Save Time! Use Keyboard Shortcuts on the iPad

iOS settings iconOne technology integration issue I hear about often from teachers is the amount of time it takes for students to get logged into a website or their Google accounts. It may not seem like it would be a big deal, but account sign-in can be a roadblock to technology integration if it takes up a good 5-10 minutes of time (especially at the lower grades). In one of those, “I can’t believe I didn’t think of this” moments, my friend and colleague Cassie (@cass_giirl on Twitter) reminded me of the “Text Replacement” feature on the iPad. Also known as keyboard shortcuts, this feature will save time and headaches!

How Does It Work?

Tap the following: Settings > General > Keyboards > Text Replacement. Tap the + in the upper right corner. The “Phrase” is the text you want to use, and the “Shortcut” are the few letters you’ll type in so that the “phrase” pops up. For example, if I type “La Habra City School District” quite often, that would be my phrase, and “La” might be my shortcut. Check out the gif below for a demo of what that looks like:

Create Keyboard Shortcuts

When you are typing anywhere on the iPad, including somewhere on the Web, typing those first few letters will bring up the whole phrase. Tap the space bar, and the phrase will fill in.

via GIPHY

For students in the district where I work, it is a challenge to remember and spell the end part of the email address. By creating and enabling this shortcut, teachers and students will find that they save valuable time getting students logged into their accounts.

Part of the beauty of these shortcuts is that they can also be created for student usernames or anything else that the students type often, and you control what the text of the shortcut is. It can be one letter or a few letters of the phrase. Even if you are working on shared iPads, the shortcut can be used by anyone who types in the phrase and it works everywhere– not only in websites, but also within apps and when typing in notes. Don’t want to use the shortcut but it keeps popping up? Just keep typing and don’t hit the spacebar!

What Do You Think?

Have you enabled keyboard shortcuts for your students? What shortcuts have you created, and how has it saved you time?

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?

Tips for Non-Linear Presentations in Google Slides

Choose Your Own Adventure stories are a fun way to engage young readers.  Using Google Slides, students are able to author their own Choose Your Own Adventure stories using hyperlinked buttons for adventure choices so that they can publish and share their non-linear stories. Something frustrating for students is that when they put their slide show into presentation mode, clicking outside the hyperlinked buttons will make the presentation advance to the next slide, which is not necessarily where the reader wants to go. Using hyperlinked transparent rectangles solves this problem. Watch this brief video to find out how:

 

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!

Hyperlinks! In Google Docs and Slides! In the iPad Apps!

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 7.22.47 PMI have so much love for Google Apps for Education, and I am extremely excited about the update I recently discovered for the iPad apps (as I’m sure you could tell from the title of this blog post). As I was working on a Slides presentation, I tapped on an image and found that the update I’ve been hoping would happen, has! Now you can add hyperlinks to your Slides and Docs from within the iPad apps! Text, images, and shapes can all be turned into hyperlinks with one tap.

How Does It Work?

Tap on the image or shape you want to be hyperlinked, or highlight the text you want to be a link. A list of task options will appear. “Insert Link” will be one of the options.IMG_2240

IMG_2239Tap Insert Link and you’ll be able to either type in the URL or copy and paste a URL from a website.IMG_2243You are also able to add a link by tapping the image or highlighting the text you want to be the link and then tapping the plus sign at the top right of the actions menu. IMG_2245In addition to linking to an outside website, you’re also able to link to another slide in the presentation.IMG_2242You can’t tell just by looking that an image has a link (hyperlinked text will turn blue and become underlined). If you tap on any image, you’ll be able to tell whether the image has a hyperlink because the menu options will change from “Insert Link” to “Open Link” and “Edit Link.”IMG_2244

Classroom Applications

Now that students can add hyperlinks to their Docs in the iPad apps, students using only iPads have more options when collaborating on documents. One option is to “hide” links in documents by highlighting the text to be the link and tapping “insert link.” Another is to participate in a great creative writing activity: Choose Your Own Adventure slides (more on this later). Students can link to their own content or to others’ content, and so can you (if you choose to work on your iPad).

What Do You Think?

How might this addition to the iPad apps in Google Docs help your students to be creative and collaborate? Let us know in the comments!

 

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!

Sharing Student Work: From iPad to Google Drive to the World

DriveThe iPad is an excellent tool for students to use when creating content. They are able to make different types of presentations, annotate still images, and create dynamic videos using content from multiple apps. But how does a student share work once the it is completed? Let’s look at how a student can share work (not just turn work in to the teacher) using the camera roll, Google Drive, and QR codes.

Taking Work off the iPad

The first step in sharing work is to ensure that the work has been saved to the camera roll. Different apps have different ways of making this happen, but most of the time you are looking for the send/share button– a square with an arrow coming out the top). Tap that icon and there will be an option to Save to Camera Roll. Again, different apps have different ways of showing this. If you don’t see something that looks like this image, just keep looking for the Save option.IMG_1946Once the content is in the camera roll, open the Google Drive app. Look for the + sign. Depending on the version of Drive that you are using, it will either be in the top right corner or the bottom left corner. Tap the + icon and look for the option to Upload. Choose Photos and Videos.Drive_Add

Tap the location you want to choose from– either the entire Camera Roll or one of the albums you have created. Tap the small thumbnails of any image or video that you wish to upload. When you are finished selecting, tap the check mark in the upper right corner. Your images will begin uploading immediately.Drive_UploadNext, tap on the “hamburger” menu in the top left corner (3 stacked lines) and go to the Recent tab. The images or video that you just uploaded will be at the top.Drive_RecentStudents can share their images or videos with you by tapping on the 3-dot menu to the far right of the document name.  He or she will choose “Add People” and then type in your email address when prompted. Tapping on the pencil will allow students to change the permissions of the document. Students can add a message if desired and then tap the send arrow.

