Tag Archives: apps

More from our iPad Pilot Program

This post is by Bree Valvano

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Skitch and ThingLink

As I continued to explore ways to utilize my classroom iPads, I came across two apps that I believe will help make the classroom experience more interactive and fun for my students. After viewing a professional development webinar on using iPads, I learned about Skitch and ThingLink. Both of these apps allow users to pull images from their saved photos and make them interactive.

Skitch allows the user to annotate images. Users are able to upload an image and add text,Skitch Image and Link arrows, stamps, and other annotations. The app could be used to annotate a passage from a novel with students in the English classroom, identify the different parts of a model plant cell in a science classroom, label a map in a history classroom, or record the steps of an equation in a math classroom. The app is easy to use and takes models and annotations to the next level. When users finish adding their notes to the image, they are able to share it via social media or email. While I believe this is a valuable tool, the next app, ThingLink, is just as cool.
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ThingLink allows users to take a photo and add videos. Similar to Skitch, users can upload
an image. However, ThingLink allows users to add video content to the image. Users could use the iPad to record a video explanation to add to the picture. They could upload a prerecorded video, or they could search for a video on YouTube to upload to the image. After adding one or more videos, users can share their creation with others.
What is ThingLink?
While I think teachers could use these tools to create engaging content for their students, I envision students using both apps together when completing a project. For example, when
studying a poem from the Harlem Renaissance, students could start by taking a screenshot of the poem. Next, they could annotate the text in Skitch, making notes and identifying rhetorical devices. After they save the image,  students could upload the annotated poem to Thinglink and add videos about the author, time period, and/or theme. Finally, the students could share their presentations with the class and/or upload it to Blackboard or other social media sites to share with others. The same process could be used in different disciplines when researching or studying a scientific process, a historical event, or a variety of other topics. I am pretty excited to try these new tools out in the classroom, and I hope others try out these new tools too.

Bree is an English teacher at Randolph High School

QR Code Fun

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I made the QR code above for this blog using a website called OunchTag. For those that don’t know, QR codes are short for “quick response code” and are barcodes that contain Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 7.38.48 AMinformation about something, usually web addresses. Typically, QR codes are black and white with little visual enhancement–kind of like the barcodes that are on the back of packages. OunchTag lets users create QR codes that are visually stunning. The process can be completed on OunchTag in three easy steps. Simply include the desired URL, add an image, and then create an attractive QR code like I did above and here:

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After generating your code, you can download it to your desktop where it can be
incorporated into word documents, presentations, or student handouts. I made the sign on the left thatphoto I just hung on my office door by importing the OunchTag QR code to a Word document. To access QR codes, you’ll need a QR code reader on your smartphone or iPad. There are literally hundreds of choices on the web, many that are free.

QR codes have many uses in classrooms. Here are three examples:

1) One of our elementary principals had students record reviews of books, upload the videos, and then paste the QR code with the video link to books that were reviewed so other students could easily access a video by scanning the book with their device.

2) Add QR codes to images used during a gallery walk so students can find out additional information about what they are viewing. To make this more interactive, students can create their own explanations or compile their own resources about what they have viewed and generate a QR code that links to their research.

3) Include QR codes to student artwork or projects to allow students to add details about how something was made or its importance. Students can either link to a video explaining the item, webpages, or even an online document that contains additional details.

Here are some additional resources on how to use QR codes in classrooms:

40 Interesting Ways to Use QR Codes in Classrooms

Kathy Schrock’s Guide to QR Codes in the Classroom

Steven Anderson’s Livebinder: QR Codes in Education

Twelve Ideas for Teaching with QR Codes

Five Reasons I Love Using QR Codes in My Classroom

Thank you to Roberta Spray for sharing OunchTag with me!

Using the ShowMe App

This post is by Bree Valvano, an English teacher at Randolph High School

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Last year I wrote a blog entry about the app ShowMe which allows the user to create tutorials on a whiteboard that can be uploaded and shared with others. Since then, I have been creating videos with the app to help my students gain a better understanding of how to annotate a text. I believe these videos are a valuable resource for students who may need extra reinforcements.

