Monday, November 18, 2013

iPad: PicCollage and Frayer Model for Common Core Vocabulary

The Frayer Model is graphic organizer that helps students learn vocabulary, which is an important component of the Common Core Standards and the Smarter Balanced Assessments.  There are five parts to a Frayer Model:

1.  The defined word in the center
2.  A definition (in the student's own words)
3.  A list of facts or characteristics
4.  Examples of the word (written or images)
5.  Non-examples of the word (written or images)

The Frayer Model helps students to learn new vocabulary by drawing on prior knowledge and requiring students to think critically to make comparisons of attributes and examples.  The completed organizer is a visual representation of the vocabulary students need to know and can be kept for reference.  This model is a great way to learn vocabulary no matter what the subject or grade level of your students.

Traditionally, students will create a Frayer Model on paper and write the facts in the different sections.  (See this great explanation and paper model.)  If you would like to add some technology to the mix, your students can create their Models easily with the PicCollage app for the iPad.

The PicCollage app gives students the option of adding information into various pre-formatted layouts.  One of these layouts is perfect for creating this model.  Students will quickly be able to add text, images, and backgrounds.  The completed visuals can be saved to the camera roll of the iPad, emailed to the teacher or students, and/or published to various social media sites.  Students can keep the images in a file that they can continue to reference, teachers can print them to create word-walls, and teachers can publish completed images on their teacher website so students can continue to learn and build their vocabulary together.

Monday, October 21, 2013

iPad Lesson: Shadow Puppet Books

Shadow Puppet is an app that creates a slideshow with narration.  This is a great app for both students and teachers to use in the classroom.  Using the app is simple- you just add the images that you want in your slideshow and then record yourself speaking on each image.  There are even some fun special effects you can use while recording: tap the screen to add a highlight or pinch/pull your image to zoom in/out on items in the image.  Use this app in the classroom for:
-Explaining a topic
-Publishing pictures of a classroom activity or school event
-"How To" Projects
-Research Presentation
-Practice Fluency
Below is an example of a Shadow Puppet I created recently with a 2nd Grade class.  The students had written books about the seasons and the teacher wanted a way to share the books with technology.  First I took pictures of the students' writing (with the iPad camera) and imported them into the Shadow Puppet app.  Then I worked with each student to record them reading their page of the book.  Now the teacher has a Shadow Puppet video that can be emailed to parents or embedded on his website for all to enjoy. 

Learn more about Shadow Puppet from an interview with its' creator:

Friday, October 18, 2013

iPad Lesson: WordFoto

Are you looking for a fun, creative way to integrate technology to teach language or vocabulary for your unit of study?  Try the Wordfoto ($1.99) app!  Find the Wordfoto app listed in iPhone apps in the App Store, but it works great on iPads, too.  Wordfoto combines the image you choose with up to 10 different words that you type in.  Then the image and words are combined to create a beautiful typography art.  There are also built in editing tools and eight different type styles to choose from.

Use this app in your classroom for:
-About Me projects
-Vocabulary (science, social studies, math)
-Character Studies
-Creative Writing Prompts
-Foreign Language Practice

Here are some examples of Wordfotos created in classrooms:



iPad Lesson: Educreations Math for Kindergarten

This week I worked with the Kindergarten classes to help the teachers integrate technology and math with their students.  In Kindergarten, the students are typically using the iPads with content based apps to practice letter recognition, writing, and basic math, but I wanted the students to use the iPad as a creation tool just like the older students do in my schools.
The students were working on CC standard K.MD.A.2 to describe and compare measurable attributes in which they compare to see which group has more than or less than.  The students first used the app Make A Scene: Farmyard (FREE) to create a picture with two groups of animals, one with a greater number than the other.  Then the images were pulled into the Educreations (FREE) app for students to record their math stories.  In the Educreations video that we published, you can see the students circling their groups of animals, counting the animals in each group and stating which group is greater or less. 
This was a fun and educational way to make a product that shows each student working on their math skills.  This same activity can be used to practice and show mastery of different math skills including addition, subtraction, and multiplication.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Mystery Skype- Connecting with Classrooms Around the World

This week I arranged a Mystery Skype for one of my 3rd grade classes.  A Mystery Skype is a game played over Skype where the classes take turns asking one another yes or no questions to try to guess the state, province, or city that the other class lives in.  We played with Mrs. Abernathy's 5th grade class in Pennsylania.

