Thursday, December 4, 2014

Hour of Code

( * = Works on iPads using Safari.)

*2. Angry Birds (Grades 3-5)
3. Lightbot (Grades 2-5)
*4. Tinker (Grades K-5)
5. Scratch (Grade 5)
*6. Coding Projects by Google 
(Grades 2-5)

Grades K-2: BeeBot & Kodable
Grade 5: Hopscotch  and Codecademy

Great intro video to show students before the coding event!

President Obama speaks about coding.

Last year during "Hour of Code" my students were selected to chat with Jack Dorsey. Because we had a snow day on the day of the chat I invited some students to my home so that we could still take part in the live chat. Delaney asked a great question. (The very last question.) Check out the video below.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Removing Pesky Ads from YouTube

A great question was asked of me today... How do I make it so the ads do not display when I show YouTube videos to my students? 

With a few easy steps, you can block ads:
1. Click this link while using Google Chrome.
2. Scroll down to the bottom of the page.
3. Click, "Get more extensions".
4. Search "YouTube".
5. Click where it says, "+Free" next to "Adblock for Youtube".
6. No more ads, woohoo! 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

iPads Enhancing Literacy

Recently I taught a session at ACTEM, a Maine technology conference. The session covered strategies for using iPads to enhance literacy in the elementary classroom. I set up the topics according to the Daily Five. However, if you do not use the Daily Five, the ideas are still valuable to anyone teaching literacy in an elementary classroom. Click on the photo below to visit the webpage that I used for the conference session. This photo is only a snippet of what is on the webpage.

Topics covered:
1. Read to Self
2. Work on Writing
3. Word Work
4. Listen to Reading
5. Read to Someone
Plus making iMovie book trailers.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Best iPads Apps for the Elementary Classroom

For three+ years I have worked with teachers integrating iPads into their classroom curriculum. During those years I have found some favorite apps that I would recommend have a permanent home on classroom iPads.

Top 12 Creation Apps:

1. AudioBoo (free) is my all time favorite app!!! Great app for literacy and adding voice to any project. Visit my blog article about AudioBoo to learn more about you can use AudioBoo with your students.

2. Educreations (free) is right up there with the best creation apps.  In the last few years they have made some wonderful updates, however some of the cool features are paid features. With this app, students can explain their thinking on math problems, report out on anything that they have learned, practice reading fluently, demonstrate how to do something, and the list goes on and on. Article on Educreations in K.

3.  iMovie - ($4.99 or free) Who doesn't LOVE iMovie? What a great and intuitive app for creating book trailers, demonstrating learned standards, and creating reports. Free for iPads purchased within the last year. Student's Love it, iMovie Article

4. Moldiv - (free) A wonderful picture editor and collage creator. Use to create a robust vocabulary collages, annotate on photos, give step by step instructions, etc.

5. Pic Play Post - (free) Make collages that can include photos as well as videos.

6. Popplet Lite - (free) A wonderful brainstorming and project creating app. There is no need to get the paid version, as the user can move the canvas around to find space for new creations. Once saved to the camera roll, projects can be erased from the app to make more space for new Popplets. Article

7. Scribble Press - ($3.99) Students create storybooks in a variety of formats. The books can be illustrated by the students or they can use Scribble Press gallery drawings. All creations are saved in the app on a bookshelf. Students can publish their books to the Scribble Press Gallery, email the link, or export to iBooks. Students may also post links on a website or blog. For a fee Scribble Press will publish your book or use one of your drawings to create a few different products. Article

8. Tellagami - (free) Tellagami is an extremely enjoyable and engaging way for students to record themselves reading fluently. I have used this app with students ranging from Kindergarten to Fifth Grade. Article

9. StoryKit - (free - Purchase as an iPhone app, but will work on iPads.) Using StoryKit students can create books by taking photos with the camera or import from the photo library. Users can also create their own illustrations. Another great feature of Story Kit is that students can read the text to add voice to the book or add their own sound effects. The story will be uploaded to StoryKit. After uploading the user will receive a private web address to share via email, or save the link to put on a blog, website, or wiki. Article

10. Keynote - ($9.99, but free for recent device purchases) I have mostly used this app with fourth and fifth grade students to create presentations. The students love it because there are a lot of effects. If you are an "Apple District" then having your students use Keynote, iMovie, and Pages on an iPad will prepare them for using the same apps on a laptops when they get to Middle and High School.

