Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sharing My Pins

I am addicted to pinning..... I admit it!  I pin every day!  I feel the need to check the popular, education and pinners I follow pages daily, sometimes more than once!  And I have to say some of my best lessons in the past year have come from my pinterest addiction!

If you are not a pinner, I suggest you jump aboard the pin train.  Word of caution:   Be prepared to be amazed and to lose many hours pinning!

I'll share my ipad pin board with you.

The pin I am excited to learn about is this one (once I get around to reading all the wonderful things I pin):

Customize Your Icons on Your iPad

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Halloween in the Tech Classroom

Before I was blessed with a pod of ipads, I embraced my pod of "slow going" desk tops.    We now have just 1 slow going desk top in our classroom.  We still use all kinds of great sites during our lab time and I post them on our class wiki for the kids to explore at home.  Check out this great link to awesome Halloween games on line. (It is one of my most favorite tech blogs)

And here are a few Halloween apps (just for fun)........

Abbey Halloween Math - free
iPad Screenshot 1

Halloween counting and words - free
iPad Screenshot 3
Halloween Sticker book - free
iPhone Screenshot 1
Carve a pumpkin - free
iPhone Screenshot 3

H"appy" Halloween!

What about the money, money, money?

Today I went to SAGE in Flin Flon (Special Area Groups in Education conferences).  My session was titled Ipads in the Classroom.

Today's session was enlightening to the fact that from kindergarten to grade 12 most of us would like to use ipads.  Some of us are lucky enough to have pods of them in our classrooms.  Some of us are struggling to use just one.  Others are successfully using one as a teaching tool and are ready to make the transition to a pod so the kids can get their hands on them.  And then some of us are still just a little bit scared, or maybe not convinced that it is the way to go.

What it boils down to is the money and the value placed on technology.  I am grateful that I work in a school division that embraces technology and has jumped on the technology band wagon.  I was thrilled to hear that the high school has nearly 20 ipads and uses them in all department areas from phys ed to mathematics, art to ELA.  And then I was SHOCKED to hear that they do not have restricted access to purchasing apps.  A $100 itunes card is placed on to the account, when the money runs out another one is purchased.  The vice principal was supportive of her staff's judgement when it came to purchasing apps.  No team meetings, no needing to justify the value of it.... just blind faith that if the teacher feels it has educational value, then it must.

Let's face it... when do we sit down to surf for apps?  Likely at home on our own time when we have no way of getting a 99 cent purchase okayed!  Or on the fly when we find what we had been looking for and need it for tomorrows lesson!  New apps are being created by the millisecond.  At my school we have had no access to new apps since mid last school year.  The new apps I have are because I have made a list with the resource teacher and when we have a $20 list, she buys a card from her budget and we quickly spend the $20 on our selections.  Not convenient or practical!  I definitely think our tech committee needs to deal with this situation and come up with a plan.

The apps are just a small piece of the money puzzle though.  I am already thinking ahead to how I am going to function in my classroom when term one is over and my turn with the pod is over.  What about the profiles that the students have been working through on Teach Me Grade One?  What about my writing projects in pictello and our saved ibooks?  How do I go from being such a techy class to not?  What about our guided reading centers?  Am I going to miss the pod - you bet .  Is there money for more ipads - I hope so!

Today I spent the day with 2 presenters that were passionate about technology.  Their enthusiasm came through in their presentation and it was exciting to be in a room with people who are as "tech geeky" as me!

Their words of wisdom were "If you want the tech stuff - bug your administration for it and if you work here (the high school) come see me, we'll find a way to get it". Those are the words I want to hear:)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Apps for Struggling Readers???

Three times in the past week I have had people stop me and ask for apps I would recommend to help their children who are struggling with reading.

I have to be honest I have yet to find a really good app that I like to support reading.  I have MANY great math and spelling apps.   In fact,  more than I could ever use, but when it comes to reading I have not hit the jackpot.

I have come across this list on pinterest and have shared it with the people who have asked me for help.  I can not recommend any of them because honestly I do not know.  If you try any of them or find something that you think hits the reading jackpot - please comment and let me know!


Saturday, October 13, 2012

E - Reading

I  own very few ibooks for my children.  I personally LOVE to read on my iphone.  A new book is only a few clicks away, however, it took awhile for me to make the switch from those beloved paperbacks.  I still feel the need to hold a real book every now and then which is why I spent the summer borrowing real books from the public library.

