23 Oct 2014
Comments: 0

Half the Page is a Stage … in a WordPlay iBook

I have to say I don’t typically blog to blog… I blog because I am moved to share, reflect, or archive something I feel has merit and value in the edusphere (and I do not endorse products and apps lightly). The new development of WordPlay Shakespeare iBooks definitely jives with these ideals and made me “as merry as the day is long”. While I am a self-proclaimed Shakespeare buff, I have to say Shakespeare proves to be an arduous reading for many (see clip below).

One person, Alexander Parker (@afmparker) and The New Book Press (@thenewbookpress) seeks to make Shakespeare accessible to all. Truly Shakespeare was never meant to be read… it was meant to be acted.

Something Transformative This Way Comes

“The short and the long of it” is that the New Book Press has created a revolutionary new iBook (accessible on both the Mac and the iPad) that seeks to inform the language through the performance by providing Shakespeare’s text side by side with a custom production.

“But really… What the dickens is WordPlay Shakespeare, you say?”

“As good luck would have it”, Alexander Parker kindly spent some time with our Freshman and Senior teachers this week showcasing the WordPlay books as well as sharing some pedagogical nuggets for utilizing the books in the classroom with students.

Sadly my sketch notes skills are quite shabby and do not measure up to the likes of Brad Ovenell-Carter (@braddo) and Tracy Clark (@tracyclark08) or the annointed infographic genius of Sean Junkins (@sjunkins)… so I opted to recap this information by app-smashing the free InstaMag app and Thinglink app.

“Sweet are the many uses of Thinglink”

Though my affinity for thinglinks may seem like madness, please know there is whimsical method in it (Shakespeare Thinglink embedded below linked here). 😉

Beyond the pedagogical tips I have included some ideas for morphing student Shakespeare projects utilizing the iPad as well as a range of student samples from a variety of plays.

“Something transformative this way comes…”

I am super stoked to get this tool in the hands of students. Stay tuned for an updated post in spring when we begin to devour the text in the classroom setting.

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1:1 Deployment and Interested in 1:1 Deployment or PD strategies and implementation? Looking for a dynamic presenter or interactive workshop? Contact TechChef4u (lisa.johnson@techchef4u.com) for parent presentations, hands-on workshops, keynotes, and much more! Read testimonials about TechChef presentations.


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1,800+ iPad Lessons Pinned HERE!

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“Differentiated iClassroom”  iTunes U course is now available!!!

30 Sep 2014
Comments: 3

9 Must Read iPad Instructional Support Resources!

With Apple Under 13 and new parameters for enrollment of iPads within JAMF’s Casper system, this year of iPad deployment and support has been full of new learning app-ortunities and challenges. In fact, I feel as if I have been living and breathing and even sleeping iPads since the beginning of school. That being said, these experiences have fostered deeper learning about our initiative and continued ways to fine tune managing devices to sharpen their impact within the instructional setting. Reflecting upon the past two months, I found these experiences and resources could be easily divided into 3 different platters: Students, Parents, and Process.


  • Student iPad Orientation iTunes U Course: This course serves the purpose of providing all iPad set up and instructional materials in one place that is easily accessible and can be stored on their device for later reference.
  • Student iPad Apps for Secondary: As many students may not know what apps are provided to them or what these apps do (especially the ones that are similar in nature), this Thinglink provides a quick overview of some of the apps that are essential for workflow and productivity.



  • Social Media Awareness: A Letter for Parents: This is a fantastic post from Carl Hooker highlighting a letter that was sent to parents addressing social media and student’s digital footprints.
  • Digital Parenting 101 iTunes U Course: Carl has designed an excellent iTunes U course to serve and support parents as well.
  • Staying Sane in Cyberspace: This is a Listly that TechChef assembled highlighting multiple tools, parent/child technology agreements, and articles to aid parents in navigating conversations with their mobile natives.

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 7.52.33 AM



Certainly this list of resources is in no way comprehensive but I think it does a good job of highlighting both the reflections of the process as well as the instructional resources that have been designed to underpin the ever-evolving nature of iPad management and instructional support.

Of course, I could not forget my educators… I have one delicious new resource for y’all as well…


Recently, I delivered a webinar (which has been archived) focusing on “Back to School with iPads in the Classroom”. Both the webinar and slides are available HERE. The webinar touches on:

  • First Steps with iPads in both Elementary and Secondary
  • Critical Considerations to keep in mind
  • 8 Must Have Apps for Back to School with iPads

All 8 of the apps are evergreen in nature (can be used year round in a variety of different ways) and quite a few have had feature updates that will definitely leave you brimming with ideas and inspiration.



