Sunday, December 30, 2012

Talking WeeMee

Using the Talking WeeMee App to Record Student Reading Fluency

I was looking for a way to provide ways for my students to record their reading in order to build fluency.  As we all well know, one of the best ways to "drive a point home" in terms of students and their reading is to have a student LISTEN to how they actually sound when they read aloud.  Case in point...I had a student who had a "Happy Swede" thing going.  When she'd read aloud, she'd insert an "a" into her words.  It sounded like this:  "aOnce upon a timea, a littlea girla wasa walking..."  (You get the point!)

Anywho, having my student really listen to what she sounded like did worlds of good...and the problem was corrected quite quickly.  In order to do this, we used Garage Band on the Mac to record her read-aloud.

Now, with iPods and iPads, there are more portable options to record my students read-alouds.

I've used the AudioBoo App to record my students reading and AudioBoo is really quite effective, however, it lacks a bit in terms of "kid appeal."  

Enter Talking WeeMee.  This App can be purchased on iTunes for $0.99 and is designed for the iPhone and iPod Touch, however, it works great on the iPad as well!  The great thing is that you can email the final "video" to yourself or your student's inbox or you can post it to a FaceBook page easily within the App.  I've actually sent these to a few of my student's parents and have received rave reviews.  An added benefit:  parents actually watch and LISTEN to these clips.  This is, in my opinion, a much better way to present feedback to least better than a paper report!

The student can choose an "avatar,"  a background and a "voice" for the personalized WeeMee.  In order to have the student really "hear" his/her reading, I insist on using the "Normal" voice.  Try the "Chipmunk" voice just for fun, but a student should really hear himself/herself in order to get the most out of this App.

Talking WeeMee only records 20 second clips, but in 20 seconds you can really get a feel for how a student sounds and how fluent he/she is with their reading.

My fourth graders love the interactivity of using Talking WeeMee to record their reading and the clip gives a quick taste and a wonderful snapshot of student reading fluency.  All 23 of my students have grown at least 2 reading levels since I started using Talking WeeMee with them during our Reading Fluency stations.  It's kid-friendly, easy to use, and easy to access as a video clip.

There are bunches of these Talking WeeMees on youTube.  Check them out!


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FREE Measurement App

After 2 SOLID days of searching for new apps for 30 iPod Touches- 
I was happy to find this FREE Measuring App. 

Students manipulate a ruler to measure animals.


★ The Most Fun App to Teach Children the Fundamentals of Length Measurement ★
★ This app is now free for a limited period of time! ★

The Measure Length App is one of the most visually rich and fun app available in the App Store which teaches children the basic concepts of length measurement.

The app includes more than seven animals which walk onto the screen and need to be measured with the help of a translucent ruler. The child then needs to select one of the options specified which corresponds to the correct length of the animal.

Getting fifteen measurements right will end the game.
Front of Sheet

Back of Sheet

I have students email me their results to hold them accountable during Daily 5 while they work alone on the iPod Touches. 

Click HERE to download FREE Direction Sheet.

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Common Core Opinion Writing Pack & Technology

This colorful educational App for the iPhone®, iPad®, and iPod touch® has all 56 illustrated picture flash cards (plus audio of each card’s text) from the Fact or Opinion? Fun Deck® by Super Duper® Publications. Select the cards you want students to see, and have your students distinguish whether each statement is a fact or opinion.

Included in 30 Paged Pack-
Writing Standard Poster
19 Technology Topic Posters
Graphic Organizer
Writing Paper

Common Core Standard W.2.1

Topic Poster

Graphic Organizer



Click HERE to get Writing Pack!

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Friday, December 28, 2012

An app to take notes & store student data - wow!

Confer: The app that organizes your conferring notes and student data

Though I'm considered to be a 'tech-savvy teacher,' I still struggle with letting go of certain paper systems I'm use to.  I feel like I've mastered the perfect templates and spreadsheets for so many of my note taking strategies and record keeping binders.  In fact, I've gotten so great at being so organized that I even have templates and checklists to organize my binders.  Scary, right?

