Amy Oliveri Receives Early Career Award in Art Education

On February 1st, 2013, Allendale Columbia Middle School Art Teacher, Amy Oliveri, was awarded with the Early Career Award by the RIT School of Art for her excellence in teaching.

This is short video of Amy working on a self portrait using colored pencils.

When I was first introduced to Amy, she was described as being techy. And she was! We hit it off right away. However, Amy is far more than just a techy, art teacher. She is an excellent planner, facilitator, teacher and artist. I have seen her teach and interact with students. There is a tremendous amount of mutual respect in her classroom. Her students are engaged and well behaved. Students ask questions and work to push themselves to impress her. Amy is the type of teacher that expects her students to work hard and do well. From my perspective as a colleague, I feel the same way when I work with her.  I want whatever I am working on to be that much better because I know she has such high expectations. I know that I have learned far more from her than she has learned from me. Amy is in her third year at AC and she has an incredibly bright future. The Allendale Columbia School students, faculty and community are very lucky to have Mrs. Oliveri as a teacher, friend and mentor!

To get a better understanding of Amy’s passion for art and education, please check out her social media links.


Apps We Are Using In Our MS iPad Program

We are in year two of our iPad program at Allendale Columbia School. Currently, all students in grades 6 through 9 are given an iPad.

Huge thanks to Rob Doran, Math and Computer Science teacher, for compiling the list and summarizing each app.

Pages –  Our almost-full-featured word processor (think Word for iPad)
Numbers –  Our spreadsheet program for us number-inclined folks (think Excel for iPad)
Keynote –  Our main presentation program (think PowerPoint for iPad)
iMovie –  A video editing that lets students create some great videos, add music, sound effects, etc
Notability –  This is our new note-taking and pdf-editing app.  Much easier to use than Notetaker HD, and just as fully-featured
Animation Creator HD –  A nice way for students to create hand-made animations
GarageBand –  A powerful music creation app
iBooks –  For keeping digital books and can be used to store .pdf files as well
Google Earth –  Useful for any map or geographical studies (not for directions though)
Scan –  used for scanning QR codes (those square pixely-looking graphics you’ve seen around and in most modern ads)
Box –  An app providing quick and easy access to their folders
CalenMob –  This app allows students an easier access to all of the google calendars they have subscribed to in one place
Doodle Buddy –  a good digital whiteboard app that allows students to…well…doodle!
Educreations Interactive Whiteboard –  a really cool whiteboard app that also allows students to record what they are drawing in real time and record their voices along with it.  Can also add pictures to their whiteboard videos
Explain Everything (only 7th grade) –  Allows students to create video presentations, and import pictures, pdfs, and keynote files.
Brain Pop –  allows iPad viewing of “featured videos” that are selected periodically
Free Graphing Calculator – a very good graphing calculator (also has a nice scientific calculator)
PowerOne Scientific Calculator –  a nice scientific calculator that also has some really good unit conversion tools as well
Sketchpad Explorer –  a dynamic geometry app that allows the free form manipulation of geometric objects
Mad Math Lite –  a nice integer operations app (used briefly in my 7th grade class) students not in that class can delete it
Comic Book (6th grade only) –  an app that allows students to make their own comic book
Dictamus Free –  a dictation app allowing students to make their own recordings
Learn French MindSnacks –  a great app for french classes, non french students can delete it
Flashcards+ –  a great app allowing students to make sets of digital flashcards, and download a ton of pre-made ones
Dictionary –  a great free dictionary app –  another free dictionary app powered by the website of the same name
Canvas –  Canvas is an online LMS (or Learning Management System). It is similar in style to Edmodo. It allows students to access assignments online, participate in discussions, and hand in work (as well as receive grades and feedback). Canvas write up by Amy Oliveri, AC Art Teacher@artwitholiveri

Questions and comments are always appreciated.

Deploying an iPad 1:1 program – What we learned… – Part 2

I would like to thank Brian Meehan, Director of IT at Allendale Columbia School, for writing this post. Due to the length of this post it will be published in parts. Feedback and suggestions are always appreciated. Thanks for reading!

Welcome to part 2! When last we left our iHeroes, we had just deployed iPads to 83 students, 14 faculty and 5 staff members. We had a good plan… what could go wrong?

