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11 Sep 2011
Comments: 0

Suprisingly Educational, Entertaining, and Engaging

I came across the lite version of MyPlayHome this week. The Lite version gives you full access and interactivity to two rooms, the kitchen and living room. Those two rooms alone kept my preschool son, also known as the app critic, busy for 30-45 minutes. His favorite discovery was that throwing away a piece of food in the kitchen replaces it in its prior location (e.g. table, cabinet, etc…). I later decided to check out the full version and was very pleased with the two extra rooms, bathroom and bedroom. Another fantastic bonus to the app is it will grow over time with more rooms and accessories. If they are taking suggestions, I would request a backyard with a grill, sandbox, picnic table, and flower/vegetable garden. What other toys can you say have that economical feature?

With that said, I will transfer my mommy hat to my educator cap… While this app may appear like a “doll house for the iPad generation”, it holds far more educational inspiration than sheer interactive entertainment. Thus, I have compiled a list of 7 ways I would use this app in the classroom:

  1. Have students create dialogue based on what the characters are doing in the house. This would be a great way for students to practice sentence structure, pronouns, and adjectives. (Consider taking screenshots and adding the dialogue with another app… like Doodle Buddy).
  2. Have students practice sequencing. Give students a series of directions or have students come up with a first/next/then structure for a task. (This could also be achieved with screenshots and Popplet Lite.)
  3. Have students practice vocabulary/spelling by taking a screenshot and opening it up in Doodle Buddy and adding words to annotate a room in the house.
  4. Have students discuss their own routines/traditions for getting ready in the morning, going to bed, family time, etc… (Consider having students take a screenshot and then discuss it in ShowMe or ScreenChomp.)
  5. Have students create/solve a math problem based on a scenario inspired by one of the rooms. (Challenge students to find/classify various shapes in each room.)
  6. Have students compare/contrast a room in the play home to the same room in their home.
  7. Have students write a descriptive paragraph about a room.

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05 Sep 2011
Comments: 1

Give Your Classroom a Voice with Songify

Appy Hours 4 You: As I mentioned in my Fakebook post, my passion is locating, assembling, and creating resources and lesson ideas to support existing technology (whether it be Web 2.0 tools or iPads). Starting our blog talk radio show was one more way that I wanted to support teachers in the district. While we offer multiple face-to-face courses for the iPad, I still have many teachers ask me what you can do with the device. Even a list of suggested apps can be cumbersome if teachers don’t have a goody bag of ideas to accompany the app or an explanation of how products can be removed from the app or device (e.g. emailed, synced from the photo roll, uploaded to Youtube, downloaded from a random url, etc…).

Thus the reason I felt such a calling to create our “appy hours 4 you” talk show and the portable format. While the show does air live, the intent was for it to be streamed later in the day (e.g. during lunch or while folding laundry at home later that evening) or downloaded to iTunes and listened to on the way to work or at the doctor’s office. Lesson to Go… if you will. Supporting our intent to create a portable learning tool, the vast majority of our listens have been to archived shows. As I do not have information as to the actual listeners of the show (just how many have listened), I am always curious as to who the users are and what they have done with the information shared.

2nd Grade Songify Project
Where is Short U? created with Songify

Songify: On Friday, I had to look no further than my inbox. I received a enthusiastic email from Ms. Carnazzo, a second grade teacher in the district, who had been using my blog resources throughout the summer. This was her first year to have an iPad in her classroom and she wanted to share her Songify class project with me. Overjoyed, I clicked on the link she sent me and found a beautiful Glogster EDU page with pictures of the students (she had full internet permissions for each child) decked out in colorful boas and sunglasses posing with a microphone and their iPad. As if that wasn’t adorable enough, she had five different short vowel songs posted (with a text box above each for the lyrics). Each of the songs were created by recording the students singing using Songify (one of the apps we highlighted in our first episode).

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What’s Next for our Appolicious Elementary Stars and their Teacher? Not only did the students love the project, Ms. Carnazzo has decided to have students complete a similar project with Talking Tom and a math song. As she wants the song to be one piece, she has decided to record each excerpt separately and then piece them together in a video editing tool like iMovie.

As my intention for the radio show was to instruct, inspire, and instill an autonomy for building lessons with the iPad that supports student learning and engagement, I would love to hear from others who have used or adapted the lesson ideas we have shared on our show.

FREEBIES and GOODIES OH MY!

