Thursday, March 31, 2011

Teaching Gadget: Splashtop Remote

So, here's an app that turns your iPad into a great teaching gadget- your own computer! I have only used it for two days and already I love it!

The good news is, for those of you attending Mobile2011 next week, Splashtop's developer is giving away the app (2 at EACH session!) so you may win your way to the app for free.  If you don't get one for free, it is an app well worth the $4.99 price tag. 

We all know that one of the biggest drawbacks to the iPad/iPod/iPhone is the lack of flash support.  Well, with Splashtop Remote you can use Flash based sites from your iPad/iPod/iPhone!  Eureka!

Look at these screen shots taken from my iPad while I used and, and down below, a student is using three of my favorite websites that did not work before on my iPad.   Awesome as my daughter would say!

 Now, I am still figuring out Splashtop's advanced features- I'll be sure to update as I figure out more ways to use it...  I am sure there are untapped depths to the app... and yet, if all I can do is access my favorite ECE sites AND my documents from my iPad...

Well, for $4.99 ($1.99 for iPod), it's well worth it!  If you are going to come to my session @mobile2011, I will be using my iPad with Splashtop Remote during the presentation instead of being tied to my Mac and 2 attendees will get free copies! 
To use Splashtop you download the app on the iPad/iPod/iPhone, and download the free application onto your computer.  In just a few steps (I did it Tuesday am in just minutes) you connect to your PC and you can access anything from your computer via your iPad/iPod/iPhone.    The smaller screen with touch is a little difficult for me to adjust to, but it has gotten easier every time.  Above, a student is playing Hangmouse on  Then he passes the iPad to his next classmate so they can take a turn.

Beth, you asked about the iPad and interactive whiteboards... here is a great way for students to interact from the carpet/tables with what you're doing on the board!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Publishing Student Work

Last year I coordinated our school's use of the Student Treasure's book publishing program. We had students illustrate and write on special paper and sent the class project in to be bound and reprints made.  The end result was great; the process was a little painful.  It was  a little difficult to manage the pages- one child would illustrate the back of another's writing- mess up, rip, or smear it (and all three happened of course) and both students had to redo...  AND kindergarten handwriting can range from illegible to gorgeous, and they had to write, copy, then trace over with a marker... It was worth it, but a little challenging and most had to be done 1:1.  And I could not fathom doing it with this year's crew and no aide during writing.

So, while ordering the packets for our building, I noticed on the order form that they have an ONLINE publishing program (Beta) and immediately signed up.   So far I am very impressed with the site.  The teacher enters student names then the software assigns pages to the child as well as a logon and password (easy too- first name initial and last name- I'd be sholt) and common word passwords such as colors and other easy words.  The students can only change their page.  I, however, can see the whole book from my page.  The students will type onto the page- it saves automatically and prompts before closing- and can manipulate the text color, font and size.  Teachers can load images (I will scan student artwork and/or photos) and students can insert them or clip art.  Multiple student images can be placed.  Our second grade teacher has decided to try it too- she felt the first try, with children typing their writing up, went well.

Publishing allows them to see themselves as an author/illustrator and gives them an authentic reason to write- how amazing!

There is a referral program- if you plan to try, please send me your email- if I refer you and you end up publishing I will get a $50 card to spend on my classroom.  If you refer other schools, you'll get one too!

Here's the site:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Teaching Tools: Montessori Apps

Two of my favorite apps to use as teaching tools in my classroom are based upon the Montessori Approach to education.  For those unfamiliar with Montessori, I've copied some information from below my review of the apps.

One that I have found very useful is the Hundred Board: Montessori Approach to Math ($2.99).  My students chose to play this one even during free choice time when they can choose from any app on the iPad.  

It takes the place in my classroom of number board and 100 tiles.  If you can imagine the difficulty of organizing 100 number tiles for each student (and what to do with the set when they lose one piece!).  More importantly though, is the vocalization of each number as it's selected, and the child is unable to place a number incorrectly.  In the last update they added the choice to sequence the numbers with "control" meaning the numbers are displayed to help students pick the next number.  The numbers can be placed by ones, evens or odds.

