Friday, December 7, 2012

iPad Lesson: Persuasive Writing with Puppet Pals App

One of my 2nd grade teachers asked me for a fun way to showcase her students' persuasive writing about trees and Arbor Day.  I showed her the Puppet Pals App ($2.99 upgrade to the Director's Pass) and she was hooked!  (Puppet Pals is also available as a FREE version, but you cannot import your own images as characters in the FREE version.)  She had the students work in small groups to write a script using the facts from their persuasive writings and create a background for their video from construction paper prior to working with me.

I worked with 5 groups of students, and it only took about 10 minutes per group.  I used only 1 iPad for this lesson because I only own 1 copy of this paid app, but students could certainly do this on their own.  First, I took each student's photo and showed them how I traced their body outline to make them a character in the movie.  Then I took a picture of their background to add it to the video.  Next, the students gathered around the iPad to record.  Since they had practiced their lines, students were able to move their own character as they spoke their lines.  Only one group needed to record a second time.  This project was fun and easy!  The kids had a blast and we were instantly able to watch all of the videos on the SMARTboard when we were finished recording.  This is an app I would consider purchasing for all of our student iPads.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

iPad Lesson: Water Features with Popplet Lite App

Popplet (which can be used online at or as an App) has so many educational applications whether your students are brainstorming story ideas, organizing facts, or just creating a collage of images that relate to a topic or idea. 

One of my 3rd grade classes used the Popplet Lite App (FREE) to organize information on their choice of fresh water or salt water features. The students found it very easy to add popplet (information) boxes and to link them together.  When the projects were done, they were exported as .jpg images to the camera roll.

The Popplet Lite App does have some limitations: only one popplet can be created on the iPad at a time (so this project will have to be deleted in order for another project to be created now), and images must be imported from the camera roll or taken by the camera (no import from Flickr).  There is also no option to add video or for students to collaborate on the FREE Popplet Lite App.  Although the paid version of the app would take care of these limitations, the $4.99 price is too steep to consider.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

iPad Lesson: Native American Video Reports with Videolicious

The fourth grade teachers wanted a unique way for their students to present what the students had learned about Native American tribes.  I suggested that they use Videolicious to present the students' research.  However, this project was not created without some problems.  I spent two 45 minute sessions with the 4th grade classes to complete this project with them.

In the first session, I worked with students to help them to locate and save images to be used in their Videolicious video.  The students needed to find a minimum of six pictures as their research included six main facts about the Native American tribe that they were researching.  The research was completed with the classroom teacher prior to me working with the students. 
In the second session, I instructed the students how to use Videolicious to import their images and to record their research facts.  Students spread about the room and began to work on their own.  PROJECT LESSON #1: Videolicious allows up to 10 images in one recording session; however it usually freezes if you use more than 4.  PROJECT LESSON #2: Videolicious (FREE) only allows 1 minute of recording time!  Oops!  New directions- since we already had started using Videolicious, students would record their projects in multiple parts.

Finally, projects complete!  But now since projects had to be recorded in multiple parts, I had to combine them in Windows Movie Maker.  Next time I might consider using PixnTell (FREE) which seems to have an unlimited recording time, but only allows 4 images.  Or, Storyrobe (.99) has a 3 minute recording time limit, but allows more images. 

Image only, play above:

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas and Holiday Games for Your SMARTboard

UPDATE: Find even MORE Christmas games for the classroom on my updated site by clicking here!

It is that time of year where our students get restless and have the holidays on their minds.  Keep them busy and focused on skills with some fun games that can be used on your SMARTboard or in the lab for individual, small group, or whole group fun.  Or, set up a site as a station on your SMARTboard in lower grades.  My site: has activities for all areas of curriculum, but there is also a great collection of (newly updated) holiday activities:




Saturday, December 1, 2012

iPad Lesson: Animal Reports with FaceTalker

Click to play this Smilebox collage

My students LOVE to make things talk with the FaceTalker App (FREE), so when I heard that 3rd grade was doing animal reports I knew that we needed to make their animals talk about themselves. 

Students completed their research and wrote their scripts from the perspective of the animal prior to working with the iPads.  Then, with the iPads, students did a search on the Internet for an image of their animal.  The image needs to be front-facing with a closed mouth.  This image was saved to the camera roll.  (Save images from the Internet by holding your finger on the image until a menu pops up and touch "Save Image".) 