As a former interior design major, one of the most valuable lessons I learned was that function must outweigh form.  No matter how aesthetically pleasing the design is, if the purpose is not functional, the concept will fail.  For example, we've all seen the perfect outfit on the hanger only to try it on and realize the awkward fit and uncomfortable design.  Similarly, I will not shop at some of my favorite stores simply because the parking structures are so very inconvenient.  Living in Michigan, with snow and two small children, I avoid such places that make it difficult to get in and get out regardless how wonderful the store and products are.  

My point: though my binders and templates are fantastic, I'm finding that they are becoming cumbersome when trying to access during instruction.  After all, if the point of all of these notes is to drive my instruction and to be able to differentiate activities, I should have an improved system that allows me to view my notes quickly in an organized manner. 

My current system of templates, composition notebooks, binders, and clipboards looks great.  To the observer, I'm sure I appear to be quite committed, detail-orientated, and organized.  For me, I love my hand written notes.  I grab my clipboard and sit alongside a student to start conferring away.  At a quick glance, I can see who I need to meet with and later I can review my notes.  In my head, I know which students have similar needs and strengths.  However, to group these items requires time and high lighters.  

Our literacy coach sent out an email about a conferring app.  I decided to check it out only to delete the email after seeing the high price of the app.  How could one charge $14.99 for an app.  To me, this was crazy!  After all, this could buy two pizzas on the way home one evening.

Later that day, he (the literacy coach) stopped by my room.  Jason (also my husband's name) and I have a similar background and agree with many of the same instructional practices.  He and I are both alumni of the National Writing Project and follow the work of the authors of Comprehension Going Forward very closely.  He asked what I thought about the app he sent.  I was honest and told him that I didn't really check it out because it was insanely priced.  He suggested I give it another look.

{click here to see what I discovered}

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A Step-By-Step Guide to Primary Produced PowerPoints

Hello!  This is Amanda from Teaching Maddeness.  I am a 2nd grade teacher and I love to have my students use technology to showcase their learning!
We all use technology in our did we ever live without it?  But, just using it ourselves is not enough.  We need to have our students actively using technology, too!

PowerPoint is one of those programs we take for granted and use in a pinch these days.  Most of us know its functions forward and backward, but even if you don't you can get your students actively using technology with PowerPoint.  My second-graders become fluent with it in just a few days - amazing, I know...but they absorb this stuff so much more quickly than us "old folks."  :) 

Today, I'm going to walk you through how I first introduce PowerPoint to my kiddos and show you an example of their very first creation!

I first introduce PowerPoint toward the end of our Informational Genre Study.  Each student has selected an animal to become an expert on, researched and read about this animal, created their own informational books, and are now ready to share what they've learned with their classmates.  What better way than through a presentation using PowerPoint?  This not only lets them share their knowledge, but it meets the standards of incorporating technology and speaking to others to share information.  So, here's what I do:

Before the Project:
Before introducing PowerPoint, I create a VERY basic template of 7 slides.  The first slide shows the title and student's name.
The following six slides have a title that includes ???? where the name of the student's animal will go and the two-column layout (no seen in image below).
Our school has a "common drive" that is accessible by all computers in the school.  I create a "Madden" folder on the common drive and then create a folder for each student inside this folder.  I copy and paste the template into each student's folder.

Day 1: On the first day, I teach students how to navigate to their PowerPoint file.  We do this modeled on the Promethean board several times and that's all it takes!  They've got it!  Their first job is to type in all of their text on this day.  I teach them to "double-click" on the question marks or words (title) to replace with their own text.  Then, they just have to click in the left column of the layout used to insert facts about their animals.  The layout automatically uses bullets for them!  Students use their best spelling, but are told to "ignore" any green or red squiggly lines until a later lesson. ;)
Day 2:  During the next session, I teach students how to insert clipart.  They learn to choose different keywords for searching, how to move clipart and how to resize it.
Day 4:  In the following session, students learn to add background color to the slides and to select a slide transition.  For the background color, students are taught to "right-click" on each slide and select "format background."  I show them how to find "more colors" to see the color wheel.  We talk about choosing light colors so that the text is still easy to read.  Once students have selected a color, they choose "apply to this slide."  I want them to repeat with each slide, selecting different colors to get more practice!