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29 Aug 2011
Comments: 2

Everything Explained: Devour Deluxe Screencasting

In the techchef4u kitchen, ingredients and tools tend to be free… but I am making an exception…

Explain Everything: Screencasting App

I am typically quite skeptical when I come across paid apps that do the same thing as free ones. That being said… I have been looking for an advanced screencasting app for some time and was quite elated with the features, design, and potential Explain Everything promised. While I am still partial to Screenchomp (as it is free, simple to use, and offers the ability to download an mp4 video file without having to upload it to Youtube), it only offers simple color annotation with no shapes or arrows and will not allow you to annotate over documents, presentations, or multiple images. While this is perfect for elementary and Khan-esque videos, secondary students, teachers, and the tech world need the advanced functionality that Explain Everything offers.

In corresponding with the Explain Everything app developer, I discovered the reason I truly love this app. As you will see it is easy to use with profound functionality, but the real “you had me at slide to unlock” moment was the innate educational value and potential the app possessed. With this said, I wasn’t at all surprised that a Director of Educational Technology was behind such a polished gem.

So without further ado… let’s delve into the features of Explain Everything:

Explain Everything features:

Explain Everything: Screencasting App
  1. Multiple ways to access your documents: Begin with a blank project or import from photos (similar to Screenchomp) as well as import from Evernote and Dropbox. While there are a few files that were not compatible for import, I did like the fact that you could import a group of photos rather than one at a time.
  2. Slide Sorter: If you have imported multiple pages/images, you have the option to change the order of the slides (or images) and delete them (much like in PPT). Users also have the option to add a blank side in the beginning, middle, or end of a presentation.
  3. Annotation: You can write/highlight and add shapes, lines, arrows, and text. Within each of the annotation drop-downs, you have options to change color, size, transparency, font size, fill color, etc… (Note: the drop-down menu features accessed during your recording do not appear in the final recording).
  4. Insert images: You can insert and edit images (crop and rotate) from Dropbox, Evernote, Camera, or Photo Roll. (Note: The process of importing and editing the image will not appear in the video – recording automatically pauses during this process.)
  5. Layers: You can layer images as well as resize them on the canvas. (This is a slick feature!)
  6. Undo: You have the option to undo/remove a whole object rather than have to erase it in sections (Note: this is selected in the “preferences”: drawings become objects.)
  7. Save: You can save within the app.
  8. Export Images: Images can be exported to the photo roll, emailed, or saved to Dropbox or Evernote.
  9. Export Video: Videos can be saved to the photo roll, emailed, uploaded to youtube, or saved to Dropbox or Evernote. Projects can be emailed or saved to Dropbox or Evernote (they appear to save as an xpl file).
  10. Help menu: Though the app is extremely user-friendly and straight-forward, they do offer a wonderful help section with screenshots and further directions if needed. (If that wasn’t enough, they offer a video and print guide on their site.)

Problem-Solving Explained: While I created the first video to highlight all of the features available in the Explain Everything app, I wanted to model how the Explain Everything app could be used as a vehicle for instruction and learning in the video above. I had previously created this story problem with Prezi to model how the tool could be used as a problem-solving piece in mathematics. In hindsight, I truly believe Explain Everything is a far more useful tool for this purpose as teachers can create instructional videos and students can compose a rich problem-solving process in mere minutes.

  1. Students could create their own story problems with Doodle Buddy (free), Comic Touch Lite (free), or Cartoon Studio Free images saved to the photo roll. (Consider using 123 Charts (free) to produce more advanced data for word problems and critical-thinking projects.)
  2. Teachers could also create images in a Web 2.0 tool and save to Dropbox.

The idea of narrating, presenting, critical-thinking, problem-solving, story-telling, analyzing text, and creating screencasts/tutorials can be adjusted and modified in any content area or grade level to meet the diverse needs of teachers and students making the Explain Everything app a staple in any school setting. (Visit Explain Everything’s site to see the showcase of user examples and submit your own.)

Note: Stay tuned for an update in the next few weeks. I have been informed features to be released are:

  • *PPT, PPTX, and Keynote files now auto-separate into slides (like multi-page PDFS)
  • *Added a new Draw Tool pen tip option (a “hard” tip in addition to the default “soft” tip)
  • *Option to export the MP4 file without the audio track
  • *Option to save a copy of the movie to your iPad photo roll when you do an export to YouTube

While the app doesn’t currently allow for the ability to import and annotate over a video due to current iPad processing and memory specifications, the developer suggested using Explain Everything products in conjunction with the iMovie app, so you could get very creative and make a production using video clips, Explain Everything exports, and iTunes music.

