iBallz On The Road!

By Derek May on November 09, 2012   /   Acorn Media Bill Selak Camper Crywolf cue cue blog cue fall cue fall conference DEN design thinking Discovery Education Network EdApps EdTech EdTech Team Education Apps education technology elearning fall cue flipclass flipped classroom Google Apps for Education Google Apps for Education Summit Google Nexus Google tablet iBallz iPad iPadEd iPads in the Classroom Mark McWhinnie Microsoft mlearning napa Nexus 7 Nexus 7 Tablet OC Tech Fest OCDE Orange County Department of Education Samy's camera Surface tablet Technology in Education twitter twitter for teachers    /   0 Comments

It’s a new school year with new students, new challenges, and maybe even a little new technology!  Right after you settle into the new term but before you settle in for the holiday season comes a bevvy of Ed camps, conferences, and summits.  We were fortunate enough to get to jump in on a few here in California and had a blast meeting all the movers and shakers in Education Technology.

First we hit the Google Apps for Education summit in SF, which got us very inspired about apps!  Google really has a lot to offer educators and students.   Since the conference we have been working with the EdTech Team (http://www.edtechteam.com), recently supporting their donation of Google Nexus 7 tablets to classrooms.  More info at 

Additionally in SF we attended and sponsored the integratEd SF conference.  At the conference we got to attend group sessions on BYOD program implementation, using social media to engage students and parents, and an amazing iPad 101 workshop presented by Mark McWhinnie (www.markmcwhinnie.com).

Next we hit the road to beautiful Napa for the CUE Fall Conference, which we helped sponsor.  We towed the iBallz camper up north and set up shop in the courtyard of the beautiful American Canyon High School.  What incredible facilities!  The school is beautiful and pristine, complete with a field of solar panels guarded by a friendly group of sheep which came right up to greet us.  At the conference we got to hear workshops on everything from Twitter for Teachers by the ultra informative Bill Selak and we learned all about Design Thinking and it’s many problem solving applications.  We were amazed by all the creative educators at the conference, fearlessly experimenting with new and innovative models of teaching!

We then headed down to Orange County for the OC Tech Fest and boy were we in good company.  We demonstrated our wares at the Orange County Department of Education alongside Microsoft, Crywolf, Acorn Media, Samy’s Camera and more.  Microsoft recently came out with their new Surface tablet and iBallz is a perfect fit!  The festival was hosted by our friend Randy from the Discovery Education Network – if you haven’t checked out DEN, they are an incredible community of educators nationwide, a club of teachers who help each other learn and grow.  We’re a big fan of DEN here at iBallz!

Many thanks to all the EdTech conference organizers!  Keep in touch with iBallz for more tips on tablet education - Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter



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Top Note Taking Apps, Organized by the Feature You're Looking For

By Derek May on October 12, 2012   /   apps for disabilities aspergers autism EdApps EdTech Education Apps elearning Evernote flipclass free apps free education apps iBallz iPad iPad organization iPadEd iPads in the Classroom mlearning Notability note taking apps note taking apps for iPad organizing app Paperport Notes Pinterest Simplenote Sound Note SoundNote SpringPad    /   0 Comments

The most ubiquitously popular of the bunch: Evernote – Free – The most well known of the bunch, Evernote allows you to capture text notes, audio recordings, photos, and web clips and arrange them into neatly organized notebooks.  Evernote offers a host of organizing features, including tagging notes with keywords and notebooks can be synced and accessed through an iPhone, iPad, or desktop app, or through their site.  This app is great for those that want a scrapbook feel (great for bringing in information from a variety of sources) with high organization.

Most robust free app for taking lecture notes: Paperport Notes – Free – This great free note taking app allows you to annotate over imported documents or documents from the web, type or write freehand notes, highlight sections, and most notably dictate notes to text.  You can sync notes with Dropbox, Box.net, and other apps for easy access and sharing – not bad at all for a free app!

