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!

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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!

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

All About Me Using Pic Collage

The Tech Club is working on All About Me using the FREE app Pic Collage.  I love Pic Collage for its ease of use.  You can take pictures, use pictures from your camera roll, add effects, crop them, and add borders.  You can customize your creation with a bunch of really fun backgrounds and layouts.  Best of all, you can search the web for pictures of your favorite sports teams and celebrities.  Note:  Sign up for an teacher/educational account and you can limit students’ ability to search the web which is important if you are teaching younger students.  I can’t wait to share our final products next week!

But, first…

Let me take a selfie!

Up close and personal!

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Sweet Background!

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Digital Tools for the Intermediate ELA Classroom

One of my dear friends recently sent me a text message. Her son, entering grade six, failed to meet the benchmark on his state reading test, and is completely uninterested in reading. However, he is completely interested in technology, and “can you help?”

What a tough place to be in, as a parent. Your child has come out of the current public school system without a) a love of reading and b) the ability to achieve a proficient status on a state standardized test. Now, I could go into the many, many flaws in our assessment system, but let’s remove that from the equation. What are we doing to kill the love of reading in our classrooms?

The Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller, has the same concerns. What she suggests is offering the students the choice in what to read. Good reading skills are not built with test prep periods and practice tests. They are built with reading, pure and simple. And the most important thing to note is that not all students enjoy the same type of reading material.

But how can you provide many different types of materials at a cost that you can afford in your middle school classroom? Or, if you are a parent, how can you provide reading material that will excite your child?

OverDrive-AppFor fiction, I highly recommend the Overdrive app. To see my full post, click here. In a nutshell, Overdrive allows you to borrow digital e-books (and audiobooks!) from your local or county library. All you need is a library card. There are no late fees. No hidden charges. There may still be waiting lists for popular books, but you will be notified and can grab your book when it is convenient for YOU.

storiaI have not tried Storia, but it is an e-book app from Scholastic. Since I am such a huge fan of Scholastic, I may install it on my devices and play with it. I think I can use my bonus points to purchase some titles. Can our students share their thoughts about their books too?

6056bd7b0a1d42163f5dec0c014f2febThere are loads of other sources for nonfiction reading. My favorite this year was Newsela. Each day, Newsela publishes five new current event stories. Every student wins as the lexile level of each story can be adjusted! Some of my students were reading on a fourth grade level, while others could handle high school wording. Newsela leveled the playing field. Many of the articles include quizzes, and a premium version ($$$) will allow you to track progress of individual students, individual classes, and individual common core anchors. The premium version will also allow you to create open-ended questions. The program worked very well for me, but the premium price is a bit steep. A customized quote is recommended.

1269245I’ve started to receive emails about the updated TweenTribune site. It is now being run by Smithsonian Education. I’m definitely leaning towards this tool as it also has an iPad app! What do you think? Do you use either of these?

20130423-1817062In addition, I’m thinking of resubscribing to News-O-Matic. I’ll be watching my free app websites http://www.smartappsforkids.com and http://www.funeducationalapps.com.   I’ve noticed that a yearly News-O-Matic subscription often goes on sale. With five days of original news/week, it might be worth it. See my original post here.

WonderLogo-MathI also absolutely love Wonderopolis. It is less conventional than the other options above, but it is a terrific source for nonfiction that is engaging and exciting! See my full post about Camp Wonderopolis here.

BiblionasiumAnother new tool that I plan on using this year is Biblionasium. It has taken me a while, but I am finally convinced that reading and writing need to be social experiences for my students. They will learn just as much, if not more, from their peers, both near and far. Bilbionasium is a safe, free, social networking site for children ages 6-13 to share their reading experiences. They can read and write reviews, post comments, search for titles, recommend books titles, etc.  I think it will be a terrific way to give my students a voice that is simple, safe, and fun!

 

Do you have any other tools that I should consider?  Please let me know by commenting below.