Record Student Thinking with @RecapThat

Icon of recap appI learned about Recap, an app that allows students to record video answers to questions the teacher asks, when a colleague of mine requested that it be added to her class iPads. I was intrigued by the description of what the app does, and I signed up right away so that I could get an idea of how it works. In short, the teacher asks a question, called a “Recap,” and the students respond via video.

How Does It Work?

The teacher begins by posing a question to the class. This can be done as a text question and/or as a video.Screenshot of question fields

After writing or recording the question, the teacher then has the option to determine, a)  how long the students have to record their answers, and b) whether to send the question to the entire class or just to specific students. This is a great way to differentiate and personalize learning!Screenshot of question distribution

When the student logs into or launches the app on the iPad, the question is there waiting. The Recap will launch immediately after loading, but the student is able to close the Recap in order to respond at a later time.screenshot of what the student sees upon logging in

Recaps that the student has done stay on the student screen, but the student cannot edit or delete them. The teacher is able to delete a Recap, however.

When the teacher watches the Recap, he or she has the ability to leave a typed comment for the student. Then student is then able to comment back to the teacher in text form. If a comment has been made, a little icon with a number will appear in the top right corner of the video.img_2648

If your students have email accounts or G Suite accounts, it is recommended that when you choose how your students will sign into the app that they use their own accounts. They will still have a class code so they can join your class, but it is a more secure way to use Recap. If you have students only sign in using a class code, they will have access to everyone else’s work.They will be able to see their classmates’ Recaps, respond to comments as a classmate, and accidentally record as another student. It is very easy to toggle back and forth between students, however, so a little bit of training should go a long way to get students used to how to use the app on shared devices.screenshot of shared account view

Teachers also have the option of sharing a student Recap publicly via Twitter or on the Web, or they can share privately via email. Screenshot of sharing screen

Common Core Connection

The Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening require that students are prepared for conversations with diverse partners and that they are able to express their ideas clearly and persuasively. In order to do this, students need practice doing so. Using an app such as Recap allows students to prepare dialogue, express it, and get feedback on their speaking in a non-threatening way. When teachers use the commenting feature, he or she can provide constructive feedback for the speaker, and the student can practice again if the response needs some clarity or refining.

What Do You Think?

How have you used Recap with your students?

Awww, Breakout! with #BreakoutEDU

BreakoutEDU Creators James Sanders (@jamestsanders) and Mark Hammons (@mhammons) state that it’s time for something different in education.

I couldn’t agree more.

Throughout this school year, I have been facilitating BreakoutEDU sessions for teachers in my district in order to introduce them to the concept.  More recently, I’ve had the pleasure of helping teachers facilitate BreakoutEDU games for their own classes. Teachers and students alike find that BreakoutEDU is fun, challenging, and just plain awesome. The more BreakoutEDU sessions I lead, the more I hear from teachers that they and their students have become “obsessed” with playing and writing games. That’s what education should be— so engaging that it becomes an obsession.

How Does BreakoutEDU Work?

BreakoutEDU is similar to the concept of an escape room. Students are given clues and puzzles to solve in order to get codes to open locks that are either hidden around the room or locked to the BreakoutEDU box. Once a game is launched, the team works together to beat the clock, solve all the puzzles, and unlock all the locks. “Breaking Out” means that the team has solved the last puzzle, unlocked the last lock, and opened the box to find out what is inside. Puzzles all require students to think critically, communicate, collaborate, and be creative. In many games, the more divergent the thinking, the more likely it is that a puzzle will get solved.img_6165

Necessary materials can be purchased from the BreakoutEDU website or you can purchase locks and the boxes at your local hardware or department store. I purchased an official BreakoutEDU kit, but I have been visiting stores around town for the best prices on locks and other supplies I need to supplement the base kit.img_7142Joining the BreakoutEDU website gives you access to numerous games that have already been submitted and accepted to the store. There are games that are specifically written for adults, which are appropriate to play during staff development or at a conference in order to learn about BreakoutEDU. Most of the games on the website are for students. You must join the website in order to access full descriptions of the games because all games are password protected. You’ll be given the code once you join breakoutedu.com. There are many games that are still under review, and as a member of the community, you are able to play the game with your students and provide feedback about the game before it becomes part of the approved games list. You’ll also have access to a template that helps you organize your own ideas as you start to write your own games.

