Friday, December 18, 2015

Adobe Post - Enhance your photo with text

I stumble into the office this morning with a few tasks that need attended to, and then an opportunity to check out a new app comes across a feed. I am not the best at ignoring these opportunities, so I dive in and explore a bit.

The app is Adobe Post.  Released yesterday and currently available only as an iPhone app.

Adobe Post is a free, easy to use app, which allows you to add text to a photo enhancing the message you are communicating.

Imagine a student typing in a vocabulary word with a definition.  Or possibly they've typed in a sentence using the word.  In either case the text overlays a photo in a eye catching artistic manner.

As a teacher quickly share a photo on instagram of your students success stories.

Users can take photos, use pictures from their photo roll, or search online from free photos available to them via the app.

Remix a stunning graphic available from Adobe Post and turn it into yours very quickly.

When you like the finished product, the options include saving it to the camera roll, email, or any social media posting.

Creativity at your fingertips, just in time to capture your Holiday moments.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Google Classroom and iPads in a Music Classroom

I love being out in schools and hearing how teachers are using the technology they have available in their classrooms and it's even more exciting when it comes from a non-core subject teacher.

In one of our schools in out region we have a music teacher, Jordan Bremrose at Ione Community School, where students have one to one iPads. She reached out to figure out a workflow for using the pdfs in Google Classroom of music note activities that she uses in her classes.

As with any technology little glitches were occurring along the way.  We had to make sure students were logged into their network filter which was a common issue because Google Classroom would load and refresh even without logging onto the network but when they tried to open the PDF it wasn't viewable.   Next we worked through how to make the pdf open in another app.  This was an issue if the students were logging into Google Classroom through the browser and not in the app on the iPad.  

For pdf annotating we used TinyPDF.  It was free, highly rated, and very easy to use - just remind students they can zoom in and out when tying to draw notes on the staff with their big fingers! Then the last major step how to send it back to classroom or drive so that they could turn it in.   Lots of steps to us, but for the kids, they worked together and quickly figured it out.

While visiting, Jordan also shared that students turn in practice videos to Google Classroom.  Older students are allowed to take their iPads home and students are encouraged to record themselves practicing and upload them for homework.  This way Jordan can listen to students practice, as well as students being able to listen and watch themselves play.  As I left that day, we had a brief discussion on mp3 recorders on the iPad as well for auditions and other assignments.  

It's encouraging to see teachers embrace and think of new ways of using the tools they are provided with.

Using Common Sense Media to find Reviewed Apps

Common Sense Media has long been the go to for the K-12 Scope and Sequence for digital citizenship and so much more but often we forget about some of the other great features!

As a parent or a teacher it's important that we find quality apps to add to our devices in the classroom.  Using Common Sense Media's Review page, use search options to find and read about apps, websites, book, movies, and more.  I often find myself searching through the lists and being reminded of some great sites that I may have overlooked!

Choose options and see the ratings and level of learning (if choosing an educational app).

Read a brief overview and view screenshots before downloading it for yourself to check out.  

So if you are looking to refresh some options on your classroom devices, spend sometime checking out this resource!  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Free Math Manipulatives for the iPad

Here is a collection of free math manipulatives for the iPad.  A great tool box for many elementary math classrooms.

I'm going to define a math manipulative as a tool which allows users to explore mathematical concepts.  These manipulatives are not games, but instead used for open ended exploration.

  • Number Places - Ten Frames and more, include 5 frames, 20 frames, and even 100 frames.

  • Geoboard - Create shapes using rubber bands and explore many geometric concepts.
  • Number Pieces Basic - A basic set of base 10 blocks to explore place value, addition, and subtraction.
  • Number Line - Explore number line counting and mathematical concepts.

  • Geometry Pad - Explore all geometric concepts including lines, angles, shapes, and more.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Using Adobe Voice to Create Food Chain Videos

What I like about the iPad is the ability to work without connecting to the Internet.  This is especially true when you work with field study groups up in the wilderness.

At Outdoor School, 5th or 6th grade students spend 2-4 days experiencing the outdoors.  They get to sleep, eat, and learn up in the wilderness.  Part of their experience is rotating through hour long field study groups which could include learning about weather, creating survival shelters, or identifying plants.

In this hour long field study we start with a review of the food chain including producers, consumers, and decomposers.

The students then take an iPad on a scavenger hunt snapping photos of producers, consumers, and decomposers.  Since consumers don't stand and wait for a photo, we instruct them to take photos of evidence a consumer was here, like a nest or track.

