If You Give a DEN Guru (Nancy Sharoff) an iPad…

Once upon a time, many, many moons ago on a couch in a hotel lobby outside of Boston during a gathering of the Second Life Leadership Council a wise man (Steve Dembo) shared his latest gadget with me. “Behold”, Steve said as he reverently handed over the iPad to me. “Touch and be prepared to be wowed,” he said (well, at least those are my recollections, Steve’s might be totally different). I remember the moment (if not the dialogue) vividly. The first app I ‘touched’ was Epicurious. The opening screen displayed lush, vibrant, red strawberries and at the time, if I could have taken a bite out of the screen, I would have. Moments later I was plotting out every BestBuy between Boston and my house. I would not go home empty handed. That was in April 2010 and I’ve never looked back. I’ve owned every iPad (except the 4th generation, because really, nothing much seemed to have changed from the 3rd generation) since then. In fact, the day the iPad Air was available I remember texting my husband (who was in Italy) that I HAD to get it and that after the dinner meeting I was attending was over I was heading over to BestBuy to purchase it (I had already called to make sure it was in stock). And so today, I’m happily “apping” with my 128 GB Wifi only iPad Air (I easily used up the 64GB in the last iPad).

My name is Nancy Sharoff (aka ‘Digital Diva’ to my colleagues and students), I’m currently a Teacher on Special Assignment and have been in education for 20+ years. If you haven’t gathered from the previous paragraph, I’m an avid collector of all things tech (in fact one year, my husband bought me an external hard drive for our anniversary which I proudly wore around my neck for a couple of days!  Yes, I’m that ‘geeky’.). I’m also a firm believer of using tech not for ‘tech’s sake’, but for unleashing the power of learning. There is nothing that makes my day than a discussion with a student and I am able to guide them towards a website, app, or pull out a tool from my ‘toolbox’ and watch that student soar. But enough about me, let’s get down to the business at hand – namely the iPad.

Accessorizing (aka “Dressing Up”) my iPad

I am all about portability so I do not like to be bogged down with too many items. I have a purple (of course!) Logitech Portfolio case  I like that it has a loop for a stylus.  Speaking of which, I own a number of styli ranging for the Adonit Jots, to the Intuos Creative Stylus , to a stylus with a rubber nib on one end and a twist out brush on the other. Which do I prefer? It really depends on the task and when it comes down to it, I have to admit to using my finger the most. If I need a keyboard, I use the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover (again in purple!)  . If I want to listen with other than the built-in iPad speakers, I will either use the Apple earpods, or I will connect up a Bluetooth speaker (again, I’ve got a bunch of these laying around).

Before I share some of my apps, I have to share this extremely USEFUL tip – if you do not already have an account with AppShopper  what are you waiting for? Register for free and keep track of all the apps you have or wish to have (yup, they have a wishlist section and you will receive email notification when any apps on your wishlist either go on sale, update, etc.). Once you have an account, download the app onto your iPad. Every time I download an app, I immediately go to my AppShopper, search for the app and check the ‘Own It’ box. If it’s an app I’ve read about, but do not wish to pay for and am willing to wait, I’ll follow the same procedure, except this time I’ll check the ‘Want It’ box. Simple as that. And if you want to see what I own or wish for click here as of now it appears that I have over 700 apps between my iPad and my iTouch.

What’s Up “Doc”k?

What will you find in my dock?

Organizer HD is my go-to calendar app as it syncs with all my Google calendars, allows me to insert images and voice memos, etc.

Day One my personal diary/log…just because…

Safari – although I have a number of different browsers on my iPad (check out Duet Browser or Side by Side) this is by far my default browser.

Photos – I spend a lot of time with different photo apps and I want to be able to easily access my Photos from any screen on my iPad and the easiest way to do that is to put the app in the dock.

Music – this is a first for me in terms of being in the dock, but with iTunes Radio how could I NOT have this docked? My favorite stations? ANYTHING country! (Yup, gearing up for a trip to Nashville and DENSI2014).

Apps to Relax With

I have a folder called “Zen Breaks” for when I need a moment to be “in the zone”. Give me an app with smooth finger dragging, colors and soothing music any day to erase stress. My go to apps in this category are:

Flowpaper (lacking in music, but makes up for with the smooth dragging, colors, and brush strokes)

Uzu which at first reminded me of watching those ant patterns on the test screen on the televisions (back in the day) is touted as a “kinetic multitouch particle visualizer”.

Fluid Monkey reminds me of a lava lamp. 1 minute with this app and I’m ready to tackle any project.

My Three Go To Educational Apps

This one is tough….just “three”? Since I could not decide, I polled my 2nd grade students, and here are the clear winners:

Word Wizard beat out the other two apps by a substantial margin. Between the ability to use a number of built in word lists, create your own word list (of current spelling/vocabulary words), and the ability to repeat a word, this app is an all-around winner for ELA (and a BIG hit with students).

What’s the Word – four pictures, guess the word, think of it to a visual hangman type game. My students took it one step further and developed their own “What’s the Word” posters using cameras and collage apps to challenge their classmates.

Toontastic is a favorite for story telling. Not only does the app provide a good in-app support for students, but the ability to record their voice makes this my students’ go to digital storytelling app on the iPad.

Hidden Gem

Next Issue – it’s the Netflix of magazines. For a set fee per month you can have access to over 130 magazines. Did I share that I have a ‘magazine problem’? I LOVE magazines…of course, if I’m traveling it’s a problem – do I take my tech or do I take my magazines? Now, thanks to Next Issue this is no longer a problem! I just take my tech loaded with my magazines! Win-Win!!! If I’m in a non-wifi location, I just download all the issues I want to read ahead of time, and instead of tearing out pages to file away I just take screen shots, crop and annotate in Skitch and share it over to my Evernote account where I have access on ALL my devices.

 “AHA” Tip

I JUST found this out a couple of weeks ago! You know those webpages where you scroll down, down, down (aka Twitter or Facebook and the like?) and then to get back to the top you scroll up, up, and up? NO MORE!!! I just discovered that if you tap on the time at the top of your screen ——–WHOOOOOOOOOOOSH!  you are brought back to the top of that page.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the first (and I apologize…LENGTHY) installment of the “If You Give a DEN Guru an iPad…”


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