Breakout Snip

One of the best parts about BreakoutEDU is the Breakout community. Thousands of teachers are active on the BreakoutEDU Facebook page. Every day, community members post pictures of locks or puzzle boxes they’ve stumbled across, ideas for puzzles and clues, or URLs to websites that can be used to create puzzles. Teachers ask questions of the group about facilitation as well as share stories and best practices for facilitating games. James and Mark are both active in the Facebook group, which means that teachers who have been bitten by the bug have direct access to the creators of the product!

BreakoutEDU Homework is the latest addition to the BreakoutEDU community. Each week, a new “homework” question is posted on the website. Some require watching videos and looking for clues within the video to solve the problem presented in the video. Others are purely digital games that don’t require any physical locks. In a digital game, all of the combinations to the locks” are submitted using a Google Form with Data Validation enabled so that the answers must be correct in order to submit the form. If you haven’t already checked out BreakoutEDU Homework, I highly recommend it.

**Note: BreakoutEDU Homework ceased shortly after this post was published. Instead, BreakoutEDU Digital was launched. Digital games are those that require no hardware. Puzzles are all linked from a Google Site (usually) and the “locks” are submitted on a Google form that includes data validation on each question. Check them out!

Common Core Connection

Playing BreakoutEDU games naturally develop students’ abilities to use their contemporary skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity (as in, being able to solve problems in different ways). The true Common Core connection comes when teachers create their own games that fit the standards their students are working toward achieving. Teachers can strategically create clues and puzzles that challenge students to use their knowledge of a subject or concept when developing games. Games can be cross-curricular by involving clues centered around the same content area but that require students to use different sets of skills.

What Do You Think?

What have been your experiences with BreakoutEDU? Have you tried the homework? What do you think?Please share them here!

Create Digital Portfolios with @Seesaw

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 10.36.10 AMWhen I hear the word seesaw, I usually picture the playground equipment of my youth, also known as a teeter totter. Now that I’ve been using the Seesaw app for awhile, however, I get a new picture in my mind: students quickly and easily sharing work with their teachers and their parents using the Seesaw app. If you’ve been searching for ways for students to “take their work off the iPad” and get it to you, you will definitely want to read on!

How Does Seesaw Work?

Seesaw is a “student-driven digital portfolio.” It allows students (or the teacher) to upload digital work, take photos of analog work and upload to the student portfolio, or create work to be organized in the digital portfolio directly within the app itself. Students are able to take photos and videos, draw, make notes, record their voices, upload from the camera roll, or add links they have copied from the Web. Seesaw also has a blog feature that allows the teacher and the students to publish work to the class Seesaw blog. Additionally, parents can download the Seesaw Parent app to have access to their child’s work as long as you turn that feature on and provide the join code.

You’ll be prompted with a few introductory screens once you sign up for an account. After that, you’ll let the app know how your students will be accessing your class.Seesaw_accessIf your students are younger than 3rd grade or they do not have their own email addresses, you’ll want to choose “Use Class Code.” You will then receive an email that contains the class QR Code that students scan when they open the app.Seesaw_codeWhen students launch the app, they choose “I’m a student” and then scan the code. It couldn’t be easier. Bonus–the app provides quality directions on the screen; just be sure you read through everything!

Once students are in the app, they have a few options for adding work. They can take a photo, record a video, draw on the recordable whiteboard, write a note (which also includes the option to record their voices), upload a photo or video that already exists in the camera roll, or include a link.IMG_2006As the teacher, you can also access this screen from the class feed by tapping on the green plus sign in the upper right-hand corner of the Class Feed screen or by tapping your name on the left-hand side and choosing Add Item.

Once the student has finished uploading or creating, he or she will tap on the correct name (or names in the case of group work!) and add it to the portfolio(s). You will then get a notification that a student has added an artifact and you have the option to approve the work before it is posted to the class feed.

