Sunday, October 20, 2013

Create-your-own 4 Pics 1 Word (Voacb Review) Game with Pic Collage

...This activity is just a clever ruse to learn new vocabulary words.  

This year we’ve got the iPads on lock down aka they’re hooked to The Configurator aka WE choose the apps--so we’ve put on a limited number of educational games for the students to play. Whenever a kid gets downtime I see them playing the game ‘4 Pics 1 Word’.  They love it!  I’d go as far as saying that, for our students, playing ‘4 Pics 1 Word’ borders on obsession.

Imagine my excitement when one of our math teachers told us about an activity that she had created - 4 Pics 1 Word Vocab Review Game.  Brilliant!  She showed me the examples that she had created (see below) and her kids loved reviewing their vocabulary this way.  They worked collaboratively, as a class, to guess the words that went with the pictures that she projected on the whiteboard.

I thought about taking this game and turning it into a creation activity for students.  Having students find their own pics, to describe the new words that they’ve learned, increases the critical thinking that they’re doing about them.  This is going to help them increase their understanding of, and remember their meanings, better.  I knew this activity would fit well with Pic Collage, which is a fabulous app that our students love using in class.   I asked a few of our iPad Geniuses if they were interested in creating some of these Pic Collage-s, to review some of the vocabulary that they had recently learned in class, and they were psyched to do it! (See their examples below.)

If you’d like to increase the critical thinking even more, have students explain why they chose the pictures that they did. For example, for the Life Science vocab word ‘Nucleus’ below, “The nucleus is the boss of the cell so I chose a picture of Michael Scott, the boss on ‘The Office’” and “The nucleus is the control center and so I chose a picture of the control center in iOS7.”  Or, have students explain why they guessed the answers that they did.  Have them explain what they think the pictures are representing.  






Thursday, September 26, 2013

Time Saving iPad Tip From the Genius Team! Make Logging Into Google Apps Easier!

Here is a tip from one of our student Genius Team members -- so simple it's brilliant.

Make your apps email address a shortcut.

Logging into apps associated with Google Drive is time consuming on the iPad this year, isn't it?  Our teachers and students are always having to re-enter everything, including our long apps email address, plus finding the underscore can be cumbersome. Make your apps address, important logins, and your passwords a shortcut and you'll get in so much quicker.

Some of you only needed to hear the words "iPad shortcut" and you've got it.  Some of you will need the skitched graphic that's below, and some of you can check out this presentation, that the student made(!),  for more info.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Workflow: Cornell Notes Template (or any PDF) into Notability & then into Evernote

As part of our commitment to making our students college ready, our school is implementing the use of Cornell Notes in all of our classes.  There are plenty of Cornell Notes templates to choose from, and many teachers have chosen to link these templates to their websites, the question becomes how do you move that template into the Notability App (which is AMAZING and allows you to write/type/draw/etc on the document) and then into the Evernote App (equally AMAZING & allows you to store their document in a folder)?  BTW--the Evernote folder can be shared with the teacher so that teachers can see their students' notes at anytime, anywhere there's WiFi. (Also, do you think I’m correct in capitalizing Cornell Notes?  It’s a proper noun, no?  My Google search turns up mixed opinions in answer to this question. But back to the more important point of this post...)

Here are some tutorials, created by our Genius Team*, to help staff & students better understand this process.  

They are broken into two short tutorials to represent the two easy steps to move a PDF that's linked to your website
...into Notability (to write on it) and then
...into Evernote (to store it).

Without further ado, here are the tutorials:

*Why Evernote is the greatest, why I love Notability, and why you too need to get your own Genius Team TBPS (#tobepostedsoon)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Nearpod Nearperfect? Some Tips & Tricks...

aaaaaaand I’m back.  Long time no write.  It’s been a hectic Spring and even though my colleagues & I have found some great tech tips (!) I haven’t gotten my butt in gear to be reflecting & sharing these & I apologize. But I’ve been keeping notes.  Hopefully it will be a blog-filled summer.  What prompted this quick interruption to an otherwise quiet blog is my recent experience with Nearpod.  I think you’ll love it.  I really do!

