Saturday, April 30, 2011

WA and CA iPad2 trainings- iPad included in class cost!

If you are interested in using an iPad in class but don't know where to start you might look into these trainings, where for about $700 you will get a new iPad2 AND get support from opening the box to actually using it in your classroom.

current CA trainings

WA state trainings

I think these would be great for teachers new to iPad technology. I am attending one in May myself, mostly because I had PD money and want another iPad for my classroom.

If you go to the CUE site they actually have an agenda on there so you know what you'll get from them- or your school could hold your own, using your iPad knowledgeable teachers.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Reading resources on the web

Friday night my colleague (3rd grade teacher who is blessed with my oldest this year) and I are presenting technology based Reading Resources to our K-6 families. We worked together on a list of our favorite websites and I looked for reading apps for older kids way too much over the last week. The result is a pretty decent collection of recommended resources from two National Board Certified Teachers! Unfortunately the hyperlinks didn't copy... Here is a link to her page (which by the way has some great math links too) until I fix it on here.

Reading and Writing Resources

Starfall - Starfall has games, books, word families, poetry, etc.

Storyline Online - This site provides an on-line streaming video program featuring Screen Actors Guild members reading children's books aloud.

Timberland Library - This site links to the kids section of Timberland Library. Through this page, you can access Tumblebooks, comics, magazine, book lists, etc.

Waltke’s Web - A Tennessee teacher’s website that has spelling words, activities, etc that are part of our reading series.

Award Books - Caldecott Award winning books

ReadWriteThink - International Reading Association - Parents guide to after-school activities.

Roy the Zebra - Reading games

We Give Books - Read books from the free digital library and We Give Books gives books to children who don’t have them.

PBS Kids - Reading Games

Storybird -Storybirds are short, art-inspired stories you make to share, read, and print. Read them like books, play them like games, and send them like greeting cards. They’re curiously fun.

Wacky Web Tales- Mad libs that are geared for grade 3 and up. A great way to practice parts of speech.

Funbrain - Reading - Mad Libs Junior - Mad libs that are more structured. You choose from a pre-formed list of nouns, verbs, etc.

Word It Out - Input words and they will be transformed into a word cloud.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Fun with Comics

Check out this comic I made at then go make some of your own! Warning this is a lot of fun. I could imagine doing this with SOME kindergartners... but it would be great for 2nd & up (and for making your own to get a point across.)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Best Apps for Education

I am experimenting using GoogleDocs as a way to put information about apps I've tried and recommend in a format that easy to view and update. This is a work in progress. Please see my Archive or Pages for apps I've previously recommended until I transfer all the apps into the form. I will be updating the spreadsheet with my recommendations as time permits. I hope to make it sortable by price, rating, and grade level soon.

Link to the webpage form of my "Apps for Education" spreadsheet which includes an iTunes link to the app, the price (at the time I entered the info), suggested grade levels, subjects covered by the app, and my informal rating of the app.

Click *here* to suggest an app to be added to my list. I reserve the right to modify or delete your suggestion if: it's a duplicate, or I really don't agree with your review.

view the page from within the blog:

Teaching Tools: Rhyming

The ability to rhyme has been identified by researchers as strongly related to a child's success in reading.

I encourage you to check out these two apps that meet my definition of a Teaching Tool* to use with 3-6 year olds as a way to learn and identify words that rhyme.

One is free for the month of April: What Rhymes by ABA.

I like the real pictures. If the child chooses incorrectly, the name of the item is announced and the child can try again. When chosen correctly both items (flag, bag) are named and the next rhyme comes up automatically.

Dora's Rhyming Adventure costs $1.99 and is a pretty good app for the price, especially if your child, or students, likes Dora.

A picture is displayed in the middle of the page and named (CAT) while six words rotate around it. If you touch the pictures they are named (nice scaffolding support) or you can drag the ryhme to the middle. The word needing to be rhymed and instructions are repeated after a little pause too. The child's goal is to collect 9 tokens for correctly completing each rhyme. Then the child can play a fun little game at the Grumpy Old Troll's tollbooth (using a slingshot and aiming coins into the coin machine.)

Although it's called a rhyming adventure, it does also have beginning, middle and ending sound matching too. So really it's 4 apps for the price of... $1.99.

