Using My iPad as a Teacher for Scheduling – Vital Tool!

Calendars 5 Promo Screen

 

One of the reasons we buy an iPad is to make our life easier and more efficient…. Ok, you got me…. that’s what we tell our pocket book!

 

No seriously though, the iPad should be used to make our life better! One of the areas we music teachers have to deal with is scheduling, our personal calendar, our work calendar and our performing group’s calendar. There are several apps to take care of those details. I’m sure we all started with Apple’s Calendar app, it’s right there when we buy the iPad and it’s free! I’m here to tell you though that if you are still using that app alone you need to make a change!

Calendars 5Readdle’s Calendar 5 is an awesome replacement. Here’s one of the reasons why…

As I was talking with my student teacher and trying to come up with words of wisdom, one topic that popped to mind was that we should discuss how I have started scheduling events for work. The biggest one part of that is the trick of using repeating events to my advantage. Many of the events we music teachers do are things that happen year after year or month after month. I started putting these events into my laptop years ago to automatically pop up next year. This way I don’t forget and I don’t even have to take MORE time out of my personal life to think about this stuff. The reminder pops up next year and I take care of it. Simple.

THE PROBLEM

Repeating events are not as easy to handle on the iPad though and I hate having to grab my laptop to create them. Thankfully Readdle’s Calendar 5 came along and made my life easier! I’ve been using that app since it came out as the replacement for Apple’s Calendar – better looking interface, integrated task manager, it has natural language input, plus it easily syncs with Apple’s Reminders/Calendar apps or to my iPhone/Laptop.

The problem I came across this weekend though was that I wanted to schedule an event the last monday of every April. I could not find a way to make it happen! In frustration I used Twitter and tweeted to Tim Cook, Readdle and Flxibits (makers of another fantastic calendar app – Fantastical 2). Out of the three companies I actually received a response back from Readdle! This is another reason I love using the iPad – many of the developers of these apps will contact you personally and help you figure things out. Plus, if the capability is not currently there, many will find a way to integrate in future updates of the app!

So after sending four tweets back and forth – The nice lady helped me realize that there is indeed a way to schedule such an event that occurs on the last monday of April every year! I am so very excited! In fact, so excited that I even made a YouTube video of how to do this….. (See below!)

TO WRAP UP

Use your calendar to your advantage! Don’t continue to “try” to remember what has to be done – use repeating events!

YOUTUBE VIDEO

Top Tech for my Band Room – Open Peoples Eyes!

Eyes OpenI have a very short list of the most important pieces of technology that I could not do without in my band room rehearsals. (This is above and beyond the technology associated with quality instruments!)

  1. My iPad (This benefits me but also my students. By keeping me more organized it helps me run a much more efficient rehearsal and therefore helps me teach to a higher degree of efficiency. The ways that my iPad helps are too numerous to list!)
  2. Recording capability – We record and evaluate those recordings on a constant basis. They are our check with reality – Many times we think we are doing better than we actually are!
  3. Of course #2 leads to #3 – an awesome sound system – This is a music classroom and should have playback capabilities superior to most other classrooms! (This one time, a principal gave me one of those one speaker, panasonic tape recorders and expected me to be happy!)
  4. Lastly – an overhead projector with a computer that is capable of handling multi-media projects easily, movies, sounds, and pictures! Internet connection is almost becoming essential! I could not believe it when walking into another band room last year that did not have a computer and projector! I had not even thought about that scenario for a long time!

 

During vacation I thought I would spend more time creating music than I did – I only created one piece of music this past week…. If you are interested take a listen and let me know what you think! The only app I used was NanoStudio – It was very interesting sitting next to my nephew, who now owns 3 iPads, while recording this piece! It was kind of like when I walked into that Band Room without the items listed above last year – He was very surprised at what I was doing and had a ton of questions – Things like – Why are you tapping on your iPad like that? What, that’s a drum kit? Can I listen? You did all that in one app?

It is our job to open people’s eyes to the possibilities available to us and our students – those eyes that need to be opened are our own eyes, our students, our parents and our administration. Even the tech people at our schools need to see what is possible in the music room using iPads and other tech!

 

 

Top iPad Apps (for the teacher) In The Band Room

This post will be updating through the next week as I keep track of the apps I use from day to day and through my rehearsals and prep work.

I will clear out all running apps before I go to school and then I will check at lunch to see what is running and create my list. Then I will clear all apps again to see what I use through the afternoon. I will simply repeat this for one week.

I would love to see other Band Directors lists as well – MATT BISHOP – ED FALLS. If you send me your lists I will post them here with your permission for others to share.

