Archives for April 2014

Create Whiteboard Animations with VideoScribe

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 10.59.09 AMI came across a video animation app by accident while I was looking for something else this past week, and I’m so glad I did! VideoScribe, by Sparkol, is both an app and a web tool. The app is available for $5.99 in iTunes, and the benefit totally outweighs the cost for this particular app. You and your students can do some really powerful whiteboard videos.

How Does It Work?

VideoScribe is fairly intricate, but with a few little tips it can be user-friendly. You do have to be patient with the app— it can be slow, and sometimes it doesn’t recognize where your finger is trying to tap. But, that’s when a stylus comes in handy!

The toolbar across the top controls inputting images and text into the animation. Below you can see the opening screen when you first create a VideoScribe.

VS_splash screen

There are many, many icons to choose from for the animation. Tap on the little crayon to see all the folders and options.


Once you’ve selected the image that will be put into the animation, the icon menu at the bottom will have more options for your animation, including changing the type of text, the color, how long it takes to draw, and more.


When adding sound, you have a few options. You can choose one of the tracks that are included with the app. You can also record your voice or music directly into the animation. The third option is to add a sound track that is one the web, such as one that you’ve previously recorded and uploaded.




Dropbox seem to work best for the Web import option. When I had trouble and did a Google search, I found a great workaround at this link:

Pushing the play button will show the animation with all of the editing you’ve done. Once you are pleased with your animation, you can compress it all into a video by tapping the video button in the upper right-hand corner. Once it’s completed, you’ll have a few saving options. VS_save_video

Here’s a finished product that I created using VideoScribe on my iPad.

 Common Core Connection

Students can use VideoScribe to meet a variety of writing and speaking and listening standards depending on the task. However, of the 7 Cs, the app clearly addresses 3 of the 4 better known “4 Cs“. This app helps students practice Creativity, Critical Thinking, and Communication. If students are working together, or if they use their creations to create conversations via a student blog or website, they would also be developing their collaboration skills.

The specific Common Core State Standard that VideoScribe can help students develop is Speaking and Listening Standard 5, which states that students should be able to: Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

There are many ways this app can be used in the classroom to showcase learning. How have you used it?


Finding Documents in Drive using “Recent”

DriveI was recently in the middle of a presentation, and I had asked the teachers to complete a Google Form. The form was embedded in my website, but I wanted to show them how Google Forms gathers the responses in a spreadsheet. I went into my Google Drive… and I had a total brain freeze. I could not for the life of me remember what I had named the form, let alone where I had put it. Thankfully, being able to find the sheet by looking under “Recents” saved the day!

Recent Items

Under the red “Create” button in Google Drive is a listing of how you can view your documents. You can view the documents that are in your own Drive. If you have shared items that you haven’t moved into your Drive, you can find them by clicking on “Shared with Me.” If there are items you have starred as important, you can search for them by clicking on Starred. And if you haven’t found what you are looking for in this manner but you know you have recently created, edited, or modified a document, you can find it by clicking on “Recent.”

Drive Recent

Once you click on it, all of the items you have recently viewed or modified will be shown. You will know you are looking at your recent items because the word “Recent” on the left will turn red. Drive Recent 2

Within the Recent items, you can then filter in some additional ways to find documents. There are two filtering menus that are side-by-side, which gives you some flexibility in how you find what you are looking for.

Drive Recents 5

You can filter by the owner of the document. This is especially helpful if you know that the item you are looking for is one that is owned by another user and has been shared with you. The filter on the left works in conjunction with the filter to the far right. You will notice that both drop-down menus are the same, but you can’t have the same option chosen in both menus.

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 2.25.17 PM

What Do You Think?

Do you have a way of organizing your Google Drive so that you can easily find your documents (without having to use Recent)? Please share if you do!

Word Clouds by ABCya

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 6.03.26 PMIt seems like everywhere I look on the Internet, I see word clouds. They can be interesting and attractive, but up to this point I’ve found that students haven’t been able to create and save word clouds on the iPad. That is, until now! The app Word Cloud, by ABCya, has (thankfully!) solved this problem.

So What’s a Word Cloud?

A word cloud graphically represents the frequency of words used in a text. The more often the word appears in written text, the larger it appears in the word cloud. There are a few Web 2.0 tools that make word clouds, the most popular being Wordle and Tagxedo. One of the problems with these tools is that you can’t download the image you create and you can’t use them on the iPad unless you buy an app. Word Cloud by ABCya is free (for now), and it was developed for younger students, so it’s very easy to use. As an added bonus, students can save their word clouds to the camera roll, which allows them to share the images elsewhere—either on another website, in another app for appsmashing, or via email. For a great blog post on appsmashing, see this post by Meghan Zigmond.

How Does Word Cloud Work?

Using Word Cloud is a cinch. All you do is type text directly on the screen, or you can copy and paste text if you are analyzing another person’s content for word frequency.



After students go to the next screen, they choose the layout, font, and colors they prefer.




Then, save to camera roll! Voilà!

Common Core Connection

Students often struggle to edit and revise their own writing. It is a challenge to get students to evaluate their word choice or to recognize that, perhaps, they have been a bit repetitive in their writing. Word Clouds are a good way to help students visualize their repeated language. Teachers can then encourage them to analyze where and when these words are used and help them determine whether the language used is precise. In addition to being able to revise and edit writing, students also need to be able to identify the main idea of a text when reading. Word Clouds can potentially help students to determine the main idea or theme of a text based on the vocabulary that is repeated in the text.

The anchor standards below are those that can be addressed using the app Word Cloud.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W5: Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R4: Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices share meaning or tone.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7: Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively as well as in words.

What Do You Think?

I’ve seen many blog posts on using word clouds in the classroom. Some teachers use them as an introduction to a concept, and others have students create them for a variety of purposes.

How do you use word clouds in your classroom?