Animal Snoops with Chatterpix Kids

chatterpixkidsChatterpix Kids by Duck Duck Moose

Price:  FREE

Age Scale: 4+

Device: iPhone, iPod, and iPad

Quick Line: Give Your Photos a Voice

What Educators Need to Know:

Our reading series is challenging.  The lexile levels are much higher than in previous grade levels, the topics are mature, and the writings are often lengthy.

But the truth is, this text is REAL.  These are real stories by real authors published in real magazines, books, and on websites. This, along with interesting themes, seems to be enough to keep my busy sixth graders enduring and persisting when material gets tough.

Take, for example, our recent informational piece entitled, “Animal Snoops”.  In a series of engaging and entertaining anecdotes, students learn about animals who eavesdrop on each other to find food, to connect with a mate, and avoid being prey.  It wasn’t easy, but they GOT IT.  Only fair of me to reward their hard work with a little fun, right?

Each student took the perspective of one of the snooping animals in the piece.  They wrote a first-person paragraph explaining why and how the animal spies and used the Chatterpix Kids app to animate their ideas.  The result?  Funny little stories that demonstrate understanding anecdotes and how animals spy on one another.

Take a look:

Sperm Whale by Libby C.:

Bottlenose Dolphin by Madeliene P.:

 Photuris firefly by Brooke P.:

Crayola DJ App

Screen-Shot-2015-05-27-at-6.25.49-PMCrayola DJ App

Age Scale:  6+

Device:  iPhone, iPod, and iPad (available on Google Play also!)

Quick Line: Look Out Calvin Harris!

What Educators Need to Know:

Our school will soon enter the Maker Movement with the addition and development of a true makerspace in our building.  Exciting!  But not every student will have access to this creative location every day.  What to do?  Combine our Makerspace To Go with some terrific apps on our iPads!

Crayola DJ is a great app to get students started in the creation process.  It is especially appealing to those interested in music.  And while the target age range is 6-10, I would argue that even older students would enjoy mixing tracks. While the options are minimal, it is very easy to create professional-sounding mixes.

Here’s how it works:  

Crayola DJ

First, add a drum track. There are only a few to choose from, but I think this was a good plan.  Too many options for such an important foundation could get confusing.  Second, add looping a sound effect from one of five genres. Repeat this process on the second turntable.  Slide the balance to make one turntable sound louder than the other.  Change the tempo to create some variety.  Add special effects to make your beat unique.  Then produce your song and battle it out on the “stage” by scratching and adding a light show.  Save the song and share it with family and friends!

crayola dj 2

You certainly don’t have to keep my basic guide handy when you use this app.  A nice tutorial will lead you through the steps easily and help you produce something slick.

You might be thinking, “But what would I use this for?”  We have done some terrific projects in the past by having students create original songs and/or jingles to advertise fictitious products in Health classes or points of interest in Social Studies.  How awesome would it be for students to create original beats to use alongside these?  The truth is, the students have these ideas in their heads.  Why not allow them to produce something of professional quality!

Price:  $4.99

I received a free copy of this app from Legacy Games, but my review and opinions are my own.

Giving Individuals a Voice with Padlet

Looking for an easy way for students to SHARE their learning?  Padlet is a terrific, FREE tool!

I encourage my students to share what they are reading frequently.  The students are much more likely to accept a recommendation from a peer than me.  Biblionasium has become a staple in our classroom, but I also like the on-the-spot responses that Padlet provides.

The steps to using this terrific, FREE, collaborative tool could not be easier.  First, create a new wall.  You can modify the wall by choosing fun backgrounds like blueprint or chessboard.  Create a title and description.  This is where I usually post my instructions.  Select a layout (freeform, stream, or grid).  I vary this depending on the assignment.  Then you SHARE it with your audience.  I’ve found the easiest way is it use the Padlet generated QR code associated with your wall.  (You can find it under the share icon.)  The students bring their device to the iPad or computer screen, scan the code, and they have instant access!  They can tap anywhere to add their response!  So easy!  They don’t even have to log in!  Best of all, the finished product can be printed as a  .jpg, .pdf, excel or csv document.   It can also be embedded into a blog!