For the slide transition, students click on "animations" and explore all of the options there.  They will have many "oooohs" and "aaaaahs".  They'll have a LOT of fun exploring the options, but I have them select ONE transition and apply it to ALL slides. 
Day 5:  On the final day, I teach students how to use "spell check" to check their spellings.  We discuss how computers are not smarter than us (therefore, sometimes they will think our names are misspelled, but we know better and can click "ignore").  After clicking on "review" and "spell check" students use this tool to help them try to correct all of their misspelled words.  They will still end up with a few, but they are able to catch the majority of them by using this tool independently!

Here's a look at sweet Hannah's completed PowerPoint - simple, but effective.  We'll continue learning more throughout the year, but this is an incredible start!

Once student slideshows are complete, we discuss how to "present" PowerPoint presentations to the class.  You know...the technical stuff...where to stand, not to "read" them, but to use them as reminders as to what you wanted to tell the class about, etc.  Students partner up to practice presenting. 

That's it!  Students are now ready to present their VERY own PowerPoints that they've created on their OWN from the ground up!  Be ready for some "peacocking" as they will be very proud of their creations!  They'll probably even want you to email them to their parents so they can present them at home! :)

Happy creating!  Do you already use PowerPoints with your kiddos?  Do you have additional tips for readers?  Are  you now thinking about having your students create them for the first time?  Have additional questions?  Let me hear from you!

Maybe getting technology into the hands of your students is even a goal of yours in the New Year?  If so, I'd love for you to link up at my site and share it with us!  I'll be back soon with more technology projects!


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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Getting Started with QR Codes

Hi, everyone! It's Farrah, from ThinkShareTeach, here to share a quick and easy way to get started with QR codes in your classroom. QR Codes can be used for so many things, but I decided to start small in my classroom, and create a self-checking center game for reviewing renaming fractions.
Use your device to try out one of the codes!
The idea is that students rename each fraction using lowest terms, then scan the QR code to check their answers. So, how did I do it? It was so simple! First I designed my task cards and added everything except for the QR codes. Then I used two tools:

To make the code:
QR Stuff is a free, simple site to use for making codes. Since I started small, I decided to use my QR codes to give a text answer. On the site, simply choose the button beside 'plain text' and type the text that you want to appear in the content box. The QR code is generated automatically. You can change the color if you'd like or leave it black and white. Download it and insert it as an image.

To scan the code:
i-nigma is my favorite QR code scanner. It's free, and super fast. You can download it on your Apple device here, or from the Google Play store here. This is a screen shot of me using it just now. Sorry its a little tilted.  I literally had to snap it in less than a second because it read the code so quickly!

And that is it! I can't wait to try this game out on the kiddos in January. It will be my first use of QR codes in my fourth grade class. Hopefully, this has given you some ideas for getting started with QR codes as well. I'd love to hear your ideas for getting started, or how you're already using QR codes. 
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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

ZooBurst, Viritual Pop-Up Books

Hello!  This is Julie from The Hip Teacher, sharing one of my favorite technology tools.

Today I am writing about ZooBurst, a site where students can make virtual pop-up books.
The basic ZooBurst site is free, but you can pay for an upgraded version or a school license.  The free account includes up to 10 created books, so students would have to collaborate if you were using the free version in your classroom.

It can be used as a presentation tool for young students.  There is a library of pictures to choose from, or you can upload your own.  Clicking on the arrow turns the "page" and then the pictures pop up.  The little speech bubbles can be clicked on in order to share more information.