MY TOP LIST:

  1. ForScore Small IconForScore/ UnRealBook Small IconUnRealBook
  2. iTunes
  3. PlanBook Small IconPlanBook
  4. SkyWard Small IconSkyWard
  5. MobileMouse Small IconMobileMouse
  6. Fingering Small IconFingering for iPad (Thanks Joe Guarr @jguarr)
  7. ClassDojo small iconClassDojo
  8. DropBox Small IconDropBox/ BoxBox
  9. Mail
  10. Calendars 5Calendars5 by Readdle/ GoodTask Small IconGoodTask/ Wunderlist Small IconWunderList/ Remindrs
  11. Feedly Small IconFeedly Reeder / MrReader Small IconMr. Reader
  12. Pocket Small IconPocket
  13. EverNote Small IconEvernote
  14. OneSafe Small IconOneSafe

 

My list of very important apps I don’t use every single day:

  1. DayBook ProDayBook Pro
  2. FileMakerGo 13 Small IconFileMaker
  3. SmartSeat Small IconSmartSeat

Places NOT to put your iPad – if you want FindMy iPad tech to work!

Filed iPadSo yesterday I did a really stupid thing… I filed my iPad! Yep, you heard me correctly – I FILED it, right there in with all my file folders and handbooks! Then I closed the drawer and walked away…. bad part was that I did not meant to do this!

So I got home and realized I did not have my iPad. No big deal, I figured I had just left it at the school, which in fact I actually had done. I went an evening with my iPad1 (which was a nice reunion – I miss 64GB’s of space!).

This morning I went to school expecting to find my iPad sitting on my desk or podium – nope, not there! Hmmmm…. well maybe I had left it in the back room while sorting and filing music – nope, not there. Well then maybe I had laid it on the piano while working on uniforms – nope, not there either. Well now I was starting to freak out! I scoured the room looking all over the place – lockers, cabinets, sink, where we rehearse our electronic music ensemble and found nothing. So I fired up iCloud and dove into Find My iPhone – my iPad2 could not be located – now I was REALLY worried. All morning I put it off thinking I must have taken it out of my bag as soon as I got home and laid it someplace weird at the house. So I drove home at lunch, one benefit of living close to school! Only problem was I couldn’t find it there either. Now I started to wonder if it had been stolen – couldn’t imagine that though!

Got back to school and started digging in really weird places – within the next half an hour I found it…. tucked in the file drawer next to my desk. I hardly used the drawer or the stuff in it but I had to write a student up yesterday. I guess I was a bit distracted!

THE POINT OF THE STORY -

The only thing I can figure is that the metal cabinet kept Find My iPhone from working! I had thought maybe my battery had died but I still had 89% left! As soon as I hit the power button though and pulled it out of the drawer, I heard the alert I had sent to it and also heard it locking itself up because I had also put it into Locked and Stolen mode.

 

Using the iPad to Help Simplify Teaching Tasks With ClassDojo

When I bought the iPad I wanted this device to help simplify my life and make it easier to keep track of details involved with teaching. Of course I figured I might end up playing a few games in the mean time as well but that is beside the point for now… So I was very happy to find an app that would allow me to quickly keep track of details of classroom management right in the midst of class – things like students who have forgotten their instrument, people who are prepared, students who are on task, musicians who have played their parts wonderfully and who is listening or working hard. I do not have time to type in numbers or type out words, I just wanted to be able to tap a kid and tap an activity.

ClassDojoClassDojo fits that bill pretty well and over the past couple of years it has only improved! The concept is simple… Create your class, enter your students names, input activities and you are all set up. Then you wait for class to start. When class starts you select the class, tap the Start Class button, select the student you want to enter points for and then select the action/activity. Wa-la a green icon pops up, adds a point to the students score and plays a nifty little sound (of course if you are in a noisy environment like band rehearsal the sound is probably going to go unnoticed!). Now, if the action/activity was a negative one then a point is deducted from their score and if that puts them in the negative then the little bubbly turns red.

Simple and to the point. UNLESS…. you want to get into the app a bit more and explore things like reports, use the app to track attendance and communicate with parents. Maybe I will blog about those options later. Right now though I want to take a closer look at setting things up when using the iPad because it is now possible to set all this up using just your iPad – before we had to take a visit to the website.

