Great Apps, Gone Free

I stumbled upon a great post on Appy Mall, chock full of a lot of great free apps for the classroom.Check it out, you won’t be sorry. They always have great postings, so be sure to like them on Facebook too!

Free App Post

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Domo – Excite and Create with Animation Presentations

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I am on a constant quest to find new sites and #edtech resources to integrate into my classroom. Today’s students are digital natives who have the potential to do so many great things with computers and technology. That is why I feel a huge part of my job is to expose them to different types of technology, websites, and ways of doing things. In addition to this, I also realize the potential that technology has to allow students who might struggle with a pencil and paper assignment, to showcase their knowledge in a more appropriate way. I love when these students blow me away with a digital presentation that showcases all the skills and knowledge they have acquired!

Working with special need students over the years, I have learned the importance of allowing students to exhibit their acquired knowledge in a way that was easily accessible to them. As teachers, this requires a shift of thinking while creating a lesson. It requires us t put more weight on what we want the student to know (our lesson’s objective), and less on how we want them to display this knowledge to us (the product). By differentiating the product stage of the lesson, we allow students to show us what they know, without hindering them with activities that involve skills (which aren’t this particular lesson’s objective) that might hinder their ability to express their thoughts and ideas.

One such resource I found is DomoAnimate! My kids always love new sites, because they are “novel”
and the brain loves novelty. However, they LOOOOOOVEEEE this site! We are currently using DomoAnimate for a social studies unit on community (which I will post more about in an upcoming lesson when they are done), to produce group animations about life lessons every kid should know. (#whathekidsneedtoknow)

After what was a brief 5 minute introduction of the different aspects of the site, my students were off and creating. The interface of Domo is super easy to learn; it just takes a few clicks here and there, and you are off creating wonderfully entertaining animations. In fact, my students loved it so much, almost all of them went home that night and created their own (FREE!!!) accounts and made their own animations. This waswithout being assigned any homework to do so. I love it when they get this excited about things.

Brief Overview of DomoAnimate

The site is powered by GoAnimate, and it is a free animation site. Students are able to animate characters of their choice and they can add unique backgrounds, music, and sound effects too.  They can also add speech as text bubbles or add interactive elements for story-telling activities.  The website has a very easy to learn interface, with a drag and drop platform that is familiar to students. The best part is that students can make their characters come to life, as each character has a set of actions and emotions that can be added by simply clicking on the character and selecting from a drop-down menu. Domo animations can be embedded on websites or blogs, and can be shared either publicly or privately.

How Can I Use It In My Classroom?

While the possibilities are endless, here are a few ways I came up with.

  • Book Report
  • Trailer for a Book
  • Biographies – animating a subject’s life
  • Interviewing a character from a book
  • Interviewing a historical figure
  • Public Service Announcements
  • How-to-Videos
  • Bullying Prevention Videos
  • Social Issues
  • Illustrating Vocabulary Words (they won’t forget them after that)
  • Illustrating real-world math concepts
  • Sequencing

Have more ideas. Please share by placing them in the comments below! 

Click here for a video one of my students went home the first day and made. Pretty impressive for only have used in one day!

 

Why You Should Be Using XtraMath in Your Classroom

xtramath logo

The information processing theory supports the view that automaticity in math facts is fundamental  to success in several areas of higher mathematics. Without the ability to retrieve facts directly or  automatically, students are more likely to experience a high cognitive load as they perform a range of  complex tasks.

Two summers ago, as I was prepping for a new school year (okay I was pinning on Pinterest), I came across a website called XtraMath. It is easily one of the best websites I have found for our 3rd grade class and the results speak for themselves. If you want to raise your student’s math fluency, then search no further!

What Is XtraMath?

XtraMath is a free web program that teaches addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts which are critical to success in mathematics. Speed and accuracy are both important to fluency, and XtraMath will help kids build up both. Math fluency is essential for success with fractions, decimals, multi-digit algorithms and any higher level math. It is based on the assumption that students who regularly practice will quickly and easily recall answers when needed, freeing up mental resources for more complex problem solving (also known as fluency). Read more about Math Fluency here.

After a simple placement exam, fluency goals are achieved through timed practices. Students are given 3 seconds to correctly answer each individual math fact. If they answer the fact in under 3 seconds (the deemed rate for fluency) they earn a smiley face. An answered keyed in under 10 seconds earns a green check mark. Finally, if a student takes 10 seconds or more, the answer will display in grey beneath the math fact and the student still must key it in. Any incorrect answers show a red “x” and still require the correct answer to be keyed in. This is great, because it forces the student to focus on the right answer before moving on. These problems will also show up again soon, so that the student reviews them quickly, before they have lost the fact from their memory (a research based strategy for learning new facts).

