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20 Jun 2011
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Cool Tech 4 Kids to Beat the Heat: Part 1: Imaginative Play and Games

As we are already in triple digits and haven’t even celebrated the 4th of July, many parents are opting to stay indoors rather than brave the blistering heat. While we will make the occasional trip to the Children’s Museum, Magik Theater, and Schlitterbahn, my focus has been trying to come up with alternatives to playing in the heat.

[gigya width=”400″ height=”400″ src=”http://cdn-img1.imagechef.com/ic/images/blender-fireworks4.swf” quality=”high” flashvars=”varTheme=searchlight&myVar1=http://cdn-img1.imagechef.com/w/110620/samp85cc03e12041b624.jpg&myVar2=http://cdn-img1.imagechef.com/w/110620/swf83c71440669a6c89.swf” align=”middle” wmode=”tranparent” allowScriptAccess=”sameDomain” allowfullscreen=”false” ]
ImageChef.com Poetry Blender

If you are like me and have two young boys (or children of any age for that matter), you are probably looking for something to keep your kiddos busy… indoors. If I am not prepared, activities around the house may be as simple as block day (where we dump all of the Mega Bloks out on the floor and build various structures) or city day (which consists of pulling out all of our Fisher Price toys…airport, barns, zoo, cars, people, etc… and arranging them into something that resembles a metropolis of sorts).

These activities are fun but given some more time to prepare, I like to arrange activities that bridge the gap between fun, technology, and instruction. The activities listed are broken up into categories and are accessed via the iPad. (Upcoming posts in the series will focus on both apps and Web 2.0 tools).

As I am also a bargain app shopper, the majority of apps suggested are… FREE (or moderately priced)!

ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more


Imaginative Play: Many of us remember tea parties and puppet shows so the idea of using technology to foster imaginative play is not so far-fetched. While Toca Tea Party may only appeal to preschool and elementary age children, Puppet Pals & Sock Puppets will bring joy to all who are young at heart.

Tea for Two or More

Need ideas for your next Puppet Show? Check out Three Little Pigs, Three Billy Goats for some great examples of puppet shows (both are paid). Plums Rhyme and Tortoise and Hare Puppet Show (includes step-by-step video workshop for how to make puppets and create a show) are both free!

Legos, Board Games, and Puzzles: Cure Boredom!

Let Your PegLight Shine Brite!

Create Your Own Wordventure

Have an overcast day or an early morning? Check out 225 Kid Outdoor Games (games for ages 2-16 from around the world – paid app).

Don’t have an iPad? Consider creating your own board game (Tools for Educators) or dusting off Uno and Connect 4.

Stay Tuned over the next couple of weeks for upcoming Part 2: Virtual Vacations, Part 3: Books & Storytelling,and Part 4: Scrapbooks, Timelines, Arts & Crafts.

Tune in: Thursday June 23rd at 8pm to Social Geek Radio where I will be a guest discussing cool technology for kids (apps and Web 2.0 tools) that they can utilize on these hot summer days.

Please Comment with your favorite apps (and Web 2.0 tools) for imaginative play and games.


14 Jun 2011
Comments: 0

12 Tips for Blogging Success

As I was listening to the Newsworthy Blogging podcast from the Social Geek Radio show on my way to work, I had the desire to take notes (should have launched Dragon Dictation). While the tips from Susan Young were intended for blogging for business purposes, the ideas themselves are truly for a universal audience and apply not only to blogging but education. Below I have compiled the 12 Tips for Blogging Success gleaned from Susan Young’s Social Geek Radio blogtalk and have added some anecdotal insight.

