Pic Collage in the Classroom

Yesterday, I was in Mrs. Savage’s third grade class using the Pic Collage app on the iPad. (It is also available on the iPod.) I reported about this app in the Presentation Tools section of the blog awhile back, but this is the first that I have had the opportunity to try it out in a classroom. The activity was to put together a collage of pictures that  Ms. Savage had taken over the year and to write a caption for those pictures. The students found the pictures directly from Ms. Savage’s website; this helped to avoid using Google images or finding inappropriate pictures. The students saved them in their camera roll and then were able to access them in the app. The students were able to quickly put together a collage, and I think they had a lot of fun doing it. Ms. Savage had the wheels turning in her mind as she realized that she could apply this app to almost any learning experience. It would be a quick and easy way for the students to produce a piece of work to demonstrate what they learned.

However, there was a downer to the moment as we suddenly realized that the students could find background images directly from the internet if they typed in a search. None of the students searched subjects that were completely out of line, thankfully. I did test it myself to see how it worked on the East Noble filter; for the most part it seems to filter the bulk of inappropriate content. It is vital that I keep you informed when situations like this occur. I apologize that I had not caught it earlier in my first evaluation of the app.

As I have traveled amongst the five elementary buildings this year, I have been so impressed with the teaching staff of East Noble School Corporation. We have some excellent teachers, and Ms. Savage handled the situation just like so many of the teachers in this district have. She made it clear to her students that when they use Pic Collage, they need to only use pictures that are in their camera roll and backgrounds that are already available instead of doing a search for new ones. Her reasoning was because she wanted to see the text and the pictures they posted, and not be distracted by a picture of Alvin and the Chipmunks (or other pop culture icons). I was so impressed because a lot of times our natural response is to dismiss an app or use of the internet due to the potential danger. Setting clear expectations and guidelines is the key because apps like Pic Collage hold so much potential for the students to demonstrate their learning in a quick and creative fashion.

To top it all off, I started to get emails that afternoon asking about Pic Collage due to Ms. Savage sharing the experience. Keep spreading the word to each other as you come across great digital learning tools. Don’t forget to share them with me too! Share them here; then more people can benefit from your advice!

Here is a great collage one of  Ms. Savage’s third graders created:

Using Pic Collage could be an easy way for students to record their thoughts or learning about any subject.


Google Search Education

Google has provided Google Search Education for teachers, and it is a great opportunity. It is, however, geared more towards upper elementary through high school, but many of the concepts could be adjusted accordingly.  Almost everyone uses Google, but most of us (including myself) do not know of all its capabilities. This site provides lesson plans and webinars on how to be more proficient searchers. It talks about the tools Google has to offer within the search, how to analyze sources, and issues of copyright. Check it out for yourself.

Story Kit

One of the challenges that Zack and I have faced the last few weeks is finding apps that allow primary students to create on an iPod. Sure, there are a lot of apps out there that help kids practice and develop skills, but most of the production opportunities are with the iPads and are too complex for a kindergartener or a first grader to use. Doodle Buddy has worked well in the past, but teachers obviously need more than one free app that will allow the students to be creative. This week I came across an app called Story Kit. (New to me, not to iPods.) I think this app will really allow young students to show their creative abilities. The kids have the option to take pictures, add text, and record their voice while reading it. I could see this being used in all content areas. It could be to demonstrate a skill, publish a story, publish a how-to book, share an event, etc. Not only that, but it is a pretty simple and straight-forward app. I hope to have the opportunity in the near future to work with some teachers and students on a project using Story Kit.