Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Self-Imposed Sabbatical!

Hi friends,

I have returned from my self- imposed sabbatical. It was long overdue and soooo needed. Life is full and exciting and happy and good... just FULL.

I am working a fun and labor-intensive new project with Appolearning that I am excited to share more about in the coming months. I've also been doing lots of presenting and learning. In other exciting news, my husband has accepted a dream position across the country, so we're busy wrapping up the law school season of our lives, transferring my teaching license, selling things... all of the good madness that comes with big transition. I've been trying to spend my last few months in Montana soaking up the mountains and time with friends... so, that's meant a little time away from one of my favorite hobbies!

My third grade friends have been hard at work and we've been having a blast trying out some fun new tools in the classroom that I am excited to share in the coming weeks! We've been loving ChatterPix, Animoto, Google Research Tools, and Kidblog lately. So much to share!

Thanks for the "are you still alive?" emails. I love the camaraderie and community that I have found online. It's amazing to know that we're really never alone :) It's been especially fun connecting with educators in our future home... the internet really does allow us to build relationships and network in an entirely new way.

Looking forward to sharing lots in the coming weeks!

Reconnecting :)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Stop Motion Animation with MyCreate App

Have you ever tried clay animation with your kids? In the past, I have used iMovie to create stop motion animations with my students and the process was always quite lengthy. The MyCreate app, created by iCreate to Educate, makes the process entirely painless. My third graders were able to create independently in minutes!

About the App

MyCreate makes it easy to create videos using their split screen user interface. As students snap pictures and move the objects, the "onion peel" screen helps students to visualize exactly how much they have moved the object. In the other screen, students can line up the objects and take pictures. There is also a handy "preview" feature for students.

In addition to the stop motion setting, there is also a time lapse setting, which I haven't explored yet, but I can see using in the classroom. It would be fun to monitor something like ice melting or something morphing- or even eggs hatching. Anything that you would want to see over time.

About the Life Cycle Project

To get started, I gave my kiddos a quick overview of what I expected from the project by outlining specific vocabulary words to be used....

Then, I gave each of them a storyboard sheet. We discussed how movie makers use storyboards to plan their videos, so the kids planned out the main sequences of their videos. Kids also planned their backgrounds and the different props they would need.

After the planning periods, the real fun began. The kids had a blast using this app to create their own videos. Check out the finished projects in the video below. They have loved sharing these on their personal blogs, with parents, and during our open house event.

Have you used stop motion animation in your classroom? 
How could you see using this app in your classroom? 
Leave it in the comments!

Stay connected,

Sunday, January 5, 2014

PD in your Jammies- #EdCampHome

This past summer, I had the opportunity to help organize our state's first edcamp, edcamp Montana, with a group of FANTASTIC teachers and techies in our town. I made some great new friends and learned A TON. EdCamps are an international phenomenon... they are being hosted all over the world. The concept is simply professional development for teachers, by teachers. There are no corporate vendors or sponsors. The entire event is funded by donations which makes it free of any real agenda. The itinerary of the event is created by the participants upon their arrival, so it is pretty organic and fluid. I had a BLAST!

So, naturally, when I spotted the registration information for EdCampHome on Twitter, I immediately jumped on board. The concept of a participant driven training that is not place bound was totally appealing to me. I love meeting new people and connecting with other educators, so this seemed like the perfect fit for me. It was a really cool experience. 

The entire event was conducted using Google Hangouts on Air, so participants signed up for sessions using Google forms and participated in moderated Hangouts that were broadcast on Youtube. If you were unable to get into your desired session, you could watch it in real-time on Youtube. There were TONS of options and the overall event organization was fantastic. 

Things I learned from the process:
  • I have been severely underestimating the power of Google Apps.
  • I wish I had known how powerful these tools were when I was a manager.
  • I learned how to update my "lower third" in my Google Hangout window. Very cool.
  • The power of automatization when applying Google Scripts is pretty remarkable.
Now, I know you're all jealous of this neat experience, but don't despair. If you missed out on the fun, but you're interested in the learning, check out these two links: Session one hangouts and session two hangouts. There are some great 30 minute sessions for you to check out. It's pretty amazing how technology has allowed us to connect with peers and colleagues in totally new and unique ways!

