Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Two Apps Are Better Than One!

My two favorite apps of all time are Book Creator and Explain Everything – you can create ANYTHING between these two apps and they really soar when smashed together! I love that both of these developers listen so closely to teacher suggestions and are constantly seeking to improve their apps.  We use Book Creator in a myriad of ways including Digital Portfolios in K-2, to create books (fiction and nonfiction) across our campus, and a Virtual Notebook in AP Human Geography. There are lots of options and since the updated Book Creator app now offers comic strips as an option, your creations are limited only by your imagination. 

Explain Everything is the ultimate class flipping tool but also a great way to annotate web pages live or capture students mathematical thinking as it happens. We love taking the Explain Everything iAssessments in math and putting them in our ePortfolios in PK-2.  Terry Condon  uses Explain Everything for poetry annotation and reflection which they upload as a movie. What a fabulous way for students to document their learning! Imagine pulling all of those annotations in one Book Creator book to share with the class (or beyond!).

Reshan Richards is the co-creator of Explain Everything and he has teamed up with the Book Creator developers to suggest 4 powerful ways to demonstrate student learning whether PreK or high school.

Check it out at http://explaineverything.com/news/exporting-pdf-book-creator-annotate-explain-everything/

P.S. If you want to add a dash of Green Screen Doink app to the mix, you can really have some fun!

Let me know if you have any questions, want a tutorial or would like to see some samples.

Happy learning!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

#ISTE2015 Before During After - the 411 So You Don't 911

 via https://www.flickr.com/photos/barkbud/4257136773

ISTE is BIG. It's easy to get overwhelmed.  

Here are my tips for newbies on the PRE-DURING-POST ISTE Experience:


Pre-ISTE - getting to ISTE early is worth it!
  • HACK ED 15 Event Saturday, June 27th, 2015 from 8:00am - 4:00pm at the Pennsylvania Convention Center (113BC) use hashtags: #hacked15 or #hackeducation Expand your brain - great ideas and conversations all day long organized by great brains like @AudreyWatters and @SteveHargadon - you don't have to go all day (especially if you are going to our iPad workshop - see shameless self promotion below) See ISTE Unplugged http://www.isteunplugged.com/sat-627-hack-education.html
  • Digital Storytelling with iPad, Book Creator and Green Screen Doink App (WHO25) 6/27 12:30 to 3:30 pre-conference workshop (self promotion I know but it will be hands-on fabulousness!)
  • The Hack Education After-Party - Saturday, June 27, 2015 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM  Philadelphia Marriott Downtown- Grand Ballroom D FUN*FUN*FUN
  • Invent To Learn Day of Hard Fun @ISTE 2015 http://www.inventtolearn.com/iste/ I went before #ISTE2013 and had a blast and learned so much from @garystager and @smartinez

  • Global Education Day Sunday, June 28th, 2-5pm
    Pennsylvania Convention Center - Room 103B/C. Another great ISTE Unplugged event!
    Register: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/global-education-day-at-iste2015-registration-16556665432
  • Independent Educators Dinner (hopefully you signed up already - if not contact @vvrotny but it may be too late) Sunday night - can't wait to meet up with all the big brains that contribut to the weekly #isedchat every Thursday night :)
  • ISTE Communities - consider joining one or more of the ISTE communities - it's a great way to make connections in an area of interest.

During ISTE- My Top 10
  1. dress comfortably in layers - some rooms will be cold, others hot-for goodness sake - forget style - wear comfy shoes - you will walk miles
  2. bring your chargers
  3. bring lots of business cards with you to drop in all the raffle drawings you will come across in the exhibition hall - if you don't have cards - create labels (even better) that have your information - it will save you oodles of time
  4. have a plan! scope out the program ahead of time - if you are going with a group consider using a google doc or evernote to organize and share information - know who you want to see in the exhibition hall too - it can be really overwhelming if you don't know your "musts" ahead of time
  5. visit the Blogger's Cafe - great minds there - usually veteran ISTE attendees who can give you lots of tips
  6. Take a water bottle with you and a couple of snacks - sometimes you get so busy you forget to eat
  7. Visit Philly! It's a great city with so much to see!
  8. Talk to people - it's the conversations around the hallways that can really elevate your learning experience - make connections-get on Twitter - ask others for their handles-download the @Tweechme app
  9. Try not to carry too much with you! It's tempting to pick up everything you see in the Exhibition Hall but sometimes a few snapshots on your phone can really tell the story just as well. 
  10. Be open. Be curious. Have fun.

  1. Stay in touch with connections you made. Review the #ISTE2015 and #ISTE15 hash tags for things you might have missed.
  2. Read over your notes and try to summarize while fresh in your head.
  3. Think about how you can best share this information with your school community - think about creating those presentations during the summer before the school year approaches - make it a priority. 
  4. Prepare for next year!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Book Creator - The Swiss Army Knife of Apps

Book Creator is am amazing app. It is incredibly versatile much as the famed Swiss Army Knife. You can use Book Creator to create a single student story, a collaborative book, a reflective journal, a science notebook and so much more. Book Creator plays well with others so it is a snap to insert voice, music, drawings (we love Doodle Buddy for this), photos, video, Explain Everything, text, Tellagami and other animations to make your book come to life. Best of all, you can upload the Book to the iBooks store or share as a movie.