Students can also add the work to specific folders that you’ve created. Underneath the work you will see a folder icon. Tapping the folder allows you to create a folder or add the work to a folder that’s already been created. Work can be added to multiple folders. You can also create folders in advance by tapping the folder icon located above the class feed list of students. You’ll know which folders an artifact appears in because you’ll see the folders underneath the work once you’ve organized it.Seesaw_foldersSeesaw has some built-in social sharing features, as well. Students can like work and they can add typed or audio comments to classmates’ work. This is an option that you can turn off if you wish under the Manage Class section in the left-hand menu (tap your name to access the menu).Seesaw_overviewIn the overview image above, you can see that one of your viewing options is the Calendar View shows you each date and how many assignments were turned in on that day. Tape the date itself to see thumbnails of all the assignments.IMG_2035The newest feature of Seesaw is the class blog. Tap on the globe to create the blog. Once you’ve created it, you or your students can tap the globe underneath the work to publish the work to the class blog. IMG_2041Last, students are able to send work directly to Seesaw from other apps. All they need to do is tap the Send/Share button, and Seesaw should be one of the options to “Open In.” If not, tap on “more” and slide the button to on. Students will then be able to choose their name from the list or share the artifact with everyone. If the wrong class launches when they share from another app, they will have the option to change classes.IMG_2042

Common Core Connection

Seesaw has done an excellent job of providing Common Core connections for different grade levels spans. From the left-hand menu, tap the blue “Help & Teacher Resources” button. On the next page, tap on Activity Ideas for your grade level span. There you’ll find ideas for lessons you can teach as well as “Common Core Standards Related to Seesaw” under the General Resources and Materials section.Seesaw_resources

In addition to the Common Core standards identified by Seesaw, using this app also helps students develop their 4 Cs: creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills. Using this app is a great way to capture student work and student thinking in an organized way, and it’s perfect for classrooms that only have one iPad or for classrooms that have 1:1 devices.

What Do You Think?

Are you using Seesaw with students? If so, please tell us how!

Connect Your Classroom Using #MysteryHangouts

Hangouts_IconI am passionate about helping teachers connect their classrooms bring the world to their students. One way I’ve done this is through promoting Mystery Hangouts and Mystery Skype. The tool isn’t the point (although I do lean toward Mystery Hangouts and that will be the focus of this post)— the purpose is to help students with deductive reasoning, critical thinking, and questioning skills as well as to bring students from around the country and around the globe into your classroom. All you need is a web-connected device with a camera and a willingness to try something new!

How Does a Mystery Hangout Work?

Mystery Hangouts can be run in a number of ways, but the most basic form is like a big game of 20 Questions. Teachers find a partner class in a different state, and they meet up over Google Hangouts. Classes take turns asking and answering yes-or-no questions designed to help the class narrow down where the class is located, and the first class to find the other wins! Sometimes students need to find the state of the partner class, and other times the students will locate the city of the partner class. That all depends on how much time you have— it’s much more challenging and time-consuming to locate the city! However, if you are partnering with a class in your same state, you’d want to find the city.IMG_5099

Once you have a partner class, you and the teacher will probably email back and forth to determine how the connection will happen. One way to create the Hangout is through a calendar event in Google Calendar. It’s a great way to start it off because when you create a calendar event, a Hangouts link is automatically generated. Add the partner teacher to the event, save the event so an email will be generated, and the partner class can join the Hangout through that link by clicking on it in the email!Mystery_Hangout_Calendar

Another way to create the Hangout link is by creating an event in Google+ and inviting the partner teacher to the event. When the time comes to join the Hangout, you’ll find the link in your events in Google+.

Mystery_Hangouts_Event

A third way is to use Hangouts to call your partner class, but the first two ways are more convenient. It’s easy to miss a Hangouts call!

During most Mystery Hangouts, students have specific roles. One of the resources I have used for determining roles is a this blog post by Pernille Ripp. She and her students came up with the roles together. Other great resources for learning more about a Mystery Hangout or Mystery Skype are:

If you’re not sure about what types of questions to ask, check out this blog post. It has some great starter questions that you can have in mind when you have your students come up with the questions they’d like to ask. One thing I like to do, especially with the younger students, is have a desk map in a protective sleeve for them to write on. As questions are asked and answered, students can eliminate states by crossing them off with whiteboard marker. When they are finished with the game, they can reuse the map for the next time.

Once each class has found one another, some classes like to share interesting facts about their state or city. Others will ask questions back and forth about what life is like in the other state. In some cases, the Mystery Hangout will be the beginning of a longer collaboration between two classes.IMG_5073

How Do I Find a Partner Class?

