Monday, November 4, 2013

Animal Adaptation iPad Projects

After researching a specific animal and its physical/structural adaptations, my fifth graders dove into creating projects to share their learned information. I asked them to chose either:

  • Educreation app for creating a short screencast about their animal
  • ThingLink app for creating an image with images/videos embedded inside
  • SketchNation app for building a video game about the animal

Wow! The kids just excelled with this!
The conversations going on about their projects were so interesting. Talking about ways to show the adaptations, what good "enemies" or "power ups" would be, and how to explain the information they were finding were key topics!

Pre-writing, peer editing, and freedom to choose...key factors in my students success!

Here are a couple of students' projects:

Screen Shots from SketchNation app-



Students were so excited about their animal projects, and I couldn't be more thrilled with how fun science can be with these awesome tools! Students were talking about later games they want to create about planet information and more!

You have to try out all three apps!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Giving A Voice

I know that I have posted before about the merits of the Toontastic App in all different content areas, but I have to share this really, really cool experience.

First, watch this student video...

You might not notice anything about the video right away. It looks like a video done by a child showing their understanding of the life cycle of rats. But, wait...there is more.

The author of this video, (we will call her Jane) is a new student to my school. She is very shy and withdrawn. I have not observed much interaction between her and other students. When the options for creating cartoons came up, Jane asked if she could work independently. While I was cringing on the inside because I wanted to see her mingle, I didn't push the issue. I said, "Absolutely. I cannot wait to see what science you share!" Jane asked if she could share about the life cycle of her pet rats. Our class is studying our Butterfly Garden, cicadas, fresh water jellyfish, and anything that catches our interest in the life sciences. So, "Go for it!"

So, Jane began her prewriting for her Toontastic video. It seemed to be an excruciating process. The attention to detail in the drawings. The time spent mapping out the dialogue. Two class periods (40 minutes each), and Jane didn't even have her pre-writing page done. Yikes! This is where the panic (in me) starts to come in. I asked Jane if there was anyway that I could help her...could she speed it up...when was she expecting to finish? After a third day of pre-writing, when everyone else is busy building cartoons, Jane asked me if she could finish the pre-writing for homework. While I was a little nervous about sending home the paper, I agreed to the work going home. "Please, please, please, bring it back though! You cannot start over again."

Jane finished her pre-write at home and the next day began the next part of her project...actually building the cartoon. As you can probably imagine, this was another very long process. Jane's classmates were beginning to share their work with the class, and she had yet to finish a single scene. I offered Jane any available time I could...recess, studyhall, lunch. Whatever time she could give, I was up for it! I just had to see this cartoon finished.

Today, at the very end of studyhall, Jane brought her iPad up with her pre-writing sheet. This was our conversation...

Me- I am so excited to watch this!
Jane- This is my best work.

We watched the video!
As it finished, I was clapping my hands, grinning from ear to ear, and saying...
"Wow, wow, wow! This is amazing!"

My study hall students started crowing around our computer station asking for Jane to play the cartoon again. She did, and the kids were wild with excitement.

" have pet rats? Awesome!"
"How did you draw this so good? You are like REALLY good."
"Did you look this stuff up, or did you know it?"

Some students were giving Jane knuckles and high fives.
This...for the new girl. The girl that hasn't spoken but a couple words in class.
Seriously! Moment! Wow!

When the student asked Jane about looking up this "stuff", I absolutely loved her answer. "No. I didn't need to look it up. The science was right in front of me. I just waited and watched."

Time. Detail. Patience. And, an amazing tool to help bring out the shy, new girl to our school. Toontastic...storytelling. This app just opened the door for creativity, science, and connections.

Would this moment had happened without the combination and series of events? Can I have this type of sharing and learning and growth with another tool in the classroom? I'm sure you can guess my answer. Thank you Launch Pad Toys!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

#classconnections begin!

Today, two of our science classes were fortunate enough to connect with partner classes in Arizona and Georgia. In general, the experiences were exciting. Students were challenging each other, learning about other areas, and learning how to connect for learning in a professional way! Students on both side of the camera worked well as a team to discover the others' location. Excellent clues and questions were given, and all of the teachers were proud!