The same creator (Rantek Inc.) made the Roman Numerals! ($1.99) app in the same format as the Hundred Board.  The student can pick to go from 1-100 by ones, or evens or odds using Roman Numerals.  I would suggest this app for grades 3&up.

A new app, to me, that I will use on a regular basis is ABC Sequence ($1.99), which is similar to the previous apps, in that the student will put the alphabet in order, using capital or lowercase letters.  The letter name is announced "G is for giraffe" when the child selects it.

The Montessori Teaching method is evident in these apps - "Teach by teaching, not by correcting  Instead the child's effort and work is respected as it is. The teacher, through extensive observation and record-keeping, plans individual projects to enable each child to learn what he needs in order to improve."  All of these apps do not have sounds or graphics that indicate the child made a mistake, nor do they move on to the next question without allowing the child to find the right answer.  Instead the incorrect choice is minimized and the child tries again.

The beauty of most of the apps produced in the Montessori Approach is their simplicity. 
The 100 board, ABC sequence, as well as the Geography app are powerful applications and ideal for classroom use.  The following apps are beautiful and simple too, and may be found useful in preschool or special education classrooms.  A Montessori Approach to Vocabulary focuses on common vocabulary objects; a shadow of an object is shown for the child to guess the object, then the photo can be shown and the word can be pronounced aloud.   A Pre-Language Exercise- Opposites shows two opposite words (big & small) and a picture of objects that are opposite in size. Brown Stair and Pink Tower asks the student to follow a plan to recreate a tower/stair combination by selecting the next smallest or largest piece in the pattern.  Both my 2 year old and 7 year old were happy to play through the levels.

"Montessori (pronounced MON-tuh-SORE-ee) education was founded in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first woman in Italy to become a physician. She based her educational methods on scientific observation of children's learning processes. Guided by her discovery that children teach themselves, Dr. Montessori designed a "prepared environment" in which children could freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities. Now, nearly a century after Maria Montessori's first casa dei bambini ("children's house") in Rome, Montessori education is found all over the world, spanning ages from birth to adolescence."

I have purchased 100 Board and sampled the lite versions of Geography and ABC sequence.  A developer for Rantek Inc, shared codes with me so that I could review the above mentioned apps.  Thank you!

Another favorite Montessori based app created by another developer (L'escapadou) is Montessori Crosswords ($2.99)- the crosswords are great for spelling words from simple CVC to long vowels and compound words, but I especially like the movable alphabet for use in my making words lessons.  

Most of these apps have a lite version for you to try before you buy!  So go ahead, try them!

Customizable App: Kidimedia

Have you visited the (I Education Apps Review) site yet?  I have enjoyed being a member of the site, on which educators review apps and developers look for feedback on current and upcoming apps.  Through the site I contacted one of the creators of the Kidimedia app (their site is and was given a code to try it out.  My review of the app is long overdue, so here it is!

Kidimedia app currently costs $1.99

What excited me about this app was that it is customizable.  You can go to their website, upload your images, and create an activity that you designed!   While it works without an internet connection, while connected the games are almost limitless.  They have made several updates since I first tried it and they have made some major improvements!

Kidimedia offers multiple, well developed features all in one handy app, with up to three difficulty levels:

Lily's puzzle- "Look it's me!"

Jigsaw Puzzles-  My daughter loves this one, especially the pictures of our family I have added using the website. 
Connect the dots- I like this one a lot- you touch the next number and the number is read aloud.  Once the dots are connected the matching image comes up, after the child is prompted to guess what it will be and given time to think.
Stamping- Choose a backdrop, then decorate with adjustable stamps.
Sliding Window- touch a square to reveal a part of the picture underneath.  Try to guess the picture.
Shades (match outline of an object to it's picture)
Memory- classic game- and one I look forward to customizing- I'd like to do sight words and such.
Ordering- put images in order- such as the life cycle of a caterpillar.
Counting down before revealing the picture.
Sorting game (matching pairs such as A-E & a-e or 1-5 & the correct number of objects, or colored keys to colored locks).