HAVE YOU SEEN THE LATEST TECHCHEF GAZETTE ISSUE? Preparing for Back to School and Beyond

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Check out the other topics in the Ed Tech alliteration portfolio:

TechChef Presents!

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1:1 Deployment and Interested in 1:1 Deployment or PD strategies and implementation? Looking for a dynamic presenter or interactive workshop? Contact TechChef4u (lisa.johnson@techchef4u.com) for parent presentations, hands-on workshops, keynotes, and much more! Read testimonials about TechChef presentations.


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1,800+ iPad Lessons Pinned HERE!

Contact TechChef4u to schedule Spring and Summer PD and Workshops: lisa.johnson@techchef4u.com

“Differentiated iClassroom”  iTunes U course is now available!!!

24 Sep 2014
Comments: 6

6 Do’s and Don’ts for Secondary iPad Deployment and Support of New Initiatives


Tech Ninja Todd, Michelle Cordy, and a recent Do and Don’t list inspired me to sit down and reflect upon the start of this year with secondary iPads and the new enrollment system. While the new enrollment system is fiscally responsible (as we can now push and pull apps), allows for improved management (e.g. disabling iMessages and Game Center), and even provides the functionality to lock down devices during a testing situation with Casper Focus, any new system and process will encounter a few bumps in the road.




I hope this Do’s and Don’t lists serves to support others that are embarking on this journey as well as proves to be a fruitful reflection on the process:

Do Communicate with and Include Key Decision Makers in the Planning Process

Include key decision makers (e.g. teachers, admin, ed tech, and technicians) in every level of the decision-making process. Teachers and students are affected by the new deployment and enrollment process and need to know how it will impact them. Include questions like:

  • How will STUDENTS RECEIVE the INFO they need to set up their iPad?: With the new enrollment process, students need a Novell login as well as their iTunes account. Should students receive their student login information prior to picking up their iPad to expedite the process? Students are also encouraged to use a personal iTunes account rather than a family one in secondary. While many students have a personal iTunes account, there are quite a few that do not. As the setup process for creating an account can take up to 10-15 minutes, consider options for ensuring students have this account prior to iPad rollout and enrollment day.
  • When/Where/How will STUDENTS RECEIVE their iPad?: Discuss the procedure for how students will be pulled out of class to pick up their iPads and when that process will occur.
  • How will we catch the DEPLOYMENT STRAGGLERS?: Have a plan in place for students that missed the day they were supposed to pick up their iPad. Do they come the next day? Do they visit the juice bar during lunch?
  • When can I start UTILIZING INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS within the iPad?: While we encourage students to keep their iPads over the summer so they can hit the instructional ground running with them the first day of school, there are inevitably some that decide to not keep them over the summer. As we move to be more and more paperless, how do you modify for these students until they receive their iPad (especially if teachers are using iTunes U as their textbook and the only device students can access the course on is an iPhone or an iPad)?
  • When can I start ASSIGNING PROJECTS utilizing iPad apps?: Students that downloaded a district-issued app in a previous year with their current iTunes account can retrieve it within the Purchased section of the app store. However, new students and students that did not download that app last year will have to wait until the wireless app push of this app is initiated.

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 8.21.43 PM

DON’T use Email as the Sole Means of Communication 

Don’t use email as the sole means of communication to inform teachers and students of a new initiative. Clearly the aforementioned questions and discussions are integral to the success of the devices in the classroom within the first few weeks of school. While email should not be used as the sole means to communicate this information, it can be effective if it is kept clear and concise and communicated to both teachers, students, and parents:

  • Announcements: Include information in the student announcements during the day.
  • Email: Communicate to both staff, students, and parents.
  • Newsletter: Send additional information in the weekly school newsletter so parents can remind students as well.

DO Plan

In my last post, I mentioned the Why of our district and how I felt it is a clear and compelling WHY that is at the forefront of our decision making. This year, we sought to alleviate some of the distraction of texting and gaming as well as utilize the devices for testing. To do this we are using a new enrollment process with our iPads. Carl Hooker has done an excellent job of creating a visual and explanation to detail some of the changes to restrictions in his most recent post.

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 8.21.35 PM

DON’T be Scared to Redesign the Map or Change Course Direction on the Fly

We all know the best laid plans sometimes need to be adjusted. Yesterday, I discovered that our 12+ Apps Only restriction (which limits our Freshman and Sophomores to only downloading apps that are rated 12-16) put the kibosh on downloading DocAS. DocAS is the paid app we provision to students to annotate PDF’s. It is a truly a solid and effective app but it has a built-in web browser that we can not filter and thus scores a 17+ rating. While I still believe in setting restrictions on student devices, know that this is not a fail-safe. Unfortunately, restricting games like Grand Theft Auto gives way to impeding instructional content like DocAS. Since we started using DocAS, apps like eBackpack and iFiles have since then included a PDF annotation tool or widget that we can switch too and still retain our management parameters. Fortunately, I was in the Juice Bar supporting our tech this week and I was able to catch this issue and quickly remedy it with some suitable alternatives…which leads me to my last Do and Don’t.