Mrs. D's Skype #classconnection:
Students in second period could not stop talking about how much they learned about Georgia! Here are some of our favorite clues:
  • Jimmy Carter was from Georgia.
  • The state was named after King George.
  • They are famous for their peaches.
  • The 1996 Summer Olympics were held there.
  • And, they are bordered by 5 states!
We found many connections between the classes, and finished off the call with a short chat about the similarities. It was a great way to start the #classconnection.

Mr. B's Google Hangout #classconnection:

Our call with Mr. B. was quite a thrill! We had prepared clues, but they were ready to ramp up the challenge by asking yes/no questions to narrow down location. This was a challenge, but we were ready to dive in! Looking at our clues, the students adapted them to ask questions such as:
  • Are you west of the Mississippi?
  • Do you border Mexico?
  • Are you in the Pacific Time Zone?
  • And more!
The kids were sharing ideas, referring to the maps around the room, and keeping close tabs on the clues!

Video from 6th period's Google hangout with Mr. B's class in Arizona:

I cannot wait to reconnect with our new learning partners!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Professional #classconnections

Thanks to five exciting and engaging professionals, our first interaction with Skype and Google Hangout was a winner! Students were thrilled to talk to Mr. Gary Larizza, Mr. TJ Houston, Mr. Mike LaCrosse, Mr. Scott Krieder, and Ms. Tanny VonThron about how science and math were a part of their jobs. Computer programming, super computers, bald eagles, and problem solving in the school place were talk of the day!

Students were also given an opportunity to "check this #classconnection thing out". They displayed fantastic listening skills and were super respectful to our guest speakers. The upcoming #classconnections look to be exciting and productive. We can't wait!

Here is a video compilation of the event...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Same App...Another Great Use

Not too long ago, I posted about my success with a student and the app, Word Wizard. The blog post was called, Don't Cry Leah because I was crying in the public library with joy about the huge developmental leap that I just was a part of for my little guy, Derrick. Major moment in our tutoring, for Derrick, and for me!

So, this weekend we continued with the progress by utilizing the app again. This is how...

We began by "playing" with words as we had before. But, then we turned it around and found objects around the library that we wanted to spell. We pointed to the object (chair), pulled the letters on to spell the word, and listened to the word. Derrick was having a ton of fun! I decided to bump it up a notch...

We then found words and phrases on magazines, posters, and signs around the library that we wanted to know. We pulled the letters onto the screen, "Do not open" and listened to the words being read. We pointed to the words, listened, and kept connecting back. FUN!

To continue the work at home, I made a quick iMovie on Derrick's iPad to share with parents at home. I asked that they do this activity with books, newspapers, and signs around their home.
Here is the video...

You can tell that I am in the library...trying to be super quiet! :)

This activity lasted 40 minutes! 40 minutes! This was the child that lasted 3 minutes in an app on average a couple months ago. :)

So, that is the success story with Word Wizard this week. We are going to ride that wave as long as it lasts.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Don't cry, Leah.

After spending the past week in Austin, I wasn't quite sure I wanted to tutor my little friend, Derrick, this morning. I was looking at the clock at 9 am, thinking I could really use the sleep. But, I went ahead and met Derrick and his dad at the library. Cuddling with his little raccoon stuffed toy, Derrick grabbed my hand, put on his walking feet, and headed into the library. We sat down to practice his name.

At his age, Derrick should be able to write his name. But, he is just so far behind.  It is often difficult for others to understand him when says his name with all of his communication disabilities. So, this has been a major area for me when we meet. We use SO many different tools on the iPad to encourage communication, practice reading and writing skills, explore math, and develop social stories. My biggest goal is to help Derrick find ways to participate in the world around him, and the iPad has been our major tool.

Today started off with hugs, smiles, and getting right down to work. Derrick began by writing his name on paper. With very loose grip on the pencil, frequent breaks, and an unrecognizable product, Derrick gave it his best shot. You can see his effort below... (along with my notes).

We jumped into the Word Wizard app to continue our work. Many interesting things happened in this session. But, the first one that really caught my attention is what Derrick did with Raccoon. He used my iPad to prop up his, then he set up his stuffed toy to watch him work. He didn't have Raccoon on the table during our pencil and paper session. What a statement that made!

