10.18.2015

Favorite iPad Apps for Middle and High School: Notability


iPad Apps for Middle and High School Classrooms - www.traceeorman.com



Notability: A Favorite App for Middle and High School Classrooms
As our school transitioned to iPads this year, I've had the opportunity to try out new apps with my students. I have found Notability to be one of my favorites.

Use Notability to annotate text or create original content


Annotate Documents
Notability allows students to open any document and annotate it. And not just annotate. They can add videos, respond with a voice recording, insert pictures, and so much more.

Notability app: Embed videos, images, web links into any document
Embed videos, images, text, web links, audio, etc. into
ANY document using the Notability app.

Create Original Content
In addition, they can create their own original documents and share with others for feedback. Students can use this app to take notes (either by typing or writing) and add pictures, doodles, web links--pretty much anything--to their document.

iPad Apps: Create original documents for note-taking and collaboration in Notability.



Record Audio
One of the best features is being able to record audio, which is linked to the note. During a lecture, students can record the lecture as they take notes.

Students can record themselves reading their essays or other texts to check for fluency (as well as to help with editing--they catch more mistakes when they read their work aloud).

iPad Apps: Record an audio response on any document in Notability.
Record audio, such as lectures or personal feedback, within Notability.

So Many Uses For Teachers, Too
Teachers can also use the audio recording feature to give personal feedback messages back to students. We all know sometimes it's much faster to say it than type it out. Plus, students can hear our tone and better understand our comments.

Teachers can take text they want to share with students and insert web links and videos to enhance learning. For example, you can share text (a story, article, novel) with your students and add links to definitions of words they may find difficult. Use the audio and pronounce the word for students.

If a story has an allusion to a famous painting, you can embed a photograph of that painting or commentary about it to deepen understanding.


Share PDFs You Purchased on TpT
For anyone who has purchased PDF resources from my store on TeachersPayTeachers, you have my permission to use Notability for those documents so you can share them securely with your students and they can respond directly on the page.

Compare/Contrast Any Text
Instead of printing and writing, you can share PDFs
through Google Classroom and Notability for a
paperless alternative. From Compare/Contrast ANY Text.

Any PDF can become a digitally interactive document in Notability.
Turn any PDF into a digitally interactive document on Notability.
From Common Core Reading Graphic Organizers, Grades 9-10.

We use Google Classroom in our district and though we had many challenges this fall, it is nice that we can share Notability documents directly through Google Drive/Google Classroom. Use the "upload" icon, which is a square with an arrow pointing upward to get to the sharing menu.


Sharing Notability documents through Google Drive.


It's OK to Take a Break From Technology
When technology is working, it's a great thing. But, it's always best to prepare for when it's not working. Besides, it's OK to take a break from technology. We all need to put the devices aside and just communicate in old fashioned ways each day. At the end of a class period (when your students are wanting to pack up anyway), let them put their devices away and just talk to one another. I like to share humor with them and discuss it just for fun. It reminds us all that no matter how great technology is, nothing replaces face-to-face communication.

Technology can't replace the benefits of face-to-face communication.


Suggestions? Questions? Your Favorite Apps?
I plan to continue this series, highlighting additional apps such as Google Classroom. Let me know if you have suggestions or questions.

Also, please post below with any of your favorite apps for tablets OR websites you use in class. (We love No Red Ink and purchased a district license this year. More about that in another post!)

By the way, I am not affiliated with Notability at all, nor was I asked to write a review. Actually, I hadn't even heard of it until last spring when another teacher at my school asked if we could purchase the app for all students. This post is my opinion based on how I've used it so far this year.

Thanks for reading and have a great week!


Mrs. Orman's Classroom - www.traceeorman.com

Laptop or Tablet? Transitioning from MacBookPros to iPads (and the frustrations of using Google Classroom)

technology in the classroom


Laptop or Tablet? Transitioning from MacBookPros to iPads and the Frustrations of Using Google Classroom

For almost seven years my school was a 1:1 MacBookPro school. We loved the laptops, but the expense for repairs and replacing new ones for all students in grades 6-12 was becoming too costly.

MacBookPro laptops in the classroom
Students writing poems on MacBookPros.
Photo: ©Tracee Orman, 2011
Normally schools would upgrade from tablets to laptops. And here we were last spring being told we were going to downgrade from our MacBookPros to new iPads. Teachers would keep their laptops and have a new iPad; students would only have iPads (with the exception of our computer instructor, who has a lab of laptops for his classes).