The Mystery Hangout Community on Google+, is a great source for finding partner classrooms. Just post a message to the community letting them know your grade level and availability, and more often than not you will get a response. You can also reach out to tech coaches or other connected educators– they probably know someone who knows someone. You can also find partner classrooms using Twitter or other social media. Be sure to use the #mysteryhangouts or #mysteryskype hashtags.

Common Core Connection

The nature of mystery location allows students to practice several of the 4 Cs as they communicate, collaborate, and think critically. They may also have to use their creativity if they come across an issue that requires “out-of-the-box” thinking. Every student is engaged in this type of activity— they are on task, they stick to their roles, and they are determined to be the first to find the other class. Students work together to maintain the forward movement of the game, and depending on the grade level, they collaborate on adjusting their questions if necessary. The more calls the students participate in, the better they get at thinking critically in order to ask the right questions to narrow the location down quickly. When students create presentations about their city or state and write reflections at the end of the call, they are also working on their grade level writing standards. Turn the reflective writing into blog posts and students are then working toward even more of the Common Core State Standards for writing.

What Do You Think?

Have you tried Mystery Hangouts or Mystery Skype? Please share your experiences and any resources you may have!

Create Interactive Videos with @TouchCast

TouchCast iconI have to admit— I had a hard time getting to know TouchCast. I knew its power and had a general idea of how to use it, but I was really struggling to make sense of how to create my final product. When I registered to attend ISTE 2015, I knew I had to find a session on using TouchCast, and I’m so glad I did! TouchCast Ambassador Crystal Kirch did a fantastic job with the lay of the TouchCast land, and now I can create my own (and so can you!).

What is TouchCast?

TouchCast is a free interactive video creation app that allows teachers and students to record themselves sharing a lesson or idea. Once the video is created, you add vApps, or video apps, to make the videos interactive. When a viewer taps or clicks on a vApp, the video will pause so the viewer can explore the vApp. Returning to the video is as simple as tapping back on the video! Some of the more popular vApps to add are websites, polls, images, videos, Google Maps, or files from Google Drive. Teachers and students all over the world are creating TouchCast videos and sharing them on public channels. Get the official TouchCast guide here. You can see what teachers and students have created here, which are links to TouchCasts found on Crystal’s original directions from the ISTE session. Also be sure to check out TouchCast for Education, or EduCast.

How Does TouchCast Work?

Start by going to the Cast Side to create your first TouchCast video. TouchCast opening screenYou’ll create a new project and have an option of themes you can choose from. Swipe to the left to see the different themes.TouchCast project screenOnce you’ve selected your theme, you will name your video. To start creating the interactive video, tap on camera. You’ll have the chance to create a transcript for the teleprompter, which plays on the side where the camera is (so you are looking at the camera!). You can also type out your transcript in a different app and copy/paste it into the teleprompter.TouchCast camera screenAfter adding your script to the teleprompter, record your video. You can record all of your video at once or you can choose to record separate clips of video. You also have the option of using a green screen background. Of course, you’ll have to record yourself in front of a green screen in order for this to work. Tap on the Effects tab to select green screen.

TouchCast effects screenAfter you’ve recorded your video, you will start adding vApps.

Tap on a video clip t0 add a vApp. Then tap on “Add vApps.” Tap again on “Add vApps” when the pop-up appears. Then tap “Add a vApp” from the menu at the bottom of the screen.adding vApps instructionsAs you add vApps, you can re-size them and move them around the screen until they are where you want them to appear. Then tap the little icon in the task bar and it will be removed from the video and will be stored down in the task bar.

Adding the vApps you want to use keeps them at the bottom of the screen in the task bar area. Once you’ve added all the vApps you want into each clip, you need to record them into the video at the times you want them to appear. An easy way to do that is to tap the record button at the bottom of the screen. This doesn’t re-record the original video clips. It just records the vApps into the video. If you press pause, though, you will be creating separate clips. When you get to the correct part of the video clip, tap the vApp you want to use. You should have already placed it in the correct place on your screen, so it will pop up where you wanted it to go. Because these are interactive video apps, you can interact with them while you speak and you can allow the viewer to interact with them on their own. For instance, if you add a website, you can scroll through the website as you are recording and the movement will be recorded into the video.