Next, the students imported the image into the FaceTalker App, and then with a little pinching and pulling they size the image and add the mouth.  Then it is time to record, save, and send to the teacher when complete!

I created a SmileBox to share all of the students' completed FaceTalker projects.  SmileBox is a great way to share them all in one place and it looks great on the teacher's website, too.  Learn more about SmileBox at (Hint: Look for a FREE educator's account at the bottom of the page under Teacher's Toolbox!).

Friday, November 30, 2012

iPad Lesson: Solids, Liquids, and Gasses with PicCollage

I used the PicCollage App (FREE) with my 2nd grade classes to assess the students' knowledge of  the states of matter: solids, liquids, and gasses.  I spent two 45 minute sessions working with the 2nd grade classes and their teachers to model this lesson.  Before I worked with the classes, the students had prior knowledge of the states of matter.

In the first session, the students gathered pictures directly through the PicCollage App using by the "Photos from Web" tool.  The students chose two pictures to represent each of the categories.  In the second session, the students added all the labels, a title, and a background.  Then, with teacher assistance, the finished projects were emailed to the teacher.

The students really enjoyed creating the PicCollage poster projects.  The projects were then published to the teachers' websites, but if you wanted to print the posters you could (I would recommend removing dark backgrounds to save on ink). 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

How to Connect Your iPad to Your SMARTboard

Updated 9/13/16

When you are teaching with iPads in the classroom you will want to share you iPad screen with the students to model apps and to share student work.  There are several ways to do this:

Direct connection:
 Purchase a VGA Connector (Dongle) that directly connects the iPad to the SMARTboard through the existing VGA connection that you usually use to connect your computer. 
Pros: Quick to connect anywhere, anytime.
Cons: You have limited mobility and the cords disconnect easily.
Apple VGA Connector

Mirroring Apps: Reflection and AirServer
Purchase a mirroring app that will wirelessly stream the apps, images, videos, and audio from your phone, iPod, or iPad onto your computer, which you can then display on your SMARTboard.
Pros: Lets you freely walk around and use your iPad to teach while presenting.
Cons: May require some setup and permissions by school level tech departments because of firewalls.  Only works with iPad2+.
Reflector and Air Server

Apple TV:
The Apple TV mirrors your iPad to your SMARTboard wirelessly through the projector so you can stream apps, images, videos, and audio.
Pros: Lets you walk around and freely use your iPad to teach.  Portable and can be shared with other teachers.
Cons: Expensive, may need an extra converter (HDMI to VGA) to work, and tech help may be needed to connect.
Apple TV

For a few more ways to connect, check out: 4 Easy & Secure Ways to Record Screen Videos on iPhone or iPad: A Comparative Guide

Pinteresting EdTech Teachers

I have been pinning so much over this Thanksgiving break that I decided to give thanks to the Pinterest pinners that I get the most inspiration from.  These are educators that put effort into pinning about educational technology.  Of course, I think my boards are pretty awesome and you are welcome to follow me with my link on the side bar, but no pinner becomes awesome without those they steal pins from!

Here are my favorite Top 10 educational technology pinners.  Do you know more great pinners?  Add them in the comments below!

1. Erin Klein: Bio: I'm a second grade teacher in Michigan. I love finding fun ways to incorporate technology into the classroom. I enjoy blogging and traveling!  She also runs the blog Kleinspiration at

2. Sue Gorman: Bio: Apple Distinguished Educator, Apple Academy Attendee, District Technology Coordinator, iPad Enthusiast, Blessed :)

3. Tami Brewster: Bio: I am a self professed nerd or geek! I love infusing my classroom with technology and help mold the minds of tomorrow's leaders. I am an ADE Apple Distinguished Educator and honored to be one.

4. Tina Wahlert: Bio: I am an education consultant for Green Hills Area Education Agency. I assist districts with professional development and school improvement.

5. Sharon Matney: Bio: Librarian and Mom. Searching for all things creative, yummy, trendy, fun, tech, and nerdy!

6. Richard Byrne: Bio: Teacher, Speaker, Advocate for technology in classrooms. Google Certified Teacher.

7.  Cyndi Danner-Kuhn: Bio: Ed Tech, Faculty-Kansas State University, Apple Professional Development Specialist.

8. David Kapuler: Bio: I'm the author of the award nominated Ed Tech blog, Technology Tidbits. I also do education consulting and social media on the side.