For the price, the many activities are wonderful, and the fact that you can customize the games to fit your child or your curriculum makes it perfect for education!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Teaching Tools: iPad as a Reading Group

Group A on left using iPads, Group B on right reading books.
For the past 4 years I have had a leveled reading group time in my classroom with groups of 5-8 children working in small groups with myself or an aide or volunteer.This year with my large class size I was depending on a high school helper to lead one group until one day she withdrew from our school... which left me with 12 students in my reading group. 12 is way too many for a small group so I have felt doubly blessed by having the iPads available.

So now, I have half the group use literacy apps on the iPad while I meet and read with the other half. Then we switch. The result: 6 students getting 1:1 feedback support and practice (from the I Pad!) on reading skills while I provide the other 6 with feedback, suport and practice reading leveled books.

Sorry, my embeded video was bad... Here is a link instead...

Some of the apps I use (replacing worksheets/puzzles, etc. that the kids would have to do independently and not have feedback on while they are working) are Make a Word, Montessori Crosswords, Starfall ABC, Louie's Letter Challenge, Teach Me K and 1st grade, ABC Reading, and Pocket Phonics.

In past years I've had similar issues (not enough helpers to have small groups) so I have had to spend a lot of time making meaningful materials to use in centers, interrupting the group I'm in to monitor students who should be working on their own, and worrying that the activities I had students doing weren't "good enough." I cannot believe how easy it is to use the iPads as a center, how excited the kids are to use them, and that I so very rarely get interrupted by an iPad user.

No iPad list- writing on paper instead of using the iPad

So what if kids are "playing around?" Put them in the "no Ipads for __ days list." During times you would normally have the student use an iPad have them do the assignment "the old fashioned way." Trust me, they will not be repeat offenders.

great sites for mobile technology users

I have found so many great websites that provide support for those using technology in education.  one i have learned a lot from is Tony Vincent's

Tony will be presenting at the Mobile2011 conference too.  i suggest going to www.mobile2011 to the list of speakers... the organizers have provided links to presenter's pages; you might find something helpful.

i am writing this from my phone... I will add more sites to this list the next time I am near my computer.

AS PROMISED- more helpful sites:

if anyone is reading this  is from WA, I just heard of a training coming up in May that includes a new iPad in the price (700) of the training, and walks you through setting it up and finding apps for the iPad.  Let me know if you want the info.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mobile 2011

Only two more days to register for Mobile Learning Experience 2011. Spread the word!

I encourage you to check out the site, agenda, and come to Phoenix.  I'll be there.  I'll be presenting.  Although I am not sure if that is an incentive or a drawback for some.  

WASA Conference

Today I presented "A Digital Age Classroom & Tools You Can Use"at the WA Small Schools Conference.  For those attending, I want to give you some of the resources I mentioned.

Canby School District has some data collected about their 1:1 ipod program:

I showed you my colleague's site on how to use iPads in HighSchool: Ipads In The Classroom

This is another site that has great info about tech; and some specific info for schools using iPads on a large scale: has technology tutorials and lessons

To get to my tizmo's page go to: (has links to spelling city, googledocs, and more.)

I use the mimio interactive whiteboard in my class:

Some of the iPad apps I mentioned were:  Montessori 100 Board,  Montessori Crosswords, Starfall ABC's (and their awesome website, Louie Letter Challenge, Make a Word, Rocket Math, Park Math, Mathboard, Montessori Approach to Geography, Teach Me K and 1st, Tales2Go, Talking Tom, Tap to Talk, Dragon Dictation

A couple of sites I didn't get to: has resources for tech savvy teachers, and is a site for educators to review apps, and lastly, some software I use to assess students;  -I love the reports I can generate from this program.