After all the photos are taken, the students storyboard their movie choosing which photos to use and how to tell about the food chain they found.  We ask they include a scenery photo as the title slide and a selfie photo as their credits.

The finished product is created with Adobe Voice, usually 5-10 photos, a narration that tells the story, and background music provided by the app.

At the end of the hour we save the videos to the camera roll and repeat the study for the next set of students.  Then back in town we upload the videos to Youtube.  Here is an example from a group of 6th graders in North East Oregon and their food chain video.

NOTE: If you use Adobe Voice, be sure to login to the app while in wifi, then turn the iPad to Airplane mode.  As a backup iPad app we will use 30Hands in case Adobe Voice logs out.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Collect Amazing Interviews with StoryCorps

Having listened to NPR for years and catching occasional StoryCorps interviews I was excited to see that an iPhone and Google Play app was created to allow for everyday people to record great interviews from the community around them.  This free app walks students through everything needed to capture a great story.

 This app is simple to use, allows for 45 minutes of recording time, has a library of questions that students can choose and add to their own lists.  It prompts them with tips for good recording techniques and allows for editing or saving excerpts.   Students see their questions as they record and can move through the questions on the screen. The finished interview can be saved on the device, stored in the app, or uploaded to the StoryCorps website for public online hosting.  This makes for an easy way to share the students work with others through the sharing of the link from the website.

Last I checked, this app is in BETA mode.  As a teacher the ability to save the sound file outside of the app and use it in other apps or editing software would be a nice addition so I'm hoping that comes soon.  

Here is an example interview on the website of a student interviewing his grandfather about his ALS.    Projects in the classroom or for a community are endless with this app.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The World of Mobile Learning - at AcceleratED 2015


Objective: Participants will experience mobile learning activities, and discuss issues related to mobile learning environments, to strengthen their understanding of mobile learning.

Jigsaw Discussion Topics

1.  Your Vision as a District/School (What is your curriculum oriented goal, so what technology will be supporting that goal?)

2.  Community Conversations (Are parents, community satisfied all students are online?  How are you sharing with them?)

3.  Management/IT (What filters do you need in place?  How are you managing devices?  Are they going home?)

4.  Class Workflow (Are teachers asking high level questions, what classroom management systems will be supported, will you explore strictly online learning opportunities?)

5.  Digital Citizenship (What program is integrated to teach digital citizenship and at what grade levels?)

6.  Social Media (Will social media be allowed, what procedure is in place when creating student accounts, will the school/district be using it?)

7.  Professional Development (What professional development opportunities will be available for your staff?)

Monday, February 23, 2015

YouTube for Kids

YouTube Kids App released this morning.  This free app, available for iPhone or iPad, provides younger children full access to Youtube content appropriate for their age.  You will see Sesame Street, Bob the Builder, and Fireman Sam as examples.

Viewers have a few ways to find content within the app.  They can choose to search shows, music, learning, or the explore button.  Or they can click the magnifying glass and type their search.

While kids are watching a video, they have access to simple controls, or can navigate to other episodes within a particular channel.

When starting the app, by default background music and sound effects are auto enabled.  As a parent you can click into the settings and turn them off.  You can also set a time limit so the app auto turns off after a specific amount of time.

Youtube Kids App is a great resource if you want to allow free exploration of videos for any young child.  

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Seesaw - ePortfolios for Elementary Setting

There are many great ePortfolio options available, including Evernote or Google, however they can be a bit overwhelming for the students in primary grades.  Especially if you want to have them save exemplars.

Seesaw is a free iDevice app that is very simple to use allowing any student capable of using an iPad to take a photo to save an exemplar into their ePortfolio.

Instead of calling them ePortfolio's, Seesaw uses the term journals, both class journals containing works displayed by the entire class and individual journals containing works by any particular student.

The process is quite simple.  As a teacher you create your free account which will be tied to your classroom.  Set up all your students inside that class.

From there you can add either a photo, video, drawing, or something from the camera roll.

Once you upload an item, like a photo, you can add annotation, voice recording, or text.

Then you select which student is associated with the artifact.  You can select multiple students if it is a group project.

The app allows for student access as well.  The only rights students have will be to add artifacts. Students do not need an account, just scan a QR code and they are in.  While logged in as a student they will have the ability to view any artifact from within the class, not just their own.

Let the students do the work: take the picture, create a drawing, shoot a video, or select a project from the camera roll to insert into their own journal.  As a safe guard, before it is finalized into a students journal the teacher must approve the artifact from within their teacher account.

Seesaw allows for you to invite parents so they have ability to see only their child's artifacts.

