below is a WordPress poll that I would love for you to fill out to help me spark some creativity. I would like to know what you want to learn so that I can focus my next blog on something that interests you. If your choice is not listed, then please write in your choice.
With Spring Break right around the corner, take some time to encourage your child to turn off the MacBook, iPad, iPhone or whatever device he or she uses regularly. Have a conversation without the interruptions, unfold a board game or read a book. With this warm weather we experienced this past Monday, I rediscovered how much I love throwing the baseball with my children.
Here is an older blog post I wrote about 2 years ago that I updated with some newer activities that we do with our children. Please keep in mind that we probably won’t take an entire week off of technology with Spring Break upon us, but will go a few days at time with out it.
It is my job to love technology and I do, every bit of it. Each week I come up with a new tech tip for the Middle School’s Friday Footnotes, which I am always excited to share with all of you. My tech tip this week is: Turn It Off
As a family we decided to be tech free this past week. No computer, no iPad, no Leapster, no texting, no Words with Friends, no Candy Crush. Many kids are overcome by the excitement of technology and my kids are no exception. We have opened their eyes to interactive books on the iPad, drawing activities on the Leapster and fantastic games on pbskids.org (not to mention my son religiously watches Packer and Brewer highlights online). None of these activities are detrimental to my children’s’ health, quite the opposite, but with the excitement of technology comes the possibility of dependency. The long and short of it is that my kids want to use tech devices more than we are comfortable with. Plus, my wife and I aren’t always the best models of limited technology use. So we turned it off, all week, and it was great. We live in a technological world which I love, but what I love more is reading books, playing Zingo and Yahtzee, Tenzi, doing puzzles, building forts, playing invisible football and laundry basket basketball, being a client in my daughter’s hair salon or singing every song from the Frozen soundtrack at the top of our lungs.
Technology will always be a big part of our lives and I get excited about what it offers my children. But it is refreshing to step back, slow down and simplify. And that is why we turned it off.
This weekend I was looking for an app to record only audio. There are plenty of apps out there that will record audio and video, but I strictly wanted audio. I also wanted it to be very simple to use.
So, I did a little digging.
The apps that I discovered were iTalk Recorder and Voice Recorder HD.
iTalk Recorder was a very nice app and has a very easy to use interface. But what it didn’t have was a place to store the recording. I could email the recording to myself and then upload it to a webserver of some sort and then share it…WAY TO CUMBERSOME!
The second app I looked at was Voice Recorder HD. This was a very nice app. However, this free app had advertisements galore. One aspect that I thought was a true positive was that it had the ability to save recording to Google Drive and to DropBox. All in all a good app but the ads need to go away and the user interface needs to be simpler. If I was working with this app and students, the ads would be a distraction.
I looked a bit more and came across Croak.it! Now this app is exactly what I was looking for. It is perfect. It is easy. It stores the recoded audio onto its own server and can automatically generate a link, which makes it simple to add a recording to a blog or a webpage. Each recording can only be 30 seconds in length. You might say, only thirty seconds, however, think about thirty seconds, that is a long time.
Absolutely my favorite part about Croak.it! is that it is well within my price range…FREE!