I recently had the opportunity to meet over Skype with Mr. Troy Stein. He is a product manager with Tech Smith. He wanted to do a quick interview about their product, Ask3. (I did a blog post about it here.)
This all came about due to a training for Camtasia/Snagit that took place in January at the East Noble High School. Teachers were learning about the software for the purpose of “flipping the classroom.” While we were there, the presenter brought up the app. Since then, it has been downloaded on to all student accounts. (If it is not on your student iPads, it is at least on your accounts.)
I will be doing future interviews with Mr. Stein. He would like to also meet with some teachers that are using it. If you are curious about the application and its use, check with the fourth grade teachers over at South Side Elementary or one of your friendly peer coaches. 🙂
I was back to my old roots today; teaching fourth grade at Wayne Center Elementary. My old teaching partner, Mrs. Page, graciously lets me visit her classroom to throw any technology I want at her students. A few weeks ago I introduced Scribble Press to her class, and they loved it. They started making books about predictions in their text. They would write what was happening on one page, illustrate it, and then write their prediction on the next page. However, we never got to the part where they need to sign-up for a Scribble Press account to be able to publish their piece. I have found it to be easier to teach them how to use the app first then later have them get an account so that they are not twitching with boredom in their seat.
Before we even got to the point of putting in their personal information to get an account, I spent a lengthy time discussing what it means to be a digital citizen. We started with discussing what being a good citizen is. After some discussion, they came to the conclusion that being a citizen means to do things that will benefit everyone as a whole. Perfect! That is exactly what it means to be a good digital citizen. We talked about all the garbage that people put on the internet that really just wastes everyone’s time. We talked about how irritating it is when someone litters on the ground, and it is the same when someone litters the internet. It is an annoyance to other people. I think the greatest example (and most relevant to them) is YouTube. There is some great stuff on YouTube that is worthwhile watching, but there is also an abundance of litter on it with pointless videos and reckless comments.
So…how does this all relate to Scribble Press? Scribble Press is a site where the students can upload their books for the whole world to see. I stressed how vital it is for them to be good digital citizens, and not litter their website. So before they post, they must ask for permission first.
It is ironic however, because the students as soon as the students were in, they were able to download books from people on Scribble Press. What did they find? Quite a bit of litter. Here is an example you could even use with your students to discuss being a good digital citizen
I understand this example could have been a legitimate attempt for the child that created it (which is why I didn’t include the direct link to the book), but generally the students understand that this book could be of better quality. It isn’t even necessarily that bad of an example, but I think we have to show the students a book that is just substandard enough to communicate the expectation there needs to be when posting online.
I encourage any of you using apps that post materials to the Internet to have this discussion with your students. It will benefit everyone in the long run. It is never too early to discuss it with your students. The earlier they learn this lesson, the less likely they are to behave poorly online in the future.
One of my favorite parts of being a technology peer coach is when I get to go into exploration mode and look for apps/websites that could be useful for teachers. In the last few weeks, I’ve done a little digging and have found a few apps that might just meet your needs. A lot of them are just “skill and drill” apps, but they are pretty good quality as far as the fun factor goes. By the way, all of these apps are for iPod and iPad.
You get 30 seconds to record your voice and move a sock puppet around. It then changes your voice according to which sock puppet you have chosen. I think this could be a lot of fun for students to record book recommendations, reenact a favorite scene, make a prediction, talk about cause and effect…you get the idea. The only drawback is that the free version only allows you to upload to Youtube and Facebook. That is the only way to export the video. So, you’ll need a Youtube account if you want to keep the videos. However, you can set the videos as unlisted so that random people surfing Youtube will not be able to come across it. Here is an example:
Math vs. Zombies, Math Bingo Racing, and Math Monster Bingo:
The company Tap to Learn has a series of skill and drill apps for learning math facts. I came across them a few weeks ago and recommended them to a few teachers to try out. As it turns out, the students love playing them. So if you are looking for math facts apps that are fun and entertaining, these are for you. You may want to search Tap to Learn in the App Store as well. They have many free apps. See if you like them!
Chicken Coop Fractions:
I have taught 4th grade for several years and one of the most difficult concepts for kids to understand are fractions. I like this app because it works on fraction/decimal equivalents. Not only that, but I think it is funny that the chickens are launching eggs into a nest. It even starts to cover the concept of improper fractions and the decimal equivalent. The whole idea is that you have a number line from zero to one. The student receives a fraction and they have to determine where that fraction is located on the number line in decimal form. It will build number sense skills involving partial numbers.
This app has a series of instructional videos covering a wide range of mathematics and science concepts. This would provide great review for students that need extra practice. For math concepts, make sure you look in the arithmetic section to find videos that would be appropriate for elementary students. They have high school level videos as well.
Yes, I have spoken about Scribble Press before, but now I want to show you what it can really do. This app really has a lot of potential for some exciting projects. (This is an iPad only app.) I stopped by Mrs. Jackson’s class (third grade) today and she happened to mention to me the work her students are doing with Scribble Press. She has students using it to create stories, make illustrations, and even create non-fiction style pieces. I have a couple of examples for you to check out:
You could make about any project in your classroom come to life with this app. Students can easily record events for a science project, make a book about a social studies topic, create picture vocabulary books, or even show story problems in math.
Thanks, Mrs. Jackson, for sharing these with me today. I love seeing cool projects the students are creating. Keep them coming! 🙂