Top 100

Friday, January 30, 2015 for Recording Audio Clips

I think one of the most underutilized features of an iPad, or any device, in the classroom is the ability to record audio.  I'm not just talking about shy students finding a voice because they can record their thoughts and press 'Play' instead of talking in front of the whole classroom.  Instead I'm talking about students recording their thoughts about their learning.  Many times it's quicker and easier to hit 'Record' and let your brain work it's way through the learning process instead of trying to get it all down on virtual paper.  There are a bunch of tools that allow you to record and also use another app at the same time, which is key when you have an iPad.

One tool I discovered today on is called and it is pretty simple to use to record and share audio files.  You can export to AirDrop, Mail, Google Classroom, amongst others.  It also works if you just visit the website on a laptop but for an iOS device or an Android you'll have to get the app

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Teach 100

I am always looking for the ways that our staff can learn new technologies and new trends to use in their classrooms.  Teach 100 is a site listing the top 100 blogs about teaching.   This blog list is dedicated to teaching in general so you will find a great variety of highly rated blog sites about teaching.  Many of the blogs on the site are around technology too.

Here are a few of my favorites from the list:
Check them out and let your fellow teachers know about these great resources.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Write in NewsELA

I've written about my affinity for NewsELA in the past because it gives current events which teachers and students can change to their reading level.  It's great for addressing non-fiction and current events in the classroom.  Today they've released a new feature called Write that allows students to respond to a prompt from NewsELA or from one that's teacher created.  Here's a bit from their description:

Thanks for taking a moment to explore the Write feature. For each article, Newsela has created a prompt, which is a question designed to elicit feedback from students that demonstrates their reading comprehension. You can use the Newsela-created prompt or you can create your own prompt.
Follow these steps to get started:
  1. Assign an article.
  2. Choose a prompt.
  3. Show students how to respond to the prompt.
  4. Review your students' responses.

School Board at Lincoln

Today I got to spend some time with Mrs. Brown at Lincoln Elementary and some of the cabinet and school board members.  The students had all chosen something to share that they were doing with their tablets that they were excited about, like coding, math games, Edmodo Snapshots, amongst others.  We had the opportunity to wander around and get little tutorials from each student about the app, why they liked it, and how they used it in class.

I saw kids who were proud of what they were accomplishing, excited about learning and energetic.  I asked a few kids if they preferred their tablets over paper and books and the results were mixed.  Everyone agreed the tablets were great but some still like to be able to draw and read on paper, which I hope never goes away.

Most impressive to me was that the students owned the time and they were the experts.  Mrs. Brown didn't really have to do much except answer some questions from the visitors.  The kids stole the show. Great job!  I can't wait to see what you have in store for the technology showcase.

Students have started to blog about their experience here

Pop Up Videos with Explain Everything

Explain Everything is the best app for creation in education, hands down.  Nothing beats it for what it can do and how drop-dead easy it is to do things.  Today I saw a tweet about creating a pop up video, like the ones we old timers used to watch on VH-1 back in the 80's, using Explain Everything.  It may sound complicated but with a bit of trial and error I guarantee you that students will figure it out and then show you how to do it.

Greg Kulowiec has a set of instructions and a video detailing the process here.  He has a great blog, The History 2.0 Classroom, that is worth following.  He is also very good to see live if you ever get the chance.

Inklewriter - Choose Your Own Adventure

Just the other day I wrote about Twine, a website that allows you to make a choose-your-own-adventure story.  Today on Twitter I read about another one that looked just as good called Inklewriter.  This one was a bit trickier to learn how to use but don't let that stop you, look at the tutorial if you can't figure it out, because this one makes really good looking stories that kids will want to share and read.

Here's a sample just so you can see what they look like and how you interact with them.