Well, for starters, wireless. Not coverage, mind you. Not even throughput (initially). Density. In my previous life as an IT consultant, I had always had to design wireless networks for the widest coverage. The mobile device that moved from office to office. But in a school setting, there aren’t laptops in a series of cubicles. There’s 25 iPads in a classroom – every classroom! And how many users are carrying multiple IP-requesting devices? In John DeTroye’s presentation at the Mac SysAdmins’ Conference, he stated that we should be designing our wireless networks for device density, and then cited 3x as our planning capacity. So if you have 100 devices currently checking in (we average about 230 per day), then design for 300. An access point in every classroom is the least we can do.
Then there’s user management. iOS 5 didn’t not launch until 2 months into the school year. This meant that our roll-out was on iOS 4.3. That’s OK, we can upgrade when we’re ready, right? Wrong. Apple’s iWork products all seem to update with iOS updates. Pages 1.6 requires iOS 5.x, and the student that didn’t upgrade to iOS 5 yet now can’t download Pages at all because the App Store only carries the latest versions. And when Numbers 1.61 came out with iOS 5.01, some subtle file format change caused students to not be able to open documents created on other versions. And even 5 months later, I still have 3 students who are on 4.3.
Finally, there’s the March 8th problem. Apple released iOS 5.1 with the “new iPad” on March 7th. And to add support for the new iPad, they updated ALL of their 1st party apps. So did many other developers. So on the morning of March 8th, there are 83 students with iPads that have a notification bubble on the App Store icon with an infinity symbol (sarcasm) in it. “Updates?! I must have them now!”.
  • iOS 5.1 update – 511MB
  • Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Garage Band, iMovie, NoteTaker HD, Star Walk (and the list goes on) – Over 4GB
  • Trying to keep our Cisco firewall from melting into a puddle of molten plastic and metal? Priceless.
I needed a caching solution in a very bad way.
Enter Apple Configurator. This is the product we should have had back in August of last year. If you’re thinking about using Apple Configurator, go watch Randy Saeks videos about it. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Yes, it’s a cart-style solution again, but I can now:
  • Assign apps to devices, then pull the apps back and re-assign them as necessary. Great for grade level specific apps, or for students that leave your program.
  • Link a user in Open Directory/Active Directory to a iPad, keeping the same group structures I already have. It’s the closest I’ll ever get local credentials and Apple ID to play.
  • Pull updates down to a single location (sort of) and then update multiple iPads from that one station. Conceptually, our entire Middle School could use 1 sync station.
  • Update significantly faster. iOS updates in a fraction of the time, app updates in minutes, not hours (looking at you, iMovie and GarageBand), all downloading only 1 time per sync station.
There are still drawbacks to this solution. For example, users will have to be assigned a specific cart. For our school size, two carts should be fine… one for lower and one for upper school. And it means I need to dedicate hardware to each cart station. Even a simple Mac Mini is about $600. The carts from Datamation are the ones I’m interested in.
If I make them Supervised devices – and I would so I can assign and remove apps – then I prevent them from using iTunes to manage their devices. How will they transfer music and movies to their iPad? Over wireless, I guess.
And then there’s JAMF Software’s Casper Suite, which our neighbor City of Rochester School District uses. They have the largest deployment of iPads in NYS outside of New York City.
Which will I decide on for next year? Or can we continue to move forward, just blocking iOS updates at the firewall. Tune in for our exciting conclusion!

The Year End Report 2012

Every year at Allendale Columbia School, the department heads and administrators write up “Year End Reports.” These reports are summaries of the school year and plans for the year to come. I have decided to use it as my next blog post. Feedback and questions are always appreciated!

We all need a sunset to fade into. The end!

Curricular Technology Year End Report written by Tony Tepedino, Director of Curricular Technology

Highlights from this year included creating a bi-weekly program, called Tech Tuesday, for AC faculty to share how they are using technology in their classrooms. I presented, with Beth Guzzetta, at the National Science Teachers Association Conference in Indianapolis, IN. We hosted two sessions, “iPads Apps in the Science Classroom” and “Hi-Tech, Low Cost Science Classroom.” I co-presented with Brian Meehan at Barcamp RIT about iPad 1:1 deployments. We also rolled out Google Apps for education accounts for all middle and upper school students with Gmail. The Middle School started a 1:1 iPad program this year. It proved to have a tremendous impact on the learning environment in the middle school. We hosted visits from Canandaigua Academy and Elmwood Franklin to check out our iPad program in action. We have an opportunity to be a resource for schools considering 1:1 iPad deployments. We have tremendous practical knowledge to share from a variety of perspectives –  pedagogical, operational and management of devices. I also consulted with Red Jacket CSD BOCES about iPad implementation.