Now, Derrick didn't jump right into the app and spell his name correctly on the first shot. That would have been quite the moment! Unfortunately, Derrick struggled right away. I will note that he did start with an upper case, D. Cool! Definitely progress. But, then he struggled with the order of letters, and he looked like he was wandering around with the letters. I asked if he wanted help, and he just gently stroked my hand. (His way of saying he didn't need my hands on the iPad. We developed this system because when we first started working together, he would smack other people's hands away.)

After working for about 10 minutes with minimal prompts, Derrick started getting really excited, but not frustrated. He started tapping my hand and saying, "not word, not word". Then, he started showing me the red highlighting around the letters that he was working with and touching my ear. "Not word, not word." Word Wizard has options for hearing the letters and words read aloud as they are put together. This was what Derrick was starting to focus on. He abandoned his name and started just pulling letters together, playing with the order, and listening for results. He was getting so close to his iPad, listening so intently, and having so much fun that he forgot I was even there! Which is a very good thing because at this point I was trying to quickly wipe away the tears that were rolling down my face.

You see...this was the first time Derrick ever experimented with the letters and sounds. He has never just played with language...that is his barrier. I was witnessing a huge shift for Big D. He was doing, listening, processing, and getting excited. And, this lasted for about 30 minutes. Just Raccoon and myself, sitting with Derrick as he found language.

I am not going to say that Word Wizard is the app on the iPad that everyone should roll with...I almost contemplated not listing the app. But, they did a great job with that app, and I am happy to promote their product.

After about 30 minutes of complete language joy, Derrick looked up, stretched, and was ready for a break. He saw my face...blotchy and still wet from tears. And, he stroked his hand on my cheek...

"Don't cry, Leah."

We walked around, and when we returned, Derrick dove into Educreations with me to record us writing his name. (Derrick loves these videos! He will trace letters and talk/babble a mile a minute and then just laugh his butt off listening to us when we watch the video.)

We finished with time in Pocket Zoo HD. I purchased this for him as a reward for his amazing work this morning, and it turned out to be another gold mine. I used the app with fifth graders because it has live cams for some of the animals, and I knew Derrick would love that!

With as many items on my To-Do list, I had to write this post because I wanted to share an amazing moment. Derrick's amazing moment happened!  I again saw the power of transformation in learning that can occur with access to this tool, and I cannot wait to wake up next Saturday morning to work with my buddy.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

California and Houston Fun!

My travels to California and Houston were both exciting and invigorating in my work with other educators. I was thrilled to work with very enthusiastic people who were ready to implement the iPad in the classroom. We learned so much together and I wanted to share 2 sets of slides that I worked with.

While these are not the only topics we covered, here is a start...

Please ask if you need specific app names or anything clarified!

Science Education Bumped up with iPads! You can utilize the iPad for everything from turning it into a document camera, finding great apps, building amazing projects, connecting your students, using fun sensors, and MORE!

Science Ed

Book Building with can be a wicked cool collaborative process for exploring content!

Book Building

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Do We ALL Have To Make An iMovie At The Same Time? Should We?

The end of the school year just snuck right up on it did many teachers (I think). The end of the year is a buzz of excitement, reflection, and review of all the amazing learning that took place. In my science room, I love to close up the year with an Independent Study approach. I do this by offering students a menu of 20 topics with various projects attached.

These pictures are showing a section of the menu.

All of the topics and projects are related to content that we have already delved into with projects we have already explored. And, while there are limits, I do allow students to suggest alternatives to this list, if they so desire.

So, for several weeks, my room becomes a flurry of independent (or partner) work to explore content that students are really interested in. Now, truth be told, I still have some students that are not motivated. In just over 100 students, I had probably 5 that needed constant prodding and supervision.

But, getting to my point of asking all students to create the same project at the same time...

This specific menu represents my end of the year mode of operation, but the practice of offering a menu isn't one to use exclusively use at the end. I think that it is a good practice to use year round. I'm not suggesting that teachers use a 20 block menu each time, but why do we think that we need to ask all students to create the same project at one time? Does every student have to make a poster for this project and a brochure for that one? Not really. What about a rotation of projects? As long as the content is the focus, I don't see a problem in offering various paths. With rubric assessment, we can accurately gauge student understanding.

And, seriously...with an iPad in a students hand, the possibilities are endless. There are just so many slick apps to work with!

