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.

Thing 9: Taking and Editing Photos

No photo blog post is complete without some ways to get photos from one spot to another. Transfer your photos easily from iPad to iPhone to computer and back again with Photosync. It's an app that goes for about $1.99, but is well worth the cost. Simply install the app on your devices and then the software on your computer(s). It works with both a Mac and a PC and allows slick transfer of photos from any device to any other. Awesome tool!!

I've also just discovered Instashare, which works in much the same way, but you can share more items that just images. It also works between any devices in which it's installed, and it's a free app. Pretty impressive little tool!

Now for the editing part:
ColorSplurge: This seems like a lot of silly fun to me. Although I loved playing with the little child in the cap with the big flower, I had a hard time finding images of my own that I would like to select a focal point and give it a bright color. However, years ago when my niece got engaged, we posed her with her parents and sister all oohing over the "big ring" - and we put the only spot of color on the ring on her left hand. The resulting picture was adorable, and became their Christmas card that year. I guess other than that and new babies, I'm not sure when I would use this app.

CamMe is awesome and will make those "selfies" much easier to time. I think this is an amazing idea - being able to tell your camera when to snap the picture. Ingenious - and it works well too!

Then I began playing with LINE - and here was where I had the most fun ever! Using the beauty setting to get rid of a few wrinkles was truly excellent: thank you Line! Then I began using the collage page, and this is where LINE really shines! Here are a few of the collages I enjoyed putting together. It's easy - and so useful for school use. I encourage you to download this free app today!

Thing 8: Social Media Management Tools

After spending way too much time playing with these tools I am still hopelessly overwhelmed! I feel like I've wasted many hours of my life setting up new accounts and attaching my other accounts together. Do I really want all these people and apps to know this much about me? It seems awfully personal and honestly, it makes me a little nervous.

I admit that I have been a dabbler on Facebook, Twitter and Linked In for many years (since 2007, according to Facebook - who knows more about me than I know about myself). I use all of these tools in streaks. Facebook is one that I may check every couple of days. I may comment or like a few items my friends have shared, enjoy a few pictures, and that's about it, but I find it a great way to contact a person I haven't seen in a while and also to have private messaging conversations when necessary. I've also liked Linked In for keeping track of more business-related contacts, and for providing an easy tool to connect and communicate with them. Twitter is a tool I use for quick reference, during conferences, to keep up with trending topics, and to check up on my son (a regular tweeter). I don't take advantage of any of these for promoting my blog posts or for expressing my opinions, and I probably should do that. Someday! Perhaps I lack the confidence to share with everyone at this point.

I spent far too much time on GetGlue, or Tagtv, as it is called now. I selected all my favorite sports teams, tv shows and movies, connected my social networks, checked in that I was watching the Olympics, and earned about 5 stickers (including one really cool animated sticker!) Now, will I continue to check in every time I watch tv? I'm not so sure about that. And will I find any purpose for doing all this? It just seems so trivial to me. I've used my social networking either to connect professionally or to keep in contact with friends and relatives. I don't really know if I want to discuss everything I watch on tv with a bunch of potential strangers. In my contacts on Twitter, Linked In and Facebook I wasn't able to locate any people I knew that I could connect with - so I would be meeting virtual people, and that seems a little strange to me.

The other tool I'm testing out is Cloze, which tells me it will keep me connected to all my closest friends. It made me feel incredibly nervous as it connected all of my networks together. Honestly, this took about 1/2 hour! Once it was complete I was able to open the app and all of my connections are listed by categories - I can really see who I spend the most time following and sharing with! This app seems to be one that I could be very excited about. My hope is that it will connect everything into one app and I won't have to check several different apps to see what's happening.

