Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Story Buddy App

I tried out the Story Buddy App last week with a 4th Grade Class.  Story Buddy is an app that can be used to write and publish a story.  Students can add text, choose paper, add photos, write, draw, and add audio.  There are a lot of font and color choices to create a specific look.  I liked having the option to rearrange pages, edit, and share the book.  The book can be emailed, sent to the device's iBook Library, printed, or downloaded to your computer with iTunes file sharing.  If you add audio to the story, it is all lost when you share the book via email, in the iBooks library, or downloaded.  It will be a PDF file.  Another thing you need to know is that your creation cannot exceed 15 pages.  I wanted to share the Poem 4C created with the you, so I decided to use Reflections to record their work directly from the app.  This is the only way to currently preserve the audio that is added to the book.

Working with 4C
-Students wrote a class poem.
-Each student was assigned one line of the poem.
-Each student was responsible for creating one page in our book.
-Each student was asked to brainstorm and be ready with an idea for a photo they could take at school or a picture they could draw to make their line of poetry visual.
-Each student had 5-7 minutes to create their page.
-One student recorded the audio.  

Good Job, 4C.  Here is the amazing poem they created with StoryBuddy.

Using SonicPics App

I tried out the SonicPics App yesterday.  It is an app that allows you to add pictures to create a slide show with audio.  You can add a title and description for each photo.  They do not stand out, but appear nicely in the slideshow, if used.

This is what I did at home with my little Kindergartener at home.

Plan out the project:
-Take pictures-My daughter is learning about patterns in kindergarten.  We decided to look for patterns around the house.   I handed over the iPhone and let my daughter take a few pictures.  Then we decided it would be fun to make our own pattern and take a photo of it.
-Add pictures to SonicPics- Select the pictures in the order you would like them to appear.  I have not found a way to reorder pictures.
-Practice-We talked about what she wanted to share with everyone about patterns. I gave her time to scroll through the photos we added in SonicPics and practice.
-Record Audio- My daughter pressed the record button and explained the patterns she saw.
-Share- Save your work to the iPhone/iPad library, YouTube, e-mail, or send it to your computer.

Here the SonicPics Slide Show/Video we made with the pictures we gathered last night.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Earn "Free Plays" with AutoRap App

Two days ago, I was very excited about the AutoRap App by Smule.  This app can turn an ordinary person into a rap star by mixing recorded phrases to create an instant rap. Last night, my daughter tried to record a new song and I discovered this "Free" App only allows the user to create and share one free song.  I was incredibly disappointed.

I wasn't sure that creating one free song hooked me into shelling out 2.99 for 60 plays, or 5.99 for an infinite amount of plays.  The price isn't really bad, but I wasn't ready to pay for it.

I continued to explore the app and discovered that you can earn additional "Free Plays" within the app.  I took a tour of they app and earned 10 more plays and watched an advertisement to earned 1 more play. This gives me more time to try it out.

The "Free Plays" allow you to record AutoRaps with the included "free style" music.  There are 3 songs to choose from.  There are also premium packs that include many beats from popular artists. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

AutoRap App

At Home

My 5 year old daughter and I have been using apps at night to make reviewing her day in Kindergarten fun.  Last night we laughed our heads off, as she used the app AutoRap App by Smule.   She sang the Months of the Year Song she learned in school.  AutoRap turned it into a rap.  I think I'll be hearing a lot of creations by Kaylee in the car from now on.

Listen to Kaylee singing the Months of the Year Song using AutoRap

At School

I'm very excited about all the different ways this FREE app can be used in the classroom.  If students use 1 to 3 sentences to review a historical event or summarize a story, they'll enjoy listening and singing to their new rap song.  I also see this app being used for science and reading vocabulary.

My only recommendation is to allow students the opportunity to create their own songs using AutoRap.  If they are given the opportunity to use their own voice to define a vocabulary word, sing a song, or summarize, they will have a great time learning with this app.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Teaching the Teachers

Last week, teachers at TMECHS had a day of technology training.  After my session, I heard that a student from TMECHS would be presenting and teaching teachers how to use Prezi.

I was very impressed with the student's confidence and introduction.  She had teachers create their own free account and guided them as she created a "How to be a Cool Teacher" Prezi. This was a nice role reversal.  I think we should give the power to our students more often.  This could open the door to learning about more tools to make us cool.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

eBook Share at New Teacher Orientation

Ten years ago, I was an excited teacher siting in the audience at EPISD's New Teacher Orientation.  Last week, I had the honor of presenting great features and favorites during my Ed Tech Talk, “What the Heck is an eBook.”