I went through my list of apps that I could offer in rotation. I'm sure this isn't going to cover them all...but, here is my shot at it:

Toontastic cartoon
StripDesigner comic strip
Educreation video
Pages report, poster, brochure
LifeCards postcard
Book (ScribblePress, CreativeBookBuilder, Bookabi)
Aurasma Project

And, more. I'm sure you have your own ideas! So, just a thought...we don't all have to show understanding the same way. And, with a wicked cool tool like an iPad, WOW!

(Now, if we could only offer students this type of assessment on ALL levels.)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I LOVE this case!

So, I don't usually post about specific products for the iPad (unless you count apps). But, I have to tell you...I LOVE this new case!

This is my pretty, blue, absolutely fun to walk around the classroom with Gripcase case and stand! It is wicked cool!

I just ordered a second iPad for using in the classroom and conducting workshops, and I hadn't landed on a case yet. I have been using a Targus case on my other iPad, and I like that case. It does the job...protects the iPad. That is my number one concern in using the iPads. I just want them protected. And, since my students frequently borrow my iPad from home, I definitely want protection. But, I thought trying this case would be fun. So, today was my big pilot day with it...

I was working in the classroom collecting student data as they worked. I was filling in a project work assessment rubric in a Google Form. I was collecting pictures, audio, and notes in Evernote folders about various groups. And, I was using various apps for teaching and support. I used everything from pulling up Safari to grab a map of the US, pull it into Drawing Pad and have students draw the path the invasive Asian Carp have taken over the past few years. And...more. I even used the iPad with its new case for collecting data with PASCO sensors.

My point with all this is...I NEVER felt an awkward moment with the iPad and new case. It was as natural as can be! Light weight, easy to hold, and protecting the iPad. I felt comfortable enough to just pass the iPad off to a student to use. No worries!

The kids were instantly drawn to it, too! They have the class iPads they were working with, but they definitely were attracted to the new case. They commented on how cool it looked, and when I handed it to them to work with...they loved the feel of it.

I would definitely want to use these in a class set of iPads!

My daughter even wanted to use the iPad for reading in the hammock.

Check out their website... GRIPCASE!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

#edtechex Ideas For Summer Planning

Not that I am anxious to start the summer (ahem)...but in thinking of the summer break, I was wondering if anyone wanted to share their favorite #edtechex(ample) from this school year. Sharing ideas of what really made an impact with students and learning through the use of technology is always a way that I learn and grow as an educator. And, what better way to close the year up than by sharing ideas to toss around the brain over the summer!'s the thought:

  • Post your favorite blog post from they year that highlights #edtechex.
  • Share an example of #edtechex in a tweet.
  • Retweet someone else's #edtechex that is worth exploring.

Who knows...we may inspire some ideas for next school year this way!

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Solar Ovens + PASCO + iPad= Real Science!

A week ago, I gave my fifth grade scientists an optional challenge. To show understanding of thermal energy principles that we had been covering in class, they could complete 1 of 4 assignments:

  • Create a poster
  • Create a comic strip
  • Evaluate their home in relation to thermal energy
  • Create a Solar Oven

The results that I got with the solar ovens were interesting. The first day that students could bring in ovens, I only had about 10 out of 114 students choose the oven option. I was surprised because I thought more students would bite on this. However, I immediately set up our lab for collection of data for the 10 ovens.

We used a large work light, an iPad hooked up to a projector, the SPARKvue HD app, a meter stick, the largest wooden protractor known to mankind, and the chalkboard. Students also had their notebooks rolling.

I asked the students to help determine the controlled variable in our tests. Keeping in mind that the one tested (manipulated) variable would be the solar oven, students had to try to keep every other variable the same. What a great activity! 

Students decided on these controlled variables:
  • Testing time=5 minutes (300 seconds)
  • Distance from light=45 cm
  • Angle from light= 45 degrees
  • Same light source each time
  • Same thermometer and data collection software each time

With each test, students sketched out the design of the oven (hopefully with labels), the starting/finish temperatures, and the final results.

A student was responsible for running the SPARKvue software which is so easy to use and learn! I just had to model the app use 1 time as the iPad was connected to the projector, and soon enough the kids were rocking it out!

*Disclaimer- I did my research with the app, even building a YouTube playlist for myself to work with! Click here to access the videos. I also met with a teacher representative from PASCO at the NSTA conference to talk about the use!