Questions We Asked
Of course, we had a lot of questions, such as:

• How will our students type essays on an iPad?

• How will our students use websites that use Adobe Flash Player?

• Will our students be able to make movies using iMovie?

• Where will students store all of their Pages files, Keynote presentations, and other documents?

• Will they be able to back up files onto a flash drive?

• Will all of our online lessons, quizzes, and tests open on their iPads?

• How will we monitor their use?

• Will students be able to print?

• How many apps can we get? How will the students get those apps on their devices?

and so on...

Google Classroom Launch & {FAIL}
We had already been using Google for Educators for several years. Our students all have Gmail accounts, which comes with a Google Docs/Drive account and unlimited storage. So one of the deciding factors for our administration was the launch of Google Apps for Education (GAFE), which includes Google Classroom. They *hoped* it would make it easier for students and teachers to exchange digital files, collaborate, and communicate. We were assured that Google Classroom would work seamlessly with the iPads. And last Spring, it seemed to be working just fine.

Google Classroom Teacher's Page - www.traceeorman.com
Sample Google Classroom stream of announcements
and assignments from www.traceeorman.com.

Well, it hasn't been as easy as promised. Hardly any of my students could watch an introduction video I linked from YouTube, nor could they open documents I attached and assigned. Google Classroom is still working out kinks, but it's getting a little better. At the beginning of the school year at least half of my students could not access anything from Google Classroom. Now, I have about five or six students who continue to have the problem. It's better, but still frustrating. This means I have to share content with them in alternative ways, including having a print source.

Google error message in Google Classroom, GAFE
Error message when students try to access files in Google Apps.

Docs is Back...But Drive Is Still Here?
In addition to the Classroom problems, Google's relaunch of "Docs" while maintaining "Drive" is causing much confusion with students. One feature Docs now offers is the ability to work on items offline. We are not sure if this feature is the root of the problem or not for our students, but we know there are several who will try to locate their documents and they will not show up. Sometimes they appear when they click out of the app and go back on, but when they try to share it via Classroom, *poof* all their documents disappear again. Again, we were told Google is working on fixing the kinks.
Using iPads for Video Parody Project
Students use iPads for a video parody project.
Photo: ©Tracee Orman, 2015

One of the biggest frustrations as an English teacher is the lack of features in Google Docs. Students are unable to add a header or footer in the iPad app (either I have to provide them with a template--which defeats the purpose of them learning how to format a paper themselves--or they have to find a laptop to create the document on first). So much for assessing them on how to create an MLA-formatted document!

The Pages app is much better for typing papers, but it is glitchy and does not work well with Google Docs and Classroom on the iPads.

So Which Is Better: Laptops or Tablets?
Having laptops also had its fair share of frustrations. Those problems have not gone away with the introduction of iPads. For example, these continue to be a challenge:

• Students play games instead of staying on task.

• Students communicate answers from tests via screenshots, messaging, or logging into a friend's account and taking the test/quiz for him/her.

• Students are easily distracted with social media and constant notifications.

• The internet is never fast enough.

• Printing from the device is not always reliable.

• Students are impatient with the devices and easily frustrated when they do not work properly.

We have only had the iPads since August and we had our laptops for almost seven years, so it's hard for me to recommend one over the other at this point. I see a lot of potential with the iPads and have really been impressed with some of the apps our district has purchased. 


Favorite Apps, Coming Soon
I plan to post a series of articles featuring some of these apps and what they can do. (Surprise: one is even about GAFE and Google Classroom.) Check back for my posts, which will be tagged with this image:
iPad Apps - Favorites



Is It Worth It?
Is technology even worth it? The Wall Street Journal reported on this topic recently, citing a study that disproves using technology increases scores in math and reading.

That said, we still need to prepare our students for an ever-changing world in technology, so, YES, I think it's worth it. But it's important to use technology in moderation; going 100% paperless isn't realistic.

There are times when students need to write with paper and pencil.

There are times students should read from a book.

There are times when your students need face-to-face interaction with one another.

And there are times when your device will fail for one or more students in your class and you better have a paper back-up ready!

Similar Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

About Me

My photo

I teach high school English in Illinois; enjoy family time, baseball, collecting PEZ dispensers, and talking about anything related to my favorite books. They include The Hunger Games trilogy, To Kill a Mockingbird, the Chaos Walking trilogy, and anything written by Amy Tan.

Total Pageviews