My Six Word Memoir

  1. Purpose – What is the purpose of your blog? This is about content. Find your niche and stick to it. People need to know what to expect. Also make sure you have enough knowledge, resources, and content to generate multiple posts on the topic. (I chose Techchef4u for a few reasons. I wanted to make sure it was general enough to encompass any instructional technology I discussed but clear enough to convey the message that I enjoyed creating technology integration resources for anyone and everyone that choose to dine on them. Much like the Joy Of Cooking. =)
  2. Frequency – How often should you write? Susan likened blog posts to a phone call. If you have something to say, call (post a blog). If you have a valuable message and don’t just post to post, this will build credibility. (I keep a notebook of ideas for blog entries and will prioritize them based on teacher and instructional need. I try to keep it timely… Blog on Demand, if you will.)
  3. Good Headlines – The headline and first few opening lines are crucial to keeping reader interest and letting them know what to expect. Look to magazines with snappy headlines and borrow and adjust accordingly. (Oftentimes, I will have a vision for the entry but will not compose the title till the body is complete.)
  4. Keywords: This gets in to a bit of search engine optimization. She mentioned using Google to determine the percentage of people searching for a phrase (the order and arrangement of the words counts) and that these engines like fresh content (no repeats or old info) and numbers in the headlines.(While I have written a 5 part iPad series, this was more due to the fact that I didn’t want to publish 5,000 word blogs. I don’t think I have truly capitalized on the top 10 lists but want to really try and focus on these bulleted lists to drive some of my posts).

    Questions to Ponder

  5. Word Count: This goes back to adding value. There is no set length for a post. It is more about presenting a clear message… whether it be in 3 sentences or 3 paragraphs. (I tend to have to reel myself in as I want to compile and assemble all available information and research on a topic. I will spend hours searching through other posts that mention or discuss a similar topic (e.g. Flipping the Classroom) and incorporate them as additional information in my post. I need to reconcile with myself that it is okay to have a simple post … not a research analysis of a topic.)
  6. Grammar: Blogs are not reports. They tend to be more conversational. Don’t ramble. Present a clear, concise message that carries your writing style. (I really enjoy this aspect of blogging. Being a Leo and Italian, I naturally like to talk and love this form of media to be conversational and yet still convey my message. So much better than a static handout or info sheet).
  7. Reader-friendly: Readers are bombarded by media. If they see a list of 100 tips or large bodies of text… most will not commit to read your blog. Make sure it is full of white space, easy on the eyes, and something that your reader can gleen the gist by scanning. (I will typically write all of the text first and then break it up into smaller sections to make reading and searching for information a more user-friendly experience)
  8. Photos: include relevant images and photos that connect to the written message, break up the text, and highlight some of your personality. My goal for each post is to try to highlight Web 2.0 tool(s) (Google Squared, Big Huge Labs, Flikr PoetQuiki, etc..) using screenshots or embed code. My intent is to ensure that everyone leaves my blog with something they can use…whether it be an idea or a tool).Big Huge Labs Billboard
    1. (If I just need a cool photo, I will use Morgue File
    2. If I have photos that I would like to add some pizazz too, I use PhotoFunia.
  9. Videos: To reach all learners and communicators, incorporate a video or vodcast from time to time to highlight multiple modes of communication. It is also a great way to attract and build rapport with your readers as this will highlight your manners and personality. Consider transcribing it for those who would prefer a text version. (I love including videos but many of them are project-based in nature, like Sock Puppet Shakespeare or Signs of Math. I am looking forward to starting to sprinkle my blog entries with personal vodcasts. For now, these are still scripted. I am too much of a perfectionist to get these in one take.)
  10. Humor & Creativity: You have the podium. Are readers engaged enough to read on? Drop the jargon and be yourself. Weave in your personality and style. Ask open-ended questions to engage your reader and promote discussion. (I tend to like to play with words and be conversational so the media of blogging has been a great outlet for me to test new recipes and ideas.)
  11. Comments: Respond to and acknowledge comments. No one wants to be ignored. We want our message to be well-received. Just because you didn’t receive any comments, doesn’t mean that nobody read it. (Just because someone didn’t fill out a comment card doesn’t mean they didn’t enjoy their meal or experience. It was just a few weeks ago that I learned about “pingbacks” and started seeing other blogs hyperlink to mine as I had done to theirs. I am hoping I get the opportunity to have a more personal level of communication, but for now I am just enthused that people are visiting the kitchen and sampling the dishes… hoping I will soon receive a few comment cards.)
  12. Reposting & Repackaging: If you are going to repost a blog entry, it can’t be dated. Freshen it up a bit. Consider repackaging your top 10 blog entries or a series as an ebook or PDF document as a resource for teachers. (I will typically repost an entry if I have revised or added to it (e.g. added Bloom’s Taxonomy of Apps to Hot Apps for HOTS post). Yet I had never considered creating ebooks for various topics. I love the idea as well as the accessibility of repurposing it. Hoping to have a Joy of Cooking: the iPad edition released towards the end of summer.)