If I was a classroom teacher I would pounce on this opportunity to let kids create.  Plus, this doesn't necessarily have to be an ELA classroom.  You could use this in Science to plot out what would happen in an experiment.  In Math you could diagram right and wrong ways to solve a problem.  In Social Studies you could recreate the historical footsteps of famous individuals or events.  The opportunities for creation are limitless.  Give it a shot!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Google Classroom User Guides for App

Google just released two user guides, a student and teacher version, for their apps.  They are useful for learning the ins and outs of the system.

Twine - Choose Your Own Adventure

I read about this on

When I was a boy one of the first books I learned to read and really enjoy was a Choose Your Own Adventure story.  I loved that fact that not only could I choose my fate but if I didn't like it I could always go back and choose a different fate.  The stories were engaging and fun.  I even learned to code in Basic on my Mac Classic and created my own adventure book complete with crappy music.  If only I Twine was around back then.

Twine is an easy-to-use online tool that lets students start a story, link events, create plot twist and turns, and eventually end up in a cave somewhere wondering whether or not to drink the potion.  Once you get the hang of the tool and how to link the plot elements together, the focus then changes to the story structure and the content.  This is a fabulous tool for ELA teachers teaching story mapping and could even be used in other classrooms, like Science or Math or Social Studies, to link ideas together and create Q & A type events.

Here is a Sample

Friday, January 23, 2015

Multiplication Addict - Great Math App

A great math app I learned about for iOS went free today.  Multiplication Addict is very similar to the tile games that you try to tap tiles next to each other in order to clear them and move to the next level, like Candy Crush.  But this app has a twist in that you are given the answer and must tap two numbers that, when multiplied, reach that sum.  It's fast-paced and fun and would be great for elementary students or middle school students who need a bit more practice.

If the app is no longer free WSD staff may request it using this form

Seesaw App - Student Portfolios

I'm always on the hunt for apps or websites that make the creation of student portfolios easy.  I've looked at a lot (Google Sites & Three Ring, to name a few) and sometimes they try to do too much or have too many features.  I found one today called Seesaw that is very easy to use and very simple for students to join.  The app has four ways to collect student work: taking a photo, taking a video, drawing, or choosing a picture from your iPad's camera roll.

As a teacher you login with your Google account and then have students join by scanning a QR code or entering their names manually.  Once they're in the app they can use one of the ways above to send you their work.  The neat part about the app is that the teacher has to approve their work by a quick scan in order for it to become part of their portfolio.  Another neat feature is when a student creates a drawing they can also add text and record their voice as part of their entry.  A teacher can also decide which students get tagged with a portfolio entry.  What that means is that if there's group work a teacher can put that particular item into more than one student's digital locker.

The simplicity of this app for teachers and students, and the fact that it's free make it highly user-friendly.  I could see this happening at the elementary level very easily and maybe even into middle school.  Imagine a student pulling out their tablet at a parent teacher conference or around the dinner table and sharing all of their great work with the rest of the family.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Voice Recorder and More

There are a handful of voice recording tools out there in Appville that allow you to record your voice or your surroundings.  The ones that I find most useful are the ones that also allow you to continue recording even while you're in another app.  This is handy for students who want to record their voice while demonstrating how to do something else on their device.  But as I said, they're a dime a dozen, or cheaper.

But one that came free today called eXtra Voice Recorder allows you to record too but then allows you to cut parts of your recording out that you don't want.  You can also add notes at certain points during the recording and even add images from your camera roll or directly from your camera (but I had trouble getting those last two features to work).  The beauty of this app for students is if they are creating a movie and need audio they can press Record and just let things roll and then cut out what they don't need later.  They can then export the clips via email, share over wifi and Open In...various other apps.  If you didn't get it while it was free you can request that it be put on your device by filling out this form.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Link Bunch

Here's a great tool that I read about on that I wish I had a few years ago.  I remember trying to find an effective tool that would allow me to share a bunch of URLs to students by just sharing one URL.  I was not lucky enough at the time to find a good tool.  But along comes  Simply enter in the URLs of the sites you want your students to visit and press the 'Bunch' button.  The URLs get packaged up into one simple that when clicked on by your audience opens up all of the sites.  I could see this not only as a way to share sites with students but with an audience if you were doing a presentation.