Another nice feature of TouchCast is that you can add a whiteboard to your videos. This can be an actual white board, a chalkboard, grid paper, or a glass screen, which allows you to annotate on images or on videos as you record them.

TouchCast whiteboard screenIt’s easy to get lost in the creating and get frustrated with TouchCast. To alleviate some of the frustration, I highly recommend that you write a script and/or a storyboard for your video so that you know what video clips you will use and which vApps you want (and when you want them to appear!). Remember that you need to tap on clips to add vApps, and you won’t be able to add vApps to a clip you’ve already recorded vApps into. So, have a plan!

Common Core Connection

Creating in TouchCast requires students to be creative and to think critically. Students are practicing their communication skills, and having students work in teams to create TouchCast videos ensures that they will also be developing their collaboration skills. Scripting and storyboarding incorporates the anchor standards categorized under Text Types and Purposes and Production and Distribution of Writing. TouchCast can be used across any discipline and for all purposes, making it a great choice for students to show their understanding.

What Do You Think?

Have you used TouchCast in your classroom? Please share how you’ve incorporated TouchCast into your teaching and learning in the comments!

 

Curate the Web with Flipboard

FlipboardThe more students use mobile devices in the classroom to find information, the more important it becomes for students to curate resources they find on the Internet. There are many apps and tools that allow students to curate, including Pinterest and Evernote. Flipboard is another tool for students to use, where they create magazines around specific content that they determine.

How Does Flipboard Work?

Flipboard is a Web tool as well an iPad app that allows the user to create a digital magazine. Teachers and students create accounts in Flipboard, which allows them to follow users, follow magazines, and most importantly, create magazines of their own. Each time a student flips an article into a Flipboard magazine, he or she can make comments on the article. This provides other viewers with some context—why the article is being flipped or what the article means to the student. This can help teachers follow the students’ thought processes as they browse student magazines.

Getting Started

Download the app or visit Flipboard on the Web. The process is a little different on the Web, however, and the following images and directions will be for the iPad app. Choose “Get Started” to create your account. Flipboard_Get_StartedYou’ll be required to choose at least 5 topics to follow, and then choose Next to create the account.Flipboard_Choose_TopicsYou’ll be able to use Facebook, Twitter, or an email account to log in. Students should definitely use their school-administered email account to sign up if they have one, or you can have create students’ accounts by using the gmail +user trick.

Once you have created your account, tap the red ribbon in the upper right-hand corner for the menu.Flipboard_menu You can create new magazines to curate, or you can find other magazines to follow by using the “discover more” option on the left. You can also find the magazines, people, and topics you are following as well as see notifications for activity on your magazines.  Flipboard_Menu_ItemsAfter you’ve followed some magazines, you’ll be able to flip through them and read them as if they were actually magazines. Just start swiping left or right and your magazine will respond.To read an article, tap on the title of the article. The plus sign allows you to add the article to one of your own magazines.Flipboard_remixAs students are on the Web doing research, they can flip articles directly into their magazines. When they are on the website they want to save, they choose the share button (in Safari). Tap the Flipboard icon.Flipboard_Web_FlipperStudents can then type in a comment or discussion point, and choose the magazine where they wish for the article to go. Tap the word magazine to change the magazine if necessary.Flipboard_Web_Flipper_2Flipboard also allows magazine owners to add collaborators, meaning multiple students can curate resources into the same magazine. This is a great idea for gathering resources for a group project. Three of my colleagues and I worked with some fifth grade students to do just this. If you want to invite others to contribute to a magazine you own, tap on the magazine and choose “Invite People to Contribute.” Flipboard will send an email to those you want to contribute, and they will be added once the accept the invitation. Flipboard_email_invitationIf you want others to see your magazine but not follow it, tap the share button at the bottom of the magazine and choose Share via Email.” This is also how you can delete a magazine.Flipboard_Share_via_email

Common Core Connection and Classroom Ideas

Have students search for articles on a specific topic for a project. As they flip the articles into a magazine they’ve created on a topic, make sure they write a comment that cites evidence in the article. The comment can be a conclusion or an opinion or argument, as long as they cite the source in their comment. This addresses Reading Anchor Standard 1.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.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.