Here is my first vodcast. This was inspired by the idea of truisms & six word memoirs.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImqwNLPJXkE?rel=0&w=425&h=349]

I am very excited to have the opportunity to be a guest on Social Geek Radio Thursday June 23rd at 8pm. We will be discussing cool technology for kids (apps and Web 2.0 tools) that they can utilize on these hot summer days.

Check out Miguel Guhlin’s post for more blogging tips. (Thanks, Miguel, for the tips and the feature.)


09 Jun 2011
Comments: 0

Magic of the iOS 5

Check out the New iOS coming this Fall! It makes me shed happy tears. Appsolutely Amazing! Now I know how it felt to follow the Beatles. Nothing short of greatness!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYx4S8K0IMs?rel=0&w=560&h=349]

Also Check out the iCloud capabilities for iTunes.

If you are a total iPad Geek like me, check out this Magic of the iPad Video. Wonder if the iOS6 will have these features:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAhP-yLJJ9s?rel=0]

Am very curious how the texting and cloud sync will be integrated into classrooms and education…


06 Jun 2011
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Edistorm

I was so inspired by this on Friday I just had to set up an account and start playing! I have created this Edistorm for my iPad Lessons course as a forum and repository.

“The name Edistorm is a mashup of Thomas Edison and Brainstorm and is inspired by Thomas Edison’s idea factories” – gotta love the clever nature of the mashup – not to be confused with editstorm.

Features: Below are the samples of the iPad edistorm I created for my tech camp class. The interface is very easy to use and provides multiple storm templates (e.g. 3up, Reading & Analyzing Nonfiction, Features Advantages Benefits, Pros Vs. Cons, and a 2 & 3 Circle Venn Diagram). You can add additional idea sticky in multiple colors, respond/comment to any additional idea (all comments on that idea are threaded within the sticky note), use idea votes (a “dotmocracy”), and even get ideas for your storm from the idea bots. Very clever and fully functional… did I mention it was all in real time and there is no limit to contributors? Edistorm also offers a Report feature which allows users to export the storm to a spreadsheet or PDF.

Edistorm: Category 2

Edistorm: Category 1

There’s an App for it: Another nice feature is the Edistorm app. You have to sign in to your account to access your storms. Once you do, you have full access to vote, comment, and view posts. This is great for teachers to keep track of their storms and students to contribute to their storms on the go. Gotta love the mobility! (The site also works on the iPad without the app).

Edistorm App

Edistorm works w/out the app too!

Here is a great video highlighting the features of Edistorm with a To Kill a Mockingbird theme.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMYobdFJ8ps&w=560&h=349]

Sharing & Collaboration: While I was really excited about the prospects of the storms, public does not necessarily mean “public”. Public is only accessible to anyone with a Edistorm account so users who want to participate must create a free account. I was initially hoping that there was just a link I could send users and they could participate with out having to log in. There is…. but it is only found by making the edistorm private and then they still had to login. Wishing there was an embed code on this and that the sharing was a little more intuitive. (If I am missing something… please let me know… =). Due to the sharing confusion, I decided to send out emails to all students who were enrolled in the class. When they sign up for an account, they will need to create the account with the email address that the storm was originally shared with. Once they sign in, my storm will be available for editing, collaborating, and contributing. This was my work around.

Examples of Use in the Classroom:

It appears that they will be announcing new educational features at ISTE so stay tuned… 

I am very eager and excited to see what they have in store! (Follow them on Twitter.)