Our class had teams that had designated jobs during the Skype.  These jobs included:

Greeters- introduce the class and tell something about the class without giving away location
• Inquirers – ask the questions
• Question Keepers – keep track of the questions and answers
• Question Answerers - responsible for giving accurate answers about our state (South Carolina)
• Mappers- keep track of clues on a map and help the Inquirers ask the right questions (paper map, Google map, wall map, etc.)
and everyone in the class had a paper map to keep track of the possible location and to rule out states that the class was not located.
Prior to the Skype, the class brainstormed some good questions to ask that would help them to quickly narrow down the opposing team's location.  Some of their questions included:
1. Does your state border the Pacific Ocean?
2.  Does your state border the Atlantic Ocean?
3. Is your state big?
4. Is your state small?
5. Is it very hot in summer and cold in winter/Do you have seasons?
6. Is it north/south/east/west of __________?
7. Does your state border Canada?
8. Does your state border Mexico?
9. Does your state border __________?
10. Is your state in the Eastern part of the United States?
11.  Is your state in the Western part of the United States?
12.  Does your state name start with the letter _____?
After about 10 minutes of back and forth asking great questions, Mrs. Abernathy's students guessed that we were from South Carolina (they got a big clue when a student said "y'all").  But in the very next turn, my students guessed that they were from Pennsylvania!  So both teams guessed each other's location in the same number of questions.  Next, Mrs. Abernathy's class shared their class pets with us- some lizards, a few chinchillas (including an adorable baby), and a ferret.  That was a true highlight as we are not allowed classroom pets in our school district.
So, what did our students learn from the Mystery Skype?  Obviously they learned about geography, but more importantly they learned problem solving, communication skills, about the culture of another classroom in another part of the world and they learned that learning is fun!

Do you want to try a Mystery Skype?  Connect with other educators on the Skype in the Classroom- Mystery Skype page or search for the hashtag #mysteryskype on Twitter.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Challenge Based Learning- Take Action and Make a Difference!

I recently learned about the Challenge Based Learning site through a STEMx course I am taking.  What is Challenge Based Learning?  It is "an engaging multidisciplinary approach to teaching and learning that encourages learners to leverage the technology they use in their daily lives to solve real-world problems. Challenge Based Learning is collaborative and hands-on, asking students to work with peers, teachers, and experts in their communities and around the world to ask good questions, develop deep subject area knowledge, identify and solve challenges, take action, and share their experience."
The lessons/challenges provided on the Challenge Based Learning site come from schools as well as professional organizations and ask classrooms to help solve real-world problems such as hunger, poverty, global warming, pollution, nutrition, health, and student apathy.  The challenges are a great way to integrate Common Core standards and to prepare students to succeed in future carreer choices.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Klikaklu Pirate Math Treasure Hunt

Treasure hunts are a fun way for students to use problem solving skills, to work in teams, to practice comprehensions skills, and to use technology resources all while practicing subject matter.  For "Talk Like A Pirate Day" (September 19th), I arranged a fun math treasure hunt for the second grade classes.  It was a perfect opportunity to pull in the theme of the day with a fun learning activity.

For the treasure hunt, I used an iPad app called Klikaklu.  Klikaklu allows you to create a treasure hunt based on images.  The students would have to locate places in the common areas of the school, by picture provided to them in the app, to find the hidden treasure chests and directions that held math activities for them.  The students had a great time using the app because it was a true treasure hunt to find the hidden locations.  They also enjoyed the math activities which were all pirate themed.  For example, one treasure chest contained many strands of different length beads and the students needed to measure out strands that were 9 inches and 17 centimeters and place them in their loot bag.

The Klikaklu app was perfect for this activity.  The app is free or you can pay to upgrade.  The free app will give you everything you need to create a treasure hunt and to allow your students to play the hunt.  However, with the free account the students will see advertisements.  I opted to pay $4.99 to upgrade my Klikaklu account.  This allowed me to create a treasure hunt with more options and my students would be able to play without seeing ads.  I like that the upgrade only needs to be paid for the person creating the scavenger hunts.  The students can still use the free version of the app. Once I created the treasure hunt, I shared it publicly and the other iPad apps were able to find the shared hunt by location.  Your treasure hunts can also be kept private, shared by email, by QR code, or by number code that can be provided to your players.  The app worked great for our indoor treasure hunt and can be used outside as well.  There is a GPS location feature embedded in the app to assist with outdoor hunts, but this can be turned off for inside hunts.  There are so many options you can use within the app with each location to make your treasure hunt fun and engaging.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Screencasting in Your Classroom

What is a screencast?  It is a digital, narrated recording of what is happening on your screen.

