Challenges… The Current Way to Engage Educators

I’ve been seeing and participating in a lot of Challenges lately. From Edublogs, SMART, & ThingLink I’ve had a chance to think outside the box and review creative ways other educators are using tools. So I helped develop the idea of a challenge to my district’s technology integration team. We’ve launched the Tweet 10 Challenge.

We kicked it off with the Esurance commercial embedded below. Utilizing ThingLink, I created the image above with various ‘touches’. Each day the teachers were asked to complete a task which would introduce them to the features of Twitter. Each task included a YouTube video tutorial I created using SnagIt. At the end of the week, they received a digital badge for completing the challenge as well as a sticker (because we all love stickers!). I felt it was quite successful. Teachers were signing up to Twitter and using the hastag #wwprsd. Over the week we had in excess of 160 tweets and I believe about 60 individuals identified as Twitter users.

Also, if you are interested in STEAM, take a look at ThingLink’s monthly challenges. The first three dealt with Life Science, Physical Science, and Earth & Space. I didn’t have the opportunity to be selected as a winner; I submitted one on Space. But I’m hoping I win the next one on Technology & Engineering. I have two (Parts of an iPad & Favorite Math Apps) in the running for first prize, $200 Amazon Gift Card.

Have you organized a Teacher Challenge, if so I would love to know about it in the comments.

The Hidden Truth of the Unconference

Over the last few months, the members in my department and I have been discussing professional development. One key phrase has been, “People don’t know what they don’t know.” We have offered a couple of unconference-styled professional development days. Teachers had the ability to choose from offerings and that is where I have discovered the hidden truth of the unconference…

Now, no disrespect to Meryl Streep’s character, but I don’t think that statement is completely true. See I believe that people need to be ‘Self-honest’. As long as they truly assess their abilities, acknowledge where they need to improve, and select sessions which will enhance their content knowledge, pedagogical methods, or technology skills; then growth from the unconference-style PD can occur. Otherwise, they are attending sessions because thats where their colleagues are headed, it sounds fun, or any other rationale that isn’t their instructional development.

How can we help educators become ‘self-honest’? What are your thoughts?

Getting Creative with a Free Friday App

Paper Camera is a creative way to take pictures or video and make it look like it is a comic. They have an assortment of filters which are applied in real-time, no waiting or delays. This could be a nice way to have students get creative with taking a picture or filming a video. Here is the promotional video from their website.

Here is a before and after shot of my bulletin board:

Pictures and videos are saved to the camera roll for easy accessing. This could make for some nice comic book styled projects. Have you used this app before and if so how?

Catching Up on Past Friday Apps

I’ve been a little lax in my posting. Here are two Free Friday Apps that I missed posting on the blog.

Friday, December 5th
Last year, I shared with my teachers a Free Friday Apps, Math Duel($2.99), an app that allowed two players to go head-to-head in a tiered competition based on ability. Now they have released Geography Duel($2.99). The app was released free when it first appeared to drum up attention.

This app allows an individual or pair on one iPad to review states, capitals, or countries. From within settings you can change the way your map looks (Google Earth view, political map, colored areas, or a 2-tone effect).

Friday, December 12th
In the past I have shared two great (at the time) apps: ChatterPix Kids and YAKiT Kids. Both had you take a picture of anything, draw on a mouth, and have 30 seconds of record time. Today, I have discovered an even better app for digitizing talking photos, iFunFace.

iFunFace will turn any photo into a talking bobblehead. I haven’t found a time limit for recording! The app allows you to have more than one talking head in the picture. You can also add accessories or change the style of your voice. In the end go ahead and save to the camera roll.

Here is an example of an actual bobblehead becoming a digital bobblehead:

There is no end to how students could create with this app. Math- multiple step problems: line up a set of objects, each object tells a step in the process. Language Arts- retell a story: take a picture of the cover of their book, have the main character retell the story. Science- solids vs. liquids: have two states of matter side by side debating which is better (“I don’t need to take the shape of a container” “Well I can’t be snapped in two”) Social Studies- learn about the community: get a photo of someone from the community (i.e. police, firefighter, etc.) describe their role. Learn about a musical instrument, describe an art project, do a pitch for a new book…

The app does offer some in-app upgrades which you can dismiss and has an ad bar across the top. Now go create your own, I know your students will get a kick out of it!

Sizing Up a Free Friday ‘App’etizer

SAMR is currently a huge buzz word! And I don’t claim to be an expert on this model, so I may be incorrect with the rest of this post (comment to help me set the record straight). I believe that today’s app(s) would help Modify a typical aspect of elementary math, equivalent measuring.

Curious Ruler ($0.99) or Ruler | A Curious Tool (free) allows you to select a reference object from their selected list to use to measure another random object with the iPad’s camera. After you take a picture of the two items together, you mark off the sizing so the app can get you a measurement as well as an equivalent measurement. Below are some screen shots of my measuring.


A Heritage Project Idea

This was originally posted on the ThingLink Blog

For the last several weeks, I have been working with third grade teachers and their students on their heritage project. As part of their social studies curriculum, the students researched their family’s heritage through interview question packets.
The students had a variety of questions to get answered. They asked about family customs or traditions, their family’s immigration to the US story, and the history of their name, just to name a few.

Since our classes have 4 iPads in each room, sharing them with each class is a must. We started this project by setting up a class Dropbox account where every student had a folder to save their project components. Regardless of which iPad they had, their work will all be saved in one place to get to in the end. Now we started smashing apps!

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