I like ZooBurst because it can get young students using Web 2.0 tools.  They can easily write stories and add pictures.  If you have a SmartBoard, students can share their books with the class.  The stories could even be a part of a reading center at the Smart Board!

Here is my favorite part about ZooBurst...the upgraded versions have the capability of using Augmented Reality (this used to be free-I was disappointed that it isn't anymore).
How cool is this?  A student holds the QR code in front of the webcam, and then it looks like the student is holding the book!  Obviously we had some difficulty with holding the code still, but you get the idea.  I just think this site would motivate students to want to write and share stories.

The upgraded versions also allow students to record themselves reading the story.  This would be great for fluency practice!

What other ways would you use this site? Pin It

Make a Photo Collage Faster Than You Can Say "Cheese"

Hello, Tailgaters!  It's Megan from I Teach. What's Your Super Power? here to share a techy tutorial with you.

I love a good photo collage, but even in Photoshop, it's not a quick process. Thankfully, my good friend Pixlr has decided to make it a much easier job. I made this one in less than two minutes!
Awwww.  Aren't they cute?

Want to find out how?  Watch this video (sorry if I sound manly, I've had a cough since Thanksgiving.)

Not a good listener?  Here you go.
•Go to and choose Pixlr Express
•Select Collage
•Click on Layout and select your collage style
•Moving your mouse over any of the boxes will activate the blue plus button.  Click on it and select your picture.  You can click on the picture with your mouse to move it around and adjust it inside the box.
•Use the Spacing tool to change your border size, the Roundness tool for an Instagram rounded corner effect, or the Proportion tool if you want a more wider/tall layout.  Click on the color box to change the background color.  Unfortunately, there is no color picker.  But it is free, so I can't complain too much!

You can edit pictures from within your collage layout too.
•Hover over the picture you want to edit.  I chose to edit the large picture because it had so much background.
 •Click on the little paintbrush.
 •You have lots of options, but to crop a picture, click on Adjustments, then Crop
•Use the blue handle bars to make your adjustments
•When you're happy, click on Apply, then Save

Collages are super fun to make.  Even my 11 year old has had a blast playing with them.  They're also very practical if you're a blogger.  Instead of uploading eight pictures for my tutorial (and hogging up my precious free storage), I only uploaded two.  I saved the photos at 200 KB.  Nice enough for the Internet but not so giant as to use up space unnecessarily.

If you have any questions, leave a comment or stop by my blog and e-mail me!

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Readers Theater Podcasts Set to Student Illustrations (Garage Band)

We had a blast this week making readers theater podcasts of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas using Garage Band.  I know it’s too late for most of you to do a Christmas podcast, but I thought I’d share the steps we took in case you’d like to try it using any type of reader’s theater or poem.

Once you open up Garage Band, make sure you’re on the New Project tab and select Podcast.  Save it as whatever you’d like to call it and press Create. 

It’s best to record the audio portion first.  Click on either Male or Female Basic at the top left.  (It really doesn’t matter which one you choose.)  To record, press the red record button at the very bottom.  Hit the space bar or stop button to stop your recording. 

To play your recording back, drag the arrow (with the red line attached) to the beginning and press play or hit the space bar.  The space bar is also used to pause and stop.  Since my kids were taking turns reading their parts, I had them stop between each stanza of the poem.  If they made a mistake, they could easily delete their section without messing with the entire recording. 

Once my students were satisfied with the audio, they took pictures of the illustrations they made to go with each scene using Photobooth.  (This could also obviously be done with a camera if you prefer.)

They then dragged each individual picture into Garage Band above the corresponding audio clip.  In the picture below, you can see that the purple bubbles (audio) are lined up with the gray bubbles (pictures). 

The last step is to export it as an AAC encoder as shown below.  I uploaded all the podcasts to my classroom website so the families could enjoy them over break.  We also presented them to our first grade reading buddies today and they loved it!:)  Click HERE to view one of my groups’ podcast. 

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