What can you do with screencasting software?
-Create training videos for your staff or students.  Show them how to use a software, a website, or an app on the iPad.
-Take screen captures for training documents or web sites.
-Flip your classroom.  Create content videos for your students.
-Have students record themselves solving problems on an educational website and then post them on your teacher site or blog.
-Do you have a student presentation that you would like in video format to publish on your site?  Make a screencast of it! 
-Digital storytelling.  Students can voice-over images or videos to tell a story.

Screencasts are easy to create with some FREE software.  Here are my favorites:

-Download the free software or record directly from the site.
-Record up to 15 minutes.
-Allows web cam picture in recording.
-Can save to local computer in .MP4, .FLV, or .AVI format or upload to YouTube.

-Record directly from the site.
-Record up to 5 minutes.
-Log in with your Facebook, Google, Twitter, or other Social Network logins.
-Once saved to Screenr's server, you can download in .MP4 format or upload to YouTube.
-Embed code is also provided so you can embed the video in your site or blog.

-Download the software to your computer.
-Record up to 5 minutes.
-Has a Screen Capture tool for capturing still images instead of video.
-Host your videos free online (up to 2G) or save to your computer.
-Videos are saved to your computer in .SWF (Shockwave Flash) format.
-The standard Jing buttons alow you to upload your video to the server and provides you with a URL that you can share.
-By editing the standard Jing buttons, you can also get an embed code, upload to YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, or Flickr.  Here is a video on how to edit the standard buttons.

Screencasting an iPad app:
When I want to to screencast from my iPad, I first mirror my iPad on my computer using Air Server.  With the Air Server receiver I am able to see and interact with my iPad screen on my computer.  Then I just use any screencasting tool to capture my video.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Discovery Education's Board Builder

Do you use Discovery Education as an educator for streaming media and other digital resources for your classroom?  Great!  Now you need to let your students try Discovery's new student center and the Board Builder tool for creating content.  (You must have a Discovery Education account for this product.  No, I do not work for DE.)

1.  Log into your Discovery Education account.  At the top of your screen, click on Classroom Manager and My Classes to create your class(es) and add students.  (Hint:  Your school or district level Discovery Education account administrator can bulk upload all of your students with a .CSV file.)

2.  Now that you have student accounts created, share the log-ins and passwords with your students so they can log into Discovery Education content.  In the Classroom Manager menu, you can also click to log-in as a student to see what they see.
3.  This is an example of what the new student center screen looks like.  I say example because the student can change the theme and the front page content changes often.
4.  The student center has some great tools like access to Assignments that you, the teacher, create with your Builder Tools, the Resource Center (media), their own Blog, Games, and at the TOP the Board Builder link.
5.  Click on Board Builder to bring up the start screen with sample board themes and choose one to get started.
6.  Name your board and give it a save location.

7.  Now you can get started creating!  The Board Builder is fun and easy to use.  Just click on an item on the screen to add content or use the editor tools on the side to add more content. 
8.  Students can add content directly from Discovery Education's vast media selections or they can upload their own.
9.  When students are finished creating their boards, they can Save and Share with their classmates.  However, the teacher needs to approve their board first before sharing takes place!  Teachers can also leave private feedback for students and print boards.

10.  Discovery Education's Board Builder makes it easy for students to learn about topics with Discovery media or to show you that they have mastered knowledge of a topic by creating a factual board.  Plus, it's fun!  Your students will love it.  Rumor: A Teacher's Board Builder tool may be on the way, too.  (I hope so!)

New Name, New Domain

I have decided to give my blog a new name and a new domain.  From now on this blog is called "i Teach with Technology" and the domain name is  Of course, you can still get to the blog from any old links or addresses you may have.  This year I hope to blog more and share more tech ideas that I use in my schools with my readers.  Wishing all of you a great, technology-filled school year.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Start The New Year With Technology!