You can NOT imagine the awesome conversations that developed in each classes:
  • Controlling variables to ensure accurate data
  • Insulators vs. conductors
  • Reflection of light
  • Angles
  • Calculating difference in temperature change
  • Safety (as I scorched my hand on the light)
  • Conduction, convection, radiation
  • Heat capacity
  • Real World application
  • DESIGN and ENGINEERING principles
  • And more...

The students were soon taking control of the investigation. I was merely the person responsible for turning the light on/off (because it gets PRETTY hot). Taking photos, screen shots of the data, and discussing the various designs, these kids had an amazing 2 days of testing. 

Oh...we do have a Science OAA test next Thursday. Are we preparing for that? Damn right! Talking the talk, blending the content, pulling forward great visuals to integrate with vocabulary. I can't imagine a better way to get ready for a science test than DOING science. And, if the test doesn't match up with this type of science...their loss. They will not have an accurate picture of my scientists. But, as I discussed with my fifth graders...SCIENCE RARELY COMES IN A MULTIPLE CHOICE FORMAT!

Since our initial 2 days, we have had about 20 more oven brought in for testing, several initial designs have been improved for follow up testing, and students will soon begin building lab reports. There are many comparisons and data sharing that can occur now. They will have a choice in the format for that...
  • Keynote presentation
  • Pages lab form
  • iMovie video

Follow-up post on that!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

WVIZ AppShare+

When asked to present at WVIZ, I was super thrilled to share some of the amazing things my students have been accomplishing in the classroom using the iPad. These slide have some of my major points from the presentation.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Science Embedded in the Art!

So, I've always used photos in science class to get kids thinking about science in the world around them. I will take pictures from my phone, the internet, and artwork and ask students to discuss the "Science in the Pics". I usually project the photos from my iPad to the big screen. Students Think, Pair, and then Share with the group. The ideas I get give me some insight into the range of understanding in science concepts between the students. The use of vocabulary and the depth to which students can discuss their observations is a great way to assess their understanding. Some students are able to grab my iPad and draw all over the screen pointing out science in action. Others struggle at the beginning and use student models to grow in that area.

Another way that I love using pictures in science is by using a local artist's sketches. Mr. Josh Haplea, the art teacher at McCormick Junior High in Huron, Ohio, is very generous in giving me artwork that can be used with a central theme. From animal adaptions to sound and light energy, he does a phenomenal job creating a cartoon style art work that engages my students in science and art! My students can pull Mr. Haplea's pictures onto their iPad (from DropBox or after I posted them on twitter) and use the image in a variety of apps:

  • Educreations or ShowMe
  • DrawingPad
  • TypeDrawing
  • StripDesigner
  • Pages
  • Toontastic
  • Popplet
This is Mr. Haplea's latest creation for us:

Students jumped into action...finding fun science in the picture.

Then, students pulled the picture in digitally...or, colored (old school).

But, to have even more fun with the picture, I asked students to think of what images could be embedded in the artwork. Using Augmented Reality, could we extend the fun? "Apps"olutely! (Sorry about that! Had to do it.)

So, we used the app Aurasma to embed six pictures and videos into the artwork. Now, disclaimer...with our first shot at it, not all of the images were the MOST scientific! But, we tried. ;)

These were our images:
  1. The spectrum turned into a picture that we took of a spectrum from a prism + overhead projector on our ceiling.
  2. The eye ball at the top turned into a video of a student blinking their eye.
  3. The light bulb turned into a blinking blue light bulb.
  4. The periscope at the bottom turned into a yellow submarine.
  5. The angler fish turned into a cartoon image of an angler fish with HUGE fangs.
  6. Mr. Haplea's signature at the bottom turned into Rene Magritte's painting, The Son of Man...but animated like in the Matrix!

These educators are rocking out the use of Aurasma app to levels that I am just THRILLED to try out. You have to watch this video. They have so many amazing ways to share content, student work, and more with the app.

Can you see some possibilities in your classroom?

Technology can be SO much fun!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Rover Videos...

I wanted to share my absolute favorite iMovie done for our Rover Share!

Aubree created this video as we went through the project. She was fine just figuring out the iMovie software, and I love how she invested so much into the project. She truly showed how giving a student a job that means something to them can drive the creation!

Monday, February 25, 2013

1 iPad? Seriously? What can I do with 1 iPad?