03 Jun 2011
Comments: 0

Today's Meet

Todays Meet is a Web 2.0 tool that is free, requires no logins, and works off of any iDevice. It allows teachers to instantly create a virtual room for students to speak up. The tool can be used for discussions, brainstorming, preflecting, formative assessment, and even exit tickets. Responses are limited to 140 characters or less (much like Twitter). This type of online response is considered micro-blogging due to the size of the post.

myspace graphic is done on Gickr.com
Make your own animation

Other Ideas for Todays Meet:

  • Pop-Up Discussion: Try spicing up an educational video clip by creating a Today’s Meet virtual room via mobile devices. Students could post questions and answers to the film as they go or could even highlight character traits, discover elements of light and dark imagery, discuss misconceptions and vocabulary, analyze quotes, practice Socratic questioning, summarize, or locate Shakespearean references (see Raise the Curtain & Raise the Bar post) – almost like a virtual dialectical notebook. VH1 used to do something similar with Pop-Up Videos and many television shows (the Voice which claims to be the “most digitally integrated show on television”) will run Twitter feeds at the bottom of the screen. Not only is this form of media engaging – it is a great way to track comprehension and to have an ongoing discussion.
  • Evaluate Posts: Todays Meet also allows you to print a transcript of the discussion which is wonderful for counting and evaluating posts. I even had a teacher print it out, black out the names, and use it for a starter the next day. Students were asked to evaluate the spelling and grammar in the posts. What a great extension!

Things to be mindful of:

  • Public Access: Because there are no logins, anyone with the url can access and contribute to the group (which could be good if you wanted to chat with another class in another district, city, around the world, etc… but not so good for other obvious reasons. This is why I typically only leave the room open for two hours.). 
  • Student Info protection: it may be wise to have students use names that are generic or give them a # to avoid having student information made publicly accessible.
  • Inappropriate Comments: There is no way to remove or delete the comment from the feed. This may worry some teachers but I liken it to a student blurting out an inappropriate comment in the classroom. There would be no way to delete this comment from the minds or ears of his/her fellow classmates either. I would handle this incident similarly to how a teacher would handle the student who blurted out in class.
  • Setting Ground Rules: Ground rules should be taught prior to conducting a Todays Meet discussion. Students should be give a purpose for the discussion and instructed to stay on topic, be respectful, and post quality not quantity. If you want your students to raise the discussion level, these guidelines should be set and reiterated prior to initiating the discussion.

Do not let these issues deter you from using the tool in your classroom. Just be vigilant and have a plan in place for tackling these issues if and when they arise. While the site is publicly accessible, I have had no issue with inappropriate use to this date.

Using Todays Meet with an iDevice: using Todays Meet in conjunction with a mobile device virtually eliminates many of the limitation issues of the tool in that the devices can be used in the classroom, lab, or an auditorium, and they provide more of a 1:1 solution. If using Todays Meet on an iDevice, the easiest way to approach this is to create a web clip to the Todays Meet site on each device and then have students launch the web clip and simply type in the name of the room after the url. This way if the room changes every two hours, students aren’t redirected to other rooms and the web clip will work all year in any classroom.

Check out this video from LearnitN5 for a quick tutorial and explanation

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Na_rg6Ok7LM]

Check out some articles which reference how it is used in the classroom:

Interested in Web 2.0 tools for discussion? Check out Edmodo, Edistorm (this one is phenomenal – check out this video), LinoIt (works on iDevices), and Corkboard.me.
Below is a screenshot of the Todays Meet handout for the site and some supporting resources

 

 

Check out some of the responses from our Appy Hour via Today’s Meet!

 

pimp myspace with Gickr
Make your own animation


01 Jun 2011
Comments: 0

HOT APPS for production: Raise the Curtain and Raise the Bar

Just experienced a presentation with Marco Torres (check out his alaslearns site) and felt inspired all over again. He shared some great apps for research, mind-mapping, and note-taking. Given some time to explore apps, I found some additional resources for producing & directing productions from the iPad. Let the show begin! (all apps listed are free unless otherwise stated)