I was on Pinterest the other night just looking through classroom pins and, of course, many teachers were pinning ideas for the beginning of the school year.  But what became apparent to me was that none of the ideas that I saw used any technology, but each idea could so easily be transformed into a technology-rich lesson.  (Don't get me wrong- they are all GREAT lessons/ideas- I am just a Technology Integration Specialist- so looking for the tech- OK?)  So, if you are interested in using more technology in your classroom this year, let's start from DAY 1!  Here is how to transform some of these ideas:

1.  About Me Graphic Organizer:
This first cool idea comes from the Thoughts of a Third Grade Teacher blog.  A graphic organizer is a great, visual way to for students to learn about each other about the beginning of the year and also reminds students how to use an organizer for subject areas.  Instead of drawing, have students create beautiful, visual graphic organizers with Popplet- which is available as an iPad app (I suggest the FREE version: Popplet Lite) or online at  Students can easily add boxes of information that can contain text, images (imported), drawing, and videos (in the web version).  I prefer the iPad app over the web version since the web version requires students to log in with an email-based account.
2.  About Me Poster:
About Me posters are incredibly commonplace in the classroom.  How much money have you spent on these pre-printed forms over your career?  Isn't it time we made them more interesting- or personal?  Do you have iPads in your classroom?  Try the Trading Cards app by ReadWriteThink and have students create a trading card about themselves or about their classmates- then trade them, publish them on your classroom web site, and keep a copy in the classroom for future activities (like graphing birthdays).  Another great iPad app is Pic Collage.  With this app your students will have the ability to create a poster about themselves with features that allow them to take and import pictures with the camera, upload pics from the camera roll, search for images from the web, add text, add custom backgrounds, and to really make a statement about who they are!  No iPads for you?  Try some online poster creators such as (create a free teacher account and let students create under your classroom account) or  Trading cards can be created online at BigHugeLabs.
3.  What I Did This Summer
This cute idea from A Love for Teaching blog has students drawing a scene from their summer adventures in a pair of sunglasses.  It is a great visual that will have students sharing about their summer fun.  However, with the addition of the Common Core standards that we will all be implementing, this is a perfect time to pull in some of those standards (such as writing from experience).  To add some technology, have students write up a little story about their summertime fun (using tech here would be good, too) and then have students choose/highlight the key words from their story to add a Tagxedo image.  The Tagxedo image is an image created of words that upon viewing should convey the basic story to the viewer due to the choice of words (character, setting, description, etc.) without reading the entire text. comes with a variety of images to choose from, but if you need a specific image it can be uploaded.  The Tagxedo images are just as visual to hang in the hallways or on a bulletin board and add writing to the mix!

4. Getting To Know You Venn Diagrams

I love this idea from  Everyday the teacher has a new "Do you like?" question at the beginning of the day.  Students add their pictures to the Venn diagram to answer the question and to indicate that they are present for the day.  Venn diagrams are a great way to teach logic skills, similarities, differences, sets, comparing, and contrasting.  Instead of using hoops and photographs as suggested in the original article, set this up on your SmartBoard (or interactive whiteboard) so that students can move their virtual images or names into the diagram each morning.  If you don't have images of each student, have your students create an avatar (a representation of themselves) with a fun avatar creator such as Do you like using Venn Diagrams for small group or pair activities in the classroom?  ReadWriteThink just put out a new iPad app called Venn Diagrams.
5.  Call For Parent Volunteers- and other nasty paperwork!

Every classroom needs parent volunteers and various other information that needs to be gathered- but STOP sending all that paper home!  Convert all of your forms to Google Forms where you can neatly collect all of your information from parents in one place and it will never get lost or damaged in transit.  Save the paper only for families that really need it.  If you have a gmail address (whether personal or school) you have Google Forms!  Click on the Google Drive link at the top of the screen when you are in your email and then click the CREATE button and get started!  You can email your form to whomever you desire once it is created (and you can even embed it on your web site).  Plus, you can pick pretty themes with no design skills at all.  When parents submit a form all of the data is stored in your form file where you can access it at any time- no more paper to wrangle. 

6. First Week Graphing

Graphing Our Favorite Summer Activity comes from Madden's Monsterous Masterminds.  Graphing is a fun way to use real-world math while learning about the students.  There are some great technology tools that will allow teachers to create interactive graphs with their students on their interactive whiteboards as they are discussing various topics.  Recently the iPad app Haiku Deck has added a graphing feature to their presentation app.  This allows teachers to search for an image that represents the discussion and then to instantly graph the results (such as in the middle image labeled transportation- how students get to school).  Just connect the iPad to the interactive whiteboard to share the magic with class.  No iPad?  Try a website such as the Data Handling Site by Primary National Strategy.  Here you can graph your data with a bar graph or pie chart.