Plot Development with Toontastic

How do you teach students to identify the parts of a plot when they have already been exposed to it a million times?  Time to turn those tables, boys and girls!  I decided to have the students CREATE plots.  Yes, they write stories in the other half of ELA, but some of the students get so wrapped up in the word portion of writing that they lose their focus.  What to do?

Toontastic-Icon-1ctr9n7

I recently mentioned that one of my favorite iPad apps, Toontastic, is now offered for free.  It had been a little while since I had used it in the classroom, so I decided to revisit it again.  It requires very little, if any, writing, but the best cartoons require careful planning, voice narration, and animation.  The connection to the writing process is certainly clear!

We started with a paper planning sheet and a iPad for inspiration.   You can find a FREE student planning sheet from LaunchPad Toys here.

I let the students view the scenes and “toys”, including characters and special effects prior to making a final decision on the setting for the story.  The newest app upgrade includes over 50 different scenes, and I would advise students choose carefully.  “Pick and Stick” is one of my favorite phrases!

Toontastic-Setting

 This was a very revealing portion of the project.  Despite learning about plot for a several years, some students still saw plot as a series of events with relatively no connection.  Working through the planning with each pair really allowed me to correct misconceptions and mistakes.  I’m hoping this one step will remain memorable to them.

Toontastic-Story-Arc-New

After approving their plot, I gave them index cards.  They wrote down what they would like to SAY.  I wasn’t too picky about this portion as some of the students are much better at “winging it” than others.  I didn’t want to stifle creativity with too much structure.

Then, I let them go crazy!  Our final results were saved to the camera roll and uploaded to YouTube for the world to see.  Here are a few of my favorites!

Jungle Stress by Nate and Tony

Tokyo Smackdown by Kaylee and Dominique

Toontastic and Telestory are FREE

I have been so busy designing new and creative ways for my students to tell stories digitally. We’ve been using Animoto, StoryboardThat, and Thinglink to share our reading experiences.  I absolutely love these programs.

But once upon a time, when I had my whole team reading the SAME novel, I had the students use a fabulous storytelling app on the iPads.  It was called Toontastic.

Toontastic-Icon-1ctr9n7

We read the intriguing story of Claudia and Jamie searching for the mystery of the Angel statue in From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg.

Well, I am happy to announce that Toontastic is joining Google and is now FREE!   This is a huge deal as this was a pricey app!  I love Toontastic as it offers so many great choices to showcase stories.  You start by planning your story via the plot diagram or story arc.  Choose your scene, characters, and mood music to communicate your ideas.  There are dozens and dozens to choose from.  Animate your characters and record your voice.  Put it all together to show what you know!  Is there any better way to show that the students understand the parts of a story? Love, love, love!  See our example below.

Now, I have not used Launchpads Toys sister app, Telestory, but judging from the App Store reviews, it is just as fabulous and FREE too.  According to the description, you can create and broadcast your own TV show!  The steps seem to be simple.

“Pick a theme, then mix and match over 30 animated scenes to film your own story.  Craft a script using our playful TV tropes (or write your own).   Dress up in 50 different digital costumes with face tracking.  Perform and record your own show with animated settings and special effects.  Broadcast your show by exporting it to the camera roll and sharing your creation with family and friends around the world!” 

This app is compatible with the iPod and iPhone too!  Moms and Dads might like to have this one too!

telestory

Our Digital Journey: Animoto

We’ve been hard at work this year integrating technology and telling  great stories. Animoto has been a favorite program!  You can create beautiful videos and presentations very simply!  Sophia’s video will tug at your heart as she introduces the book Blindsided by Priscilla Cummings.

blindsided

Click on the image or here to play it.

Lauren was inspired by The Hunger Games:  Mockingjay.  She was able to upload a song purchased on her own device to convey the mood of this popular title.

mockingjay

Click on the image or here to play it.

Animoto is very easy to use.  Students can import videos, images, music, and text to share their learning.  Teachers can get all of the Pro features for FREE by applying for an Animoto For the Classroom account.  That means unlimited, 20 minute, unbranded videos that can be shared via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and email.  Click on the logo below to get started.

animoto