Sunday, June 28, 2015

Awesome Apps

I wanted to share 3 awesome apps that I started using towards the second half of the school year: Book Creator, Seesaw, and Shadow Puppet EDU. All of these apps were easy for my 3rd grade students to use, but are also appropriate for older students. Basically, I made the apps available and they did the rest! I'm calling them "take it and run with it" apps! I have been able to learn more about the features of each app by following them on Twitter. For that reason, I am including their Twitter handle.

Shadow Puppet EDU
Twitter: @puppet
This app was a great way for my students to share what they learned with others.
The only prep on my part was to give my students a storyboard to help them plan their slideshow. They used the storyboard to record their voice over. At first, they wanted to include a lot of text on their slides, so I had to back up a little to talk about making more effective slideshows.  You can use Shadow Puppet's storyboard or you can easily create your own specific to your task.

Students can easily find photos with the image search options without even leaving the app. We first used Shadow Puppet after our study of Georgia Regions.


Twitter: @Seesaw
Seesaw is a great learning journal.  Students do not need a username or password.  They can simply scan your class QR Code to log in.  As a teacher, you can decide how your kids log in based on the availability of devices in your class.  I have a class set of iPads, so we use the "individual student sign-in" option.  For classes with limited devices, there is a "classroom sign-in" mode.  You can then choose to allow students to view their classmates' journals or just their own. You can add folders for each subject, if you choose, making this the perfect digital notebook.

When I say this is easy for kids to use, I'm not kidding.  When I first met Seesaw, a kindergarten teacher shared it with me and at first glance, I thought it was a little primary for my students.  Boy! Was I wrong!  The expectation of the teacher is what determines the students' end result.
Why aren't these magnets touching?
Student Reflection

Imagine a student showing a solution to a math problem and then explaining how they solved it with a voice recording. Awesome! 
A voice recording explains how they solved the problem
Parents can be invited to join and they can like or leave comments on their child's journal post. This is a great way to share the happenings in your class.  Students and teachers can add videos, files, pictures, audio recordings and drawings with a simple touch! I forgot to mention--Seesaw is now available on Chromebooks and Android devices as well as Chrome and Firefox on desktop computers! Awe--some!

Twitter: @BookCreatorApp 
Both of the apps I just mentioned are free.  Book Creator also has a free version so you can try it out.  But believe me, you will definitely want to purchase the app.  Why?  Students can create an unlimited number of books with the paid version. It is so easy to use this program, even I could do it! My kids were so excited to become real authors and share the books they created with others. Students can upload their books to iBooks or export them as a PDF file to print or as a video to post to the web.


Everyone was busy adding books written by their classmates to their iBooks shelf. The next day it was no surprise that everyone wanted to read books written by their classmates during independent reading.
Sharing Books using AirDrop
I haven't even begun to tap into the power of Book Creator. Students can collaborate on books. They can work on their own section and then combine the books for a collaborative effort.  You can create class books by assigning a section to individuals or small groups. A few weeks ago I realized that I could use this app to write (for lack of a better word) "textbooks" for my class and then share it with them using AirDrop.  Hummm, that sounds like a good summer project!

Like I said before, you will definitely want to follow these apps on Twitter. Just enter their Twitter handle in the search and you will find tons of resources and ideas to help you use these tools in your classrooms.   I'm so excited about the possibilities!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

My Summer PD

Today was the beginning of my summer break and after I woke up naturally (no alarms going off) and took the dogs out, I sat down at my computer; just to see what was happening in the world. And I am so glad I did. First, I ran across a post about the different types of blended classes, which got me thinking about my flipping experience.

When I first started flipping, I taught fifth grade and I flipped my math class in the traditional way: students watched videos at night, took notes, and completed an online quiz or used Google Doc to show their understanding. Then in class, we were able to spend time doing more hands-on type activities. Later, I added science to the mix.

Flipping math and science gave me so much time in class to do hands-on activities and labs. After doing it this way for a couple of years, I found myself moving to 3rd grade; with a much younger bunch of students. How would this work with 3rd-grade students?  I must admit I was a little worried. But I knew the value of flipping a class so I couldn't give it up!

Moving to 3rd grade meant that I needed to tweak how I flipped my class. Initially, I still assigned videos, but I saw that most of the students ended up watching them in class; which was perfectly fine! Actually, it probably worked out better for this age group. They could watch in class and then work on activities after they finished.  I was also there to immediately address any questions they had.

Next year, it will be that way by design. Of course, students can still review the videos at home,   I've been reading more about in-class flips or in-flip and it seems like that's the direction I'm headed in.  I just read in a newsletter from Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams how Randy Brown flips his 3rd-grade class.  He divides the class into 2 groups.  While 1 group watches the video, he helps the other group complete work. Essentially he lowers his student-teacher ratio by cloning himself!

No, I won't spend my entire summer reading or planning. I will go the beach and be mesmerized by the waves coming and going, but until that happens you can find me online @shefish52.

Do you flip a younger class?  
Please share what you have found to be successful in the comments below.


Wow! I can’t believe I have not posted anything this entire school year! I’m not sure what that means. I have decided that I will be retir...