Shopping Soon?

The holidays are approaching and many people will be shopping for a tablet of some sort. There are so many options! How will you know which one to choose?  Here are some tablets that are currently on the market with some information on each. I hope you find it useful!

I am going to start with the iPad because I have been looking at them recently. I’ve been wanting an upgrade and had been waiting patiently for the iPad mini 3 announcement which is now available. Working in an IT office is great because I can run my ideas by those that are much more knowledgeable than I am! When I stated that I would be purchasing an iPad mini 3, the response was – WHY?  Why not purchase an iPad mini 2? I said I wanted whatever was the most current and again the reply was WHY?  Did you know that there isn’t much difference between an iPad mini 2 and an iPad mini 3? Hmm. I didn’t know that! So I had to check it out for myself and found out that the difference between a 2 and 3 is the GB available and fingerprint identity sensor. Now, I might want an upgrade for the GB, but I really don’t care, personally, about having fingerprint identification capability. For the price (another difference) I could still upgrade from my current technology and pay less.  Everything important to me – HD camera, retina display, battery life, A7 chip with 64 bit architecture and M7 motion coprocessor are all identical. For a $100 savings, I’d opt for the iPad mini 2.

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Click HERE to see a side-by-side comparison. The above picture is from the Apple web store. I’m opting for the iPad mini 2  32GB. I save $50 over the iPad mini 3 version with only 16 GB. I’d be paying $50 just for the fingerprint technology and I’d have less storage.

Don’t want an iPad? There are other options and it is best to shop around. How about an Amazon Fire HDX starting at $379? It is slightly lighter than the iPad 2 and comes with 16 GB, 32 GB or 64 GB, with free, unlimited cloud storage for all Amazon content and photos. They even offer “live support” through the Mayday button. Apps are Fire OS purchased through Amazon.

You can purchase a Samsung Galaxy Note  The stylus is an added bonus for the Galaxy Note. I know many instructors that enjoy using it in their classrooms. Right now they are on “pre-order” and cost a hefty $599.99.

Another option might be the Google Nexus 9 Tablet. It comes with 16 GB or 32 GB and a 7 hour battery life. CNET Review calls it a “premium, pure Android powerhouse.”  It touts frequent updates and speedy performance but is marked down for touchscreen response and a slow charge.  It costs approx. $478.

Overall, tablets are amazing. Outside of work, I use my tablet for almost everything. I enjoy the portability, available apps,  and quick access. Happy shopping!

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Offering Choice


When I taught K-12, I often gave students a choice of assignments. It enabled students to take a personal interest in the topic, engaged students, allowed for creativity, and helped differentiate to accommodate learning styles. As a university instructor, I started wondering why this wasn’t done more at the university level. As an instructor in the School of Education, I found myself teaching “this is what you should do” and yet I wasn’t really doing it. So – I made the decision. Why not? Why not offer teacher candidates a choice of assignment activities? This semester I created “menus” for assignments in one of my courses with “dinner” (must-do), the “selection” (choose one for your choice) and “dessert” (optional resources that reinforce the work for the week.  CLICK HERE to see an example. I have found that the choice option has been well received. I know I certainly appreciate being offered a choice. Although we might not want to offer a choice all the time, and it wouldn’t work for all instances, with a bit of thought and creativity you can still achieve your objectives and offer a choice  at the same time. Here are a couple ideas:

1.  Offer a menu of assignment choices, as seen in my sample. I used S’More and embedded into our Moodle course for the week.

2. 2-5-8 List.  Give the directions that students must choose only 2 activities that add up to a total of 10 points. (Or choose 3 activities that add up to 15 points, etc.)

2 point activities – Knowledge & Comprehension

5 point activities – Application & Analysis

8 point activities – Synthesis & Evaluation

Under the activities, come up with assignments that fit under the specific categories of Knowledge – Evaluation. Basically with this option, students would have to choose 2 application and analysis assignments or one knowledge/comprehension and one synthesis/evaluation.

3. Tic-Tac-Toe Extension Menu: Create a tic-tac-toe board with assignments in each box. Ask students to complete the items in order to form a tic-tac-toe. Strategically place leveled assignments in the boxes. I have even seen a board with a “free choice” in the middle with students submitting a proposal form to the instructor. You might end up with a very creative assignment!

4. Baseball Game (Or another sports related theme)  Allow students to add up the assignments to made 100 points.

Singles – 10 pt

Doubles – 30 pt

Triples – 50 pt

Homerun – 100 pt

Again, strategically decide what would constitute assignments at each level.

How about you? Do any of you have another way that you offers students a choice when it comes to assignments?


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Today I’ve been testing out Symbaloo – a social bookmarking site. I placed many of my favorite web 2.0 sites on it for you. Check it out HERE.   Easily create a board of your favorite web links. Symbaloo will take those links and create mini icons for each one – visual + ease of use. Let me know what you think!

