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



  1. Teligami and google maps are a great way to app smash. I think I will do this with the Boston Tea Party and other intolerable acts. I might use buddy poke instead of Teligami though.

  2. This is so simple, but so professional looking. Students would love making these. It also gives them the opportunity to give a speech with a visual, but without the pressure of having to stand up in front of their classmates.

  3. It seems like Skitch would help the teacher to know what the student has learned since the Google Earth part is more of a no-brainer. Using something like Tellagami would help students learn multi-media presentations which may help them in a job or college class. It probably shouldn't take the place of a face-to-face speech or even a video recording of themselves, but might help the shy student or a student who has problems with the physical speech give a perfected speech since he or she can re-record if it's not perfect the first time.

  4. This is going to work well for teaching the places to be active in our community. I can find the places with google earth. Students can find their homes on the map and then we can draw arrows to show how to get to the destinations to work out. A fun avatar from Tellagami will keep the younger students attention. It seems like a lot of steps to get started but once I have done it a few times it will be quicker. Definitely have to explore these apps before using them in class the first time.

  5. Seeing these apps together is very cool. I know my students would love to work on a project (such as our current Science, weathering and erosion) and then have it presented from the comfort of their own seat. Many of my students enjoy making their projects individually or in small groups and it would be a nice way to do a formative assessment.

  6. Wow! What an amazing app smash. Will be trying this for sure, maybe when working with literary devices.

  7. I think Google Earth allows students to "visit" places all over the world, and that using Tellagami to narrate a project and Skitch to annotate it would really interest and motivate a student.

  8. I use Google Earth in class quite a bit. I like the layer that Skitch provides. I think above project is easy, but so effective. I defiantly see how students of all ages would get into this type of presentation or assignment.

  9. Love using skitch. We have used it in conjunction with Google earth, imovie, buddypoke, and in infopics! Def like the idea of students Teaching to students.