Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nearpod Review

I've used Nearpod several times over the last month with a wide variety of classes and lesson content.   Nearpod is a free web-based program and app to use for teaching interactive lessons on any subject.  Once the teacher logs in and creates the lesson, or chooses one of the free or paid lessons to download, he/she is ready to teach!  Students use the app to log in from an iPad or mobile device.  If they are using Macs, go to the website to enter the Pin.   The teacher gives them a Pin that is specific to that lesson.  Each student enters the Pin and then waits for the teacher to advance the screen and move to the next part of the lesson.  The next screen is a name page where students can enter first, last name, or any combination.  Then the teacher controls and advances the lesson through her device.  There are ready made lessons available for purchase from $2.99 and up and also, many free lessons are available as well.  My thought however, was why buy a lesson when they're so easy to create.  In just over an hour, I had navigated my way to a lesson without help.  It's very user friendly.  Also, there are many options available to make the lessons interactive and engaging.  You can create slides with text, images, and audio.  There are options to insert URL's, videos, PPTs, etc.  There are also features which allow you to create quizzes, draw it (students can annotate over), open ended response, and more.  In the quiz feature, you can make a key and Nearpod will grade it for you and put in your reports.  All responses from students are sent directly into your reports.  This is a nice feature to use with parent conferences or RTI meetings.  Overall, Nearpod gets a huge thumbs up from me.  The only negative I can share is having to buy lessons.  But since you can create your own or use free ones, that really shouldn't deter anyone.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


 Plickers is a web-based tool that collects real-time data without the use of student devices through printed out cards.  Each card has a unique geometric design with A, B, C, & D strategically placed on the sides.  There is also a number on the card.  Each student is given a card.  I made a quick assessment on addition with 5 questions.  Each question was shown on the Smartboard and the students would choose the correct answer by holding up their card with their chosen letter at the top.  I used my iPad to scan their answers and it automatically recorded the results.  You can also show results in graph form.  Students love the interaction and there's no room for cheating since all geometric designs are unique and the letters are too small for looking at your neighbor's answer.  It's a great way to check for understanding on key concepts and skills.  Best of all it's free!  Once you create an account, you can print your own set of cards to use over and over.  There's an App for the iPad/iPhone to use for scanning the cards.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Pic Collage "App Review"

Hi Everyone,

September is going by quickly and I have a great app to use even with the little ones.  Pic Collage
is a free app used to make posters with photos from your camera roll or the web.  It is very user friendly.  I introduced it last week to a kinder class and within just a few minutes, they were adding photos, resizing, adding stickers, text, borders, and backgrounds.  Teachers can create an account and save student posters into their account or email the posters as well.  There are In-App purchases available but they are not necessary to create full effect posters.  There is also a "school effects" setting so teachers can disable photos from web and social postings.  Many teachers are using Pic Collage in their daily instructional practices.  Some of the ideas I have seen are:  creating letter/color/shape posters, book review posters, explaining a concept, vocabulary definitions with pictures, etc.  I hope you will try this free app and explore the possibilities!  Here is an example:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

"App Review" Great Photo Editing Apps that are Free!!!

I downloaded some free photo editing apps that are easy to use and fun.  The first is Pixlr Express.  I love this one because you can take any photo, add a variety of styles with the touch of a finger including sketch, litho, watercolor, pencil, etc.  There are so many options for editing that it is hard to believe it's a free app.  You can also add text, borders, and stickers to any photo.  You can take photos from your device or use photos from your camera roll or stream.  You can choose collage and add numerous photos into a collage, edit, and add unlimited effects.  There are so many options to this app, you have to really play around with a photo to realize all it has to offer.  Here is an example of a photo we took at a wedding and I used the sketch effect:
CartoonFree and Snapseed are also worth mentioning.  CartoonFree takes any photo and turns it into a cartoon drawing/sketch.  The only problem with this app is too many ads popping up.  If you can put up with the ads, it's worth the download.  Snapseed doesn't have the adds and it also offers many editing features with the swipe of your finger.  Here's an example:

I added the black/white effect, border frame, contrast, and auto-adjustment.  These are just a few of the effects offered.  