In a nutshell: 
Nearpod allows you to lock your audience into a presentation on their iOs devices.  You control the movement of the slides.  Nearpod also gives your audience an interactive experience; you can add quizzes, links to the web, movie clips, poll the audience, you can even insert opportunities for students to draw something.  It’s a super cool way to present.

Here are my tips for when you use it:
1.  It’s quirky and, for me, not intuitive at first--but that’s why I am writing this for you!  Keep reading...

2.  Practice is better when you practice with the paid version.  It’s expensive though--$100, I believe.  You’ll need the paid version to create a real presentation that includes all of the bells & whistles in your presentation - like quizzes & movies.  Find someone who has purchased it and borrow their account to give it a real test drive before you jump in.

3.  You can’t make slides in the application- you make the slides in another application (google presentation, ppt, ActivInspire, really anything that you can convert to PDF) and import them.  It’s easy to move slides around, delete slides, and add slides.  Think of it as a plus - you don’t remake all of your presentations; you can import all of your old stuff.

4.  The videos are not simply links to YouTube videos - you have to download mp4s from YouTube & then upload it to the presentation.  This can feel like “one more step” - I get it.  But once you have a system it gets easier.  I used the Xilisoft app (thanks, Bert!).

5. Don’t give the “room number” for your presentation until you are ready to begin.  I practiced and practiced the night before, I thought that I had the pin ready to go.  The only problem was, the pin that I gave the class directed them to the old presentation from the night before.  So even though you have one saved presentation in your library it will always have a different launch pin, make sense?  This resulted in some confusion because when I logged in as a teacher and launched the presentation the next morning, it was given a new pin (which I didn’t know this at the time).  Thus I was in a different presentation than my students.  Learn from my mistake!  I didn’t realize that the pin changes each time you launch the presentation from the beginning.

6. Watch the free presentation (tutorial) that they provide - it’s great.  It’s simple and explains what the program is about. Great tips & tricks!  For this reason I included no screenshots with directions.

7. You don’t need two iOS devices to practice ( I originally thought. For a long time I practiced by being the teacher on my iPad and the student on my iPhone.  Like I said before, it’s not super intuitive to use at first. I had to figure this piece out.)  Then you can log in as a teacher on your iPad and you can “be the student” on your PC or Mac.  Go to and enter the pin number when prompted.

8.  There are TWO ways to login.  If you’re going to view as a student you need to enter a pin number.  If you want to present or modify a presentation you need to log in with your email & password.

I hope this helps!  Let me know if you have questions or tips for me!

Here's a sample of what my 'teacher view' was for my presentation.  
(Pink words & arrows not included!)

Alright, I said no screenshots, but this one is helpful to remember the basics.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Haiku Deck Awesomeness

Haiku Deck sent an email late last week telling me about how first, I was on the leading edge of awesome simply by using their app--thank you!--and second, that it’s possible to be thatmuchmoreawesome by utilizing their new notes feature. (Side note - if you’re NOT using Haiku Deck in your class let me put a plug in right now.  It’s a fantastic presentation app that functions like a PowerPoint on your iPad.  Right now PP or it’s more leading-edge cousin, Google Presentation, isn’t available on our devices and Haiku Deck is a great substitution.  The graphics are stunning--and plentiful--and it’s easy to share.  Students simply send me a link to their creation when they’re finished.)

Up until this point, the amount of words that you can include on each slide is limited.  This can be both positive and negative.  Similar to Twitter, limiting the characters forces the students to be concise and to the point.  Unfortunately, if you wanted further explanation about the slide they often did not have the room.  I saw an English class use Haiku Deck for a vocabulary assignment.  It was such a fabulous idea!  Students chose pictures, that to them, represented the new vocabulary word.  Think how these students would be thatmuchmoreawesome if they were allowed to explain the reasoning behind each photo and embed it into the presentation!

Utilizing the notes feature is simple.  

1.  Have the student email themselves the link to the presentation after they’ve added all of the pictures and titled the slides.