You will find the work students shared with you in your “Shared with Me” tab in Google Drive.

Now comes the fun part. In my district’s GAFE domain, all documents have the default sharing setting of, “Anyone in Your Domain With the Link Can View.” This means that anyone logged into their account on our domain can view the document. However, this setting needs to change if you want outside viewers to see the product. Whether you do this next part or you have your students do it, you’ll need to be on a computer to change the sharing settings within the document.

  1. Sign into your Drive. You can access this from the waffle menu at the top right of the Chrome browser or by typing in drive.google.com.
  2. Right-click on the document (video, image) you want to share.
  3. Choose Share.Drive_Share
  4. Click the down arrow next to where it says, “Can View.”Drive_Share_Down_Arrow
  5. Click More.Drive_More
  6. Select the radio button next to “Anyone with the link can view.”Drive_Anyone
  7. Save!

There is another way to share the link. It starts in the same way:

  1. Right-click the document you wish to share.
  2. Click “Get Link.”Drive_Get_Link
  3. Click “Sharing Settings.”Drive_Share_Settings
  4. Follow the same procedures as above.

Next Step: Make the QR Code!

Again, you’ll right-click the document (video, image) you wish to share. Choose “Get Link” (as pictured above). Copy the link– it’s already highlighted. Visit a QR Code creator website– I prefer  to use i-nigma.com. Go to Create Barcode. Drive_QRCopy and paste the code. You can give the QR code a title if you wish (it’s much easier to identify QR codes if you do this!) and then right click on the QR code image generated.Drive_QR2

What Do You Think?

How do you have students take their work off the iPad and share it with you?

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?

Visual Storytelling with Adobe Slate (Now Spark Page)

Spark Page icon

Adobe Slate (now Spark Page), a new app from the design powerhouse that is Adobe, allows students to create simple visual stories that can include text, photos, photo grids, and links to other websites. The images students use can be images they have taken themselves and have in their camera roll, or they can do a Creative Commons image search directly in the app. This is a great way to search; Not only does the app search the Creative Commons, it also includes a citation for the images used at the bottom of the product the student creates. In order to use the app, students must have an Adobe ID, or the teacher must create a classroom Adobe ID account for all students to use.

How does Spark Page Work?

The home screen of Spark Page looks very much like Spark Video (was Adobe Voice). There are two tabs at the top of the screen— an area for students to explore projects made by others and one for students to find their own projects. There is also a very large “Create” button at the top.Slate_create

The first step is to add a title and/or subtitle and a cover image for the story. Slate_opening_page

Tapping the tiny + signs allow students to add different types of media— images, photo grids, text, or links. Plus signs remain in between each type of media added so that other media can be added before or after the previous media (rather rearranging the media).Slate_+signs

When students add text, they have the options of adding bullet points, a numbered list, quote text, header text, or regular paragraph text. slate_formattingIf students wish to add a link, they will type in a title that will appear on the link button as well as the link URL.Slate_links

Students have many options when they add images to their story. Students can use images that are already on their iPads, they can use the camera to take a photo, or they can do an image search. Adobe Slate only searches images that have a Creative Commons license. When a photo has been chosen, a small i will appear at the bottom of the image to show the attribution information.slate_attributionOther options for images include how they will be displayed. One is to have the image be a “window.” Most of the time, when swiping up through the story, the entire story will scroll. When adding an image as a window, the image gets attached to the background and the rest of the story moves around it. You will need to experiment with it to get a better idea of what this means. Students can also change the focal point of the image by dragging the button in the center and watching the tiny window in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. When they are happy with the image, they will tap Done.Slate_windowThere are other options when displaying images.

Slate_image_optionsThe last step is to share the Page. Tap the share button in the right corner for the sharing options. Sharing can be over social media (not necessarily recommended), or students can email a link if email is enabled on the device. Other options are to copy the link to the clipboard and paste it somewhere else (like on a website or blog) and the last option is to copy the embed code. This is a great option if your kids are blogging, especially using Kidblog, because they can copy the embed code directly into Kidblog and share the Page that way.

Common Core Connection

When using creation apps, whether or not the app helps students meet Common Core State Standards depends up on how the app is being used. An app that allows for students to author visual stories and share a message using images and text best addresses Writing Anchor Standard 6: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.6– Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others. However, another way this app can be used is for students to show their understanding of characters in literature, which addresses Reading Anchor Standard 3: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3– Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text. Refer to your grade level standards for specifics.

What Do You Think?

Spark Page has some limitations. One of the major limitations is that students need to be logged into an account to use it. Another is that Pages can only be shared through email, links (hooked to a QR Code, perhaps), or by embedding into another site. This can cause problems for the novice user, but with some technical support, I see students being able to use this app to produce some really nice visual stories.

Do you agree? Have you used Spark Page with students? What do you think of it?

Here’s my finished product:
Sharing Your Work

**Post updated on 9/13/16