December 5, 2012

Nexus 7 Rollout in 4th Grade

YEAH!!!! The Nexus 7s arrived in Maine on Friday afternoon and we were able to give them to students just three days later. Kate Parkin (4th grade teacher) and I had spent time preparing for the devices, exploring apps, becoming familiar with various resources like Edutecher and Android4Schools and thinking about how to bring this to her students in the most productive way. Some weekend work went into charging, updating and preparing the tablets with each student's Yarmouth Google account. We were pleased to find that there is a Content Filtering Setting that should modify any suggested apps and materials to keep them appropriate for students.

As teachers, Kate and I planned for the physical realities of having the new set of devices in her classroom. Consistent with our practice with student 1:1 laptops we ordered cases to protect the tablets. At the time we ordered they were $6.95 each and they have the added feature of putting the device to sleep or waking it on opening. We set up 4 bins in the classroom with plug strips nearby. The strips only allow 3 plugs at a time so we will be rotating overnight charging.

Once we did the planning and getting the room ready it was time to rollout the tablets. We invited parents, our building principal, Alice Barr (integrator at Yarmouth High School) and a college student who has helped us move ahead with technology since we was a student at YES. We planned an hour and a half at the end of the school day for the rollout. We started by giving each student a label to decorate so that s/he could easily identify her/his own tablet in the bins. We affixed the labels to the cases with plastic book spine labels to help them last through the year.

The slideshow above shows a set of photos from the preparation, through the labeling, to unboxing the Nexus 7s, changing the wallpaper and widgets on the devices. Once the students had done some personalizing and exploring the screens available Kate used the document camera to project her Nexus 7 onto the screen and showed students how to download and install a set of apps that we had previewed. We looked for an assortment of apps that allowed students to create simple projects, take notes and practice math facts as a start. In the slideshow you can see the students working from this list of apps.
Apps to download:
Free Rice
50 States
Google Drive
PopMath Lite
Space Images
Math Workout
Sudoku Plus
Math Maniac
Countries of the World
Note Everything
SimpleMind Free
Kitchen Timer
Camera Launcher
ListNote Speech to Text

This video gives a quick glimpse of the classroom once the students are exploring apps:
Many thanks to all who helped with this successful rollout and especially to Mark Wagner and the EdTechTeam for donating the devices to our school. An additional post about the arrival of the Nexus 7's is posted on Kate Parkin's classroom blog.

October 13, 2012

Fall Apps for First Grade Learning

Apps that we have purchased for the first grade classrooms this fall:
  • ABC Spelling Magic (Short Vowel Sounds) - free
  • ABC Spelling Magic 2 (Consonant Blends) - free
  • ABC Spelling Magic 3 (Blends & Syllables) - free
  • All My High Frequency Words
  • Cimo Spelling (Lite)
  • DoodleBuddy
  • DraftPad
  • Futaba- Word games for kids
  • iKids Puzzle
  • Google Earth
  • Know your Math Facts
  • iBooks
  • LetterSchool
  • Little Patterns
  • Mathwise - free
  • Math Bingo
  • Montessori Approach to Addition Charts
  • Montessori Approach 100 to 200
  • Montessori Approach to 100 Board
  • Montessori Crosswords
  • Motion Math - Hungry Fish
  • Pocket Charts! Beginning Letter Sounds 
  • Pocket Charts! Long and Short Sounds
  • PopMath Maths Plus
  • PuppetPals
  • Scribble Press - free
  • Sight Words by Photo Touch - free
  • Storykit - free 
  • Sushi Monster - free
  • Tell Time Little Matchups - free
  • Telling Time Photo Touch  
We added some apps specifically for teachers. The apps that were free are on all 20 iPads, the few paid apps are only on one iPad per classroom:
  • Dragon Dictation - free
  • Educreations - free
  • Explain Everything
  • Pages
  • Puffin Browser - free
  • Quickvoice Recorder - free
  • Show Me Interactive Whiteboard - free
  • Skype - free
  • The Weather Channel - free 
Most of the apps were available for volume purchase so we bought 20 copies of those for the price of 10. So far we have introduced LetterSchool, Little Patterns, iKids Puzzle and MathWise in classrooms. It is working well to assign five students to each iPad and store any saved games for them when they return. The next challenge is to figure out flexible grouping based on student needs and then appropriately managing the settings for each group.