Lastly, one of the best ways for children to develop rhyming is to read nursery rhymes and books with strong rhyming and picture support like those by Dr. Seuss.

So, be sure to check out Goosed Up Rhymes and the Dr. Seuss books like Green Eggs and Ham available in the app store too. There are lite versions available for you to try before you buy.

*Teaching tools should 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.

Free (special) education apps by ABA during April

April is Autism Awareness month, and the ABA app developers are offering their apps for free! While most are probably best for special education purposes, they would also benefit children needing to practice vocabulary development, like toddlers and ESL students.

If you don't have a twitter account yet, you should consider trying it out and following some educational technology or iPad sites; it's a great way to learn about apps that are new or free for a limited time. Or search #edapp to read previously published postings.

iPads in Kindergarten? YES!

I'm a little surprised by how many negative articles I've come across this week about the school district in Maine that is going 1:1 with iPads with their new group of kindergartners.

Yes, iPads belong in Kindergarten. I've been working with young children since I was 12... I started teaching in Early Childhood Education when I was 20. I used technology as a child- record players as a very young child, BETA and VHS VCR, Prodigy internet, CD players... yes I'm that young. I used computers in my first teaching position with preschoolers. I have always welcomed new technology.

NEVER have I seen technology like the iPad that is so perfect for young children or the classroom. It's durable (and frankly, my kindergartners treat our iPads better than the high-school kids do), intuitive- they use it instinctively and more proficiently than many adults!, and such a powerful teaching tool in one small package.

Yes, the teacher still needs to carefully train the students on proper care and use of the iPad- just as they do of markers, playdough and paint. No, the iPad will not replace the teacher- after all it's their duty to decide what the child will do with the iPad, which apps are best for each child and how they will be used or not used throughout the day.

The iPad is simply an All-in-One device for kindergarten, much like the AIO printers have been to offices.

The iPad is a library, a writing center, access to the world via FaceTime and email and internet, a listening center, a math manipulative, a science book, a workbook, an art station, musical instruments and so much more.

With the littlest learners, teachers have to be everything at all times- mother, instructor, nurse, musician, artist, emergency responder, all the while planning and preparing lessons that engage kids who've just stopped taking naps (and those who fall asleep at the tables), meet a wide range of developmental needs (kids who should be in preschool and those who are ready for first or even second grade), reassure parents.... I could go on and on and on. Most importantly, kindergarten teachers are expected to teach kids skills that used to be expected out of first graders while maintaining developmentally appropriate practice- and for most kindergarten classrooms- in HALF a day!

The iPad IS a MAGICAL device for children- and their teachers. It can be tailored to provide learning, practice, and reinforcement of activities at EACH child's own developmental level. It gives teachers more TIME- the device turns on quickly and most apps literally in seconds. It reduces the need for multiple CD players, computers, flashcards, and many manitpulatives.

Most importantly to me is the instant feedback the children receive as they work. Take the Montessori 100 Board app for instance. I used to pass out a 100 board and 100 number tiles. The tiles would get mixed, students would be missing certain numbers, one bump and the tiles would get knocked off and the child would cry and have to start over. I would try to get around to children to help and correct- but often I would arrive to find the child had numbers upside down, a 35 in the 53 spot, and no clue what the name of the number was. NOW, with the iPad- they simply tap the app, and begin working- with all the tiles, with the number announced as they touch it- thus teaching the number name. It doesn't let the wrong number be placed, and has various levels of difficulty for the varied needs of students.

I hope that more and more districts see the value of a device like the iPad. I hope the people speaking out against it would stop being jealous and try to actually consider the difference that could be made in just one child's life as a result of an iPad.

In my classroom, children who could care less about behaving so they could play at free choice time CARED and changed their behavior when I announced that they wouldn't have a turn on the iPad if they had misbehaved.

The kids CHOOSE to do the learning apps during a time when they could play with anything in the class- even over "noneducational" apps.

And while they use the iPads, I can speak 1:1 with a child, I can work with a small group on reading or writing or math skills. I can actually teach children- not just monitor more than 20 5 year olds, pass out materials, try to differentiate, and catch when kids don't pick the correct answer.

