Sunday, February 22, 2015

Book Creator App - Create Beautiful eBooks

At some point in time our district will be opening Google Play for our staff and students. When this happens, I will be recommending the app Book Creator for creating digital ebooks.  If your district has iPads, you can get the Book Creator app from iTunes.

Book Creator allows students to infuse audio, text, images, and color  to personalize each page of their story.

Watch this Chat with Deb to see how the Book Creator apps works:

As you can see, the Book Creator app is simple to use and yet the end result is an impressive digital ebook. 

Thank you to Intel's Teachers Engage for sponsoring this post.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Thematic - Create a Visual Presentation Simply

Thematic is a really neat way to create a very simple presentation with photos and text.

Click here to see my presentation.

Just scroll down when you get there.

It just doesn't get any easier.

I started by signing up for an account.

I then clicked on Create a Story

From there I was able to choose whether I wanted to bring in pictures from my Dropbox account or from my computer.

I used a folder from my Dropbox of a school in Middleton, Wisconsin that I had saved pictures of their 21st century design.

Once the pictures were uploaded, which was super fast, I added text to each of the pictures.

I was able to choose the color of the text, but it was limited to white or grey scale.

When I had finished the story, I had the option to make it public or private.

Sharing is simple. Email, social networks, embed or just copy the link.

I created my story in just a few minutes.

The story is saved in my profile.

There are many stories to explore on the site.

If you are looking for a very simple way to share a story in pictures and text, I highly recommend Thematic.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Gamification - My Presentation is Packed with Great Resources

This week I presented a session on Gamification to a group of educators in our district.

This is a very popular topic in education right now and one that I am passionate about.

Here is my presentation:

What is important to remember, that is not written down anywhere in my presentation, but is something I talk about when presenting on Gamification, is that while we can engage students by adding gaming aspects to our lessons and through game-based activities to help teach the content, the true focus should always be on the love of learning and the intrinsic rewards that come with it.

Never should the focus be solely on extrinsic rewards and motivation, although they can play a part, this is not what we want to rely on. The ultimate goal is engagement, not materialistic rewards. 

There are a lot of great resources and sites in the presentation for Gamification and Game-based learning. I hope you consider incorporating some gaming elements into your classroom.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Chat with Deb: Apps for 2 in 1 Devices to Add to Your Digital Tool Box

In this digital age of 2 in 1 devices, there are unlimited amounts of applications available for student and teacher use in the classroom. With the productivity of a laptop and versatility of a tablet, 2 in 1 devices give students and teachers the opportunity to make the best use of a mobile device.

Here are a few applications that work perfectly with a 2 in 1 device.

Also available from the Windows Store and Google Play

OneNote is an outstanding app for taking notes, capturing images and making to do lists. This app is available across all platforms including Windows, Google and Chrome which makes it a great app to download on all of your devices.

What makes OneNote the perfect app for a 2 in 1 device is that it allows you to make use of the tablet for capturing images with a camera, creating drawings on the touch screen, recording audio notes with a mic and dragging items around on the canvas to organize your notes the way you want them to be. On the other hand, the keyboard makes it efficient to quickly take notes, easily insert links and add files into your note.

Here is an example of using OneNote to capture important information during a lesson:


I highly recommend adding OneNote to your students’ digital tool box for 2 in 1 devices. Teaching students how to effectively record their notes in a creative, systematic and visual way will help them tremendously as they grow as a learner.

Also available from the Windows Store and Google Play

Nearpod is the perfect 2 in 1 device app. This amazing app gives teachers a creative platform for creating and delivering interactive lessons and assessments to their students. And one of the greatest features of Nearpod is that it offers plenty of ready-to-use lessons created by distinguished publishers and educators, such as CK-12 and Time for Kids,  to save teachers precious time in preparing a lesson. Be aware that some lessons cost money, but many are free.

One nice feature of Nearpod is that the teacher needs an account, but students do not. To begin a lesson teachers simply click on “Live Session” and project a 5 letter pin for students to enter to join the session. The teacher controls the pace of the lesson so as the teacher navigates from slide to slide, the students will see the lesson projected on their screen. There is also the option to allow student to view a lesson as homework. This allows the students to move through the lesson at their own pace.  

Nearpod makes creating lessons simple and easy with either a tablet or a laptop. A teacher can import their own content from an already created Powerpoint, PDF, Video or other files.  

