Digital Storytelling with StoryboardThat

This is our first year truly living with the Pennsylvania Common Core Standards in ELA.  Add that to a new reading textbook, and you’ve got some hard-working, frustrated kiddos.  I knew I needed to give my students another avenue to show what they know!  We read an awesome nonfiction passage in our textbook about how scientists measure animal intelligence and the difficulties associated with it.  Then I popped my students on the Chromebooks to use an awesome digital tool:


The kids were crazy about this program.  It is so customizable!  There are tons of terrific backgrounds, people, animals, and objects to manipulate.  I had the students create paper template retellings first, and it was so easy to transfer them to StoryboardThat!  Check out Erigan’s storyboard – complete with audio too!





You will absolutely love StoryboardThat for its easy of use and simple ability to utilize it in ANY classroom.  Try a FREE teacher trial for two weeks.  After that, it is very affordable.  You can create folders for each class or assignment, leave comments, and browse lesson plans.  I highly recommend this program!

Clicker Docs


Clicker Docs

Age Scale:  5-12

Device:  iPad only

Quick Line:  Top of the Line Elementary Word Processor

What Educators Need to Know:

Are you looking for a way to make writing a little easier for some of your struggling students?  Do you teach primary grades and are frustrated with the lack of content students provide due to their limited vocabularies?  If you are looking to advance your young students in writing, Clicker Docs is for you!

Clicker Docs is an elementary word processor for the iPad.  It was developed by the Crick Software Company which has been in business for over 20 years.  This team is the real deal.  They have developed a product that will easily personalize your students’ writing experiences with a few excellent features.  First, Clicker Docs uses something called a “word predictor”.  When it is enabled, the predictor will suggest words as a child types.  Students who are stuck mid-word can tap their choice without worrying about spelling.  It encourages them to, perhaps, try words that they may have avoided due to spelling frustration.  The best part?  The Sound Shift option allows students to listen to the word before selecting!  Second, Clicker Docs has a built-in reader available.  Once a child punctuates a sentence, it will be read to them.  Often children need to hear their writing before finding errors, but reading their own writing is not always effective.  This helps tremendously.  Last, numerous free word banks are available through the app itself.  Don’t like the options?  Enter your own word bank for any topic of study.  These features really make this app a stand-out.

I used the app with my own children, and they loved it.   They were especially delighted by the Reader function.  Hearing their own choices read aloud provided such a sense of ownership.  The word predictor was also super helpful.  E has a vivid imagination but can get hung up on words that he feels he can’t spell.  It slows down his process which is very frustrating.  We tried a document about a beach vacation as we are obviously looking forward to our family trip.  The word bank was right on the money.

Clicker Docs can do just about anything that a typical word processor can do such as change font size, type, and color.  Students can customize backgrounds and easily share their work through email, air printing, Google Drive, and even Dropbox!  It is a kid-friendly assistive features that really elevate its compatibility, however.  If you are a learning support, autistic support, ELL, or primary grade teacher, you should really take a good look at this app.  It will help your students reach a very high level of success without heartbreak.

Price:  $30.99

123 Kids Fun Numbers

123 kids fun numbers
Age Scale: 2 and up
Device: iPhone, iPod, and iPad
Quick Line: Numbers are Fun, For Sure!
What Educators Need to Know:
123 Kids Fun Numbers is part of a series of apps by Ros Media. It was the first however, that I had the opportunity to try, and it does not disappoint. It is designed so that learners will be able to say the numbers 1-10, represent the numbers on fingers, and eventually write the numbers. I found that it lead my little D to meet these objectives, although he has a ways to go before he can actually write the numbers on paper.

As a parent or teacher, you can approach the app from one of two ways: by number or by activity. I would suggest completing the simple activities that accompany each number first, and boy, are they fun! D loves putting the robot together (1), quieting the crying babies (4), spreading jam on the sandwiches (7), and washing the 10 cars. (My sons are currently obsessed with the car wash near my parents’ house.) The other activities get more and more challenging and require the child to identify the numbers at random. You can feed the hippo, make fruit juice, whack a meerkat, race cars, put the meerkat on airplanes, and complete puzzles. All encourage counting and number matching skills, and children are rewarded with items to place in an aquarium.

The most challenging activity for my young one is the tracing game. At age two, he struggles, and that is OK. I can help him! But that’s something I want to stress here: yes, many children can perform the activities with this app without assistance. However, it is important that you interact with them as they complete them. D loves when he can hand off the device to me to trace the numbers that are difficult. I thought he would learn to avoid those that are difficult, but with my guidance, he seems to gravitate to them instead! You cannot discount the importance of parental involvement.

Price: $1.99

Giveaway: Back 2 Storytelling

Hey Teacher Friends! This is a tremendous opportunity to grab one of my favorite classroom apps!

