Friday, October 17, 2014

Top Ten Apps for your 21st Century Classroom

All links for this session are located at:

10: Screen Recordings! Jing, etc.
My favorite free tool for quick and easy screencasting on your PC or Mac is with Jing. Downloads can be found at 

Plan to do more screencasting or flipping your library? Purchase the full version of Camtasia.

9: Video Creation: Quietube, ViewPure and Animoto
Want to eliminate distractions around a youtube video? Use the free programs Quietube or ViewPure. 

Want to create a quick, fun video from your pictures or recordings? Use Animoto! The education version is free for teachers and allows longer length videos!

8. Questionaires: Google Forms
Who needs SurveyMonkey when we have the free Google Forms built in? 

7. Blogging: Kidblog, Blogspot
Kidblog is a free tool teachers can use to blog with their students. It is safe and secure, with no advertising. Kidblog allows you to create a unique blog for each student in your class.

Blogspot (Blogger) is now a part of the Google family, so if you have a Park Rapids teacher account you have a blog space. You may create as many blogs as you like in this space. Give it a try today!

6. Projecting: Airserver
Project your iPad's image through your computer! This app allows you to connect any iPad (2 or above) through your wifi network. Use it to share projects created on the iPad, your video or pictures, most apps, or use it like a document camera. 

Want to screencast your iPad? Connect it to your computer through Airserver. Open Jing and record your Airserver window.

5. Presenting: Class Flow, Nearpod
Both ClassFlow and Nearpod allow you to project your lessons to your students' devices! This is a great way to keep them engaged, to share information, and to even provide instruction from a distance. 

4. Engaging: Kahoot!
Love game shows? They engage your students and are a fun way to check for understanding. Kahoot is one of the easiest sites to use - and it works on all devices and computers!

3. Photographing: Shutterfly, Photosync
Shutterfly is an amazing FREE way to store your photos and share them with others. Shutterfly Share Sites are perfect for your class, team, family or other group.

The Photosync app does come with a small pricetag, but it is worth it if you want to easily transfer pictures wirelessly between devices and computers.

2. Sharing: Google URL shortener, GoQRme
Google's URL shortener has some definite pros, especially if you already have a Google account. Want to try QR codes? Give a try!

1. Organizing: Symbaloo
Symbaloo allows you to embed URLs, PDFs, widgets, videos and more - making it easy for your users to access all of your resources. Check out the whole range of Symbaloo webmixes we use at Park Rapids Area Schools! 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Get Kahoot!

I want to share a great website that I've enjoyed using with students and staff recently. It isn't an app, but a website. This is wonderful, because it works on all types of devices, from smartphones to iPads, to Chromebooks to desktop computers. It really gets kids involved in a fun gamey activity.

The teacher begins by getting Kahoot at: You will need to create a username and password so that all of your activities will be saved to your account. One of the easiest ways to start is by using a precreated Kahoot. There are tons for you to choose from on a wide range of topics and grade levels.

Having two devices with you is the best way to see what the entire Kahoot looks like. As the teacher you will open your Kahoot, which can be in the form of a quiz, discussion or a survey. This video will give you a better idea of how engaged the students are in the activity:

As you can see the students really get into the activity!

Once you've created your Kahoot it goes into your own list of Kahoots so you can easily find it again. Of course, you also have easy access to the public Kahoots - and you can make yours public, so others can use it, or keep it private.

A positive note about all Kahoots that are public is that anyone can save them as their own and then edit the Kahoot for their own personal use.

When you're ready to launch your Kahoot there are many options to choose from. I recommend displaying the game pin throughout the entire game. It sometimes happens that a student is kicked out, but if they know the game pin they can log right back in and continue playing. Here are the other options:

The students log into Kahoot from an entirely different website - a simple web address that is easy to remember: This clean screen displays a spot for students to put in their game pin (which is displayed from your screen and should be projected from your device.)

In a typical game the students are asked to put in their "nickname" (and you should discuss ahead of time if you want students to put in their real first name or if they should use some kind of nickname. Students will try to put in silly or inappropriate nicknames and these can be rather distracting. Plan ahead and tell them what is acceptable.)

As your students enter their names you will see them appear on your device. You will always be able to see how many students are playing along, how many have put in their answer, and what the scores are.

You are in charge of the Kahoot. When all students have put in an answer it will display the correct answer and the amount of points each student has earned. It will display the top students and their points on your device. Once you've done the discussing you'd like to do it is up to you to move on to the next slide (unless you've selected the option to automatically move through each question.

