Saturday, July 8, 2017

Literary Liaisons

Hey, all! If you happened to be on the hunt for a meaningful, tax-deductible project to donate to this summer, please consider this one! It's 40 books, both in English and Spanish, that will allow my students to immerse themselves in current children's literature in their native languages and make reading a more personal experience. Thanks! 

To donate, click here

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Pic Collage: Take Your Pictures Up a Notch

Recently, I have been on the hunt for an app that can accomplish a couple things. I wanted an app that my students could use to, for example, take pictures of the (smelly) crayfish we currently have in our classroom and label their body parts and functions directly on the photo. I also wanted students to be able to choose between text and free writing to complete this task. Additionally, I wanted students to be able to export all of their photos and work into an app called Seesaw so I could categorize it and share it with parents. My final requirement? It had to be cheap free. I downloaded and tested two apps, Paper 53 and Pic Collage for kids. The app I chose? Drum roll, please...Pic Collage for Kids!

As for the reason I ultimately chose Pic Collage for Kids over Paper 53? Well, first it was recommended to me. Work smarter, not harder. But additionally, it had one huge feature that Paper 53 just didn't have. While both apps allow you to draw freehand directly on the picture, Paper 53 does not allow you to add multiple text boxes onto a picture. In fact, the only typed text you can add is a title. Everything else you have to write by hand. And I don't know about your class, but my class already struggles enough with writing on large pieces of paper, so they definitely don't need the added struggle of trying to draw in teeny tiny letters on a photo. 

Ready to learn how to use it? Let's get started. 

First, download the free Pic Collage for Kids app. When you open the app, it'll look a little something like this:

Simply click the + button in the upper right hand corner to get started! When you do so, this screen will come up:

Next, click the photo icon to upload a single picture or multiples. For simplicity's sake, this step by step model will only use one picture. The picture I chose may or may not be of my own dog. 

 When you have selected one, click the check mark icon in the upper right hand corner. The picture you selected will then come up as a small image in the middle of the screen. Simply adjust the picture size and angle by moving it with your fingers on the screen.

I wanted mine to be as large as possible, so I adjusted it accordingly.

To add text, just click the + at the bottom of the screen and select "Text".  From there, you just need to type what you want, choose the font, and drag the corners of the text box to adjust text size. You can then place it on the picture wherever you would like.

Here's what my final product looked like:

Want to know how long that took? 5 minutes. What does this mean for you as a techie teacher? It means instead of giving your student a boring science reading followed by an even more painstaking diagram to label, you can let them explore the same content in a more meaningful way. Let them take a picture of the plant or animal you're studying! Don't have one in your class? Let them look for their own on a kid-safe search engine. Still nervous about using technology you're somewhat unfamiliar with? Start with this. Pic Collage for Kids. Your classroom full of eager little minds will thank you.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

iMovie: The Basics

In an earlier post, I have step by step directions for using Shadow Puppet Edu, a free video creation app using pictures, narration, music, and text. The biggest drawback? You can't insert video clip. Not to fear, iMovie is answer to your problems. While I could attempt to cover every feature available to you in iMovie, you would have a migrane by the end of this post. And so would I. So here go the basics:

Step 1: Download the newest version of iMovie
If you have the old one, it still works. but I have to say, the new version is better. You can tell the difference because the updated version has a new icon that looks like this:

Step 2: Create a new project!
When you open iMovie, it will look a little something like this:

Click the "Create New" button on the left. It will take you to a new screen with a slightly overwhelming amount of buttons. Don't freak out. 

Step 3: Add some pictures and videos
Upload all of the pictures or video clips you would like to include in your new project. All you have to do is click the "File" button in the upper left hand corner and select "Import Media". It should look like this:

All you need to do is select the pictures or video clips you want to add. Once they are uploaded, you will simply click and drag them to the bottom half of the screen in the order you want them to be presented. To change the duration of any picture or slide, simply double click on the picture in question. The upper right corner will then change to look like this:

Click on the little "i" icon in the upper right corner and it will give you details about the slide. 

Simply change the duration to your preferred length (in seconds). 

Step 4: Add Sound
In the upper left corner, you will click on the option that says audio:

Simply choose what type of sounds you want - music from your iTunes? A song you wrote on garage band? Sound effects? Choose one and drag it down to where you already inserted your pictures in the bottom half of the screen. 

