Category Archives: Apps and Applications

Reviews of iPad apps and application for educational use

A Listicle: 5 Most Versatile iPad Tools/Apps #EdublogsClub

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This week’s #EdublogsClub Blogging ChallengePrompt: Write a listicle.

From Wikipedia:  In journalism and blogging, a listicle is a short-form of writing that uses a list as its thematic structure, but is fleshed out with sufficient copy to be published as an article. A typical listicle will prominently feature a cardinal number in its title, with subsequent subheadings within the text itself reflecting this schema. The word is a portmanteau derived from list and article. It has also been suggested that the word evokes “popsicle“, emphasising the fun but “not too nutritious” nature of the listicle.[1]

So, my listicle post is about what I consider to be the top 5 most versatile iPad tools/apps for elementary educators:

The Top 5 Most Versatile iPad Tools/Apps for Elementary Educators

To make my top 5 list, apps/tools had to fall in to the “creative” category.  (I have a sign by my desk that reads, “I want kids to create, not just consume.”  Click here to read more about my “motivation” wall.)  If you haven’t mastered these yet, be sure you do!

  1. Camera and Photos (native iOS apps)
  2. Seesaw
  3. ChatterPix Kids
  4. Pic Collage Kids
  5. Book Creator

20170223-091123.jpg     Camera and Photos

Built right in to your iPad are a powerful camera and a tool for organizing, editing, and annotating over the top of your images.  If you don’t take time to get the most recent UserGuide when you update your iPad’s operating system, you might miss out on important and cool updates to the native apps that are part of the operating system like these are.  Here is a link to the current (10.2) iPad UserGuide that you can add to iBooks for free.  The userguide has a hyperlinked table of contents with links to chapters on the Camera and Photos Apps with great screenshots and easy-to-read instructions.  Some of the most recent useful additions is the editing option to “mark-up” a photo.  Think about having students snap a photo of something and then annotate over the top of it!  The annotations become part of the photo itself when saved.  Have them photograph and annotate text or go on a scavenger hunt for photos that contain a shape or other concept you’re studying and then annotate the photo to circle or even label what they want to draw attention to.

Many apps that encourage creativity use the Photos app as a project “library” where finished products are stored.  Any app that allows you to save a project as an image or video file, will likely send the finished product to “photos” for you to retrieve.  This means this app is often critical to being able to “smash” app features together.  Start a project in Chatterpix (see below), then save the “video” file to photos where you can then upload to Seesaw (see below) to share with families.  Understanding and being comfortable with managing your iPad’s Photos app is critical!

20170223-091946.jpg     Seesaw

Click here to see the teacher/student app in the app store.  Seesaw is an online learning journal that allows teachers to make a free account, add their class roster and share access with parents.  Students log in to the app on the iPad and make entries to document their learning using the built-in tools for drawing, recording audio and video, and annotating or labeling over images or pdfs.  Any other app that can save a product as an image, video or pdf can be appsmashed into Seesaw to share with families.  There’s so much more to this app, but that’s the gist of it.  You need to check it out if you haven’t already!

20170223-092010.jpg     ChatterPix Kids

Click here to see it in the app store.  So fun to use to let kids “show what they know!”  Find or take a photo of a topic you’ve been studying, give it a mouth and record your own voice to bring the image to life by chattering your words along the mouth you’ve drawn!  Save the finished project to the Photos app in video format and it can be shared anywhere you share videos:  Seesaw?  Sure!  YouTube? Yep?  Airdrop to a friend?  You Bet!  Set student examples up to play on their iPads on their desks and let your class roam around in a “gallery walk” to see and reflect on one another’s projects.  Don’t feel limited to projects that start with an image of a person because people are the only ones with a voice . . . give a mouth and voice to an inanimate object like a landform or an animal and have their “voice” share details students have learned about that topic.  If the 30-second time limit isn’t enough, teach students to record multiple video clips and piece them together using iMovie!  Or have students use Airdrop to share their projects with you and YOU can piece them together in iMovie to make a class video to share!

