1:1, Google, iOS, Kuwait, Reflector

An Update: @ReflectorApp

As I mentioned in a previous post we bought a Reflector (formally Reflection) license for each of our teachers. In that post I laid out some issues. Here are my updates to how things have been going!

*We are rolling out Reflector slowly. I chose the first 5 teachers from elementary based on who I’ve worked with and after talking to the principal. We have one teacher in each grade (1-5) testing out Reflector.
*Before teachers could use the app, I met individually with each of them to show them how it worked. They have to connect to the wireless (instead of wired), open the program (it runs in the background), activate mirroring using AirPlay on their iPad…et voila! I showed them how to change the settings (white or black frame) and set a password (a MUST!).
*I created a Google doc for teachers to share their experiences with Reflector. They are busy people and don’t have time to meet weekly so I thought this would be a great use for Google Apps 🙂 Although you can’t see them (this is a copy), I add comments when teachers share their experiences.

As you can see our biggest problem right now is the glitchy mirroring. We are doing some experimenting to figure out which piece of the puzzle is causing this (app, wireless network, computer, wireless card…). When I use my new Lenovo laptop on the school network I have no issues. Teachers, however, are having issues (same network, different computer). My scientific brain tells me that this could be pointing to the wireless card. We bought two new cards (one internal, the other a USB) for the grade 4 & 5 teachers to test out.

(From my previous post) Some issues we’ve already encountered:
*All computers using reflection will show up on AirPlay on the iPad (if there are 100 computers with Reflection, you will be able to see and choose from all 100). Update: So far this hasn’t been a problem (we only have 5 running). When I met with each teacher, I taught them to exit the Reflector application and disconnect from the wireless when they weren’t actively using it. Even when we roll this out to more teachers, I doubt all 170 will need to use the app at the same time.
*We are running Windows 7 32-bit Professional. When Reflector is installed & authenticated on the admin profile, it is not authenticated on a teacher profile (prompts you to enter license serial code again). Update: After contacting the support team, they gave us the step-by-step for setting up Reflector on each computer so that anyone who logs in can access the app. I have been INCREDIBLY impressed with their customer service. They are quick to respond when I ask for help and are keeping track of my blog & Twitter to make sure everything is going well.

I’d love to hear about other schools that are the implementing Reflector App! Are you having any issues? What is your hardware/wireless network like?

Note: I did not receive any compensation for this review. Just my honest opinion & experience.

iOS, Kuwait, Reflector

We chose @ReflectorApp

Two months ago, after school had started and teachers started worrying about how they would use iPads in their classrooms, I started doing some research. One of the teachers’ biggest concerns was projecting what they were doing on their iPads for the class to see. What follows is how we went about making the choice and what is coming next.

We knew that you could connect an iPad using a dongle but this solution presented many (obvious) disadvantages. Although teachers could share them if needed, it would be ideal to have one for every teacher (at $30+ a piece). There would be no worries about students messing with the connection, however teachers would be confined to their desk. Another option was Apple TVs. We would still need one per teacher ($99 each) and there didn’t seem to be any privacy settings (read: students could easily ‘take over’ and project their iPads). We kept looking.

About this time I stumbled across Reflector App. I had a difficult time finding teachers and schools currently using it, so I decided to do my own experimenting. I bought a single user license for my laptop (normally $14.99, currently $11.99). After installing Reflector on my laptop, I began playing with it. Using AirPlay (must have iPad 2 or newer & wireless internet), I was able to wirelessly mirror my iPad onto my laptop screen. I was excited that this might be a solution for our teachers! I went a step further and created a couple videos for iPad PD showing teachers how to use the calendar app. I was pumped!