11. AutoRap - (free) A very fun app that changes what students record into a rap. Have students read a passage from a book or a story that they have written. Article

12. Skitch - (free) A great way to annotate on a photograph. Article

Utility Apps

1. Google Drive - (free) A must have app if your district is a Google Apps for Education district. Google Drive makes a wonderful digital portfolio. Not only can students create documents, but they can upload picture and video files to their own accounts.

2. Instagrok - (free) An excellent research app. It helps students stay focused on what they are researching and less likely for students to find something that is not appropriate for a school setting.

3. iBooks - (free) Many creations can be opened in iBooks (like ScribblePress books), along with .pdf, and there are many free books available in the store.

4. QR Reader for iPad - QR Codes can open up your classroom to many possibilities!  Article on several ways that you can use QR Codes in your classroom.

Great Sites to use from Safari/Browser:

1. TenMarks - Math practice and tutorials according to state standards.
2. XtraMath - Math fact practice.
3. Tar Heel Reader - On-line book creator. Article

Thursday, September 4, 2014

AutoRap for a Class Vision Statement

Today I worked with a second grade class who recorded their vision statement via the AutoRap app. After the students recorded the class rap together, they then broke out into pairs to practice reading their StoryTown stories fluently using the AutoRap app. What a great way to put a vision statement to music and practice fluency!

The Class Vision Statement via rap form:

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Must Have Apps for the Elementary Classroom

In the image above I created a venn diagram displaying Must Have Apps for the Elementary Classroom. As you can see there are many creation apps on the diagram and most can be used for both math and language arts. Almost all of the apps are free or have been free at one point in time and may be again some day. A few of the apps require an account, but many will allow for several users at one time on a single account. I have found that to be the easiest course of action when using apps that require an account. Less time spent logging into an account and more time for productivity. Create one class account and then have students log into that account. If you share iPads with another class the students can log in and out quickly and help each other since they share a user name and password. If iPads remain in your classroom, the account can remain logged in throughout the school year.

Most of the apps are great for students to demonstrate their understanding of concepts or standards plus allow for sharing finished products quite easily. Have fun and be creative with these apps and the students will too.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Mystery Hangouts Increase Geography and Problem Solving Skills

Did you ever hear a teacher talking about a Mystery Hangout/Skype before and wonder what it is all about? This concept has been around for awhile, but not having my own classroom and teachers needing my help for integrating iPads in their classroom, I had yet to try one. That has changed recently. With my teachers becoming quite skilled and ready to branch out, we are trying new things in the classroom, with Mystery Hangouts being one of them. Within the last few weeks I have had the joy to assist in several Mystery Hangouts. There are so many reasons why you should get your students involved in this wonderful experience…

First of all a Mystery Hangout or Mystery Skype is when two classrooms from different parts of the world meet with each other via a video conference. We have been using Google Hangouts, but there are certainly other ways to video conference. During the video conference, the classes take turns asking and answering yes/no questions to figure out where the other class is from, hence the word mystery added to the title. Once the mystery is solved by both classes there is usually time to learn about each other. Some classes have interesting facts about their school/town/state all ready gathered to share. Some classes have a Q & A session following the mystery and some classes decide to narrow the search even further and try to solve another mystery by narrowing down the location to the town or city. There is no right or wrong way to do this and it can be a combination of all options, but it is a good idea to decide with the other classroom teacher what you will do after the mystery is solved.

So back to the statement; why mystery hangouts are educational. Some of the benefits for students include… 1. Geography skills - With all of the new standards students must learn and with the focus on literacy and math, map skills have been pushed to the side. During a hangout students are using mapping skills in a real life situation and therefore increase their map skill knowledge. 2. Problem Solving and Collaboration Skills - Nothing like a contest with a group of students they don't know to get students motivated to solve problems and work together to solve the mystery. 3. Communication Skills - Students learn fairly quickly that they need to communicate well with the other class and their own classmates while asking and answering questions. The better they communicate, the better the mystery plays out. 4. Literacy Skills - Depending on how far a teacher takes the concept, a Mystery Hangout can be followed up with students writing a news article about the event. Students could also research information about their community ahead of time to share with the other class. Students could even become pen pals with their new found friends. 5. Engagement, Engagement, Engagement - Need I say more.

It is good practice to have a debriefing session with your students once the call has ended. During this time ask students what went well and what can they do to improve the next mystery. Students have really great ideas once they have the experience and have participated in one.

How do you find a class to conference with? What I did was put the question out to the Twitter World and received a lot of responses. You can use hashtags #MysterySkype or #MysteryHangout. There are also communities set up for this through Google and Skype. See links in the second paragraph of this article.