If you have been looking for an ePortfolio type tool to use with K-3rd grade, this is a perfect fit.  Easy to use so students do the work, teacher has full control over anything posted, and parents have access to their child's work.  Also a great visual recap come conference time.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Kahoot or Quizizz - Game Based Classroom Response Systems

These two free, device neutral, online resources are sure to bring high engagement and active participation into any classroom.  The idea is simple, students answer questions in a competitive atmosphere, there will be a winner.

For both Kahoot and Quizizz, the facilitator creates a series of questions to be answered by the participants.  Each question can have a time limit before the participant must select a response.  The quicker the participant chooses a response, the more points they earn providing their choice was correct.

Using Kahoot, the questions are asked to the participants one at a time.  Participants view the projected screen, answer a question by selecting the corresponding color on their device, points are awarded, and a new question is provided.  When finished, persons with the most points will be displayed.

Using Quizizz, the facilitator starts the activity at which time participants are given questions in a random order.  The participants read the questions on their device and answer them at their own pace.  Once all participants complete the activity, persons with the most points will be displayed.

Quizizz would be a great tool to use for an entire class, or as a center since it is student driven.  Kahoot is teacher driven providing time for discussion between each question being asked.

I've tried using both resources with groups of at least 40, and each time they worked fine.

Both Kahoot and Quizizz allows teachers to create their own questions, which can include images. When finished with the activity, the teacher can save the data describing how students answered each question. Teachers can explore through the many public assessments created and shared by others.

In either case, these opportunities provide a nice review experience or possibly a motivating pre-assessment experience.  Definitely stated, the experience will be fun, highly energetic, and competitive.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Edcite - Create Online Assessment Opportunities for Your Students

With SBAC on the horizon the stress level is high on teachers who have concerns about giving the students testing scenarios that model the tech skills they will need to be successful with the new tests.  Edcite is a great solution for this.

There are multiple ways of using this resource.  The simplest is to reuse or modify an already created assignment from the site which are easily found using filters and search terms based on topics, CCSS, and/or grade level.  Once saving the assignment to your own personal library you can quickly send out an assignment through a URL to students to take and gather data on.  Students will not need an edcite account to utilize the site this way.   Students must finish the assignment in one sitting in this scenario.

The second scenario is to create a class and assign username and passwords to the students.  The benefit of this is having the ability to quickly assign and have the assignment appear in the students' accounts.  It also would allow for a student to start an assignment, leave for the day, and then relog into the assignment and finish at a later time.

Both ways will track data for the teacher that gives the assignment.  Assignments are automatically graded outside of the open ended, which the teacher will go in and self grade.  Teachers can create their own questions and own assignments aligned with the curriculum that they are working on.

Why do online assessments and assignments?  Edcite allows the students to have experiences with the different questioning styles that they will experience in the SBAC.  For example, open ended, drag and drop, make a line on a grid, etc... The more online reading and writing opportunities students are given the opportunity to do, the less "lack of tech experience" will impact their performance when they are assessed in the spring.  Free and usable from Kinder to 12th grade, this resource is well worth your time!  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Epic! - Thousands of Books for Kids

One awesome aspect of a tablet, such as an iPad, is the ability to have one device containing many books.  However, the challenge is finding the books.

Epic, an iDevice app which is free for teachers and librarians, contains thousands of titles which can be accessed by students using a variety of filters such as age level of reader and interest.  Formats include books that are read to students, books for early readers, and extensive chapter books.

As students read books, they can be awarded badges and obtain new themes to use with the app.

Once you set up your teacher account, you can create profiles for students on one iPad.  This is great if you have students sharing one iPad.  Epic keeps track of what students have read under each profile as well as providing a list of titles tailored to the students interest. Note: when setting up these profiles each account will be asked to confirm via a parent email address.

If you are in a one to one environment where each student has their own iPad, or iPod, then they would be fine using the guest profile.

Be sure to sign up as an educator when you first open the app.  You will need to complete an online form submitting your educational information such as school, grade, and email.

You may consider creating your account online at, then download the app and begin your reading adventures.  The online site allows you to browse through titles, but reading the books is done via the app.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Google Classroom Releases Their iPad App

Google Classroom released an iDevice app, available for both the iPad and iPhone. Requires IOS 7 or higher.

The app interface to Google Classroom is very similar to the online interface.  This should be an easy transition. One difference is when posting, find and use the plus down in the lower right hand corner.

What I like about the app is you can add photos from your camera roll to include on any post.

I also like the ability to switch classroom accounts by clicking an icon.  This will come in useful in scenarios where there are multiple students sharing an iPad in a classroom.