And then I brought my laptop to school…it didn’t work! The last month, I have spent time talking with people at Reflector and our network administrator here. Reflector nformed me that bulk purchasing licenses would bring the price down to $8 each and that we could password protect the ability to mirror to the PC (HUGE!). On our end, we were able to open a couple ports and get my laptop on the same wireless network (and subnet) as my iPad. On our network, you cannot connect a wireless iPad to a wired computer because there is no way to make them on the same subnet (however the Reflector staff says this is possible when on the same subnet). The Reflector support staff has been wonderful answering my questions though email and on Twitter. They shared a blog post with me from an educator using Reflector & Air Server. (I did take a little time to research Air Server. There are many similarities, but I was more impressed with Reflector online presence and had already been in contact with the Reflector staff.)

I’m excited to say that the purchase of licenses for our staff has been approved! We are taking this process slowly so that we can get feedback and have a support system in place for teachers as they start using it. We will be setting up computers (installing Reflector & wireless cards) in sets of 5. I have the difficult task of choosing which teachers will start the rollout.
I am looking for teachers who:
*are relatively savvy with technology and are fast learners.
*are eager and willing to incorporate the iPad in their classrooms.
*like to try new approaches and are comfortable enough to experiment.
*enjoy sharing their knowledge with colleagues.

Some issues we’ve already encountered:
*all computers using Reflector will show up on AirPlay on the iPad (if there are 100 computers with Reflector, you will be able to see and choose from all 100).
*we are running Windows 7 32-bit Professional. When Reflector is installed & authenticated on the admin profile, it is not authenticated on a teacher profile (prompts you to enter license serial code again).

My goal is to keep a “journal” of how we are using Reflector in the school and classroom. When I was looking into solutions, I couldn’t find many educators who were using Reflector. I’d like to be able to help others who are interested! Please let me know if you have experience with Reflector or if there is anything you’d like to know about the set-up and how we’re using it 🙂

Note: I did not receive any compensation for this review. Just my honest opinion & experience.

1:1, Google, iOS, Kuwait, Professional Development

iPad Tips & Tricks

Based on the feedback we received from our staff, we decided to officially start our professional development with ‘iPad Basics’ or as we called it, ‘iPad Tips & Tricks.’ The goal of the PD was to get teachers comfortable with their iPads so that they could become more confident and start experimenting with them in their classrooms. Because we know our teachers are not all at the same place, we created 3 levels of the training. We are offering the sessions on three consecutive Mondays and you can read more about the planning process here.

The three of us split up the presentations…and I was the lucky one selected to do level 3. Although I was not confident to begin with (I don’t have nearly as much experience with iPads as my two colleagues), I’m glad that I had the opportunity to take on the challenge. I learned a lot in the process and even found the Reflector App…which just might be my new favorite discovery. A few notes about the creation of the presentation:

*I took a lot of screen shots on the iPad and edited them with ArtStudio before uploading them to Google Drive using the iPad app.
*I made all the videos using Reflector.
*I used Google Drive & a Presentation to store the pictures and create the presentation.
*I used a Google Form to collect feedback from the staff that attended my session.

Voilà my level 3 iPad Tips & Tricks! Would love any feedback 🙂

1:1, iOS, Kuwait, Professional Development

iPad PD

We (the technology coaches) started going into the elementary classrooms last week to give mini-iPad lessons before the students get their iPads. I’ve been in classrooms from KG1 (3-5 yr olds) to grade 3. It’s definitely been a learning experience! We’ll continue to go into ES classrooms throughout the next week. I’ll also be subbing for the Language B department head Sunday through Tuesday. I’ll be teaching her DP1 and DP2 classes. Guess I wasn’t quite done 😉

We’ve also started planning PD for the teachers. We asked teachers to complete a needs survey so we could tailor our offerings throughout the year.

About half of our staff completed the survey and @MrLaymanSS made a nice infographic in order to share the results with the admin team.

Starting on Monday, we’ll be offering staff 3 levels of iPad Tips & Tricks and teachers will be ablle to choose which they’d like to attend. I’ll be facilitating the level 3 sessions…any iPad or iOS6 tips & tricks would be much appreciated!