Some of the info I shared:

 "Three principles from brain research: emotional safety, appropriate challenges, and self constructed meaning suggest that a one-size-fits-all approach to classroom instruction teaching
is ineffective for most students and harmful to some." 
Teach Me Teach My Brain – A Call For Differentiated Classrooms - Carol Ann Tomlinson

Do not waste teaching time with technology; enhance teaching with technology.

improve traditional learning activities by:
1.)  saving time.
2.)  allow for differentiation to meet each child's learning needs.
3.)  motivating reluctant learners.
4.)  make learning fun.

Technology is NOT going to go away, and we are in the midst of a major sociocultural quantum shift. These technologies are revolutionizing the world our children will live in. So our task is to balance appropriate skill-development with technologies with the core principles and experiences necessary to raise healthy children.”
Modern technologies are very powerful because they rely on one of the most powerful genetic biases we do have — the preference for visually presented information. The human brain has a tremendous bias for visually presented information. Television, movies, videos, and most computer programs are very visually oriented and therefore attract and maintain the attention of young children. The problem with this is that many of the modern technologies are very passive.
The technologies that benefit young children the greatest are those that are interactive and allow children to develop their curiosity and problem-solving and independent-thinking skills.
ECT Interview: Bruce Perry Discusses the Effects of Technology on the Brain

Thank you for attending the session and asking such wonderful questions and sharing your own experiences.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Newer apps that I like :)

Before I share the new apps list, I want to say a HUGE thank you to all developers who offer free apps that are quality and educational.  Teachers often spend so much of their own money on the classroom- and I am no exception.  Money is tight everywhere, but enough so in my household that I have had to really reign in my classroom spending.  My own children have needs, and I have bills to pay, so justifying spending money on apps for the classroom is really tough.  And yet, they are so amazing for the children to use.  So THANK YOU for giving to young children by making such amazing apps and giving them away.  And thank you too to the developers who ask only $.99 versus $4.99 or more and those who make lite versions for us penny pinchers to try before we buy. 

And K.B., the ones with a AVA next to them are for you!  Well, for Ava, and all other adorable preschoolers out there! Theses are ones Lily loves and I like to see her play.

I have re-posted my previous list of favorite apps further below, but first, here are some newer ones for you to try:
Newer Free/Lite Versions
iTalk (use to record students reading and playback)
PhotoTouch ABC (asks child to identify letter, customizable)
PhotoTouch Sight Words (asks child to identify words, customizable)
ABC Magic Reading by preschool university (segment, blend words) I am not sure if this was free or not.  I might have bought it. But it is a very good app.
Dr Kids Lite (mixed feelings, this version has A-D.  I like the format and features a lot.  I would buy the full version, except I really don't like the accent for my class (English I think?- well I like the accent, but not for teaching American children phonics) and it's 5.99 (pretty steep considering I'd have to buy for all my iPads).
Learn to read Z is for Zebra (ABC names, sounds)  AVA
my alphabet coloring book (simple, but well done)  AVA
Alphabet Zoo (cute cute cute)  AVA
Blobble Write- is really good for a free handwriting/letter formation app.  AVA
ACE learning combo pack (letters, animals, sounds) AVA
Long Division (great for 3rd and up) by Power Math Apps
Stack the Countries
Geared 2 (a slightly educational game that requires careful placement of gears.)
4 in a row  (aka as Connect 4)
caboose (patterning)

Flick Kick Field Goal Kick Off (fun game)
Ping Pong (fun, not educational)
Sand Slides (another just for fun game)
Mad Skills MX (was free on FAAD when I got, another fun game)
iassociate2 (this is for me- for fun and to try to exercise my brain)
Geared 2 (a slightly educational game that requires careful placement of gears.)
4 in a row  (aka as Connect 4)

Apps I previously recommended:
* app is free or has a lite version

Multiple subjects
Teach me kindergarten, (also teach me toddler and first grade)  only $.99 cents each
*ABC letters (mathaliens- also has shapes numbers)
*iplay and sing AVA
ABC magnetic land  AVA
*Feed Me! 
*Doodlebuddy  AVA
*Puppet Pals
Drawing Pad  AVA

