Monthly Archives: February 2013

Hot Apps to Make Skill Building Cool

We focus so much on skill building that sometimes we forget that it can be fun.   Getting kids excited is a challenge, but here are some fun apps that can take the dull and boring to fun and exciting.

 mza_3228058020689674386.175x175-75[1] iDiary for Kids: this is a great platform for children ages 5-13 to help improve their writing and communication skills, as well as develop their creativity and improve their self-confidence.  This is a daily journal where kids can express themselves through writing, drawing, and decorating entries. The easy-to-use format allows for exploration of past thoughts as well post future events on a built-in calendar.  This is available for $1.99

iBookWriter[1]iBookwriter: an e-book creating app that is simple, and cost-effective. You can write books/notes/draw diagrams etc on your iPad and they have the ability to publish it instantly.  All you have to do is write  a book, upload and publish it on the internet for free. Books can than be arranged in collections, as well as exported or backed-up. This is available of $5.99

MeeGeniusLogo[1]Meegenius Kids Books:  this is a free app that provides the user with a library and a bookstore for downloadable  e-books.  Readers can access the read-along word highlighting, which will help promote word recognition for the younger readers, while the colorful illustrations help propel the story. Kids can read on their own, or access the audio option which will highlight the text on the screen.   This is a free app.


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Filed under apps, Technology

Using Your Photos to Create Videos

Sometimes the best videos are the ones you make yourself, but it is hard to add simple pictures to them.  Not anymore  though. By using the site One True Media you now have the ability to mix your photos and pictures with text and animation. This site has easy-to-use tools to allow you to create and share your videos through Facebook, twitter, and YouTube. You can also receive direct links or purchase a DVD version.  Registration is required and the site is free to use, but upgrading to the premium package will cost $39.99 a year (you will receive a free DVD) or you can pay $3.99 a month without the DVD special offer.  Create videos highlighting major moments in your life, such as a wedding, or child’s birthdays, but we want to know how you can use this in the school environment.  Create a back to school video for parent’s night, create a video year book, works well for group projects and reports by allowing the students to showcase their creative sides.  Use for team building exercises and co-curriculum lessons.  Take a look and see what videos you can create.



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Filed under Social Networking, Technology, Video

Help Young Readers with Reading Buddies

I love reading to young students. I love having a book club with the middle graders. I basically love seeing children get enjoyment from reading a book. But I do know that some readers might struggle a little when it comes to reading and comprehending the text.  And unfortunately as educators it is sometimes difficult to give each child the individual attention needed to enhance their reading skills. So why not look to some reading sites to help develop reading skills and create a life long reader.

StudyDogSantaLogo-01[1]StudyDog Learning (

This is a reading program designed based on scientific research for emergent and early readers (PreK- 1st grade).  Lessons for the programs were developed  from the ground up and meets states early learning standards and guidelines from the National Reading Panel.  The reading series, Adventures in Reading, has been used to supplement core curriculum in schools.  There is access for both schools and parents.

295448v2v1[1]Lexia Reading (

One of the best-known and highly respected reading technology companies, Lexia Reading is designed as an essential component to the reading curriculum.  The program provides personalized, explicit  and systematic learning for foundational reading skills.  in the world.  It will help predict the student’s year-end performance and provides teachers with data to create instruction.  The program advances reading skills for PreK-4th grade and accelerates the learning for grades 4-12.   Lexia Reading follows the standards set forth by the  National Reading Panel, and Reading First. Students learn skills in sequence, logically building an understanding, while gaining competency and preparing for the next skill.

storia_logo_lowres1[1]Storia  (

Scholastic, a top presence in the reading and education community is joining the field for online and app based reading support.  Storia is app with hundreds of e-books, some enhanced, and includes games and learning tools.  The app prides itself on saying how Reading Comes to Life, and it is true of this stunning application.

logo_no_abc-c4d49dddfdb84ad153241ed739ef3cf2[1]Reading Eggs (

 Reading Eggs is a unique online world that supports the child’s learning development by offering individual one-on-one lessons.  This program helps the child learn to read at their own rate.  Reading is an important skill and but making enjoyable is tough.  This brings the concept of learning with the child’s love of technology and computer games.  The program was developed by highly experienced members of the educational community, authors and online developers, with the focus being on core reading curriculum, phonics and sight words.