October 9, 2012

Educational Passages

Update: October 8, 2012 from the project Newsletter:

5 Maine Maritime Launches

The “State of Maine” training ship launched 5 mini-boats approximately 250 miles north of the Bahamas on May 11th.  Within 10 days these boats got “battered” off the Carolinas by tropical storms Alberto and Beryll which blew all 5 boats across the Gulf Stream and on to the Carolina beaches.  A charter fishing boat captain told us in his 46 years he had never seen the seas so rough.  One of our boats was found by surfers on Cape Hatteras, two ended up on uninhabited islands and another went ashore on Myrtle Beach.  The 5th boat stopped reporting several miles off the beach and probably founded coming ashore.  Four of the five boats were recovered undamaged with their rigs intact attesting to their solid construction and their ability to transit our world’s oceans.
Two boats were taken to Charleston, South Carolina and put back aboard the “State of Maine” to be re-launched off Cape Hatteras, another boat was re-launched by surfers, and the 4th boat was released by the School of Coastal Studies on Cape Hatteras.  These 4 boats traveled up our east coast to Newfoundland where 2 made landfall and are currently being repaired and readied for re-launching in early October and the other 2 appear to be on their way to Europe.  All these boats can be monitored at

June 3, 2012

A group of 4th graders who are in the Communications and Math Lab groups with Molly Smith (Talents grades 3-8) have taken on the task of following one of five drifting miniboats that were launched this spring. The boat was launched Saturday, May 12 by the crew of the State of Maine (Maine Maritime). The kids are in contact with the captain and they are working on latitude, longitude, rate of speed and some of the other concepts of navigation.

Based on a workshop session at a conference on Science and Literacy held at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute a few months ago we decided to look for a way for our students to participate in a "miniboat expedition". For more about this project, see the website and articles below:
This project costs about $1500 a boat, but the volunteers who run it (Dick Baldwin, sailor; Lyman-Morse Boats; Maine Maritime Academy; Midcoast School of Technology, etc.) do all the work for free and the cost to our school is $350 for the GPS unit that travels on the boat and a monthly fee to monitor it. There will be opportunities at YES and HMS for that small group of students to share the project with others as it connects to curricula, we bring in guest speakers, etc.

The GPS unit on our boat connects to a company that will show the track of the boats in the project (at
We don't know how many months to expect the boat to be en route, one boat arrived in Ireland after 5 months, another one took a year to travel from Puerto Rico to Portugal. The hope is that if a boat makes it to Europe the students can connect with the school that retrieves the boat.

As of May 30th the miniboats have been moved by hurricane winds are are all beached on the Carolina coasts. Today there was an article in the Hatteras newspaper about the people who found the Yarmouth boat on the beach and the next steps for getting it back out onto the ocean.

October 3, 2012

Getting started with a new Nexus 7 Tablet

This past summer I was a presenter and participant at the first Maine Google Apps Summit held here in Yarmouth, ME. The days were information filled and I learned from every presentation and conversation. This is a great model of professional development is being offered in locations all over the world by EdTechTeam in collaboration with Google Apps for Education.

At the end of the three days Mark Wagner invited participants to submit applications for implementing classroom set of Google Nexus 7 Tablets into a K-12 setting. I wrote a statement of purpose for their use in a fourth grade classroom and was asked to write in more detail as a finalist. In September I was notified that we would be receiving a set of 25 devices to pursue the goals I had outlined.

The delivery of the devices has been delayed by supply issues, but last week I purchased my own so that I could begin to become familiar with the options it will offer in the classroom when they arrive. I was pleased to find that most of the productivity apps are free from the Google Play store. I currently have the following apps (some of which were pre-installed):

  • 50 States
  • Adobe Reader
  • Amazon Kindle
  • Audioboo
  • Calculator
  • Calendar
  • Chrome
  • Clock
  • Cloud Print
  • ColorNote
  • Countries of the World
  • Currents
  • Dropbox
  • Earth
  • Edmodo
  • Email
  • Evernote
  • Gallery
  • Gmail
  • Google 
  • Local
  • Maps
  • Math Bingo (pd)
  • Math Mate
  • Messenger
  • Milion Moments
  • Navigation
  • OneNote
  • People
  • Play Books
  • Play Magazines
  • Play Movies & TV
  • Play Music
  • Play Store
  • Pocket
  • PowerVocab
  • Puffin Free
  • Settings
  • Skitch
  • Socrative
  • Talk
  • TED Talks
  • Voice Search
  • Voice Search Advanced
  • Wallet
  • Words Words Words
  • YouTube
I am looking for more educational apps that can be used to develop Math, Writing and Reading skills with fourth graders, but my biggest focus will be on the productivity apps of searching, notetaking, recording voices and the various ways we can access ebooks. Richard Byrne's Android for Schools blog is a good resource and I appreciate that he is out there checking out apps and learning options

I will be purchasing cases for the Nexus 7s as we have a practice of providing cases for any student 1:1 devices. One question we will need to resolve is setting up individual accounts for students that allow for some form of institutional purchases of apps if we determine that we want some for all students that are not free.

