Friday, September 19, 2014

From Recess to Science in Seconds

As Michelle Klamm’s (@klammlovesmnms) students came in from recess, they were a crabby bunch, as crabby as a mom without her morning coffee.  The older kids had taken command of the basketball and soccer fields, so recess was not as much fun as it should have been for her students.  Mrs. Klamm listened to them carefully and then said in a cheerful voice, “It’s time to learn about some new class guests, our anoles. I made you an iTunes U course to help you discover many interesting things about them.”

Each 3rd grader slipped on headphones, tapped open iTunes U and off they went, independently learning in just seconds.   It was impressive how quickly the students transitioned to science straight from recess.    Each child was sucked into the action, just like an insect drawn into a spider web.  All the recess worries were out of their heads as the anoles took over the iPad screens.  They were hooked.  Once in a while, a small chuckle would erupt from a student as they discovered a funny part in the video.
Listening and learning, this 3rd grader is focused.  

Klamm spices up her documents for the iTunes U course in Pages and converts them to PDF files. Students enjoy the colorful documents which they open in Notability and complete in their handwriting. For this lesson, they worked on science vocabulary and observation notes.  Students naturally choose different colors to write with.   The materials are shared back to Klamm via a shared Google Drive folder.  

Klamm's 3rd graders are learning all about Anoles

Klamm loves delivering the curriculum via iTunes U courses she creates for her 3rd graders because it is an efficient and effective way to craft a media rich learning environment.  Not a moment of golden class time is lost.  The curriculum objectives are clear and students navigate the course independently.  Indeed, this student centered classroom with the iTunes U workflow is a model of self-directed learning that is so engaging students go from recess to science in seconds.     

Written by Ann Feldmann

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Five Sites for Your Tech Toolbox

Are you looking for a few excellent sites to utilize with your students this year? Here are five web based resources that are engaging for students, easy to setup and manage, free, and work well on both tablets and computers.


Are your students writing?  Have them showcase their work on kidblog.  Students experience the joy of writing as they receive comments from others around the world.  Get students into a routine of writing/posting one week and commenting on posts the next.  It may seem a bit elemetnary, but is great for high school students too.

Frontrow is a free web based site for math differentiation that works well for elementary students. It provides teachers lots of data on student progress.  
Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a free web based site that allows teachers or parents to coach students on math topics.  This site makes it easy differentiate math instruction for students and view their data.

Students enjoy a little friendly competition and Kahoot makes it simple to create quizzes and play them as a class!

Give every student a voice by using a back channel! This is a fantastic way to have a class discussion over anything:  a science topic, story, current event, you name it.  Direct students to the URL of your back channel and the fun begins.  Create an account and you can moderate the discussion, see a transcript of the conversations,  and create rooms that last up to even a year!

Written by Ann Feldmann


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Growing your Google Garden: Use Table of Contents for Page Navigation

The Table of Contents is a powerful feature that is often underused in Google Docs.  Why do I love Table of Contents?  I love table of contents because it provides users with a quick way to navigate a Google Doc. Google Docs automatically creates links to different sections in the document when the heading styles are used in conjunction with Table of Contents.   Just a click of the mouse and you zip down the page to the selected section.

Here is an example of the Table of Contents feature used on this Explain Everything handout I co-created with Spanish teacher, Angelica Musil.  Notice how easy it is to go to a specific sections just by clicking the link at the top of the page.  

Here is how to create a Table of Contents on your Google Docs in just four easy steps.

1.  Start a document.  Type in a section name, example Part 1.  
2.  Highlight the text.  Select Normal Text from the toolbar and choose from Heading 1, 2, or 3.

3.  Continue adding section names. Repeat step 2 for each section name.
4.  Go back to the top of the document and choose Insert→ Table of Contents

Enjoy using this feature to make your documents easy to navigate. Did you give it a try? Leave me a comment and share your documents.

Written by Ann Feldmann

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Beauty of Visual Teaching

In working with teachers on implementing iPad technology in the classroom, I am reminded again and again, how the simple act of adding colors and images to a resource can transform a simple lesson.  We want our students to be successful on inevitable tasks, like a simple pencil and paper test, a state test, or basic math operations.  So we go over these skills often times in whole group relying a lot on our verbal directions.  We talk about logical steps and we ask kids to respond to our simple questions. Sometimes we forget that with an iPad in our hands we can add so much more engaging content to a lesson.  

Little things like circling key words in a bright color can grab the attention of our students.  Or using stickers within an app to replace our own maybe messier drawings can have a positive impact during a lesson. We have so many great tools in our hand when we are using the iPad.  I think we need to remember exactly which tools can have an impact.  So the next time you are explaining something to your students while using your ipad and projector, consider making it more visually pleasing.  Here are some ways to make your lessons more visual for your students.  