There are so many more ways to use technology to transform your beginning of the year and "getting to know you" lessons.  Share some of your favorites in the comments below.  I hope I have inspired you to think about integrating technology more this year as you begin the new school year.

Augmented Reality in the Classroom

This summer I have been exploring Augmented Reality and have been uncovering more and more new ways that AR can be used in the classroom across the curriculum.  You can view my presentation to discover AR software and apps that have been developed for the classroom.  Print out the markers/targets and try them all yourself!  Some require a webcam for use on your computer and some are iPad based apps.  At the end of the presentation, I discuss using the iPad app Aurasma and provide a document on how to make Augmented Reality triggers happen in your own school or classroom.  I guarantee you will be hooked on AR!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

iPad Lesson: Sun and Moon with Tellagami

The first grade students had a blast recording their facts about the sun and moon with the FREE Tellagami app on the iPad.  Their teacher wanted a new way for the students to present the information that they had researched for their astronomy unit.  I suggested Tellagami and it was a go!  The students colored their own backgrounds to represent the facts that they were going to convey in their recording.  Next, with the app, the students captured a picture of their drawing for the background and created their character.  In a quieter space, the students recorded themselves reading their facts that they had already prepared.  

All of the completed videos were emailed to the teacher and were compiled together using Windows Movie Maker.  The students loved watching their avatars doing the talking for them.  Success!

Friday, March 15, 2013

iPad Lesson: PhotoCards for Reflection

The 5th grade classes had an amazing in-school field trip to be CSI Forensic Scientists for a day.  Luckily an amazing parent was on-hand to take pictures to document the learning activities that took place like fingerprinting, blood-typing, using black lights, and marking crime scenes.

I suggested that a great way for the students to reflect on the learning they did for this day and to let someone outside of school know about their learning would be to create a photocard with the Bill Atkinson PhotoCard App on the iPads (FREE).

The app was so easy to use.  The students just tapped in the writing sections to add their text and to address their postcards.  Then we added the photos from the printed pictures by taking a picture with the camera on the iPads right from the app.  Students could even choose from a variety of beautiful stamps and themed stickers.

When they were finished, without registering for the app, students could save their photocards to the camera roll and then email them to their teacher.  If you do register for the app (which is also free) you can immediately email completed photocards and for a fee the service will even print and mail your creation for you!

iPad Lesson: Story Retelling with the FaceTalker App

One of the Kindergarten teachers that I work with was looking for a fun way to retell the story of The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly using technology.  It is always fun to record the students telling their stories in kindergarten, but this time I decided we could add a bit of a twist to our usual recording projects and record with the Facetalker App on the iPad.  The Facetalker app allows the student to place a mouth on any object and make it talk in the student's voice.

The Kindergarten teacher had each student draw a picture of something that the old lady would swallow in their retelling of the story.  Then the kindergarten teacher and I worked together using several iPads to capture the images and student recordings.  We first placed an old lady cutout next to their drawn image and took a picture within the app.  With the student's help, we added the mouth to the old lady, and then we helped the student to record.  The videos were created, emailed to the teacher, and then combined together in Windows Movie Maker to create the final project.

The kindergarten students love watching their new book that they created with the iPads.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

ClipChoose: Create a Poll Based on Videos

ClipChoose is a site that teachers can use to create a poll based on videos.  Teachers insert a question and choose up to eight YouTube videos for students to review.  Then students vote on which video they believe best answers the question.

I think that this site has some great educational possibilities for getting students to view and understand content.  In the example to the left, the teacher asks students to view different political messages to determine which candidate delivers the best message.  Although the student can simply vote for their favorite on the site, this is a great starting point for classroom conversations.

What would you use ClipChoose for?  Put your ideas in the comments below.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


I wish I knew about this site the last time I used tables to create bingo boards.  Bingo Baker easily creates random bingo cards for you.  You just put in the words and click generate- that's it!  You have just created 8 random cards that will be printed in a .pdf document for you.  If you need more cards, you could sign up for a yearly $9.99 account- cheap!  (Or you could just enter the words again- you didn't hear that from me.)

EdCanvas: Create and Deliver Digital Lessons

EdCanvas is an interesting site that allows educators to create online lessons.  This creation tool allows you to gather videos, images, documents, and text from the Internet and from your computer to create a lesson.  If you don't have resources already, you can search and build your lessons from Google, YouTube, and Flickr.  If you do have resources, you can upload them from your computer, Dropbox, Google Drive, or access your Bookmarks.  Check out this awesome lesson example about photosynthesis.
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