It is important to play Kahoot with a projector so that students can see the answer options, as these are not displayed on their device.

A Kahoot! is a wonderful way to keep your students engaged. Take a look at today!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Thing 23: The Final Thing

I've enjoyed sharing 23 Things with you - so for my final thing I want to spend a little time talking about Minnesota's ELM databases. For some reason these databases, which are funded by our state legislature and available free for every library (and citizen) in the state, seem to be a well-kept secret. And that's just a darn shame! They are quality databases that are awesome resources for all ages and stages, that can be easily accessed on computers and mobile devices. If you are not familiar with them you are definitely missing out!

Right now you can find these excellent resources at One of my favorites is Encyclopedia Britannica. The most incredible feature in Encyclopedia Britannica is the way users can adjust the reading level to suit their needs. This allows students to move up and down in reading range while gathering the same content, and allows teachers to adjust difficulty for their students as needed. The text can be read aloud, translated into a variety of languages and shared simultaneously with an entire class.

For younger students, Kids Infobits, KidSearch and Searchasaurus are research databases specifically created for elementary students. They are easy to use and provide students with magazine and journal articles, images, multimedia files and more. The reading level in these also has some range, and again, translating is a breeze. In addition, creating a citation from all three of these is slick and teaches students the value of citing your sources.

For older students you won't want to miss the great research found in Student Reference Center and Student in Context. And if your topic is something related to science, the Science Reference Center is the one for you!

If your research leads you to arguing one side of an issue, be sure to visit the Points of View Reference Center.

The best part? All of these databases are provided for people living in Minnesota! There is no added charge for subscribing. So if your school isn't directing you to these resources you'll want to visit them on your own at

Monday, March 31, 2014

Thing 22: Discovering Apps

I love Apps Gone Free and I have been a fan for quite a while. This is a great way to try out apps you have heard good things about but aren't ready to pay for, or just a wonderful place to search for apps.

I have this advice for teachers looking for educational apps. Apple has provided many lists of apps for teachers in the App Store. However, they have hidden it very successfully. Here are the directions to find the lists, along with some tips to make your searches easier.

Begin by going to the App Store, selecting "featured" from the bottom menu and selecting "More" in the top menu. From the drop-down menu choose Education.

You will now see many wonderful educational apps, and could do your searching from here, which would give you only apps from the education category.

However, look down and you will see Educational Collections. These are excellent, and are in logical categories like:

  • Special Education
  • Kickstart Your School Year
  • iTune U
  • Astronomy, Stargazing and More
  • Learning Made Fun
  • Painting & Drawing
  • Calculators
  • Apps for Writer
  • and so on
Click on any set of educational apps and you can look through all of the offerings. 
I have found this to be a wonderful way to explore apps that are educational.

Please note that not all apps here are free. In fact, many are quite expensive, but the selection is terrific!

A few other helpful hints to make sure you find all the best apps:
  • Sort the apps by cost, relevance, ratings and more.
  • Add apps to your wish list, so when you do have access to an iTunes gift card you can use it right away on apps you really want. 
  • Keep your eye on blogs, journals, announcements, emails, and any other place you might see recommended apps. 
  • Even if you can't attend a conference, check out the handouts and links attendees receive. These have wonderful app suggestions!
  • Talk to people ALL THE TIME. Share your favorite apps and have people recommend theirs to you. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Thing 21: Free For All

There are times when a person must listen to something over and over before actually hearing it. This is true of me and the incredible app I want to share: Nearpod. Yes, I had been told that Nearpod was a great app. I had been told that multiple times. But did I try it out? No. I did put it on my iPad, created an account, and even logged in a couple of times. But did I watch the video, try out the tutorial, or give the app a try? Nope. I was an idiot.

Until now, that is.

For now I know that Nearpod is one of the greatest apps, especially for those teachers who want to use their iPads to teach a lesson but aren't quite sure how to manage it all. They want to engage their students, but they just don't really know how, and controlling a group of students, all of whom are perhaps listening, but just as easily are texting, surfing, playing games, or any number of things, frankly, overwhelms and terrifies them. Nearpod is truly a gift for them.

Nearpod allows you to share content, open a whiteboard where are students can illustrate, take a poll, give a quiz, show a video. Do I have to say more? And to top it off, Nearpod is EASY!

