Zite Icon

I’ve tried a stack of news aggregators – Flipboard, Pulse, Currents, NewsMix, Hitpad and more – but Zite’s the only one that stays on my home page and the only one I open and read every day.

Zite screenshot

So what make’s Zite my personal favourite?

It’s not the layout (Flipboard is better), the interface (HitPad rocks) or the news sources (Currents has more).

Nope, it’s the way Zite learns what I find interesting (upvote / downvote), what tags are important to me (‘show me more…’) and the ease with which I can share the articles, esepcially to Pocket, Email, FaceBook and Evernote.

Zite screenshot 2

Some suggested topics: iPad, Education, Pedagogy, Technology, NASA, Science News, Professional Development, Literacy, Special Education, Science Education.

If you can’t find a specific topic, search for topics like Maths / Science / Education / Leadership etc.

Zite is free and should be on educator’s iPad.

Finale Songbook

Finale Songbook icon

Woo hoo! There’s now an official Finale music notation app – Finale Songbook – and for a (free) first go, it’s not bad – not bad at all.

Now I’ve used the Finale notation program ever since it was available on Windows, and I have all the disks to prove it! Back in the day, Finale had no ‘undo’, scant MIDI support and a frankly horrendous learning curve. The learning curve is still there, but everything else has improved exponentially, and despite newer and flashier programs such as Sibelius (much loved by our Education Department’s Instrumental Service) I’ll probably remain a Finale fan to my dyin’ day – and certainly Finale Songbook does nothing to change my mind.

Finale Songbook screenshot

First up though: it doesn’t do that much. Songbook will:

  • Display Finale ‘mus’ files
  • Auto scroll through them
  • Display the score’s parts separately
  • Create ‘playlists’
  • Sort your Library by title, composer and file name.

A bit like my much used Musicnotes app.

But the kicker, and I was most surprised by this, it plays your score. And pretty darn well too (especially if ‘human playback’ is available.

Oh, and along with the playback, it  has a metronome to set the tempo, a resume feature and a scroll bar to quickly move to a desired page.

All in all it’s pretty useful and I can certainly see myself using it at school for:

  • Playing new arrangements on the interactive whiteboard
  • An accompaniment machine for my instrumental groups
  • Playing songs from my musicals when learning them – follow the moving bar
  • Analysing songs for melody, harmony, rhythms etc

Wish list? At this point I’d see huge benefits in:

  • Selecting a part to display while the score plays.
  • Rudimentary editing
  • Ability to add annotations

In the meantime, download, install and enjoy.





Picasa Tutorials

Picasa’s been a permanent part of my PC since it first came out many years ago.

It’s easy to use, has plenty of tools for photo manipulation, a (relatively) easy to operate filing system and it’s free. So what’s not to like?

One of the gems of flash features which your students (and probably you too) will like is the picture pile function.

I wrote two sample pages on this feature for an unpublished book on utilising freeware in the classroom. Download and enjoy!

Picasa picture pile tutorial part 1      Picasa picture pile tutorial part 2

Marionettes – take two

The marionettes the year 6/7 students are making are nearing completion.

This project has certainly captured their interest and I think the combination of tools use (pliers, side cutters, knives, hot glue guns etc), technical issues (stringing, balance, weight distribution) and aesthetics (painting, costume making and props) has meant there’s been something for everyone.

I’m impressed with the problem solving that’s gone on, the sharing of techniques (inserting eyelets is TRICKY without a power drill) and the support they’ve given each other along the way.

We’ve also covered logic too. So just because your puppet / controller / lower marionette limb has gone missing doesn’t automatically mean there’s a nefarious puppet thief loose in the classroom. Especially when you find the missing pieces not soon after…

6/7 Tech Crew Triumph

There are teaching days when … sigh. Ah well, there’s always tomorrow.

Then there are days – or at least moments when … sigh. Are these kids amazing or what?

The R-2 class taking the weekly assembly were pretty amazing. Some are only in their first few weeks at school, and there they are, using wireless microphones, introducing puppet plays, demonstrating tallies and time-telling and singing songs. It’s all a long way from my memories of young abject terror at being on stage.

Continue reading

PDF Expert

iBooks is a good way to store and organise your pdfs.

PDF Expert is a much better – in fact a great way – to store, organise, annotate and share your pdfs.


Whole day Australian Curriculum T & D, English / History focus (not my teaching areas). Download curriculum documents from the Australian Curriculum site onto my PC. My iPad is on the same wireless network, so I enter the iPad network address into the PC browser and I’m presented with an explorer-type interface. Hit the upload button and a minute or so later the five pdfs are safely in their folders. Continue reading

Classy Glass Interface

With so many teachers debating the value of even an iPad in the classroom, this video is going to appear just a little far-fetched. But hold onto your scepticism and watch the video through  to at least 5:35 where the teacher (with a wall wide / high interactive whiteboard) starts throwing a rainbow round like a pack of cards and the students grab colours from it to make their own palettes. Sigh. Beautiful.

Oh, and the trick with the music in the car is pretty nifty too.