I have been toying for some time on creating a lesson around modern day Shakespearean references found in music. I came across Sock Puppets today and absolutely fell in love. I decided to use it as the media for this project. (Notes about Sock Puppets: I love the sock puppets and backgrounds and the app is extremely easy to use. The only downside(s) are you can only record a 30 second show, if you talk too fast without pauses puppets will not open and close their mouths normally, and the upload to YouTube sometimes takes awhile. With in-app purchase, you have the ability to import your own photos as backgrounds, extend your recording time, and choose from more socks & props.) Found Sock Tube Presents in iTunes: these are vodcast parodies of feature films. Great inspiration and some fabulous ideas for how to handle props and staging if students choose to videotape their own socks vs. using the app – please view prior to showing to students to ensure content is appropriate as some tubes contain adult & mature content.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A76t_vvQ-tE&w=425&h=349]

As mentioned in Puppet Pals lesson, there is a process to creating a final product. Below I have highlighted apps for each stage of the process. Also, consider the reason for the production: are you a teacher creating content for students or are you looking for a students centered project based on challenges, big ideas, and essential questions?

Research: While not all projects will necessitate research, some will require at least some background information. Check out some of these fantastic resources:

Qwiki Shakespeare

View William Shakespeare and over 3,000,000 other topics on Qwiki.

Mind-Mapping & Note-taking: The first thing a student will want to do before creating a show is to get their thoughts on paper. Here are some great apps for mind-mapping:

SimpleMind+ Shakespeare planning

Ophelia Character Trait Popplet (Image created w/ Qvik Sketch)

Storyboarding & Scripts: Now you will want to make sure you have a solid script and a storyboard:
Acting & Practice Your Lines: No one wants an actor that hasn’t rehearsed unless you are practicing improv (and even that takes training). Check out some of these apps for learning your lines:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzowz4u7Ksg&w=425&h=349]

Production: How will you produce and what media will you use?
Submission: How will students submit their projects? If they are creating a video, these can be uploaded to You Tube and then embedded in a teacher website or blog. If students would like to submit images, scripts, presentations, and videos to one place, consider using an app:
  • Dropbox: You can create a Public Folder and still keep your shared files visible
  • iFiles: You can create documents with voice recordings too (this one is paid)
  • MobileMe iDisk: This will work with Mac accounts

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwhYjXb7f20&w=425&h=349]

All Shakespeare info compiled from Wikipedia, Blurtit, Brandon Powell, & Yahoo Answers
Consider extending the Shakespeare activity by asking the question, “How has Shakespeare influenced modern day society?”. Students can extend the web with more topics and descriptions:
  • Add more information about Shakespeare
  • Locate other Movie adaptations (compare & contrast)
  • Identify what play each of the listed movies is an adaptation of
  • Find more songs that have Shakespeare references
  • Identify the line in each of the songs listed that references Shakespeare and what play it originates from
  • Create a playlist for a Shakespeare act (explain why each song is relevant: mood, imagery, character traits, allusion, quotes, etc…)
  • Write a letter as if you were another Shakespearean character inquiring help or answers from Juliet (ala The Juliet Club in Verona). Write back some sage advice from Juliet.
If you don’t have an iPad, then you don’t have an iPad…. BUT you do have access to some wonderful Web 2.0 tools for production. Consider exploring Web 2.0 tools that utilize cartoons, animation, and/or movie-making.

27 May 2011
Comments: 1

HOT APPS for HOTS: Tour of Apps

Our Hot Apps for HOTS course is in its final stages of development. In an effort to create an agenda that is not traditional and stuffy, I have highlighted the apps we will cover using one of our HOT APPS for HOTS: Popplet Lite (check out the rest of the HOT Apps for HOTS entries for more detailed lessons and activities). Little Bird Tales and Todays Meet are actually Web 2.0 tools (thus they are indented a bit in the “agenda” to differentiate them from the apps). I included Todays’ Meet to highlight a Web 2.0 tool that works with the iPad to create an instant chat and gain valuable formative feedback from students. While Little Bird Tales does not work with the iPad (flash issues – although they are testing a version that will allow you to export your tale as a mp4 which will work nicely with iTunes), it is a great way to show that not all information and resources must be housed on the iPad.

The wonderful thing about these tools is that they can be used individually or be paired with each other (see Little Bird Tales: Signs of Math lesson for a sampling of this pairing.)

©2011. Lisa Johnson. All rights reserved. Permission to reproduce for classroom use granted.

Below, I have included two of the lessons from a guest chef, Terri Sanchez.