To address Reading Anchor Standard 2, students can do the same type of assignment and comment by discussing a theme or by providing a summary of the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.2: Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

As students become more versed in using Flipboard and curating their resources into the appropriate places, almost every Reading Anchor Standard can be addressed. Students need to add their comments as they flip resources into their magazines, and those are the pieces that the teacher can use when analyzing student work.

What Do You Think?

How have you used Flipboard with your students? Share some magazines in the comments. Looking for a great magazine to follow? Check out this one on Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology by Dr. Abbie Brown and Dr. Tim Green.

 

Flip Out over Flipagram

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 10.30.55 AMFlipagram is an app that allows you to create videos from the images you have on your iPad or in your social media accounts. Of course, there are other apps that do the same thing, but with Flipagram, students don’t need an account to create and save their video creations (unless they want to go back and edit a video they’ve already finished). Adding audio is as simple as choosing a 30-second song clip from the app or a song that has already been purchased, or recording a narration by the student.

How Does Flipagram Work?

When you open the app, it will probably tell you that you’ll want to start following friends and other interesting people, because Flipagram is a social sharing app. You can skip it if you wish– sharing isn’t required for using the app.  flipagram1Tap the plus sign to start adding images from the camera roll or from social media accounts (if that’s acceptable in your district/school/classroom).flipagram3Tap Camera Roll and choose all the images you want to use. Then choose Next.

flipagram5Once you’ve chosen your moments, you can rearrange them by tapping, holding, and dragging the images to the desired location. From this same screen, tap on any image to crop, edit, or add text.

filpagram6When you are finished cropping the images (moments) and adding text, choose Next. You’ll see the first image and you’ll be able to add a title.

IMG_4669The rest of the images can be seen in the timeline below the first image. You can tap on the smaller images to bring them up to the larger window. You can continue to add text to each image or edit images with filters. This is also where you will be able to change how quickly the images change, and you’ll find the music icon to add your audio. Tap Music and you’ll be given three options.IMG_1078Choose “Find Music” and you’ll see that the app has a number of 30-second song clips that can be used in the Flipagram video. Better, students can record their voices and narrate their creations. Before students add full versions of songs they own, they should be aware of Fair Use limitations. When you are finished, choose Done, and then choose Next. You’ll be taken to the Share screen. You can caption your video if you want to, but it’s only necessary if you are going to post the video to your Flipagram account. Personally, I keep the option of posting to my profile off.IMG_1083Students have many options for sharing their videos via email, social media sites, YouTube, or just by saving it to the camera roll, which is the best option. Saving to the camera roll means that students can “App-Smash” their videos into other apps, including Aurasma, iMovie, Explain Everything, or any other app that allows students to import video.

IMG_1084If you choose More to save to the camera roll and you don’t see that option, it’s because the app saves to the camera roll automatically by default. If you don’t have automatic saving turned on, one of the options under “more” will be to save to camera roll.

flipagram2If students do want to edit a flipagram after it’s been completed, they will need an account. However, if students don’t choose “Done,” they will be given the option to resume editing the unfinished flipagram.  IMG_4671

Common Core Connection

Flipagram can easily be used across grade levels and across content areas to help students in all standards of the Common Core, especially the Anchor Standards for Writing and Speaking and Listening. Using the app helps students to show their understanding of concepts. Students can work together to create a Flipagram video or they can ask others for feedback on the feeling their video promotes. In this way, students are boosting their collaboration and communication skills as well as their critical thinking and creativity skills. Post their Flipagrams on a website or tweet the links to build a broader audience for students.

What Do You Think?

Have you used Flipagram in the classroom? How have you and your students used the app and shared videos?

Get Creative with Paper by FiftyThree

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 4.04.09 PMYou might have heard an increase in the term “sketchnote” being used over the past year or two. Sketchnoting is a way of taking notes that involves using creative text and images to record notes. I’ve tried it a few times, and not only do my notes look really cool, but it helps me to remember the really important bits of a presentation or conference. If you are an educational psychology buff, you are probably saying to yourself, “Of course it does! That’s the Dual Coding Theory!”

You don’t have to be an artist or even a creative-type to sketchnote. All you need is a paper and a pencil— or if you are on the iPad, you will want to experiment with Paper by FiftyThree.

How Does Paper 53 Work?

Paper is a free app that has some in-app purchases. When you download the free app, you will have a limited palatte of colors, the calligraphy pen, and an eraser. You might want to start by checking out the guide, Making Paper.