20170223-092001.jpg     Pic Collage Kids

Click here to see it in the app store.  So fun to put multiple pictures together in a creative way to tell a story or share what you know or can do.  Add pictures into provided templates, get creative with text, stickers, etc. to make it look nice, then save it to your photo roll as a single, finished image that can be added to other apps or uploaded into tools like Seesaw.  (Since Seesaw doesn’t allow multiple photos to be uploaded (yet), this can be a way to upload multiple pictures into one Seesaw journal entry.  Pic Collage Kids also has some search capabilities built into it that could be used to help teach kids about using digital images “fairly.”

20170223-091954.jpg     Book Creator

Click here to see it in the app store.  This is the only app on my list that isn’t free, but the full version of this app is worth every penny of the $4.99 it costs.  (If you’re lucky enough to be part of Apple’s Volume Purchase Program for Education, you can get it in bulk for $2.99.)  But give the lite version (which IS free) a try before you decide.  All the tools are in the lite version, but you can only have one active book at a time.    This versatile little tool lets students create digital books that can be exported off the iPad in a variety of formats.  Its tools include text, drawing, audio recording, importing of images and videos, and even hyperlinking.  Finished books will open as an ebook that can be read in the native ebook reader for iPad, iBooks.  But they can also be saved as a PDF or even exported in a “movie for web” version that goes nicely to Seesaw and web pages.

 

Share to Classroom Extension for Chrome #EdublogsClub

The prompt for this week’s #EdublogsClub blogging challenge was to write in some way about free technology tools.  I’m a little behind on my posts, so instead of writing extensively on this topic, I’m just choosing to share a 5 minute tutorial video I created to share with our staff.  Many of them use Google Classroom and this video is about a Chrome browser extension called “Share to Google Classroom” that allows teachers to quickly share a web link to their classes in Google Classroom.  I hope you enjoy the video!

Celebrating Digital Learning Day 2016

Digital Learning happens every day in USD 113 Prairie Hills.  But to celebrate Digital Learning Day 2016, I asked teachers to send in photos that I could put together into a video to showcase several examples of what that looks like.  I was impressed with the thoughtful integration of digital learning that happens at all grade levels in all subject areas!   Here is the final product:

 

Adobe Voice iPad App: A Tip Sheet

image of tip sheet

As part of our district’s emphasis on college and career readiness for our students, in a few weeks all teachers are going to get a 1/2 day to visit local businesses to learn more about how their content and/or the “soft skills” we teach students are applicable to today’s employers.  Following the visit, we are expected to create a digital artifact of our visit.  I’ve been brainstorming all the cool ways these visits could be documented, and I’ve created a tip sheet for a fairly new  free app that I’ve been experimenting with and plan to use to document my own visit for the day:  Adobe Voice.  I’ve created a tip sheet for new users of Adobe Voice that can be downloaded from this link:  Adobe Voice Tip Sheet.  The screen shot in this post is of my tip sheet.

Adobe Voice allows the user to insert  images of their own OR icons from their vast library, then record audio narration over the top.  Multiple images can be added to tell a story and the app even has its own background music and themes to choose from.  Once you’re done the app saves directly down to your photo library on your iPad as movie file . . . that’s right . . . a movie file!!  How cool is that?   (I just had a little flash back to my old Windows Photostory days, only Adobe Voice is way easier!!)

Google Classroom Video Resource: Sharing!

Here is a Great video on using Google Classroom!

In today’s blog post, I’m sharing a video I ran across through a useful resource I use to learn about Google Tools:  www.thegooru.com.  I’m often asked by staff to show them quickly how to use Google Classroom, but this tool has become more than a “quick share,” so I’m hoping that being able to help folks create their first classroom and then sending them to this blog post will be useful!

This video is about 50 minutes long, but you can forward through the first part of the video because this is a recording of a live webinar and the first 6  minutes (or so) are the presenter inviting the live viewers to join his Google Classroom account so they have live participation.  As a viewer of the archived video, I just suggest you forward in the video to about 6:15 and start it there.  (This should make the viewing length about 45 minutes total.)  The video was published in September of 2015, so as of today, it is pretty current on what Google Classroom can do.)