1 iPad? Seriously? What can I do with 1 iPad?

I run into this question sometimes when working with groups or individuals with the iPad. Some schools choose to pilot the iPad by starting with the teacher getting a device and going from there. I'm ok with that method. For some, that may be the toe dipping into the water method, and it may work for them.

Honestly, I'm a jump right into the pool. (Or, push one of your best friends into the pool with an iPhone in his pocket. Ha! @glarizza) I love to explore with the pressure added. Not everyone likes that method.

And, there is a large population of educators that would probably go for the in between method. Give them a teacher iPad and a supporting cast of 5-10 iPads, and they would be thrilled!

Regardless of what we want and are most comfortable with, some times the decisions are made without us. That being said...this post is thinking of the iPad as 1 device only. Even though I have a class set, many times I will narrow down the use to 1 or a group of 5. There is SO much you can do in these environments to bump up the engagement

This chart shows apps that I have used and can recommend for a variety of grade levels/content. I identify my thought with ways to use as well. Honestly, you could shift these apps around based on your needs, creativity, and student population!

Also, these are a couple of suggestions before rolling out any apps...

  • Test out the app yourself, then with a student or two. If the app passes your test, and the student gives it a thumbs up, it usually is a winner.
  • Have a way to share your iPad screen...whatever works for you. Reflector Software on your computer (hooked up to your projector), Apple TV, or a VGA cord. (There are more ways. These are the 3 that I can attest to.)
  • Be OK deleting an app. You will come across a variety of apps that are CRAPTASTIC. They look like they will be good. You may even think that they will be good. But, they fail. Period. Delete.
  • Start with your content or goal. Don't use an app just for the sake of using it. Even if it comes highly recommended, it may not be what you, your content, and your student need.
  • When using an app with students, THINK ALOUD. Model problem solving and thought process. Trust me...just like modeling solid reading skills, students need to see modeling of thinking skills and technology problem solving. It will pay off later!
Ok...enough. Now, how do you use 1 iPad?

Camera- Document, document, document. You will probably use those pics and videos later! Your class will make books, videos, and cartoon strips together. And, there is nothing more engaging than using your own image in a creative piece!

Photo library/Albums- I love using the album feature on my iPad. Whenever I am gearing up for a new content, I save images from google into my photos. Then, I build albums to use for discussion points, warm ups, projects, and review. Right now we are covering, those albums are made. I also have pictures of warm up and cool questions to use.

iBooks- Read aloud anyone? You can even model reading/thinking skills by adding notes and highlighting.

So far, these are all apps that are pre-loaded. Now, here are a handfull that I can see teachers walking around the classroom using, handing off to a student, having a single student use, and having small groups explore.

iMovie- The mileage that you will get off of a $5 app is amazing. The quality and ease of use is unbelievable. Videos can be shared many different ways, and the review potential with those videos is powerful! There are many tutorials available, but just diving in is pretty cool, too. I would model this one as a whole class activity and problem solve and think aloud together. When you want students to become the "independent film maker", the problem solving you did earlier will resonate!

ScribblePress or CreativeBookBuilder- Both apps will get you into book building. It just depends what level you are interested in. Scribble press is primarily picture and text. Very solid app. Lots of choices, not overwhelming though. Creative Book Builder allows the creator to add video, URL links, and audio clips to the pictures and text. Both apps allow for sharing and later review. I love reviewing our content with our books in iBooks, and the students do too! FYI- When we build books...we PREWRITE. I want the best work my students can do, and prewriting is an integral part of the process. So, passing out a template for prewriting is a scaffold that I provide. We also build a book together, then they work in teams, then independently...scaffold! (Both apps are around $5.)

MentalCase- Starting off class with a review of content vocabulary, famous faces, key concepts, or ANYTHING is pretty powerful. And, this is a flashcard app that goes beyond the norm. By having student voices and drawings/pictures with each card, you automatically engage the student even more. Building the cards can occur by passing around the iPad or using in a center. Sharing the cards can happen on the big screen. And, you can build suitcases for the specific content. This screen shot shows you the cards we are working on...electricity. The students used my iPad to take pics and use web pics to add. They recorded their voices reading the prompts and definitions. Pretty cool review the next day! Class edition is FREE!