However, after attending a web conference on using tablets in the classroom, I heard about another interesting way to use this app in the classroom. The speakers in the web conference suggested having students use the app to create their own videos. Since I now have access to five iPads for my students, I thought this would be a great way to make my classroom more student focused. By doing this, students will be able to demonstrate their ability to use their active reading skills and share their ideas with others.

I plan to try this idea out in a week or so in my English IVB classes. I have already posted a few videos on Blackboard to model how to annotate a text (you can see a sample here). Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 8.18.34 PMNext, I plan to have students work in small groups, using their own annotations of chapters from The Kite Runner, to create their own videos. I am hoping that this lesson allows me to assess what students are picking out of the novel and help them improve their ability to actively read a text. Once the videos are completed, students will share the link with me, and I will post them on our class Blackboard page. If all goes as planned, we will also use this tool when reading the more complex play Hamlet later this semester.  I am hoping that the students enjoy taking ownership of their own learning and enjoy hearing their own voices, and the voices of their peers, as they talk through the process of breaking down the text.

Image from Showme.com
Image from Showme.com

I don’t want my fellow teachers to think that this will only work in the English classroom. I think this idea could work in any subject area. Students in a math classroom could create videos to demonstrate how to use a specific formula or demonstrate how to solve a problem. Students in a science classroom could demonstrate their thinking when completing a lab or explaining how the life cycle works. Students in a history classroom could demonstrate how they would annotate a primary source document. Really, the possibilities are endless. I believe that if we put the responsibility of learning in the hands of the students, we will be pleasantly surprised.

Bringing History to Life With Docs Teach

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A sample activity from Docs Teach

Primary sources are the backbone of successful history classes. Using original documents to investigate the past makes history more real for students by giving them access Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 9.24.00 AMto documents and ideas created by people who were alive during the time period being studied. “Bringing young people into close contact with these unique, often profoundly personal, documents and objects,” notes the Library of Congress, “can give them a very real sense of what it was like to be alive during a long-past era.” Now, the National Archives has brought many primary sources to life by creating a flash-based site where teachers can assign students ready-to-use activities or create their own fun ways to have students analyze primary sources. Students can then use computers or iPads to complete tasks, sending their analyses of the documents directly to the teacher via e-mail.

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Three of the seven activity templates available on the site

Called Docs Teach, this primary source platform developed by the National Archives might be one of the simplest and most engaging websites I have seen for use in history classrooms. Did I mention that it’s free? Teachers have the ability to select their own activity-creation tool from the seven available models, find appropriate primary sources from the thousands housed on the site, then add their own assessment questions to the activity based on the model selected and current focus of a class. If you’re new to Docs Teach, I recommend searching for the activities created by the National Archives Education Team, as these are great examples of what is possible on the site (click on “activities” on the top menu bar, then “browse”, then “featured activities”).

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Sample assessment activity

Teachers with class sets of iPads can create their own lessons, then have students log in to their assigned classroom and complete the activities using the Docs Teach iPad app. With their iPads, students can analyze primary sources and then send their answers directly to the teacher. For a twist, teachers with access to laptops can even have students create their own primary source activities and questions to assess classmates. Since Docs Teach is flash-based, activities cannot be created on iPads but can be completed on them. Each activity is given its own unique URL which makes sharing them easy. Searching and creating on the site is simple as the National Archives has divided the content on their site into eight historical eras starting with the Revolution and ending with contemporary issues. The connections to history classes are obvious with Docs Teach but the ability for English teachers teaching American literature to use the site to connect historical information to the texts being studied in class is an added benefit. The National Archives has succeeded in bringing the gamification of education to primary sources. Teachers should consider investigating this tremendous resource and adding it to their classroom activities. The learning curve is not steep; I think I’ve got the site down and how to create lessons in less than an hour.

For a host of video tutorials on how to use Docs Teach click here.

To learn how to assign student activities to the Docs Teach iPad app click here.