Hour of Code Lesson Flow on Graphite.org

Graphite.org is a great place to find tech resources vetted by teachers and organized in an easily searchable way.  Graphite Educators can create lesson flows that show how tech resources can be put togBox island screenshotether in a logical flow for a tech-rich experience for your students.  I recently completed a lesson flow on how we use several technology resources together to introduce coding to students at the elementary level.  You can read my lesson flow here:  Hour of Code Lesson Flow.  I’m also excited to get to take three teachers with me to do a college and career visit to a local business that employs programmers this year.  We hope to be able to help our students make even more meaningful connections as we have them work on coding in the future since we will be increasing our own understanding of careers in computer science as a part of the visit.

The screen shot accompanying this post  from Box Island a new coding app I plan to use with 3rd graders this year during the Hour of Code week!

 

iPad Timer and Timer+ Video Review

Classroom teachers use timers all the time. I used to keep a stopwatch AND a kitchen timer on my desk when I taught middle and elementary school. In my science classes, I often needed multiple timers for each group to time experiments. I was also NOTORIOUS for being the teacher whose class was late to “specials” like music, library, art and PE. (I started life as a middle school teacher who lived by bells . . . then moved to an elementary building where each teacher’s schedule was so unique they had to get their classes where they needed to go on their own time!! What an adjustment THAT was!) So timers are a valuable resource in my eyes. Here is a short video reminding readers that the iPad operating system has a nice built-in timer/stopwatch as part of the Clock app, and also a review of an alternative timer app, Timer+ that I think is worthwhile.

If you’re interested in trying Timer+ link to it in the App Store here!

iPad Integration: Audio Recording Ideas

Voice Record Pro is an app I recently added to my own iPad to compare it to iRig Recorder, the app I had previously been recommending to teachers that who were interested in an app for simple voice recording.   Here are some screenshots from inside the app:
When you first open app you’ll see a list of your saved recordings and on the upper right the recording controls:

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When you first choose the red “Record” button,  screen looks like this:

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You can “Check Level” to make sure you’re getting a clean recording, then tap “Start” to actually begin recording and the screen shows a moving needle indicating recording:

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Once you’re done and click “Stop”, you’re presented with a screen like this one where you can change the default file name from the date and time to whatever you’d like the file to be called:

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Sketchnoting and MOOCS

Let’s be clear: I love MOOCS. If I had unlimited funds, I would just keep taking college classes in all sorts of topics because I love to learn new things. I hope that when I am retired, I live near a campus that allows senior citizens to audit courses for free like ESU did when I was in college!! So when I heard about the concepts of MOOCS…free Massive Open Online Courses, I was elated. And not just a little intrigued by the design aspect since I was formally trained in Instructional Design and Technology during my masters work. I’ve participated in MOOCS from a a couple different platforms, but mostly Coursera. I’ve taken my first poetry class, Listening to World Music, Beginning Guitar, a course designed for technology coaches like me, and now a course specifically about how to generally coach teachers. I didn’t complete all the lessons but grew a little in courses on songwriting and something called “disruptive technologies,” too.

One of my classmates in this most recent class shared her weekly notes done in a process called sketchnoting, and I became inspired to try it myself. It reminds me of the concept mapping that I always had my science students do to make connections between concepts in class, but on artistic steroids. Visual drawings enhance the main points of the notes to help the note taker retain what they are studying. Color and doodling enhance. Here is my first sketchnote from the class:

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Now granted, there are mostly just words in this page, so one of my goals will to become more artistic and graphic and less text-based as I do my next sketch notes. The app I used was Paper 53 for iPad and on this first one, I only used the free version which has limited tools and colors. I might experiment on the next one with a different tool as the add on for Paper costs about $7. It was super easy to share, though and could be emailed quite easily in a file that opened fine on my Windows laptop, too.

Now if you want to see some professional Sketchnoting, head over to the Langwitches blog and check out Silvia’s work on the same subject . . . I could let this put me to shame, but instead I choose to exercise a growth mindset and instead be INSPIRED by her work! Here is her post and sketch on the same week of the course we are taking: Sketchnote from Silvia at Langwitches