Have you gone to an EdCamp? 
Have you tried connecting with other educators using Google Hangouts or Skype? 
Leave it in the comments!

Stay connected,

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tech Tuesday: Thinglink

While this isn't necessarily a specific Tech Tip- it's a deal that you don't want to miss.

ThingLink is a tool that allows you to add tags to an image. Using these tags, you can add multimedia including links and videos to any image. Once you see it in action, it's easy to imagine all of the possibilities that ThingLink holds for your classroom.

The following graphic includes a variety of tips and resources for using ThingLink in the classroom or even for professional development purposes. Recently, a friend and I did a training on presentation tools and our whole presentation was set into a ThingLink.

I am sharing this with you today because ThingLink is expanding their offerings for educators and creating a specific ThingLink Education account. If you create or upgrade your account by the end of the day- December 31- you will automatically receive these services for free. Find the information here.

So, don't miss out!

Stay connected,

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Create simple, yet beautiful, webpages and posters with Tackk

I hope that everyone had a fantastic holiday! It's hard to believe that we're kicking off 2014 so soon.

As we head back to school refreshed from the break, I thought that I would share one of my favorite new tools that I have used this year. It's SUPER simple and your kiddos could pick it up in no time!

Tackk is a FREE web-based tool that allows users to create simple, single-page websites.

Users can select from a variety of different formatting options from the main menu. The pages are easily customizable and the background, color, and fonts can all be changed.

Once you have selected the initial project, it's easy to add pictures, text, links, and more using a simple drag-and-drop user-interface.

The formatting is very linear and content is added as a block by clicking the plus sign at the bottom of the page. You can add content from your computer, via links, or through photo and video hosting sites like Youtube or Flickr.

Once the Tackk is finished- these can be edited later if you have an account. You can share through a variety of avenues.

Here's a quick sample- to see it online, click here:

See on Tackk.com

In addition to the simplicity of use, I love Tackk for a few other reasons.
  • Students do not need accounts- though, if you would like to save their Tackks indefinitely, students will need to use an account.
  • If you would like to have students use your account, the google+1 email system seems to work.
  • "Tackkboards" allow teachers to collect all of their students' Tackks all in one place.
  • Tackks can be shared via a simple link, on nearly any social network, or via an embed code. With an account, the Tackks live online indefinitely. Without an account, they expire after six weeks.
Our new reading curriculum requires students to create a unit inquiry project. So far, we have made posters with voice recordings, simple Google Slideshows, and a collaborative Google Site. Our next project is going to be a Tackk. My kiddos have experimented with it a bit and are ready for more independent use.

Have you used Tackk in your classroom? 
How can you see using Tackk in your classroom?

Stay connected,

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy holidays!

Greetings from Montana,

We've been dreaming of a white Christmas for weeks and, happily, mother nature delivered!
Here's to a day filled with family, good food, a little wine, and lots of laughs!


I hope you all have a happy and fun-filled holiday!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Giveaway Winner + Holiday Resources

I don't know about you, but the rush of the holidays has officially set in. We're counting down the days to break and the kiddos are thrilled! I spotted this today on Pinterest and it gave me a good laugh. Tis' the season!

So, without further ado... the Chronicle app giveaway winner and a few holiday resources for your classroom! Want to give it a whirl? Check it out here.

Yay, Kaycee! You will love Chronicle and the ability to track, store, and record student conferences and records. AWESOME, awesome app!

If you're looking for some games to add to your computer center line-up, computer lab time, or homework over the winter break, then check out this Symbaloo! Games include math activities, language arts, and even a few ebooks. Most of the games will work on an iPad, though some may need a browser like Rover or Puffin due to the use of Flash. 

To grab the Symbaloo, click the image and grab the link. It's super easy to embed the symbaloo into your classroom blog or website too!

Stay connected,

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