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!

More Talking Objects? Yes– With Yakit Kids!

Yakit_iconYakit Kids is an app by Freak’n Genius that lets students take photos of inanimate objects, give them faces, and make them talk. It is similar to Chatterpix Kids, which I have also featured on this blog, but it has some added functions that make it another good choice for animated videos, the most important one being that students can create multiple scenes in one Yakit Kids Video.

How Does YakIt Kids Work?

The app opens with a very obvious “Start New” button that prompts students to begin.

IMG_1630Students can then take a photo using the camera on the iPad, choose a photo from their camera roll, or search the Web for an image. Image search, however, is considered an “Adult” feature. A warning is provided and the added step of “press-and-hold” is required in order to do a Web photo search. Each time I attempted to do a Web search, however, I got a “Search Failed” notice even though my wifi was fully connected. Student can also start with a pre-created scene.Yakit_add_photosOnce the photo is taken or selected, students are then taken to a screen where they will add a mouth. They can create a mouth on something that already has amouth, or they can choose from three pre-created mouths. If students swipe up while on this screen, they will also see different eyes and noses they can add. They will also be able to add a talking character, animated special effects, and props to their scene.
Yakit_MouthIMG_1638If students choose to create their own mouth, they will zoom the photo to line up with the mouth. The photo will get very large and it will seem awkward, but it’s supposed to be large. Tap the “next” button in the upper right-hand corner to adjust the movement of the mouth. Each of the dots moves separately along the mouth, and the chin line can be adjusted up or down. This all controls how the mouth moves in the next phase of recording voice. Students can also test what the mouth will look like when it talks by holding the “test” button at the right. The small inset photo provides a demo.Yakit_test_buttonStudents can continue to add characters, facial features, props and special effects until they are satisfied with the scene, and then they press the green record button. They get a 3-second countdown, and they can record a scene for 30 seconds.Yakit_recordOnce students are finished recording, they will hear a preview of the recording. They can play the scene again by pressing the play button in the middle of the screen. They are also able to delete the scene if they wish, edit the scene by adding additional elements (which requires them to record the scene again after they edit), re-record the voice, change the pitch of the voice, or add a new scene. If they add a new scene, they will go through the entire process again. This puts together multiple segments of Yakits within the same video– an added bonus!IMG_1644When students are finished entirely, they tap the green “next” button and they are then able to save the video to the camera roll. Students can tap “more” and they will get the “adults only” warning. “More” allows students to upload finished products to multiple other apps such as Google Classroom, Google Drive, Evernote, Dropbox, or other apps that use video such as iMovie or Explain Everything.

Yakit_adultsIMG_1643

 Common Core Connection

Along with being fun for students to use, Yakit Kids can help students to improve their communication skills while they exercise their creativity. Students are able to use the app to show what they know about a topic or a concept they are learning about. Specific Common Core Anchor Standards include:

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.

Writing standards can also be addressed using Yakit if the teacher requires students to write a script before recording. This is always a good idea because it allows students to rehearse before recording, and it also provides students an opportunity to organize their thoughts before trying to record off-the-cuff.

What Do You Think?

Have you tried Yakit Kids? How are you and your students using it in the classroom?

Create Videos with Shadow Puppet EDU

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 8.59.09 AMShadow Puppet Edu is a fantastic app for helping students make videos to show their learning about a topic. The app allows students to use images found on their camera roll, on the Web, or through specific educational databases. Students then record their voice to narrate the video about their topic. All they need to do next is share their work!

How Does Shadow Puppet Edu Work?

The landing page of the app contains a couple of sample videos as well as the large Create New button. Additionally, at the bottom of the screen is an Ideas page. This section provides numerous activity ideas that are aligned with the Common Core State Standards, which are provided for you if you tap on one of the suggested ideas.Shadow_landing_page

Shadow_activity_ideasAfter tapping the Create New button, students begin choosing images for their project. They can choose from their own camera roll if there are images and/or videos (up to 30 seconds) they’d like to use. On the left side of the screen are all the different types of searches students can do. The app provides access to images from the Library of Congress, Met Museum of Art, The British Library, NASA and NOAA. Students can also search images on the Web, Flickr Creative Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and Open Clipart. This gives them a plethora of options.

Shadow_image_pageStudents can do a map search to find a specific location, and they can view it in three different ways— standard view, satellite view, and hybrid view, which provides a satellite view with street names and areas of interest. To capture the map and use it in the project, students tap on the camera button at the bottom of the screen.

Shadow_mapWhen students find images they want to use, they tap on the image and it will jump into the timeline. When students are ready to record, they tap Next. Students can record their voice and add text, music from iTunes, or background music from the app. As they record, students can write on each slide to highlight different areas of the page.

After students finish recording, they can watch their completed video. As long as the “Save to Camera Roll” setting is turned on (it is on by default), the video will automatically save to the camera roll when the students tap Done.shadow_finished_2Students can also tap the No Thanks, I’ll Share Later button at the bottom. In this case, they can return to the video and share by tapping the icon in the upper right hand corner of the selected video.

