Archives For September 2013

Dr. Donna Kotsopoulos was interviewed by Craig Norris, host of the Kitchener-Waterloo The Morning Edition this past Thursday morning. The discussion was about the drop in students’ math performance on EQAO. This blog post will be in three parts, as a good Ontario math lesson ought to be. The blog post ends with reflections on next steps and suggestions of math ed hackers to follow and learn from (in addition to Dr. Kotsopoulos): Kyle Pearce (@MathletePearce) and Cathy Yenca (@mathycathy).

Continue Reading...

This is the fifth of 5 blog posts where 5 education technology leaders share their thoughts on 5 questions. For the final blog post in the series, all thinkers are from TVDSB.

Continue Reading...

This is the first of 5 blog posts where 5 education technology leaders share their thoughts on 5 questions. Meet Angela, Lisa, Courtney, Kristin and Alline.

Continue Reading...

This is the third of 5 blog posts where 5 education technology leaders share their thoughts on 5 questions. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Jo-Ann, Alison, Cathy, Cyndie, and Michelle.

Continue Reading...

This is the second of 5 blog posts where 5 education technology leaders share their thoughts on 5 questions. May I introduce Amy, Tanya, Holly, Victoria, and Jaime.

Continue Reading...

This is the first of 5 blog posts where 5 education technology leaders share their thoughts on 5 questions. Meet Rachelle, Rafranz, Sue, Megan, and Carolyn.

Continue Reading...

Patrick Fogarty gives his advice for iPad deployment including the best ever profile tip for Apple Configurator.

Continue Reading...

Visual Literacy people, visual literacy.

Big Idea:

In the Language Arts curriculum, revised in 2006, language is broken down into four strands: reading, writing, oral communication and media literacy.  Media literacy is often interpreted by many teachers as making posters, watching Bookflix, making advertisements and watching the movie version of a classic book read in class.  If I could rewrite the curriculum, I would de-emphasize the poster and ad side of media literacy and re-emphasize teaching conventions and techniques of media, students creating media and students deconstruction/reflecting on media. I really wish every single student in Ontario had an iPad because it is much easier to construct and deconstruct media with this tool. But, since that feels like a moonshot dream, why can’t each student have a digital camera?  I think students need to be taking photos and video and working with images.  I think it’s hard for students to deconstruct and understand images if they do not have opportunities to construct their own images.

What I am doing:

Dragon Balling, that’s what I am doing!  Dragon balling is more commonly called hadoukening and is an Internet meme.  Here are some highlights:

Now, check out Carolyn Skibba and I dragon balling at the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute in Austin, Texas this July.  I think it is important and interesting that the photograph creates a fictional moment for the viewer.  Here Carolyn is zapping me and I am flying backwards.  In reality, Carolyn is just looking fierce while pointing at me and I am jumping up and piking in a ‘c’ shape.  The sum of these parts and actions is a story, a fictional super power moment.  I presented this photo to my students and challenged them to go forth and dragon ball!

Carolyn zapping Michelle!

This is one of the activities we are doing in my class this week with my grade 3 and 4s.  I asked students to create their own dragon balling photos in groups of three.  Through the process, students are learning a tremendous amount about how pictures are stories that we create. Students had to stage a shot, make several attempts, think about light, hold the pose, and work together.

Kids take the shots, kids star in the pictures and we begin to develop a much deeper understanding of visual literacy.  We begin to see that pictures are stories, or as Bill Frakes says, every picture is a bit of a lie.  It’s something you stage and create. The final product tells a story that is different than what is actually happening in real life.

In my class we are beginning the journey of understanding how the visual world is constructed and how we deconstruct and make sense of our world. We are making our own stories in our dragon balling pictures.  Yes, my students are 8 to 10 years old, and yes they are capable of starting this journey.

People are taking pictures constantly and we are surrounded by images made by other people.  I think it is increasingly important that we understand the images around us in advertising, information texts, movies, video games, and even in the pictures we all take and share.

The new ABCs

The bottom line is that we have new ABCs to teach: Always Be Capturing. But pointing and shooting a thousand selfies is not making our kids more savvy tech users nor is it making our kids happy and well adjusted.  We need mindful capturing and story telling.  We need story telling that ranges from creating a playful meme all the way to capturing compelling stories of our times.