I was looking for apps that would read books aloud and I have found Blio and a voice for the text to speech. The app is free and the voice is $2.99. I downloaded a few books and this has potential for guided reading books for students to use at home and in the classroom.

The fourth grade classroom has been selected and I have been meeting with the teacher to plan for the tablets, but the students and parents do not yet know about this exciting opportunity.

August 19, 2012

Maine Google Apps Summit August 2012

This was our first year hosting the first Maine Google Apps Summit. Alice Barr is a Google Certified Teacher and she facilitated this event. We had an inspirational keynote by Jaime Casat, Chief Education Evangelist at Google, Inc. and sessions offered by regional educators as well as international members of the EdTech Team.

I taught these sessions:

August 15, 2012

Maine Forests Teacher Tour Adventure

This summer I joined fifteen educators on the Northern Forests Teacher Tour sponsored by the Maine Tree Foundation. I had looked at this option several times over the years and the tour that was based in at Leen's Lodge on the shore of West Grand Lake worked into my summer. We were warmly greeted by Pat Maloney who is the state coordinator of Maine Project Learning Tree, the state forester for Washington County and Project Learning Tree Facilitators who immersed us in activities of creating a forest plot, perusing the Project Learning Tree K-12 guides and practicing lessons using computer access to GIS to view worldwide data.

Early the second morning we traveled to the 100,000+ acre Baskahegan forest that is owned an managed by the Milliken Family. This forest has been certified to follow sustainability and biodiversity practices that show exemplary stewardship. The foresters explained the complex management tools that are used to harvest stands and guarantee the ongoing availability of mature trees. A forester walks each stand of the forest, mapping the types of trees, the health of each one, the deer or wildlife activity and records everything on a GPS device. The information recorded is then uploaded to GIS so that in an office setting a team can click anywhere on a map and see the specific information about a particular stand. 

The actual piece of equipment (called a Processor/Harvester) used to harvest trees costs $200,000-$400,000 and has the capacity to select trees, cut them down, strip the branches and pile them up by size and type. I took this video with my phone:

From the forest we traveled to the Stinson Wind Farm to see some of the windmills that were built on logging roads by First Wind. The 80 foot towers are equipped with anemometers and mini-weather stations that feed information to computers that automatically adjust the turbines or they can be managed offsite from remote computers. 
The second day we traveled to a large investor partnership landholding (600,000+ acres) managed by Wagner Forest Management Company. There we saw more large, sophisticated equipment that selected, cut and piled trees so that the next machine could strip the branches and stack the trees for loading on lumber trucks. Here are photos and videos of a Feller/Buncher and a Delimber at work.

One of the many new learnings for me as we toured these forested roads was how much attention is being paid to the importance of creating culverts under the logging roads that will allow the passage of salmon, brook trout and other water dwellers. Some of the culverts are taller than a person and cost over $20,000 to build. The engineers talked about the efforts being made to develop designs and materials that will make culverts easier to build and more affordable. As teachers we started talking about how we could use this real issue as a design challenge in the classroom setting.

We then went to the Domtar Paper Mill which is owned by Chinese interests. Every few minutes a truck full of logs would pull into the yard, huge sets of logs would be unloaded by some of the world's largest cranes to be processed into chips and then sheets of pulp. The sheets of pulp are stacked and wrapped in a warehouse, trucked to Eastport, ME and loaded into the holds of ships that take them to China. Once in China, the pulp sheets are finished into paper.

Some of the participants on the tour were members of the Downeast Lakes Land Trust which works closely with businesses and residents of this part of Maine. As individuals and a group they work to educate people about the need to preserve shoreline and watersheds for the protection of water, recreation pursuits and the overall health of the environment.

I look forward to connecting what I learned to the 4th grade unit on Trees, Plants and Forest Ecology and other environmental education opportunities in our school.

