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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Great Apps to Complement Your iMovie App

The iMovie app could possibly be my favorite app on my iPad.  It's a versatile app that can lead to a whole lot of creation in your classroom  Yes, I know that iMovie on my MacBook Pro has all the bells and whistles, but I believe that the app has all the ingredients to make some pretty powerful products in your classroom.

I love the fact that the app allows our students (and us) to make thinking visible.   There are so many ways that you can use iMove in the classroom.  From knowledge to comprehension, every level of Bloom's taxonomy is easily addressed using the iMovie app.  I plan on teaching our K-5 students how to use the iMovie app in the coming weeks and I can't wait to see the creativity that is generated!

The best thing about iMovie is that you can use it with a lot of other apps! App Smashing?  Try using iMovie as the final app to display your app smash.  Just drop your products in from the photo library, do a voice over and you have created a product that allows you to showcase the learning happening in your classroom!

I have created a folder on my iPad of apps that I use to supplement some of the videos that I produce. Here are some of my favorites:

Prompterous ($1.99) Planning on doing a newscast or something that would be nice to have a script that was written ahead of time? Purchase this great teleprompter app that has all the goodies (and then some) that you will need.  I like the fact this app will allow me to import scripts that I have created in Google Docs! 

Teleprompter Pro Lite (Free) Very basic teleprompter.  This will suffice for most of your student created projects. 

IntroMate ($2.99)  Awesome app!  You can easily create professional quality intros and end credits for your movies.  They have several templates for you to choose from.  Just tap the template you like, edit it as you see fit, save it to your photo library them add to your movie within iMovie. 

Extras4iMovie ($1.99) I don't use this app enough.  You can add scrolling text to your movies, search within the app for HD backgrounds, photos and clip art to use in your movies. 

Movie Drops ($2.99) I find that the app is a bit pricey for what little it offers, but you get to choose from 24 different HD clips that you can save to your photo library.  Simply tap the record button within the app of the scene that you like, record for the amount of time that you want and when you tap the button to stop, the clip automatically drops into your photo library.

Intro Designer ($2.99) This app has an awesome collection of beautiful intro movies and credits that you can easily edit for your project.  I use this app a lot when creating movies on my iPad. One of my absolute favorites.  You can get the Lite version, but there are a lot more options in the paid version.

ImageChef (Free) Your creativity explodes when using this app!  Take your photos and do all sorts of things with them.  When you are done creating, save it to your photo library and add into your project in iMovie.

Canva (Free)  I love Canva!  When it first came out it was only available on the web, but it's now an app and you will LOVE creating all sorts of things with this app.   With Canva, you can choose from over a million layouts, stock photographs and illustrations to create some pretty professional looking products. Customize your creations and add your completed products to your iMovies!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I Coded. I'm Hooked. Here Are My Favorite Coding Apps.

So I tried this coding thing.  I saw it all over the Twitters last year,  "Parcipate in the #hourofcode!" "Your students will love it!" "Every student in my classroom was engaged."

But I didn't get it.

When I saw the word "coding" my mind flashed back to seeing images of computer programs from the late 80's and early 90's.

After a friendly suggestion by Heather Callihan to "just try it with one class and see what you think," I downloaded the Kodable app onto a classroom set of iPads in Holly Hudson's Kindergarten.  

Now I keep asking myself, "What were you thinking?" when it came to not choosing to show the basics of coding with our students any sooner!

What an amazing experience I had last week having our students participate in the #hourofcode.

If we as educators want students to challenge our students to think deeper and more critically, they need to be coding.   If we want students to be better problem solvers, then we need to be coding with them.   What I witnessed last week was a way of thinking that doesn't happen enough in our classrooms.  We need to make it happen more and coding can serve as the catalyst.

So I challenge you to download the apps listed below. Yes, I know some of them are pretty basic when it comes to coding, but I think it builds a firm foundation in getting kids to "see" the bigger picture and maybe even pique some interest into a possible career in computer engineering.

Try to find a way to integrate them into a lesson.  I sure am glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Website for Every Classroom

Every once in awhile you stumble upon a website wondering, "Where in the world has that been? What a great find for my classroom!" You bookmark it, Tweet it, Pin it or add it to your Diigo page.   Well, I ran across one of those websites.  Actually, I did some research to find the website after the owner of the site came to speak at our school last Fall.  The owner of the website is Mike Smith and his website is Mike Smith Live, but the area of his website that has me so inspired is called "The Harbor."

Mike Smith is a professional speaker, but like it says on his website, "while other speakers talk about their past, Mike talks about his present."  And what a great message he has for all of us to hear.

This is my 15th year in the field of education and I have listened to a lot of professional/motivational speakers during that time.   I'm always a little leery of speakers coming into schools, getting paid a bunch of money and then leaving, never to be hear from again.  When I walked out of the gym after listening to Mike speak last Fall I was speechless.  Yes, that's hard to comprehend for those of you that know me.  But I truly was at a loss for words to describe what I had just witnessed.

I found myself wondering, "What was so different about Mike's message?"

After thinking about it for a couple of days I finally realized that Mike Smith's message is authentic. Students (staff and parents) can relate to his story.  Our students and staff were talking about it for weeks after had had been here.  The positive power of Mike's message continued to permeate our middle school and high school buildings.