Educreations- This is my recordable white board of choice...for now. ;) I use this app to record lessons, while streaming to the projector (for review and absent students). I ask students to record ideas (preassess, assess). This is a great app for sharing ideas, and students LOVE to hear their voices! The ability to change colors is huge for student comprehension. You need to set up an account. But, this is great for later storage. I also model the use of this app and require PREWRITING! FREE!

iTalk Recorder Premium- At $2, I have definitely gotten mileage out of this app. I love to use it for recording student answers, recording myself reading a passage for the students, and recording group work sessions with students. The ability to email and drop into dropbox is nice, too. I can easily drop the reading passing file into dropbox for any student that needs a little audio support. Or, I can email a student recording for a test to myself for later review. Sweet!

Popplet- An oldie, but goodie! I love the way you can use this app to brainstorm in a whole class session, one on one with a student, or in small groups. Using color, pictures, and text, you can map out a ton of great ideas! Very easy to use AND versatile! I use this app when creating my lesson plans to think through all my resources and content. You can share as a PDF or image file to your photo library...or email. Love it! $5

So, for $17 (ish), you have a suite of apps that can be used with the whole class, small groups, one-on-one, and just passing the iPad around. Pretty good! Remember when software was far beyond that for 1 program. YIKES! Now, you have all these wonderful ways to engage students. With use, familiarity will grow. Soon, you will be roaming the room with the iPad flipping in and out of apps...rotating uses and students, and you will be amazed at the productivity. (Doesn't happen immediately. Just like anything worth doing, it takes a little practice.)

So, final thought...
There are a ton of app lists out there. I have several roaming around! It really goes back to how YOU, YOUR STUDENTS, and YOUR CONTENT fit. Maybe cartoons or cartoon strip making is more your stride. There are wicked cool apps for that, including Toontastic and StripDesigner. Maybe music is your area...Garage Band. Period. And, the number of really good games for skill acquisition is growing exponentially. So, start somewhere. Find your fit.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Possibilities with AR

Ever since using NASA's Spacecraft 3D app in the classroom to enhance our exploration of space vehicles, I've been a little obsessed with the possibilities of augmented reality apps! From this video, you can see why...

The kids loved the app. We placed the marker code all over the place and had great conversations about how NASA's exploratory vehicles have progressed. Students were excited and wanted to show the app off to EVERYONE, and it has had my wheels spinning since! 

I know that there is a ton going on out there for augmented reality, and I'm sure that I'm a little late to the boat. But, I also had a great experience with Paul Hamilton's Science AR app to explore the water cycle.

So, where do I go from here?

Wikipedia starts with, "Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data."

I can do that, right? 

After reading Steve Clark's post about Aurasma's app at, I decided to try it out today (at a very low level). I created my own quick activity using a print out of 10 Electrical Safety concerns. I knew that my students would be working with that content on Friday, and I wanted to roll out the app to them to see what ideas they would later generate with different content. 

So, these were my steps using Aurasma App:

  1. Download the app.
  2. Play by creating a goofy video with my daughter. (I always start off playing with the app with kids. They have a 6th sense when apps are winners. Needless to say, Jay and I loved it!)
  3. Print out the site that I was going to be working with to explore electrical safety.
  4. Add a little monster sticker in the corner.

Then, create a video entry of myself reminding students about how dangerous electricity it and link it to the monster sticker with the app. 

Finally, add some fun animations to match the pictures...

(Imagine fire shooting up from the crowded plugs. Pretty cool, right! And, accurate.)

(This animation has electrical current coming from the side of the page.)

You can see that my first run through with the app was not incredibly complicated. It is basically a reading passage with cool animations. While it may help students remember the content a little better with the visuals, I know that there are many more possibilites. But, I'm pretty excited to try it with students tomorrow!

I think the true fun is going to occur when students dive into creating their own cool content with the app. They can create their own AR products using the science that they are learning. The work could be embedded into
"}\ their science notebook, and it could be accessed through the app by other students and me (for fun assessment).

Can you imagine? In other content areas, you could work this into writing pieces with fun images and videos pop up out of a poem or writing prompt to add to the mood. You could have students create really cool multi-tiered time lines in social studies. You could have students create a set of instructions with markers spread throughout the work. And, I'm sure a math teacher could have a fun way to integrate this into word problems!

I just think we have some really cool opportunities coming up in education...get ready, get set, explore!