Friday, February 21, 2014

App Smashing with Google Earth, Skitch, and Tellagami

App smashing is a fantastic way to take creativity to new levels by combining more than one app and taking student projects new levels.  Today, Brent Myers (@mrmyers1), 8th grade history teacher,  and I created the following lesson plan using three FREE apps: Google Earth, Skitch, and Tellagami. Below is the detailed lesson plan as well as some lessons we learned today.

Lesson Plan

Curriculum Goal (#E04): Students will learn about the Erie Canal, know the importance of lock system, how locks work, and how the Erie Canal affected commerce in the 1800's.  Students should be able to explain the importance of the Erie Canal and how locks work to move boats through the canal.

Class started with a lively class discussion about canals and specifically the lock system that was engineered to help boats move up and down elevated rivers.  

Mr. Myers shared a sample of what the final project could look like after using the three apps to demonstrate their understanding of the concepts.

View Mr.Myers's Tellagami example below.

Now, on to App Smashing. Below are the steps to create a Tellagami that utilizes a Google Earth image edited in Skitch and explained in Tellagami. 
Step 1: Use Google Earth to Explore the Erie Canal

Search Google Earth for Erie Canal Locks.
Zoom into a Lock.
Drop into Ground Level View (Street View) by dragging the orange peg on the lock.
Allow a few minutes for students to explore.
Discuss with students the parts of the lock, water levels, and more.
Zoom into a nice overhead shot of the lock with the lock doors visible.
Take a Screenshot of the lock. 
The screenshot will be saved in Photos.

Step 2: Use Skitch to annotate the image

Open the image in Skitch.
Label the following: Erie Canal, the lock, the lock doors, and two water heights (higher and lower water levels) using the tools in Skitch.
Use the line to to outline the lock and lock doors.
Press the share icon and save the image to Photos.

Step 3
: Use Tellagami and have students to explain facts they know about the Erie Canal and its impact on transportation in the 19th century.

Set up the avatar.
Import the “skitched up” image by tapping background and choosing library -> Camera Roll.
Move and size the avatar to a spot that works best with the image.
Record a 30 second or less narration. In this case, describe the image. To re-record, just press record and do it again.
Save the video to Photos.

*Note: You can also type in up to 440 characters and the avatar will speak in a computer generated voice.  

Step 4: Share to an Audience (in our case, classmates)
Go to photos.
Play the video.
Share several with the class via Air Play.

Step 5: Feedback and Revision

Have the class and teachers give students specific feedback.
Allow revision time.

Step 6:  Close all apps
Double tap home and swipe out of open apps.

Lessons Learned:

1.  As a teacher, create the project and share with the class before they start the lesson. This helps them see how the project comes together.
2.  Do not assess first attempts - Students are learning the apps and working with learning content.  It become stressful if this is assessed.
3.  Let students “teach” the class  - Air playing random student iPads on the the screen and allow the student to model the steps.  We found this increases engagement.
4.  Student curiosity is piqued, take advantage of it to have a discussion.   Viewing the Erie canal from above in Google Earth and seeing the locks generated lots of students wonder.  The more they wondered, the more they became interested engaged learners.   Take advantage of the teachable moment.Give them the time to wonder, explore, and question. 

5. Students have a more in depth understanding of how the locks in the canal work after seeing it up close using "ground level view". 
6. Projects that are WOW (worthy of the web) can be published to YouTube and shared via playlists to the world via Twitter, Google Plus, e-mail, webistes, Pinterest, or blog posts! 

Here is a video tutorial to walk you through the steps of app smashing with these three apps!

Written by Ann Feldmann


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Creating a "Pin-able" Image

As you move from curator to creator on Pinterest, you will want to know how to create a pin-able image for your blog posts or websites so you can pin your own creations.

Since Pinterest is a way to visually curate content, it is important people know exactly what they are viewing.  Oftentimes, this means you need to add text to your image to make it easier for viewers.

To create a "pin-able" image with text, do the following:

Step 1.  On your Mac, open the image in Preview.

Step 2.  Click on Tools ---> Annotate----> Add Text

Step 3.  Type text on your image.  Edit the text using the text tool bar.

Step 4.  Export the image.  Click  File -> Export.   Select the destination for your image and give it a name!

Now you have an image with text you can use on your blog posts or website and people can PIN. Add the image to your blog or website and now you can easily pin your own ideas to your pin boards and share! 