A couple of months after Mike spoke at our school The Harbor was added to his website.  There is a new episode that comes out each Monday tied to things that need to be talked about in schools. Judging others, digital distractions and success are just a few of the topics discussed.  It's not always Mike doing the talking either.  We get to see a variety of different people from every walk of life in which one can easily relate.  Be sure to check out the "Critical Thinking" PDF for each episode as well.  There are some great questions that will lead to some powerful conversations in your classrooms.

I would highly encourage you to incorporate the weekly lesson someway, somehow into your classrooms on Monday mornings.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Gamified Homework?

I remember back in 8th grade when a local radio station had a call in show on Thursday nights. It was specifically geared towards listeners helping listeners with their homework. If you were struggling with homework, you could call in and ask your question. The station would play back your question on the air, and then you would wait for an answer from somebody that might call in.  It was called the "Homework Helpline" and I was sure to tune in each Thursday night at 8 p.m.  I wasn't offering any answers to homework questions, I was doing the asking!  It was intriguing.  It was different.  It was social.  It made homework fun.

Recently I ran across a website called Brainly.   It reminds me of what I was doing in junior high, just amplified from a radio station to the world wide web.  What is Brainly?  Essentially, it's a social network for homework help with a gaming feel.  Very interesting.

In chatting with Marcin Gnat, Blogs and Media Specialist for the website and app, 80% of all answers are given in less than 10 minutes.  Yes, I could probably use Google to find the answer to some of my homework questions, but that wouldn't be much fun would it?  While asking my questions on Brainly I might actually find a couple questions from other people that I could answer and earn points (gamification aspect).

Brainly is quickly growing with over 40 million users worldwide!  400 of those users are moderators making sure that the quality of answers are only the best.

How can you use Brainly? 

  • Students can use if for homework help.
  • Teacher could use in a manner similar to Edmodo, but evaluate questions that students post to Brainly to better understand their struggles with certain topics.
  • A place to share your expertise and knowledge!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

My Favorite Resources for Teaching #Digcit in the Primary Grades

Every Monday morning I get to meet with all 86 Kindergarteners at Aurora Elementary. Yes, all 86 at one time!  I know it sounds crazy, but I really look forward to it because Kindergarteners are awesome bucket fillers!  It doesn't matter how my day has started, when I walk out of that room, I am smiling ear to ear.

When we meet, we spend our time talking a lot about the Internet.  What it is. How it works. Things that we do on the Internet, like gaming, email, sharing our personal information, advertising, etc. The list goes on and on.

Most importantly, we talk about how we should behave online the same way that we do in the real world. Yes, you can call it digital citizenship if you'd like.

Some of my tweeples have asked me what I use for resources when it comes to planning for my weekly meeting with my little friends.   Below,  are some of my favorites that I use when putting together ideas for my lessons.  Hope you can find an idea or two that you like.  Both of these websites have awesome information!

Common Sense Media's Digital Citizenship & Citizenship Classroom Curriculum.  I've put a lot of lessons together based on some of the great information/ideas that I find here.  This was one of the first websites that I started using in my position as K-12 Integration Specialist here at Aurora Public Schools.  The curriculum they have created is straightforward, very thorough and easy to adapt for any classroom.

NetSmartzKids.  Quickly becoming one of my "must bookmark" websites for every elementary teacher.  I absolutely love what they have put together here!  Watch a couple of the educational videos starring Clicky, Nettie and Webster and you will see why.  There are a plethora of resources available and they're very engaging.   I find myself checking the parent website Netsmartz more frequently as there are some great resources for older students as well.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Organize your Photos!

I'll admit it.  I had over 1,200 photos in my photo library on my iPhone.  I was one dropped iPhone away from losing a whole lot of great family memories.  My seventh grade daughter brought this obvious fact to my attention. "What would you do if you lost all of those photos?"  Do you find yourself fighting the same battle with all your photos?

I knew I had to do something to get my photos more organized. I didn't like going through and having to tap on photos to upload them to a folder in Google Drive or Flickr.  I thought that there had to be a better way, and there was.  I found out about it from the awesome Josh Allen.

Here's a simple solution to organizing those priceless family photos as you take them on your phone!

I created an IFTTT (If This Then That) account. What is IFTTT?  It's a simple automation that allows you to select two services.  When you use one service, you trigger the next service and an action takes place.  Just check it out. Trust me, you'll love it! I'm not going to go into detail here as it would be a whole other blog post.   Here is a recipe that someone had already made, so I set it up to work with my personal accounts.

I don't do Facebook,  but I do utilize "the Insta" (as the kids call it) to publish some of my family mementos.   This recipe essentially works this way:

My "IF"
I post a family photo to my Instagram account.  In the body of the post, I am sure to include the hashtag "#colonyb" (colony Badura) that I created for our family. This will trigger the "then" portion.

I chose my "then" to be Flickr.  I wanted my photos to all end up in one place.  Flickr offers you 1TB of storage for free, so my one place ended up being Flickr. You can now create and order hardbound memory books in Flickr, so I am super excited to create my first one this year for Christmas from all of the family pictures I have posted using this IFTTT recipe.

My Result
Every single time I post a picture to my Instagram account using our family hashtag, that picture is automatically uploaded to my Flickr account!

No more going through my photo library and uploading photos!   I just do it all with one simple recipe in IFTTT.

Check it out!  There are a ton of different ways to utilize IFTT.  You can create a recipe to save all of your favorited Tweets to a Google Spreadsheet, save any new photo you take on an iOS device to a spreadsheet, keep all the photos you upload to Facebook in one safe place or better yet, create a customized one!

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!