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-Become the Guide on the Side

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. Using the iPad to reflect allows you to move around the classroom and not have to be tied to the whiteboard or you computer.

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

Monday, August 18, 2014

Growing Your Google Garden: Use a Running Agenda in Google Docs

Growing Your Google Garden: Use a Running Agenda in Google Docs
Tip #2 in a series this year

Would you like a time saving way to manage classroom assignments? Give a "Running Google Doc Agenda" a try this year! 

What is "A Running Google Doc of Agenda", you may be wondering? It is a time saving way to communicate with your students and parents. The "Running Google Doc Agenda" is a list of all assignments for the school year, with the most recent date at the top of the doc.    Changes you make on the doc are reflected immediately! See an example of "A Running Google Agenda" on Senora Musil's website .

Directions for creating a Running Google Agenda:
1. Create a Google Doc called Running Agenda.  

2. Change the share settings so anyone with the link can view.

3. Copy this link and paste it on a class website, Facebook Page, Blog, S'more, etc. and/or share or email the doc with your students.

4. Each day, update the doc with today’s date and assignments.  The most recent date will always be at the top of the agenda.  You can also include links to videos, handouts, Google Slideshows, worksheets, etc.

Printed Assignments
Digital Daily Assignments
Limited Access
Accessible with any device connected to the Internet.
Students are dependent
Students are independent
Static document.
Dynamic document. Updates are immediate.
Written by Ann Feldmann

Friday, August 15, 2014

One Way (or More) to Use One iPad in Your Classroom-Part 1

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 one 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.

Become a Producer

Use a screen-casting/whiteboard app like Explain Everything or iMovie to record a lesson that is difficult for your students. Share the lesson on your YouTube channel or on your website. This will allow students to watch the video at home, pausing and replaying when necessary to help them understand the lesson.

Explain Everything

Noise Control

When students are working in pairs or groups, or even during study time, and you want to keep the noise level to a manageable roar, use one of the apps below and display your iPad to help your students maintain an appropriate noise level for the tasks at hand.

Too Noise Lite-Elementary
Noise Down-Secondary

Formative Assessment

Use the Plickers app and website to take quick formative assessments. Students do not need a device, only you do. Set up your classes and folders at the Plickers website. You can then create question on the website or using the app on your iPad or mobile device. Students are each given a "plicker" card that, when turned four different ways, will provide four different answers. You display the question using a projector, students hold up their card to answer and you use your device to "collect' the answers. You can immediately see a graph of the results which will allow you to reteach a concept if needed. Data is also kept on the website for you to reference later.

iPad Stations/Centers

Create an iPad station to be used during center time. There area a variety of ways to use these centers. Students could work individually or in pairs at centers. Students could use an app to record their reading for fluency, set a goal on a goal sheet and then re-record focusing on that goal. Lastly, fill out a self evaluation to be given to the teacher.
Use Front Row or Khan Academy to have students work on their individual skills. Have the students practice their spelling words using Spelling City. Use apps like Explain Everything to record, or show, their learning. Check out this blog by Mrs. Wideen (@mrswideen) for a number or iPad station ideas.

Written by Jeanette Carlson