SlideShark is Sweet!

As an instructor at the university level, I often need to use presentations to guide my own lecture as I share information with my students. A presentation can help keep me on a straight path.  I have battled how to view my own notes. I can’t write notes into the PowerPoint section because our projector system mirrors our podium computers so if they show on the computer, they will show on the projector. Of course, I could bring my own laptop and choose the projector as a secondary source that I could use for the presentation view, but I don’t like to do that either. I can print off notes – but I feel like carrying around a stack of papers and trying to give a quick glance down at my notes is tacky.

I’ve tried using my iPad for notes and using a clicker to change slides because I like to walk around the room. That’s just too much to hold and I fumble around trying to figure out which one I’m clicking. Then, I talked to GLEN and he shared with me SlideShark. Thanks, Glen!

First, load your presentation, with notes, into the FREE SlideShark app. Next, click “broadcast” in the app and send the broadcast URL to your email. On the podium computer, pull up the email and open the link.  The presentation will show to the class via the projector and you can control the slides from your iPad. The nicest thing? I can see my notes in the app while I control the presentation. It even has an annotation tool and laser pointer controlled through the app. I can easily walk around the room, talk, control the presentation, and see my notes without trying to hook up to the Apple TV. That’s right, Jessup instructors! It doesn’t matter which room you are in. You don’t need Apple TV!

Student view on the screen - They see the presentation!

Student view on the screen – They see the presentation!

Teacher can choose to just see and control the slides on the iPad.

Teacher can choose to just see and control the slides on the iPad.

Here it is on the teacher/iPad view with notes. Just tap the slides to advance to the next one.

Here it is on the teacher/iPad view with notes. Just tap the slides to advance to the next one.

Look closely and you'll see the choice to write on the presentation with annotation tools!

Look closely and you’ll see the choice to write on the presentation with annotation tools!

Learn more by watching this quick video:

5 of the Best Annotation Tools!

Do your students turn electronic assignments as a PDF? If so – great! Annotating on a PDF is easy and a great way to offer formative and summative assessment. Why a PDF?  PDFs are ideal for sharing documents across platforms. Not everyone may have Microsoft Word, but most Word documents can be saved as a PDF and opened by anyone with a free PDF reader. By using a PDF annotator, you can highlight, add notes,  and write directly on documents. This is a great way for instructors to give feedback on work to students.

Example:  I know many instructors offer feedback on Word documents by using the “tracking changes” feature or comment feature. This is helpful if the student uses Word. Some students don’t. Perhaps they use Google Docs? Feedback can be given using the comment feature or Kaienza, an app addition to Google Docs.  What if students use Pages? You start to see the picture. Why not allow students to use the tool they are most familiar with then save and turn in as a PDF? All documents can then be given feedback using the same tool… a PDF annotator.

Here are a few of my favorite apps for PDF annotation:

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PDF Expert by Readdle ($9.99) 

This apps does cost $9.99 but it does just about everything. Users can add text, draw, highlight, change colors, add stamps, signatures, and type directly on the document. As a principal, I use to pull up an observation template in PDF Expert and fill it out while observing. I could then easily send it at the end of the observation by email. I often receive PDF forms that companies want me to fill out and return. Again, PDF Expert to the rescue! Here is a screenshot of a rubric that I have used. I am able to pull it up in PDF Expert, annotate, and save or send.

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Watch this video about PDF Expert!

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Skitch by Evernote (Free)

I’ve always been a fan of Evernote and Skitch. It’s a great way to mark up almost anything – photos or PDFs! Easily annotate and mark up…or use the cool stamps, circle, squares, or arrows. You don’t have as much capability for typing a lot of feedback but if you want something simple this could work for you. No iPad? No fear! Skitch is also available as a Chrome web extension. Yes!

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PDF Pen by SmileOnMyMac, LCC ($14.99)

This is another great annotation tool but is limited to the iPad or Mac. Just like PDF Expert, it does just about everything. Add text, images, signature, draw, or highlight.

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Notability by Ginger Labs ($2.99)

Again, limited to an app or Mac, yet a wonderful tool! I have written about Notability many times. What doesn’t it do? This does the same as the apps mentioned above, and adds one more element – audio. I do not believe the audio can be shared outside of the app, which is a drawback. I enjoy Notability because it is multi-use. I can use it to offer feedback through annotation. I can use it to record a seminar and write notes. I can use it to sign documents. It’s many tools all in one package!

5. Notable PDF Chrome Extension (Free)

I haven’t personally tried this one out, but it states that it also highlights, underlines, and allows for comments and text. It also states that you can use it offline and with any browser.