July 23, 2012

USM EPC 508 - Summer 2012

In mid-July I spent a week working with a group of 14 teachers from various districts in southern Maine at USM. The course has carried the title "Integrating Technology into the Classroom: Mac" for many years, but I have been able to vary the content and update the syllabus each year. I created this site for the course: and we used a Posterous blog: as our collaboration tool. It's always stimulating to hear from and work with a varied group of teachers who represent an array of grade levels, curriculum areas and backgrounds. I enjoy the opportunity to teach this course and the teachers are usually experiencing working closely with an integrator in a way that is not available in their home district.

June 29, 2012

Exploring the Ocean through Science & Children's Literature Course

I was fortunate to join a group of educators at SMCC for three days in late June to explore the many opportunities of using hands-on science activities and children's literature to learn about the ocean. This curriculum has been developed by Mary Cerullo and others at the Friends of Casco Bay.

We were immersed in the science of monitoring temperature, nitrogen influx (which causes acidification) and the overall health of the waters of  Casco Bay. Mary has written many books about science topics that are wonderful resources for any age group. From her newest book on Giant Squid through her collaborations with undersea photographers on Sea Soup, Shipwrecks and City Fish, Country Fish Mary's books create a unique library of inviting collections of text, images and photographs on these engaging topics.

These days were a tremendous opportunity for me to revisit my interests in science, place-based education, environmental activism an the power of those who work on important causes like the health of our oceans. My friend and colleague Cheryl Oakes from Wells, Maine created this Animoto video of our trip on the Lucky Catch with lobsterman Tom and crew:

May 28, 2012

Yarmouth Summer/Fall Technology Course 2012

Registrations are building for this years summer/fall technology course for K12 faculty. The site is at: Dates: June 19, 20 & 21 8:00-3:30, September 22 8:00-12:00, October 27 8:00-3:30 at YHS.

Teachers will learn and practice expanded uses of media for teaching and learning around these questions:
  1. How will student demonstrations of learning be more innovative in my classroom?
  2. How will I as a teacher move toward more choices for students to demonstrate learning?
  3. How can I share or celebrate my students’ work?
As we develop the progression of topics and assignments the site will be expanded beyond the syllabus, dates and times.

May 17, 2012

Google Apps OnAir Tutorials

This summer one of my goals is to review these tutorials for possible use in our Yarmouth course and future faculty meetings.
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

April 29, 2012

Edcamp Boston, April 2012

These are a couple of the many Diigo links that I got from EdCamp Boston that I hope to pursue. There were many conversations about "Blended Learning", iPads and learning and other topics. The "smackdown" at the end gave us many links to use with our students. Some of the notes I made are:

  • 6 word memoir in Animoto
  • Edmodo turn in for assignments
  • LittleBirds for writing and drawing
  • Fotobabble for recorded story sent to parents by email
  • Storybird make student accounts within classroom
  • Animoto accounts only last 9 months but can set up for class
  • Prezi
  • Voicethread - kids can do presentation online instead of being live (differentiation)
  • Sliderocket- in google apps marketplace- has voice record, can embed twitter feeds (latest 20)
  • Storify
  • - newspaper generator with embedded social media
Alice, Mike and I had a chance to visit with many colleagues from around New England.

April 28, 2012

April 27, 2012

New England Apple Tech Update Spring2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

It's been a few years since I attended an Apple Update. Mike, Alice and I all chose to attend this one due to the agenda items. It was helpful to hear about the development of management tools for iPads for schools adding large numbers of iPads. As long as we are adding a few iPads at a time we will be manually setting up iPads with either personal, institutional or hybrid accounts for each iPad. It is somewhat complicated as exploring apps requires access to iTunes cards or Apple Voucher provided apps. Another item on the agenda was the new option to create multimedia texts in iBooks. The limitations are that books can only be created by teachers and they belong to the teacher not the school. This is going to take some working out as we see what the potential is for iBooks and other epub options. In Yarmouth we are often looking for a tool that students can use as a multi-media creation tool. Most teachers are using sites, wikis and blogs for their own curriculum development online.

April 9, 2012

Google Docs for Teachers eBook

Many thanks to Richard Byrne: Free Technology for Teachers

April 8, 2012

April 1, 2012

Learning at edcampme 2012

Saturday was the first Maine "edcamp" sponsored by vendors and held at Waynflete School in Portland. This was a great day of connecting and sharing with other educators whose focus is using technology to support learning. I attended a session on iPads in the Elementary classroom and learned a few new apps and some management tips. The session on Digital Portfolios didn't apply directly to what we want to do in Yarmouth, but some of their methods could be useful. Alice, Mike and I presented a session on Google Apps in the Classroom with Kern Kelly from Nokomis High School. Kern has developed comprehensive digital portfolios of their older students and each graduating senior receives a gift of their name as a web domain so that they can carry their portfolio on beyond their K12 years. He also shared a great strategy for collecting student assignments when a teacher has many students in various classes. The sessions, photos and reflections of the day are archived at and the twitter hashtag for the day was #edcampme.