Shadow_shareShadow Puppet EDU also provides images credits at the end of each video, as long as that option is turned on in the settings. This helps students recognize that even though they are using certain images for free, they are still responsible for practicing good digital citizenship by including citations. Tap the settings gear on the landing page to make changes to the settings.

Shadow_settingsHere’s a video I created using Shadow Puppet EDU about how to use Shadow Puppet EDU.


Common Core Connection

One of the great things about Shadow Puppet EDU is that there are many Common Core Connections. As is the case with most creation apps, students can use Shadow Puppet EDU to show their learning of anything and everything in order to address specific standards at each grade level. Teachers will also appreciate that the app provides options for projects and lets the user know which Common Core Standards that particular project addresses. Most of the projects students will create using Shadow Puppet EDU will address these standards:

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, and
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.W.6
Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

There are additional examples of lesson ideas, including the standards they address, on the Shadow Puppet EDU website.

What Do You Think?

How have you used Shadow Puppet EDU in your classroom?

Translation Made Easier with Google Translate

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 10.43.59 AMThe Google Translate app has gotten some great updates for the travelers of the world, but their updates can greatly impact classroom conversations, as well. I have to admit that I’ve had the app on my iPad for quite some time and I haven’t done much with it, but I’m pretty excited about the updates and I think I’ll be using it more now! The updates allow for better translations to occur (think of your newcomers!!) and it also has visual recognition using the camera (again, think of your newcomers!).

How Does Google Translate Work?

The app launches with the languages set to English and Spanish. The language on the left is the input language, and the language on the right is the output. Tap on either language to change it. One option on the left (input) is also “Detect Language” if you aren’t sure about the language you are hearing or seeing. Google_Translate_1Enter text into the app by typing, speaking, writing (with a stylus or finger) or use the camera to snap a photo of some text.

Google_Translate_3

In the settings tab, tap on Handwriting if you’d like to turn off automatic typing when you are writing on the screen.
Google_Translate_5If you do choose to use the camera to snap a photo of some words you’d like translated, there will be some directions when you first launch that option.

Google_translate_2There are a pretty good number of languages available for translation. Tap on either the input language or the output language for all the options. Tapping on the arrows in the center will also swap the two languages for a quick input/output switch if you are having a conversation with someone who speaks a different language.

Google_Translate_6The settings gear at the bottom of the home screen has a lot of options for input, including dialect specifications. You can also hide offensive language using the settings.

Google_Translate_4

Common Core Connection

Using Google Translate can benefit all students learning to speak another language. Common Core does not have a World Languages component as of this publishing, but using this app can make the Common Core State Standards much more accessible for your English Learners, especially those in the early stages of language acquisition. It can also assist your English Only students in learning a language of their choice, which will only enhance their communication and cultural awareness.

What Do You Think?

How have you used Google Translate in the Classroom?

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?

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?

Student Authoring with Book Creator

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 6.42.04 PMBack in the days before technology was so readily available, I had my students write stories and turn them into books using file folders covered with construction paper as book covers, and we would bind them using the giant book-binder and plastic bindings that I purchased for my classroom. We would create collaborative class books in the same way. Today, students can use apps on the iPad that to write and publish their own e-books. One such app, Book Creator, by Red Jumper, is easy to use and allows students to create beautiful books on the iPad that are viewable in many different apps, including iBooks.

How Does Book Creator Work?

If this is your first time using the app, be sure to take a look at the Getting Started guide. It allows you to see a book and it gives you the chance to move things around and explore before having to create your own.Book_Creator_start

When you tap “New Book” to create a new project, you will have the chance to choose the type of book you’d like: portrait, square or landscape. Book_Creator_shape

The book will open to a blank cover. It’s up to the author to decide what should go on the book’s cover. There are many different types of elements for students to add to the cover and to the pages of the book.Book_Creator_elements

Elements can be moved around the page, resized, and deleted if necessary. Tapping on an element and then on the “i” icon will open an editing menu for the element.Book_Creator_edit_text

You can also tap on the “i” icon without having anything highlighted, and that will open the menu to edit the page.Book_Creator_edit_page

When the book is finished, you can open it in other apps, or it can be exported in a variety of formats. You can export it as an ePub, a PDF, or a video. Books can also be opened in other apps. This can be done from within a book or from the “My Books” page.Book_Creator_open_in

Common Core Connection

If I listed all of the Common Core State Standards that could be addressed as students use Book Creator app, this post would go on forever! The app can be used for students to meet just about any Common Core State Standard in English Language Arts or in Math. Writing books helps students show what they know about any topic in any subject matter. Using Book Creator is a fantastic way to help students not only show their understanding to the teacher and their classmates, but they can share their books with the world, as well. Along with the Common Core standards that are being met, students exhibit the 21st Century Skills of communication, critical thinking, and creativity when they create. Of course, if the book is a collaborative effort, and if students share their books with others and ask for feedback, they are also using collaboration skills.

What Do You Think?

How have you used Book Creator in your classroom? What kinds of books have you asked students to write?