Wednesday, February 27, 2013

You Probably Know What I Mean

MCA (Reading)
MCA (Math)
MCA (Science)

Throw in on some years:

If you understand all these initials, you probably know what I mean when I say, "Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?...."

I would say that we are getting a little obsessive-compulsive about testing, but not even the obsessive-compulsive are this obsessive.

I bet we give up 3 weeks of time a year to figure out what the school staff already knows.  I would rather the staff used that time to keep pushing ahead in their curricular areas instead of doing test prep and testing.

Another scary part of this is there are people at the state level that write and track this stuff.  Couldn't we just use someone else's tools?

Testing is not really teaching.  It may be what you remember about school, but it is not supposed to be the point of school.

Let's get some of this off our kids' and teachers' collective backs.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

FileMaker and Common Core

FileMaker sent me a press release yesterday about some iOS templates that people are offering.

Maybe you didn't know that FileMaker Go is a great way to get custom tools made for your iPad, iPod, iPhone.  FileMaker Go is free and it uses FileMaker (a bargain in my mind) as its authoring tool and host.  This set of tools is flexible, powerful and easy to understand.

Anyway, browsing the offerings I saw some interesting things for sales, time management, events and things like that.  Good stuff and worth a look.

On the list of "Ouch! Why Didn't I Do That First?" was the template for tracking Common Core Standards.  Import your kids' info and away you go.  A nice little 1-3 rating scale that works just by clicking on the field makes it easy to use.  I'm not sure where I am at with Common Core, it looks to me like the next-big-deal-make-those-students-and-teachers-work-harder-but-I-could-be-wrong-fad.  If you are looking for an easy way to keep track, here you go.

If it is on paper making work for you, take a look at FileMaker and FileMaker Go.  That combo can make things easier.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

SmartMusic Changes Are Coming!

Our customer rep at SmartMusic sent an e-mail yesterday pointing out some interesting changes coming from their company.

First, they are changing their pricing a bit and actually making it easier for students to use different computers/devices with their subscription.

That may not sound like a big deal, but I bet we all have had students with more than one home.  This will save some hassle with moving the subscription from Mom's place to Dad's place.

They are also upping the price a bit and there looks to be some changes in the practice room plan as well.  In our case, there may be some savings in school volume purchase plan.  If you are doing one of those, your rep will have the details.  It is going to be pencil time to figure out the best solution.

The other bit of news was about the iPad version.  It really does sound like it will be ready for assignments next fall.  It also sounds like it will be using the built-in microphone to do its thing.

Using the built-in mic is a great idea.  One less thing to arrange for, one less thing to lose, one less thing to damage, one less thing to blame for a poor performance, etc, etc.....

Makes me wish that our district was doing its 1 to 1 computing initiative with iPads.  Currently, the powers that be are thinking that the cheaper Google terminal is the way to go.  I'm not sold on the idea.

Any further comment and my attorney will be arguing First Amendment Rights vs. an employer's right to docile employees at a hearing someplace.  Hopefully, MakeMusic can port something over soon. 

The iPad/SmartMusic combo will be a great package for the young band student.  I can especially picture beginner brass players using this to help find the right harmonic in rehearsal on those first days.  Put the iPad on a stand and check when ever there is a problem!

It will be an interesting fall.