What the heck is an eBook?  At the very basic, eBooks are electronic books.  The biggest complaint I hear about eBooks happen to be that you can’t flip through the pages, write on them with pencils, or sniff the pages.  I believe eBooks are opening the door to a whole new way to interact with books.  Here are the examples I shared with our new teachers.

I Can Read: Axel the Truck  4.99

This book has read aloud capabilities.  Students can read the story silently or chose to have the story read to them.  I love the sound effects and excitement it brings to story telling.  Connect your eReader to a set of speakers and share it with the class.
Tip:  Check out the the link, Read aloud Kids Books, in iTunes Store and look for the free books.  Axel Can Read, Huff and Puff, and Dixie were all free at one time.  There are a lot of free classic books today.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter  7.99
I enjoy reading novels within the iBooks App on my iPad.  You can change the font, page style, look up a definition, highlight, take notes, and even us the speak option to listen to a passage or word.  Novels are available in the iBook Store.  Before you purchase a book, you can download the first chapter for free.

DK Natural History: Insects  4.99
eBooks can include multimedia.  This book has a video and close up photographs of insects.  It’s like having a microscope built into a book.

JibJab Jr.  FREE
eBooks can allow for personalization.  With this free iTune App, you can become a part of the story.  Add your picture and your name and enjoy the story, Starring YOU!

Here is a clip of my son saying his name for the first time when he was the star of the story.

Toy Story  FREE
This eBook App is available in the iTunes App Store.  Listen to the story or become the narrator by recording your own voice. It is sure to make rereading a story more enjoyable.

Oh The Places You’ll Go  4.99
Enjoy Dr. Suess books in an eBook App.  Choose to have the story read aloud, auto read, or to read it by yourself.  This app allows the user to explore.  When you click on a picture, you will hear what the item is, as the words appear.  If you click on text and listen you will hear the passage one more time.

Our Choice  4.99
eBooks are advancing!  The proof can be found in the eBook, Our Choice.  This amazing book has beautiful pictures, video, and a simulation.  In chapter 4, Harvesting the Wind, you will find a simulation.  By blowing air into the mic of your iPad, you are the wind energy that turns the wind mill and charges the battery to power the home.  This is a pretty amazing way to learn.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

5 Great Apps for Alphabet Writing Practice

Here are 5 great iPad/iPhone apps that I am using with my preschooler to practice letter sounds, phonics, and alphabet writing.

ABC Letter Tracing Free
Enjoy free, letter tracing, practice while learning to recognize the alphabet. 

Letter Lab .99
Have fun tracing letters.  This app allows the user to choose a pink or blue crayon to write. Practice writing and listen to the letter and word with the beginning sound being pronounced.

iWriteWords  2.99
Be entertained while learning how to write letters.  Drag a cute crab through a sequence of numbers.  After, listen to the letter pronounced and drag or fling the letter into a vortex before moving on. This app includes practice for capital letters, lower case letters, words and numbers.  When your child has finished practicing, press the play button to see how they did.

Dora's Sky Writing Adventure 3.99
Feel some excitement with this writing adventure game.  Help Tico fly his nutty plane by collecting nuts to fuel it.  Drag Tico's airplane to collect nuts and write a letter.  Listen to the beginning letter sound as you collect each nut.  Students will also enjoy the kinesthetic game of moving the iPad to help draw an object with the beginning letter sound.  Add up to 4 players, use the report card to view the completion of upper case, lowercase letters, and combined upper/lowercase letters.

Montessorium Intro to Letters 4.99
Nice app with 5 different ways to learn letters.  Listen to the letter sound, place finger on the arrow and write lower case, upper case or phonograms.  Listen to letter flash cards or record your voice while learning letter sounds and phonograms.

All 5 apps are wonderful apps that I have added to my iTunes App collection.  From free to 4.99, I have saved money and paper as my 4yo has practiced and enjoyed learning to write.  Her favorite app today is Dora's Sky Writing Adventure, because "it's cool." My 18 month old enjoys repeating letters and sounds as I record him with Montessorium Intro to Letters.  He giggles when I play it back for him.