Here's an example of a Mother's Day class book. Each student took a photo of his or her best handwritten Mother's Day Poem, a photo of themselves, an audio recording reading the poem, a Doodle Buddy portrait of mother and child and a recording of a heartfelt message to mom. Simple to pull in those two pages from each student and a true treasure for any mother. It captures the student's handwriting, message, art work and a lovely photo of the child. I have a dozen large red boxes filled with my children's construction paper projects, art work, etc. but I would kill to go back in time and capture their voice and thoughts about the project at that time. Book Creator makes this process easy. 

Which brings me to my next favorite use, a reflective journal. We use Book Creator as our ePortfolio from PreK through 2nd grade. Our students have always used their portfolios at the end of the year student led parent conference but it's difficult for the little ones to remember why a certain project meant so much or what they learned from it. We still maintain all of their work done by hand but now we put it into a continual Book Creator book and record their reflection at that time. All of these projects get loaded into their ePortfolio Google Site which follows them through 12th grade. What an amazing documentation of their learning over time! 

We've also had teachers use Book Creator for nonfiction reports like our State Fair books in 3rd grade. Students love that there is no creative ceiling. They can insert license free images from the web, their own art work, all of their proofed text and then add clever placement, voice recordings, state songs and video to make their books come alive. So very different from our old big poster project. 

We love that Book Creator lets us "app smash" with our other core apps such as Explain Everything, Doodle Buddy and iMovie. Out students love using Book Creator during their free time as well. Just the other day, two boys brought in their some of their toy figures including Darth Vadar, Batman and several variations of GI Joe. They used Stop Motion Animation and created a book from a spur of the moment story imagining how their toys would interact with each other.

Give Book Creator a try today. It works for any curricular area, any grade level. You are only limited by your imagination as this app IS the Swiss Army Knife app. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Author! Author!

Kids produce the most amazing work when they are publishing from their interests, whether profound or silly, the amount of material posted by 6 to 24 years of age on YouTube, Twitter, Blogs, Vine, is incredible. Here is one sample of an amazing remix a young man did of his mother gardening - it is poignant, witty, funny and sweet.  This is his passion and now his profession. Are we helping our students to realize the difference they can make in the world now?

Media publishing is not the market students aim for now. In today’s world, the world has become the refrigerator – that is, instead of posting your child’s work on the refrigerator where only some family and friends see it, now kids can publish their work to the world – and hey, so can teachers!  There is an amazing amount of books written by teachers and by students out there.

Book Creator on an iPad and iBooks Author on a Mac and two of the easiest ways to publish a book from a few pages to a massive tome. Both tools are easy to use. Students take greater pride and put more effort in their work when publishing to the world. See Jon Smith’s experiences below and review Jeremy Reid’s presentation and let us know what you think. We are happy to provide tutorials or provide some online learning. There are scads of teachers out there who send out links to their students blogs, books or other type of publishing through the Twitter hashtag #comment4kids or #commentsforkids encouraging the world to provide feedback to their students. Their students report how helpful and encouraging the feedback is and how inspiring it is knowing that someone else in the world took the time to read their work, or watch their video. Let me know.

Jon Smith is a champ at getting students work published – check out the amazing number of books at http://mrsmithtrt.weebly.com/class-ebooks.html

He tweets about the kids’ books all the time resulting in over 21,000 downloads!!!!! Now, if you were one of those students, would you feel validated? Yes! Would you be eager to write your next book? You bet!

Fostering Creation Using iPads for Student created ebooks and iBooks by Jeremy Reid:

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Design Thinking and Visible Thinking and iPads


Who wouldn't want to implement a process that helps to build resilience and empathy in students? Design Thinking does just that but it needs to be so much more than a process to be effective, it needs to be cultural.

I am so fortunate to be in an environment that has successfully developed a culture of thinking through the work of Project Zero at Harvard, more specifically though Ron Ritchhart's and David Perkins's Making Thinking Visible. When students are able to articulate their thinking, guided by established thinking routines, across curricular boundaries, they both deepen their understanding of the content itself, as well as develop strong metacognitive and critical skills. When I walk down the hallways of our buildings, it is easy to see the evidence of student thinking everywhere about everything. Our walls have become learning spaces for all. 

About three years ago, I started reading and learning about Design Thinking and it felt like a perfect fit with Visible Thinking. Interestingly, Project Zero has adda component on Design Thinking to its collection of research projects. Several years ago I journeyed out to California, hotbed of design thinking and maker spaces, and was lucky enough to attend  Nueva School's Design Thinking Institute as well as the Design, Do, Discover event at Castilleja School. My brain felt like it was on fire - I could really see the possibilities of layering design thinking on top of visible thinking, especially in the areas of work in the Fab Lab. One process feeds the other and elevates the results to new levels.

What if you took this combo live with iPads?  It was with great interest that I read Richard's post on Design Thinking with iPads. I've been a fan of @iPadWells ( +iPadWells NZ  ) work on iPads for quite some time and this post provides a great summary of design thinking and how one could create lessons and a workflow for the process using an iPad.  I love his design challenge prompts such as design an app that would have helped George Washington win the the American Revolution in half the time. 

Using various brainstorming apps that make thinking visible such as Padlet, help spur the thought process. Design thinking is best when it is a communal process. I think of the work going on in the new Burlington Maker Space where ideas come to life and where makers get feedback from their neighbors who may be an electrical engineer or a mechanical engineer or a plumber- the idea being that design is a constant iterative process and that the smartest person in the room is the room so creating a space where different members of a community can come in and work on ideas breeds innovation and creativity. Why not do the same in the classroom?