For literacy/writing
*iwritewords (there is also a spanish version)
make a word
*Montessori Words
*Time Reading
*tales2go (free for a limited time, definitely a great app!)
starfall ABC's     AVA
*magnetic ABCs 
ABC magic
*ABC tris
*word magic
*abc phonics
*alphabet tracing
*play and learn

*RF Alphabet
*sightwords free

*A-Z books (like the leveled readers website) has one free book levels aa-j
*Toy Story
*the grouches
*Dictionary (curious george)
*Read Me Stories
*big secret
*Storychimes (multiple stories)
Pop Out Peter Rabbit
Dr.Seuss ABC
Xmas Tale
*going places
*TTiptoes (tale of timmy tiptoes by b. potter)
*what's that you're eating?
*iReading HD17
There are also several Dr. Seuss and Miss Spider's lite versions available.

Park Math 
counting (great for counting to 20 practice)  AVA
*Freddy Fraction
*Numbers (montessori)
*Make shapes
*animals count
*sticker shop (money)
*Lets do math
*Math ninja (the kids LOVE this)
*times tables
*lets tans
*undersea math
*math circus
*mathboard addition
*fraction reducer

Puzzles (my daughter loves these)
*Shapebuilder  AVA
*tozzle  AVA

*ForestFriends  AVA
*Animal match
*audio note
*dragon dictation
*live notes
*going places
*Free App a Day- 

Science/Social Studies
*USA Free
*GoSkyWatch  AVA
*speed geo lite
*Wacky Safari free
*stack the states

*pocket frogs
*mx mayhem
*Talkingtom  AVA
*talking roby
*cut the rope  AVA
*blowfish  AVA
*trace (super dorky illustrations but I love this!)  AVA
*game room

iPad 2

I love the iPad.  I've wanted to buy one for my family since they came out.  When our school started using them I begged and pleaded and whined until I got 5 to use in class.  Then I got 5 more (well one is on loan from another teacher- I'm hoping she'll forget!)   I use one as my "Master" iPad- I try new apps, use it to record kids' reading, the students use it, I use it a lot myself, and yes my daughter loves it too.   But it's not mine.  I want my own iPad because I don't like using school property as my own.  When I let Lily use it I feel guilty.  I try to tell myself she's a future student... but that only helps a little.  I feel guilty putting on apps I enjoy. 

So, I am sitting here, at midnight, wondering how I can get my hands on an iPad 2 next Friday.  I just watched the video of Steve Jobs presenting the iPad2 and am a little worried about how much I want one. I guess I am just a big kid.  I am trying to convince myself that paying the wonderful woman who cares for my daughter while I teach isn't that important, or surely we can skip one car payment or...

I had planned to buy one as soon as the second gen came out, no question about it.  I viewed it as a reward for becoming a National Board Certified Teacher on the first try.  I didn't spend my Christmas or Birthday money gifts.  I thought that by Spring we'd be financially steady.  I "need" one for the two upcoming conferences I am presenting at- really, I'll be the only one who doesn't have one...  However unforeseen expenses have used up all discretionary funds. 

So, ok, I guess there's no iPad2 in my immediate future (although I did suggest to my husband that we cancel our cruise and get iPad2s instead.  He did not appreciate the sentiment.)  I am trying to tell myself to be grateful to have health, my family, a job, a home and so much more.  Perspective people!  BUT, I still really want the new iPad2.  Enough whining for now I guess. 

So how would I utilize the 2nd generation iPad in my Kindergarten classroom?
1. Camera (to take pics of kids, kids to take pics, kids to record their creations- lego, blocks, etc). 
2. Video (kids can read to themselves and playback, kids could facetime other students in other schools,  video presentations, record directions for playback)
I use my camera a lot in class and would love to use the new iPad instead.
3. LOVE the new garage band app (for the kids) and iMovie (for me). 
4.-6.  Thinner, lighter, faster!!!
I am sure I will find more reasons to need the new iPad.  I hope you can get one too.  Someday.

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