Archives for February 2014

Trading Cards App: Jazz Up Traditional Flashcards

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 6.49.49 PMTrading Cards is an app that allows students to create a trading card (which is different from a flashcard because it’s much more detailed) about a person, place, object, event, or a vocabulary word. The app, created by ReadWriteThink has many applications for classroom use. View this quick introductory video offered by ReadWriteThink.

How it Works

Trading Cards is designed like a baseball card.  Here’s an example of what a card looks like:


Front of card

There are seven different types of cards you can create (e.g. real person, fictional place).


On each of the seven cards, there are pre-determined fields that allow students to fill in information about the topic of the card in 120 characters or less. When a student taps within one of the pre-determined fields to begin typing, a Guiding Question appears that helps students determine what  to discuss within that field.


When students have finished their trading cards, they can be saved to the camera roll, sent as an email, or they can also be printed.


The only drawback to using this app is that fields within each type of card cannot be changed. If a field does not apply to the topic being covered on the card, however, there is no requirement to fill it in. Additionally, teachers can tell the students how they should answer the Guiding Question  On the plus side, the app allows for multiple users, which is great for classrooms where the iPads are shared.

Content Area Connection

While the Common Core Standards addressed using this app are Language Arts standards, content standards easily apply when using this app. The following are some suggestions for how the app might be used in the different subject areas:

  • History: Students can create Trading Cards around a unit of study, including the people, places and events during that time period. They can use the cards to solidify their expertise on the topic and teach their classmates about the topic in a jigsaw fashion.
  • Science: Students can create Trading Cards about scientists, concepts, or unit vocabulary. Cards could also be made about objects students might find in a particular unit of study (such as rocks and minerals or matter).
  • Literature: Cards can be created about the characters in a novel or short story, the setting of stories, and events that took place. Students could also use Trading Cards as a pre-writing exercise for a narrative they will write.
  • Mathematics: Students can create Trading Cards for mathematics vocabulary or concepts. Younger students studying shapes could also create “object” cards

Common Core Connection

There are a few Common Core State Anchor Standards for Reading that are addressed with the Trading Cards app. If you look at the appropriate grade level in the Common Core State Standards for Reading Literature, you will be able to determine the exact standards your students need to achieve.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1: Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text. 
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3: Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.4: Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

What Do You Think?

How have you used Trading Cards in your classroom?

*all images in this post are screenshots from the Trading Cards app*

Annotate Images (and more!) with Skitch

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 1.41.04 PMMany teachers I’ve talk to consider themselves visual learners. I am no different— I can be told something a hundred times and read written directions just as many, but until I can picture it or see it, I’m not going to internalize what I’ve been taught. Many students are the same way. This is one reason why Skitch is a great (free!) tool to use in the classroom.

Skitch works by allowing a teacher to show his or her students (or parents) how to do something using annotation, shapes, and sketches- making instructions visual. Students can use Skitch, as well, to make annotations on text and for visual presentations.

What Can Skitch Do?

Skitch allows the user to annotate images, PDF files, maps, or screenshots from web browsers.

You can:

  • Link to a web browser to take a screenshot for annotation
  • Capture and annotate an image
  • Annotate an image that is already on the device
  • Annotate a PDF
  • Annotate on a map

Example of an annotated snap of a Web browser

Example of an annotated map

Example of an annotated map

Evernote, which owns Skitch, has a couple of videos that illustrate the process that can be found at: If you are new to Skitch, I recommend you watch the introductory video below.


Any image a user creates in Skitch can be saved directly to the user’s Evernote account or to the camera roll on the iPad.

Common Core Connection

Standard 5 of the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening says, “Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.” In addition to this specific standard, a section of the CCSS document states that students who are college and career ready in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language are, “familiar with the strengths and limitations of various technological tools and media and can select and use those best suited to their communication goals.” For these reasons, Skitch is a great tool for students to use often to help them communicate their ideas.

What Do You Think?

How have you used Skitch in the classroom?

Tell a Quick Story with Tellagami

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 2.39.07 PMWatch this Introductory Gami

How It Works

  1. Choose a background.
  2. Personalize the character.
  3. Record yourself speaking or type in the text you’d like the voice to read. Once nice thing about typing in the text is that the reader will pause at commas and stop at periods. This is a good way for students to self-correct their punctuation if something doesn’t sound right in their writing. (steps 1, 2 and 3 can be done in any order)
  4. Share your 30-second creation or save it to your camera roll.

Common Core Connection

There are so many ways that Tellagami can help all students achieve the Common Core state standards, but this is also a great app for engaging English Language Learners in brief oral language exercises. Let’s start with the Common Core Standards.

College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1: Prepare for and effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.2: Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.4: Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development and style are appropriate to task, purpose and audience.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.5: Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.6: Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Language
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.1: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.3: Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.6: Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.
English Language Development Standards and Proficiency Levels

ELD students also benefit from using Tellagami. The app helps students develop their Productive Language and their Accuracy of Production skills. The following document provides and overview of the ELD Standards and Proficiency Level Descriptors for California:

Pages 8-13 of this document contain a table that helps teachers identify the proficiency levels and the language skills that ELD students should have. These standards and intertwined with the Common Core State Standards, and they focus on the Mode of Language in addition to the students’ Knowledge of Language.

What Do You Think?

How have you used Tellagami in the classroom?