March 28, 2012

Mrs. Wolinsky, thank you for letting us explore...

This time of year I try to fit in a unit on Creativity and Design in the 4th grade classes. I started the unit last week with an exploration of Lego Digital Designer. This is the first step of unit that is about exploration, self-discovery and creating using design tools. The next couple of weeks will be spent moving on to Scratch. Some of the students have been attending an after school class through Yarmouth Community Services with a more extended time to explore this theme. The students who have been in the after school class have been a stimulant to their classmates to explore and learn during our class periods. What did I hear from a student as they filed out of the lab? "Thank you Mrs. Wolinsky for letting us explore today!"

March 16, 2012

Yarmouth Media & Learning Day - March 16, 2012

Once again we organized an "unconference" for our spring professional development day that started with a keynote by Wes Fryer, followed by a selection of sessions by Wes and Yarmouth faculty. The site for the course is: Yarmouth Learning with Media Day. I created a summary of the feedback from the day which was very positive about the opportunity to work as a K12 faculty on enhancing the ways we use media, ourselves and with our students. 

March 11, 2012

Recent posts about iPads, Research & Apps

Chicago Public Schools implement iPads up through 5th grade
This post focuses on the new options for assessment that are possible with the camera and recording aspects of the iPad. The author describes the use of apps like:  Explain EverythingScreenChompReplayNote, and Educreations.

The 200 Best Apps for Special Education This is a downloadable booklet of apps that are selected from the many that have been designed for students receiving instructional support.

iPads in the Classroom – Lessons Learned...Lessons Shared
This is a blog devoted to the experiences of a 4th grade teacher moving from a few iPads in the classroom to 1:1.

The iPad as...
This a post with iPad apps organized by purpose e.g. iPad as reader, creator, etc.

What apps are they using in Auburn Kindergarten?
Mike Muir is writing frequently about the Auburn iPad project, including the first research based on delayed implementation of iPads in half of the Kindergarten classes.

March 10, 2012

Burlington 1:1 Summit - March 10, 2012

This summit was an "unconference" in the sense that presentations were by participants, not paid presenters. The Burlington, MA school system has been moving into mobile technology with 1:1 iPads in the high school this year, sets of iPads in the elementary schools and a review of options for the future for middle schools. Alice, Mike and I attended with Ben McNaboe (YHS class of 2011) to share our experience of 1:1 in our grades 7-12 for over ten years. Ben also presented his own session on how useful he finds an iPad to be in his freshman year of college. I attended a session with other elementary educators who are using iPads and we had a rousing lunchtime "smackdown" of app ideas.

This post from the BHS principal Patrick Larkin is a good synopsis of the philosophy and information that were shared at the summit. Burlington has many of the needed elements for moving forward with powerful learning through the use of iPads: strong administrative support and involvement, robust support for infrastructure, involved teachers developing online materials, interest in moving to a facilitated learning environment, student IT team to support teachers, supports and play a role in the new implementation.

March 1, 2012

Creativity & Design with Technology Class

We are halfway through a Community Services Class title "Creativity & Design with Technology" for 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders. This is a class I have thought about offering for a long time as a way to explore creative options using technology in a more extended format than we have time for in the school day. There was a great deal of interest in the class and the original limit was extended from 12 to 15 to the current 17 participants (12 boys and 5 girls). I am maintaining a web page of the sessions that hopefully encourages students and families to continue to explore at home.The site link is:
and this is the content so far:
Session 1:
Download Lego Digital Designer - 

PBS Kids Lab - 
 Session 2:
Design a Comic Website - 
 Session 3: 
Download the Skitch program (mobile app too) - 
Drawing, snapshots and more.

PBS Kids Lab - 
 Sessions 4 & 5:
Download the Scratch program - 

To learn more about Scratch:

Cyberchase Inventor's Workshop -

I came across this site which has provided resources and inspiration for this course: It has been very helpful to have two YHS students 
help during each class session and a fourth grade student who attended Scratch camp at 
MIT last summer has been a guest teacher for the last two sessions. The experiences we
are having in this class will impact the "creativity & innovation" mini-units that I usually
teach in the spring to all grade levels.

Some other links that I hope to use for ideas to continue this into the future are: