Recently, I attended an excellent MassCUE workshop presented by Timothy Harkins that focused on integrating iPads into elementary science. This session reinforced the idea that it’s best to choose a few apps and use them for many purposes. From this session, one easy to use app that I added to my must try list was Funny Movie Maker.
This app lets the user create a 3o second talking avatar movie. The gist: use a pre-made picture in the app or snap your own. Cut out a mouth in the picture, and then record yourself or someone else’s mouth doing the talking. This movie can be shared to Photos (and then accessed from the device via Dropbox), or emailed right from the app. The exported movie file can be inserted on a blog or web page for an audience.
One word of caution: the available pictures in the app’s library can be a little suspect… and even strange… imagine muscle men and a lot of fruit. Therefore, taking your own pictures with the camera seems like the best option. Students can create a hand drawing, make a clay figure or use a toy figure to depict their character/subject.
This app can be used for any content area, letting students report research findings, explain their thinking or explore a different perspective. Any object can be personified and given the chance to speak its mind, inspiring creativity.
On Halloween, some fifth graders participated in a voluntary project: create a pumpkin to represent the main character of a biography or “boo-ography”. On the spur of the moment, we seized the opportunity to bring these pumpkins to life with the Funny Movie Maker app.
So, go ahead and read (or rather, watch and listen to) our lips!
(Please double click on the embedded movies below.)
As the school year is drawing to a close, lots of student projects are still streaming in. I’ve noticed that many of these projects really have no technology involvement. And that’s OK. Technology should not be used for technology’s sake. If a student built diorama or growing a live plant gets the job done for the content objective, that’s fine. However, what I would like to propose is how we can document this great learning that is taking place with these projects. Sure, pictures can be snapped and stuck in a portfolio binder or made into a quick slideshow to be viewed by the class or even parents who visit during an end of the year sharing day. Putting together a slideshow in iPhoto is fairly simple. Music can be added. Great. But what if you wanted to take it a step further without a whole lot more work? Even get the students involved in capturing their learning? Allowing more student reflection to take place in the process?
Today, I read a blog post on Richard Byrne’s iPad Apps for School about 30hands. This is an app for iPads and Touches that lets you create slideshows quickly and share them easily. What I envision is having students snap pictures of their projects or portfolio items using our iPod Touches and then recording their voices explaining their projects and learning. This app allows the user to make simple drawings as well right in the app. Therefore, diagrams and important points can be made into visuals right in the presentation (usually we have to find another drawing app or hand draw and snap a picture of it to insert). The app also seems to be very forgiving of mistakes. Perfect for younger students! The presentations can be sent to Camera Roll and uploaded to our Dropbox account for easy sharing from a computer/projector set up. These presentations also could be posted and shared on a wiki or blog. All without an account to 30hands. Again, perfect for elementary age students.
Here is a tutorial of the app:
You also can download a similar tutorial to watch right within the app. It even highlights updates to the app.
So something to think about in these last few weeks… The Touches are waiting to help you!
What I really like about this project is that it put the tools into the direct hands of the students. Students were their own videographers. With a few pointers, it is incredibly fast and easy to make a video using the iMovie app. It also is motivating. Students were excited to develop these movies and post them on a wiki/blog to share with an audience. Even better is that this project is coming full circle because students now are attempting each other’s math problems and then accessing the videos for answers as well as help with strategies. It’s almost a mini Kahn Academy.
Please let me know if you have any questions and/or inspirational ideas about using this tool to meet your curriculum needs.
How about getting your students out and about with a QR Code Treasure Hunt (a.k.a. Scavenger Hunt)?
First off, you may be wondering what a QR Code is? You probably have seen QR Codes on flyers or in stores. Simply put, it is a type of barcode. When the barcode is scanned (with, for example, a smart phone), the device will be directed to a website where a message, picture, audio file or even coupon awaits you.
How can this technology be used in the classroom?
Here’s the gist:
Come up with questions (and answers) on any subject.
Make the questions into QR Codes.