You can also add text to images in Pages and PowerPoint too. Just save the slides as a .JPEG and you can insert the images on posts or websites.

Happy Pinning!

Written by Ann Feldmann

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

3 Ways to Get Your Students' Writing to Go From Good to Great!

In many classrooms, writing curriculum looks the same across grade levels.  Teachers teach formula writing quite often. You provide graphic organizers and tell them to connect their ideas to the text, their life, or the world. We ask them to write about their favorite vacation, their hero, or what they did over the weekend.  And every now and then you come across a student who is able to paint a picture with words.  You can’t wait to see what he will write next, but you know he or she can do even more.  You wonder why this student continues to produce good writing when you know they are capable of producing excellent writing.  Maybe the problem isn't the student, but the audience.  If the only person who reads their stuff is their teacher why bother?  You read the final copy after some conferencing and editing, pass judgement with a score, and that is the end of that piece.  This is writing happening in isolation without their ideas getting beyond the four walls of your classroom.  In a connected world kids need to write for a greater purpose, passion and audience.  Here are three ways to motivate your students to produce better writing.
Project Based Learning
Tapping into project based learning can provide some of the best writing you've seen so far.  Project based learning establishes an end goal that taps into a student’s passion on an idea and provides the perfect opportunity for persuasive and narrative writing pieces.  One of the key ideas in project based learning is being connected to the world and community.  Read more about it here.
Are You a Writer?
Math teachers solve problems every day on their boards in order to guide students along and teach concepts.  Teachers read aloud to model good intonation and storytelling.  Science teachers demonstrate experiment before kids dig in.  Why then are you not writing your own stories in front of your students?  Teachers sometimes clam up at the thought of writing about a topic. However, it's crucial that you show your own passion for writing.  One of the best places to do that is having your own blog.  I challenge you to begin your own blog as well as writing in a journal in front of your students.  
With blogging kids have a global audience especially if the teacher is a connected educator on Twitter, Facebook, or Google plus.  All of a sudden, a good writer will begin to feel passionate about their writing, knowing that it has to be worthy of the web for publishing.  I am actually writing this post at 4:00 am because I can't sleep thinking about it.  It is nagging at me in a way that I had to pick up my iPad and get my ideas down.  That is how authentic writing happens- when you feel passionate about a topic and it wakes you up in the middle of the night clawing at you until you give in.  
The formula writing that is commonplace in classrooms will help them pass AP exams and that is about it.  Don't misunderstand me.  There are techniques that can help students write better stories. The use of alliteration can enhance language, using metaphors is another powerful tool.  Giving three examples to support an idea can be effective or inserting a powerful quote can help drive a message home.  However, none of these tools are any good if the writer isn't invested in the published destination.  
Our kids are reading blogs, watching YouTube videos and reading twitter feeds.  They are natural consumers.  What if we leveraged their writing to make them creators and contributors?   

Real writing comes from passion and drive and knowing that a lot of people are going to read your writing.  As I construct this piece I am thinking of all the people that I will tweet this post to, email the link to, or use at a conference.  I only hope that you as a classroom teacher understand my message here.  Use formula writing if you must, but also provide the opportunity for free writing on topics of interest to students, especially those who understand the power of language.  Open up the world of blogging with a platform like  Then take it one step further and get yourself on Twitter so that you can mediate an even larger audience for students.  Check out  for some inspiring classroom blogs by students.  You are wonderful and brilliant, but you alone are not enough to motivate students to reach further.  Open up the world to them with technology and watch the writing go from good to great!

Written By: Jenny Krzystowczyk

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

10 iPad Myths….BUSTED

1.  An iPad is a laptop.
FALSE! An iPad is as far from a laptop as two devices can be.  They are meant to be a personal device and work best as such.  There is no file structure on the iPad. They are creation and publishing devices.  Work is meant to be offloaded to cloud based solutions such as iCloud, Google Drive, Drop Box, and YouTube.

2.  Kids know how to use an iPad as a learning tool.

FALSE! Kids know how to use iPads for entertainment, not education.  There is a learning curve for students with each app. Kids need to be introduced to the app and allowed “dabble time” to learn how the apps works. Then the app must be used in meaningful way in conjunction with the curriculum.  Students are able to demonstrate mastery of an objectives is many non-traditional ways.  

