Tag Archives: school

Get an iPad Mini Now or Wait?

It’s about time for us teachers and students to start thinking about heading back to school.  I love this time of year:  shopping for back-to-school clothes, and supplies…and GADGETS!

I decided to sell my iPad 2 wifi and get an iPad Mini 3G, but I was faced with the ever present tech shoppers dilemma: Do I get the current generation or wait for the update?

I watched/read tons of reviews of the 1st gen iPad Mini to make sure it would meet my expectations. I investigated every rumor pertaining to the unveiling of the 2nd gen iPad Mini. I determined that the 1st gen iPad Mini exceeded the iPad 2 in performance – so it would be an upgrade for me. And, if the rumors are correct, the 2nd gen iPad Mini will be revealed sometime in the next 2-6 months – not very specific.

If a retina display is a high priority for you, and you can wait up to 6 months (according to rumors), and you don’t mind paying full retail price, then wait for the 2nd gen.

I’m not already spoiled by a retina iPad so even though the resolution of the current iPad Mini is the same as the iPad 2, its smaller display has a larger number of pixels per inch, giving it a sharper appearance. I decided to go with the 16GB iPad Mini 3G that retails  for $459. However, you can get the same model, only refurbished, directly from the Apple Online Store for only $389. Even if Apple announces an new iPad Mini in a couple months, it would probably be well after the 1st of the year before they started showing up in the refurbished store. I ordered the refurbished device. You can watch my unboxing below.


Poll: Can a school go paperless in the classroom?

I might be naive, but I think I could go paperless in my Jr. High/High School math classes…on the condition that each of my students has access to a tablet at school and at home.  I’d like to know what other teachers think, though.

Do other math teachers think my expectations are realistic?

What about science, social studies and communication arts teachers?

I wouldn’t expect practical and fine arts classes to go paperless, but would a tablet computer in the hands of each student be significantly beneficial?

Take my poll and if you have any ideas or experience, leave me a comment.


Can a Tablet Replace a Textbook?

We’ve had a number of junior high and high school students using tablets for a full school year now, and I have lots of questions for those involved.  I would like to know how teachers and students feel about replacing textbooks with tablets.  I know that some schools use tablets in conjunction with textbooks, but I’m pretty sure that in order for tablets to be an economic possibility at my school, we would have to eliminate future textbook purchases.

Take a second to share how you feel.

Feel free to leave a comment if you need to elaborate.

The Appeal of a Chromebook’s Simplicity

I enjoy writing lesson plans on my new Chromebook.

What drew me to getting a chromebook was it’s simple design, which led to ease of use.  A Chromebook is definitely a niche product.  You have to do your research before you buy one, but this is true of any tech purchase these days.  Analyze how you use your current device.

I got an iPad 2 to replace my netbook because the netbook was so slow starting up and launching software.  If I needed to check the weather or shoot out a quick email before school, I wouldn’t have time because it took so long to fire up the old netbook.  After using the iPad 2 for a couple of months, I noticed that I used it for:
1) School-word processing, spreadsheets, email, and online research
2) Blogging & YouTubeing
3) Entertainment-Netflix and surfing the web

The iPad 2 was perfect in every area except it wasn’t practical to type a math assignment in Apple’s word processor-Pages.  Again, I like things simple, and Pages is a simple, yet powerful word processor, but it lacks an equation editor for typing math problems.  Before purchasing the iPad 2, I did my research and found a way to work around the lack of an equation editor, but when I put it into practice, my workaround just wasn’t practical.

I had looked at Chromebooks briefly before I got the iPad, but chose the iPad because it was more portable.  Samsung’s Chromebook is instant on, has a great battery life (8.5 hrs), I can type math tests in Google Docs, and while I’m at it, I can update my calendar, and consult my lesson plans that I keep in a Google spreadsheet.  I can email my lesson plans to my principal directly from the spreadsheet, and I don’t have to worry about keeping my school computer synced with my home computer.  Everything is on Google Docs-I can access it anywhere.

My Chromebook Is On The Way!

Isn’t this a beautiful machine?

I put Google Docs to the test last week. I sold my netbook and iPad in the midst of midterm exams, so I had to use Google Docs on my spouses desktop to type my tests. Typing an equation heavy math test was just as easy as using Microsoft Word on my old netbook, but I didn’t have to worry about saving a copy in Dropbox.
Using Google Docs was infinitely more convenient than using my iPad to create a math test.

I’ve mentioned before how much I loved my Gateway Lt2104u netbook with Microsoft Office for doing school work…but booting was just…too…slow. The instant on feature of the extremely portable iPad 2 was a welcome change. Doing lesson plans on a Numbers spreadsheet was fun, and Pages is a great word processor for a teacher…as long as you don’t teach math. I found a decent work around that allowed me to insert equations using an app called MathBot, but it just wasn’t practical for large numbers of equations. See my related video.

I debated between the iPad 2 and a Chromebook this summer, and decided to go with the iPad 2. The iPad 2 is a wonderful machine, it just lacked an equation editor in the word processor- a feature that less 1% of the population would ever notice (closer to 0% than 1%).

I’m quirky when it comes to gadget purchases. Even though Chromebooks are not as popular as iPads (understatement), I think the Chromebook will suit my needs. I just bought one on EBay today – factory sealed for $322 total (it would have been $499 from a retailer).

Kindle Fire: Ideal College Textbook?


Will the Kindle Fire be the breakout eTextbook of choice for college students?

Advantages it may have over the Nook Color and iPad:

1. Price-and to think, I was thrilled when it was announced that the Nook Color would be sold for $260. At $199, a student could justify buying the Kindle Fire and a nice laptop.

2. Amazon’s AppStore for Android-The delayed launch of Barnes and Noble’s app store for the Nook, along with it’s limited offering really hurt it.

3. More portable than an iPad.

I would love for my high school students to have something like the Kindle Fire as a textbook. Unfortunately, most of them do not have Internet at home. In addition to that, I don’t think that many of them could handle the responsibility (distraction) of having that level of Internet access at school.

Perhaps if students were introduced to eTextbooks at the right age, they could be taught the self discipline necessary to use them effectively.

Backpack…check…Lunch box…check…iPad…check!


This is an exciting time in the history of education to be a student or teacher. I’m a gadget fanatic, and this feels like the golden age of tech toys (…I mean tools) for learning.

Students who are heading off to college have a number of tech options for buying or renting textbooks: CourseSmart, Inkling, Kno, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the list goes on.

Some lucky Junior High and High School students will get to use a new textbook app in math this year. Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt released its first full textbook app for the iPad called HMH Fuse: Algebra 1, and a Geometry text is also in the works. Check out my review:

I think tech toys make any job more enjoyable. I’ve spent my summer break using my phone, tablet, netbook, and desktop to prepare for the upcoming school year. My preparations have included researching teaching strategies, writing curriculum, and lesson planning. If I had to do any of these tasks without my tech, it would be a major chore.

I hope these tech tools and apps are as helpful and engaging for today’s students as they have been for me.