Prepare your images before your lesson.  
If your math lesson is going to be adding up pie pieces, go find some pie pieces on Google and save it to your photos.  Or if your lesson talks about parallel lines, make sure you have some images of linear building in your camera roll.  You could take it one step farther and create image albums in your photo app.  Organize those photos by subject, lessons, or ideas.  Then they are there when you need them.  This will save you time on the fly during your amazing teaching!

It sounds simple enough, but use color.  You’d be amazed how often I see teachers only using black and white.  Certain colors help students remember information.  Green is a great color to use on a white screen!  Color coding ideas also helps with organizing information.  The app Popplet is a great tool for color coding ideas and information. 

Use an app with easy access to design elements like Notability.  Notability lets you import PDF’s so those plain old documents can get doctored up with its marker tool, highlighting tool, and web-clips.  All of a sudden, student notes start to look like art projects and they are completely tailored to what the students were thinking as they are note taking.

Let your students doodle.  Doodling can be a great brain break for students young and not so young.  Doodling can also be used to portray a feeling or theme from a reading selection.  Don’t be afraid to model a little doodling of you own!  I like the app Paper 53 for doodling or even something as simple as the app Screenchomp.

Begin your lesson with an introduction video featuring you!  Yes!  Use your Camera app and record yourself excitedly introducing a concept or a lesson.  Maybe even dress up as a character that goes with your topic.  Our students can have a short attention span, so a quick 1 - 2 minute intro video might be all it takes to grab their attention and maybe even have a laugh to start a lesson.  

Remember, joy is important and learning can be not only fun, but beautiful!  

Written by, Jenny Krzystowczyk

Friday, August 22, 2014

Five Ways to Apps Smash

Five App Smashing Ideas for your Classroom

App smashing happens when you combine the power of more than one app to create
something incredible.   Below are five creative “go to” apps and fun ideas on how to smash them together with other fantastic apps to take awesome to a whole new level!

How You can Use it
App Smashing Ideas

The fun begins by selecting video and deciding upon one or two Avatars. Then choose a background and record a narration. The videos can be saved to Photos (Camera Roll) or uploaded directly to YouTube.


Buddy Poke + iMovie + YouTube
Import the clips into iMovie.  Have students add a video introduction,
add music, text, and a conclusion.  Upload to YouTube and share on a

Record vocabulary definitions.  Create a separate video for each definition. Put them together in iMovie and use the movie as a study tool.

Click to view an example from Mrs. Evon's 4th grade class.

Create engaging notes in Notability. Explore all the paper choices.  Graph paper is a great choice to align line objects, especially math problems.  Even use Notability to “color” with the variety of colors in the palate.

Annotate images easily in either Notability or Skitch. Images can be imported from camera roll. You can also annotate PDF’s imported from Drive or Dropbox.  
Notability/Skitch + Explain Everything/iMovie + YouTube

Go on a photo scavenger hunt.  Import the images into Skitch, and annotate them. Drop the images into iMovie and let the creating continue.

Mr. Sims had his students find real world examples of geometry.  App smashing with iMovie and even including Garageband to make music resulted in this great project! Click here to see an example.

Create a thinglink on any topic.  As users move their mouse of an image, text
pops up giving the user details and facts about the image.
Thinglink + Kidblog
Write a blog post on
and embed the image created at Thinglink into the post.  Combine with
Twitter and share on #comments4kids and see what happens when the world leaves a comment or two for your students.

Create a thinglink over a state for a unit on state facts.  Write a blog post
with details about the state and include the Thinglink image.

Create a Thinglink on a historical event.  Add it to iMovie upload to YouTube and share your learning with the world.

Click here to see Cooper’s project. He was in Mrs. Geldes class.

Let your imagination run wild and create digital story demonstrating mastery of a curriculum objective. Explain Everything allows you to
import a variety of material: photos, websites, video, and files. Easily add slides with narration.  
Explain Everything + iMovie + YouTube
Export the Explain Everything files to iMovie to add title slides, transitions, and special effects then upload to YouTube.  A great way to showcase student work and an engaging way to share with others.

Instead of and/or in addition to students writing a formal science lab report,
create an oral presentation with Explain Everything. Have students
create and upload content to their own YouTube channel. As the school year continues, the evidence learning will grow.Click
here to see an example from Mrs. Sykora’s HAL students.
Record stop motion animations over a curriculum topic with narrations. Students find this a fun way to explain a curriculum topic and share
with others.
Stop Motion + iMovie + YouTube
Import the Stop Motion videos into iMovie.  Snazz it up with a video introduction, titles, music, and more.