The very best way to experience Nearpod is to grab two devices of any kind. Seriously, any kind! Smartphone, iphone, ipad, Android tablet, laptop, desktop, you name it. Use the app or use the website - it all just works! There is a perfect tutorial to start with. Simply sign up for your free account on one device and then go through the tutorial on it, with the other device as your "student". You will truly experience every activity and see how seamless it is. And any device can be the "teacher" - so if you want to project on your SmartBoard as well, you can do that through your computer. But if you'd rather run it all off your iPad, that's fine too!

Give a poll through Nearpod.
Allow students to work at their own speed!

Provide a quiz or test.
Provide a space for students to draw or illustrate.
A student closes out? You see it right away. Someone comes late? Give them the pin and they can join right in where you are. Heck, want to give an assignment through it but school is cancelled? Send them the link and they can go through the lesson at home. Need a quick lesson tomorrow? Search Nearpod's growing number of lessons and find one that fits the need - but you can totally rearrange it to fit your lesson.

These pictures show my iPad (the white one on the left) sending out the lessons to the iPad Mini and the MacBook. This is the most interactive and intuitive app I have probably ever used! This is an app that you can share with every teacher - preschool through college (and beyond), and one that includes such an awesome sales pitch through its interactive tutorial that once you've shared it (allowing all your coworkers to participate) they will be using it immediately and wondering how they ever got along without it.

There is really no limit to the things you can have students do through Nearpod. An amazing feature is the one that opens a webpage through the app. The students have time to peruse the webpages on their own, looking for information, completing an activity, reading, or whatever you want them to do. Once you're ready to move on simply swipe to the next page on your device and all of the student devices will do the same. Magic!!

So - quit reading this blog and head over to, or to your app store to download the app. Or, if you aren't convinced yet, take a look at this video. It's sure to win you over. Get engaged with Nearpod today!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Thing 20: Games

I must admit it. When I look at the iPad for playing games all I can think of is the wasted time. However, as one who has logged thousands of miles on Bejeweled (and, years ago, spider solitaire), I know what a big thing gaming is.

I never joined the Candy Crush phase, so to help me with Thing 20 I installed it on my iPad and I'm going to try to get addicted to it. We'll see. 

I was most impressed with the idea of creating games, and loved reading this recent news story about Sartell High School graduate David Hanson and his wife, Jackie Anderson, who have taken David's love of programming and created a game called 'Shuffling Sheep' for both the iOS and the Android operating systems, and a new company aptly named Frigid Turtle. There's a great article and video about them in the St Cloud Times at I can't help but think how cool it would be if we had some students in my high school (or my own son!) who would spend less time playing games and start creating games!

I did spend some time enjoying David's Sheep Shuffle game and I have to admit I did enjoy it! 

One summer in my youth my younger brother and I began a backgammon challenge. We probably played thousands of games and although we kept track of who won each game I have no idea who the final victor was but I know I loved the competition! I would guess that until I had an iPod I hadn't gotten caught up in game-playing in that way since then. 

Other games that would cause great embarrassment for me if anyone ever saw the number of hours I spent on them:

Temple Run: I am really good at this, if I do say so myself!

Words with Friends: fantastic game for those of us who love Scrabble!

Word Warp: Gotta love those word games!

I also have to give a shout-out to all the amazing games for young children these days! Whether you have a little one who lives and breathes Legoes, horses, dinosaurs, or trains, there are certainly many options for all!

And that's enough for Thing 20...for Candy Crush awaits!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Thing 19: Hobbies

This topic makes me feel hopelessly boring and uninvolved! I guess I have very few hobbies that are unrelated to education, because I don't feel like I have much to share! At least, nothing that I haven't already shared.

One app that I use all the time is my DISH Anywhere app. I can use this app to connect with the DISH Network receiver in my house. This receiver is connected to the wifi in my home, so as long as I am in wireless access I can view live TV and do a number of amazing things. If there's a show I want to watch that I've forgotten to tape I can set my receiver to record it. In addition, though, if there's a live show I want to see I can watch it LIVE on my iPad! This has been great when I'm away from home but really want to catch up with this week's showing of Downton Abbey - or even if I'm sitting in the living room with my husband who has sports on the TV I can watch The Voice on my iPad. This addition to my network TV subscription has been amazing and has really changed the way I watch TV.

I go in streaks with my health consciousness as well, and so apps that help me keep track of the steps I walk or the foods I eat are top priorities on my iPad. Two apps that I have enjoyed using the most are the Fitbit app (which connects with my Fitbit Flex). I have used a variety of diet and exercise apps and have found them to be excellent. Many of them do the same thing. They allow you to keep track of the food you eat and the calories you consume, and also keep track of how much you exercise. Since these often give us the motivation to exercise more or eat better, these are great apps for any user. Most also have communities, where you can share your successes and frustrations and receive that extra support you need. One that is pretty highly recommended is Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal, but seriously, there are many, many top contenders in this area.

