Friday, April 4, 2014

More iPad Creativity Tools!

Need some new iPad apps that will let your students turn their creative energy up another notch? We’re all about tech in the hands of students as a means to deeper learning, and these apps will allow them to get there. Best news, they are all FREE!

Tellagami - Create short animated movies that include your voice or an app-created one!

  • Have a character tell their story
  • Pick a person in history and have them describe their claim to fame
  • Use a cell or planet as the background and have the avatar name and discuss its function or make-up Recite a famous poem or speech
  • Read a poem they wrote 
  • Take a trip or go back in time and describe its role in history
  • Practice or show proficiency in a foreign language 

Baiboard - Visualize, share and collaborate via zoomable, multi-page whiteboard

  • Have students in one room write math problems while others solve them
  • Collectively analyze and annotate a pdf document
  • Work on a graph or chart over and over again
  • Use a map or chart to track directions 

Touchcast - TouchCast is not only a great content creation tool for teachers that takes the flipped classroom concept to a new place, but also a highly engaging tool that can also be used as a platform to give assignments to students. Includes a detailed pdf guide on how to integrate Touchcast into education.

Flowboard - A new approach to creating and publishing interactive presentations. The Flowboard Guide makes it easy!  It has a web-based version too!

  • Illustrate landmarks in places being studied
  • Go deeper into science concepts
  • Present different types of figurative language
  • Show geometric shapes found in real life 

Aurasma - Using Aurasma you can create augmented reality layers; Aurasma calls them “auras,” that pop-up when you scan objects with your iPad or iPhone.

  • Have a historical figure tell his story
  • Recite a poem
  • Have younger students describe learning
  • Open house information for parents
  • Share a science or math process

Friday, March 28, 2014

What ‘They’ Forgot to tell you When Flipping your Classroom

Here's a guest post by Cheryl Chase, Middle School Science Teacher at St. Leo the Great School in San Jose, Ca., all about tips and tricks to successfully flip your classroom. Thanks, Cheryl!

The “Flipped Classroom”, it’s what everyone is talking about and for good reason. I jumped into this with two feet, full steam ahead. I thought, “Here is the answer to my problems of students missing class due to illness, sports or school assemblies.” I reasoned, “I’ll get more teaching time and then I can do the activities with my students that will help them really ‘get’ the concepts they need to master this topic”. But then there are those things ‘they’ forget to tell you about, like: curation of all that data, the time it takes to make all those videos, and what if the students don’t watch the lesson?” Here are some things to consider before you jump into the flipped learning pool.

Curation:  Where do you organize all those ‘flipped videos’ that you make? There are many answers to this question, Google Sites (part of Google Apps for Education) being one. However, the learning curve can be a bit tricky.  Here’s my sample page.   Another option is  The user can drag and drop the content right onto the site and they have some professional looking templates.  However, the tool I found to be the best is This is a drag and drop interface.  Blendspace accepts anything that is on the web or your computer and organizes it easily without having to understand coding.  Here’s a sample page by Jennifer Barnett, on Plate Tectonics.  Whichever you choose, stick with it - students have a hard time with change and you’ll avoid the excuses that will come up.

It will take longer than you think:  Until you get the hang of your screencasting software, you’ll take longer than you think to make a video.  The rule of thumb is:  For a 3 minute video it will take you approximately an hour to create, edit and tweak the video.  There are a ton of free apps out there: for ipads  - Educreations, Explain Everything, Showme.  Chromebook (and Chrome) users can use screencastify, and snagit  from the Chrome web store. For desktop users, two good choices are screencast-o-matic and . If you are willing to pay for  more robust software, there is Camtasia by Techsmith and Captivate by Adobe. There are more, but that will get you started.

Homework: What happens when students don’t watch the video lesson? I ask students to watch the video in class and they are not given the opportunity to participate in the activity until they finish.  It only takes one time for a student to be sitting on the sidelines when others are having fun doing an activity to make sure they ‘do’ the homework.  

Quiz often:  Give formative quizzes often.  I have students take a formative quiz after each video - they cannot move on in the lesson until they ‘pass’ the formative quiz.  A quick check of blendspace shows me who still has to pass and what they are struggling with.  

Expect some resistance: I was really surprised when I encountered resistance from the students to flipping my classroom.  But students have a system and an expectation in class. When you flip your classroom, it upsets their ‘norm’.  This can be problematic for some students.  To help them, ask them to hang in there for, say a month and then revisit the topic. I haven’t had a student yet want to go back to the traditional method once they get the hang of a flipped classroom and all the individual attention they get at school.

So is flipping worth it?  I’d say, “Yes, and make sure you go in with your eyes open and tools in your toolbelt”.  

What's your experience with flipping your classroom? Send us your tips and tricks!
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