FREEBIES and GOODIES OH MY!

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24 Aug 2011
Comments: 0

Inspire and Ignite Political Debate in the Classroom

Container Ban on River Passes

As a local New Braunfels resident and an educator, I thought the current river ban debate would make an excellent post for a research and persuasive paper assignment. It is also is a nice pairing with my recent Fakebook post as there are Facebook pages both for (“It’s Time to Protect Our Comal and Guadalupe Rivers“) and against the ban (“The River Belongs to Us Not City Council” & “Sign the Referendum to Recall the New Braunfels Container Ban Ordinance“). While I would not recommend using the actual Facebook pages for research as some of the comments have proven to be heated and inappropriate, teachers could glean both pages for arguments and direct quotes from both sides to provide a point of reference for the debate.

Last night the New Braunfels City Council by a vote to 5 to 1 banned disposable food and beverages from waterways within the city limits. This ban has ignited the interest of many residents who may or would not have been active in local government and want to have a voice… and a vote.

River Video taken August 15th, 2011 after a clean-up. 

Ignite Debate: Such a hot topic also proves to be a great fodder for classroom discussion and a wonderful vehicle for debate. Trying to say as unbiased as possible, I decided to build off of my previous Fakebook post:

New Braunfels City Council Meeting
  1. Teachers could create a simulated discussion to highlight basic arguments from both sides (by pulling quotes and posts from FB).
  2. Students would then get a RAFTS  assignment. (Consider all of the the parties (roles) that the ban will affect and all of the vested entities: NB City Council, NB Police, locals, residents on the river, river-oriented business, NB businesses, tourists, the media, state politicians). See Reading Rockets RAFTS info and templates.
  3. Based on their given or selected role, students would research arguments, statistics, and facts/info that would support their stance on the issue. The recent article from My San Antonio provides a great start.
  4. Students would complete a graphic organizer to record their findings before finalizing their project.
    1. Web 2.0: ExploratreePopplet, or HOLT Interactive Graphic Organizers
    2. iPad: Popplet or T-Charts (123 Charts for stats and data)
    3. iPod: T-Charts (123 Charts for stats and data)
  5. Students could then present their persuasive argument in multiple formats:
Created with T-Chart app
  1. a news broadcast (using Videolicious and images from the council meeting and river)
  2. an letter/email to a local Congressman (When writing a letter/email, remind students to: know their facts, state their purpose, be personal, stay on message, don’t be partisan, be courteous, and request a response). Researching voting records and public stances for multiple congressional figures may help students locate Senators and Representatives that would be more sympathetic to their cause.)
  3. a website (Glogster EDU) or brochure/flier with all information gathered for or against ban that could be presented to locals and/or voters
  4. a persuasive essay
  5. a debate (live or virtually with Edmodo)
  6. a song/rap/poem (quick songs could be completed in using Songify)
  7. a proposal to provide alternate solutions to the ban or a revised law
  8. a 30-second commercial for or against the ban (check out Photostory)
  9. an interview with a RAFTS stakeholder

 River Video taken after Memorial Day, 2011 used in the media to support the ban

FREEBIES and GOODIES OH MY!

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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:
Romeo & Juliet: WordFoto
  • Storyboard Composer (paid but great ratings – for more professional works)
  • Writer’s Studio (actually creates a book – paid)
  • Qvik Sketch: Consider drawing your own characters using Qvik Sketch or Quik Sketch Pro (paid) or Fountain Pen Pro (free) and adding character traits using Word Foto.
  • 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.

    FREEBIES and GOODIES OH MY!

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    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.

    19 May 2011
    Comments: 4

    Part 5: Techchef4U iPad Lessons

    I came across this tool earlier today in the TCEA Twitter feed and it is just so cool (and easy to use) that I had to share! This Flipsnack I created is using my iPad Lessons(since they were already PDF’s and I needed them for this year’s Tech Camp). (Check out more blogs about Flipsnacks).

    I found it was best to link all of the PDF’s into one document using Adobe Acrobat (“create a PDf from multiple files”) prior to uploading the PDF. Otherwise I found each book only had one page. The site does require a login but will give you a free link and embed code and allow you to upload up to 500 pages. This is a very cool way to highlight information and create a cool book of student work or resources. And the embedded hyperlinks in the document still work!!

    I have included other links for Web 2.0 sites, resources, and supporting materials that will accompany the iPad Lessons above on my Teacher Web.