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Filed under Technology

The Decode America’s Past with author David Baldacci

I received an email today from Scholastic promoting a virtual field trip with best-selling author David Baldacci sponsored by The 39 Clues Reading Club. I am intrigued by this tour for several reasons:

1) David Baldacci is a great writer and I have had the opportunity to hear him speak and he is perfect for this

2) I have created a promotion for the series and this might be a great way to help add to this promotion by showing how the series links to history

3) This will be a great resource for anyone interested in learning about secrets from the past

This virtual tour titled DECODING HISTORY is taking readers, fans and viewers on a tour of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, where they will hear from top museum curators, get behind the scenes access, and learn about America’s history in a whole new light.

The tour takes place on March 5 at 1 pm est 10 am pst.

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Filed under Uncategorized

Create a Music Video

So you decided to make a video for your class.  Good for you.  But now how do you go about doing it?  Do you make a video using  flip camera, your lap top or desktop, your personal device?  There are many ways to do this, and we will discuss this later with some new posts focusing on video making websites and apps, but for now lets focus on how to enhance your video. 

Unless you are musically inclined, the soundtrack to your video might be what ever background nose is going on during recording.  Music can change the attitude of the video.  A wistful tune will allow the viewer to know that the video is for entertainment.  While a more monotone tune signals that video is more serious in nature (good for lectures).  Here are some links to use if you choose to add some music to your next video. ( Create copyright free music.  Can access from website or download the app. ( ) and ( are fun sites for free Creative Commons music. Creative Commons is a nonprofit corporation that is dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the works of others, that are consistent with copyright rules. Please be aware that RoyaltyFreeMusic is not free. ( ) and ( ) have free sound effects to download.

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Filed under Movie, Music, Technology

Mini-lessons with Podcasts

If you are like me, and I feel that many teachers are, it is hard to fit everything you want to discuss into one lesson. Questions are asked, discussions break out, explanations can take longer, and based on time constraints, going into multiple days might not be ideal.  This is where podcasts can help.  By  creating a podcast, you can support your in-class instruction with mini-lessons the students can view as many times as they like.  Think about it, you are a math teacher, you are trying to explain how to perform a particular formula, a podcast might be the solution for those students who might struggle with comprehending the formula.  They will be able to view the mini-lesson several times in order to fully understand the concept.  Science teachers how great would this be for you to show how to perform an experiment that students can view before the actual assignment. 

One of the podcast sites available to you is Pod-O-Matic. You have the ability to create simple audio podcasts using this online tool and the free space they provide.  Create and place sound recordings online for people to listen to and/or download. Free podcasts are available on many subject areas. The site itself is a social networking style site, some schools may have it blocked. Ask about unblocking just your  teacher account so students can access it while at school while under your supervision.  Record sound directly with the microphone built-in or plugged into your computer and make it available for people to listen to online or download to their MP3 player. Create a minicast through a simple upload of images and audio that turns your images into a short video.  Share through a blog, twitter, or Facebook. Minicasts are web-based and can even be played on an iPhone or Droid.

Check it out to see some of the fun ways podcasts and make your classroom more interactive.


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Filed under PodCasts

Storytelling with an App

There really is an app for everything.  And this one is one of my favorites.  My colleague turned me on to this not that long ago and I thought I would share with you today.
StoryRobe (


StoryRobe is an app for iPods and iPads that allows you to use your images and your own voice to create amazing videos/stories.  It is very easy for children to use, and is great for social studies, language arts and science classes; though my colleague used it in her gym class, she had the students create how-to videos for excercise routines (example doing the proper poses like you see in fitness magazines). 

You can use the built-in microphone or any 3rd party microphone to create audio recordings with the photos and videos in your library.  You are able to edit you images and the order you have them in; you can pause your recording at anytime, however if you make a mistake you must start from the beginning you can’t go back (one downfall).  Once you are done you have the ability to upload the video to YouTube or send it through an email.  This is a great tool to send to parents to see their child’s creation and even share with friends or family. 

Some things to know:

1) The internet is not needed to create stories

2) You do need the internet connections to send the stories

3) This is not a free app. It is though only $0.99 so for a very low price you are getting a great app

I implore you to check it out for your classroom or your own personal use.

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Filed under Digital Story Telling