TerriSanchezLessons: tsanch@neisd.net

Popplet Lite: Activity guides students to use Popplet Lite to map nouns (common, proper,singular, plural, and possessive). Popplet Lite-1 (PDF Lesson). Other uses are listed and highlighted as extensions in the Signs of Math lesson.

iBrainstorm: Activity guides students to use iBrainstorm to pre-write/brainstorm for a persuasive essay. iBrainstorm (PDF Lesson). In using iBrainstorm, we encountered one minor glitch: when students try to write with a pen, the dotting the i and crossing the t is read as a double-tap and initiates a new sticky note. To avoid this issue, we recommended using the sticky notes for text and the pen tools only for basic annotations.)

If you like Popplet & iBrainstorm, check out the paid app Corkulous for more functionality.

Check out Jon Baldoni’s article on “Using Stories to Persuade” and consider having students use Puppet Pals in conjunction with Mind-Mapping apps to create a persuasive story.

The rest of the lessons have been cooked up in house by yours truly: Puppet Pals, iCardSort, “Signs of Math”: Bump & Contacts

While these apptivities were not specifically categorized according to Bloom’s Taxonomy, they all involve creating & analyzing. Check out these sites that http://ilearntechnology.com/ has compiled according to the levels of Bloom:

Bloom's Taxonomy of Apps

Also Check out Kathy Schrock’s Bloom’s Taxonomy of Google Apps. Consider using these in conjunction with your iPad apptivities.

27 May 2011
Comments: 8

HOT Apps for HOTS: Contacts and Bump

Signs of Math images in Photovisi collage

Bump it Up: Signs of Math Activity

While my focus is highlighting apps for HOTS, I also wanted to model how the iPad can be used in conjunction with Web 2.0 tools like Little Bird Tales which allows students or a teacher to create a video with images, text, & narration. I have used the tale as inspiration & direction for the activity. (Little Bird Tales now offers a mp4 download of your tale which cam be played on any iDevice – the cost is 99 cents per tale.)

Signs of Math Directions: Bump_Lesson (PDF Handout)

  1. Watch the tale as a class and discuss it (or view it in small groups or in stations with a task card).
  2. After you finish the tale, jot down 3-5 specific signs (signs do not have to be literally signs) of Math you see each day and what characteristics they possess to make them magically mathematical. Students could post the types of signs with info on a Today’s Meet chat from the computer or an iDevice.
  3. Spend some time gathering photographic evidence of signs of Math. (Either take a photo from the device’s camera or save images from the internet).** If teachers wanted to create a more directed activity, they could provide students with a list of objects to locate (e.g. square, right angle, polygon, sphere, fraction, etc…)
  4. Create a Math Sign Contact:
    1. Launch the Contacts app.
    2. Tap the “+” to create a new contact.
    3. Tap “add photo”. You will be given the option to “take photo” or “choose photo”. If you have already captured images, you will want to select “choose photo”. Tap the arrow to expand your camera roll. Tap the desired image to select it.
    4. Move and scale your image to best fit the frame by pinching in and out and and dragging up and down. Tap “Choose” when satisfied.
    5. Naming your sign: In the First field, type the name of your sign (e.g. parallel lines, acute angle, triangle, etc…). In the Last field, type the first letter of the first name
    6. Tap “+” to add field. Swipe down to the Notes section. Tap on Notes (In testing this, we did find the notes were not “bumped” – students may want to add the notes once their collection is complete) and write a definition or description of the math displayed in the picture.
  5. Bump your Math Signs to create a larger database. Who can collect the most? This might be a great time to discuss exponential growth.

After students have created a database, they can choose one image from their database and create a Popplet with it. This is fairly simple. When in Contacts, students can press and hold the image and they will be prompted to “save image”. This will save the image to their camera roll. Now they are ready to create a Popplet. Their task would be to take an image and list multiple attributes of that image annotating each image to highlight those attributes (as seen below).