Paper is organized into Journals. Users have the ability to create new journals or add pages to existing journals. You can also customize the front cover by choosing one of the covers available in the app or using an image from the camera roll, and of course you can name each journal.IMG_1033.PNGThere are two ways to unlock the color palette and additional drawing tools within Paper by 53. The first way is through the in-app purchases— roughly $8.95 in all. The other way is to purchase a Pencil by FiftyThree, which is the special stylus made by the company. When you sync the Pencil with the app, it unlocks all the tools. I was fortunate to receive a Pencil as a gift for my birthday (and then again for the holidays, but that’s a different story), and it has made all the difference in my ability to create sketch notes. I have found that using the Pencil greatly increases my comfort with writing and sketching/drawing in the app.

IMG_1059Notes or sketches made in Paper can be captured to the camera roll from the landing page. Open a journal, choose a page, and select the share button. Tap “Save to Camera.” This allows the sketches made in the app to be app-smashed into other apps.

IMG_1057.PNGBe sure to watch the video tutorial on the Paper by FiftyThree Website. Also check out Mix by FiftyThree. It’s a great way for students to play off the work of others.

Common Core Connection

Like many apps featured on this blog, using Paper by 53 helps students develop their communication, critical thinking, and creativity skills more than it helps them with specific Common Core standards. As students learn to take visual notes, highlighting key information with words and images rather than recording every word of a lecture, they are thinking critically about main ideas. When students start a Journal or notebook, it’s blank– and the blank pages mean that students have total creative control over what they will do with each page.

Classroom Ideas

Students can use Paper to do a number of things in class:

  • Take visual notes
  • Sketch an idea
  • Create a Thinking Map
  • Remix an image related to curriculum found on Mix
  • Draw the background for slides used in Keynote, Haiku Deck, or Google Presentations

What Do You Think?

There are so many more ideas for using Paper with students in class. How are you using Paper with students?

 

It Happened for a Reason: Reflections on #GTAATX

IMG_4411I believe that things happen for a reason. The reason isn’t always clear to me at first, but as days progress and thoughts process, the reasons start to unravel and become revealed. Rewind to spring of this year— I was pretty disappointed when I didn’t get accepted into the Google Teacher Academy at Mountain View. The timing (summer) was perfect, and the location (California) even more-so. But I knew that there was a reason why I wasn’t accepted into that cohort, and I promised myself that I’d apply for the Austin, Texas cohort. Fail forward, right? So after learning I was accepted to Austin, I started looking for the reasons. Slowly but surely, I’m discovering the reasons why I believe I was meant to be a part of this particular group, and I’ll probably learn more reasons as relationships continue to develop.

Social Media as The Great Equalizer

From the moment we were accepted, we became a team. We connected through different social media channels, such as Google+, Twitter, and Voxer. I was a Voxer newbie, and frankly I still am to some degree, but that didn’t stop me. I wanted to be part of the conversation early on, and I’m so glad that we all dove in head-first. We talked about everything from gym habits to choice beverages to district technology practices. It made meeting face-to-face for the first time feel like a reunion with old camp friends that I hadn’t seen since the summer before. The feeling that we were a team, even though I didn’t know a single other person in the cohort before the academy, is just one reason why I believe I was put into the Austin cohort.

Tools and Problem Solving

Interestingly, I didn’t have too many expectations about what would happen going into the GTA. I figured we’d learn some cool and different ways to use Google tools, get to know one another a little, make a plan to do something upon our return, and have a good time. I knew it would be awesome and I’d feel mind-blown the whole time, and it was and I did, but not in the way that I thought I would. We spent a lot of time identifying a problem that is important to us in our roles within our districts or schools, and we used the design thinking method to come up with a statement of purpose for a project we want to tackle.

Photo: Danny Silva

Working hard to consider the issues I face. Photo: Danny Silva

We collaborated for feedback on our ideas and we helped each other work through that process. We walked away with the beginnings of a plan. I had already started a project in my district that was the beginning of this plan, but now I am better equipped to consider everything I want to do with my plan to move it forward, and I have people I can call on for feedback and conversation surrounding my plan, because so many of us are taking on the same issues. There’s some comfort in that, and those connections are another reason why I believe I was put together with this group of educators.