I am also a big sports fan, following Minnesota teams in all sports, as well as some college teams. I like using the ESPN Sports Center app for continual updates on all your favorite teams. If you're a sports fan you'll know that there are many different apps to follow. Try one out today!

Friday, March 14, 2014

QR Codes in the Classroom

Reading QR Codes:
To read QR codes your device needs a scanning app such as Scan. There are many free apps to choose from:
  • SCAN: QR Code and Barcode Reader
  • ScanLife: Barcode Scanner & QR Code ReaderYou can also add a barcode generator app to your Google homepage so you can read QR codes with a laptop with built-in camera. Try:
            Free QR Code Generator
When you have the app installed, simply open it, aim the camera at the QR code, and the app will do the rest.

Additional information on using QR codes in the classroom can be found on Kathy Schrocks webpage at:

Creating QR Codes:
To create QR codes you need either a QR code generating app or webpage. I recommend: GOQR ME!
You can create a QR code that points to a URL (web address), a box of text, a call, text message or contact information.
Usually you will be using your QR code to link to a website (URL), which could include a link to a youtube video as well.
Steps for linking to a URL:
1. Go to the website you want to create the QR code to link to. As an example, I want to link to the ELM database Kids Infobits, which is great for elementary student research (but the URL is very long and it is hard for students to key in).

2. Go directly to the page you want students to land on, or access first. You’ll create your QR code to link directly here. Copy this URL by highlighting it and pressing Ctrl-C on your computer (or bypressing the word “copy” on your iPad.

3. Now open the website or open your app if you have a QR code generator app.
Click to the URL tab and paste the address you just copied into the URL box. You can do this by pressing Ctrl-V.

4. The QR code will automatically generate in the box to the right.
Now you can download the QR code to your own computer. [If you are using an iPad you can paste the image of the QR code directly into your document, email it or save it in your images.]
  1. Select the Open button.
  2. The QR code will open in a new window
  3. Right-click on the QR code and select “Save this image as...”
  4. Choose the location to save the QR code. Be sure to give it a recognizable name so you can use it again.
5. Once you have saved a QR code you can use it in any word document (or simply print it from the page you created it on). To do this:
  1. Open a word document.
  2. Type in your title, heading, or anything else you’d like to have printed on the page
  3. Insert the QR code as a regular picture
  4. Print out your page and post it in a logical location

What can you use QR codes for?
  • To play a Youtube video
  • To ease installing an app from the App Store or Android Market
  • To send a predefined short message
  • To call a phone number
  • To show contact data as a vCard/meCard
  • To show your branding on textiles (T-shirts, bags) and other articles like mugs 
  • To link to blogs or on websites of your own
  • To share a shortcut to a website
  • To post a link to an activity/link for the iPads
  • To post larger amounts of content to support an image or poster
My favorite QR code video: 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Thing 18: Education

These are some of the educational apps I recommend to teachers in different areas:

Questimate: A fun app that really makes you think about sizes and weights. Answer questions like: "How many yoga mats would be as long as a minivan?" and then you make your guess and find out how close you are. You gain lives by making good guesses, and lose lives when you guess is too far off.

Geoboard: Remember the geoboards we used to use to illustrate shapes and lines by hooking rubberbands around the pegs? This is the same type of geoboard, but you never have to worry about your rubberbands breaking or flying across the room!

Flash to Pass: This is a flashcard practice app that allows you to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. 

Number Pieces: A great app for visualizing place value. You can break your ten sticks into ones, or hundreds into tens. When you create a new grouping of ten you can snap the ten ones together into a ten stick, or snap a grouping of ten tens into a hundred block.

BupplePop: See how many bubbles you can pop by selecting the products. Although the free version only has multiplication, this can be a fun way to get your practice in.

Chicken Coop Fractions: Move the nest to the correct spot on the line to catch the eggs. This activity really helps students feel comfortable with different size fractions.

Reading and Writing
Kidblog: Create a class blog and set up blogs for your students that are secure and kid-friendly.

Timed Reading: Select a story and have your students read orally. This app times how long it takes them to read the story and keeps track of their progress.

Spelling City: One of the best apps for practicing spelling words. Teachers can input their spelling lists and make them available for students to practice, either on an iPad or on a computer at the Spelling City website.

Heart Decide: An app that allows you to open up the heart and explore every part. There are also "Decide" apps for the hand, the eye, the knee, and more! 

Social Studies
50 State Info: Provides detailed information about each state's facts, information and symbols. Excellent resource for those state projects!

All subject areas
Brainpop & Brainpop Jr: Short video clips that explain concepts in every subject area. These are a great way to introduce a new unit or theme.

ClassDojo: A behavior management app that allows you to reward good behavior. Children can edit their own charactrers and participate in the classroom behavior program.

TooNoisy: This app shows a smiley face as long as the room is quiet. Too much noise and the meter rises. You can adjust the sensitivity and use the app to help your students monitor their own noise level.

Sharing Resources with Symbaloo

Symbaloo is my favorite tool for organizing and sharing websites. It allows you to create tiles in a format that is easily shared and embedded into a website. The tiles are easy to sort, create, and edit, and creating multiple Symbaloo webmixes is quick and logical.

I have created Symbaloo webmixes for my high school library, and for most grade levels in the district. It is my hope that these are used extensively by students and staff. You can view my webmixes here:

To create your own Symbaloo webmix, visit and create an account.

Once you've created your account you are ready to start your first webmix. Start by naming your webmix and adding a tile. You can search for a tile or create your own by selecting a image to use. In this example I searched for CNN. 

I simply choose the style I like for my tile and click on it. The tile immediately jumps into the first open space in my webmix. 

I can continue to add tiles this way, filling in each space.

If you've added a tile, but want to organize the mix, you can drag the tiles around into any empty space, so you can create areas on your webmix for different types of resources.

There are also options to change the background image on your webmix, personalizing it to your situation.

When you've created a webmix you like, click "share" and you can share your webmix with the world (or with just those you choose. Webmixes make great additions to your website or blog. Here is a look at the options for your webmix:

Any time you want to update your webmix, log in and make those changes. Then click "update" from the top menu bar and you're set. Note that changes will not take effect until you update them this way.

A great handout is this PDF that comes from Symbaloo:

Friday, March 7, 2014

Thing 16: Audio

There are millions of reasons a teacher would want to be able to record audio on his/her iPad! These include simple things like recording directions for using a center or completing an activity, recording your read-alouds for children who are absent (or just for continued enjoyment), having students record themselves reading for evaluation of fluency or reading with expression, and so much more.

My three quick and easy apps for recording audio are:



I have used and recommend all three. They all work in similar ways. Click the record button, use pause when you need to, name your recording, and share it via email or through a wireless transfer to your PC or Mac. Recordings can be stored on your computer and shared in any way you share MP3s, including your own iTunes account. They all work great!

I also tried out Audioboo, and I can see that this will be a great app as well. I have worked with some friends who have recorded books for Minnesota's library for the blind and I think Audioboo would be a great tool to use for that.

I think it's important to remember that the iPad has some great accessibility options for those who need visual assistance through audio cues. Siri is a wonderful option, and great timesaver. The recording button on the keyboard is very helpful. If you have your settings set you can have the iPad read selected text in almost any app. Finally, using a dictionary app students can speak a word into the microphone and the dictionary will locate the word, show definition and uses, and can speak the word back. It certainly makes using a dictionary easier, more efficient and more effective! Try it out today!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Thing 17: Connecting to Community

So many, many apps and websites have built-in communities that I find myself avoiding that part. Particularly when the app is just for fun, and not to support my PLN, I generally don't get involved in the back channel discussions and chatter. I just don't feel that I have the time.

My attitude is different, however, with the app Houzz. This app is unbelievable! If you love your home and dream of remodeling, adding on, or building new, this is the perfect resource and the perfect community!

With Houzz you can discuss any number of decorating and design questions and can answer or ask your own questions. You can post before and after photos, get color opinions, and much, much more!

You can also view ideabooks that various companies have created. In addition, you can find pros in your area for contracting, flooring, lighting, and everything else related to houses. Products are also clearly listed, so just about any item presented in the app can be available to you.

And then there are the photos: 2,916,619 at last count! Interested in creating a new kitchen space? Over 500 thousand pictures can guide your search! Home office? Over 40,000. There are over 155000 pictures of landscapes, 20,000 of closets, and almost 60,000 stairway photos! If you need images to help you with your house, Houzz is the place to look. 

Just for fun I'll share a bunch of screenshots that I took today. But for best results, download this app and join the community today!

Houzz app for iPad:

Thing 15: Infographics

I love infographics, and find them to be really helpful in understanding information. Using the apps Infographics and info.Graphic on my iPad was a great way to locate infographics. There are so many wonderful ones here, so if you're looking for samples these apps can be very helpful.

