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!

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