I’ve been working on a Google presentation (will share later), but today I decided to download the Reflection App. I tried the free version first and went to my twitter PLN before paying the $15 to get the full version. I got good input (merci beaucoup!) and decided to go for it. It seems completely worth the price and I’m eager to experiment with it! The first video I created is for my upcoming level 3 PD showing teachers how to create an appointment in the calendar app. Would love feedback 🙂 Enjoy!

1:1, Collaboration, Google, iOS, Kuwait

My foray into Elementary

One of the first official things we’ve been asked to do as Technology Coaches is to go into every classroom in the elementary (Pre-K through grade 5) and do a short introductory iPad lesson. We met with the Primary Years Programme coordinators and the Elementary iPad Advisory Group (made up of 7 teachers) to create and refine our ideas for our lessons. It was decided that the most important concept before the students received their iPads was how to treat it (where it should/shouldn’t go, how they should/shouldn’t hold it).

To get started, we created a sign-up sheet for the teachers in Google Docs. We then sent them an email with the link telling them a little about what we wanted to do and asking them to fill in their information.

As a team, the three of us decided to split the grades so that our lessons would be able to be tailored for the target age group. After my two gentlemanly colleagues had chosen, I was left with 3rd grade and half of 2nd. I was a little hesitant and nervous at first as I’ve never worked with students younger than grade 9!

I emailed my elementary counselor friend for some advice, gave my creative juices some time to flow…and voila I had an idea! Using the pictures and cartoons that the guys took and drew, I wrote a short picture book for the students. I based my story off of Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman. Here is my book (written using a Google Presentation)…

My first class this morning was a 2nd grade classroom. I started by introducing myself to the students and told them that I work with Mr. Jeff and Mr. Smith. I also explained how we would be coming into their classrooms sometimes to work with their teachers and that they would see us around the school. Before starting the story, I had them read the title and make predictions about what the story was going to be about. While I was reading the story to them, we talked about what made the iPad sad and happy. We talked about how the iPad wouldn’t like the canteen because she doesn’t like food, wouldn’t like the bathroom because she doesn’t like water and how she doesn’t like being up too high or down low. The story ended up being more interactive than I thought it would be…for each picture the students tried to find the iPad and it become like a “Where’s Waldo?” game.  It was fun and they really seemed to get into the story 🙂

I then asked them for their help. I told them how I knew a little boy who needed their help deciding how to treat his iPad. For each drawing (thanks bunches to Matt!!), they raised their hand if they thought it was a good way or a bad way to treat the iPad. Before showing them the “answer,” I had a couple students share about why they thought it was good or bad. We talked about why it would make the iPad happy or sad and I reiterated to them that I would be sharing their advice with the little boy. Before letting them switch to question mode, the teacher and I steered them towards giving me advice about what should be put in the iPad (only charger, headphones & case), what shouldn’t be put with the iPad in their backpack (no food/drink) and how the iPad should always stay in the keyboard case (unless a teacher tells them differently).

When I took out my iPad to demonstrate some of the things that might make the iPad happy or sad, they were in awe (they literally cooed when I took it out of my bag!). They loved seeing it and were excited to be able to get their own soon. I then let them ask me questions. I quickly saw that there were going to be WAY too many questions in the time we had (the whole lesson lasted about 30 minutes), so I asked them to talk with their table groups in order to come up with 1 question. This was great because they had to work together to pick a question and then also to pick who would ask it.

Overall the lesson went way better than expected! The students were adorable, asked great questions and had great advice! It was so different to be in a lower elementary classroom (as opposed to high school) where the students are eager to share and thirsty for knowledge. They really seemed to connect with the characters in the story…let’s just hope they remember when they get their iPads! This afternoon I’ll be working with a 3rd grade class. Who knew elementary could be so much fun? 😉

All the credit goes to Matt for this cartoon!

Update: Today I walked into a 3rd grade classroom and was told they didn’t have a projector…uh crap?! Luckily I created my book as a Google presentation and have the Google Drive app on my iPad. I had the students gather on the carpet and read them the story on my iPad 🙂 It worked really well…maybe even better than when it’s on a big screen!

