International Dot Day

On Monday September 15, 2014 it will be International Dot Day. Check out the Dot day site by Peter H. Reynolds. to celebrate this day some colleagues and I have ben collaborating on a iTunesU course. The group of Kindergarten educators and I will be posting our work tat we create with our Children. Here is the link to our course: the five teachers are from all over the world. Brittani Wilton is from Kansas and is a K-5 gifted and talented teacher. Marc Faulder is a kindergarten teacher from the England and Catherine Mangan from Ireland. Kristi Meeuwse another kindergarten teacher from South Carolina. All of us are working in collaboration to give our students a perspective of schools, cities and countries around the world. This year long journey is going to be exciting for both the students and the teachers. Stay tuned and check out posts to the course. Please enroll an join us on our journey. We will have uploaded work samples, videos and in course discussion threads. International Dot Day will be our kick off event for the iTunesU course.

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First Days of Kindergarten

With the start of a new school comes new students, new expectations and the use of iPad devices with a new set of kiddos. What do we use an iPad for in the first week? We use the app Book Creator to document S.O.P’s (Standard Operating Procedures) the way we do things inn our classroom. The students have a great time being part of the book making process and becoming authors early on in the school year. Our book (always in progress) is posted below.

Commonly Asked Questions

Student use of Pic Collage to explain and show math workshop activities.

Student use of Pic Collage to explain and show math workshop activities.

What can my iPad do? Do I really need my teacher if I have an iPad to teach me? These are frequently asked questions both by students and parents. They are also two very valid questions. The first question is one that has taken my students and I a whole year to answer. One of my students put it this way, “your iPad can’t do anything without you doing something to it.” With that said, the class began to think about what they can do with the iPad to enhance their learning experience. I really think the last sentence hold some key words, “enhance the learning experience.”

Here are some examples of ways my students have enhanced their learning experience with an iPad this year. We have been able to go paperless using the app Showbie. With Showbie, I the teacher was able to send out customized lessons to students to work on and they could send me back the work in progress or finished product. The students would use the iPad to make short videos to document learning and they would use other apps like Pic Collage and Educareations to produce work documentation and upload to their Showbie digital portfolio. The best part of showbie as a teacher is that I could leave voice notes, send the individual students a text and even upload supplemental materials for students. I could do all of this from my own iPad. For the students having one place to store their work was powerful for them to see their learning progression and depth of knowledge they have gained this year.  The simple answer to what can my iPad do is: the iPad can only do what you want it to. If you limit the way you implement it, then you will limit the things it can do. If you go beyond just using apps, then you open a whole new door to what the iPad will provide as a learning tool.

To answer the question about needing a teacher if the iPad is available is a big Yes And………….. If the teacher simple puts the iPad in a student’s hand and then walks away, the iPad will not do the teaching. A teacher will always be needed to help foster creativity. With the iPad technology at their fingertips, they become the creator, the questioner and the leader of their learning journey.  It is sometimes all about discovery and the power of questioning that shapes learning. The iPad is the device that allows students to create and make learning personal and unique.

Students were given a measurement activity in iTunesU and this was a way they chose to document proficiency.

Students were given a measurement activity in iTunesU and this was a way they chose to document proficiency.


Selecting apps, using Tony Vincents app rubric

Apps are everywhere and used in many different ways. When selecting an app there are many things to consider. Some of the things to consider may be what is app going to help my students learn. Is the app customizable, can many students use the app in different ways? How does this app allow for redefinition of learning. To help answer some of these questions and pick appropriate apps to use with students, I use the Tony Vincent app rubric from the website Learning in Hand.

Minimal Apps, Tons Of Learning

Do you really need 50 plus apps on a student device? I have made it a point to keep apps to a minimum this year. As second graders, my students have had the iPad device for two years before they entered my room. Having experienced the iPad in all aspect of their day and learning process for two years, what new learning would they possibly get from the device? When I rolled out the iPad devices to my students this year, we had lots of cheers and excited kids. The room was full of chatter, some of the comments were, ” yeah game time!” ” I can’t wait to play on them!” I was trying not to show disappointment, I was hoping to hear, “we finally get to use our learning tool” and “cool learning apps.” But nope, most of the students saw it as a gaming device. I knew I had to change their mindset. When I handed them out we talked about digital citizens and learning tools and respect of learning devices. I still had kids saying, “I just want to play games.” To the kids disappointment, I kept the apps simple. Here is what their devices looked like.