Why Use XtraMath?

  • It runs itself (all you need to do is setup your class roster)
  • Parents can monitor student progress
  • Weekly Progress Reports: beautiful and informative graphs
  • It shows exactly what facts a student has mastered
  • It takes only 5-10 minutes a day
  • Works on tablets too!
  • No more grading mad minutes or fluency worksheets! (save the trees

Check out this video that explains XtraMath in the classroom.

Now get onto www.xtramath.org and get your kiddies started! You’re Welcome 🙂

Have you used this website in your classroom? Leave a comment below and tell us why you love it.

Nearpod – “App”-tastic Way to Engage and Assess

Nearpod- Free App

Last month, I attended the Edscape conference held in New Milford, N.J., hosted by NMHS and principal Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal). I was delighted to be surrounded by fellow educators who shared a passion for technology and social media (seriously, I got to learn and tweet at the same time… amazing!). After an incredibly motivating and inspiring keynote speech by George Couros (@gcouros) we were off to break out sessions to learn more about specific ways to further integrate technology into our classrooms.

Not knowing what I was in for, I decided to visit a workshop on an app called Nearpod. About 3 minutes into the presentation, I was sold! Last year I relied heavily on the limited capabilities of the Socrative app to poll and assess my students. There is just no comparison between the two, and I am now a happy convert.

What is Nearpod?

Nearpod enables teachers to use their iPads to manage and send out content on students’ devices. This allows the teacher to set the pace and ultimately control what is on the students’ iPad. Nearpod is an interactive presentation that allows for engagement and the use of real-time assessment tools, all in one powerful app.

How Does Nearpod Work?

There are 3 basic components to the Nearpod experience : Create, Engage, and Assess

Create – Teachers login to the Nearpod site and create multimedia presentations with interactive features like quizzes, videos, polls, drawing tools, and more. For a fee, teachers can also access pre-made presentations from publishers and fellow educators.

Engage – In the classroom, teachers use the Nearpod iPad app, logged into Teacher end, to share content with their students and manage the flow of the lecture. Teachers simply provide the students with a short key, that allows the students to enter the session. Students use the Nearpod Student end of the app0 on their iOS devices to download and receive the curricular content, participate in activities and ultimately submit their individual responses.

Assess – The coolest part about this app is  that teachers can see students’ answers in real-time on the Nearpod Teacher app. In addition, to access post-session data, teachers can log in to http://www.nearpod.com and view detailed activity reports!

Take a Look at Nearpod in My Classroom  : Nearpod Video

Get Started Now!

To start using Nearpod you must download the Nearpod Teacher app (free) and create a free account. Next you need to download the Nearpod Student app on each student device. Now you are ready to amaze!

Some Helpful Links to Get You Started:

Nearpod Video Tutorials

Youtube Video : Getting Started with NearPod: Creating Presentations

Educreations: The App With Endless Possibilities

Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time – Chinese Proverb

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There are no shortage of apps in the “Interactive Whiteboard” arena and over the years, I have tried most. While many of the similar apps have great features that make them unique, I have found the Educreations app to be my go to in this market. I showed my students in about 3 minutes how to use it yesterday and sent them off on their own to create videos. Amazingly, they did so quickly and without having to come to me for any help!

Why Educreations Rocks!

  • Quick and easy set-up
  • User friendly interface
  • Ability to use camera to insert pictures, as well as ability to adjust pictures to your desirable size
  • Records your voice, drawings, typed texts, images, and hand-writing ALL with the ability to pause
  • Allows you to add more than one page, to create a video presentation (which you can flip back in as well)
  • Crowdsource for content – not only are your videos stored, but you can search video tutorials made by others as well
  • The videos are embeddable too, allowing you to easily add them to a class website
  • Student accounts can be linked to teacher’s “Course” using a code, and do NOT require an email to register
  • Printing options

Ideas for use in the classroom:

  • Assessment of student’s knowledge (because who doesn’t love an alternative to pencil and paper?)
  • Flipping the classroom
  • Creating tutorials for students to revisit at home when extra help is needed
  • Study Guide
  • Have students create videos to share their thinking
  • Reading responses
  • Oral paragraph writing
  • Reading fluency practice – child reads the book and records, then replays it to rehearse
  • Digital Storytelling
  • Jig-Saw Activities
  • Parent – Teacher Communication
  • Digital portfolios
  • Step-by-step instructions

Time Saving Tip: 

To restart a recording while recording the lesson, you can tap on the Eraser tool and then tap a second time to get a menu. The menu will have a Clear Recording option that will clear the audio, but leave the slides in place.

