Congrats on getting rings for your classroom! Whether you ordered a 12-pack or the 1-2 ring sets, we will be discussing what to do when you get your rings for the first time; then we’ll discuss Bluetooth and best practices for connecting rings in a classroom full of kids; last, we will take a look at some starter activities that will get your students acquainted with the rings for the first time.
Keep in mind:
- You can only connect up to 4 rings per device
- Rings and apps are not compatible with Chromebooks. See all device compatibility and general Specdrums info here
- Specdrums Edu and MIX apps do not have a login or password setup
- Specdrums Edu is used for educational purposes and scanning QR codes
- Specdrums MIX app is a DJ-inspired app intended for fun and quick engagement
- Specdrums MIX works on Android and iOS devices
- Specdrums Edu works only on iOS devices
- You cannot connect to two apps simultaneously on the same device
- If you connect rings to one app and want to use another app on the same device, you must first disconnect your rings before moving to the other app
First To-Dos (before classroom use)
- Charge your rings until the sensor light goes from red to green
- While rings are charging, download the Specdrums Edu and MIX apps to your devices
- When ready, unplug rings and connect them to app of your choice
- Upon connecting, firmware may automatically update
- Repeat process with all rings
- There is no option yet to update firmware on rings all at once – they must be updated individually
- Connect rings and explore apps, go through in-app tutorials, explore instrument libraries, play on play pad
- Watch our tutorial videos for each app here or on our Specdrums landing page
If you ordered the 12-pack with Activity Cards:
- If using Activity Cards, you will need to download and use the Specdrums Edu app to scan the QR codes on the cards
- Keep in mind that you cannot scan QR codes with the MIX app
- If WiFi is limited it may initially take some time for the QR code to load
- Play through some activities first by tapping either on the cards or using the play pad as directed by the activity (for example, At First Sight music cards).
- Visit our landing page at www.sphero.com/education/specdrums to access free classroom templates + starter activities and view our video tutorials
If you ordered 1- or 2-ring sets:
- Download both Specdrums Edu and MIX apps
- Connect rings to chosen app
- Visit www.sphero.com/education/specdrums to access free classroom templates and more starter activities
If starting with Specdrums MIX app:
- Connect a maximum of 4 rings and play sound pack on the play pad
- Explore sound pack library
- Review tutorial screen to navigate other features of app
Now… you have students in your classroom. What’s next? Before we launch into activities, let’s talk Bluetooth. You have your rings, devices, and activities – but your kids are arriving in less than 5 minutes. How do we set these rings up in a short amount of time?
In general, when you place a ring next to your chosen device in the Specdrums Edu app (see picture below), you will see which Bluetooth ID signal is the strongest based on the high number of blue bars (the more bars, the stronger the connection with the ring).
If you purchased the Edu 12-pack, your rings will be numbered. The pack will have a Bluetooth ID card that pairs the ring number with its corresponding Bluetooth ID. This card can be displayed on a projector or set in certain space of your classroom for your students to view in case a ring disconnects.
Specdrums MIX does not have the bars like the Edu app, but the closest ring to the device should appear at the top of the list in the “Connect” page. If this method does not suffice in your classroom, see alternative methods below. These methods are applicable whether you purchased the 12-pack or the 1-2 ring boxes.
#1 – The “Harry Potter” Method
This method is commonly used for connecting Sphero robots where the robot, or in this case the ring, “chooses” you. Set your rings out in a line with the sensors facing your students. Have your students open up the Specdrums MIX or Edu app on their device, open the connecting page in the app, and have them press the first “Connect” button they see at the top and wait. After pressing “Connect”, they will see a ring light up and choose the ring that flashes first. If you have numbered rings from the 12-pack, you can project the Bluetooth ID card for your students to see in case their ring disconnects. You can also keep the ring ID card in a centralized location for students to view as needed.
#2 – Assigning Rings Ahead Of Time
If you purchased rings as 1- and 2-ring boxes, your rings will not be numbered. One way to keep track of these rings is to place them in tiny Tupperware with the Bluetooth ID labeled on the container. This method will require you to decipher the Bluetooth IDs ahead of time and label them. Students can grab the container, go to ring connection page, and identify their ring upon connection by reading what’s on the container label.
If you want to get even more creative (and classroom time permitting), get your students to make their own colorful origami boxes out of colorful construction paper to put the rings in. This tutorial will show you how to make one. For every ring, choose a different colored box. If rings are not numbered, use the Specdrums Edu app to determine the ID of each ring. Place ring closest to the device and hit connect, one at a time. If ring flashes after hitting “Connect”, find the ring ID that has connected and write it down. If you ordered the 12-pack, your students can match their numbered ring with the Bluetooth ID on the ID card that comes with the box.
Integrating new technology into a classroom takes time and adjustment. These starter activities are meant to ease that transition into your classroom as seamlessly as possible. Starter activities are a great way of assessing what works and what doesn’t work for your students and classroom.
#1: Stations with Activity Cards (12-pack only)
This will require the use of the Edu app only. Whether you’re in a music classroom or general elementary space, divide your room up into 4-6 stations or groups. Place 1 to 2 devices in the center of each station and connect a maximum of 4 rings to each device. Place any activity cards you wish in each station. Instruct students how to scan QR codes on activity cards using the Edu app. For guidance on QR codes, watch our aforementioned video tutorials. Allow students to play at 5-10 minutes each station and then move the groups to the next station until they cycle through all stations.
#2: Stations without Activity Cards
Set your classroom up in stations as done in 1.A. Instead of using activity cards, you can set up general playing and exploration stations with Specdrums playpads or colorful objects like felt squares, construction paper, or colorful toys for the students to play on. You can also print blank templates (PDFs) from our landing page – www.sphero.com/education/specdrums.
The themes of your stations can be exploratory. For example, one group can explore the MIX app or music-making, and another group can explore coloring in templates and playing on their creation with the Edu app; another group can be playing around with a different instrument like drums or synthesizers and write their own song; and another group can gather objects around the room and make a song out what they collect. You can even make one of the stations an origami station (see #2 – “Assigning Rings Ahead of Time” above) where the students make their own ring boxes. As above, allow students to play at 5-10 minutes each station and then move the groups to the next station until they cycle through all stations.
#3: Gather Objects and Play
When students encounter Specdrums for the first time, they may want to play on anything besides the play pads that come with the box. They might play on their shirts or walk around the room playing on posters and colorful objects. This activity will get your students moving around the room, allowing them to encounter Specdrums while creating music on their own terms.
Pair up students with one iPad or iOS device and 1-2 rings. Once your students are paired up with their connected rings and device, ask them to gather 5-8 colorful, solid objects around the room. Using either the MIX app or the Edu app, whichever you prefer them to use, they will create a song out of the objects they gathered. Some students may want to draw a map of the colors they want to play, so keep some markers or colored pencils on hand with blank drawing paper.
For a further challenge, get your students to program the colors they chose to the notes, sounds, or instruments they want in the app. See these video tutorials on how to modify notes and colors in the Edu and MIX apps.