Integrating iPads the First Week of School

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“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s. we rob them of tomorrow.” – John Dewey

Integrating iPads in the classroom during the first week of school can be extremely challenging.  The easiest way I have found to accomplish this is to find a way to integrate it with your normal beginning of school activities.  For example, one activity I have seen done is the past is where students create something that allows the teachers and other students to get to know them better.


All About Me Worksheet

What if we took an activity like the one above and use the technology we have available to complete it?  Not only would your students be more engaged, but it would be more meaningful to them and easier to complete.  Students could take something like this and create an ebook all about them to share with everyone.

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You could also take this opportunity to teach your students your everyday technology procedures and the “how to” behind a few of the common apps you plan on using in your classroom everyday.  For example, the book above was completed primarily using the app Book Creator.  However, we smashed multiple FREE apps, like Videolicious, ChatterPix, Word Cloud, and PicCollage, to add an additional flare to our book.  It took multiple days to complete the books, but during the process we learned how to handle our iPads and how to use several apps that we would be coming back to multiple times throughout the year.

If you are interested in completing this activity with your students, you can get the template and some details ideas/instructions in my store at …

What other common activities do you do the first week of school?  How could you integrate technology into that task?

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Taking Interactive Notebooks to the Next Level

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This week I had to pleasure of sharing Digital Interactive Notebooking with educators from all over the world.  The best part is that I got to do it with one of my dear friends, Jennifer Kimbrell (aka Tech with Jen).

Tech with Jen

So are you wondering what we meant by taking Interactive Notebooks to the next level?  Most educators have heard about and maybe even used the good old composition books to create notebooks where students would insert various foldables, drawings, and notes.  What if you could do all of that and not have to deal with all of the materials?  What if you could get all of the rewards of Interactive Notebooking without all the hassel?

In our presentation we shared how teachers could use an app called Book Creator to create multi-media, interactive notebooks.  Most of the teachers used the free version of the app to experiment with the it and see what all it can do.  Nonetheless, this is one app that we encouraged all of them to purchase so that they could have all of the features and be able to create as many books and they needed to.

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One of the best features of Book Creator is that anything that can be saved to the camera roll can be inserted into a book.  We used this feature to SMASH several apps like PicCollage, Popplet, Word Cloud, Telastory, and  Videolicious into an “All About Me” Book that the teachers can use with their students during the first week of school.

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The teachers were so excited about the template that we shared, that I have decided to start creating some more templates to share in my store…  The Digital Workroom – TPT.

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How could you use interactive notebooks in your classroom?

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Post-It Plus


Post-It Notes are a teacher’s best friend.

Students love them too!

I have used Post-It Notes in my classroom for all kinds of activities.

post it image A Recently, I was introduced to the Post-It App by 3M and have fallen in love with it.  This app can be used for a variety of activities.  For begin with, you could use the Post It app for any kind of activity that required the students to sort, such as word study activities.  Students would start by creating a “post-it” for each of their spelling words.  They would then sort them by spelling patterns.

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Then throughout the week, students could re-sort their words using a variety of categories, including a free sort.


They can even move the “post-its” around so that they are in alphabetical order.


Within the free version of the app, students can select from 4 colored pens to write and mark on their post-it notes.  You also have the ability to add typed text to the notes.  Once the notes are created, students can move their notes into as many groups as they would like, can rearrange the notes within the group, and can create a name for each group.

Another great feature is that you can also scan real 3″x3″ notes that are posted on the wall.  It automatically adds the notes to your board and allows you to move them around and make notes on them using the colored pens.  This amazes students every time.  This feature could be used to scan “Post-it” that contain mathematical word problems.  The students could sort the problems into groups based on what operation is needed to solve the problem or how many steps are necessary to solve the problem.,

You can learn more about this app at

Be Appy Monday1


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With the TOONTASTIC app now FREE, I have had the opportunity to play with it and have fallen in love with this app.  Several students know the popular “Tim and Moby” from BrainPop.  Using this amazing app, kids could create their own version of these popular videos.

TOONTASTIC is great because it emphasizes the plot structure.  It allows the creator to select their own setting and characters (they can even create their own) while following the key elements of a story.  They then add animations, music, and voice to make their story come alive.  

I could see using this app for creative story telling or for having the student retell a story.   TOONTASTIC could also be used as a presentation format for a research project or to retell famous historic events.  With all of the additional characters and toys you can choose from, the possibilities are endless.  

This app also provides easy to follow directions and a “Parent & Teacher Guide” to aid in utilizing this app.  If you haven’t tried this app out yet, you should!  

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I am excited to be participating in TechwithJen’s Be Appy Monday!

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iBook Author & Book Widgets Collide

Several weeks ago I was able to observe an amazing educator, Harry Dickens, work with some students using Book Widgets.  He had some of them use the BookWidgets as a stand alone and simply access them by entering a code.  For the younger students, he embedded them into an iBook that he created using iBook Author.  It was amazing what all they were able to do.  The activities were aligned with what they were doing in the classroom, they were aligned with the Common Core expectations of PARCC, and most importantly the students were engaged! 

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Of course this experience sparked an interest and a sense of curiosity.  I started playing with both applications right away to get familiar with the operations of both and how they could compliment one another.  I knew iBook Author had widgets already available, but soon discovered the vast options that were available by using BookWidgets instead.  For those of you that may not know, IBookAuthor and BookWidgets are free applications that you can download from the App store onto your MacBook.   BookWidgets does require an annual subscription if you use it in your classroom; however, they do offer a FREE unlimited trial for anyone that wants to experiment with it.  This is where I started.

Then last week, I was asked to help develop some units for 2nd grade literacy.  They wanted to provide the teachers with options and wanted to integrate technology as much as possible.  Of course, my mind went to racing and I immediately thought about what I had observed a few weeks prior.  I now had a real reason to get serious about using these two applications…they would be perfect.

The literacy coaches had already started working on some themes and some possible books/texts to use with each unit.  So we picked up from there with a brainstorming session of what our expectations were for each book/text and what that should look and sound like.  This is where the fun started.  I took my notes from our brainstorming session and starting putting together my first official iBook using iBook Author.  As I got more familiar with iBook Author, I discovered how easy it was and how endless the possibilities were.  As I finished each part of my book, I looked at each component and created an interactive Book Widget to go along with each standard/component.  I inserted the Book Widgets into my book with the matching components.  The finished product was amazing.  The teachers will now have endless opportunities with how they approach each text/book and can easily differentiate for their class and their students.  I can’t wait to see it in action!  I know the students are going to LOVE it!

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      With requirements changing on state assessments, like the PARCC, it has become necessary for students to learn how to compose digitally.  The best way I know to teach a child to compose digitally is to embed a class blog into your daily instruction.  My personal favorite is KidBlog. Most classroom teachers can get everything they need within the FREE membership.   KidBlog allows you to have a class blog and allows each student to have their own individual blog.  This is very motivating for the reluctant writer and could be an excellent communication tool with parents.   It could also be a very easy way to teach digital citizenship to your class within your own parameters.  

    Do you have a class blog?  What are some ways you use a blog in your classroom?  

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Creating Your Own Clip Art

I have always wanted to be able to create my own clipart, but have never considered myself very artistic.  So, I have been doing a good bit of research online.  I have come across Adobe Illustrator and have fallen in love with the program.  They allow you to use the program free for 30 days.  So with the free trial downloaded and few YouTube videos, I started playing with the program and creating my own clipart.  I am only a novice; nonetheless, I am proud of what I have created so far.  What do you think?

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