Friday, September 30, 2011

iPods & iPad Safety Settings

When you let your lovely students use your iPods or iPads, you'll want to be sure that the devices are safe for them to use. (And quite frankly, at times, safe FROM them, hehe!)

Here's a quick set of directions on how to make your tech student-friendly.

Find the Settings on the device. Once it opens, click "General." Then find and click on "Restrictions."

Here it will ask you to set up a 4-digit code for your restrictions. For your sanity's sake, make it something you can remember.

Once you enter that information, you'll be able to restrict certain things. Here's a rundown of what I have restricted on my devices in my classroom.

Safari - ON
YouTube - OFF
Camera - ON (I want them to use this for projects)
FaceTime - OFF
iTunes - OFF (I don't want them downloading their own music)
Ping - OFF
Installing Apps - OFF
Deleting Apps - OFF

Allow Changes:
Location - OFF
Accounts - OFF

Allowed Content:
In-App Purchases - OFF (for obvious reasons)
Ratings for - United States
Music & Podcasts - Explicit OFF (again, obvious)
Movies - G
TV Shows - NONE
Apps* - ALL

*A word of caution: You may be tempted to limit the age on your apps. That seems to be common sense. However, many apps you will want your student to use (like are 17+! INSANITY! It is safe that if you have the Installing Apps and iTunes Store set to OFF, then whatever you have downloaded is safe for them to use.

I hope this helps you start the process of getting your devices student-ready!

Apps: A Caution About (Some) Free Games

My students were playing games on the iPods and the iPad after school while waiting on their buses to arrive. They were playing a variety of things, and they enjoyed taking turns switching their devices to have a few minutes on each game. I have a few "free" games on these devices, and it made me think of a few things I'd share with the blog readers out there!

I have the free Scrabble downloaded. Yes, it's free, but as two of my lovelies were playing "Pass & Play" (where you share the device, you just pass it back and forth when your turn is over), I noticed that there was an ad every few turns. It was a stupid 30-second ad, but in my opinion, that's totally annoying. I think it's totally worth the $1.99 for the full app where you don't have to worry about ads in the game!

That goes for several of the games for the iPod and iPad. My advice? If it's less than $2, spring for it. It's worth it.

How do we broke-as-all-get-out teachers pay for apps? I just put iTunes gift cards on my Wish List. It goes out on my classroom blog every so often for parents, and they never let me down! When they know I am buying good word game apps to help engage their kids in learning, parents are happy to provide. Just don't be afraid to ask!

Now, I will say that some free games are ad-free, so the bottom line is this: be sure to check the comments in the App Store before you buy!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Need Apps?

I love my iPad (and my iPad 2).  I love my iPhone. I love my iPods that I recently received for my classroom. If you haven't figured it out, I love my Apple technology! And my students love it, too.

Perhaps you've been blessed enough to get some cool tech gadgets like these in your classroom, but you're not sure what to do with it. We all have ideas of all the cool things we can do with it, but when it comes time to set up your iTunes account and start loading things onto your iPad or iPod, where do you begin?

I'm hoping to write a few posts with some updates on apps I love and how I use them. Please share with me things you love, too, and I'll add them to the list!

In the picture for this blog post, you will see one of my students using an iPod Touch to play the NY Times Crossword Puzzle. It's tough, but they like to work on this together. It helps them to work collaboratively and work on spelling and vocabulary skills simultaneously. What's not to love? This is a FREE app!

Here are a few other free apps I like:
Cut the Rope (Lite) - this teaches students critical thinking as they have to plan ahead several steps in order to successfully get all 3 stars and feed the candy to the monster. You could also purchase the full version for $0.99.

BrainPop - this has several videos to choose from. If you are familiar with BrainPop, you know how informative these short animated videos can be! Students can even take the quizzes after watching. They can keep track of high scores and try to beat the scores of other students or beat their own scores. It does not have the full repertoire of videos available on the website; it has 3 for math, 3 for science, 3 for language, 3 for arts, etc. It's a great app to have!

Google Earth - this is just super cool. Get it. That's all I have to say. I know that there are TONS of ways to use Google Earth in the classroom, but I can't even begin to share them because I know that I haven't explored its full array of offerings. But let your kids get on it and play. They'll learn more than you could anyway. :)

Dragon Dictation - this allows your kids to record their voices, and it will dictate what they have said. It's not 100% error free, but it's pretty close. Kids like to record and listen to themselves, plus it's great for kids who have super ideas but, for various reasons, have difficulty writing or typing.

That's all for now - but I hope to be adding more posts soon with lots of other free or cheap apps!