With all the photo editing apps available, there's no excuse for a bad photo anymore!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

"App Talk" and Review - Crazy Helium Booth

This App is my new favorite!  It has a free version for iPhone and iPad.  While on vacation in Hilton Head, I was introduced to this app and could not stop creating videos.  It is hilarious!  There are several options to choose from for the visual effect including Square Head, Fat, Square Chin, Big Head, and No Effect.  For the audio effect, you can choose slow, normal, or fast.  Then choose the voice of a squirrel, robot, or bear.  With the free version, you can make up to a 30 second video.  It can be posted immediately to You Tube and Facebook, or shared by message or email.  You can save the video to your camera roll as well.  I can't wait to share this with my elementary classes.  Some ideas are to portray a character from a book or create a character to write about.  Teachers could also create videos they would like students to write about.  These are just a couple of ideas and I will work on more.  I have posted one of my videos below.  The only negatives are that you only can make 30 second videos with the free version.  I haven't bought the full version but I'm going to purchase it soon.  It only costs $1.99 and you have a lot more effects and unlimited video length.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

"App Talk" and Review- Skitch

This is a free app designed for iPhone and iPad.  The app allows you to snap a photo or use one from the camera roll, draw/mark/annotate/caption on it, and send it by Message, Facebook, Twitter, Email, Evernote Link, or other App.  Evernote created the app so that's why the Evernote link.  Besides the photo ability, you have the option of maps.  You can type in an address or search for nearby places. Then you have the ability to annotate, etc. as with photos or pictures.  The Web feature allows you to snap any web page and annotate, etc. as well.  You can view a PDF in another app, tap "open in" or share, then select Skitch.  The Draw option has many features.  You can select color, type, stamp, arrow, borders, and more.  Then you can share in any of the formats listed previously.
Positives:  I love this app!  I use it frequently on my iPhone.  For example, I'm at a game and I see someone I know but I can't remember their name.  I take a quick photo of the person that is seated in a group.  I use Skitch to draw an arrow to the person and send it to my husband to identify the person.  Problem Solved!  There are tons of uses for this app.  For education, the possibilities are endless.  It's user friendly so even the youngest (PreK), would be able to use it.  One example is taking photos around the school of shapes and using Skitch to point the arrow on the photo to the correct shape, or taking photos of words that begin with a certain letter and then typing the word over the photo.  Share a diagram and let students label parts using Skitch.
Negatives:  To mark a PDF, there is a nominal one-time $1.99 upgrade charge.  If you use PDFs frequently, it would probably be well worth the fee.

Below is an example using Skitch to mark a photo:
I give Skitch a Thumbs Up!

Monday, June 9, 2014

"App" Talk and Review - Tellagami

Over the next few weeks while most teachers are on summer break, I've decided to review some educational apps.  My hope is that teachers can use my reviews to find some worthwhile tools they can implement into instruction when school returns in August.

My first app review is Tellagami.
Positives:  This is a free app for the Ipad/Iphone.  It is an Avatar that can be designed in appearance by gender, skin tone, hair, clothes, etc.  You can then choose the background you want to use.  There are several backgrounds in the app to choose from including nature scenes and different room settings.  You can also choose a background from the camera roll as well.  Once you set up your avatar and choose a background, you can begin recording up to 30 seconds with your voice.  I have used this app in several ways.  Students have created a short summary on a book to share.  They pretended to be a character from a book and stated their point of view of something from the storyline.  Another idea was partnering up and one student would ask questions about a certain part of the book or chapter, and the other student would answer.  The students love creating the avatars and hearing the avatar speak with their voice in animation.  It is also user friendly with easy to follow icons.
Negatives:  There are limited saving options.  The only way to save your work (Avatar recording), is to  post on Twitter/Facebook, email it, SMS/message it, or save to the camera roll.  The time constraint of 30 seconds for recording really limits what you can say and students tend to talk very fast in order to get everything recorded.  We have had some technical issues as well.  Several error messages will pop up or students get kicked out of app and have to start over.  This doesn't happen all the time, only occasionally, and could be caused by the network capability at the school.

Here is an example of Tellagami:

Overall, I would give this app a thumbs up and encourage you to download it today!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

End of Year Tips for Tech

Before you head out for that summer vacation, spend a little time cleaning up your gmail account.  Put emails in folders that you need to save and have available when you come back in August.  Also, get rid of emails no longer needed.  Then empty your trash and delete permanently to free up space.

Another tip is to bookmark frequently used and important sites.  When you come back to school, you may not remember these and you will have them available to use as needed.

Saving documents to your Google Drive is a must!  It allows you to access these documents from any computer, tablet, phone, etc.  so you can work on the go.

While you have leisure time, check out Kathy Schrock's site and sign up for her emails.  She has wonderful classroom tips on using technology!

Enjoy your time off with your family, rest, relax, and do something for yourself!