Here's what my app looks like.  About all I can tell from this is that I have way too many messages to read! I'll let you know how I feel about it after I've given it some time. In the meantime, happy posting.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Thing 7: Content Saving and Sharing

I spent some more time on Pinterest and, although I have many friends and family who spend hours there, I continue to be a bit overwhelmed by it. I find it to be so distracting and "all over the place". Perhaps I'm just not doing something right, but whenever I'm in Pinterest I find myself looking at library ideas, then bopping over to quotes, which leads me to favorite apps, and suddenly I'm distracted by home ideas or fashion, and pretty soon I don't remember what I was looking for anyway!  Don't get me wrong, I do believe there are some great uses for it. Last year when I wanted to decorate my library in a jungle theme I searched Pinterest for jungle themed ideas and I found incredible resources. I have also used Pinterest in classes I've taught to teachers, and they've loved creating a shared board and adding their related pins. I guess I just don't get how you can stay focused with so much to look at! I do have to say this however: Pinterest is the most well-used tech tool there is that I didn't have to teach anyone! Even my most "technology-avoiding" staff members have gotten sucked into Pinterest. It's amazing!

So as far as sharing ideas goes, I guess Pinterest works pretty well if the items being shared are very visual. But for sharing links I really like Symbaloo. It is super easy to create multiple boards with links, and these are much easier to use as links than Pinterest (in my opinion). Here are the Symbaloos I've created for the students in my school. Please note that I've taken a screenshot and not embedded an actual Symbaloo, so clicking the icons will not work here. If you'd like to see how I've been using Symbaloo visit our Portable Library at:

I have created Symbaloos for high school, middle school, Kindergarten, grade 1, grade 2, grade 3, grade 4, and preschool. I love this awesome tool!

Another wonderful tool for sharing resource links is Diigo. With the updated Diigo app you can give a group of students a space to share and annotate their notes. This works amazingly well on an iPad. On your iPad in the Safari app you can install a Diigo plugin which allows you to highlight text on a page, make annotations, and share those with others. Here is an example of how you can do that in one of the ELM databases:

Notice that you can highlight as well as putting a sticky note on the page. If you are sharing your bookmarks you can allow those you are sharing with to view all of these items.

One other method I love to use for sharing information and links is Livebinders,  Here is an image from a Science Livebinder for 4th grade inventors projects and another for teachers using Puppetpals. 

As you can see from these two examples, Livebinders is very flexible. I like the ability or create a Livebinder and then use it as a portal. Since the web pages open inside of the Livebinders frame students are not as able to browse other pages or go to Google to search.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Thing 6: Creating and Editing Docs

Although I'm attempting this writing on my iPad I usually do longer writing (like a blog post) on a computer. Yes, I'm old...and I really like (and type faster) with a keyboard.

I love the idea of the recorder on my iPad's keyboard but I just haven't gotten the hang of dictating. Besides, I'm usually surrounded by students, teachers or family and I think I would feel silly dictating.  I do have a twenty minute drive home though. Hmmm, I wonder if I could dictate all the way? I might have to try that for one of my posts!

Getting back to the real topic: creating and editing docs. I usually use QuickOffice, which I like very much and highly recommend to students. The key, though, is not just the slick interface that mimics Word very well. It is the ease in connecting QuickOffice to your Google account. This allows you to immediately save any document, edit easily in QuickOffice, but save again into Drive, and then open later on a computer for further editing and, if necessary, printing.

I also have used CloudOn, and I find that it is a solid app as well. However, my go-to app right now is QuickOffice. I create a lot of tutorial or direction handouts for my staff and students. If they are uploaded into my Google Drive I can edit and share them very easily on the fly, without having to open the document on my computer. And of course, any changes I make are saved back into Drive so I always have the newest, most up-to-date document (and not multiple revisions) in my folder.

I downloaded and registered for a SignNow account. I really like this idea! I'm thinking of personal and school uses, and there are many, but since this is the time when students are applying for scholarships, and often those are posted in PDF, I'm wondering if this might be a way for students to complete them. 

I opened a PDF in SignNow. That part was easy. I then clicked in each space I needed to typi in. You can insert text, your signature, a check mark or the date. Each one appears in a little box, which you can easily move around and resize. 

Once I wrote on it I saved it into Drive. The little text boxes around each item are removed and the document looks beautiful! I cannot wait to share this with the counselor on Monday! One of our secretaries had been recreating each PDF into a word document that could be filled in. This looks so much nicer and will save so much time! Here is my completed document. Thank you 23 Things!!