Effective Feedback Makes Things Happen

Effective Feedback allows for a creator to iterate. When feedback is, “this is good,” it doesn’t give the creator anywhere to go. When feedback is more like, “Have you considered doing this?” or “Think about this from a different perspective…”, well, now we’re talking. During the GTA, I put my big idea out to a group of like-minded educators with similar passions and the desire to make similar changes in the world.

Photo: Amy Mayer

Look at all that collaboration! Photo: Amy Mayer

Even though I have a start at my moonshot idea, there are perspectives that I hadn’t considered, and there are aspects of my project that could use some improvement. I am not sure where in my plan the improvements will happen quite yet, but I have a better understanding about where my project is going thanks to the effective feedback and thoughtful questions that I got from my peers at the GTA. Yet another reason.

We’re All in This Together (sing it with me!)

There have been numerous times over the past few years when I have listened to or participated in conversations with other teachers that have left me feeling… unsettled. I didn’t like what I was hearing, but I didn’t contribute my own ideas because they were so far outside of the reality of the conversation that I just didn’t want to have to explain my thinking or be looked upon as crazy, jaded, and idealistic.  I have always know that there are others nearby and far away who are just like I am—idealistic (and maybe a little crazy). They are willing to speak up and stand up for what they believe in order to turn our ideals into reality. I know now for certain that I am not alone and that like-minded educators are just a few clicks away. This is probably the most important thing that I learned at the Google Teacher Academy.

Photo: Amy Mayer

Team #FancyFruit! Photo: Amy Mayer

In the End, It’s All About…

… the connections. It’s always been about the connections for me. I’m so fortunate to have spent time in Austin, Texas, with my cohort and new friends. It was fun, and it was crazy, and it was difficult, and it was challenging, but most of all, it was inspiring. I can’t wait to see where we all go with our moonshot ideas and I hope we’ll be able to work toward them together!

Photo: Danny Silva

Photo: Danny Silva

Create Digital Thinking Maps with Popplet

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 10.44.50 AMMiddle school teachers in my district have been using Thinking Maps since 2009. When I was in the classroom, I loved using Thinking Maps to give my students a conceptual net for gathering their thoughts. Students took ownership of the maps quickly and they were able to use them in all areas of their learning. When we started using iPads in the classroom, students were interested in learning to create Thinking Maps in a digital way.  The app that I have found to be most user-friendly in creating digital Thinking Maps is Popplet or Popplet Lite.

How Does Popplet Work?

Popplet starts with a blank canvas. Tap anywhere on the workspace to start a new popplet.

IMG_1022Within each popple, you can draw, type, or insert an image. You can also change the color of the outline of each popple. This is helpful for color-coding Thinking Maps.

poppletTap on any of the round gray buttons to create a new popple branching from the current one. Once it’s created, you can drag it around the page to format your Thinking Map properly. Some Thinking Maps work better than others using Popplet. For example, it is going to be very difficult for your students to create a Circle Map that actually looks like a Circle Map. However, others are much simpler. Click on the photo to enlarge it.IMG_1027

It’s also possible to make a Double Bubble Map. It requires a little creative Popplet action to get it done, but it’s possible! Watch the video below to see how.
If you are using the free version, you can only create one Popplet at a time. To start a new one, just save your current Popplet to the camera roll, and then you are free to clear the workspace and start on a new one.popplet1 The paid version is $4.99, and if you plan on having your students use Popplet pretty often, it might be worth the purchase price.

Popplet is also available on the Web at popplet.com. If you are working online, you are able to invite collaborators to work on Popplets together. You are also able to make your Popplet public and share via social media directly from the website. Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 4.11.39 PMThe free account on the Web allows you to create 5 Popplets before upgrading. The upgraded subscription is offered for a fairly reasonable price and you can make unlimited Popplets. You can read more about education pricing for Popplet Groups here. You can also subscribe as an individual.Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 4.22.29 PM

Common Core Connection

Most creation apps have Common Core connections— but it’s all about how you use them. As far as technology integration goes, using Popplet is more than likely within the Substitution and Augmentation levels of Reuben Puentedura’s SAMR model. Using the app in conjunction with Thinking Maps, however, will have students using the app while thinking critically, so it can address any Common Core standard.

What Do You Think?

How have you used Popplet in your classroom?