I especially liked these two infographics on plagiarism, which is a topic I'm continually coming back to in my library:
This first one, a Magical Guide to Avoiding Plagiarism, comes from Kate Hart (at Kate is a young adult writer from Arkansas. 

And this one was created by EasyBib. I like the simplicity of it!

As far as creating infographics, (which is what I really want to be able to do - and have students do!) I am more frustrated. I've downloaded and tried every infographics app I can find and I really have not been able to locate one that is easy enough to create that it tells a good story. 

It is my belief that having students create an infographic would be a fantastic way of evaluating their understanding. In fact, I think it would be so good in social studies and English classes, especially, and would be a wonderful change from the typical PowerPoint presentation.

I found this incredible resource that would make creating an infographic assignment easy! It appears to have been created by Joyce Valenza - which makes total sense to me, since she is AWESOME! The libguide on infographics includes sample projects, creation tools, assessment rubrics, templates, and an amazing assortment of supporting resources. This is a site you will want to make note of if you are considering working with infographics. Thanks Joyce!!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Thing 14: Videos!!

Having instant access to a huge variety of videos is what digital devices are all about! I've enjoyed the huge assortment of educational video resources - like Vimeo, SchoolTube, TeacherTube, Ted, WatchKnowLearn, and so on - and even the wide range of great videos you can find in Youtube. However, I have not taken a close look at some of the social tools like Vine and SocialCam, so this will be a great lesson.

On first view, it's hard for me to see how these can be very educational. As an old lady I have to admit that they make me awfully nervous as I consider the safety of all this posting. And so many of these sites "require" age minimums, and yet are being downloaded by children of all ages. Having video recorders in places like locker rooms and bedrooms is a huge concern to me, so although it terrifies me to have all of these apps I think it is crucial that we not close our eyes to them but instead embrace them and use them. How else will children learn appropriate use.

And since I've stated that I guess I'd better get busy trying them out. Just this week Edutopia published an article on educational uses of Vine (and Instagram, which just announced a new feature in which you can publish 15 seconds videos). You can read it here: There were some great suggestions here, so I'm ready to jump in further. TeachThought was saying the same thing here:

I'm stealing from the ASIDE (Innovation Design in Education) blog here,, when I list their uses for Vine:


  1. Pair with information on a class website or blog
  2. Announce homework to students and parents
  3. Model how students should execute a task
  4. Market a school's upcoming events to followers
  5. "Tease" new units for kids and families
  6. Record student reactions to texts
  7. Think-pair-share in a virtual field
  8. Grab "preview" or "exit interview" understandings
  9. Offer parent testimonials for admissions
  10. Build advisory or homeroom unity


  1. Design mini-book trailers
  2. Film solutions to math problems
  3. Identify symbols and silent metaphors
  4. Recreate drawing or painting methods
  5. Document science labs
  6. Capture instructions for computer tools
  7. Create "real-life" Vokis
  8. Animate stop-motion characters
  9. Recite famous quotations
  10. Impersonate historical figures
Looks good, right? I have to admit that there are lots of reasons to use Vine and Instagram. Here are a few of my favorite examples:


Just as an additional video note, iMovie now comes as a free app on every new iPad. The iPad version is wonderful and allows you to create fantastic videos!! Videos can easily be shared and uploaded to Youtube. If you create videos that are longer, note that you can request longer uploads with your account at Youtube. I was given that and have posted videos that are well over an hour long.

Thing 13: Presentations

As a 1:1 iPad school we are continually looking for ways our students can create and share presentations. As a person who occasionally presents at conferences I am always looking for creative presentation apps.

I have to begin by stating the apps I love the most, and the ones we are trying to embed into our curriculum in Park Rapids.

Educreations: I've written about Educreations several times. It is flexible, easy to use, and perfect for all ages groups and subject areas. I've used it to allow special ed students who were not able to present in front of their class to record their voices and then just play the presentation. I've used it to evaluate a student's reading or math skills. We used it in a integrated project to have students create an ad to promote the game they created (including music they had "composed"). The list could go on and on!

QuickOffice: QuickOffice connects with your Google account and allows students to use their iPad to create spreadsheets, presentations and documents, which then can be saved into Google Drive and either presented or downloaded into Microsoft Office for additional editing. This has been a lifesaver for us and I highly recommend it!