Back 2 School, Back 2 Storytelling: Launchpad Toys is outfitting one lucky classroom (or library, or media lab, etc.) with everything they need for a fabulous year of cartoon book reports, animated science presentations, and (choose your own adventure here : ). Head over to their website to win 30 copies of Toontastic: All Access for your class – a whopping $600 value. Create cartoons while learning key principles of storytelling, creative writing, and comprehension with our award winning app and comprehensive educational resources on #LaunchpadEDU.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

List for Writers – ideas for creative writing


Age Scale: 10-adult

Device: iPhone, iPod, and iPad

Quick Line: A List of Lists

What Educators Need to Know:

My sixth graders surprised me today. We talked about how highly successful people set goals for themselves. We discussed how goals should be SMART.


And I sat back and let them generate four goals for themselves for the first quarter. I could not have been more pleased! Gone were the blatantly obvious “I want to be better in Reading class” goals. These kids gave careful consideration to what they thought were reasonable, reachable goals!

Even more impressive, some recognized writing as a weakness, and they sought help to generate phrases that would reflect exactly what they wanted to improve upon. A few mentioned making their writing more interesting.  I briefly suggested a newly downloaded app called List for Writers.

Since we are speaking of lists, I thought I’d give my reasons for supporting this app in (you got it!) list form.

Reasons I like List for Writers – ideas for creative writing

  1. It is simple and neat. As the title suggests, List is full of lists, including those relating to characters, personalities, plot, setting, and words. There are no graphics or anything else to distract you.
  2. It is comprehensive. Each list contains hundreds of suggestions for words you might need in each of many categories. For example, there is a list for first names (a list for both male and female), last names, occupations, clothing, people, and even body types!  The action verb and adjective lists would be particularly useful in narrative writing. I also really like the list of seven basic plots. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them laid out so plainly!
  3. With a simple tap, most words are defined by a built-in dictionary.
  4. You can copy and save your favorites to a notepad while you continue to generate ideas and formulate your ideas.
Options I Wish List for Writers Offered:
  1. One notepad might not be enough. It would be nice to be able to work on more than one story at a time.
  2. A favorites list might come in handy.
  3. Although the lists are extensive, a thesaurus option might be an easy addition.
  4. It would be nice to be able to add your own items to lists.
This app is currently $2.99 in the App Store. Some might find the price to be a bit steep for an intermediate school budget. But it is definitely something I would consider if I were a middle or high school writing teacher. Children WANT their writing to sound more mature and professional. List for Writers is certainly a tool that would easily aid them in achieving this goal!
Price: $2.99
Download by clicking here.

Back to School with Popplet


Age Scale: 5+

Quick Line:  Popplet to Produce!

What Educators Need to Know:

In an attempt to freshen up my first week, I put myself on Twitter. If you are an educator, and you are not on Twitter, you should be. There are AMAZING people doing AMAZING things in classrooms all over the world and are sharing their free resources and advice. Reading tweets is like popping snacks- quick, satisfying, and oh so good.  I don’t know why I resisted the urge to join for so long.  I guess I was trying to avoid such craziness as #sharknado!  Ha!

I found this link to starting the new year with technology:

[I must mention that this was tweeted by @mattbgomez and is a post from Karen Ogen’s blogspot site:  Matt B Gomez has an AWESOME blog.]

The very first idea caught my attention because it used an app called Popplet Lite.  I have used this app several times.  It is a very intuitive app that allows users to make graphic representations  while brainstorming, diagramming, listing, scrap-booking, presenting, and planning.  A quick tap produces a rectangle (popple) which can be stretched, moved, labeled, and filled with a photo.  The sides and corners of the popple can be connected to other popples to show relationships.  Think:  graphic organizers!  The Lite version (FREE) allows users to create a single popplet, save as a jpeg to the photo library, and email as either a jpeg or pdf.  This is what I have been using.  The paid version ($4.99) lets you create an unlimited number of popplets, which can be shared and edited by other Popplet users on the Popplet website and on other iPads.

The idea is to have the students create a graphic representation of themselves using popples.  Here is a quick mock-up of a Popplet about me!

2013-08-05 20.35.40

I have used Popplet after reading quite a bit.  For example, my kiddos tackled a nonfiction article about the Titanic.  Although the article detailed the events of its demise, they were not in chronological order!  Those tricky authors!  I had students create a timeline Popplet to show exactly what happened in the order in which it happened.  I hope it solidified exactly how quickly it actually sank!

I’m not sure if I should invest in the full/paid version.  Any thoughts?  Care to share any of your uses for Popplet?

Oh, and let’s connect on Twitter!

Price:  FREE (for Lite version)


$4.99 for Full Version: