Reflector App: Mirror Your iPad in the Classroom

Are you looking for a wireless way to display your iPad through your overhead projector? I have been searching for a way to project my iPad for instructional purposes without having to use my dongle. The dongle kept me tied down to my overhead table. I wanted to be able to freely move around the classroom and pass my iPad off to a student to solve a problem, while at the same time projecting onto my overhead screen. The Reflector app has this capability and is a great way to assist you to becoming a paperless teacher while allowing you to move around the classroom as you teach!
The Reflector App does full mirroring; meaning it will also send the audio and there is orientation support (you can lock orientation).I simply purchased and downloaded the Reflector app onto the desktop of my classroom laptop. Now when I hook up my laptop to my overhead projector, I can open the Reflector app on my iPad and project my iPad through the overhead projector. This is a great way to model how to use a specific app, you can turn any of your “old school paper overheads” into PDFs and use Notability and a stylus for instruction, and now have a mobile Docucam!
Here is what you will need:
Mac computer running OS X Lion (OS X 10.7.3 or later to use recording feature) or PC with Windows XP or greater
iPhone 4s
iPad 2 or 3
Digital projector
Reflector license ($12.99)
Purchase/download through their website
If you wish, you can download a free limited time trial before you purchase.

Ways I use this app:

When my students finish an iPod project, they email their project to me and we are able to easily see their project. We have watched slideshows my students made using SonicPics and my students loved how they could easily share their work with the class.

The Reflector App allows me to have a mobile Docucam! If I want to display student work, I can simply turn on the camera mode and hover the iPad over a student’s work at their desk. Or if I am trying to highlight something on my bulletin board, I can display it from where ever it is in the room.

My class and I have created class SimpleMind+ mind maps. I can walk around the room and allow students to add an idea to our mind map.

I have turned my old overheads into PDFs and now use Notability for instructional purposes. I can now use my iPad and a stylus and move freely around my room as I teach.

I use Evernote for writing, we can easily collaborate about student writing and easily share student work.

You can use your favorite screen capturing application to record your lessons and flip your classroom!
Here is how:
1. Once you have purchased and downloadedReflector from their website onto your teacher laptop (and it is running), double click the home key on your iPad. Then swipe right to access your music. A square will now display. Click on the square and your computer’s name will display. Tap on your computer’s name and turn mirroring to “on.”
3. Now your iPad will display onto your laptop. I have my laptop projected through the digital projector so the entire class can see this. This is what it will look like.
4. Now open any app you want to use for instruction. Here I opened up SimpleMind+ to create a mind map with my class. While we were creating this mind map, I was keeping a record of the class conversation while sitting right next to two struggling students at their desk. Each student in my class was accessing SimpleMind+ on their iPods and creating their own mind map (borrowing ideas from the class mind map). This was a pre-writing activity for preparation for writing in their journal. I was able to walk around the room and assist students while not even skipping a beat with the classroom discussion.
5. If the background of your desktop is distracting as in this picture, while in Reflector on your desktop go into the menu bar and select >device>Enter full screen and this is how it will display:
6. If you wish, when on the menu bar for Reflector select >device>force landscape or force portrait.
I hope you find this application as effective as I do in the classroom! Please leave a comment with an idea of how else to utilize this app in your classroom.
Jo-Ann Fox

How Apps Promote Learning


Ladies and gentleman, please buckle your seat belts, we are are about to embark on a little flight through my iTunes cloud. There are a whopping 965 apps stuffed inside my cloud that I am certain at any moment apps will come raining out of the sky right onto my head.

One day after school I sat at my computer feeling a bit overwhelmed by the colossal amount of apps I had to sort through, when I suddenly  had my Newton moment. Except it wasn’t an apple that fell onto my head. But a virtual app falling from my over-stuffed iTunes cloud. I realized quite clearly, it is not WHAT app I should use in my classroom, but rather HOW I plan to use that app to promote student learning and engagement.

Each week when I sync my student iPods and update the apps I have selected for student learning, I thoroughly consider what apps I will upload and HOW I want my students to learn. My first thought is how will this app meet my students needs and engage learning? My overarching goal for all student learning is to utilize and promote the four C’s:  creativity, collaboration, use of critical thinking skills, and communication skills.

So next time you are cruising through your iTunes cloud contemplating WHAT app you should add to your students’ iPods or iPads, consider changing your thought pattern. Do reverse planning and think, HOW do I want my students to use this app to create, collaborate, think critically, and communicate.

I challenge you to even do a little spring cleaning. Start getting rid of those apps that are littering your iTune cloud and student iPods/iPads. Keep your cloud clean and refresh the apps your students access often.

Here is a list of apps which I consider to be quality creative apps. The following apps can be used in a variety of ways and help to promote the 4 C’s:

  1. Sonic Pics
  2. Storyrobe
  3. Puppet Pals plus Director’s Pass
  4. Splice or Free Splice
  5. iMovie
  6. PS Express – Photoshop
  7. Comic Touch Lite or Comic Touch
  8. Voice Memos

If you are interested in how I consider an app to be worthy of my students’ time, please read my previous blog titled “A Letter to Educational App Developers: A Call for Action.”

Jo-Ann Fox


Creative Apps vs. Skill Review Apps


I have mentioned “Creative Apps” in several posts but I never really clarified what I meant by this. So here is my attempt to define the difference between Creative Apps and Skill Review Apps and inspire a bit of healthy competition between these two types of apps.

Creative Apps are apps that can be used in more than one way and in multiple curricular areas. These types of apps usually foster innovative learning and support students to expand upon what they have learned. Creative apps are excellent ways to integrate project based learning and always have a variety of outcomes. They are easily adaptable to learning styles and can be differentiated to meet the needs of all learning levels.

Skill review apps are quite different. This is the most common type of educational app out there and quite honestly, I have quite a large collection of these apps in my iTunes library (more than I could ever really need). Skill review apps provide a child a way to review a particular skill such as adding, subtracting, letter sounds, rhyming, etc. They often mimic a worksheet, in such a way that once the skill has been mastered, there isn’t much more that can be done with the app. The student outcomes are always the same and there is little to no innovation required. I have found students bore easily if this type of app is used too often. While it does sound like my opinion of these types of apps is a bit negative, I still think there is a place for these types of apps in our classroom. But please hear me out first.

I strongly believe educators need to be providing a platform for our students to access skills they will need to be successful in the 21st Century. We need to begin teaching our students to THINK rather than repeat back they have learned. We want our students to apply what they have learned, use inquiry, be effective communicators, collaborate with others, and be able to reflect about their own learning. If you, too, believe this to be true, then I ask you… what is the best, most effective way to utilize iPods or iPads into our classrooms? Using creative apps or skill review apps?

If you took a peek into my iPod cart (I have 30 iPods) you would not find iPods stuffed to capacity with apps. You will find the following creative apps:

  1. Sonic Pics
  2. Storyrobe
  3. Puppet Pals
  4. Splice
  5. PS Express – Photoshop
  6. Comic Touch Lite
  7. Voice Memos

I do in fact have some skill review apps on my student iPods as well (I know… gasp). However, the skill review apps that I sync to my iPods are based on the standards we will be learning for that particular week and ones that I want my students to review. I try to limit the number of skill review apps to be no more than 10. I never leave these kinds of apps on my iPods for very long. It is always good to keep these types of apps fresh!

So the next time you sync your iPods, think about how many creative apps you have for your students to access that will support their needs as 21st Century learners vs. those apps that just reviewing skills. While there is a place for both in our iPod world, it is always important to reflect about what is most important for your students.