Additional options would be to highlight different attributes of the same image, create a Frayer Model, or a Venn Diagram to classify multiple images:

Attributes: have students choose an image and highlight different elements (not all attributes of the same family). For example, a student could have an image of a kite and discuss intersecting lines, fractions, symmetry, polygons, triangles, angles, area, etc…

Frayer Model: another angle would be to create a Frayer Model for one image (e.g. definition, examples, nonexamples, characteristics).

Venn Diagram: classify images that fell into one or more categories (e.g. polygons &  quadrilaterals).

Cartoons: Another extension would be to have students create a math problem cartoon using images or the concepts they have learned from the Signs of Math activity. Check out Yolanda B’s Garden of Equations (secondary example) cartoon using Pixton & my Alien Pet Shop Prezi (elementary example). If you are interested in pursuing a cartoon project, check out the ToonDoo_student_directions handout and the teacher resource page Cartoons in the Classroom.

Check out similar activities highlighting the use of Bump and digital trading cards featured on apptivities.org. Consider using the Flashcardlet app (in conjunction with Quizlet) to create your own Math Signs Flash Cards.

** I dug up an old video from my classroom archives for more inspiration. It is entitled, “Geometry in My World” and it should give some good examples of items we encounter in our everyday world and how you can view them with a geometric eye.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AU591Sgufd0&hl=en&fs=1]

©2011. Lisa Johnson. All rights reserved. Permission to reproduce for classroom use granted.


26 May 2011
Comments: 0

Appy Hour: Science App-Teasers

Appy Hour will provide you with a fast-paced introductory approach to FREE apps that are appropriate for secondary students. App-teasers for Science will be sampled. After this class you will think beyond the concept of an App as simply being a game – you will leave with a menu of appealing concrete lesson ideas you can serve as soon as you are back with your students! An iPad with all required apps will be included for use during the duration of the class.

c/o Lisa Jackson

Jog iTunes with Me

Science Appy Hour (this Jog the Web Tour was designed by ljacks)

app_happy_science (Menu of Math Apps Sampled)

Check out More Apps for Science

©2011. Lisa Johnson. All rights reserved. Permission to reproduce for classroom use granted.

Check out Podcasts for Science.

A few Children’s Books for Science: Four Seasons, A2Z on Global Warming, Introducing Planet Earth, and A Seed Grows.


26 May 2011
Comments: 1

HOT APPS for HOTS: Puppet Pals

Puppet Pals Activity

Puppet Pals is a fantastic app for any age level to create a show (a video) for almost any topic. While I have purchased the Director’s Pass upgraded version, the app itself is free. The Director’s Pass has 13 actor sets (each with 5 to 11 characters) with 3 backdrops for each actor set. The Director’s Pass is a one time fee and you will have access to all of the current sets as well as any future ones – a fantastic deal, if you ask me. The free version only furnishes a Wild West theme with 6 characters, 1 prop, and 3 backdrops.

When I first started planning this lesson, I was really stumped, how do you build a lesson (other than studying the gold rush, cliche cowboys, or the Wild West) around such a specific theme? Then it hit me! It wasn’t about the theme but the content. Puppet Pals Lesson (PDF Lesson)

So I put together this sample (and rough draft) video to highlight how the free version could be used to support the study of figurative language also seen below).

I have included the Henry & Henrietta.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Iy7GonCFg8&w=425&h=349]

After creating the video, I have a few “wise words of wisdom” (pardon the alliteration):

  1. Plan & Storyboard: Lay out your story in a storyboard or graphic organizer.
  2. Dialogue & Stage Direction: Make sure your dialogue is written and clear as to who speaks when (also what voice you will use for each actor), what actions the actors need to perform (e.g. move off screen, come closer, walk, appear on screen, turn, appear smaller, etc…), and what actions need to take place between scene changes (e.g. rearrange actors, have an actor move off stage or into the background).
  3. Group Assignments: If you are working in a group, you will want to assign parts and actors and plan accordingly. Not everyone may have an actor assignment. One person may be responsible for the changing of the backdrop or prop.
  4. Dress Rehearsal: Once your story is written, parts are assigned, and dialogue is rehearsed, you are ready to perform. I would suggest doing a dry run before recording (like a table read).

