Category Archives: iPads

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:


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

What a Loser # 13: PowerSchool Teacher

The PowerSchool Teacher app offers limited access to their account for current PowerSchool users. Since our district users PowerSchool for its student information system, it can be useful to teachers in our district. However, Please be aware that there are limits to what can be done through the app as compared to accessing the PowerTeacher program on a computer. Teachers can do basic grade book functions through the app and can enter attendance with full functionality. However, as of right now, there is no was to submit attendance through the app, so users will still need to log in to the account on a computer to do that. Rosters do show for each class assigned to a user along with student pictures and basic information like birthday and student demographics. My belief is that this app will become more and more powerful in coming releases as PowerSchool developers begin to write Flash out of their programs, making the entire program more iPad friendly. If you have this app on your iPad, be sure to update it so that new developments can be part of yr options!!



What a Loser #12: ShowMe



20140409-064757.jpgShowMe is an app that can be used for simple screencasts. Easy enough for the youngest students to use, the tool is useful for alternative assessments to have students write or draw and record their voices to demonstrate learning or for teachers to view for error analysis of student thought. Sharing finished products does require an account with the ShowMe web account.

What a Loser #11: Class Dojo

20140409-065028.jpgClass Dojo is a web based tool with an app for easy access to your account. The accent allows teachers to build a class and award positive and negative behavior points to the entire class or to individuals within the class. Having a positive behavior support recognition program is an important step in structuring a behavior program for schools and this tool can provide that recognition. Teachers can help classes or individual students set goals for their behavior and see patterns in behavior over time. The option to automatically report out to parents is also available. While the monster/alien or bug themes available in this app may seem a bit juvenile, students of all ages could benefit from the concrete and timely feedback on their classroom behavior Class Dojo can provide.



What a Loser #10: Pic Collage

Pic Collage is a free tool for the iPad that epitomizes creativity. Select pictures from the photo roll, arrange them in your choice of layout, then add text to highlight the contents of the photos. The end result is a project that looks like a high-quality scrapbook page that can be emailed, saved to the photo roll to be used in other apps, or shared as a Pic Collage project. Creative teachers will have no trouble thinking of ways to have students use this app to demonstrate deep learning. Everything from which selection of pictures to use, to what you choose to highlight with the limited space you have for text requires students to be intentional and thoughtful about their creativity. At the substitution of technology level on the SAMR model, this app could be used to support nearly any project teachers formerly required students to do in PowerPoint. Moving towards the redefinition level on that same model, teachers can challenge students to access pictures from primary source documents and resources found from the national archives to represent main concepts they have been studying in social science classes, and create a Pic Collage or a group of Pic Collage projects to demonstrate what they have learned.

What a Loser #9: 30 Hands

20140325-140305.jpgLoser #9 from our iPad March Madness is a nifty little app called 30 Hands. You know how you always have your favorite team in the NCAA tournament who you hope makes it all the way to the finals and you’re just sick when they get out early???? Well that is how I felt when I looked at the scores from this match up and realized that 30 Hands hand been knocked out of the running!!!

This app integrates with the iPad’s camera and microphone to create a final product that is a narrated slides how that exports as a movie file. If you ever used PhotoStory as a software, it sort of reminds me of that. I have proposed using this in an “app smashing” project using Haiku Deck to create images with text (because 30 Hands does NOT do text), with good results. Here is a link to a project one of our third grade classes did creating homemade bread, snapping pics during the process and writing and recording a narration to go with it. The end “movie” product was uploaded by their teacher to her YouTube account and then embedded in a webpages shared on our district’s website.


The 30 Hands app has great potential for documenting science products, giving an end product option for research, creation of public service announcements, and lots of ways for English/Language arts standards to be covered. I’m excited to see what kinds of projects our students start to do with this app when we are fully deployed 1:1 and teachers get more familiar with it!

What a Loser #8: Educreations


Educreations was another app I was sad to see go out early in our iPad App March Madness competition. It is a screen casting app with quite a bit of flexibility, especially considering it is a free app. It has a white board background onto which the user can draw, type, insert images, etc. It also integrates with the microphone on yry iPad so that y can record audio narration to go with the visuals. Teachers can use this app for screen casting lessons. Teachers who want to try a bit of classroom flipping where homework becomes the watching of a screencast so that class time can be spent on deeper instruction, activity, or discussions might like to try Educreations. If y have access to 1:1 iPads, try having students use Educreations to demonstrate what they have learned through the creation of their own screencast. (Takes making a poster to a whole new level!!)  Visit the Educrations website for more ideas about how other teachers are using this cool app!

What a Loser #7: Mastery Connect Standards Apps

20140321-064839.jpgAs part of our continuing iPad App March Madness promotion, I’m featuring the “losers” from our March Madness bracket as they are eliminated. The losing apps featured in this post are useful for teachers, but I consider them more of a teacher tool as opposed to a toll that students would use or that would really allow “modification or redefinition” of classroom tasks. This last statement refers back to the SAMR model that represents the way new technology impacts the classroom. The researcher behind this model claims that the normal progression is for new technology to simply become a SUBSTITUTE  for a task that was before done without technology. Accessing the standards on paper flip chart is certainly an option so, this app could fall into this type of task…the classroom isn’t really changed because of the use of this app. The task of teacher accessing the standards isn’t really much different. The A in the SAMR model is for AUGMENTATION. A slightly higher level of technology impact happens when the task is augmented in some way by the use if the technology. One could argue that these apps do augment the accessing of the standards because it is handy to have them in a tapable, scrollable, format that doesn’t require the teacher to lug around a 3-inch binder or flip chart. However, beyond that, these apps really can’t fall into the MODIFICATION or REDEFINITION categories of the SAMR model. In both of these levels, what students are asked to do in the classroom should change in some way. Either the teachers modifies a task in a way that was impossible to do with trout the use of the new technology or redefines the task completely because of things that are possible with the technology that were not previously possible. So while we hope that technology is allowing students in our classrooms to experience modification and redefinition of tasks, it is unlikely that these particular apps will be the cause of it! They are certainly still useful, though, and I hope you’ll check them out.