3.  iPads must be locked down.

FALSE! We believe that iPads need to used as organically as possible.  That means to have only put necessary restrictions on the iPad.  For example,  it will be necessary to add/remove apps, upload material from the iPad to YouTube, and update apps.  It is important for teachers to be independent iPad managers in their classroom and students to be as independent as possible.   

4.  The more apps the better.
FALSE! Two handfuls of apps are you need!  Selecting apps that are cross curriculum, allow for creativity, and work with Google Drive workflow are just the ticket.  Developing fluency with a core set of apps is essential to both student and teacher success.  Don’t get overwhelmed, just say no to more apps. Click here for a list of our 10 favorite apps.

5.  Google and Apple do not play well together.
FALSE! Google and Apple are the perfect duo on the iPads. Work on iPads need to be published not stored.  The apps we choose have “Google Workflow” meaning the app shares to Google Drive or YouTube.  They go together like oreos and milk.  All work resides in the cloud and easy to access by both students and teachers.  Even apps like Apple’s Pages can export back to Drive as a PDF for easy sharing.

6.  Experienced teachers do not need support.
FALSE! Teachers are experts on curriculum content and pedagogy, but not many have been taught with iPads nor have trained to teach with iPads.  A solid training plan is key to successful integration and use and in class support keeps teaching moving when technology roadblocks happen.

7.  Kids can’t keyboard on an iPad.
FALSE! Not only can they keyboard quickly on an iPad with their fingers, they can also voice type too!  Some students love to thumb type by pulling the iPad keyboard apart. Simply hold down the G and H key and pull it apart.  Do not fall into the snare of needing keyboards for iPads.  Save the money and buy more iPads instead.

8.  Admins know how to use iPads in the workplace
FALSE! Earning an admin certificate has nothing to do with being fluent with iPads.  Many admins (and most people) only utilize 10% of an iPad’s capability. To get more out of the iPad than a glorified note taker and calendar, continued training is needed.  Many administrators are using iPads as an email reader and an internet surfer.  

9.  An MDM is a must to manage the iPads.
It can be very costly to use some of the MDM’s out there today.  Districts could pay per device for these systems and often times the people “managing” the devices are not educators.  This can lead to a misunderstanding of what is needed on the devices.  iPads can easily be managed by individual teachers.  Restrictions can bet set on each device and apps loaded from a single Apple ID.  It might be the way you’ve been told to do it, but giving teachers as much control over their devices empowers them to own the process and tools.

10.  iPads cost too much money.
FALSE! An iPad is a solid investment for a school district.  An iPad is the device that makes it simple to personalize and differentiate the curriculum for all learners.  In addition, one iPad replaces so many physical tools in a classroom from calculators to dictionaries, books, pens, crayons, paper and more that at the end of the school year, you will find quite a cost savings.  In addition, iPads are also so easy to troubleshoot.  Aside from a cracked screen, iPads have proven themselves to be simple to “fix” when an issue arises.  Usually all that is necessary is a power off and power on.