Step 5: Voice Over Narration
Want to hear your own beautiful voice during the presentation? Maybe reading the slides to your students who struggle with fluency? It's super easy. While you are under the "Audio" menu, you will see a small microphone icon on the right hand side. Simply click it to record:

Yeah, it's really that easy. 

Step 6: Share your project
To share your work, select the "File" dropdown menu in the upper left hand corner once again and click on "Share". From there, you can choose how you want to export your beautiful project! 

Here is an example of a video I've made using iMovie.
Caveat: I made this video for a required group project for a humanities class I took in college. I apologize sincerely in advance for how dull it is, but it has examples of most of the big aspects of iMovie. Additional apologies may be needed for the poor sound and video quality that were available to us at the time, 

Silver lining: There are, in fact, outtakes at the end. Get excited.

Happy video-making! 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Thinking Maps

Looking or a thinking map template that may be slightly cuter than the average?
Click any link below to access various templates and key words for each type of thinking map:

Friday, September 16, 2016

Genius Hour: More Passion Project Ideas

Looking for some ideas on how to jumpstart a Genius Hour in your classroom?
Click any of the links below to get started:

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Shadow Puppet Edu: A Break from the iMovie Monotony

Ta-Da! The wonderful people at Seesaw created something else magical. Shadow Puppet Edu. This video creation platform is extremely user friendly and has very few written directions, making it easy for English Language Learners to use. It's also a refreshing change from using the somewhat complicated program that is iMovie. Don't get me wrong -- I love using iMovie! It's sometimes just a little too much for kids to use, especially when they accidentally find themselves on an unfamiliar screen, swearing up and down the wall that they "really didn't touch anything". By giving students a simpler platform, in this case Shadow Puppet Edu, you can eliminate this issue. The best news? The app is totally free!

Drawbacks to Using the App Include:
1. You cannot insert movie clips into Shadow Puppet presentations, just photos. That's definitely the biggest drawback, but if that's what you need, I would just use iMovie instead.
2. Shadow Puppet Edu is currently only available for iPads and iPhones, not android devices and tablets.
3. There is currently not a way to use Shadow Puppet Edu on computers either, with the exception of playing the videos you have already created by clicking on the link associated with them.

Here's what it looks like in the app store:

Get started with these quick instructions & tips:

1. Download Shadow Puppet Edu from the App Store. When you open the app, click the first "Create New" button. 

2. You will then be prompted to choose the photos you want to include in the presentation from your camera roll and put them in the order you want.
**If you do not put the photos in order you want during this step, you will not be able to go back. Kind of annoying, I know, but true nonetheless. 

3. After you choose your photos, you can add a combination of text, music, and voice recordings to some or all slides! Simply choose the appropriate icon at the bottom of the screen to choose what you want to add first. 

4. As you progress through editing your presentation, you can start, pause, and restart the voice recordings as you move through each slide. It's just as easy to add text. You can scroll through text placement, font choice, and color simply by clicking the left and right arrows on the screen below:

Here is a quick, and might I add, cheesy, example of what a finished product may look and sound like!

Here are a couple sets of video directions I recorded in under 5 minutes for students in my class who struggle with reading grade level texts or remembering more than one or two directions. They simply use an iPad to scan a QR code that is posted in the room next to where the directions are housed. I apologize in advance for them being a bit dull, but it really is just me voicing over their directions for the reading block in the quickest and easiest way possible!

Thinglink: Make Learning Interactive!

If you're anything like me, you always have what feels like 100 tabs open in your web browser at the top of your screen. Thinglink is a great platform for putting lots of the tools you use, like pictures or links, in one place. Basically, it gives you a way to imbed links into a picture of your choice. Sound too easy? Well, it turns out it actually is. Here's how to do it:

1. Create a Thinglink account (obviously). They have both a free and a paid version. The free will do just fine! 

2. After you have created an account, click the red create button in the upper right corner. 

3. Upload the picture you want for the background. It could be anything! I like to choose pictures that enhance student learning experiences. For example, if we are studying a region of the United States, I may choose a popular attraction from that area like the Grand Canyon or Carlsbad Caverns for the Southwest.

4. All you have to do now? Add a tag (all this means is that you are adding links! For example, on the following picture of Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, I would most likely add a link to their National Park website. 

5. When you touch the "Click to add a tag" button, a white screen on the left will pop up that looks like this:

Simply add the information you need. In this case, this is the URL I want students to go to and a quick description of what it is. Above is a quick example of where exactly to input this information. Simply click the picture to enlarge it! 

Here is an example of a Thinglink I made for the first day of school this year, introducing myself to my class.