Yes, the iPad is MAGIC and it definitely belongs in Kindergarten.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Teaching Tools: Google Docs Gadgets

I am very new to using Google Docs, but found this nifty gadget within the spreadsheet options... a word search. Maybe it's not super exciting to you, but I thought it was fun. You simply type in the words into cells and highlight them, go to insert gadget, pick the word search one (or one of many other fun options) Then you copy into an HTML page...

and this one is a word study gadget:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Free Everyday Math Apps through Sat the 16th!

A nice benefit of being a member of a group like IEAR is getting an email like the one below- I've only tried Tric Trac so far (and I liked it, simple addition to 10 game but strategy is applied) and - but I am excited to get and review these apps.

Be sure to check out iear's site for app reviews and a great community of teachers, developers and more dedicated to finding and improving the future of education apps.

IEAR - I Education Apps Review - Grassroots Education Community
A Community Effort to Grade "Educational Apps".
A message to all members of IEAR - I Education Apps Review - Grassroots Education Community

If you are a fan of McGraw-Hill's Everyday Mathematics program or just want some great math games for the iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone you'll be interested to know from April 13-16 EIGHT of their math apps are FREE on the iTunes Store.

Enjoy! And feel free to write-up an app review for your favorite Everyday Math App and share it on or post it in a forum here on the iEAR Community Ning.

~Judith Epcke

iEAR Ning Community Facilitator

Visit IEAR - I Education Apps Review - Grassroots Education Community at:

Friday, April 8, 2011

I love mistakes!

After all, mistakes are often the stepping stone to finding a new solution to a problem. So, I want to fess up to making a mistake on my blog! I try to be transparent to my students when I make a mistake (and I even make mistakes on purpose sometimes- although it's not necessary to pretend- I make enough naturally!) so they see how I react to a challenge.

On the right you may have noticed links to some of my favorite sites... yesterday I was doing a recording of my screen to use in a presentation for the mobile2011 conference and realized that I'd entered .com instead of .org on one of my favorite sites. So, I want to give a little attention to this site- even though it's not "digital" per se, I use it regularly. so I fixed the link- it should work now!

If you do art with elementary (and up too) kids you HAVE got to see this site. I have done her giraffe mural and countless other activities from here.

One way I incorporate using technology in my art lessons is to use google images to find art similar to the project we are doing. For example, when we made a Kandinsky mural, I showed students a lot of artwork by Kandinsky and some other modern artists.

Then I printed some info from a website and put it up along side our mural to let other classrooms benefit from our art and the history of modern art. I also printed mini-photos of some of his other work and put those up too.

Last week we were painting and one students' piece reminded me of Van Gogh's Sunflowers... so I connected and showed some of his depictions of sunflowers.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Help me learn how to use Google Forms!

Mobile 2011- finally!

I have been looking forward to this conference for a few months.  I may experience letdown after it's over- what will I look forward to now?  Oh, yeah- a cruise to ALASKA!)

ok, back to Mobile2011!  It has certainly lived up to expectations.  First of all, I really like the venue.  Phoenix is beautiful (and dry!  I LOVE Washington State but I am soooo sick of the rain rain rain this year particularly.) The Hyat Regency Downtown is lovely- and I have had great service so far from staff.  AND the catered dinner was very yummy!

After some bumpy internet access issues (you had to have known that since this is a techie conference that something wouldn't work!) we got up and going in the sessions. Tony Vincent is hilarious, and there has been some great sessions so far.  I learned about some new apps and have lots of new ideas for using technology in class.   I am not even going to try to summarize them because the team putting the event on has created a blog for attendees to post about the experience... with the incentive of a free ipad2 drawing at the end of the week, with good posts rewarded with extra entries.  SO, people are blogging their hearts out on there, and I have added notes from the sessions I have been to thus far!  If you go to the mobile2011 site you can access the blog, or here's the link:  There are some really great ideas on here!