Let’s Up the Blogging

I think I’ve always liked to write. As a little girl, I had dreams of being an author.


I remember submitting a story I had written when I was around ten called “The Adventures of Becky Keele”. I’m pretty sure, looking back, that it was very similar to Tom Sawyer but my own girly version. I sent it to a few publishers and they all wrote back very sweet “no” letters and an encouragement to keep writing. I was heart-broken and decided I couldn’t be an author.

I have a friend who blogs and she is a very successful, professional blogger. She has tens of thousands of followers and she will commonly get 200-300 comments on each blog post. Why? She is controversial. She is honest. She speaks exactly how she feels. Exactly.

I’m not that brave. I take the safe route, usually, and try not to be controversial. I know that I represent a university and wouldn’t want a blog post to be taken the wrong way. But I do envy her, a bit, for the ability to be totally and completely naked open with her readers.

I do enjoy blogging. And – I feel that it is a great educational tool. I really wish more university instructors would think about  consider assigning blogs for classroom assignments instead of just essays. Blogs provide excellent opportunities for students to be able to reflect on content and share their thoughts and content knowledge reflections with the world.

“According to educational specialists Drs. Fernette and Brock Eide, the use of blogs in an educational setting produces several benefits. These benefits include the promotion of critical and analytical thinking, increased access and exposure to quality content and a combination of solitary and social interactions with peers. The educational benefits of blogging can also extend to the administrative and teaching aspects of how a class operates.” Read more here! Lou Martin, Demand Media

My Tech for Teachers course recently discussed assessment and the importance of student reflection. How often to you reflect, or think about, what you’ve learned? I do…all the time. Why not have students reflect on their reading or class content sessions? Students will benefit from the ability to reflect, and instructors will benefit from reading their reflections.

Student voice is important and not all students speak up in a classroom. Blogging allows students to share their opinion and gives those with differing learning styles a chance to “speak” up.  I believe it also improves writing skills. When students know their information will be shared in a public venue, they will be more apt to edit and rewrite for voice and accuracy.

At William Jessup University, we are a Google Apps school and have easy access to Google sites. Simply go to mail, click the Google App icon Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 1.49.06 PM and choose Google Sites. A site can be created in a matter of seconds. I enjoy Google sites because it is easy to set up, free, and has privacy settings. However, if I am being totally honest, it is not the most visually appealing.  I use WordPress to type this blog. Decide your own purpose, review the tools yourself, and decide what will work the best for you!

Google Sites (privacy controls)

WordPress (basic blogging)

Edublogs (for education)

Tumblr (pictures) (I used this while traveling.)

Squarespace (visually appealing)

Postagon (for the minimalist)

Ghost (split screen editor – sweet!)

Svbtle (designed to help you think)

Medium (collaborative)


I have always been a doodler. Whenever I am at a meeting, I can listen for so-long, then feel the need to start drawing. If I am taking notes, I will often draw what I am thinking. About a year ago, I found out there was an actual name for what I was doing – taking a sketchnote!

Sketchnoting is taking visual notes while listening to a presentation, video, or even reading! I have started taking sketchnotes for my morning devotions and have found that I am remember more what I have read because a visual representation is sketched in my mind.

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Sketchnoting is a mixture of texts, fonts, and images. The images can be very simple and you do not need to be an artist to create a sketchnote. If you look at my picture above, I drew a stick figure with a circle head and triangle body because I can’t draw people! If you can draw a square, line, and circle, you can certainly create a sketchnote. Graphic organizers have been used for a long time in note-taking and a sketchnote considers how thoughts and facts connect. Watch this quick video about sketchnoting:

Braindoodles has some great lessons on visual note-taking. Mike Rhode’s book on Sketchnoting is the one that started me on visual note-taking. This article also gives many ideas for sketchnoting and offers some technology solutions. My absolute favorite source is Kathy Schrock’s page on Visual Note-taking. There you will find links on research, article, books, and videos.

I gave a sketchnote assignment to my teacher candidate students. They had to find out their multiple intelligences and create a sketchnote  about MI in the classroom. I received many outstanding sketchnotes. Here is an amazing example:

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Meet the candidate HERE. (He is also a talented musician.)

I encourage you to give sketchnoting a try. It can help you formulate ideas, and remember them better.

SlideIdea…Not Just Your Ordinary Slide!

My last post was on do’s and don’ts for creating presentations. As I wrote the post, I came across a new tool that I love!  It is SlideIdea. It is currently an iPad app and enables users to easily create beautiful slides or import from existing slides.