Thank yous and a rationale for this post

*blog post updated with links from Kyle 09-04-2013

Thank Yous

Big thanks to my friends Chris CasalChris Casal and Kyle Pearce Kyle Pearce for meeting up with me over Google hangouts to give advice about iPad deployment.  Clearly, I have a lot more to learn, but these two clever people got me started.  Thank you also to Jon Samuelson a.k.a @iPadSammyPatrick Fogarty and Class Tech Tips who offered to help.  I might be talking to you next summer to up-level my deployment skills.


Check out Kyle’s iPad deployment blog posts here:

Apple iPad Deployment Backgrounds

How to Setup iPad – The iPad Classroom Deployment Guide


This blog post may be helpful to other people. But, I suspect that other people deploying iPads are using Apple Configurator and VPP.  Since I am not using VPP, I had to find another method. Mostly, I am writing this as a note to the future *me*, the me-getting-ready-for-back-2-school-next-August.

A letter about iPad deployment

Dear Person Setting up iPads,

When you are getting ready for the school year, here are some reminders as to how you set up your class iPads.  If you are really clever, you will dedicate some time over the next 12 months to learn iPhone Configuration Utility and/or Apple Configurator more deeply.  You should probably also learn more about Cisco’s Meraki.  It would be nice if you didn’t have to configure each device individually.

But, if you don’t figure those programs out, or they change, here is what you could do.

The overall goal is to reset each device and upload a fresh version of all the apps, settings in a nice organized fashion.

Step 1: Prepare and Reset

This is where you clean out everything on the iPad.

Settings>General>Reset>Erase All Content and Settings

Note: If one of your students has locked the device with a passcode, then use Apple Configurator to reset.

Note: If one of your students has disabled the device, take a deep breath.  The “bricked” iPad will need to be shut off, plugged in to iTunes while pressing the home key and follow instructions.  Warning: you will have to make several attempts.

Step 2: BackUp

Use a backup from iTunes that has all the apps and settings you desire. If you don’t have a back up, make sure you save one iPad with all apps and clean it up manually. Reset the device to be a perfect iPad. This will be the image for all the other iPads you want to set up.  Back it up to the cloud and your computer with iTunes.

You can backup all the devices over iCloud, but this could take 2-3 days and your Internet will be seriously slow.  The alternative is to plug each device into iTunes and restore from the back up.

Step 3: Name each device

I name each device so they will be unique in Meraki and also so the email signature indicates which device an email comes from.  I also like to have the iPad number visible on the lock screen and homescreen when they are first handed out to students.

Naming the iPad:

Settings> General> About> Name: iPad _ _


Changing the email signature to reflect iPad name/number:

Settings> Mail, Contacts, Calendars> Signature> Sent from my iPad_ _


Setting Lock Screen and Home Screen with the number of the device:


        • Save the number from the photo stream to camera roll (press and hold the picture>share>to camera roll)
        • Settings> Brightness & Wallpaper> Wallpaper > Camera Roll> Select number picture> Set Both
        • Next erase all the number pictures from the Photo Stream. iCloud> Photo Stream> My Photo Stream *OFF*
            • You will be prompted to delete the Photo Stream, which is perfect!

Note: Photo Stream stopped working part way through. I had to plug in the device into my computer and jump start the Photo Stream. As soon as the numbers appear, I could unplug and proceed.

Step 4: Meraki Magic

Use Meraki Mobile device management to track all the devices.

I think Meraki will save you from the headache of locked iPads.  With Meraki, you can reset passwords without resetting and erasing the entire device.  Plus, it’s much faster then having to plug into iTunes to de-brick.

Meraki also allows you to make WebClips. This is super handy because you can make a website look like an App.  I created a WebClip for a Google Form that my students complete each day called ‘Round Up.’  I used a copyright safe image from Compfight and Pixlr Express to edit the picture and resize.  The picture below and to the right is the image of the web clip on each iPad.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAScreen Shot 2013-09-02 at 2.20.21 PMRound up Happy face

Note: I tried to access a Meraki profile from the website for each device, but after 16 devices it stopped working. So, I installed the Meraki Systems Manager app and was able to install Meraki for each device.