9. Lisa Johnson (techchef4u): Bio: Ed Tech Specialist 4 Eanes ISD, Appaholic, Apptivity Author, Social Geek, iPad Evangelist, Blogger, MOPS Mom, Caffeine Dependent. For all things TechChef4u, visit

10. Margaret A Powers: Bio: Passionate educator and tech entrepreneur working as a Technology and Education Consultant. I specialize in social media, early childhood & global education.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Spooktactular Story Writing Resources

It is the time of year again when the ghosts and goblins come out and the spooky stories get written in classrooms.  So here is a presentation that I gave recently that shares some online, Web 2.0 tools, as well as some iPad apps, that can be used to create some "spooktacular" stories with your students.  Turn those boring handwritten or Microsoft Word stories into graphic or video masterpieces!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Create Your Own iPad Games with Sketch Nation Studio

I don't consider myself a developer at all and I created a game in under 5 minutes with Sketch Nation Studio!  This iPad or iPhone app walks you through the steps of creating a simple or more advanced game.  When creating your app, you can draw your own characters, props, and backgrounds on the screen as you go, or you can can import images by taking a photo with the camera.  Beginning developers can create games in which characters jump up platforms, jump down platforms, jump across platforms, run across the screen, or fly across the screen.  Yes, those are the only choices, but you can be very imaginative within those parameters, I assure you!

Today's students are so creative, I know that they would be engaged using this app to create games.  In the classroom, game development can be used to teach cause and effect and problem solving.  Students can also create games based on curricular topics.

If students create accounts, they can share games among one other.  It is even possible that if a great game is created, it could be sold in the iTunes App Store!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Poster My Wall!

I am LOVING PosterMyWall!  I have to thank my colleague Jennifer Morrison for sharing this great resource on our Discovery Education Edmodo site because it is a real find.

PosterMyWall is an online site that will allow you or your students to instantly and FREELY create wonderful quality posters.  You can use the pre-loaded backgrounds and clipart or upload your own.  Plus you can upload your own images and the program comes with some awesome fonts and font effects.

As a teacher I often find many occasions to create posters.  But, think of all the reasons that you can also have students create posters in the classroom.  Posters are wonderful projects for end of unit reports for students to show what they know; and they can be used for any subject area.  This tool is extremely easy to use.  Teachers can also upgrade their account to a FREE teacher account after signing up for the initial account.  Just go to: and upgrade your account.  Then your students can save their work without any need to have an account of their own.

The only negatives are publishing and saving options.  The posters do not reside online.  Finished projects can be downloaded and and printed or added to other documents such as MS Word.  Or, projects can be published to social media sites such as Facebook or Pinterest.  Regardless, this is a great site for creating posters for you and your students!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Silhouette Memoir Writing with Tagxedo

Our fourth grade students were writing about a special event that had happened in their lifetime and the fourth grade team asked me for an idea to integrate technology into the lesson in a unique way.  I thought about it and I envisioned the students' special story residing in their mind and I though that words floating around in their heads would be interesting.  But, to make it personal, a silhouette rather than just a head would make each student instantly recognizable.  So, we decided to created Tagxedo word cloud images from each student's silhouette.  Each student would pull in the most important, visual worlds from their memoir that would tell their story.  Here are some of our projects:
The most difficult part is creating the silhouettes for Tagxedo.  I started with photo images of the students taken against a plain, white paper background.  I then edited them in Corel to remove all detail by removing the background and removing all brightness until just a silhouette remained.  For those less technical, I would suggest tracing the students silhouette on black paper and simply taking a photo of the black paper to upload to Tagxedo.

Friday, September 28, 2012

What's The Buzz? Find out with DoodleBuzz!

Give your students a new way to investigate current events with DoodleBuzz.  DoodleBuzz is a visual way to explore the news.  Type in a topic and then draw a line (straight, wavy, curvy, or crazy) and watch the news stories pop up around your drawn line.  Do you want to know more about a story?  Draw another line from that story to get excepts and more information.