    Thank you Apps in Education for featuring my lessons in your blog. These are a labor of love and I am so honored that people are getting a chance to see them and use them. As you write your lessons, please share them out. Inspiration and passion for technology integration are oftentimes contagious. Let the appapalooza commence!

    iPad lesson development is universal & global: Just saw Jan Gamres blog (Norwegian) referencing the lesson process I stated in my last entry: Using the power of Google Translator, I was able to read it. What a wonderful world we live in! Translate it for some great tips on iPad Lesson development.

    FREEBIES and GOODIES OH MY!

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    18 May 2011
    Comments: 4

    Part 4: iBuild iPad Lesson(s)

    Images from The Missing Bite Posters (compiled in Photofunia)
    Awake your Appthusiasm for Learning

    I am an Instructional Technology Specialist at NEISD that serves 3 Title 1 campuses. We are very fortunate to have an abundance of technology at our disposal to service the students.

    With a background in English & Math and a love for all things Apple, I naturally gravitate to the iPad. We have 60 currently on campus with 90+ on the way so I have been working very diligently over the past few months creating lessons for them (as well as training teachers ahead of time) to reduce the turnaround time between when they arrive and when they are actually used for instruction in the classroom.

    While these lessons were inspired by apps, I did not want to make the lesson exclusive to the app so I have given suggestions/extensions and projects that can be accomplished with Web 2.0 tools. I have also provided interactive Web 2.0 tools that can serve as an alternative to the app if teachers would still like to use the lesson (and do not have access to an iPad).

    Do you have an App-titude for Lesson Development?

    After writing a series of iPad lessons, I wanted to share my process in creating the lessons:

    • Theme/Topic/Content Focus: While I try to choose a theme or topic (graphic novels, government, poetry) or locate an inspiring app to build my lesson around to make the lesson general enough that it can be used/adapted by various grade levels, teachers may want to ask themselves some more specific questions as they begin the planning process:
      • What TEK(S) do you plan to cover, focus on, support?
      • What is the purpose of the lesson (pre-activity, review, formative/summative assessment)?
      • How long do I have for the activity?
      • What background information should the students have prior to the lesson?
      • How will I differentiate or provide scaffolding to meet the needs of all learners?
      • How will the lesson be delivered (individual, pairs, small groups, stations, whole class)
      • Should activities within the lesson be completed in a certain order?
      • How will the activities be assessed (questions, lab, oral discussion, project/product, blog/online post)?
    • Supporting Apps & Resources: Find more apps like it or to support it (also consider what materials & resources you already have: websites, PDF’s, movies, podcasts, etc…). If you do not have supporting content already created, consider creating an ePub or interactive PDF.
    • Similar Lessons: Find similar topic/theme lessons online
    • Apps Mirror Interactive Sites: Find similar sites (virtual/interactive/Web 2.0) as apps (for teachers who do not have an iPad to use the same lesson)
    • Projects/Assessment: Compile project ideas/suggestions/products that can be created using Web 2.0 tools, interactive sites, or peripherals (assessment and student products/projects)
    • Resources & Extensions: Gather links to resources used, lessons, extension ideas, etc…

    This whole process from start to finish typically takes me 10-15 hours a lesson.

    Template for building these lessons: Word_Template (Lesson Outline_Word).  Microsoft also offers thousands of templates for Publisher & Word that can be modified to be used as a lesson template or task card. In Pages, choose a newsletter from the template chooser or a Poster (for a task card).

    I have also included sample iPad lessons that I have “cooked up” this year in the next post!

    Apptivities.org is also a great site for iDevice Lessons and a great way to get inspired. Krueger’s KSAT program also has a site with a few example lessons that may give you some direction. Escondido’s iRead site is also a great place to start. This is a fantastic site to understand how to use digital audio tools to improve the reading process.

    A wonderful TCEA Workshop left us on this note and so will I, “It’s Not About the Tech. It’s About the Teach.” Be mindful of this when building your iDevice lessons.

    Post Your Lesson Ideas to this Canvas!
    Appolicious iPad Apptivities

     

    For those of you who may want an agenda for this course, I have gone the nontraditional route and used iBrainstorm to generate a plan!

    FREEBIES and GOODIES OH MY!

    TechChef4u now offers a Doc Locker full of freebies and goodies that can be used in the classroom. Lots of resources and templates can be found in the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker. Just sign up using the form below and you will receive an email shortly with a secret link to the site and password to nab your freebies.

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