Put the codes around the school.
Students find the codes, and using a device such as an iPod Touch (with the Scan app), students will “read” the codes a.k.a. questions. Students then will answer the questions via paper and pencil or even email the answers to the teacher from the device before proceeding to the next code.
What a great way to hook students into reviewing for a benchmark! Or perhaps, even at the beginning of the school year, going on a hunt in order to take a tour of the building while creating teamwork.
Intrigued? Here is a generator from ClassTools.net to get you thinking and designing your own hunt. And of course, let me know if you would like to collaborate.
If you and your students like BrainPOP quizzes, then you just might love this very useful tool for making your own: BrainPOP Mixer.
Watch this video to see how easy it is to make your own BrainPOP style quiz:
What I really like is that you don’t even have to make up the questions. (This is one feature that Google Forms doesn’t have.) With thousands of questions being shared, there is no re-inventing the wheel. Plus, you can use convenient tools for grading the quizzes. More time saved! In the end, your created quiz can be accessed from your own blog or a common web page through this portal. Students just need to use an access code that you can tailor make.
So what are you waiting for? Get your own free Educator account, and link it to your school subscription to start making interactive quizzes today!
(If you couldn’t tell, I’m very excited for us to start using this tool. Let me know how I can help.)
Looking for a visual and interactive way for students to display learning? Give SpiceyNodes a try.
This free service lets the user create nodemaps (a.k.a. webs or concept maps) about a topic. What takes this tool beyond traditional webbing and graphic organizers of the past is the user’s ability to customize for an audience’s experience. Images (both uploaded and online) as well as YouTube videos may be added to text. Because this nodemap lives online, it can be linked to or embedded into a blog or webpage. A visitor to the posted nodemap has navigational controls to explore the topic at his/her own pace and with viewing preferences. The visitor also can use a search function to find information in the displayed nodemap, making it ideal for research. All of these features truly make it a tool for sharing knowledge that appeals to many different learning styles and needs. One idea is to have older students create nodemaps on topics that younger students could access since age appropriate resources sometimes do not exist. Since curriculum often spirals, this does not have to be an add-on for older students. (For another example of this older student creation model, see my Mass Confusion post.)
Here is an example of a grade 4 animal research project created by Ms. Sandi Guild. Click away!
Historically, this project has been a word processed report. This project will continue to meet research and organization objectives; however, now, its final product will be in a much more appealing, interactive, and (Do I dare say it?) “spicey” format for sharing with an audience. Please check back at our special blog to see the student self-embedded examples by the end of May.
Good news for teachers! There is an educator resource section at SpiceyNodes. Furthermore, email addresses are not necessary for creating student accounts. (Personally, I like to have an email affiliated with my students’ accounts for managerial purposes, and the Gmail hack method works like a charm at the site.)
As always, I’d love to hear about your ideas or experiences!
Do you find researching with elementary age students to be a real challenge?
(If yes- keep reading! OK- and if you don’t have time to read, at least watch the demo video at the bottom of this post!)
Just setting students loose on a search engine is not an option. Even though we have a strict filter set at Google, there is so much sifting that has to take place. The more we scroll, the further we get away from our topic usually. Then there is the readability issue. I know we can use the Advanced Search at Google to choose a reading level, but even then I still find the results are not always what we want as well as the format is a bit cumbersome for the elementary level. Things need to be a little more straightforward.
Perhaps, something that came across my radar last week is the answer to our searching woes: instaGrok.
instaGrok is a search engine with a very visual appeal. It allows students to set the complexity of the information searched with a simple toggle bar. The results are easy to navigate from a web or on a sidebar. The key facts are quickly offered up in their own category. Perfect for elementary searchers! The sidebar also offers more websites, videos, pictures and even quizzes- all on the topic. So far all of my random test searches have yielded appropriate, and even great results.
But wait there’s more! A bonus feature of this site is a built-in journal for students to use for their research, gathering all information, links and pictures all in one place. It’s a snap to use, too. No multiple steps necessary!