Our Department’s iPad Initiative

 

This post is by Bree Valvano, an English teacher at Randolph High School

file.aspxI feel very fortunate to be one of five teachers selected to be part of the iPad initiative program in the Randolph High School Humanities Department. Our school recently purchased a number of classroom sets of iPads that are housed in Tech Tubs, a locking and recharging solution for tablets or Chromebooks. Since being selected, I have thought about how I can share some of the tools I find with others. I thought the best way to share this experience would be to post entries, outlining my findings, to the humanities blog. So here is my first entry.

After downloading some of my “go to” tools, such as Nearpod and Showme, I started to do a little research to find other apps I can use in the classroom. Over the long weekend I found two interesting apps that I will be trying out in my English IV classroom.

The first app is called Smule Auto Rap. This free app allows the user to record a short Auto_Rapspoken clip and the app turns the clip into a rap that can be shared via email. I thought this would be a great way to make “do nows” and/or “exit tickets” more fun and relevant for the students. I plan on trying it out when students start reading The Kite Runner. I am going to have students record their reactions to pivotal events in the book, and after recording their responses and turning them into raps, they can share their recordings with other students and eventually email them to me. I feel like this could end up being a fun way to share their reactions and check for understanding.

Trading_CardsThe next app I found this weekend is called Trading Cards, and it is made by the people who run the ReadWriteThink web site. This free app allows the
user to create a trading card of information. This information could be about a character, a historical event, a novel, or a concept. Students are able to add up to 120 characters of information for each question asked and a photo. The trading card can be saved to use later when studying for a test and/or shared with others.

Again, I am so excited to be part of this initiative, and I look forward to sharing more information about helpful apps as I continue to find them.

Sock Puppets

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Today our Technology Focus Group learned about an app called Sock Puppets–it’s free screen568x568and available on the iTunes store. Sock Puppets lets users create their own short video clips with audio about anything they want. The fun part is that the videos feature sock puppets. The app has a ton of potential in many different types of classrooms. For example, English teachers can use it so students can create dialogue based on vocabulary words or math teachers can use it to have students explain math concepts. Users are able to modulate their voices, add their own images and scenery, and choose their own characters. Today we used the app to create a video based on Abbott and Costello’s “Whose on First?” routine. Here’s the video we created (can you guess who the actors are?):

Sock Puppets is an amazingly fun app that is easy to use. It does have some inexpensive add-ons you can purchase. To make the video above I purchased for $.99 a feature that lets users import their own backgrounds, which is how we were able to use a baseball field. Using my iPad, I took a screen shot from Google of an old baseball field then edited the image with a great app called Doc Scan HD (which is quickly becoming my favorite app) then imported the image to Sock Puppets. Then our actors took over, recorded their voices, and uploaded the file to YouTube.

Total time from start to finish: about 7 minutes.

Technology & Liberal Arts

During the January 2010 product launch for the iPad, Apple founder Steve Jobs ended his presentation with this now famous slide:

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“The reason that Apple is able to create products like the iPad,” Jobs said in front of the slide “is because we’ve always tried to be at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts.” He then went on to explain that Apple’s mission had always been to get the best of both worlds–to create products that were technologically advanced while also being intuitive, beautiful, and easy-to-use.

Jobs continued with this thought a year later at the launch for the iPad 2. He even used the same slide again. He said: “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. That it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing.”

It is this intersection between technology and the liberal arts where students can become 21st century creators. Here is one way they can do it.

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“The Verizon Innovative App Challenge provides the opportunity for middle school and high school students, working with a faculty advisor, to apply their STEM knowledge, ingenuity, and creativity to develop an original mobile app concept that incorporates STEM and addresses a need or problem in their school or community.” Here are the contest rules. Winning schools receive $20,000 grants and students on winning teams receive Samsung tablets.

Check out what these innovators created to win the 2013 contest. Is anyone up for the challenge? The deadline is early December.

You can watch Steve Jobs talk about technology and the liberal arts here: