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

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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?