Join Me Virtually At Polar Bear Camp

In just a little over a week I will leaving on an amazing adventure to learn about polar bears in their natural habitat.  I will be spending a week with zookeepers and other educators on a tundra buggy outside of Churchill, Canada to work with experts to learn about polar bears and how conservation efforts can help their declining habitat. 
I invite you and your class to learn with me before, during, and after my adventure.  I have created a website,  My Polar Bear Leadership Camp Experience, where I will write a diary, share my tweets, where students will be able to share information and ask questions, I will share polar bear information, and I share how you can help save the polar bear’s habitat.  You and your students can start learning and contributing now.   I am looking forward to sharing my adventure with all of you!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I spent my summer vacation learning!
Many of my friends and family think that I am crazy that I would spend my summer attending educational conferences, but here are the reasons that I attend:

1.  To have meaningful discussions with people that understand me.
It is lonely to be the only technology minded person in my school.  But when I get to a conference full of technology people, all of sudden I am immersed in a community of people that understand what I am saying. I can talk about iPad integration, 1:1 initiatives, Web 2.0 tools, and dongles without people looking at me like I'm crazy.  The other educators share my frustrations and appreciate my input.  I learn from others and I connect.  I begin exchanging ideas, it is obvious that the others also share a passion for what they do, and it is wonderful! 

2.  To learn from "experts".
At a conference there are opportunities to attend keynote sessions and workshops to listen to and learn from some of the greatest minds in education.  Sure I have learned from them, but some of the best learning opportunities that I have had at conferences have been working with person sitting right next to me.  It starts simply with a conversation and the willingness of two individuals to teach each other an impromptu lesson or how-to right then and there.  The "expert" in the room just might be the person next to you and not the one at the podium.

3.  To build my Professional Learning Network.
Everyone has a story to share and something to teach me. Right now I follow over 1,200 people on Twitter.  I learn from the posts of these educators.  At a conference it is nice to meet some of these people in person.  I also make new connections and find more people to follow on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites so that I can keep up to date with educational technology as it constantly changes.  Follow me: @karenogen

4.  To be energized and ready to "make it happen".
Teaching can wear you down.  Conferences can pick you back up, pump you up with great ideas, and get you ready to go back into the classroom full of energy and enthusiasm.  Educators want to make a difference, sometimes they just need to hear some new ideas or simply need affirmation that what they are already doing is working!  The positive feeling that educators get from attending a conference can give them the push they need to make the magic happen in the classroom, in their school, or in their district!  I know I am ready to go!

5.  To learn!
Educational technology changes rapidly.  Now I will have new resources for my blog!

Monday, July 30, 2012

iPad Apps iLike

I was lucky enough to spend a week with a group of wonderful educators at the Discovery Education Summer Institute.  Some of these apps I learned about from the conference and some I have used before, but most importantly, ALL of these apps can be used in your classroom- no matter what subject or grade level you teach.  Here are some of my favorites:

1. Aurasma:
Aurasma is an app that allows you to place an aura or a "hotspot" on any object.  Just take a photo of the object with the Aurasma app and the app will walk you through adding a 3D aura.  The aura can be an image that is provided by Aurasma, an image you choose, or even a video you choose.  The next time you "scan" the image with your device and the Aurasma app, you will see the 3D image.  Imagine the uses in education: by scanning an image a of a heart in a textbook, your students may see a 3D graphic of a heart! (Thanks to Steve Dembo for this suggestion.) FREE

With the Green Screen Studio app you can place your students right into the action.  Do you want them to be in the Revolutionary War or sightseeing in Paris?  They can with this app!  Just take their picture with your iPad and import it in the Green Screen Studio app.  Remove the background they are currently in and the app replaces it with the background of your choice! (Thanks to Kim Adair) $2.99

Share ideas, brainstorm, and take notes- collaboratively!  This app allows a user to start a brainstorming project- which looks like a corkboard.  Users can add virtual sticky notes and draw information.  Sticky notes and pens can change color.  The app looks for local users with companion apps so that they can join in on the collaboration. (Thanks to Jennifer Jensen) FREE

If you have devices in your classroom then you have an automatic student response system with Socrative!  You can capture real-time student data and engage your students with immediate multiple choice questions, true-false, opinion questions, and team games.  You can use Socrative on the fly or prepare questions in advance.   FREE