TIP FOR SETTING UP CLASS DOJO ——-

To start, click on the plus icon in the top right corner to add a class. Enter a class name, Grade and Subject and select an icon then tap the Create Class button.  Now you are on the Edit Class screen. This is the screen I keep forgetting how to get to and it is an important one! This Edit Class screen is where you can enter/edit the activities/actions you will be keeping track of! If you want to access it later then simply tap on the class then look in the top right hand corner for the Edit link. Now that you are in this Edit Class page you have three important options available – enter students, enter Behaviors (positive) and enter Behaviors (negative) – simply tap on the area where it tells you how many items are in the section you would like to change. Currently your class says 0 Students for instance – tap that and start entering students names. Then tap where it says “Student Name” and then tap the + icon. Same goes for the Behaviors.

I find myself setting up my class at the start of a trimester but part way through wanting to change Behaviors and I have to stumble around to find this Edit Class Screen.

I should mention that there is a Class Dojo app for teachers that will run on an iPad1. Then there is a Class Dojo app for Students that will NOT run on an iPad1 because it require iOS6 or higher and the iPad1 doesn’t run anything higher that iOS 5. Something to keep in mind if you are in that situation.

The best part about this app and service? It’s free!

ClassDojo small iconClass Dojo app for Teachers – iPad

ClassDojo small iconClass Dojo app for Teachers – iPhone

Flipping the Band Room – iPad Apps to Make it Rock!

Explain Everything AppI’ve always been trying to find ways to get students more involved outside of the classroom in creating music. In reading all of the information about “Flipping the Classroom” I’ve been intrigued about how to make this happen within a Band setting. Of course, since we we are working on composing a piece a week for the remainder of the school year there are many details to discuss with the students. Seeings as how I am pushing the kids to compose outside of the class it stands to reason that maybe I could give feedback outside of the class as well! So I figured I may as well try it!

I’ve seen and played with many different to make videos explaining everything (pun intended) I was observing in the students compositions but I finally decided to work with the Explain Everything small iconExplain Everything” app. There were several very important reasons I chose this app..

First of all I fully appreciate the fact that this app does not tie me into some companies attempt to become “The Next Big Thing”. Explain Everything allows me to create my content and upload to where ever I wish – I stay in control of my content!

Secondly I knew that I was going to be importing PDF scans of the students work into the app so this capability was a must. The next part of making use of the PDF’s was that I would be drawing/highlighting/annotating/pointing out details on the PDF’s. I knew that at times I would of course want to simply draw my own material from scratch as well. The app I picked had to be able to handle all of those situations easily.

Thirdly I really like the flexibility Explain Everything gives me to record my own voice, draw, animate and layout materials on an endless canvas.

Fourth I knew that I would have files, pictures, PDF’s and movies scattered all over the place that I would be pulling into these movies. Explain Everything allows me to easily pull in file from my camera roll, iTunes, DropBox, Box, Google Drive, Evernote, SkyDrive and evenWebDave servers!

Lastly was the need to be able to share these movies with my students. The app makes it simple to export my creations to YouTube and a few other places as well (look at the list from where you can pull media in from).

THE PROCESS -

So I set to work to try this out – Here’s what I did. I took a handful of student compositions to the scanner and created PDFs. Those PDF’s then got uploaded to DropBox (This was I can use them other ways as well). Then I opened the Explain Everything app, imported the PDF’s and watched as slides were created for each page of the PDF. Once loaded I set to work erasing students names. Then I started the recording of my voice and writing/annotating over top of their PDF’s. The timeline allowed me to backup and re-do any section I was not happy with. After that process was done I took the project and exported it to my camera roll as a movie. This took a little while – during which I checked my twitter feed and chatted with a new friend in WI who is recording a Turkish Fusion band! How fun right?….. back to the post though…. Once the exported movie was in my camera roll I used iMovie to spruce things up a bit more. I added some background music and a few titles (I could probably have done the titles in Explain Everything but I used iMove. I had to find where each section started to split the movie up in order to add the titles but that did not take very long. Then I uploaded the movie to YouTube from iMovie (Which I could have just simply uploaded the movie from within the Explain Everything app but like I said… I wanted things to be a bit fancier.)

Last step was to link to the movie from my classroom blog. From there the students can watch the video right from the blog post or open it in YouTube – (By the way… If you have an iPad and do not use the YouTube app currently I would really like to know why! The YouTube app is a very slick app! I love the way they allow you to load one video then pull it down to the corner and search other videos while that first one is still playing! I fully appreciate that YouTube now has playlists as well – MANDATORY for classroom viewing of Youtube!)

THE OUTCOME -

A quick, fun way for me to give feedback to the students that they can incorporate into their work WITHOUT taking class time to do so. The feedback I give is nothing confusing so I doubt any student will have questions but if they do then they could ask those question via email, twitter or during class.