I coordinated with Rochester Institute of Technology to use a new web based platform called BookBag. We are helping RIT trial this tool in a K-12 school in hopes of securing a grant. It hasn’t been used outside of RIT until now. Diana Gleeson’s Bioethics class is currently using BookBag. I continued to oversee the Alsina Language Lab. Michael Murphy, from Sanako Labs, donated language teaching software and will continue to update AC with the latest versions.

I have continued to work with teachers to integrate social media, PLN’s (Personal Learning Networks), and LMS (Learning Management Systems) into their curriculum.  The new Digital Art Lab created the perfect environment for Amy Bonner to develop an online course in graphic design, for upper school students, during the Spring semester. The class content was delivered using a LMS called Edmodo. Amy offered a blended learning environment with both her middle and upper school art classes. This approach combines web based technology to deliver content, evaluate student work, quiz and assess, collect assignments and communicate with students. She  continues to use blogging and social media to communicate and share information about her classroom. Julie Thompson, has used Twitter for professional growth and as a review tool for her AP Biology class. She also blogs regularly about her classroom environment and as a reflective tool for her teaching.

We are in year two of using FA Web for online grade reporting. There continues to be issues with FA Web (browser compatibility). Resolution of issues takes a long time, sometimes months. I have been consulting with Blackbaud on the look and feel of their future releases of FA Web. I take part in discovery sessions online during regularly scheduled meetings. They seem to appreciate the input from someone who has been a classroom teacher and currently trains teachers on how to use their products.

I have continued to maintain a good relationship with Tequipment, our SMARTBoard installer and support specialists.  It took 6 months to complete the installation of the new portable board in our music department, due to backorder of parts. I taught the Nursery and Pre-K students two mini lessons on  the SMARTBoard in Kindergarten. We demoed a SMART Table in nursery/PreK for 30 days. The software is hard to use and the hardware wasn’t dependable.

Conferences and Visits
Attended NEIT, (NYSAIS Education & Information Technology) conference at Mohonk.
Attended NYSCATE (NYS Association for Computers and Technology in Education) conference in Rochester, NY
Attended T4 – Think Tank for Teachers & Technology at Elmwood Franklin in Buffalo and hosted a session on copyright images.
Attended ISTE Webinar an Independent Schools Special Interest Group for Online Learning.
Attended ISTE Remote Summer Workshops.
Attended the Reading Digital Symposium at RIT.
Attended Tedx Rochester
Attended Tedx Flour City, June 9, 2012
Visited Manlius Pebble Hill School in Syracuse, NY to learn about Blackbaud and technology integration.
Attended Cambridge Institute Webinar for An Overview of the Modern Chinese Education System.

Plans for Next Year
I am currently working with Cathy Beaton at RIT, and Beth Guzzetta on a grant for technology use in education. This grant, if awarded, would provide the following items to participating schools.; lab kits with all necessary materials and tools, iPads, and original YouTube instructional videos created by AC students.

Plans include developing a  web based curriculum for faculty to continue training when they have time. I will expand Tech Tuesday to include workshops for hands-on training. I am sending out a survey to assess faculty requests for specific workshops. We are planning to install two new SMARTBoards next year. I would like to see web-based delivery of report cards to parents via NetClassroom. We continue to evaluate and assess the hardware, software, mobility, and usage of the current Alsina Lab. Beth Guzzetta and I have submitted proposals to present at NSTA in San Antonio, TX. I would also like to attend the NAIS National Conference in Philadelphia and  serve on an visiting accreditation team. I would like to take a select group of teachers to attend the NYSCATE conference next school year.

This year I was given the opportunity with colleague Leah Danielsto plan and coordinate full school Spring Professional Day. Based on the reviews and suggestions from the professional day, I am confident that we could host another successful event.