Video Chat at Lincoln

I had the privilege of spending the morning in Mr. Parr's classroom at Lincoln Elementary as his students did a FaceTime chat with Dr. Parr on the east coast.  Dr. Parr is a university professor and the students had some great questions lined up about the causes and prevention of obesity.  I appreciated Mr. Parr's willingness to not let initial technology hurdles (two blown projector bulbs...when does that happen but on the day you really need it) get in the way.

Students were excited to see themselves on the screen, engaged, asking good questions, and taking notes on Dr. Parr's responses.  It was an excellent way to move the classroom beyond the physical walls of the school.

Khan Academy App Updated

The newest Khan Academy app came out yesterday and it's now packed with all of the content that is on their website.  In the past the app was limited, but no more.  Your work between the website and app is also synced.  Here's some more details from

On the iPad edition of the app, you can now sharpen your skills with more than 150,000 interactive Common Core-aligned math exercises that include instant feedback and step-by-step hints. These exercises can be narrowed down to recommendations offered by the app based on the level of your math skills.
What’s more, the app lets you write down your thoughts and solutions as you perform exercises on its built-in scratchpad. You can even write in your answer and the app recognizes your handwriting thanks to the same technology that powers MyScript MathPad.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

iOS Video Apps

While iMovie is the gold standard for video apps on an iOS device there are other ones out there that do similar things or take video to a new dimension.  One simplistic app that does video is called YouTube Capture.  It allows you to instantly capture video, reorder clips, add music from YouTube's library, and then upload your video to YouTube, Facebook or Twitter.  Here is their description:

* Capture the moment: Start recording instantly
* Stitch together an unlimited number of clips as you build your story
* Trim and rearrange clips right from your phone
* Add a soundtrack from your music collection or YouTube’s audio library
* Touch up videos with color correction and stabilization
* Upload to YouTube and share on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter - all in one step

Bubbli is not really a video app but it seems like it is.  What it allows you to do is take a 360 degree bubble photo of your surroundings that you can then move your way through on your device.  It even gets uploaded to the bubbli server so you can share the link with others.  Here is their description:

Bubbli is next best thing to being there. 

Check out our website to learn more – including video and tutorials of the app in action. 

Only bubbles capture the world the way we see it – as one whole seamless environment – Photos and videos aren't enough. Use bubbli to recreate the view that's all around you.

Pond5 - 80,000 Items into Public Domain

I learned about this from

Announced today, the Pond5 Public Domain Project has been conceived with content “specifically for media makers,” Pond5 said. Included in this first batch of content are 10,000 video clips, 65,000 photos, “thousands” of sound recordings and “hundreds” of 3D models.

If your students are working on video projects or looking for free use images, videos, audio etc. this is a great site.

ClassResponder App - Real Time Quizzes

I found out about this app from

ClassResponder is an app that allows you to make real-time quizzes to 'pass out' to your students.  There is a teacher app and a student app that you can download for free.  Here is their description:

 Conduct on-the-spot polling with real time results.
• Create your own activities and quizzes. Quizzes can be multiple choice, true/false, or open- ended.
• Assign lessons as classwork or homework. 
• Choose whether you want an activity to be self-paced or teacher-paced. Perfect for individual, small group, or whole class instruction.
• Provide immediate feedback to students.
• View and email results of completed assignments by question, by activity, and by individual student.

The interface is easy to use and students simply enter a code to get into your class.

Useful Web Tools

I came across a site called Rich Internet Applications sponsored Michigan State.  It has some useful tools for students to interact in different ways with the digital classroom environment.  The one I like the most is an audio dropbox, similar to SpeakPipe.  You put a container on your website or blog where students can click, record themselves, and you get all of their recordings in one spot.  There's a also a place for handwriting practice, creating your own repository for images and videos, and a Jeopardy game creator called QuizBreak.  Give it a look.