2.  Open the link, from their email, in Safari & sign in to their Haiku Deck account.

3.  Add additional notes to the slide(s).


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pinterest Possibilities with Vocabulary

Provide an authentic and engaging project for your students while tapping into their critical thinking skills!

By having students create their own Pinterest board (think of it as a visual bookmarking site) to show their knowledge of new vocabulary words, they employ critical thinking skills while collaborating with others.

Here's a Pinterest board that I created for an upcoming vocabulary unit in English 7.  Here’s another one I created for a Spanish I class.  I signed up for a work account using my school email.  I also used the Pinterest App on my iPad--it's seamless!* Quick disclaimer- I currently teach in a 1:1 environment with iPads so their use is incorporated into many of my lessons.

Create - After creating a board you can pin pictures directly from a Google image search or repin from Pinterest itself.  (Pinterest does not store the entire image file but it does 'pin' the URL that your picture comes from.)  

Communication - You have the ability to comment (500 characters max) on each picture so you could include an explanation for each.  Another cool thing - if you put a link in your comment section it will automatically hyperlink it when you save it.  I left one in (check the chess pieces in my Ron Weesley board- more on that board later) so that you can see what it looks like.

Collaborate - Students can repin images from other students and add them to their board; so students could work together in a group creating pictures for the whole vocab unit.  Four kids could work together, creating only 5 pins on their own, through sharing they could have a board of 20 words.  Students can also comment on one another's pins.

Critical thinking - There are a few ways that kids could use it w/ vocab:

  • A picture that illustrates the vocab word
  • A picture with the synonyms or antonyms listed & they have to guess the vocab word
  • Pictures with English word descriptions for a particular word/phrase (ex: el vaso de jugo de naranja) - specifically for world language vocab
  • Pictures that represent the word - then I explained why I chose it in the comment section
  • Pictures that were antonyms to the word - I explained why I chose this picture as well

* Well...ALMOST seamless.  At this point, on an iPad, you can't create a public link (in Google Drive or in Skitch) so that your own picture (that you took with your camera) has a URL.  So I had to upload the Skitch photos from my laptop, not my iPad.  Also, on an iPad, if you want to pin an image you find in a Google search you need to go through Safari & not use the app.   Repinning pictures while in the app works great, however.  The app is really easy to use!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Inaugural Post - It’s not perfect but that’s OK, right?

Hi.  Hello.  Welcome!  How are you?  I’m glad you’re here!  

This post/blog/idea is a long time coming.  I’ve wanted to share my education experiences for so long.  I love working in a middle school with middle-schoolers & middle-school teachers!  I love helping kids ‘get it’ and watching them get excited about projects.  I love teaching (science), technology, and especially I love working with other teachers & helping them with technology.  OK wait; stop.  This is why this thing has taken so long.  I get sidetracked and I feel like I can’t post anything until it’s perfect, which is what has prevented me from sharing anything thus far.  So I’m just going to get over it & get started.

This year my position has changed.  I’m in the classroom less to allow for more time working directly with staff, integrating technology into their courses.  We’re also 1:1 this year with iPads so not only have I - along with an (or my? what article is right here? the team doesn’t belong to me, I’m a part of it.  See what I mean about needing the post to be perfect?  OK, I’m leaving it.) amazing & talented team -  been teaching & creating learning experiences with these mobile devices, I’ve also been having some learning experiences of my own: what it’s like rolling out over 600 student & 150 staff iPads in two buildings over the last 6 months. Is it 150? Wait- I think it's more like 120? 130?

Hopefully by sharing my experiences and ideas I’ll be able to help you.  That’s really my only goal.  I’m going to try and post as often as I can but I’ve learned from reading other bloggers (T-Y BTW) that it’s OK to start small. Also, here’s my ‘fair warning’ that the posts won’t be perfect (and also more apologizing!  We’re all doing our best, no?).  

Let me know what you think & I’ll try my best to help!

:) Becky

p.s. - thanks to Larry David I always 2nd guess this emoticon as a Complimentary Close; maybe I’ll switch to “Yours, faithfully” or something, but (for this post) it feels OK -just this once!