6th Graders Use Ballooning to Explore Science

Skyview 6th graders take project-based learning to new heights by exploring the science behind hot air balloons. They built their own balloons using tissue paper, tested them out and collected data on their flights. They were also treated to an actual demonstration from a real balloonist.


The SAMR Model: An Introduction for Teachers

Among technology integration junkies, there’s a lot of talk about something called the SAMR Model (pronounced “sammer”).  Whether you consider yourself a junkie or just a beginner to the edtech world, SAMR is an important guide to help you “technify” your lessons and “level up” to do things that weren’t even possible in the classrooms of the 20th century.

The basic philosophy behind SAMR is to help you analyze the role of technology in your lessons and ask questions like “what’s the purpose of using this technology for this task?” or “am I using tech for the sake of tech, or am I truly transforming my lesson?”

Here’s an excellent overview of SAMR in just 120 seconds:

To review that complicated acronym:

  • S: Substitution
  • A: Augmentation
  • M: Modification
  • R: Redefinition

Or if you prefer a colorful graphic:


Source: Ruben Puentedura – http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/

Look for much more about SAMR and how to implement it in the near future!

How to AirPlay to Apple TV in iOS7

Among the many changes released in iOS7 is a slightly different process for using AirPlay to mirror your device to AppleTV.  The AirPlay icon is now found in the new Control Center (along with other useful features like a shortcut to Camera, volume and brightness controls, and instant access to settings like airplane mode, Bluetooth and wi-fi).

I created this Apple TV Quick Reference Guide (PDF) for my staff to print out and keep with their projectors.

Follow these steps to AirPlay to Apple TV in iOS7.

1. First open the Control Center by swiping up with one finger from the very bottom edge of your iPad.  You must begin this gesture completely off the screen in the black frame area of your iPad.  You can perform this gesture from any app, not just the home screen.

AirPlay 01

2. Find the AirPlay icon in the center and tap it to reveal the available Apple TVs on your network.

AirPlay 02

3. Find your Apple TV name in the list.  Make sure to turn on the Mirroring switch if it’s not already selected.  If your Apple TV is password-protected, at this point you will see a password box appear.  Enter the same password you used when you configured your Apple TV.

AirPlay 03 AirPlay 04

4. The blue bar at the top of your iPad will indicate that your are actively connected to an Apple TV.

AirPlay 05

6.  To turn off AirPlay mirroring, repeat steps 1 and 2, but in the list of Apple TVs choose iPad to keep the display signal on your iPad.

AirPlay 06


Troubleshooting: What Can Go Wrong in This Process

Your Apple TV name does not appear in the list.

  • Make sure your Apple TV is powered on.  If you do not see a white light on the front of the Apple TV, it is not on.  Use your remote and press any button to wake up your Apple TV.  (There is no “off” switch on the Apple TV; it just goes to sleep after a period of inactivity.)
  • Check your wi-fi settings.  Your Apple TV and iPad both need to be on wi-fi networks that can talk to each other.

You do not see the AirPlay button in the Control Center.

  • Check your wi-fi settings on both your iPad and Apple TV.  If there are no Apple TVs available on your network, you will not see an AirPlay button.
  • Turn wi-fi off and back on again to re-establish your connection.
  • If you’re sure that your wi-fi settings are correct, power down your iPad and restart.  It may also help to restart the Apple TV.

You forgot your AirPlay password.

  • You will need to reconfigure your password on the Apple TV.
  • From the main Apple TV menu, go to Settings > AirPlay > Clear Password.  Enter a new password, click OK and enter that new password on your iPad.

Last Year’s Final Class Film

Last year I started a class called Media Production, which had the goal of teaching film history and production concepts to 8th grade students.  I was lucky to have an extremely talented group of students with appetites for learning and creative energies that were off the charts.

After covering many aspects of film production throughout the year we attempted to put them all together in a final class film during 4th quarter.  The result was a 26 minute original film titled Missing Ranae.  It was written, produced, shot, edited and scored entirely by students, with me only providing general direction and logistical support.

I was incredibly happy with the work they produced and while it’s not likely to win any Oscars, I believe it to be pretty impressive for a group of 8th graders working within the constraints of the school schedule and a budget of virtually zero.

Hope you enjoy!