The most visually pleasing layout: SpringPad – Free – Pitched as an Evernote-meets-Pinterest app, SpringPad gives you much of the functions of Evernote with the visually oriented layout of Pinterest.  SpringPad lets you add photos, to-do lists, links, locations and more to board-like notebooks via a button on your browser or manually through their iPhone and iPad apps or web portal.  You can share specific notebooks with other people or add them as co-creators, allowing you to share content on a specific subject to a specific person rather than the whole shebang.  The app also has loads of other robust functions (for example if you import a location, it adds details like address and open hours), and is great for allowing teachers to share robust informational content with students, or for student paper and project collaboration, but would fall flat for students attempting to use it as a means for lecture notes.

The best inexpensive app for recording lectures while taking notes: Notability – $.99 – The most standout function of this app is that it allows you to record audio and take notes via handwriting or typing simultaneously – great for recording a lecture while taking notes.  Notes can be organized by subject or category and exported and synced through Dropbox.

The best app for recording audio while taking notes period: SoundNote - $4.99 – A hefty price by app standards, SoundNote takes the audio recording function to the next level.  This app not only allows you to record audio while you take notes, but you can click on a piece of text and replay the audio that was recorded while it was written.  Oh if I had only had this while I was in school!  Autistic, Asperger’s, and other special needs students find this app particularly useful.

For those that like to keep it simple: Simplenote - Free – As the name suggests, this is a very simple, unobtrusive, user friendly notetaking app, with well working basic functions.  Only drawback here is that notes can only be exported as email text.

Keep in touch with iBallz for more tips on tablet education Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter

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iPads and Autism: My Experience and App Recommendations for Teaching Kids with Developmental Differences

By Derek May on September 25, 2012   /   Angry Birds apps for disabilities Aspergers aspergers Autism autism Conversation Builder Developmental Differences Developmental Disabilities Easy Board EdApps EdTech Education Apps elearning iBallz iPad iPadEd Language Forest mlearning Nancy Barth Nancy Barth Tutoring Picture AAC Pocket Lexi Question Builder Scrabble Sosh Sound Literacy Sound Note SoundNote Stories2Learn Storyist Technology in Education The Magic Thief Tozzle Wood Puzzle    /   0 Comments

When my kids gave me an iPad for Christmas in 2010, I was really jazzed about my new toy.  I could take photos and videos, play music and Angry Birds. My grandson could use it for watching videos and playing simple learning games.  I could use it to teach my nephew (now 22), who has autism, how to play Scrabble.

At the time, I had no idea what a wonderful tool it would be for teaching and learning for kids with Autism/Asperger’s and similar developmental differences.  After just a few weeks, though, I started reading blog posts by parents of kids on the spectrum describing the amazing stuff happening as their kids started using iPads. Yes, they were learning new skills, but even more surprising, they were becoming more engaged with their parents and siblings.  Teachers were noticing the same things.

One teacher friend of mine uses the iPad and the app Sound Literacy to work on word-building with her students. Before, they would get frustrated trying to move small tiles around to make words.  With Sound Literacy, the tiles stayed in place and they could focus on spelling rather than picking up dropped tiles.  For younger children, apps like Tozzle and Wood Puzzle allow them to develop visual-motor and visual-perceptual skills while minimizing the need for fine motor expertise. No more spilled puzzles all over the floor! 

Speech, language, and social skills are important areas to work on for kids on the autism spectrum.  This is one place where the iPad really shines.  Apps such as Conversation Builder and Question Builder provide opportunities for the back-and-forth communication that is so important.  With Pocket Lexi and Language Forest, specific language needs can be targeted.

One of the most significant advances is the use of communication boards for those who are nonverbal.  I used to create communication books and social stories for my students. Having unending possibilities at your fingertips with the iPad is just an incredible improvement.  Most of these apps can be customized. Stories2Learn helps the parent or teacher create child-specific social stories, including using your own pictures and recording your own words. Others, such as Easy Board and Picture AAC use predetermined picture cards to create communication boards. Sosh is an amazing app for older teens and young adults that helps develop coping skills in different situations (and much more).

Over the course of several months, my nephew progressed from needing help with choosing every word in Scrabble to beating me in some games.  In addition to improving his spelling, he started using the dictionary.com app to find out the meanings of words I played.  I noticed him using some of those words in texts that he sent me.