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 8.21.49 PM

DO Address Troubleshooting Concerns ASAP with all vested parties

We all make mistakes and discover better paths for maneuvering through a process. While it is important to be able to think on your feet and change course direction on the fly, it is just as important to communicate these changes and findings to the greater team. The Ed Tech, Librarian, Technician, Director of Innovation, and Director of Technology work hand in hand to execute and support our initiatives and they need to be made aware of bumps along the road as well as the on-the-fly detours that you make.

DON’T Get Caught in the Troubleshooting Doldrums

The beginning of the year can be fraught with wires and pliers kinds of tasks as well as technical “should” and “supposed to” frustrations. This device “should”_____ but doesn’t. This Application was “supposed to” _____ when it was installed. It is very easy to get caught in a whirlwind of blame and complain games. Don’t lose sight of your goal and purpose (the WHY that started it all). Know that all of these things shall pass and that getting “up and running” very much impacts instruction in the classroom. Before you can raise the walls and break through the ceilings, you have to ensure that the foundation is solid.

DO Teach Students to Select Appropriate Avenues for Backing up and Archiving their work

While iCloud initially may seem like the best and simplest option for back up, sometimes things mysteriously disappear, user error occurs in the back up process, or managed devices will not allow for a perfect replica of an iCloud back-up. Teaching students to always have a back-up plan and set systems in place for school and beyond is essential. Perhaps I am old school in this thought, but I find that that I can ensure that I have most things backed up within a 3 step process:

  • Photos/Videos: I like to create a back-up of these using a sync cable and a computer or upload them to a third party site with unlimited photo storage like Shutterfly (photos only) or Google Drive.
  • Apple Apps: The easiest way to assure that documents and media will transfer from a device is using iCloud within each app.
  • Non-Apple Apps: Depending on what these are, I will select the Open-In on each item and back them up to a cloud-based service that I will retain ownership of like a Google or Evernote account.

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 8.21.29 PM

DON’T Expect there to be a One-Size-Fits All Streamlined process for Backing Up work

Students have different computers and accounts (e.g. Dropbox, Drive, Copy, etc…) that they can back up to and may only be worried about losing documents within apps and not photos. Thus there is no one-size-fits all approach, but we can significantly alleviate the pain of this process by teaching students to be master organizers and owners of their own content and back-up process.

DO Provide Resources to Support Students

Support resources are imperative. There are some students, parents, and teachers that can successfully troubleshoot with step sheets and videos. That being said… this should not be the sole means of resources and support that your provide for your students…

DON’T Replace Face to Face Interactions with Email and Handouts

We all know that many issues can not be resolved with email. In fact 9 times out 10, the thing someone is asking about in the email isn’t even really the true heart of the problem. Truly there is no substitute for face to face support and interaction with students. While spending time for two class periods a day in the Juice Bar pulls me away from other duties and time that can be spent on instructional support, I have found it is one of the best ways to catch big issues before they spread (e.g. DocAs age restriction), discover troubleshooting trends, and resolve multiple technical issues that ultimately impact instruction in a big way.




DO Make Time to Regroup and Reflect

The beginning of the year can feel like a tasmanian whirlwind of troubleshooting, emails, and support. Carving out time to reflect on the first few weeks can feel like a luxury but know that it is truly a necessity! It serves the dual purpose of being cathartic as well as integral to ensuring that things go smoother next year.

DON’T Be Held Captive to Time – Prioritize and Put out Fires

I am one that thrives on time for creativity and things that inspire me. I often struggle with the quick sand of influx of emails, time-consuming monotonous tasks, and the fact that “there is never enough time”. Being a mother of two elementary-age boys, the start of the year is even more difficult for me as all of these new systems are in place for myself as an employee, instructional supporter, and mother of two students. I eventually had to resign to the fact that I didn’t have time to do everything and had to focus on putting out fires for now and leave elevating thoughts and instruction to late September. Rather than feeling captive to time, I came to grips with it and have created Now and Later lists to support putting things in perspective as well as ensuring that they do not fall off my instructional radar when the time comes that they can receive a little more attention.


