Earlier this fall I read about another Band Director using an app called AirSketch with his iPad at his school. At the time my school had the network all messed up in my band room at the time so I was never able to try that app out. Our tech guys finally opened my network up and Airsketch was one of the first apps I tried out. I think this sort of set up has great potential to really make a huge change in how we do things in our classrooms!
Here is my set up. I have a laptop hooked up to my band room projector. That laptop is always running Keynote, SmartMusic, Sibleius and of course frequently the Turning Point Anywhere polling software. It has been a great way to hook students attention into ONE focal point. I have always wanted to be able to write on the screen though. I used OmniDazzle for a while. It is software that allows me to type a keyboard shortcut then turns my mouse into a pen, or other interesting effects like fairy dust! It worked fine but for some reason it just wasn’t the right combination and I let it go. It just wasn’t a fluent solution.
One thing that I wanted to be able to do differently, especially since I purchased my iPad, was to not be tied to that computer table. I’ve also many times wanted to take my score that I was conducting from during rehearsal, project it onto the screen and show the students something. Now I KNOW I could have bought that cable thing from Apple – but come on! Who REALLY wants one more cable for the students to trip on or see running from my podium up to the ceiling?
The Solution….. I bought AirSketch and wonderful things happened! Without wires I am now able to take any PDF or Picture and project it onto the classroom projector! The first day I did this I did not have time to tell the other band director about it before hand. We were in 5th Grade Band Class and were working on rhythms with the kids. I had the worksheet in the kids hands and projected onto the screen. With my iPad in hand and from the middle of the 3rd row, I told the kids to watch the screen and I proceeded to WRITE on my iPad the counting for the first line. That writing then popped up on the screen. I was ecstatic! Then I looked at the other Band Director and her jaw was practically on the floor! I had not expected HER to be THIS fascinated! Then the kids figured it out and THEY were all freaking out – “How’s that going from your iPad to the screen” they asked!
It was so fun. All day long I got the same reaction from ALL the classes. We were able to write, draw, erase, highlight, circle and underline and whatever we wanted to do from my iPad to the screen. The kids wanted to try it…. I let them… they loved it!
The only two drawbacks are 1)The quality is hit and miss – more in a minute and 2)I am having a few issues if I let some time go by from starting the session, and go visit a few other apps, to take attendance or load a score up. With that other stuff in the middle I loose the connection sometimes. This might be an app issue, a network issue or the fact that the laptop is hooked to the projector is older.
The quality issue seems to be something I can work around somewhat. If I have scores that I have printed from Sibelius they work great. If I have scores that I have scanned into a PDF file at 150 dpi grayscale then the size of the music is a huge factor is usability! I will attach some photos and you will be able to tell which files are which. I am also going to attach a screen shot from my iPad because I think it is important to state I can EASILY read the scanned PDF files on the iPad but when used with AirSketch it is not so good. It doesn’t matter where the PDF comes from, UnRealBook or DropBox or Mail or wherever. It still gets iffy at time. The screenshots should give you an idea of how well thing work.
Thanks to certain app developers for making this a MUCH easier solution! Go buy these apps. Support these developers, they are working to change the world! They are changing how I teach! The combination of UnRealBook and AirSketch is going to be something I will find hard to imagine being without! Oh…. I used both my finger as well as a Pogo Stylus to write on the worksheet with.