I will be sure to add some of the info over the next few weeks as I explore the ideas and apps more. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

More Montessori teaching style apps

I couldn't resist when I saw these apps by Montessorium were on sale for $.99, I believe they are regularly $4.99...  They have similar features to other Montessori Method based apps: neutral backgrounds so the focus in on learning, intuitive design, and the lack of negative sound for a wrong answer.  I greatly dislike (trying to eliminate hate from my vocabulary!) apps that ask a question and then moves on to the next when the child was wrong instead of teaching the write answer as well as those that have harsh sounds for mistake. My opinion is that these would be great for pre-k-1 and possibly 2 depending on the ability of the students.  Some children who struggle with phonograms in 2nd would benefit from Into to Letters (and alphawriter too, as they have the abcs, then phonograms for kids to pick as they make words)  The Intro to math is best for pre-k and K as it only introduces 1-10.  I would highly recommend it to K though as just the sequencing activity meets math standards.  The other activities will really help kids with understanding number sense for 1-10.   

Intro to Letters
intro to math

Intro to Letters is actually a great and deceptively simple app. There are many ABC apps out there and I can't honestly say which one I like best- they are so unique.  This one teaches letter sounds, correct writing form, and even has a feature where the child can listen to a letter sound, letter name or phonograms and then record themselves saying the sound.  They can play it back and compare their pronunciation to the "right" one- which is spoken right after their pronunciation.  What a great tool for students who struggle in speech.

Intro to math is super simple to navigate, I love the sound effects (I think it's a xylophone?) as the rods are reordered (from short to long), it has five activities on the main screen- but some of the activities lead into others.  I like the way one of them shows the numbers- counting each one aloud as it appears on the screen.  Then the child shakes the device and the numbers scatter.   Next the child is prompted to reorder the numbers.  Another activity shows the numbers, then asks the child to "tap on _"

Now Alphawriter is pretty cool too (I really love the phonograms!)  when you touch the placed letters the sound is pronounced.  I am going to try using this during my making words lessons (normally I use Montessori Crosswords) as it might be fun for the kids to write out a word related to a picture for a challenge after the lesson.  Hmm.  tough choice.  Maybe I'll let the kids pick the app during the lesson. 


I'm in love- with my new iPad2.  Let me count the ways...
Smoother edges (the first was a little too sharp as is my Mac laptop)
FaceTime (free video talking!)
Photobooth (too much fun!)
Camera/Video (for the visually impaired- huge screen is LOVELY and it is not as awkward as you'd think!)

my first iPad iMovie
Ah, iMovie on the iPad2.  I love it on the Mac, and yes, I've used it with my kindergartners with the mobile mac lab.  iMovie on the iPad2 though- priceless!  Well, actually it was 4.99 in the app store.  So far, I am very impressed.  You can use the pics and videos taken on the iPad2 and compile a movie directly on the iPad2 and watch it on the device, or upload to YouTube.

What I will like about it for classroom use is the simple design and limited options.  While the limited editing options are a little frustrating for a person who loves to edit clips to the smallest details, for classroom use, they will be perfect.  About half of my kinders can navigate through iMovie on the Mac without assistance, however, the other half usually need assistance.  I think the whole class will be able to use iMovie for iPad2 with very little support.  I use the word intuitive too much probably in my writings about the ipad, but Apple's done it again... an intuitive video editing app that will be awesome for use in the classroom.

Here's a little clip of a reading record as read by my son Daniel.  I took a picture of the page and then added audio of him reading, then I took video from within iMovie of him reading.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I have an iPad2!

My husband has listened to my whining long enough I guess because he tracked down an iPad2 with 3G for me and we got it today. I am writing from it right now... Love it!

I am bummed I didn't get to use it with my kinder kids yet, and now that spring break is here- yippee by the way- I won't get to use it with them before the mobile2011 conference. I will certainly let my own munchkins use it though and get the kids perspective on the new iPad. Already I am quite charmed by the camera capabilities, and with Photobooth- I KNOW the kids will love it. I was amazed at the beautiful photos I took with kaleidoscope, xray, and heat sensor- with my minimal skill and in a moving car I got some gorgeous pics (some funny ones too!)

The form of the iPad is much smoother... I found the original iPad to have uncomfortable edges,this one doesn't. I am sure I will have more to share after playing with it this weekend.

A big thanks to my sweetie for helping me stay current with my gadgets and getting me my own iPad, which is white by the way and I have a pink smart cover on order too!

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