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“SlideIdea offers an in-app widget store where users can seamlessly browse and download the widgets they’re looking for. Additionally, SlideIdea offers free and professionally designed templates to help you cut design-time in half.” (SlideIdea)

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The transition templates are unique and engaging. “Say goodbye to complicated audio-slide recording software. SlideIdea makes it easy to record, publish, and share your very own SlideCasts. Simply record your speech while you present, then with the touch of a button, publish your SlideCast directly to your SlideCast webpage. To top it all off – SlideIdea provides every user a free personal SlideCast webpage for easy sharing and hosting.”

I admit – I enjoyed the new templates and transitions…but that’s not what caught my eye. It wasn’t until I used 3 fingers to swipe to bring up the whiteboard integration tool. This is what made SlideIdea stand out from some of the other presentation tools!

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Simply click the word “whiteboard” and the screen transforms to an interactive whiteboard:

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It is simple! Just project your presentation through the projection system/Apple TV, use 3 fingers to swipe to the interactive whiteboard, and when you are done writing, drawing, or whatever else you want to do, simply click the back arrow and it will bring you back to the last page of your presentation! Now that is sweet!

Although SlideIdea is currently only available for an iPad or Windows 8, they will be coming out with Android and smartphone apps in the near future:

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Do I or Don’t I? Powerful Presentations.


Here is a simple list of Do’s and Don’ts for creating presentations…


  • Create a .pdf version of your file as a backup.
  • Be prepared for formatting changes. Your presentation may appear different on a different computer .
  • Print out your slide outline in case you have technical difficulties.
  • Use a 36 or larger point font.
  • Use easy to read fonts…remember…many may need to be seen from the back of the room!
  • Use bullet points. Break up the information – do not write out entire paragraphs unless it is a quote. Keep the number of bullets to 5.
  • Keep the number of words in a bullet to 10.
  • Use consistent transitions.
  • Use quick transitions (don’t choose the “slow” transition).
  • Keep your colors consistent, fonts consistent, background consistent!
  • Limit the amount of material.
  • Display images.
  • Use it to facilitate note-taking and bring structure to the lecture.
  • Graphically represent concepts.
  • Convey passion and emotion with your voice! Walk around the room.
  • Get a wireless presenter so that you may step away from the podium.
  • Make contact with your audience.
  • Try telling stories.


  • Do not use light colored fonts.
  • Do not use patterned backgrounds.
  • Use a font size smaller than 36.
  • Write too much information.
  • Use the publisher powerpoint slides without viewing first. Are they really what you want to use? Do they contain the necessary information?
  • Do not use out-dated material.
  • Do not use only slides. Non-stop slides can be boring. Interrupt the material with discussion questions and activities.
  • Do not overuse animations.
  • Do not read word for word without paraphrasing or elaborating.
  • Do not put too much information on a slide. Sometimes less is more.
  • Do not be tied to the front of the room.
  • Do not clash colors. Do they work together?
  • Do not use slide transition sounds unless there is a specific reason you need it.

Finally, try something new!

Visit:  Haiku Deck, PowToon, Prezi, Slides, SlideRocket, Slides, Doceri, SlideShark, SlideIdea

*photo credit:

Reaching Introverted Students

Last week I attended the Global Leadership Summit and it was, as usual, amazing. One speaker I thoroughly enjoyed was Susan Cain, author of Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.   Yes, I am an introvert. I prefer to be alone and although I love collaborating, I do my best work when I am by myself. I get terrified talking in front of groups. Two days ago I spoke at our faculty retreat on the subject Inspiring Learning by Empowering Students and I spent the weekend dreading how I would get through it. Through the grace and power of God, I did~! I find that if I visualize what I want to do beforehand, that helps. Our faculty knows that I walk around each day, at some point, to connect with others around campus. Believe me, this is not in my nature. I have to force myself to go out and talk to new people. It is not my comfort level!

Many of our students are introverts. In fact, it may be as many as 50%.

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(Sorry, Susan…I am not an artist! You are much prettier than this note!)

How can technology help introverts? I can think of many ways but I want to share just two:

Moodle Discussion Board! (or use of LMS discussion board posts)

I am specifying Moodle simply because our university uses Moodle. However, there are many other platforms that may be used such as Edmodo, Canvas, Blackboard, etc.  Why use discussion board posts when students can have a discussion in class? (Did you read the title? smile) — to help reach our introverted students. Students may not be as apt to speak up in class and more apt to have a deeper discussion using a forum post. Allow for different discussion formats in your class and try out using a discussion/forum post at least a few times in the semester if you have the tools available to you!


As a Google apps school, we have EASY access to Google sites. A site can be created with just a few clicks and students may use it to blog about any question or topic. Try having them research a topic of interest in your content area and teach the class about it through a blog post! Google sites allows for privacy control so the site may be shared with just the instructor, the school, or the world. We were discussing at our retreat the fact that many students do not read their text books. How about having them blog about each of their reading assignments? They can write about what stood out to them the most, state their opinion, or even ask questions of their peers.