Friday, November 30, 2012

Spelling City App

I love Spelling City and we use this site in our classrooms on a weekly basis.  It is worth the subscription that we pay each year.  

Recently, Spelling City developed an iPad app and so I asked my spelling groups to put it to the test.  It was a huge hit and my students were impressed.  The things they liked were that they could sign in and access their spelling list, the activities and games worked super fast, and they liked the sounds and animations with the games.

To explain more about what the app has to offer, I suggest reading Nic Peachey's blog post.  He does a nice job explaining the app thoroughly and with screen captures.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Have you tried Pandora Internet Radio?  I am listening to music on Pandora right now as I type this blog post.  Pandora is a great way to play Christmas music or other types of music in your classroom.  I also use Pandora on my iPhone, iPod and Google TV at home and I LOVE IT!

Here are some screenshots showing how to use Pandora.

First sign up for an account at  It is free.

Pandora lets you search and save your favorite types of music.  You can simply search for an artist or genre.  For example here are some of my stations:

To find stations simply type in an artist's name or a music genre, such as country, R&B, or Christmas.  I also have found that starting your search with "Today's __________" gives the most current music in any genre.  For example if I type Today's Country I will be able to listen to the most current country songs being played on the radio.

You can skip a song if you don't like it.  Pandora also lets you like or dislike a song in order to personalize the music that is played on your station.

One of my favorite ways to listen to music is to shuffle a few of my stations and play music from my favorite artists or genres. 

Pandora can be shared socially with your Facebook or Twitter account.  You can share what you are listening to. 

It is possible to follow your friends on Pandora and see what they are listening to.  

If you have Pandora opened in your browser, it will continue to play while you browse the Internet.  If you have it opened on your Smart Phone, it will continue to play unless you pause the song and exit the app.  

There are other Internet radio stations that are available, such as Spotify and Shoutcast.  My preference is Pandora!  I highly recommend giving it a try!

Monday, November 26, 2012

My Story App

This past week our students read a story in which a family shares what they are thankful for on Thanksgiving.  However, there was a spin on what the family shares.  Each person had to think of a negative event and tell why they are thankful for it.  

For example, the Grandfather shared that he is thankful for Grandma singing off key, because it shows that she is happy and that he can hear.

The Dad shared that he is thankful for having to pay bills, because it means they have a nice house to live in and he has a good job to help support his family.

After we read the story, our students created three examples of negative things they are thankful for and why.  We used Google Presentations to host our text and images. 

We then used this to make a book in an app called My Story on the iPads.  My Story allows a person to record their voice with each page of the book.  It also has a very nice paint/drawing feature in it.

Here is what a story looks like:

Click below to view and listen to some of our students' books. 
Story 1
Story 2
Story 3

I highly recommend giving the iPad app My Story a try.  The cost of the app is $1.99.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Teachem is a new site that allows a person to capture YouTube videos, organize them and add discussion questions to the videos.   YouTube is blocked to our students at the elementary level, but this would be a wonderful digital tool for any Middle or High School teacher whose students have access to You Tube.

Check out this video explaining Teachem:

As I browsed through Teachem classes that have been made, I found a good one on how to make better looking Google Documents.  Perhaps I will find a purpose for Teachem in a future blog post or for sharing with others.  We'll see.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fun Websites for Students

Our classroom Wiki is loved by our students.  Often we will tie the activities on our wiki into our content areas, seasonal themes or current events. 

We use our wiki as a place for students to go at the start of our day before we dive into our morning meeting.  This gives us as teachers a bit of time to do our attendance, lunch count, check in with students who have behavior charts and also to read messages from parents.

This week I will be posting educational sites for students on our classroom wiki.  We will analyze the sites and discuss what we experienced.   

Here are the sites on our wiki that the students will be visiting :

#1 - Learning Games for Kids

#2 - Arcademic Skills

I hope your students get a change to try out some of these sites as well.  They help to build skills and give students choices as to what they want to learn about.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

iMovie Worked Wonderfully and More Easily Than Windows Movie Maker

Mr. Hatlen, our principal, gave our students a challenge when we met with him in October.  He challenged each 5th grade classroom to make a video about leadership.  

Making videos isn't as easy as it may seem.  It takes a bit of technological knowledge to put something together that looks presentable when the video is done.  We took on the challenge.  

First, our students thought about what they wanted in the video.  We decided to keep it simple and tell what a good leader does.  My co-teacher and I also decided to add in a few chants, cheers and messages along with each students' leadership statement.  

Next, we used a Flip Video camera to tape the students saying their leadership statements.  Flip Video cameras do not have a pause feature, so we ended up with quite a few video clips.  I chose the Flip Video Recorder since it takes quality videos.

In the past, I have usually used Windows Movie Maker to create a movie with video clips, titles and transitions, but this time I decided to try something new and went with iMovie on my MacBook Air.

One great advantage to iMovie over Windows Movie Maker was that iMovie will accept MP4 video files (this is the video file Flip Videos record in).  Windows Movie Maker does not accept MP4 video files, so in the past I would use Format Factory to convert all of my videos over to AVI files before importing them into Windows Movie Maker.

iMovie was easy to use, quick to create a movie, and felt like a better quality video editor than Windows Movie Maker.  iMovie did not freeze up  like Windows Movie Maker does and it was very quick to load video clips.  I didn't really do much editing or adding in of titles and music.  I just stuck to the basics for my first video.

I remember last Spring when our school tried to use Windows Movie Maker to create a video about Career Day with interviews done by our students.  It did not work out because Windows Movie Maker kept freezing up and could not handle the video clips we were trying to import.  This year I would recommend iMovie to our staff and I am confident that there will not be as many challenges as last year.

iMovie worked great and our video is a success.  Here is our finished product.  It's not fancy, but it gets the message across.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Few Good Things

Here are a few good sites I came across while exploring ICTmagic's by Martin Burrett.   ICTmagic's Wiki is something I have mentioned before.   I hope these sites are useful to you and your students.

#1 -Dino Dig

Play the part of an archaeologist and dig for dinosaurs using coordinate points.

Move any angle and see how the triangles change.  

#3 - GeoCube

A super neat interactive site for exploring the environment including natural disasters and global warming.  

A fun way to learn and practice the food chain.

I love following ICTmagic on and I am so appreciative of all that he shares with us!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Election Thinglinks

Thinglink is something I've written about before here, here and here.  I'm really liking Thinglink lately for finding sites and resources for our classroom.    Here are some great Thinglinks I found after doing a search for "Election" and also a Thinglink I made for my students.

This is a really nice Thinglink with great links:

Here is another great Thinglink with videos and fun links:

This Thinglink has information about the battleground states:

Check out this Thinglink about the Presidential Candidates social networks:

And here a Thinglink I made for my students which I embedded on our wiki.  It is on the great activities available at PBS in their Democracy Project:

Have you made a Thinglink yet?  I highly recommend giving it a try!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

iFake Text

iFake Text is a site I found out about from Ozge Karaoglu's Blog.  iFake Text allows you to create screenshots of a fake iPhone text message.  Here is one I created:

I typed:

And then it created this:

In Ozge Karaoglu's Blog post about iFake Text, she gives some great ideas on how to use this with your students.  

Children can make two characters from a book to text each other.
Two famous people can text each other.
Children can create short poetry using this tool.
We can provide some part of the text and ask children to write their guesses of the other person’s answers.
Children can practice a dialogue, or questions and answers.
We can provide children the conversation and ask what has happened before and after.
We can use this tool to explain the meaning of a vocabulary.
It can also be a good idea to use this tool to practice advices or suggestions.

I recommend giving iFake Text a try.