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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Popplet Lite in the Classroom


It's free.  It's basic.  It's easy to use. The integration ideas are endless. It's Popplet Lite.  You can download it in the App Store for your iPad or you can use the web based version

I know, it's been around awhile, but Popplet Lite is like a long lost friend to me.  Sometimes we get caught up in apps that have all of the bells and whistles and that that can become a distraction in your classroom.  Sometimes it's just nice to go back to a basic app that you can use in a variety of ways!  

Popplet Lite is such a versatile app to use in any classroom regardless of grade level.  How could you use this app in your classroom?  Below are a few ways I can see teachers using Popplet Lite in the classroom.  Wait! Don't know how to use Popplet Lite?  No worries, here is an App Task Challenge I created to help you get started!



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Talking Turkeys and Pilgrims!

It's a simple app smash that can be completed with a group of students in about 30 minutes. Originally, I was going to have each student create a ChatterPix using something they created in their class that pertained to Thanksgiving (turkey, pilgrim, etc.), then upload each completed ChatterPix product to my YouTube page.  I was planning on creating a QR code that linked back to each ChatterPix the students created, then have students glue their QR code to their original piece of artwork.  The students would love taking this home and showing Mom and Dad how to scan the QR code!

Well, I had to go with Plan B because I was having trouble saving some of the ChatterPix to the camera roll on the student iPads.  I had a room full of Kindergarteners with no time to think!  They were getting anxious!

I had the students use my iPad to take pictures of their artwork.  When done gathering all our images, I sat down and smashed them all together into an iMovie.  I like to use the IntroMate app with iMovie, but it's not really essential.  Leave it out if you don't want to spend the $2.99 for the app. I completed our simple iMovie and uploaded it to YouTube.  I then used my handy, dandy goog.gl URL shortener Chrome extension to create a QR code of our iMove and sent it off to the teacher so that they could make copies for their students to take home along with the URL to our new "movie."

It's simple, it's easy to complete and students love watching all of their creations come to life.  Here are a couple of our movies.  Enjoy!





Thursday, November 13, 2014

That one time, at Miami Device...

Time for that reflective post of the conference event that I recently attended.  You know, the one where you get all gushy about all the cool people you met and new things that you learned.  I'm actually going to do my best to avoid that and instead head in another direction focus on what Felix Jacomino has created.

If you don't know Felix, he is the mastermind behind Miami Device.   Miami Device is a professional development learning event that is held in Miami on a bi-annual basis. This year was the first year and I look forward to many more. When researching Miami Device I noticed that I didn't see the word "conference" very much.  It piqued my interest that I saw the word "event" in its place.

And an event it was!  Every single detail was covered.

In reflecting on why I would consider this one of the best events that I have attended, I came came up with one reason.  When attending Miami Device I felt like I was a person and not a number.  I have been to some very large conferences and they just had a "corporate" feel to them.  Trying to pick a session from the plethora available was an arduous task in itself.  I had to walk a long ways to get to a certain session, I always felt rushed.

I had none of that at Miami Device.  I had the time (and energy) to have conversations with some of the people from my PLN that I respect and admire greatly for what they are doing with their students and staffs. One of the coolest things that I noticed was that the culture of the school at St. Stephen's Episcopal Day School permeated every inch of this event.  The St. Stephen's staff were present, positive and so welcoming to all of us.  What an amazing group of passionate educators.

Yep, my bucket was filled and I learned a lot.

Thank you Felix Jacomino and crew for such a wonderful experience, and thank you for putting on such a wonderful event.  See you in two years!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Easy App Smash for the Primary Grades

It's a simple app smash that we complete in Kindergarten.  It might look like there are several steps, but it's really quite easy for students. Our teachers are extremely busy so I take care of uploading all of our smashes once in 30Hands to YouTube.  I then take each URL from YouTube, place them in QR Explore, download them and toss them into a Google Folder that I share with each teacher.

Completing this app smash at the start of the school year gives me the chance to teach the basics of some apps that students will frequently use throughout the rest of the school year.


Here is the recipe:

We use this particular app smash recipe to demonstrate some of the things our Kindergartners learned about apples.  Students create a Pic Collage of the different kinds of apples and then label it. Students learn how to insert images and and labels in Pic Collage during this step.  I have student then create another Pic Collage with the ingredients they need to make applesauce.  The students actually make applesauce, so this is really easy for them. They just need some help spelling the ingredients (water, cinnamon, sugar, apples) for their labels.  We add an image of each ingredient as well.  

Next, I have students use Doodlebuddy.  Students have to draw an apple and two foods that we can make using apples (apple cider, apple pie, etc.).  This is one of my favorite apps to teach because students love to draw!  Once the students are done with their Doodlebuddy, we save it to the photo library like we did when done with our products in Pic Collage. 

We are finally to 30Hands!  I have the students place the products they created in Pic Collage and Doodlebuddy into the 30Hands app.  I show them how to add their voice with each image and we now have a short summary of all that we learned about apples!  I can't wait to hand our students a QR code to their finished product!  They love it!

It's a pretty basic app smash, and I think that you could use it in a variety of ways in your classroom. I would love to see some examples of how you used this recipe!

Happy App Smashing!



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What Were You Thinking?