Quibbles with EXPLAIN EVERYTHING APP -

I would like to be able to add background music and the titles from within the app – I probably can but just haven’t figured it out yet. Since I knew how to do it easily from within iMovie I chose that route for now.

THE VERDICT -

I will be doing more of these movies and I think you should too! My only wish is that I could put an iPad in every students hands so THEY were the ones creating the videos! Go but the app and get busy having fun creating videos for your students – thats my suggestion -

The apps are of course available on the iTunes Store -
Explain Everything small icon Explain Everything -
iMovie iPad small iconiMovie
YouTube small iconYouTube

THE FINAL PRODUCT -

Almost forgot – Here are the two videos I created….

First one -

Second one -

and now… Bed, because that early morning gym time is not going to be fun as it is!

AnyTune Pro+ Christmas Give Away Contest for iPad/Mac Musicians!

AnyTune LogoI have a great Christmas present for 4 lucky readers of my blog! 3 will win AnyTune Icon SmallAnyTune Pro+ for iOS and 1 will win the newly released Mac Version of the app! Read to the end to find out how to enter… UPDATE – ENTER BETWEEN Dec 25 and Dec 29 at 6PM (Eastern Time Zone)

If you are a musician with an iPad then you are probably aware of the AnyTune App! If you are then you know how excited I was to find out that the app was being released as a Mac version as well as the iPad/iPhone version!

If you are not aware of this app then you need to be…. the app allows you to play any song you have in your music library at any tempo, any pitch/key, insert bookmarks, and even adjust their FineTouchEQ and LiveMix capabilities to play along/rehearse with that song. Every musician runs into those songs that they need to learn by slowing down the recording to figure the notes from the original. AnyTune gives you the tools you need to do that with ease! Musicians also have the need to quickly find specific sections of a recording and then loop that section over and over while they rehearse it. Band Directors, Choir Directors and General Music Teachers will find uses for AnyTune in all sorts of settings – rehearsals, performances and private lessons!

If you want to read the review I did awhile back –  Indispensable app for Music Teachers?

ABOUT THE MAC VERSION -

I am so glad that this has come out on the Mac as well as iOS. Here are some highlights from their website…

  • “Create multiple Loops and Audiomarks for quick navigation and to add comments. Collaborate virtually with others by sharing song tempo, pitch, and EQ settings, Audiomarks, and Loopmarks via email.”
  • iCloud Sync – “Share your Song settings between Anytune on your Mac and your iPad or iPhone using iCloud. Start on your Mac and continue on the go! (Requires Anytune 3.9.2 – coming soon!)”
  • Fine Touch EQ – “Enhance or suppress the instrument you want using the FineTouch EQ. Use gestures and parametric filters to more precisely control the sound of your tracks than any old school graphic EQ.”

The biggest feature is going to be the iCloud syncing – so much easier than even trying to share audio marks and loops!

HOW TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

  1. Post a tweet on your twitter account about my blog (or post it on Facebook or put it on your blog or something to spread the word)- you know something like “Great Blog about iPads/Technology in Current Music Education – Giving away promo codes for AnyTune Pro+ app” with a link to this blog post.
  2. AND/OR Hit the “Follow This Blog” button on the top right hand side bar
  3. MOST IMPORTANT – Copy your the link to your facebook/blog/tweet into a comment below and tell me why you think AnyTune is going to be amazing!
  4. MAKE SURE TO STATE IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE ENTERED INTO THE MAC DRAWING and/or the iPAD DRAWING

I will then randomly pick 4 winners from the list of comments/copied tweets below on the evening of the 29th (Eastern Daylight Savings Time Zone)! Good luck people and thanks for reading! Thanks to Sean at AnyTune for sponsoring this giveaway! I love developers who are willing to reach out to their community so let’s help spread the word about this amazing app people!

DayBook Pro – New Web App

DayBook Pro LogoThe good folks over at DayBookPro, which I believe is Australia, have been hard at work to make improvements on their DayBookPro app! Well that’s actually not what they have worked on the most – It is actually their web app version of the DayBookPro app.

Here’s the exciting news they have now launched a new version of the web app. This means we can access our planning book from any web browser do more than we were able to before. The full capabilities are built into the iPad app but the web app is catching up! Here is what is now added to the web app….

- Add and edit Classes, Units and Learning Activities (Great addition – take note of my one thought below in this area!)
- Drag and drop files into the new file manager. (This is wonderful, works flawlessly!)
- Manage your Username, Password and Email address. (Much needed capability!)