Nearpod allows a teacher to add various content such as a slide, video or slideshow or add an interactive activity such as an open ended question, poll, quiz or draw it.
All student data is collected and can be retrieved at any time. Lessons are saved to a teacher’s library for easy future access and can be shared with others to use.
I highly recommend using the Nearpod app in any 2 in 1 device classroom as this app provides both the teacher and student with an engaging and interactive experience that takes advantage of both the laptop and tablet.
I’m confident that you will find this app a must have for your digital toolbox.

Book Creator
Also available in the Apple Store

It doesn’t get any better than when students are given an opportunity to write their own stories.  The Book Creator app is one of the best apps for creating and sharing your story.  This app incorporates many forms of media including audio, images, text and digital handwriting.

With a 2 in 1 device, the Book Creator app becomes very powerful. A tablet makes creating and arranging objects on a page fun and simple. The keyboard is useful for typing in text for the story. Using the camera and microphone gives the book a multimedia edge.

Sharing your book is easy with the ability to share and view your book in many different apps including Evernote, OneNote, Google Drive or simply emailing the book to someone.  

I highly recommend adding Book Creator to your students’ digital tool boxes for 2 in 1 devices. This app is high in quality and versatile in the numerous ways that it can be used in any subject area for creating ebooks.  With Book Creator and a 2 in 1 device, there is no limit to what students can create.

Website: and
Also available in the Apple Store

Kahoot is a game-based student response system.  Teachers use Kahoot to captivate learners through real time meaningful questions. Students use the touch screen to select their answers and to compete to earn as many Kahoots as they can in record time.  A leader board shows the top 5 responders throughout the game and give the Kahoot experience a slightly competitive feel.

When creating a Kahoot the teacher is able to use the laptop to insert videos, images, gifs, and text.  Creating a Kahoot quiz is simple with the ability to assign points and time limits to each question. When a Kahoot quiz is ready to be used, the teacher simply shares a game pin with students which allows them to join the game. No account is needed by the student.

Participating in a Kahoot quiz is engaging and exciting for students. The touch screen displays the choices for students with colors and shapes. This makes it easy for even the very young to participate in a Kahoot quiz.  All data is saved throughout the quiz and the teacher is able to download the results at any time.

With the ability to share any Kahoot with others, teachers will find it easy to connect with their colleagues and find Kahoots to use with their studentsI highly recommend using Kahoot with your 2 in 1 devices to bring a high level of energy and engagement to your lesson.

To make the most of your 2 in 1 device incorporate applications such as OneNote, Nearpod, Book Creator and Kahoot.  Whether the focus is on note taking, lesson delivery, student creation or assessment, these four apps are perfect for making the best use of your laptop and tablet.

Thank you to Intel for Education for sponsoring this blog post. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

New Speech Recognition Add-on for Google Docs

Check out the new speech recognition add-on for Google Docs.

1 -Open a new or existing Google Doc
2 - Click on Add-ons and then Get Add-ons
3- Search for Speech Recognition and click on Free and then Install the add-on
4- After the add-on is installed, click on Add-ons again and then on the Speech Recognition add on.
5- Then allow access to your microphone and begin speaking in what you want to say on your Google Doc.

Here is a quick demo:

I highly recommend trying the new speech recognition add-on with your students.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Aurasma isn't Difficult, I Promise

Aurasma is an augmented reality app that works well with STEAM classes and really isn't as difficult as people may think.

Watch this Chat with Deb to see how to create Auras that will show images, animations or videos layered on top of a scannable object. I also give some ideas of ways to use the Aurasma app with students.

Do you have an idea of how the Aurasma app might be used successfully in the classroom?  

I highly recommend giving the Aurasma app a try. Thank you to Intel's Teachers Engage for sponsoring this video.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Inspirograph - A Digital Spirograph!

Today I share a post about something that is fun and creative. I believe it's important for us to remember to bring some fun, enjoyment and love of creativity into our students lives. 

School, teaching and learning should be enjoyable!

I've always enjoyed drawing and sketching and I think it is partly because I grew up with a Spirograph when I was younger.

So you can imagine my excitement when I came across this digital version of Spirograph.

Inspirograph has the exact same tools as the Spirograph kit used to have. Change the gears (wheels) and select a pen color. Choose your paper and start creating. 

To save yourself from overuse of the mouse or trackpad, check out the keyboard shortcuts and use the arrow keys to move the gears.

If you need a reason to justify the use of this site, it's good to remember that mathematics can play a part in this type of artwork whether it is patterns, scales, gears or ratios. There are also artistic elements of design involved such as value, colour, shape, value and balance.

I highly recommend sharing Inspirograph with your students.