They do not yet have a way to re-record the audio for a lesson that you have already saved or a way to undo part of the audio. However, they are looking to add this feature in a future version of the app, so stay tuned!

A Must Have App to Keep You Connected- Remind101

Remind101 App

Remind101 App

During one of my countless hours spent exploring #edtech on Pinterest this summer, I came across an app that has found a spot on my “must-have” list. This app is called Remind101 and it is a means of communicating to parents and students via texts or e-mails- for free!

So what makes this app so special you might wonder. Well the beauty of Remind101 is that you can stay in touch with parents without giving out your personal phone number or e-mail. Your number is never revealed to your parents and/or students, and their number also remains anonymous to you.  I also like that once I send out a message, they are not able to reply to it (if they try they get a bounce back message reminding them of this).

Remind101 is super easy to set-up and should take no longer then 2 minutes. You can set up your class on their site http://www.remind101.com and share your newly generated Remind101 number with your parents in a jiffy! (Personally, I just use their app for everything).

Best of all, you can schedule your messages to go out at a later time. If you are anything like me, if you don’t do it when you think of it…. then your great thought is lost forever!

Here is a helpful video to help you get started (although it is so easy you won’t need it!):  http://vimeo.com/28086897

Also here is a Freebie! This is the document I sent home to my parents so that they could opt into my messages. Remind101 Doc Remind101 PDF

Web 2.0 – The Top Sites Every Teacher Should Know About

If you know anything about me, you know that I love technology. I am not talking only about my iPhone and Macbook either (because truly my affection for them must be lust, no?). What I am really talking about is technology where it belongs, in my classroom!

So I figured, why not combine two things I love? – technology and over-sharing! Lucky for you, this means a peek into sites that my classroom revolves around. Sites that your classroom should also revolve around!

Web 2.0 – Prepare to Be Amazed!

… soon to follow, sites to help you be a better teacher!

KidBlog

Kidblog is a site that is designed for K-12 teachers who want to provide each student with their own individual blog. Students publish posts and participate in academic discussions within a secure classroom blogging community. Teachers maintain complete control over student blogs and user accounts, and trust me, you don’t want it any other way!

Tagxedo – Word Clouds with style

Tagxedo turns you or your student’s words into a visually stunning word cloud.  I’ve used this for  – All About Me Word Clouds, Poetry, Biographies, Book Covers, Vocabulary Review, to name a few.

ABCya

From thier site: ABCya.com is the leader in free educational kids computer games and activities for elementary students to learn on the web. All children’s educational computer activities were created or approved by certified school teachers. All educational games are free and are modeled from primary grade lessons and enhanced to provide an interactive way for children to learn.

Sumdog – Free games that make learning fun!

My kids love using the game based learning site. It is free to use most of the site, and you can select skills for each student by standard! The hard part, is getting them off this site.

Glogster – Online Interactive Poster

From their site: Glogster EDU is the leading global education platform for the creative expression of knowledge and skills in the classroom and beyond.  We empower educators and students with the technology to create GLOGS – online multimedia posters – with text, photos, videos, graphics, sounds, drawings, data attachments and more.

Xtramath

Helps kids master basic math facts- and what teacher doesn’t need help with this? Easy to use and set-up; we use it every day in our classroom! It has made a huge difference with math fluency in my students.

LearnZillion

LearnZillion is a learning platform that combines video lessons, assessments, and progress reporting. Each lesson highlights a Common Core standard, starting with math in grades 3-9.

SpellingCity

Students can practice their spelling or vocabulary words on a game based platform. My personal favorite, Word-O-Rama.

Edmodo

Often called, Facebook for the classroom, Edmodo is a highly engaging educational site. Edmodo helps connect all learners with the people and resources needed to reach their full potential. Seriously, why haven’t you signed up your class yet?

Starfall – Learn to Read with Phonics

A free website to teach children to read with phonics. For preschool, kindergarten, and first grade. Exciting phonics games and online interactive books. Great for your ELL students!

Wonderopolis – Where the wonders of learning never cease.

Welcome to From their site: Wonderopolis®, a place where natural curiosity and imagination lead to exploration and discovery in learners of all ages. Brought to life by the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL), our Wonders of the Day® will help you find learning moments in everyday life—ones that fit in with dinner preparations, carpool responsibilities, a stolen moment between breakfast and the bus, or within school curriculum and education programs.

Interactive Sites – All of the best K-5 online, interactive, educational games and simulations in one place!

Great for use on the SmartBoard, as they are all interactive games.

Padlet – Virtual Post-it Wall

Love to use this for Reader’s Workshop or any type of whole class collaboration. Each student can add a sticky to the wall…. so many possibilities!