When he wanted to tell me the stories he had locked in his head, I discovered apps like Sound Note and Storyist (more on that in a future post).  He had been struggling for months to master math facts, particularly division.  Operation Math came out and he took off.  He loved the spy mission theme, the subtle word plays, and winning badges.  He actually passed eight levels of division without any help from me.

Being able to read books on the iPad is another advantage.  As we progressed through one, The Magic Thief, he was able to use the highlight feature to mark similes and metaphors (of which there are an abundance in this series!).   If we wanted to, he could have also used the note-taking feature to type short comments about what he was reading.  I had a couple of Walter Mitty stories in a book, and after reading those, he used my iPad to find an animated video of one.  We could have used the computer, but the iPad was handier!

From the ABCs to spelling, from pointing to pictures to holding conversations, from reading books to writing them, the iPad is turning out to be “all that jazz” and more for kids on the autism spectrum, their families, and their teachers.  It certainly went beyond my wildest dreams back on that Christmas day in 2010. 

Nancy Barth is a retired special education teacher.  She tutors children and adults with autism and dyslexia in the Fresno area and also remotely via Skype. To learn more and join the discussion, visit her blog where you can find posts about iPad apps, reading, writing, handwriting, math, processing disorders, social skills, organizational skills and more.

Be the first to know about new offerings, specials, and other fun stuff: Sign up for “The Spark” on her blog and you’ll get a complimentary copy of the eBook "The Wonderful World of Apps for Educators of All Levels."

Many thanks to Nancy for guest posting!  Keep in touch with iBallz for more tips on tablet education - Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter

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5 Amazingly Versatile FREE Apps to Download for Your Classroom Now (With Video Demos!)

By Derek May on September 11, 2012   /   Creation Apps EdApps Edmodo EdTech Educreations elearning flipclass free apps free creation apps free education apps iBallz iPad iPadEd iPads in the Classroom mlearning Nearpod Prezi Technology in Education Toontastic    /   0 Comments

1. Nearpod - Free (with subscription-based access) - Nearpod is a combination student/teacher app that allows you to turn your lessons into interactive multimedia presentations (think interactive powerpoint lessons in the student's hands) and is an amazing way to engage your students further while lecturing in class.  Besides having a copy of the lesson presentation in their lap, Nearpod lets teachers include polls, multiple choice and extended response questions, pictures for students to draw on, and gives the option of immediate individual feedback from teachers for each students' work.  Check out the video below to get a better idea of what this awesome app can do.


2. Prezi - Free - Prezi is a cloud-based presentation app that allows you to create visually engaging presentations on a single zoomable canvas.  Prezi is a great tool to give over to your students to make an energetic presentation that forces them to think about the content their presenting in a new and energetic out-of-the-box way.  There's tons of bell and whistles with Prezi that students can dive into and there's a definite "wow" factor for students viewing presentation in this new format.  Take a look at the video below to get a feel for what a zoomable single canvas presentation can look like and click here if you want to see a Prezi on the app's use as an education tool.

3. Edmodo - Free - Meet students where they live by turning your classroom into an online social networking community.   With Edmodo you can create a Facebook-like stream where you can post topics/questions/surveys for your class that your students can comment, respond, and vote on.  You can also post assignments and due dates and have students submit their work (and access their grades) and post additional videos or resources for students who want to delve into a topic further.

4. Educreations - Free - Educreations is an easy to use video tutorial creator app that's great for making dynamic video lessons for teachers to share with their students.  Instructors can make multipage lessons, import images and move or resize them while recording, and narrate the entire thing all along the way.  Educreations hosts the videos on their own site (great if your school block YouTube) and you can share the videos with a select group of students (or embed them on your blog/Facebook/Twitter) or publicly with the Educreations community.  This app is also great for having students create tutorial videos for each other!

5. Toontastic - Free for one background/theme- Turn your lesson or your students' presentations into a cartoon with this fun, free app.  This app is a great way for students to summarize a novel they've just completed, show their understanding of a historical event they're studying, or share stories of their own creation.

Keep in touch with iBallz for more tips on tablet educationLike us on Facebook and Follow Us on Twitter

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