This free site can be used with or without a log-in. The advantage of getting a log-in is that you can save your journal pages for an extensive research project. The sign up requires no email. (“Yay” again for elementary!) When a teacher signs up for an account, s/he can assign a class code. This class code is used by students when they set up their accounts. It links the teacher to the students, and the teacher now can see student journal pages and keep better tabs on student research.
If you research with students (and have felt the frustrations), then it’s well worth the minute and half to check out this demo of a search engine designed for students- instaGrok:
Anyone using this site already? I’m looking to get a collaboration going in my school!
Essentially, Thinkfinity is an educational resource engine powered by the Verizon Foundation. Free lessons plans, ideas and interactives only are a search away. And it’s easy. Look at the screenshots below to see how you can tailor your search to meet your particular age level, learning style and curriculum needs.
I wanted to share something that we are piloting at grade 4 in our school: online math logs.
Four nights per week, students are expected to complete a two minute timed math fact practice sheet. These sheets must be returned to school. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect, and the school district is looking to keep students (and parents) accountable for learning basic facts.
However, this is a lot of paper, and how will teachers manage these accumulating piles? How will they collect the data from these sheets? And who has the time to analyze all of this?
The proposed solution: using Forms in Google Docs. Here is a sample of an online math log. Feel free to take it!
Below is a partial screen shot of what results would like from this log. It is housed in an online spreadsheet.
Students seem to be a lot more interested in doing the math sheet online versus the traditional paper method. There is something also very powerful and real world about a submit button!
Parents like that students are using computer skills, and there is no paper being sent back and forth to school.
Each student submission is time stamped in a spreadsheet for the classroom teacher documenting accountability.
A simple sort in the spreadsheet allows a teacher to see the number of submissions and answers for any student over the course of the week. A teacher easily can see the progress a student is making with the number of facts completed.
Also, the data at a glance can identify with which facts a student needs correction, and the teacher can on Day Two of the log week quickly meet with the student to give him/her a post-it of facts that the student should focus on in study.
More math logs are created simply by making a copy of the Google Docs and then plugging in new math facts.
The teacher takes the quiz first, typing in “” for the student’s first name and “Key” for the Last Initial fields. This Answer Key makes it easy for comparison to student results as they are filtered.
A tool called Flubaroo may be used right in the Google Doc to grade the results to give the teacher more information about how the whole class and individuals are doing.
Data is secure since only collaborators (teachers) have permission to view the results.
Data can be downloaded to a teacher’s computer as an Excel spreadsheet for archiving purposes.
Old data can be cleared from the online Google Doc, so it may be reused year to year.
Google Docs is free.
There is no built-in timer. The student has to use the same timing method that s/he would have used for the paper sheet.
Students need to remember not to use the Enter/Return key to go from problem to problem.
All students may not have computer/Internet access at home, and a paper copy may need to go home instead.
More grade 4 classrooms will be using the online method this month. Every week a new online math log will be available for students from a teacher’s web page and/or a central math curriculum web page.
Jan. 2010 – June 2010 This blog served as a technology professional development portal. It was a chance for us to explore what was (and still is) out there. As we know, a lot of the latest tools and resources only take a few minutes to preview and learn. Making the time is often the trickiest feat. Therefore, I proposed Tech Tuesday. Every Tuesday something new was waiting for you to check out on this blog. On select Tuesdays, there even were face-to-face session in the Abbot lab @ 7:45 A.M. In under 30 minutes, I demonstrated the new tool, and participants got some time to play. It was requested that participants gave the tool a little more thought or another “go”, and then follow-up with a comment on this blog, reviewing the tool for a grade level or subject. The ultimate goal or end product was that one tool or resource would be implemented fully into teaching practices to benefit student learning. We also had a great resource blog for people to consult in the end!
October 2010 – ?: I am going to continue to update the Tech Tuesday blog on at least a monthly basis. There’s still so much to learn and share. So always check in on Tuesdays to see what’s going on, or better yet, subscribe!