Written by Ann Feldmann and Jennifer Krzystowczyk
@annfeldmann1 @jennykbps

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

10 Reasons Your District Should Purchase iPads for Kids

Many districts are still struggling with their technology initiatives, wondering which device will best suit their needs; deciding student to device ratios, changing email systems, etc.  This post is for everyone in Bellevue Public Schools as confirmation of our initiatives and for other district technology leaders who are struggling with which way to go.  
We are now in year 2 of our iPad implementation and I can honestly say that the iPad is the only way to go.  You could go with a Chrome book, but then all you get are Google Apps.  You could purchase Nexus tablets, but then you only have access to Google apps- and yes, there is a difference between the quality and availability of Google Apps and iOS apps.  
Here are 10 Reasons Why Your District Should Purchase iPads
1) Going GAFE
Being a Google Apps For Education district may not seem an obvious reason to purchase iPads, but the two go together like chocolate and peanut butter!  You just can't beat it.  With Google apps like YouTube and Drive students move to a paperless and seamless workflow.  Teachers and students have instant access to their work anytime, anywhere.
2) Teachers want to create Blended Learning Environments for their students.
Blended Learning and the Flipped Classroom models become even better when kids have iPads in their hands.  These buzzwords are inspiring teachers to learn more, but feel unable to fully accomplish these goals without the technology for their students.
3) Your schools’ computer labs are full and teachers complain about not having access to online materials for their students.
Computer labs are traditionally used as a place to do online research, write papers, and administer state testing. All of this can be done on an iPad. Technology directors are faced with the decision whether to purchase more computers vs iPads  The decision becomes fiscally obvious that an iPad is the way to go.  It is cheaper, more reliable, easier to manage, and mobile.  We are able to accomplish all of these traditional activities and more on an iPad. We were even able to administer state testing on an iPad using Guided Access found in settings. It worked great and the entire testing process was less stressful and much faster.
4)  Teachers want to utilize online tools such as Kahn academy or Raz Kids on a daily basis.
Online subscriptions and accounts like Kahn Academy provides amazing data for teachers and allows for differentiation for our struggling students as well as our HAL or gifted students.  Raz Kids does the same thing for reading and provides those just right books for kids.  
5) Your teachers are getting really good at creating their own materials using iBooks Author.
If your district is like ours and teachers are utilizing the ability to create their own iBooks in iBooks Author, iPads are essential in accessing this content for students.  Content created in IBooks Author is hosted in Tunes U and opened on an iOS device.  iTunes U even solves the problem for students who may not have internet access at home.  Once the content is downloaded onto their iPad at school, they can work on it at home offline.  

6) You want your classrooms to be paperless and as a result save tons of money on printing and copying.
We have seen a dramatic decrease in our paper costs since our deployment of iPads.  Our teachers now PDF a lot of their curriculum content and share it out via Google Drive.  From there our students open the PDF’s in Notability, work on them there, and export them back to Drive.   
7) It is time to move away from a teach to the test environment and move toward a more creative school experience .
Almost every educator has read about, heard or, or sat through a session on 21st century skills and the critical need for creative students to emerge from schools.  The iPad facilitates creativity unlike any other device out there.  Apps like iMovie, Camera, and Garageband provide a space to play, experiment, and create.  Even apps like Numbers are creative canvases for projects and ideas.  So many of the apps we use like Explain Everything, Tellagami, and Skitch are perfect for app-smashing!  The possibilities are endless for students when it comes to project completion.
8) Your students already have devices at home and are getting way ahead of your teachers and are becoming disenchanted with their classroom.
I've seen it a thousand times in classrooms. The minute a student gets to use an iPad, their engagement and interests increases. The feel comfortable with iPads and understand how to access information when they need it. I feel bad for teachers who are intimidated by their students knowledge and comfort with technology. It takes a brave teacher to let the student take the lead sometimes. It is critical to provide enough training to teachers to be ready to teach with an iPad.
The amount of kids who have iPads at home has increased in our district and I bet its the same at yours.  Rolling out our most recent group of iPads was easier than ever due to this.  Students already knew some basic gestures and troubleshooting skills with iPads,  All we have to do is continue working with them to use it differently at school than at home.  Our teachers receive a lot of training prior to receiving iPads, but kids are used to these devices being gaming and internet surfing tools. Our job is to shift that mindset and empower kids to create, discover, and collaborate.
9) Access to iOS apps.
There are over one million apps available on Apple’s iTunes Store.  
We’ve narrowed down our essential apps, but knowing that we can easily customize a device for a students needs is empowering for teachers.  
I cannot say enough about the beauty of Pages, Keynote, and Numbers when it comes to apps that allow you to create documents, presentations, and spreadsheets.  The ability to pull in media into these apps is unique in their design.  Garageband and iMovie give kids to explore creative ideas and projects as alternative assignments to written papers.  
10) Access to interactive textbooks to replace those out of date paper textbooks.
When its time for a curriculum adoption cycle, consider the possibility of an interactive book on an iPad as opposed to those heavy hardback books.  The iPad opens up a world of information and interactive information for students.  Their notes are inside their books and study cards can be created with a push of a button right inside of their course in iTunes U.  
I can’t say enough about the instructional possibilities with an iPad for teachers and students.  It continues to improve every year.  If your district cannot afford iPads for all students, then at least purchase one for every teacher.  Lay the groundwork for the future with this first step!  If your district would like more information on why go with iPads as opposed to other devices, don’t hesitate to tweet us at #tt4t!  

“If the goal cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goal, adjust the action steps.” Confucius
Written by: Jenny Krzystowczyk