20140321-070012.jpg When you open the Common Core Language Arts and Math app, you’ll be presented with the choice of subject matter then grade level to select the standards list that you want to view.

20140321-070141.jpg Once you’re in the correct standards list, the screen operates in a split screen design where the standard displays in full on the right when you select it on the left. The Next Generation Science Standards app works generally the same way with a small variation.



When you first open the NGSS app, you are presented with the various ways these standards can be viewed. This can be a little confusing the first time you look at the standards until you have a discussion about the way your state is choosing to set up their standards.

After ch20140321-070714.jpgoosing the view you want, select the grade level and then you’ll see the familiar split screen view with the standard displayed on the right. A nice addition to the NGSS is the cross-curricular links to the appropriate ELA and Math standards if one exists for each standard you view.

The SAMR model links in this post are to Kathy Schrock’s post on the topic.  I love how she explains things and regularly follow her blog and work.  If you’ve never checked her out, please do!  If you’re really interested in Dr. Ruben Puentedura’s work with the SAMR model, his own web presence is found at

What a Loser #6: Puppet Pals

As part 20140321-060435.jpgof our continuing iPad App March Madness promotion, I’m featuring the “losers” from our March Madness bracket as they are eliminated. I must admit a small tear came to my eye as I realized that Puppet Pals had been eliminated. This is one of the most flexible, creative apps with tons of cross curricular opportunities for content creation by students. I have had teachers use it to work on reading fluency as they created shows using Readers Theater scripts, high school Spanish students recorded fairy tales in Spanish, a counselor used it to have students record social shows to reinforce what they had learned about bullying . . .several applications for use when you are willing to let kids show what they know by creating something for you.

Puppet Pals is super easy to learn to use but here are a few annotated screen shots to give you a crash course. The first steps are to allow the app to access your microphone when you open it the first time. If you tell it no when it asks, you will have to manually adjust your privacy settings on the iPad to allow it or it won’t let you record. Not the end of the world, but a bit of a hassle. Then begin the actual show by selecting up to 8 characters and up to 5 backgrounds to switch between while you’re recording.

20140321-060806.jpgRemember that “characters are anything that needs to. One on and off the stage during your show. If a story has an important object, consider making it a character even though it may not need to speak. For example, a group of second graders were telling a story that had a gold ring as a main part of the story, I took off my wedding ring and they snapped a picture of it to use as a “character” in the story. Which reminds me that another important feature that y get if you upgrade to the very worthwhile “Directors Pass” (which you can do as an in-app purchase), is use the camera to shoot pictures of your own characters and backdrops. Pretty engaging when kids take pictures of one another and then write a script to record using this app!

20140321-061250.jpg After you select the characters, you get to pick up to five backdrops to use. Again, you can pick from the several included or you can use the camera to shoot your own. You can record shows set in your own school, on the playground, or using student art work. One fourth grade class I saw made 3-D diaramas of each part of the story and snapped the pictures of them for the backdrops…what a great way to continue to encourage artistic expression yet still take advantages of digital age writing and publishing.

20140321-061555.jpg This last screenshot is just a shot of the recording screen with some annotations showing what the various controls are. Once you have a recording that you’re happy with, save your show. Later it can exported as a regular movie file to the photo roll for posting to the web, or using in another video editing app. Enjoy looking at a few old samples of student projects made using Puppet Pals:

Fourth Grade Project from 2012

More Fourth Grade from 2012 

2nd Grade Readers Theater Project from 2012


What a Loser #5: StoryKit

As part of our continuing iPad App March Madness promotion, I’m featuring the “losers” from our March Madness bracket as they are eliminated. Story Kit was certainly one of my pics to make it out of the first round brackets. But it was paired against Socrative Teacher/Student, the well-known and popular “clicker” app that can be used for formative assessments. StoryKit is more of a creative app, so they were two very different competitors. The results of this match up showed how popular both apps are, with a StoryKit only losing this match by one vote. It’s a good thing we had an odd number of votes . . .I didn’t have plans in place for how to break a tie if one occurred!20140320-164347.jpg

StoryKit is actually an iPhone app, so if you are looking for it in the App Store, you may have to work a little harder to find it on your iPad. But if you want students to create and record, this app does it all! Want to take photos and use them to tell a story or write a report? The app is fully integrated with the iPad camera. It also has tools to add text, simple drawing tools, and accesses the iPad’s microphone to allow for audio recording.  You can add pages to the story you are creating to make a book that can be shared online with a simple tap that creates a shareable link.

Users will want to be aware of two quirks to this app, though. The first: since it is an iPhone app it only operates in the portrait view, meaning you cannot use the wide-style keyboard for typing.  The second thing to be aware of, is that the text you write is not visible when you are using the recording tool. So if you want to record word for word what you’ve typed, you’ll need a pretty good memory, or you’ll have to write it out on paper. Ugh.

I’ve seen lots of first graders use this app with great delight and great success. Sometimes they draw their own pictures on paper and then take the camera picture of their own art work to put into their book! Sometimes they bring family pictures from home, lay them on their desks and snap  pictures of the pictures!! You can see some examples of student projects using this app at these pages on our website:

Foods I Like 

Christmas Stories