For more information on jobs for students during the session and other information, click here.

Student Reporters captured the footage to create the following video.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Fluency Funtabulous with Tellagami and AutoRap Apps!

Thanks to Allison Burka I have discovered two more fantastic apps to get students excited about reading fluently.

With Tellagami students get to create an avatar and then record themselves reading/talking for 30 seconds. There are two reasons why this app rocks! 1. You do not have to have an account to share a created Gami. You can either send the link via email and whoever you send the link to can watch the creation through a browser. You can also save the Gami to your camera roll. Once in your camera roll you could use the Gami in a variety of apps including stringing several together in iMovie. Plus you can email the creation to anyone. 2. The app is very user friendly and intuitive. When using this app with kindergarteners I had them pretend that they were stuck inside a book and then they read the book or a page of the book. The results were adorable. Tellagami could be used for more than reading fluently like talking about things that students have learned or explaining something orally.

Auto Rap is an extremely enjoyable way to practice fluency. Students are
amazed with the results. A kindergarten student was telling me over and over that it is the best app ever. Students record themselves reading and then the app turns recorded words into a realistic sounding rap. The only downside is that only one song/beat is free. Students may get bored with this app after a few reads. This week I am going to be in a second grade classroom that wrote a song about simple machines and they are going to use the Auto Rap app to make their Simple Machine songs into raps.

Student Examples:

I Like to Go Out by Sophia (Kindergarten)

Link to a Kindergarten Auto Rap creation.

If I Ran the School by Abby (5th Grade)

My Stuck in the Book Example

Student Auto Rap: Simple Machines

Classroom Lesson:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Using Socrative to Engage Your Students

Socrative is an awesome and free student response system that can be used on iPads (Teacher App & Student App) as well as computers through a browser. It is user friendly enough to be used with any grade level. A teacher can import pictures to be part of the questions, therefore even kindergarteners will find it easy to navigate and answer questions.

As a tech integrator I do not use Socrative very often with students, therefore I have scoured through videos and articles to create a one stop shop for information regarding Socrative.

What is Socrative?

Some Uses for Socrative

Socrative for Collaboration

New Features of Socrative

Socrative Tutorial

Other Resources:

1. Three Good Ways to use Socrative in Your Classroom
2. 13 Ways to Use Socrative as a Formative Assessment
3. My Favorite Mobile Apps #2: Socrative (+Lesson Ideas)
4. Socrative Exit Tickets

Monday, March 17, 2014

Moldiv and Pic Collage for Poetry

Today some 5th grade students created Limericks for St. Patrick's Day, however this idea can be used for any holiday or non-holiday poetry.

The classroom teacher, Mrs. Lucy, taught her students how to write limericks and the students spent some time writing before I joined them and demonstrated the highlights of three apps.

Apps Used… All free… 

Art App - Students can draw/create pictures to use in any other application on an iPad. Then save the artwork to the photo gallery from where the creation can be used in another app.

Moldiv - (Creation to the left.) Is a great pic frame type app that the user can import pictures from the photo gallery, customize the frames, and add text. In this example the student chose one frame in order to have enough room for their poem.

Pic Collage - (Creations below.) Is a really great pic collage app. The user can import pictures from their iPad's photo gallery, but also get pics from the web, or add stickers all within the app. Users can get a little more creative with the text as well. For example the limerick below on the left has all the text within yellow text boxes.

Once the students finished, they emailed their project to their classroom teacher and myself. If you are lucky enough to have a newer iPad, you can share via airdrop. (Grades 2-3 have this option in our district.)

A couple more examples:

Created with Moldiv

Created with Pic Collage

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Students Love it, iMovie!

It shouldn't amaze me how quickly students discover ways to create with any given iOS app, but it still does… I have been using iMovie with 2nd-5th grade students during the last two weeks and they, the students, are fascinated to create using iMovie. Not only are they in love with the app, but it is almost an instinctive app. Students are producing movies about parts of speech, animals they researched, book trailers, president reports, etc. It is amazing to see students so excited about creating something from information they have learned. The beauty is, they will watch their creations over and over, which means the information will really sink in if it had not already during the research and creation process. If students create book trailers, upload the video to YouTube and then make a QR Code to attach to the book that the video is about. Soon enough you will have a library full of books with trailers to entice little readers to read books in your classroom library.