HaikuDeck: HaikuDeck is beautiful! It is also flexible and super easy to use. I love it because it focuses the creator's work on the CONTENT and not as much on the format. The final project can be saved and shared in a variety of ways, and operates similarly to PowerPoint. You can create the entire project on a portable device easily.

Prezi: The new Prezi allows for all work to be completed on the portable device. To be honest, unless the presentation is well structured, this presentation format still makes me a bit sick to my stomach, and I have not mastered its use! It is a great option, though, and one that I need to work on.

Lensoo Create: Lensoo is very similar to Educreations (and the whole host of other similar apps). There would have to be something awfully great about it to drive me away from educreations. One thing I'm impressed with is that you can import a PDF into the presentation. I think this would be a wonderful way to create tech directions. So often I create a direction sheet. I could put the direction sheet in as the background and then talk through parts of it that are confusing to people. It would add a whole new dimension to training! There is a great selection of symbols and shapes (arrows and stars and boxes, etc) that are easy to add, size and rotate. These are very helpful and give a little more professional look to the presentation. Recording is easy and allows you to pause throughout. It's easy to add pictures from the camera and photo album - but there doesn't appear to be a way to add an image from the web. Once I save the recording it goes into a "recording area". I can play it back but can't edit my work. I can post it to Lensoo online, but it doesn't appear that I can save it as a standalone video. (I can't with Educreations either). I'm not seeing much reason to stop using Educreations  in favor of Lensoo, but it is certainly a viable option for those seeking a recording solution.

Thing 12: Books, Books, and More Books

From my perspective, digital books are in their infancy and I expect huge changes in the coming months and years. For the most part, I find the current number of book-reading apps to be incredibly frustrating! Right now I have all of these book apps on my iPad. I use them all, and have different access and different collections in every app:

I have purchased books, and downloaded free books, from Amazon through my Kindle app, from Barnes & Noble through my Nook app, and from the iBooks store. I check books out of the public library using Overdrive and 3M Cloud. I have downloaded free books through Storybooks, Wattpad, Mackin VIA and Follett Shelf. I've downloaded books from other sites as well, but I lose track of how to use the app, how to get in, what books I have, or the fact that I used the app in the first place. This drives me insane!

I have been most disappointed by the apps that attempt to recreate (or write their own) children's books. I find most of these to be poorly written and poorly illustrated. In many cases I think it would be better not to have these books at all. I have to give kudos to Scholastic (although I think they're pricing their books a bit high)  for making good quality children's books available. The interface is pleasant to look at and easy to use, and includes page-turn animations. You can look words up in the dictionary, highlight text, play activities on the page (like vocabulary word scrambles) and can bookmark your favorite pages. 

I have every reason to believe that things will improve for digital reading, but here's my dream. I want a system where I can input any title I own (or can access free) digitally into my card catalog. I want students and staff to be able to select the book and have it open in a digital reading that worked well on their device. If the digital reader was one the user didn't have, then there would be a message stating "This book must be read on Scholastic Storia. Would you like to install it now?" What I want is EASY. WORKS EVERY TIME. AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE. Is that too much to ask? 

I also spent some time with YALSA's Teen Book Finder and a few other bookfinder apps. Here are my brief reviews.

YALSA's Teen Book Finder: YALSA, thank you for attempting this app. However, you need to work on it because it is lacking. When it did find a title for me and I selected the title to find out more about the book I would get a very brief one-sentence summary of the book...MOST of the time. Sometimes it would give me a message saying that the book couldn't be located, even though the title had appeared. When I selected an author's name I was presented with a very brief listing of about 10% of all of the books that author had written. I understand the database to be organized by year and award, so I can understand why titles are missing if they weren't published in that timeframe. However, my readers want to know what else the author has written, and this just wouldn't do it. 

Peekaboo Apps Best Books: Best Books for Babies, Best Books for PreK, and Best Books for Tweens are an attempt at allowing parents and children to keep track of their own books and look for others by title, category, rating and so on. It includes additional lists you can purchase for $3.99 each. It is very similar to Destiny's Quest program, but the social networking that Destiny Quest brings to the table makes it far and away a better app. 

Book Crawler: Book Crawler connects with your Goodreads account and works to help you locate new books to read. You can create collections of books and share them with your friends, keep lists of those books you've already read, and those books you want to read. The time-consuming part of this app would be going through your collections and inputting all the books. It is pretty easy to search for them and add them, and once you do you have access to complete information, including tons of reviews. But for a person with a large number of books in their personal collection, it would be a huge job. Book Crawler has a free lite version and a paid version ($1.99).