I heard that question a lot growing up at my house.  I don't know how she did it, but my mother raised four pretty mischievous boys all by herself, and it seemed like that question popped up at least a couple of times a week.

In my last blog post, I wrote about how Bob Dillon got me to thinking after his Keynote address at our Fall NETA Conference.  Yes, scary thought I know!

One of Bob's breakout sessions was about "Making Thinking Visible" in our classrooms and this was on my mind because of a school wide initiative called the Adolescent Literacy Project that my school district just instituted this year.   One of the key components of that project is to make thinking visible in our classrooms!  Imagine that.

Needless to say, my mind has been spinning with ideas, thoughts, questions, etc.

Now what if we took that same question, and asked more often to the students in our classrooms?  I know you might already do that with some of the students that misbehave, but what if we asked this question in an educational context?  Would learning become more relevant in our classrooms?

How often do we ask our students the following:

"What were you thinking when...

         You worked through that problem?"

         You created this project?"

         You diagrammed that sentence?"

         You solved that equation?"

         You composed this essay?"

         You wrote this blog post?"

I often wonder why we don't ask more questions like this in our classrooms?  I know I didn't ask these questions enough in my classroom.  Why didn't I let my students learn out loud? Why didn't I give my students more of a voice?

Imagine some of the conversations, discussions and learning that WOULD happen in our classrooms if we simply asked, "What were you thinking?" 






Sunday, October 12, 2014

10 People Better Than You

I recently had the opportunity to listen to Bob Dillon's Keynote address at the Nebraska Fall EdTech Conference in Kearney, Nebraska.   I have been following Bob on Twitter and Instagram for quite awhile, and it seems like I learn a new thing from him everyday.  I enjoyed the opportunity to finally meet him in person and listen to him tell his story.

During Bob's Keynote address he said something that really made me think.  I can't recall it verbatim, but it went something like this,  "I challenge you to think of 10 people that have the same job as you, but do it better than you."

Whoah...

We aren't supposed to think about things like that are we?  Aren't we supposed to be the best in our field?  Yes, I strive for that, but find that there are some amazing tweeps in my network doing awesome things in their school districts.  I am continually learning from awesome educators in my professional learning network!

Bob mentioned that when he does this activity in a workshop, most teachers struggle to get past the first name that they write down.  I thought for a bit and immediately started jotting down names in the Notes app on my phone (I also wondered how a teacher that's not connected would answer this question, but that's a whole new blog post).

Here is what I came up with.  I'm actually cheating and listing twelve people instead of ten.  A simple "thank you" to those on this list.  You continually challenge me to become a better educator.  You continually raise the bar higher and higher.   You drive me to be the best that I can be in my profession.

Devon Schoening
Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano
Josh Allen
Jennifer Scheffer
Jenny Grabiec
Lisa Johnson
Jeremy Macdonald
Holly Clark
Susan Bearden
Clay Reisler
Brent Catlett
Mickie Mueller

Well, can you come up with ten people?  If so, I challenge you to reply with your own blog post!

Let's see what ya got!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Your Kids Are Using Social Media...Are You?


My middle school newsletter article this month...

Chances are, you have some sort of social media account, whether it be Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter.   I read an article the other day that said right now approximately 70% of Americans are using some form of social media.  I imagine that number will only grow as we head into the future.  The world today is a whole lot different from when you and I grew up. There are so many ways to be connected!


It was trying to think of how I was “connected” back in my middle school days at Centura in 1986.  How did I communicate with my friends? How did I interact with others?  Well, I distinctly remember cruising up and down South Locust with my buddies and having those chats with others out our windows.  I remember making “dub tapes” of my favorite songs while listening to the weekly top 40, and then sharing them with my friends.  Now, we simply go to iTunes and purchase what we want.  How about actually calling up your buddies and getting a pick-up game of basketball or football going in the park? Sadly, I don’t see a lot of that anymore as I drive by a park.  Yes, kids still do some of these things, but a lot of their social interactions are taking place on devices.


I was curious to see how many of our students at Aurora Middle School are using social media so I constructed a very unscientific survey and had students complete it the first couple weeks of school.  Check out the results at the bottom of this article.  We have a lot (72%) of  students that are utilizing social media in one form or another.  Instagram is the most popular, followed by Facebook and Vine.  These forms of social media are very popular amongst teens right now, not only in Aurora, Nebraska, but all over the world.  I was a bit surprised by the Facebook statistic being so high as kids are starting to migrate from Facebook towards other forms of social media that their parents are NOT using.


My question for you is this….


Are you using these forms of social media?  If not, I would like for you to consider doing so.   Nationally known speaker Kevin Honeycutt once said, “Our kids are growing up on a digital playground and there are no teachers on recess duty!”  We as parents need to monitor and model the correct way to use social media.  
I would highly encourage you to sit down tonight with your child and have them share what social media sites/apps they are currently utilizing.  If you are unfamiliar with any of the sites/apps, have your child explain to you how it works and how they are using them.  Then, I would highly encourage YOU to download those apps, create and account and start using them.  “Friend” your child or follow them on the accounts. Be sure they do the same.  Because we have taught them the importance of online safety during Digital Citizenship, many students have made their accounts “private.”  If their account is private, they will need to allow you to “follow” them.


Together we can do a great job of making our Aurora Huskies even better students in the digital world that they are growing up in!  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to tweet, email, or call me at the school.