Tutorial Video:

Student Examples:

Book Trailer (5th Grade)

Pronouns (3rd Grade)

Adjectives (3rd Grade)

Elephant Report (3rd Grade)

Book Review (2nd Grade)

The Snowshoe Hare (4th Grade)

President Report (5th Grade)

Teacher Example (Trailer)

Teacher Example (Movie) )

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Story Me for Literacy and Beyond

Story Me (free) is a super fun comic strip creating app for students and teachers alike. With Story Me's intuitive ease of use, students will create comics strips quickly and instinctively to demonstrate their knowledge of subject matter or to enjoy the writing process. Users can choose from a variety of frame styles. Once the project is complete, there are many sharing options available. With the latest (Nov. 2013) iOS devices, AirDrop is my favorite way to share. For older iOS devices, email and Google Drive work nicely.

One of my favorite features of the app is that any picture that the user adds to the comic strip will be cartoonized (Yeah, I made up my own verb.) I love this feature because it makes it easier to post pictures of students. I am less worried about accidentally using a pic of students who do not have permission to have their image posted on the internet. Within the app the cartoon feature can be adjusted from a normal photograph to extreme cartoon.

Student Examples and Inspiration

Students in third grade researched a
person to write a biography about. As a part of their project, the students created a comic strip featuring the person they researched.

In this example the student was playing with the app to learn how to use it. In the end this third grader came up with a humorous way to express themselves and the photos that they took of things within their classroom.

Story Me is a great way to collect digital evidence for different math standards along with any other subject. Have students add their evidence to their digital portfolios.

Second grade students wrote the procedure to making oobleck, a Dr. Seuss science experiment. Story Me is a great application for writing out steps or directions for a variety of things.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Five Best Apps for Math

A colleague recently asked me if I would give her a list of the five best iPad apps for Math. It is hard to dwindle it down to five, so here is my attempt in no particular order…

Number 1: Educreations - With Educreations students can explain their thinking as they work through and solve math problems. When teachers/coaches watch a student's creation, they can figure out where a particular student needs assistance.

Student Example - In this example the teacher will be able to have a conference with her student about finishing the last step of the problem or she could ask her student to watch his Educreations creation in order to figure out what he might have missed.

How to Use Educreations Tutorial - A nice video tutorial covering how to use Educreations.

Alternative and similar Apps to Educreations(free): Explain Everything(paid) and ShowMe(free).

Number 2: ScribblePress - Using ScribblePress students can create word problem books, a book of algorithms, a book of shapes, etc. ScribblePress books can be shared to iBooks for anyone to read on the iPad or emailed to parents to open up on any device from home. A perfect way to share what students are learning while at school. In order to share, you will need to create a free ScribblePress account.

Student Example - In this example a third grade student explains the steps for multiplying two 2 digit numbers.

How to Use ScribblePress Tutorial - Tutorial by third grade students.

Alternative and similar Apps to ScribblePress(paid) - StoryKit(free) and BookCreatorFree(free).

Number 3: TenMarks - TenMarks(free) is not an app, but can be used through a browser on an iPad like Safari. The data that is provided to a teacher when students are using TenMarks is phenomenal. Almost every student I have worked with on TenMarks are highly motivated to do well because of the great way the site is set up. Students can earn games and certificates. Teachers can individualize assignments for each student and students don't really know that one student is doing something more difficult or easier than another student. If a student is struggling with a question, they can choose to read a hint or watch a tutorial video. It really helps students become independent learners. Plus TenMarks aligns their assignments with the common core standards.

Number 4: Sail Through Math(free) - Every once in awhile you need a good practice app and this one delivers. Sail Through Math is a fun way to become fluent with math facts. Students have to click on the correct answer to a fact problem as the answers shoot out of canons on a pirate ship. If teachers want evidence of learning, have students take a screen shot of their score and email it to their teacher or upload the screen shot into student digital portfolios, like Evernote(free) or Google Drive(free).

To take a screen shot hold down and release the home & sleep buttons at the same time.

Number 5: StoryMe(free) - With StoryMe students can create fun comic strips demonstrating their understanding of a math standard. I have yet to use this app for math, but I have used ToonDoo on laptops with students to create math comic strips and the students did a great job with demonstrating their understanding of fractions and other math concepts. StoryMe is one of my new favorite apps, but since it is still so new to me I have only used it with classes as a language arts tool.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Students Using AudioBoo Video

Not too long ago I wrote an article about using AudioBoo in the classroom. It really is one of my favorite tools in the classroom. Recently I created a video demonstrating students using the App and I wanted to share it. Enjoy!