Friday, January 16, 2015

RefMe - Citation Creation App

I gleaned this tip from

Teaching students to reference material, especially in late-elementary to middle school, can be tough because they sometimes don't see the need for it.  They probably don't even think of where things came from except that they Googled it.  But to be good digital citizens we need to get our resources from free use sites or cite the correct sources, and cite them correctly.  That's where an app like RefMe comes in really handy.

The app works in a few different ways.  There is a login required which needs an email address, but the neat thing about having a login is all of the citations are saved in the cloud on the website.  So if a student doesn't have their device with them they can still get at their previously cited material.  Upon logging in and opening the app users click on the + symbol and then can add a citation in one of four ways:

  1. Search for a book or journal (title, author, ISBN, or URL)
  2. Visit a specific website or URL
  3. Enter an ISBN manually
  4. Hover over the barcode and use the built in scanner/code reader

For me, the last option was the most appealing.  I enabled the camera, hovered over a student's book and it picked up that book instantly.  Yes, it was Twilight.  No, it wasn't my personal copy.  From there I can save it and export it.  The export options are straight to my clipboard, via email, or to Evernote.  Remember too, that it's already saved to my online account.

Within the settings you can change which format you want to use (MLA, Chicago, APA, Harvard, etc.)  It's a great app that all students should use and all teachers should help their kids use so we're doing things as we should and giving credit where credit is due.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Use Chrome Remote Desktop to Control Computer from iOS

I've tried to use this Chrome extension before from computer to computer but it was always kinda clunky.  But now with the latest update you can control your Mac or PC from an iOS device.  You get a mouse and keyboard to use and can click and do other useful functions, like control + alt + delete.  You need to download the app here and the companion Mac app here and set up each one.  Sync them together and away you go.  

Access other computers or allow another user to access your computer securely over the Internet.
Chrome Remote Desktop allows users to remotely access another computer through Chrome browser or a Chromebook.  Computers can be made available on an short-term basis for scenarios such as ad hoc remote support, or on a more long-term basis for remote access to your applications and files.  All connections are fully secured.

Chrome Remote Desktop is fully cross-platform.  Provide remote assistance to Windows, Mac and Linux users, or access your Windows (XP and above) and Mac (OS X 10.6 and above) desktops at any time, all from the Chrome browser on virtually any device, including Chromebooks.

Friday, January 9, 2015

21 CCSS Math Apps for High School

Thanks to my friend Sarah for bringing these to my attention.

21 CCSS Math Apps for High School for Easy Infographic Creation

Infographics are a great way to display information that taps into both the visual and numerical side of our brains.  They are usually easy to read and can convey a lot of information quickly and easily, but they're not terribly easy to create.  Until now. is a neat site that allows you to make infographics by either starting with a fresh, clean template or choosing one of the pre-created templates.  From there you can click, edit, drag, and modify until you get your final product.  After that you can present them in fullscreen mode, download and share/embed.

If you're looking for a way for students to visualize information or do mind mapping then is a great site to explore.

Monday, January 5, 2015

MolaSync - Collaborative Whiteboard and More

I stumbled across a great app today that became free today only called MolaSync.  It's normally $5.99 and after playing around with it for a while I have decided it's great!  If you've used Explain Everything it's very similar to that app in the sense that it allows you to do pretty much anything, draw, type, add images and web browser clips, insert backgrounds and documents, add maps, etc.  Lots of creation tools.  But the neat thing about MolaSync that sets it apart from Explain Everything is that it's collaborative and different users can add content in real-time.

You can also sync documents with your Google Drive or DropBox (and other accounts) as well as export via multiple services like email, iTunes, and camera roll.

The main reason I love this tool is that it gives an infinite canvas for students to create with any tools they might need.  Give it a whirl and if it's not free anymore then request it via the WSD app request page.