IWizards’ App Survey Produces Interesting Results

Last month, the  iWizards sent out a survey to the student body, asking them these essential questions:

1) What are the iPad apps you use regularly for school?

2) What iPad apps do you find most essential to your learning and why?

3) What iPad apps would you like to learn a better understanding and mastery of?

4) Do you use a keyboard with your iPad? If yes, which kind of keyboard?

The survey was created by iWizard Sophie Sawicki. Three iWizards and three staff mentors examined the data:  Alyssa Johnston , Madison Konja, Brooke Madak , Lisa Robinet, Chris Janusch, Larry Baker. We came to the following conclusions:

For taking class notes, students have a strong preference for Notability over other apps. Students volunteered that they enjoyed its ease of use, the ability to diagram on the app, split screen with a book, and organize their notes. The ability to highlight and color code was also remarked upon. The students on the committee were not surprised by Notability’s as the iWizards themselves signaled this preference last year when they shifted from iAnnotate to Notability for their new student tech orientation.

A second very interesting finding was that so many students depended on Quizlet in order to study and review materials. They enjoyed the flashcards, language features and options for reviewing . The committee concluded that Quizlet should be included in future orientations.

The students on the committee said that both apps were attractive because they allowed students to individualize study methods.

We felt that some of the other apps  like Schoology, PowerSchool, Google Docs, and Pages stood out as essential because course workflow more or less mandated their use. That said, we thought it was interesting that a slightly greater number of the respondents use Google Slides than Keynote.









In retrospect, we think question #3 about “What apps would you like to learn . . .” was not well conceived. In the case of Evernote, for example, we think more students may have wanted a better understanding because they had not heard of it (Since only 3% expressed that they regularly used it).  On the other hand we thought that 37% of the students expressing a desire for better mastery for iMovie needed to be addressed through the school curriculum. Teachers may be assuming that students have a better mastery of the app than they actually do. We need to teach them how to use it.

Finally, the iWizards have always debated what to recommend in regard to iPad keyboards. The school does not sell nor require iPad keyboards. Now we have some data: Students stated that they were mainly using three brands: Belkin, Logitech, and ClamCase. Going forward we can share this information without endorsing a product.


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Understanding the Classics Using Today’s Media in MHS English Classes

This is the seventh in a series of blog “snapshots” of how Mercy students benefit from using iPad technology (and other tools) throughout the school day.

In an effort to make Hamlet more accessible to her AP English students, Lynn Waldsmith has them perform a few of their favorite lines from the play and perform them in a 15-second Instagram video once the class is about halfway through the play. Later, in a small group project, students create a short film by performing a scene from Hamlet in a modern setting. Here is a brief excerpt from one of Waldsmith’s favorite video projects.


In Charli Migoski’s  Women in Literature, students used iMessage on their iPads to ‘text’, pretending to be characters from Sense and Sensibility. In the above screenshot, students made inferences for how Marianne and Willoughby would have texted each other at the end of Volume 1. Students could use written text, emojis, and GIFs to display the thoughts and emotions of the characters.

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Students in Hallie Smith’s freshman English 9 class discussed their reactions and connections to Left to Tell, Immaculee Ilibagiza’s memoir of the Rwandan genocide. Students were limited to 1:30 so they needed to compose their messages ahead of time, practicing the same organization skills they do when crafting their literary paragraphs.



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This Ain’t Your Grandma’s Library

This is the sixth in a series of blog “snapshots” of how Mercy students benefit from using iPad technology (and other tools) throughout the school day.

Digital access to resources is expected in a library today. Digital catalogs, statewide inter-library loan access, databases, and eBooks provide resources far beyond any one library’s holdings.  Frequency of practice, familiarity and facility prepare our students for an educational environment requiring advanced research skills beyond a simple Google search. Students are encouraged/required to search for current, reliable, global information among the sixty-four (64) GALE/Cengage Learning databases including Gale’s Virtual Reference Library (GVRL), which is the full digital content of 450 published print volumes.  Collaborative tools and spaces enable great work!

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Mrs. Corte, Media Tech, is spotlighted in a student video showing “off” the newest library additions!  New equipment , new spaces, new applications, all available to students for video/editing, 3D printing and collaborative work:

  • MakerBot 3D printer – 5th generation with an assortment of filament colors
  • iMac –  featuring Adobe Illustrator and Final Cut Pro & iMovie for editing
  • 8 whiteboards – outlines, problem solving, role play, study guides
  • 6 MacBook Pros – Adobe Illustrator, Final Cut Pro & iMovie, great for AP courses requiring Flash [to be used in the Media Center]
  • Canon Rebel – HD wireless, 24mp camera with tripod
  • Green screen with lighting – takes you on amazing locations
  • Microphone – Garage Band, audio amplification

Text, photographs and screenshots taken by K. Koskela & C. Corte.   2016-17.

Video created by Sophie VanAcker

Blame English major Larry Baker for the title.

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Apple Teacher Day at MHS

Mercy’s administrative team decided that as an Apple Distinguished School we should shoot for 100% teacher Apple Teacher designation. To further this goal we 1) arranged for staff to get continuing ed credit 2) enticed them with a $20 gift card 3) Most importantly we gave them a full staff day to work on their badges. As I write we are up to 80% Apple Teachers from faculty as well as half a dozen staff. The day was well received. 