When they touched the home button for the first time. They tried to scroll through multiple pages. Nope, it was just one. More comments came, “where are all of our games” “we don’t have enough fun stuff to play with.” My reply was simple, “our devices will help us learn and look at learning as a creation.” So we are now half way through the year and we have only added 2 apps. Place value and fresh pick. Keeping the apps minimal but powerful has allowed my students to become creators and thought leaders in their learning journey. Almost all of the apps I use, are either workflow apps or highly customizable apps that allow for individualization. The other type of app that the students rely on heavily are the ones like Educreations, Book Creator and the camera app. These three allow the students to create and document their work as they see fit. My students are making the transformation of their educational thought process and implementing the device into their day! Minimal apps, but powerful content creation apps are allowing my students to grow and use voice and choice in their learning journey.

Which apps does your school use?

I have created a Symbaloo to show the apps that Auburn School Department uses for grades K-2. Just click on the word Symbaloo and you will be taken to an interactive tile board. When you click on the tile it will take you directly to the Apple iTunes App store. Enjoy this Symbaloo tile board that gives you the Auburn School Departments K-2 apps.

How do you contact parents quickly?

I use the app Remind101. If you have an iPad or iPhone you can use this app. (You can also use a computer, it just isn’t portable enough for me.) In a nutshell, this is a texting app that you can use for student and parent communication. It was so easy to use. I signed up a s a teacher and got started. Once I was signed up, I had a code to give to parents. At open house I had a sign on the board for parents to text me. I felt very safe in doing this because the parents never really used my real phone number. The Remind101 app created an alais number that works through the app. I can only send out mass text messages to all the parents in my class, but hey it just makes it really easy for me to communicate quickly about special events or topics discussed in class that can be carried over to the home.  

The parents love the reminders and quick updates at they fingertips! So if you have no tried Remind 101, it is worth the five minutes it take to download the app and sign up.

Embrace Digital Technology

The way in which children are being asked to create, connect and share in an educational setting is changing everyday. As an educator and professional, I owe it to my students to stay up to date with all the ways to integrate technology. To change the way they create, connect and share. Having 1:1 iPad devices in my classrooms has opened a new door and my students are gladly walking through that door. Everyday it amazes me the changes I am seeing in their work and creativity. I must admit even though we are paperless, best teaching practices are still front and center in all lessons. It is just that technology and the iPad devices are enhancing the way the students are producing, thinking and interacting with information. I know not everyone agrees with children being connect to technology all day and I am NOT saying kids are on them all day. I am simply showing my students how to use technology responsibly and create digital content in effective, respectful and responsible ways. People resist change all the time, AND to embrace and see the positive ways that kids can use technology is quite AWESOME! So I ask you to help support the change with technology and spread the word that technology is not replacing best practices in education, it is simply enhancing best practices. We need to be open to change, and also be the ones to create the change and lead the way to make change happen.

QR CODES (Quick Response) from the Leveraging Learning Institute 2013

My classroom is full of QR codes. My students and I use them to learn everyday. The most common use is to link a video to teach a mini lesson or link a website. Those are the two most common ways to use them. Did you know you can link them to word documents too! Here are a few of the sites to link a QR code to a word document or text, TAGO MOBILE. You can also create treasure hunts with QR codes using the QR code treasure hunt site. , QR Code treasure hunt
My favorite site of all is delivr to generate, store and edit QR Codes. Also check out the tab about my iTunesU courseto help you through the YouTube Chanel making process and QR Code generating process. Not my favorite sites but worth a look to generate many types of QR Codes are:

Again use what works best for you and your classroom. My all time favorite and go to site is delivr so make sure to check that site out!
To all at Leveraging Learning 2013 that I promised I would post, I hope this can guide you in the right direction.


We Have Gone Paperless

What!? Second graders not using paper in a classroom. YES, we have done it! We now use the app  Showbie to upload PDF documents and distribute learning goals. The students think it is awesome. They are more motivated to use their iPad device to produce written work. They want to write a story, upload pictures and then narrate. The students have started to use the app Book Creator to author and publish books. Kids are buzzing with excitement about using an iPad to document learning. (with pictures and video, writing stories and demonstrating mathematician skills.) All of our work is on YouTube and kept in various apps like Educreations, Showbie, Toontastic and Explain Everything. Parents are having to adjust to going paperless. This is new for the parents of my students. They have to login on to shared sites to see learning documentation and parent sections of apps to see progress. Kids are held accountable for choices, documentation and engaging themselves in learning, why not the parents? In a paperless classroom the parents have to become involved and engaged in the learning process by logging-in to student’s work sites. Going paperless has been positive for my students, parents and the environment!