  • Ratings from 1 (horrible) – 5 (amazing), Average Ratings, Morning – 4, Afternoon – 4.12, Overall – 4.26

Professional Affiliations
ISTE – International Society
NYSCATE – New York State Association for Computers and Technology in Education
NSTA – National Science Teachers Assocation

App Recommendation – Explain Everything

This school year, at Allendale Columbia School, we embarked on a 1:1 iPad initiative with our Middle School Students. One of the Apps I have consistently recommended to classroom teachers for curricular projects is called Explain Everything. Here’s why:

  • It is a very versatile presentation app.
    • Record the screen while viewing, add your voice and manipulate just about everything inside the app, even live websites.
    • Export out to just about everything
    • Export the project file so you can share and collaborate with a partner
    • Excellent video help from the Explain Everything YouTube Channel

I was also fortunate enough to bump into the primary designer of the app, Reshan Richards, at a conference and got first hand information about the app. He is the Director of Educational Technology at Montclair Kimberley Academy in Montclair, NJ and founder of Constructivist Toolkit, LLC. He understands what it’s like to be a classroom teacher and the importance of having dependable technology that kids can use.

As our students began using the app, some issues arose. I was able to communicate directly with Reshan to resolve the problems we were having. Reshan suggested we set up a Skype call so he could chat directly with our 7th graders. Our students really enjoyed the call because they were part of the app development process. It was a win for all involved!

The intro video from their website gives a great summary of the many features.

Deploying an iPad 1:1 program – What we learned, what we re-learned, and then what we actually learned – Part 1

I would like to thank Brian Meehan, Director of IT at Allendale Columbia School, for writing this post. Due to the length of this post it will be published in two parts. Feedback and suggestions are always appreciated. Thanks for reading!

Recently, Tony Tepedino (@teptech) and I (@binarydaze) had a small audience at the Rochester BarCamp where we spoke about the lessons learned 9 months into our Middle School iPad program. Here’s the executive summary.

Never stop learning. Continuous improvement is best you can hope for.

There. That’s it. If anyone out there is looking for “Best Practices for iPads in Education”, you can stop. Close your browser. It’s not there. As Allister Banks puts it, we strive for “Better Than We Had Yesterday Practices”. Because technology is a moving target, and the pace of innovation and the consumer purchasing cycle is driving new products into education faster than ever. I’m grateful for this, and not just because it ensures that my job is secure. It gives us the opportunity to put something into the hands of a student that they will really see and use beyond their academic career. Real creative, scientific and office technologies are now available to education at a price and volume that’s never been seen before.

So how are we leveraging this?

As best as we can. We’re a small school, so that helps. Our IT department consists of two people (with gusts of up to 3 when our Tony, our Director of Curricular Technology is available) and collectively we manage and maintain 265 workstations and laptops and 125 mobile devices. This resources are available to our nearly 400 students and 100 staff & faculty.

When we started nearly 2 years ago, we had 20 first generation iPads and a Bretford cart that kept the unit charged. We purchased iTunes gift cards to buy apps, which were then installed into our iTunes library. A monolithic restore image of that iPad was created on a dedicated workstation, and it was restored to each of the iPads whenever major changes were made – about 3x per year and once during the summer. This method is terrible. Why?

  • The restore process for a 16GB WiFi iPad with 12.5GB of apps and data takes about 2 hours. This is using traditional USB hubs.
  • Purchasing through the iTunes store requires multiple accounts if you want to buy multiple copies of an app and ensure the developer gets paid correctly.
  • Itunes purchases are charged sales tax – a phrase that sparks fire in the eyes of our CFO.
  • In-App purchases are even worse…
  • No real effective way to prevent students from changing the settings, installing additional software onto the device or removing apps

In Round 2, we took a new approach. It’s a good thing, because this time we’re adding 90 more iPads for the Middle School students and associated faculty. I like to refer to this as our “Human Mobile Device Management” platform (HMDM), or our “School-Sponsored BYOD” program. It was decided early on that these new devices would become the personal property of the students. They would manage backups, install apps and upgrade software as necessary, just like the TI calculators we distribute. We quickly found out that 4 passwords (, Google Apps, School network, Apple ID) were 4 passwords too many for 6th graders. And how could we handle students who were under 13 years of age? Here were some of our solutions:

  • The Volume Purchase Program (VPP) allows for the bulk, tax-exempt purchase of apps from the Apple Store using pre-purchased credit and carries with it the bonus of 50% off most apps in quantities of 20 or more. This has been a life saver!
  • Google Scripts – VPP codes are saved in a Google Doc and then a mail merge script sends the right code to the right student so they can download and install as needed.
  • Parents were invited to the school in order for their child to receive an iPad for mandatory Online Responsibility training. During this session, they were instructed how to create a payment-free account.
  • Later on through the year, we helped parents to create “Enable Restrictions” passcodes that only the parent knew, in order to prevent the installation or deletion of apps
  • Students created free accounts and subscribed to the teachers’ class folders to create immediately available content – even offline.
  • “Walled-Garden” email addresses helped to make communications consistent, and allow for only email within our domain and a few other approved ones.