Update #2: I had my first experience with KG1 students today! Going from high school to elementary was a big jump, but going from 2nd & 3rd graders to 3 & 4 year olds was almost as big. They are SO tiny! The class I was in was sitting “criss-cross applesauce” on the carpet. Each student had a piece of tape with his/her name on it and they had to keep their bums on the tape. They don’t have projectors in the KG1 classrooms, so I used the iPad as a book strategy. I also cut down on the examples of how to hold the iPad after the story. I brought the keyboard case (sans iPad) and let each child stand up to practice “hugging” it. They all clapped for each other and it was adorable! Some other adjustments I made – we skipped the predicting about the story and the giving advice part. I did allow them to ask questions, but they didn’t really know how to so they told me some stories instead. Incredibly cute…but no way could I teach little ones all day! 🙂

1 Two 1, Collaboration, iOS, Kuwait

Advice needed for Technology Coaches

In February, my husband and I were hired as Technology Coaches at an international school going 1:1 this fall with iPads. This position was a brand new position and we were told we were hired because of our experiences working in 1:1 environments and giving PD. We found out a couple months later that they had hired a 3rd coach to work with us (no longer would we be working as a husband-wife team, but with another person whom we had never met). Upon arrival in August, we found out that the three of us would be working as a K-12 team (our school has about 1800 students and is divided into divisions – elementary, middle, high). We are excited about this new venture, but are in need of all the help we can get in order to be successful. As a team, the three of us came up with the following job description….

The primary role of the technology coach is to collaborate with teachers in order to
integrate technology in a meaningful and effective way in their classrooms. Responsibilities may include:
– assisting teachers in lesson planning regarding the integration of technology in ways
that support teacher goals and further student achievement.
– facilitating school-based high-quality professional development across all grade levels
(prek-12) and subject areas.
– meeting and working with teachers in teams or individually on an ongoing basis to refine
 their knowledge and skills. Examples include in-class coaching, peer observing,
and/or modeling of instructional strategies.

It is up to the three of us to make the K-12 vision of the admin a successful reality. If you have experience as a Technology Integration Coach (or a similar title), working as a K-12 team of teachers…or any other relevant expertise, please share below!


iOS, Kuwait

New Beginnings

As you may (or may not) know, my husband and I moved to Kuwait to begin our international education career as Technology Coaches at an International Baccalaureate (IB) World school in Kuwait. We arrived LATE Friday night and have been in orientation with all the new staff since then. We’ve been constantly busy (in a good way) setting up our apartment and getting to know the other new teachers. Today was the first day with the entire staff back to school. It’s been an interesting journey so far.

We were hired as Technology Coaches in February and are still figuring out exactly what that will look like. Today was a great day for as us we got more information about the 1:1 iPad roll-out (we aren’t really involved in the logistics..yay!) and had time to meet as a team (me, my husband and the other coach) to creating a job description that we can share with faculty & staff. Our goal is to get the message across from day 1 that we are here to help teachers meaningfully integrate technology into their lesson plans.

The Big News: The school has been scrambling for a French teacher since finding out 2 weeks ago that the hired teacher needed to stay home for a family emergency. Yesterday I was asked to take over her part-time load (3 French classes) until they can find a permanent teacher. I agreed, with the clause that it is truly temporary (maximum 1 semester). Although everything can change before school starts on September 4th, I am currently teaching 9th and 10th grade French (both part of the Middle Years Program – MYP) and 11th grade French (Diploma Program level 1). I have incredibly mixed emotions and I’m going to try really hard not to stress until Sunday when I know for sure if I’ll be starting the year in the classroom on Tuesday.

I hope everyone has had a great start to the school year or is eagerly awaiting the first day of school!

1 Two 1, Collaboration, iOS, Professional Development, Social Media


Today was the 2012 South Carolina Foreign Language Teacher’s Association Conference in Columbia. The theme was “Got Connections? Communicate, Collaborate, and Innovate!” I was lucky enough to be chosen to present a session! This is the first time I’ve presented by myself at a large event. I was super nervous, but I think it went pretty well!