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Mercy I.T. Team Presents at State Conference

Mercy I.T. Director Tom James and Associate Principal Larry Baker presented at the 2017 MACUL Conference at Cobo Center in Detroit. On Friday, March 17,  James and Baker collaborated with Chris McCoy of Birmingham Brother Rice High School in a “participate and share” session called Let’s Share Ideas and Strategies for Creating Dynamic Student Tech Teams. The Mercy iWizards and the International Student Tech Team Hub were featured by the Mercy representatives. On Thursday, March 16, Baker presented Walking the Talk: Best Practices of Digital Administrators


Left to right: Larry Baker, Tom James, Chris McCoy  (photo by Chris Janusch)

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Tech in our Science Department

Increasing student engagement and participation in exam review– by Cathy Riley & Sarah McGavin

This is the fifth in a series of blog “snapshots” of how Mercy students benefit from using iPad technology (and other tools) throughout the school day.

As I began thinking about how I would like to approach exam review with students, I wanted to focus on student participation.  Exam review can sometimes turn into the teacher doing all of the work in review of the semester’s content.  As I researched best practices for review I encountered this post: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/163959242663522710/ featuring the use of the Charades App for review.  I was excited to try this as I knew of the app and game, I also knew students loved to play.  Many already had this app on their iPad or phone.  I shared with the Bio teachers. Most used this approach for some of the Bio review.


 Small groups could be assigned semester topics.  These groups can evaluate the topic and decide on key points for focus, developing a Charades review to share with other groups.  Small student groups can meet with each other and take turns playing their review games.  Another approach has the teacher develop the terms for review to share with the class.  Small groups meet to play.  Either way, student must understand topics in order to describe the terms (without using the term) to their classmates.  This encourages them to find different ways to explain semester topics to various students.  This made exam review a little more social and fun.  Teachers could visit with small groups and review/reinforce content as needed. 

Tech in the Lab by Sara McGavin:

Lab work often involves the use of specimens and investigation of specimens under the microscope.  The iPads and phones have proved to be a useful tool in helping students create study guides to help them prepare for lab practicals and take pictures using the microscopes.  The pictures students take are a huge improvement over pencil and paper drawings of the past.  Students take pictures of tissues they are identifying under the microscope.  As teachers assess their pictures and labeling of pictures, they can be sure students are identifying specimens correctly. It is easier to explain tissues and identify structures while pointing to a picture taken by the student rather than trying to huddle into the same ocular lens of a microscope.  This was sometimes a challenge with paper and pencil and we were never quite sure if students were simply drawing the images from lab guides or actually identifying the tissues on their own.


Photo by Sara McGavin


photo by Sara McGavin

Students take pictures of items in lab to look at and study later.  Students can also take these pictures and add notes and drawing to them to help connect ideas.


We also use the camera function to take pictures of magnified views of different specimens under the microscope.  Although an iPhone is much easier to focus due to its size, the pictures can easily be transferred via airdrop to the iPad and inserted into an assignment.  They can then be labeled if the student needs to.  Another neat feature is that a student is actually able to magnify even further in than what is possible with the microscope by using the zoom function on the camera.

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Lots of Learning at 2017 Mercy Tech Talk

Mercy just finished hosting its fourth annual Tech Talk, hosting K-12 Educators throughout Southeastern MI. The conference featured:

– An inspirational Keynote by Theresa Stager on Innovative Spaces and Strategies

– Multiple 2-hour workshops and 1-hour presentations from some of the top speakers in the area.

– Streamed interactive presentations from presenters from Dubai, Korea, Canada, and Massachusetts.

Ann Lusch and I coordinated the event with terrific support from Mercy I.T., staff volunteers, and Mercy iWizards.

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iWizard Workshop 2017

The Mercy iWizards spent a busy day on Friday, February 17. They . . . .

  1. Planned the New Student iPad Orientation
  2. Spent an hour coding
  3. Conducted five Google Hangouts / Skypes 

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    Photos by Cheryl Corte and Larry Baker

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iWizards Making Global Connections

This year the iWizards have invited student tech teams from around the world to join them at the International Student Tech Team Hub. On Friday, February 17 they are going sit down for Google Hangouts with several of them. But the team in Israel presented a time zone challenge. Consequently, the iWizards reached out to them with a video. Soon this was followed with a reply.  Let the tech team collaboration begin!





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Skyping around the World

This is the fourth in a series of blog “snapshots” of how Mercy students benefit from using iPad technology (and other tools) throughout the school day.

During National French Week, Madame Joyce Campbell’s French 1, French 2 and French 3 students Skyped with Mercy alumna, Kiara McCalvin (’10), and practiced their French speaking skills with her on current topics that they were studying in class.

Ms. McCalvin majored in French at Howard has recently completed her Masters in French Language and Culture from Kent University in England. Madame Campbell and her students caught up with Ms. McCalvin via Skye in La Rochelle, France where she has been teaching English to French children.

Each French 1 student practiced introducing  herself  in French (including name, age, and what they liked to do) and Ms. McCalvin asked them questions in French about they and their families. The French 2 students asked her about her living situation  She then used her iPad to give them a visual tour of her house  The French 2 students were also able to discuss furniture and items in the house with Ms. McCalvin.


The French 3 students conversed with her in French about her internship and program from Howard University which propelled her to France as an educator in 2 elementary schools teaching English. The French 3 students had been studying careers and educational formation needed to pursue those careers in their class. They enjoyed her insight and recommendations for careers using the French language and culture. The students and Madame Campbell also read excerpts from Ms. McCalvin’s blog after the Skype experience which enriched the cultural comparisons between France and the U.S. Her blog was posted on Schoology for the classes to read and enjoy. The Mercy students enjoyed the experience immensely, greatly benefiting from from this streaming “French connection”!!!

Post co-creators, Madame Campbell and Mr. Baker

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