Friday, January 31, 2014

QR Code Caprice

QR Codes can bring a classroom or project to life… I can not take credit for all of the QR Code ideas I am about to share. There are so many creative teachers inspiring students and I wanted to share some of the ideas I have come across during my travels as an integrator. QR Codes can be created with an iPad or a computer. At the end of this article I will explain ways to create and read QR Codes.

1. Make a Project Come to Life: For any project, book report,
collage, poster, lab report, artwork, etc. have students record their voice using an app like AudioBoo, or a website like Record MP3 talking about their project, explaining their understanding of a concept, or reading the story that goes along with their project.  Or have students make a movie or movie trailer using an app like iMovie, the camera on an iPad/iPod, the camera on a laptop, the movie editor in YouTube, a Flip Camera and software, or other various video recording devices plus software. Then upload the video or audio to a site that will give the work an url like Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, or Picasa. From there students can create a QR Code to print and attach to their project. AudioBoo generates QR codes directly on their site.

In Photo Above: Mrs. Lariviere's 2nd grader's Monster Stories, QR Code leads to student audio story.

2. The QR Keychain: Create a keychain of QR codes based on different needs in the classroom. The keychains can be for independent study math videos, tutorials, audio books, classroom library book reviews, morning messages, favorite websites for each standard, etc.

Keychain photo provided by

3. A QR Scavenger Hunt: Create a scavenger hunt. Most QR generators allow the user to have a QR Code for simple text. This brings me back to finding my Easter Basket during childhood. My parents created clues that led to new clues within plastic eggs that would eventually lead me to my Easter Basket. I think that I will create a hunt using QR Codes with my own children this Easter. Teachers do not have to be the only creators. Creating a scavenger hunt would be a fun task for students as well, especially for those students that need an extra challenge.

4. Book Reviews/Trailers: This can be done in audio or video form using apps like the ones mentioned in example #1. The QR Code can be archived/attached on the back of the actual book for students to continue to use every school year or made into a bulletin board to share with others for that moment in time. If you use the bulletin board format, I recommend taking some time for a museum walk before the bulletin board is removed.

Bulletin Board: Mrs. Cartwright, 4th Grade

Museum Walk: Ms. Nason, 3rd Grade

5. Center Work: Have QR Codes displayed during center work. It will help students quickly get to their destination on the device they are using. When students complete the assignment, they can be prompted to another QR Code. Help videos can be included at the center so that your time is freed up to work with students in small groups.

6. Writing Promt Dice: A student is stuck on what to write about. Let them roll for ideas. Check out these writing prompt dice and print your own from my Literacy Site

7. Videos Demonstrating SOPs: Record students acting out the proper way to do different things in the classroom. Then when a student does not remember the appropriate Standard Operating Procedure, they can watch the video by scanning the corresponding QR Code. This allows for students to have a learning time out where they can find a quiet place to sit and watch a video on the expected behavior or procedure for any given circumstance.

8. Self Check Work: Create answer checks for any work that has a correct answer, as much as I am not a fan of worksheets, this idea works well with math. Even better, have a QR code on the top of the worksheet linked to a video explanation of how to do the work, like algorithms. After a student checks their answer, they can watch a "How To" video if they did not get the answer correct before moving on to the next problem.

Making a QR Code: To make a QR Code on an iPad, I like to use QR Reader or Qrafter (Not all options are free when using Qrafter). All you need to do is click create, once in the app, and then choose if you want the QR Code to send to a person's device, to a web address, phone number, simple text, GEO location, email address, etc. You can email the QR Code to yourself to print it if you do not have a printer hooked up to your tablet. (Remember, all on-line videos have an unique web address.) When on a computer I like to use a simple bookmarklet that I added to my browser tool bar or if I want to create a fancy QR Code I use Visualead or QRHacker. Great Video on QR Code Creating.

Reading a QR Code: To read a QR Code on an iPad, I like to use QR Reader or Qrafter. 1. Click on a QR app. 2. Then click on scan. 3. Lastly, put the code in the middle of the scanner screen. Sometimes you have to move the iPad a little to get the code to scan. The website will open up within the QR app, but you also have the option to open up any site in Safari or another browser if you click on the share button. I don't really scan on a computer, however there is software to download if your computer has an iSight camera.

Photo Gallery of ideas:

Ms. Burnell, 2nd Grade, Holiday Memory Writing Activity

Mrs. Melcher, 2nd Grade, Book Review

Mrs. Melcher, 2nd Grade, Algorithm Poster

Ms. Nason, Grade 3, Penguin Project

Ms. Nason, Grade 3, Add Voice to a Writer's Notebook

iPad Cart