I appreciate the new capabilities. I do think they need to go one additional step with the ability to add Units from the web app. Currently there is not a way to access your Library of Units from the web. So make sure you actually import the unit you need from the library, while on your iPad first! I have several Units that I have typed in all my state standards into that I use as templates for every other Unit that I build, it is vital that I start from that template! Probably you should be doing the same thing as well! Why type in things twice? This is technology, save yourself some time people!

So, to wrap up – Great updates! This will make DayBookPro even better to use. Just use your iPad to import those Unit templates from your library first, THEN go use the web app version!

Musical Composition from Across The Globe!

globe3tAs I was browsing through my SoundCloud feed today I ran across this piece of music called “International Incident” from @sealpt

“I wrote this with my good friend Evangelos Koudonas. (@evagelos-koudonas). I live in the United States, Evangelos lives in Greece.
Evangelos brought this song to life!
Evangelos plays the first set of leads, then we split the bridge, then I follow up with the closing leads.
We used Beatmaker 2 with Jamup for our guitars, then mastered in Auria.
Evangelos plays his Ibanez on this song, I used my Paul Reed Smith. Thank you for listening and enjoy!”

Here is another collaboration of the same sort from @Alter Ego in the UK-

Collab Slow Minor Blues in Am – “Blues collab with Tom Adams (tyltblues) (Tom in Texas and me in the UK).
Solos are split into Tom, me, Tom, me :)
I used my Gibson Epiphone SG through a Fender JH Dual (in Amplitube) on my iPad and they were single takes.”

How awesome would it be to pair up our students in our music classes with someone from around the globe and have them compose together! Of course it would take several music teachers with the desire to make something this work. For one – there is always the issue of the time involved. Musical composition can take a huge chunk of time out of rehearsals that is needed for live performances! For two – there is the issue of technology. Al parties involved would need access to the internet and have a device that would be capable of recording the students in a multi-track daw (which means money in the budget to buy such an app)

BUT….. What if you made it work? How awesome would that be! Students learning about other cultures from other students that actually live in that culture – not from some text book or the internet! Students working on a project based assignment, working out the details in real time with students who are coming from an entirely different background and situation! (Or maybe it isn’t so different as we thought!)

Just sit and think about it! If you are not in the United States and you teach music and you are interested in collaborating like this with my students I would love to work it out! Contact me and we will do it!

A Great Calendar App for Teachers with iPads (plus it’s on sale right now!)

Calendars 5LogoAs a Band Director I am constantly dealing with my calendar app on my iPad, iPhone, and laptop! Thank goodness for those alerts!

I have bought many apps to deal with this mess and confusion of all the dates, times, meetings and performances. I have also bought many To-Do apps as well! I’ve liked some of the apps! Then Apple went ahead and “made me buy” an iPhone 4s! Who could resist – it had SIRI! Now I could talk to my phone and have it create reminders for me! That meant I all but stopped using any other app besides Reminders for my To-Do’s! Now don’t get me wrong here, I don’t think that app is currently a great looking app at all but it is so easy to whip out my phone and talk! iOS7 updates make Reminders look a bit better though! In the past half of a year though I have added WunderList to my constantly used apps! The benefit of being able to share lists with others is outstanding in WunderList plus that app is quick!

BUT tonight I want to talk about my new calendar app! Readdle has released a great looking and very functional updated app called Calendars 5! Currently it is on sale too for $4.99 – go get it now before the price goes up!

Why do I like this app? Let’s dig in….

  1. There are two apps here – one for the iPhone and another for the iPad. They are designed for that specific device! I love Fantastical but there is not an iPad version for that app. I like using the same app on both devices.
  2. The layout is simple, clean and easy to look at. It looks great on the iPhone and even better on the iPad – This app is made for the larger screen.
  3. The layout is easy to figure out!
  4. I can type in new events/meetings/etc. with normal everyday language and Calendars 5 makes sense of it!
  5. It integrates with Apples Reminders App! (Which means I can still use SIRI to dictate to but it will show up in this app!)
  6. It syncs and integrates with Google!
  7. I can set up great reminder alert sounds! (way better than Apples!)
  8. The recurring events capability is awesome! (Apple wont even let me do this on the iPad, beyond very basic repeats – I have to use my laptop!)
  9. There is a powerful, built in To Do/Taks section to the app! (Still gonna use WunderList though as well. I MUST BE ABLE to send my students things to-do using their shared lists!)
  10. The sync between my iPad and iPhone is seamless and just plain works.

Now I just have to figure out the best way to get my lesson plans from PlanBook, into my calendar then synced to the web so my principal can find it consistently. Then I will not have to print it and needlessly create extra work for myself!

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