Again I must repeat that I am feeling hopelessly letdown by all of the options available because none of them is the whole answer. I believe that if a person jumped into Goodreads and combined it with Book Crawler, adding all of the titles they've read, this would probably be an excellent solution. This may be your answer on how you organize, rate, discuss and share your favorite reads, and if so, it would make  good solution. If you're not ready to dive in and spend the time, then it may not be the way to go. 

As a final word I need to share a new service I just discovered (thanks to Shannon McClintock Miller!) It's called OYSTER, and it bills itself as the "Netflix for books". Oyster is a service you sign up for, and pay $9.95 a month, but you can download unlimited books onto your device and read and enjoy them! They are offering a one-month free trial. You can check it out today at: Of course this is yet another app to keep track of, but I like the idea of being able to select bestsellers that I wouldn't necessarily purchase, and not have to wait in line at the library to check them out.  Take a look at Oyster today!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Thing 11: Library & Reference

I was very excited to get to this thing! I really want to be able to provide easy access to all of my resources for students and staff, and I think that having an app would be the way to go. I've tried using Symbaloo and creating our PR Library app, but it really doesn't work that well on a device smaller than an iPad (so phones just really don't work). Our school website has a neat built-in phone app, and I'm hoping that I can make that work for my library.

I began, however, by creating an app for the library in an online app creator called "Appypie". It was EASY to use. I was able to create a beautiful website using links for our library circulation, our webpage, contact information, resource links, ELM, and other important links. I thought it looked great and I was really excited to use it. Doesn't it look awesome?

When I finished creating it I was getting all excited about how I could use it. However, when I got to the publishing page I found out you can only publish it if you pay. So much for a free app! I guess next time I should read the fine print before I spend time creating the tool.

It did give me a change to think about how I would like my app to look, and I really think I can get my Edline webpage to publish a similar type of app. I'm not quite sure how to get it out to students, but I guess posting or sharing a QR code is probably the way to go.

Considering an app such as this I would like it to be the first stop for my users. They should be able to access contact information and library hours, our book checkout/OPAC system, the school webpage, our Symbaloo links, and the ELM databases.

I loved seeing the library apps that were posted. They were beautiful! I only hope one day to have one to show off as well!

But so far, here's what I have:
I'll keep working on it and hopefully one day I'll have an app that is useful. I hope if anyone finds any free options for creating an app they'll share the news!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Thing 10: Sharing Photos

I was surprised to see only the two instant photo apps listed in the section on sharing photos. I have not gotten into this phenomenon at all. My friend Sherill loves sharing photos instantly with her family - especially those of her grandchildren - and I guess perhaps if I had grandchildren I might jump on this craze.

I have played around with both Instagram and Snapchat and I just can't get excited about either one. I'll keep trying, since I have accounts, but perhaps I just need a better topic. :)

In the meantime I wanted to mention my favorite ways of sharing photos: Shutterfly. This is the answer I think is best for teachers. It's not that I think Shutterfly is better than any of the others. Most of the options offered in that service are also available in Snapfish (and others), as well as through local retail photo shops like Target and Walgreens. I just happen to think that Shutterfly works well.

Here is the information I like to share with teachers on using Shutterfly in school:

1    You must have a Shutterfly account. You can create an account within the app.
      The Shutterfly for iPad app allows you to upload pictures and display them as a slideshow. Very limited!
      1. The Shutterfly for iPhone app allows you to order prints, create projects with 1 photo: mugs, mousepads, plaques, iPhone/iPad cases, etc. You can edit and crop 1 image at a time. You can also view special offers.
      2.     Once your photos are uploaded, visit on your computer. When you log in you will see all of your photos that were uploaded on your device.
      3.     The projects on the web are limitless!

Items you can create:
Photo books
Cards and stationary and letterhead
iPhone covers, mouse pads, calendars
Coffee mugs, water bottles
Stickers, plaques, puzzles, collage posters
Coasters, t-shirts, magnets, key rings
Luggage tags, decks of cards, notepads

Create a book from your class pictures. Share it with your parents via email. If they choose to they can purchase any picture or purchase the entire book.
Use the pictures to create thank you gifts for classroom volunteers.
Create classroom posters, calendars or signs.
Create a collage of pictures from the year.
Use students to help with your center and poster signage.
Take pictures of groups of students holding large tagboard. Use these as artwork for your classroom or for newsletters or to post on your webpage.  
      Use the app to have your pictures printed. You can have them shipped to your door or select delivery to Walgreens or WalMart. Most offer 1 hour processing.