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13 Feb 2012
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It's An Appy Day 4 an iPlayground: TCEA 2012

I feel very blessed to have the app-ortunity to be part of the iPlayground at TCEA 2012. Yolanda and I weren’t quite sure what the format of the session would be or how many people would be in attendance. The room was set up with a place for presenters on the left which included seating for observers. The right side of the room included colorful bean bag chairs and a Bretford cart of fully-loaded iPads (decked out with 600+ apps to explore). The room was also open to the hallway so passerby’s could stand and take it all in.

Having an App-tastic Time at iPlayground


During our stint at the iPlayground, we presented Surprisingly Educational Apps sharing 28 “surprisingly educational apps” providing classroom integration ideas for each. We had not expected such a large crowd but were appy to entertain and explain. If you missed playing at the iPlayground, I have included all of the apps we shared on Symbaloo. All of the integration ideas provided during the session came straight from the 3 surprisingly educational apps episodes aired during “Appy Hours 4 U“.

Bringing Appy Hours to TCEA 2012


Here is a rendition of “Call it What You Want” by Foster the People (video below) created with the app Video Star. We made sure to stay within copyright length limitations.

Using the Video Star app and music from their iPod, students can create “surprisingly educational” music videos. The classroom integration would be choosing segments of songs or thematic music that would represent a character or a scene. Then students could act out a scene having each character sing a relevant portion or trim the song to only have one character sing a segment. (Check out these History-Based Music Videos for more ideas).

Over the weekend, I came across a couple of blogs with notes on “suprisingly educational apps” and wanted to share.

Paul Briseno: Paul is an Instructional Technology Administrator for South San ISD and a fellow alumni from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio.

Live. Learn. Teach. Lead (see full post here)

Paul Briseno's Post: Live. Learn. Teach. Lead.


Terri Eichholz: Terri is a teacher in North East ISD who teaches gifted students in grades K-5.

Engage Their Minds: (see full post here)

Terri Eichholz's Blog: Engage Their Minds


iShare: If you attended our iPlayground session and have blogged about it, we would love to see your feedback, notes, and ideas. Please send an email or leave a comment below.

More iPlayground Sessions: Utility Apps and WoScholar Apps 


13 Jan 2012
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Your Voice Makes a Difference


"Outcome: Voice = Change" created in Story Lines for Schools App

Story Lines (“a game of ‘telephone’ with pictures”) was one of the apps that was included in the second edition of “Surprisingly Educational” Apps. I typically email app-developers prior to the show (or after… if I get behind) to let them know we will be discussing their app. Many times they are curious as to what we have to say…especially as we are not just reviewing the app but discussing how it can be utilized and integrated in the education realm. When we first discussed Story Lines, we shared how it could be used to illustrate terms and concepts in multiple content areas:

  1. English/Language Arts: vocabulary words, quotes, themes, character inferencing
  2. Math: vocabulary, equations, expressions
  3. Science: scientific concepts, chemical reactions
  4. History: historical events, historical figures


We also mentioned that the Facebook login option and suggestions feature which offers quotes (some of the quotes were not appropriate for all ages or a classroom audience) were elements we were not as fond of. We realized that these features are typically inherent to edutainment-based apps and suggested ways in the show to integrate around them (as listed above).

This evening I received an email from the app developer notifying us that Storylines for Schools has been released based on our feedback. The app has “vocabulary and language concepts that are grade-appropriate, and spark(s) your creativity in a safe, enjoyable manner.” The suggestions section now has four options: Quotes, SAT Words, Elementary Vocabulary, and Intermediate Vocabulary.

Story Lines Comparison created with Sundry Notes app


Without going in to a long speech in which I highlight all the ways “you can make a difference”, I will say that we have a very unique opportunity as educators, parents, and app consumers to shape and mold the future of app development for our children and students. Please don’t ever think your voice and reviews don’t matter.

Thank you Story Lines for producing such a wonderful product…and then duplicating and

polishing it into a truly educational gem!


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