Slide to Perform: The Basics

  1. How to Select Characters: Tap “Press to Start”. Select actors by tapping on them (a green check mark will appear in the bottom of the actor when it is selected). Tap “Next”.
  2. How to Select Backdrops: Select backdrops by tapping on them (a green check mark will appear in the bottom of the actor when it is selected). Tap “Next”.
  3. How to Change Backgrounds while filming: For full screen image, change the orientation of your iPad to landscape (held horizontally).
  4. How to Turn Character, Change their Size, or Move them from the Stage: Tap & drag a character to move, pinch out to enlarge, pinch in to reduce, and double-tap to change direction. Tap & drag actor out of area of backdrop to remove them from a scene.
  5. How to Record, Pause, & Stop: Tap Record (red circle). You can Pause (2 vertical parallel lines) in between scenes, Tap Stop (white square) when finished. Click Play (green triangle) to preview. If you are satisfied with the quality of your show, you are ready to Save.
  6. How to Save: Tap Save (looks like old-school 3.5 inch disk). Type a title in the space provided. Tap Save.
  7. How to Export: When you launch the app, tap “Saved Shows”. You will be presented with an option to “Export”. Your show will be saved in the video section of your camera roll, photo app that looks like a sunflower.
  8. How to Upload to YouTube or Email: From your camera roll, locate the video. Tap the rectangle with the arrow in the upper right hand corner. You will have the option to email the video (many videos may be too large for this option), send it to YouTube (will have to sign in to an account), or copy the video. If none of these options seem to work, you can always pull the videos off the device when you sync your iPad to your designated computer.
Screenshot from PuppetPals

Possible Topics for Puppet Pals (without Director’s Pass)

  1. Illustrate a vocabulary word, math problem, or scientific concept
  2. Recreate a story in a different setting
  3. Apply today’s government and economic structure to that of the Wild West
  4. Create a news story (interview a character or a witness)
  5. Illustrate a poem (include various elements of figurative language: simile, metaphor, personification, alliteration, onomatopoeia, hyperbole, idioms, cliches) or practice rhyme scheme & meter
  6. Write a story using a certain number of prepositional phrases, adverbs, adjectives, etc…
  7. Create a story to illustrate humor or another emotion or depict sarcasm or irony (verbal, dramatic, situational) or even a paradox
  8. Create a story to illustrate word play & literary techniques (spoonerisms, wellerisms, rhetoric,puns,
  9. Create a story to narrate conflict or climax
  10. Create a story that is a biographical retelling of a historical figure from the era (or a historical fiction account) – check out Time Warp Trio for some great extensions and ideas (also has an Old West section) to spice up your show.
  11. Create a talk show to have various characters share their story or debate a topic.

Tech Camp Assignment: Choose 1 of the following show ideas:

  • Option A: Create a Puppet Pal Show using the existing characters and backdrops that highlights at least 3 idioms, 3 prepositions, 1 metaphor, and 1 simile. Export your show (as a video) so others can see it.
  • Option B: Create a Puppet Pals Show using at least 2 one-syllable rhyming words, 2 two or three-syllable rhyming words, 2 idioms, and 2 alliterations.

You may use the resources highlighted here to assist you with your show: Idiom Dictionary, Idiom Site, Rhymezone, Ryhmer, The Preposition, Your Dictionary: Alliteration, Your Dictionary: Similes & Metaphors, Buzzle.com: Metaphors.

Director’s Pass: If you have the director’s pass, you not only have a plethora of characters and backgrounds to choose from (Arthropod Armada, Christmas, Entertainers, Fair Weather Friends, Fairytale, Monsters, On the Farm, Pirates, Political Partay, Talk Shows, Thanksgiving, Wild West, and Zombie Attack) but also the ability to add actor(s) and background(s) from your photo collection (either images you have taken or images saved from the internet). These images can be cropped to create your own puppets.

Check out other apps like it: Toontastic

There is also a great children’s book series that is useful to illustrate idioms: More Parts and Even More Parts by Tedd Arnold (Say What You Mean Please Lesson). Teachers may even want to have students create a table of figurative & literal idiom meanings prior to the activity.

©2011. Lisa Johnson. All rights reserved. Permission to reproduce for classroom use granted.


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