Saturday, January 19, 2013

GoNow Case for iPad

I recently had the opportunity to try out the GoNow iPad case, a sturdy iPad case built for the K-12 market.

The GoNow case is available for both iPad and iPad Mini and solves some concerns that schools often have with the iPads. The built-in handle is a real plus for students carrying around the devices. I have seen classroom lessons for the younger students on how to carry the iPad (hug it to your chest, etc.). The handle on the GoNow case just works! In addition, the case provides a level of protection from damage to the iPad for students of all ages.

For the iPad Mini, which is so light, the GoNow case provides some "heft" for the Minis when they are used in the early grades or in the special education department. For those of you who have held an iPad Mini, you know what I mean. It is so light on its own, you sometimes have a fear of letting it go!

There are additional thoughtful features built into the GoNow case. The case screws open easily and the iPad is placed in the case, with a rubberized sheet to protect it. By using screws, the iPad is securely encased and protected.

There is a channel inside the GoNow case that redirects the iPad's speaker audio to an external speaker grille on the front of the device. This allows the audio to be increased to a  level that is easy to hear, even in a noisier classroom setting. This feature is a great one for students using the devices as an AAC devices as well as when two or more students are sharing a video on the iPad or a student does not have headphones available.

It's a bit hard to see in my photo, but the volume switch (and the power switch) are recessed. The switches are easy to access but prevent accidental volume raising or shutting off of the device.

The front of the GoNow case has a small switch that turns the screen on and off. It is a very handy way for students to turn off the screen when not using the device and avoids having to hit the power button.

Attainment Company, the creator of the GoNow case, is a company who specializes in assistive technology for all ages. The GoNow case certainly will be beneficial for that population, but its features make it a good solution for any K-12 classroom!

Friday, January 04, 2013

Rubrics for the Common Core

Educators are busy re-mapping and re-working curriculum at all levels to align with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)As I began to take a look at this monumental initiative, I decided a way I might help was to identify the rubrics that have been developed thus far for assessment of these standards. Some states started earlier than others with this project and I am sure additional resources will be showing up on the Web soon! Here are the rubric links that I have located thus far: 
I also found two rubrics for reviewing lessons and units for the CCSS:
As I find additional ones, I will be adding them to my Assessment and Rubrics page.

Have you come across any other useful tools to support the CCSS? Has your district created a series of rubrics in ELA or Math? Share the URL with us in the comments! 

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Digital storytelling and the CCSS

This article originally appeared in the Discovery Education blog "Kathy Schrock's Katch of the Month" in  January 2013 and is re-posted here with permission.

One of the perks of teaching for the Wilkes/Discovery Master’s program (besides the great students I come in contact with) is my access to the online library databases at Wilkes University.  In library school, I still remember signing on to the ERIC databases, via an acoustic coupler, for a total of fifteen minutes of online search time for the entire semester! And all I received was the abstract of an article. The next step was to go to the cabinet that housed the microfiche (at least this was after the microfilm era!) and look up the article, read it, and perhaps print it off. One other cool thing that could be done was to make my own copy of the microfiche through some ammonia bath process. I collected a file box of hundreds of microfiche of educational articles. I held on to them for years until it became impossible to find a microfiche reader to read them!
My research in the databases this month was to gather some practical information on the use of digital storytelling in the classroom. I found many research studies that showcased the positive impacts of this project-based method of assessment on student engagement and content acquisition. If I had been writing some type of grant, I would have been all set with the research I needed to support it!
I actually was getting some background knowledge to support the first in a series of Google Plus Hangouts that will air this month.  I will be hosting these Hangouts to bring you experts discussing a topic that is taught in the Wilkes/Discovery Master’s program. This month’s Hangout deals with digital storytelling, so I decided to learn more about it. Sign up for the January 10, 2013 Google+ Hangout here!
As described by Leslie Rule (2010), “digital storytelling is the modern expression of the ancient art of storytelling. Digital stories derive their power by weaving images, music, narrative and voice together, thereby giving deep dimension and vivid color to characters, situations, experiences, and insights.”
Hum, let me see.  This sounds eerily like something I have heard before. The Common Core State Standards include many of these same goals. The anchor standards for writing state students will be able to “write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences”.
The anchor standards for speaking and listening include students learning how to “make strategic use of digital media…to express information and enhance understanding of presentations; present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning; and to adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks”.
It seems to me, digital storytelling as a project-based assessment is a natural to add to the classroom toolbox of resources to help students master the Common Core State Standards. I have included some online resources and citations to the documents I have located that can support you embed this technology-based model of assessment into your classroom.
The Discovery Education Hub for Teachers ( has a great introduction to digital storytelling including an overview of the basics, the process, assessment rubrics, tools and resources, and sample digital stories.
Jennifer Dorman, an adjunct instructor in the Wilkes/Discovery masters program, has a comprehensive page of ideas and resources to support the us of digital storytelling to support teaching and learning. (
Bernajean Porters Digitales site includes a make-your-own scoring guide for easy creation of a rubric to target the content and skillsets your students will be working on. (
Alan Levine provides a list of many Web 2.0 tools that can be used for digital storytelling as well as an overview of the process. (
Here is a Pinterest search on “digital storytelling” that will lead you to loads of pinned items of interest:
Primary Access, from the Curry School of Education, includes a suite of tools to help students create digital stories.  (
The University of Houston has a comprehensive site entitled “Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling” found here:
Microsoft offers a 28-page downloadable guide to digital storytelling with links to resources and K-12 examples. (
Here is an updated link to the wiki created by a group of Apple Distinguished Educators entitled “Digital storytelling with the iPad” that can help you get started with apps to complete a project using the iPad: and access to some student audio samples. (Thanks to Karen Bosch for the updated links!)

Practical and theoretical articles dealing with digital storytelling
Gabel D. Down to earth digital storytelling. (2011). Library Media Connection, 30 (1), 24-27.
How digital storytelling builds 21st century skills. (2009). Library Technology Reports, 45(7), 15-19.
Rebmann, K. R. (2012). Theory, practice, tools: catching up with digital storytelling.  Teacher Librarian, 39(3), 30-34.
Robin, B. R. (2008). Digital storytelling: A powerful technology tool for the 21st century classroom. Theory Into Practice, 47(3), 220-228.
Rule, L. (2010). Digital storytelling: Never has storytelling been so easy or so powerful. Knowledge Quest, 38(4), 56-57.