Share the video on YouTube, then link to online newsletters to easily share with the world.

Written by Ann Feldmann

One Way (or More) to Use One iPad in Your Classroom-Part 2

Have an iPad? Just one iPad? Wondering….what in the world will I do with one iPad and all my students? Well, you have a device in your hand that can help you and your students in so many unique ways. This is part two in a series of posts that will provide ideas for the one iPad classroom. The intent is to help save you time finding ways to use your device. Maybe you will try something new, and then help someone else try something new.

Interactive Class

Use an app like Skitch, Notability or Explain Everything to annotate your documents in real time. Circle important locations on a map, demonstrate how to write a check, label the parts of a cell, or solve an equation. To make it even more interesting and interactive pass the iPad around and have students circle the locations, write the check, label the parts of the cell or complete the problem.

Explain Everything
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Bell Work

At the beginning of the hour or day, many teachers need their computer to take attendance and work with students that may have been absent. Therefore, it is vital that students have some type of “bell work” so time isn’t lost. Having an iPad can help by freeing up the teacher computer. Connect your iPad to your projector and display the bell work for students to complete.

Student Participation

Use an app, such as the one below, to randomly select students to share out or answer questions. The great thing about this app is that you can control how many times you want a student to be selected. So, if you want everyone to answer once, you can set that up and the app will let you know when everyone has had an opportunity to share out.

Random Name Selector Lite (free)
Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 10.20.15 PM.png

Written by Jeanette Carlson

Thursday, August 21, 2014

5 Ways to be Especially Helpful

It’s a new school year and everyone is feeling excited, anxious, pressured, and nervous.  Teachers are feeling the strain of getting their lesson plans in order, curriculum materials organized, online content together, and classroom managed.  One thing that would really help alleviate stress would be if their tools were working as expected.  Specifically, in this case, their technology tools.  If you are in a position to help out your fellow teachers and administrators keep these 5 strategies in mind to help the process go smoothly.   

Patience-This skill is critical in helping out a lot of people!  We work within certain constraints that we don’t always have control over.  Being patient while everyone starts to get on the same page can really make the difference between a situation escalating or getting resolved.  For example, in Google, changes can take up to 24 hours.  There is really nothing that can be done about this.  

Listening- Sometimes people just want to be heard when issues cannot be resolved quickly.  Restating what you have heard and reassuring them that you understand their frustration paves the way for better communication and resolution.  

Picking what to pick apart- Sometimes the little things do work themselves out.  Take a step back and consider all the possibilities for the problem.  It could be something as simple as a misspelling or a miscommunication.  Instead of jumping in to fix something wholeheartedly, just consider if it will work itself out.  More often than not, the little issues do disappear.

Smile- It sounds simplistic, but a simple smile can smooth out the edges of a tough encounter.  Nothing says, “Everything is ok”,  more than a friendly smile.  Body language is critical so don’t forget to monitor yours.  

Follow-Through Following up with people sends the message that you didn’t forget about their situation and that you are still thinking of them.  Whether you send an email, a DM on Twitter or a friendly text message, you just need to remember to follow through and follow up.  If a resolution hasn’t been achieved, try a different avenue; with patience, of course.  Don’t leave unresolved problems unresolved.  This is where you have to dig deep and be persistent.  

I recently got involved in a situation that provided lots of good laughs over email.  See the sequence below.  This helped us see the humor in a frustrating situation.  In the end, the teacher found a reasonable solution.  

Teacher D:
Hey Jenny,
> I have a google site that I use for my AP class.
> When I make a change on the page, then click on the "Save" button, nothing happens.
> Any suggestions?
> Thanks!
> Teacher D

Try theses things- make sure your browser is completely updated or try a different browser. That usually does the trick!

Teacher D:
Hello again.
I tried your suggestions.
Firefox would let me log in to Google, but would not let me get to the Sites page.

Have you tried Chrome or Safari?

Teacher D:
I can try the rocket hole punch trick too.

Yes try that too!  Then stand on your head and throw salt. Hehe

Teacher D:
I tried the hole punch thing.
Didn't work...
Will water softener salt work? =)

Only if you hold your nose!

Teacher D:
OK, I tried holding my nose...
no luck on the water softener salt.
But, apparently sea salt works great!

Actually, I did try it again at school, but the page still would not change.
I did the same thing at home and it worked great!
(I mean the webpage update, not holding my nose).

Great!  That is what I was suspecting.  So more work at home until our filter gets straightened out.

Reassure your people, smile, find some humor, be patient and kind.  

Quotes from

Written by:  Jenny Krzystowczyk