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1:1 Deployment and Interested in 1:1 Deployment or PD strategies and implementation? Looking for a dynamic presenter or interactive workshop? Contact TechChef4u (lisa.johnson@techchef4u.com) for parent presentations, hands-on workshops, keynotes, and much more! Read testimonials about TechChef presentations.

TechChef Techucation Gazette: Sign up to receive future issues of the monthly e-Newsletter: There are many more learning app-ortunities and professional development toolkits to come. If you don’t want to miss a morsel of this techucation feast, sign up today.



Home Button StudsUpdated Stock of Chic Geek iJewelry on etsy!

1,800+ iPad Lessons Pinned HERE!

Contact TechChef4u to schedule Spring and Summer PD and Workshops: lisa.johnson@techchef4u.com

“Differentiated iClassroom”  iTunes U course is now available!!!

08 Nov 2011
Comments: 4


In an effort to incorporate the iPads into small group intervention stations for middle school math, I spent a few hours collaborating with Cheryl Mutz, an NEISD district Math Instructional Specialist, to create an apptivity to support the study of sequences in 8th Math. The intervention apptivity would be used in a small group setting (two students to an iPad) and the students would have 30-45 minutes to complete the task.

iSequence: Terms and Rules

 Resources: I have included a iCardSort_Sequences_TaskCard (task card) and  iCardSort_Sequences_Recording Sheet (recording sheet). The recording sheet is intended for students to show work or record answers if teachers choose not to use the email function on the iPad. (If teachers choose to use the email function, students will want to layer each individual sequence problem so all of the cards overlap. This way iCardSort views the cards as a group, or one problem, when it emails the written outline of information above the screenshot.) Check out iCardSort’s public deck repository… This deck is now available for anyone to download and utilize to easily replicate the apptivity.

iModel with Explain Everything: I have used Explain Everything to model how the iLesson could be delivered and the resources that have been provided within the iSequence apptivity.

Hungry for more iCardSort apptivities?

  1. iCardSort Lite (website): visit their public repository for pre-created decks and check out their newsletter for integration ideas.
    1. Elementary Science Example
    2. MS Math Example using vocabulary with handouts and lesson
    3. Sorting example for “Words 4 Students”
    4. Getting iN Touch with Vocabulary (using iCardSort and Graphic Organizers)
    5. Videos highlighting basic use and how to integrate in a literature circle




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.

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.

Please email or comment with your lesson summary and apps used.

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.

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

14 Aug 2011
Comments: 1

Surprisingly Educational Apps: iPad Blog Hop Host

In honor of the launching of Techchef4u’s Blog Talk Radio Show “Appy Hour”, I decided to cook up my first ever iPad Blog Hop Contest (the winner will receive a $20 iTunes Gift card!). The rules are fairly simple:

  1. Compose a blog entry on your blog with the title “Surprisingly Educational Apps”.
  2. Select one free iPad/iPod app: Apps can be covertly educational like Talking Tom or Songify or somewhat transparent like U.S. Quarters and Magnetic Alphabet Lite. The task is more to shine a light on these gems and highlight how they would or could be used innovatively for educational purposes. Please hyperlink to the app’s iTunes page.
  3. Highlight how it could be creatively used in the classroom (the app must not contain inappropriate material). Please include a screen shot or video (so others will fully comprehend your vision) with your apptivity description. Screenshots of apps can be pulled into Doodle Buddy, Popplet Lite, or ScreenChomp to be easily annotated. Chosen App can be used in conjunction with another app. 
  4. Include recommended age group and content area for your apptivity suggestion(s) within your post.
  5. Finally, include a link back to the iPad Blog Hop’s host site (www.techchef4u.com).

More info: The U.S. Quarters app is not innately educational like Number Line (activity-based) or Khan Academy (instructionally-based). Other than supporting the U.S. Congress’s mission to honor the federal republic and “promote the diffusion of knowledge among the youth”, the app itself doesn’t truly teach or produce anything more than basic facts about the fifty states (e.g. motto, date ratified, and symbols). Thus, it is up to us to create a surprisingly educational experience with this app… in a middle school mathematics classroom or elementary social studies… perhaps. I decided to showcase the app to teach mathematics vocabulary and proportional reasoning (scale factor)I will be including my full post on U.S. Quarters and the other apps we discuss before the 25th.

The winner will be determined by a group of Instructional Technology Specialists from NEISD and announced on my first installment of Appy Hours 4 U with my Co-host Yolanda Barker: Thursday August 25th at 10am. Submissions will be judged on creativity/ingenuity, supporting materials (screenshots, videos, etc…), and appropriateness for the classroom.

The winner will receive a $20 iTunes Gift card!

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.

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