…check back, Part 2 will focus on the re-worked deployment plan for the 2012-13 school year.

iPad Apps in the Science Classroom NSTA Presentation

At this years NSTA conference in Indianapolis, I co-presented with colleague and Allendale Columbia School science teacher, Beth Guzzetta. Our topic was iPad Apps in the Science classroom. The presentation focused on how Beth has used a variety of apps with her students. The apps and tools Beth has used were researched and tested by me before we implemented them into classroom. There are a few reasons why I feel our presentation was authentic and helpful to teachers. The first, Beth is a classroom teacher. She is the person using and innovating with the iPads in her classroom. We were not sharing hypothetical situations. We shared real projects with apps her students are using right now in her classroom. The second, only a handful of the apps we presented were specific to the science classroom. I firmly believe that you get more bang for your buck when you purchase apps that can be used by more than just one discipline. The projects that Beth created for her class allowed the students to choose from a variety of apps in order to present information to the class. They researched, created, and presented to their peers.

The complete list of resources from our presentation are available on Beth Guzzetta’s website. or

Below is a short video of our students talking about how they used their iPads in the classroom.

Special Thanks to Beth Guzzetta for being willing to try just about anything I suggest!

AC Bloggers


I just wanted to take a moment to recognize my fellow Allendale Columbia School bloggers. These are the teachers who are reflecting, writing, and sharing what is happening in their classroom with the world. It takes a brave soul to put yourself out there into that big crazy world called the web. It takes an even braver soul to share your work, practice, classroom, lessons, and reflections. I look around at what is happening in my fellow teachers classrooms and wish that each one of them had a blog.

Señora Brown (@lindseybbrown)
She presented at this weeks Tech Tuesday about her use of the blog as a classroom tool. I really enjoyed hearing about her use of the blog to (unintentionally) teach. She assigns a project for Spanish pronouns, which she explains better than I could…

Students in sexto learned hand motions to remind them of the meanings of Spanish…

View original post 447 more words

Tech. Tuesday’s at Allendale Columbia School

Recently at Allendale Columbia School, in Rochester, NY, we started hosting bi-weekly Tech. Tuesday presentations for our faculty and staff delivered by our faculty and staff. The concept is to promote the technology use currently going on within our school building. There are three reasons for this. First, for teachers to see how their colleagues are using technology. Second, to build momentum and get other less tech. savvy teachers interested in using technology in their classroom (the snowball affect). Third, just to get our faculty sharing about what is going on within the walls of our school. Presenters will  use a style called “Ingite”. Using this format, presenters give 5 minute presentations with 20 Power Point slides running on autoplay at 15 seconds per slide. Using this format will optimize information and time in a meaningful way for attendees without taking too much from already busy schedules.

Leah Daniels is our resident School Psychologist.
AIMS Web – AIMSweb is a data collection tool that we are currently using in the Lower School and may be looking to expand into the higher grades in the future.  This software allows staff to quickly and easily benchmark student performance in the areas of reading, writing and math at three points during the year.  AIMSweb will then analyze and provide data about student, classroom, and grade wide progress, in an effort to guide instruction and intervention.

Amy Bonner is an Upper and Middle School Art Teacher.
Amy presented on technology used in her stop motion animation unit for 8th grade. Instead of using a Keynote, Amy chose to make an iMovie video detailing what she does with her students. Students can create their projects using different mediums. Our middle school has a 1:1 iPad program, so students were able to experiment with both iMacs in our new Digital Art Lab and their iPad. Here is a list of the different tools Amy utilized for this project. As you will see almost all of the software is free!

SAM Animation program from Tufts University
Animation HD for iPad . There is a free lite version as well as a $1.99 paid version
iMovie, comes installed free on every Mac.
She also used Jing Screencasting software. There is both a free and paid version.