When it comes to children's literature, I still feel like there is nothing like the real thing.  Those beloved pages looked at over and over again.  I recently read an interesting article on the new blog I began following.  It talked about how enhanced ebooks distract kids from comprehending the narrative details.  Do we get too caught up in all the bells and whistles of the interactive book and lose the meaning of the story?  It also linked to an article about poor sleep habits after reading on an ipad at bedtime.  All very interesting to me and reconfirms my belief in the "real thing".

However I do believe there is a time and place for those lovely interactive books.

Image the beautiful images of this classic on the ipad screen.

iPhone Screenshot 1

Or the interactive sounds in this one.

iPhone Screenshot 1

Happy Reading!


Friday, October 12, 2012

A Few New Apps

Browsing pinterest I came across a bunch of lists and a great new blog that recommends apps.  Imagination Soup is a new blog I am going to follow as it recommended lots of great apps to me.  We downloaded some freebies and gave them a whirl.

We enjoyed Chicktionary an app where you create as many words as you can in 3 minutes from a bunch of jumbled letters.  It' free.

iPad Screenshot 2

We also enjoyed Mad Libs.  Just like the books you can buy, you fill in the blanks while learning parts of speech to create some silly stories.  My soon to be 9 year old got a real kick out of this app!

iPhone Screenshot 3
I  love that is gives you hints like the ones on the clip above!  It's free for some, but then of course it wants you to buy more!

We're currently loading a few more but it seems that my wireless connection has S-L-O-W-E-D right down...... so we wait:)

Happy Friday everyone!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Our school subscribes to Mathletics.  The kids like it, although it is not my most favorite program (It bugs me that there is not the option to have the computer tell you what to do - you have to read the instructions yourself.)  Not so easy in grade one!

BUT  today Mathletics was launched on ipad.  As long as your child has a username and password - which all grade 1 - 8 students at our school have, you can play on the ipad.  It will recognize all of your progress and continue tracking from either device!  My son for one is addicted to Mathletics so he is pumped about this new launch.

I did notice that there were a TON of updates that needed to run for the app to work properly and they took about 10 minutes to load.  And sadly the ipad does not speak to you either!  Oh well, maybe in the next version!!!!

If you subscribe to mathletics, it is worth checking out!

As  a side note.... all students in my class do have usernames and passwords but I have not introduced the program to them yet, mostly because of the reading issues.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Fun twist on homework!

Having my own little first grader inspires me in so many ways, it also "grounds" me.  I can see when the burn outs are coming and the reactions to homework etc when it hits home.  Fortunately for me, my little first grader LOVES everything about school.  Locking herself in her bedroom and playing school is a regular occurrence at our house.  So when she was balking at practicing her spelling I figured most others are too!

This weekend we played with 2 different apps:  Doodle Buddy and Max Doodle.  There was a lot of play involved but we also practiced those spelling words!

Doodle Buddy:
We played with the pens, colors and glitter options.  I dictated a word and she spelled the word for me.  This was lots of fun.  Oh the potential I see in the classroom.  No more dead white board markers!  

Max Doodle:  
With this app we got a little bit more adventurous.  We chose a background picture just for fun, but did not play with pencil options.  This time I was the recorder and she practiced reading her words, another essential part of spelling in grade one.
Our final bit of practice involved me writing again since I wanted to "learn" the app.  We played with the pencils, highlighters, crayons and colors.  

Through this whole process I taught my little first grader all about screen shots as well.  Something we have been working on in my classroom.  She was thrilled with this new discovery and I am finding screen shots of EVERYTHING saved to my camera roll!!!

Tip:  In case you don't know what a screen shot is, it is when you click the home button and the power button at the same time.  The camera takes a photo of whatever is on your screen at that time and saves it to the camera roll.  How fun!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October Apps

Well September blew by, and now its October....eekkk!  Where does time go?

We worked hard on the September apps and I can honestly say ALL grade ones know how to use their Teach Me Grade One profile.  The favorite app of the month had to be Spelling City.

I kept a lot of the September apps in my October folder but added a few new ones.  What's new???

Puzzle book: Mickey's Spooky Night (interactive story) 99 cents
Spooky Mickey

Patterns App - free
iPad Screenshot 1

idress -  $1.99 (Part of our morning calendar time)

iPhone Screenshot 1

Counting Game 99 cents
iPhone Screenshot 1

Phonics $2.99 lots of great features when you get this app set up!
iPhone Screenshot 2

So that's our October focus along with a few of September's favorites!  Happy ipadding!