Here is the handout I gave (I also made it available in editable Word & Pages form). Below is my presentation (full of links!). I used Google presentations and my ChromeBook to present. Love this thing! Happy Saturday!


Speaking Activity w/ Tech

One of the things that I struggle with the most teaching in a foreign language classroom is getting students to actually SPEAK. They are nervous to speak in front of their peers (or me), they can’t talk without writing everything first, they resort to English whenever they can’t ‘find’ the French word, they don’t care about the topic being discussed (textbooks are so lame and rarely authentic)…I could probably go on and as I’m sure other world language teachers could too.

Two weeks ago, my desks were set up in groups (as opposed to modified rows) so that my block classes could do group work (more to come on their review projects soon). As usual, I was finalizing what my year long classes would be doing that day. I had also recently added Frenchified to my google reader. So…5 groups + frenchified + 5 iPads = a speaking activity based on authentic & interesting topics!

I allowed students to sit wherever they wanted and then placed an iPad at each table. When I told them we’d be speaking, there was a collective groan. For some reason, they don’t actually want to speak 😦 First we discussed strategies for how stay in the language once I turned the flag over to the French side (piece of paper – 1 side French flag, 1 side English flag). Demonstrating how (on the smartboard) and telling them what to do, I helped them navigate to their assignment (I’m still having trouble embedding google docs) on the iPads. Each table read/looked at the links for their table and then discussed (in French) the big picture (i.e. music, TV, etc). After about 8 minutes, we debriefed (in English). We discussed strategies that worked and those that didn’t. We talked about any words they didn’t know how to say and the strategy of ‘talking around the word’ (circumlocution). I allowed them to ask questions before they moved on to the next topic (I want them to be successful when speaking French!). I also talked to them (again) about how important it is to actually attempt to speak in French when the French flag was showing (they’re only hurting themselves if they don’t!).

This lesson actually ended up taking 2 days (45 minute periods). Students were able to make it to each topic and had to switch group members between each (variety). At the end of the 2nd day, I asked them to tell me what they thought about the way we did the activity, if they would want to do it again, if they enjoyed talking about relevant topics, what their favorite topic to talk about was, how they felt when they were successful in speaking only French, etc (I think student feedback is extremely valuable).

This format for speaking could have endless possibilities because of the variety of topics that could be discussed. I liked that students had to interpret & communicate. Students could also do the job of finding the articles to make them own it even more. I would (and hope to) do it again 🙂


Collaboration, Google, iOS, Social Media

Assessing Twitter

Last semester my French 1 students tweeted with @idem_in_english (class of @freddav). My French 3 students tweeted with @3eVictorHugo (class of @mister_street). Both of my classes changed at the semester and I now have all French 2 classes. This semester, my block French 2 classes (1st and last class of day) will be tweeting with @idem_in_english (#rvhsidem) and my year long French 2 classes will be tweeting with @3eVictorHugo (#rvhclv).

Although I have a system for collecting what my students want to tweet, I haven’t been very good at evaluating their tweets. So what happens is they submit their tweets and as they are submitting, I’m looking through them and talking to them about what they need to change if it needs correcting. This is difficult when 20+ students are sending tweets in and chatting in class while they do it. It’s not effective. As I was doing this today (and noticing how many mistakes there were – small, but still!) I decided to try something new. On Monday, I’m going to sort my spreadsheet of their responses by their names. I will then print them out and give each student a piece of paper with their responses (wish I didn’t have to use paper, but I don’t think iPods would be a very good tool. Wish I had my chromebooks so I could use google docs!). This way, each student can see what he/she has written and correct it. I’m a big fan of having students correct their own work. As they are correcting their tweets, I’ll be circulating to help them. Then I can collect them and send them to twitter. It will take a little more time and effort, but I want my students to be practicing French correctly!

Happy Friday!!