5. Rover:
If you think a drawback of the iPad is not being able to engage your students with the great education Flash content on the web.  Think again: NOT WITH ROVER!  The Rover app allows your students K-12 access to some of the best educational flash based content on the web!  Now your students can visit sites such as Starfall, Reading A-Z, Brain Pop, FunBrain, National Geographic Kids,, NBC Learn, and MORE! (Thanks Discovery Education Staff)  FREE

This app delivers your teacher presentation to all of your student devices allowing you to keep your students engaged, focused on the content, and also allows you to assess students, too!  You know if students have disengaged from the app.  Teachers can share student results with the class.  Teachers can customize their presentations and include the media they wish to include.  NearPod works great with Discovery Education images and videos, too!  Students can also use to create presentation to share out with the class to show what they know!  (Thanks Amy Dent)  FREE

7.  RoadShow:
Have you found great videos with your iPad that you would like to use but you can't find a way to download them?  Roadshow to the rescue!  Just open the Roadshow app and enter the URL of the website that has the videos.  Roadshow will search the site and give you option of downloading the videos.  This works great for Discovery Education videos which do not yet have a way of being downloaded from the iPad.  Note: this app does not work with YouTube videos.  (Thanks Steve Dembo)  FREE

8. Popplet:
Popplet is a visual mindmapping or graphic organizer board.  Users can add text and images into popplet boxes.  Users simply double tap the screen to add content.  Content boxes can be connected.  The free version has some limitations, the paid version offers options for students to collaborate on a project and to create multiple popplet boards.  Projects can be shared and saved as images when complete.  FREE or $4.99

9.  ShowMe:
The ShowMe app allows the teacher or student to quickly and easily create a video that shows how to do something.  You get a virtual whiteboard and markers, you record, save, and you're done!  You can choose to share your video with the ShowMe community or keep it private.  Another great feature of the app is that it also comes with a library of ShowMe videos that have already been created and shared by teachers.  You can browse the library and you might just find a great video to use right away!  This app is great for the Flipped Classroom concept!  FREE

10. Morfo:
Making things talk is fun!  It can also be educational.  Use Morfo to make animals tell about their habitats or historical people talk about their importance.  A fun beginning of the year activity is also to have students make a Morfo to introduce themselves.  This way they can change their "look" a little and maybe be a little less apprehensive about meeting new people.  Morfos can be emailed once finished, so they can be sent to a teacher email account once done.  FREE

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Class Dojo- Managing Students' Behavior

Class Dojo is a site that I have known about for awhile, but it peaked my interest recently as I have heard many positive comments from teachers using it.  So I decided to investigate this online tool that is used to monitor daily student behaviors.  Here is what I really like about the Class Dojo website:

  • It is simple to set up.
  • Use the monster and critter icons for your students or upload your own pictures (such as real pics to make it easy for substitute teachers).
  • Leave it on your Smartboard and pull it up easily- teacher and student can quickly add positive or negative points for an individual student or the whole class.
  • Choose the exact behaviors you are tracking in your class.  Choose only to note positive behaviors if you wish.
  • You can also run Class Dojo from a mobile phone, iPad, or tablet computer.  So, as you are walking around the room or teaching, you can easily mark your students' behaviors.
  • A whole class and individual class report is generated as you end the class or daily session.  These reports can be emailed to parents.
I recommend that you replace your marble jars and clothespin clip charts with Class Dojo!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Full Moon and Duck: Great Brainteasers

I love brainteasers.  I especially love Full Moon and Duck: Think Outside the Flock because they have no written directions.  You have to figure out what to do using using logic and a little trial and error.  Try using brainteasers on your Smartboard, too!  Your students will love them.

Also see my brainteasers links for more great games!

Learning About Stars and Constellations

Here are some interactive sites that you can use on your Smartboard to teach and learn about stars and constellations:

KidsAstronomy- Constellation Hunt:

FossWeb- Star Maps:

KidsAstronomy- The Stars Tonight:

EduPlace- The Atmosphere and Beyond:

Harcourt- Telescopes:

EduPlace- Atmosphere and the Solar System:

EduPlace- Weather and the Sky:

Spring Constellations:

Winter Constellations:

Fall Constellations:

Summer Constellations:

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