Friday, January 31, 2014

Thing 5: Notetaking

I'd like to write about two different types of Notetaking apps that I use and like. I've tried many and found that these two fit the need for me.

The first is strictly for taking notes. This is Notability. This app gives you so many options for Notetaking in meetings and classes. With Notability you can record voice. You can take pictures within the app and then move them around and size them. You can import .doc or pdf and annotate them. And one of the best features is that you can set it up so that every note you take is backed up to your Dropbox or Google Drive account.

Notability was selected as a top app for 2013.

Here are a few illustrations of notes in Notability:

I've been trying to find a good app for reminders and I haven't really liked any of them. I want an app where I can input different types of reminders - projects with various steps for completion, long term reminders, shopping lists, to-do lists - that would keep me organized and on top of everything both at work, at school, and on all the committees I'm on. 

Right now I'm trying Things. It syncs between my iPad, iPhone and computers, and has options for keeping track of all different kinds of events and lists. It should be an organizer's dream, but I'm still having a little trouble entering everything into it.

It was not a cheap or free app either, so I'm going to work really hard to make this one work. I'll keep you posted on it!

Thing 4: Keeping Up

Flipboard!! I have been praising Flipboard and encouraging its use since I first got my iPad. I love it!

I love the way it keeps me organized and gets me reading my favorite blogs. I love the beautiful format! I love that it is flexible enough that I can add tons of different types of resources and it lets me keep up with them all. Mostly I love that it lets me follow my favorite Tweeters in a nice-looking format. Oh, and did I mention that it even let's me read it when I'm offline? (Although of course it can't pull any new content)

Another app that I would put in this category is called CoffeeTable. This app is every shopper's dream! CoffeeTable is filled with TONS of catalogs of every type imaginable! You can browse to your heart's content, and then click on and purchase anything you want!

If you love to shop you'll want to have this app on your device. Talk about "keeping up"!

Thing 3: Utilities

There are a number of utilities I use on a regular basis. One new Apple feature is the Control Center. I love the way it gives me easy access to my camera,  my calculator, volume control, and flashlight. If I were in charge I would make this control center more flexible. For example, I would have choices so the user could put in whatever apps they choose. Perhaps this feature will be available on the iPad 6.

My favorite iPhone utility is the flashlight. I wish my iPad had one!  Another utility I use often is the weather app. I love being able to set a variety of locations; especially those I'm traveling to in the near future.

Not sure if this is a utility or not, but having the ability to take a screenshot of any page and save it to my camera roll is something I could not live without. I use a couple of different voice recording apps, but my favorite is iTalk. The interface is easy to use, the voice recordings can be transferred to a computer and saved, and you can email recordings as well.

You can learn more at or by going to the App Store. Italk is also an Android app.

I also love using the accessibility options on the iPad. Perhaps we'll talk about those later, but if not, suffice it to say that it's worth your time to go in and turn some of them on. You'll want the little microphone on your keyboard so you can speak your messages. You'll also want to be able to have the iPad read any highlighted text for you.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Thing 2: iPad/iPhone Tips and Tricks

This is one of my favorite topics! I love showing people how to make the most out of that awesome little device they carry around. I have found that there are two kinds of people in the world (well, at least in the education world): those who like to "play" and those who don't. And here's the kicker: the ones who "play" are actually the ones who find shortcuts for doing things that make their lives easier. Those who say "I just don't like to take time to figure out how to do it easier" are the ones who are doing it the hard way.

My number 1 all time favorite shortcut for iPad users  - and especially teachers! - is keyboard shortcuts. They are so easy to set up, and once you have them set up you save so much time. Our teachers use the email address that ends with: It takes a long time to type! So here's the shortcut.

My second favorite shortcut is a new one for me, so this is the first time I'm writing it down. Sometimes I begin to key in something in an email or a text message and then I change my mind. I have to press and hold the backspace key and delete the letters, right? NO! All I have to do is shake the device and a message will pop up asking if I want to delete my text!! It's a miracle!

A third time-saver is to search for apps with the spotlight feature rather than looking through all of the many icons on the iPad. I rarely search for icons any more. Just slide one down to reveal the spotlight search and type in a few letters for the one I want. (And in the general settings be sure to set your Spotlight Search so it only searches for apps.)

So far you've been able to tell that I love shortcuts, right? The next two are also shortcuts. QR Codes are lifesaving shortcuts for devices. No longer do you have to try to type in the entire URL, or resort to Google searching rather than trying (I admit it, I used to do that all the time!) I now use the QR Code creator and create qr codes for all of the pages I want students and staff to easily locate.

This fifth tip works on all computers but makes life a lot easier when sharing resources. Save those long URLs with Google's URL shortener. It will save you many a headache in the future.

This last tip has to do with notifications, which are annoying, interfere with your work, and consume precious battery life. Turn them off!

Using these tips will actually help you spend LESS time on your device  - so for those people who want to do things efficiently it makes sense to set these up once. One last trick (if you're old like me): turn up the text size so you don't have to strain to read text on your device. There are quite a number of accessibility features that you can use if reading the device is a problem. They help a lot!

I tried to complete this on my ipad and got frustrated when I began adding images and couldn't view the whole document. I tried both Safari and Chrome and then decided to give the Blogger app a try. This is much better! So, if you're struggling along in a web browser, make the switch and join me in the Blogger app. You'll be glad you did.

And because it's working so well I can add one more quick tip. The iPad doesn't always know when you're writing a contraction like it's or the simple its without the hyphen. This trick usually works. To get the hyphen to appear just add one more of whatever the last letter of the word is and your iPad will hyphenate it. Want to write we're but don't get the contraction? Just type weree and autocorrect will replace it with we're. Pretty slick, huh?

Friday, January 24, 2014

23 Mobile Things: Thing 1

Thing 1. I love that! Remember Dr Seuss' Thing 1 and Thing 2? I always loved them!

I enjoyed the 23 Things challenges a few years ago and also enjoyed creating my own for the teachers in my building. My goal with this set of "Things" is to complete them all on my iPad. Actually they probably won't be too difficult since most of what I do I find myself doing on my iPad.

I'm also excited about working on the "Things" with my mentees from NLLN: Dory, Shelley, Nancy, Sherill, and Susan. I hope we can all do this - and learn and share together!

My "more-active blog" is my book blog, which I have had fun writing for the past 3 years or so. I initially started it in order to keep track of the books I'd read, and because my 4th graders were exclaiming about how many of the books in the library I had read and I foolishly accepted a challenge to read 100 chapter books in a year. Granted, these were grade 3-6 chapter books, but chapter books none the less. Yes, I made it, but I have to admit I haven't read nearly as many books since that first exhausting year!

You can find my 100 Book Blog at

I look forward to continue my 23 Things posts. And we're off!!