Tuesday, October 23, 2012

In Sync...

...or Synchronicity II.

A small update:
As previously mentioned, I have experienced a problem with apps syncing to some of the iPads.  I have noticed that the students that religiously and regularly log into iBoss when they begin using their device tend to have all of their apps updated without issue.  I do notice that the devices that I have to "handle" in order to begin the sync have not been logged into iBoss and I have to additionally enter the iTunes password at the AppStore.

Alternate issue (and the reason behind this post):
During the course of my day, I work with 4th grade intervention students that use the System44 program.  One of the core components of that program are a series of Audiobooks that students listen to   multiple times and then complete a series of responses that help them increase their literacy skills.  They are really well-designed, in my opinion.

The books come with a CD that students can use to listen to the book.  From years of experience, I have found that there isn't a portable CD player that can withstand the paces that an elementary student can put it through.  So, scratch portable CD players.  Computers are at a premium with the program, as students must utilize the System 44 software in order to advance through the program.  So, no computers to play the CDs.  A few years ago, I purchased some middle of the line MP3 players that I preloaded all of the Audiobooks, but they have been literally played out.

Which brings me (FINALLY you are probably thinking) to my great idea.  I would load the Audiobooks onto the MacBook Pro and then sync the Music to all of the devices.  The whole library would be at the students' fingertips at precisely the right time and entirely individual to their needs.  Super-duper awesome!  Right?  Not so fast....

I could NOT get the devices to sync the music.  I checked all of the device settings.  I checked my iTunes preferences.  All fine.  The music should have automatically synced wirelessly, said it my most petulant voice.  Up until this point the iPads had never been connected via USB to the MacBook Pro, as they were able to sync over WiFi.  *sigh*

After way too much fretting and frustration, I finally made an appointment with the Apple Genius Bar to get some help with my music sync issue.  She explained that in order to sync music I would have to connect the iPads (one at a time) to the MacBook Pro and click (and unclick) a few important things.

Here are the steps (borrowed from Apple Support pages...but translated into easy to understand "point here-click here" language):

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. Connect the iPad to your computer using the USB cable and select it in iTunes under Devices on the left-hand side. Some tabs may not appear if you do not have corresponding content in your library. For example if you do not have any podcasts in your library, the corresponding Podcast tab will not appear.
  3. It will prompt you to Register or Continue.  Select "Register Later."
  4. You will then choose "Set Up a New Ipad" and will need to rename your iPad.  I chose to name my iPad in this pattern "Del Rio iPad 001" through "Del Rio iPad 135."
  5. Now that you have connected your iPad via USB, you will need to CHOOSE the button that says "Sync with this iPad over Wi-FI under the "SUMMARY" tab.  

Whenever the computer and the iOS device are on the same network, the iOS device will appear in iTunes, and you can sync it. The iOS device will sync automatically when all of the following are true:
  • The iOS device is plugged in to power
  • iTunes is open on the computer
  • The iOS device and the computer are on the same Wi-Fi network
You will also need to UNCLICK (if it selected) the button that says "Manually manage music and videos."
WARNING:  This is true in my case because I wanted EVERYTHING in my iTUNEs library to sync.  (I had only Audiobooks.)  If you want to choose select music and/or libraries you will need to be sure that this button is selected and manage this under the "MUSIC" tab.  

Additionally, while the iOS device appears in the left-hand column of iTunes, you can select the content tabs and configure sync options.

Be sure to click Apply or Sync to sync the iOS device or all of your work for naught.  Don't ask me how I know.  I just do.  :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The ties that bind...

Yes, I believe that most blog titles should closely resemble a pun.  That is how I roll.   :)

I wouldn't categorize this post as a particularly heavy contribution, but one that I wanted to share, regardless.

One of the management issues that we have run into is being sure that the correct power cord is connected to the appropriate iPad.  It has resulted in many frustrations and erosion of precious time in my classroom.

I decided to attach a bread tie to the end of each power cord with the assigned number written upon it.  The students never have to remember if we are plugging from left to right or right to left.  They need only look at their dangling tie to be sure that they have the correct power cord.

Ok, confession time.  I have a small amount of OCD when it comes to organization.  Organization makes me VERY happy.  And those pictures...up there... ^^^  make my heart sing.  :)

Saturday, October 6, 2012


According to Merriam-Webster, synchronicity is defined as:

Well, my iPads were not experiencing the full effect of synchronicity.  There have been a few inconsistencies that I want to document and then talk about how we have solved (piecemeal, at times) these issues presently.

When the IT Director set up our iPads, he downloaded the apps that we felt were a necessity for our students to use:  Keynote, Pages, and iMovie. (Thank you again, Dr. Iman, for investing in these!)  As I began to customize our iPads for my students instructional needs, I discovered that there were some iPads that would not sync wirelessly.  I assumed, at first, that the problem was the District iBoss filter.  However, after ensuring that each iPad was logged into the iBoss feature, there was still no syncing.  Boo.

So, Labor Day weekend, I met the IT Director (who may eventually contribute to this blog, but I will allow him to introduce himself) in my classroom to see if we could troubleshoot the iPads that wouldn't sync.  We did have to enter the App Store and enter the password.  Under the "purchased" tab, the apps that had been "purchased" (for free) had a little cloud beside them showing that they had previously been selected but had not been downloaded to THAT iPad.   The cute little clouds look like this, but first a warning....these are not the apps on my school iPads, this is an image that I found to use from the internet.  Lest anyone think that I am downloading Epic Fail and GameFly to my students' iPads.    :)
We simply had to click each cloud and the app wirelessly synced on each device.   Fixed?  Yes.  Tedious?  Yes.  The best solution?  Probably not, but this is a learning process and this is what we have learned, thus far.

In summary, if an app is failing to sync to some or all of your devices:
1.  Check to be sure that the device is logged into iBoss.
2.  Be sure that iTunes is open on your MacBook and that your MacBook is also logged into iBoss.
3.  Open the App Store and enter the password for the iTunes account.
4.  Finally, click on "purchased" and click the cloud icon beside the app that is not syncing.
5.  Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

However, I will admit this doesn't always work.  I have had a few apps that get caught in the vortex of "installing" for no identifiable reason.  Don't worry there is a fix for that, too!

It will be included in my next post that addresses the trials and tribulations of attempting to sync Music that I have uploaded, rather than downloaded.

Additionally, I will try to be far more regular about posting as the school year has settled into a comfortable routine.
I am also looking forward to hearing from my colleagues as they contribute posts to this endeavor.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Slide to Unlock...

So our journey has begun.

Before I tell you about our progress, I should probably explain the journey, itself.

One of my fellow teachers, Mrs. Z. (5th grade) and I (2nd/3rd grade combination) were chosen along with 2 other teachers (at another elementary school in the District) to pilot iPads at the elementary level.  Another teacher (at yet another school) was awarded a grant that provided iPads for her classroom use. So, if you are counting, there are five of classes that were chosen by the Director of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction to pilot the iPads.  Our two high schools have teachers that have been using iPads in their classroom for many years and, fortunately for us, the District Administration realized that it was time to allow some at the elementary level.

We were told last May and have been actively planning all summer about how we would best implement the devices in our classroom.  We have had a few meetings with all of the stakeholders, including the Director of Information Technology and we also worked through a shared GoogleDoc that we used for brainstorming which apps would be best to encourage learning for our students.

We held one last meeting the Friday before teachers were to return to their school sites.  At that point, we found out that there was a glitch in the ordering process and our carts had not yet been ordered and the AppleTV that we had requested was also not ordered.  Boo.  :(  The requisitions were being pushed through and the carts would arrive at our sites quickly.  I chose to purchase my AppleTV from the Apple Store and be reimbursed rather than waiting for it to be ordered.  

As we returned from our summer vacation, we found that the iPads and the MacBook Pro, that we will use to manage the iPads, were on campus, but had not been set up yet.  (Not that either of us had planned on using them the first day, but I do have to admit that I wanted to get my grubby hands on them.)

The District Director of IT realized that we were anxious and set the iPads up the weekend that we returned to school.  Even though the iPads were set up and ready for use, we needed to wait for the carts to arrive so that they would be secure in our rooms, as well as have a place to charge.  The plan is to sync our iPads through the iCloud, so it won't be necessary to use the cart to sync the iPads.

Tuesday afternoon, Brian (our SuperMan) delivered the carts to our room.

Since I have PE Prep on Tuesday, I frantically worked to get my set unpacked and situated in the cart.  I'll admit...dealing with the power cords and the silicon covers was absolutely tedious.  I appreciate that the cords should be fed through these "canals" at the top of each divider, but 35 x Tedious= Frustrating!  :)

Wednesday morning, my students were able to handle the iPads for the first time!  Awesomesauce!  I decided to teach them the functions of the buttons (homekey, power down, volume, etc) first.  Then, we moved on to the camera.  I taught them about rotating the camera, taking a photo vs. video and how to delete photos and video.  In my opinion, if you can manage how the camera works, everything else with the iPad is fairly intuitive.

I couldn't believe how quickly my 2nd (and 3rd graders) picked up the basics of the device.  I allowed the students to work on some educational games Thursday afternoon, as well.  They had an absolutely blast.  I feel like it is important to allow the students to have some free-time on the device so that there curiosity is satiated.

But then....came the bad news.

Our school has declining enrollment.  We are down about 60 students, which means that we needed to downsize by two staff members.  A kindergarten teacher volunteered to go to another school that is closer to her house and an intermediate teacher was the least senior person at our site and had to be bumped.  So, my 2/3 combo was collapsed to fill the second and third grade classes and I will be teaching...drum roll, please....  a 4th grade/5th grade combination.  What the???? What?

To be honest, I am excited because I have never taught these grades before and I actually know many of the students from when they were in third grade.  Score!

So far, we have only had a few issues with iPads that don't want to sync.  (One of the issues that each iPad needs to be logged into iBoss through Safari before the automatic iTunes sync to occur.)

Mrs. Z. and I have invited parents to a parent meeting to give them some information about the iPad pilot as well as asking them to setup an email account for their child that we will use this school year.

I will post an update after the meeting with our agenda, as well as how it all went!

Wish us luck!