What it is:Photomath is an app available on the App Store and Google Play. With Photomath, students can scan a math problem and learn how to solve it with step by step instructions and an answer. The app includes a photo calculator (take a photo of a math problem, it gets solved in an instant), handwriting recognition, step-by-step instructions, and a smart calculator. For added features, Photomath+ includes complete step-by-step instructions, colorful explanations of the math, and extra math knowledge.
How to integrate Photomath into the classroom: On the surface, the Photomath app might look like the ultimate way for students to “cheat” their learning. After all, they can snap a picture of any math problem, get step-by-step “show your work” instructions, and the answer in an instant. When I look at Photomath, I see each device with the app as another teacher in the classroom. When students get stuck, or need to check their work/understanding, not only do they have access to the answer, but also to the process. They can see exactly where a mistake has been made, and even get an explanation about why the process is what it is. It also changes the math class from being procedures-based, and empowers teachers and students to engage math from a problem-based, practical aspect. Since students have help with the procedure of how to solve a problem, they can engage math as a mathematician, identifying the problem that needs to be solved, using number sense to understand the problem, and with Photomath ensuring that the procedure they apply has been solved correctly. It definitely could change the goal of your math class, rather than just finding the answer, assignments may become more practical application in nature.
Consider using Photomath as a check-in station where students can go through their own work and identify where they may need support. The app offers immediate step-by-step guidance, when students don’t understand the guidance, you know instantly that more teaching is needed.
Tips: If your school has homework, this would be a great app to recommend to parents! When they get stumped, the app can be a sanity saver.
What it is: Swift Playground is an awesome new app from Apple that teaches kids how to code in Swift. This free app for iPads uses games to teach kids Apple’s coding language used to create apps. Students can drag and drop code, and easily edit the code to customize it. The code can be instantly run so students can test out their code and see if it works. Best of all, in those instances that the code they put together doesn’t work, Swift Playground has debugging tools and hints built-in to help students rectify any problems. Students can also code with Swift from scratch making the app endlessly adaptable to any skill level.
How to integrate Swift Playground into your classroom:Swift Playground requires no previous coding knowledge, making it the perfect tool for learning how to code. For those students who have experience with coding, Swift Playground is robust enough for even seasoned programmers to bring new ideas to life. Swift Playground begins with a series of challenges to help students master the basics, students use code to help characters navigate a 3D world. When the challenges have been mastered, students can build and manipulate their own code to dream up new creations. Use Swift Playground to get your students thinking logically and solving problems from new perspectives. The skills built as students learn to code are the same skills that will help students in other disciplines like math and science. I love the way Swift Playground starts out by giving students a fun environment of challenges to learn the basics of Swift, but also allows them the flexibility of drag and drop code, and allowing students to edit and write their own code. Swift Playground even features a special keyboard that includes the most common coding characters so that students don’t have to hunt through keyboards to find what they are looking for. As students advance in their skills, they can use code templates that allow customization with code. Beyond what most learning platforms allow, students will be able to adjust multi-touch interactions, the accelerometer, and the gyroscope. These features and abilities are such an awesome tie-in to conversations about complex math and physics! When students are finished with their creation, they can share it with others using Messages, Mail, or Airdrop. Students can even post videos of their creation for others to see! For those who are really soaring, Swift Playground code can be exported to Xcode (where the pros create apps).
Many classrooms don’t yet have time built into the day that is dedicated to coding. But perhaps once a week you use coding in math class as applied math, or use Swift Playground as part of a 20% time offering in your classroom. If those are unavailable, consider participating in Hour of Code. Play with Swift Playground yourself and you’ll start recognizing tie-ins with other learning that your students are doing. When your students are proficient with coding in Swift Playground, they can start creating and reflecting on learning with the code they know. Swift Playground is a fantastic resource to have available as part of your Maker Space! Maybe they create a new game to help them remember vocabulary, or math facts. Perhaps they build a world based on a historical event. Once those basics are mastered the application possibilities are endless!
Tips: Everyone can code! This isn’t a skill that only a few should possess. Even the youngest students can use Swift Playground, I’m talking kindergarten can use this app! If you are new to the concept of code, check out this crash course from Apple.
What it is:Seesaw is the first truly student centered/driven digital portfolio tool that I’ve seen. What makes Seesaw such an awesome option as a digital portfolio is the way that it empowers kids to build and keep a digital portfolio totally independently with features like QR code login for young students. Students can log their learning using photos, videos, drawings, text, PDFs, and links. Seesaw also has direct import features from lots of popular apps. From the teacher perspective, Seesaw makes it simple to access student work immediately from their own device. Content is easily searchable by student and makes it simple to review student progress over time and keep track of growth. In addition to browsing by student, teachers can use folders to organize work by subject area or project. There is also an awesome flag feature that makes it easy to highlight work that you want to go back to for conferences or follow-up with the student. The built in audio recording and drawing tools mean that students can reflect on what they’ve learned or explain how they reached an answer. Parents are also able to login to see work and give feedback on it (you as the teacher can control who sees what and what feedback can be given. Teachers can approve peer feedback before it is seen by students or parents.
How to integrate Seesaw into the classroom:We’ve long used Evernote as our eportfolio of choice, because it was a simple (enough) entry point and gave students enough flexibility to show what they were working on. With each new release of features, Seesaw is quickly winning me over. This is an app that was clearly created with students and teachers in mind. It has incredible flexibility while equipping with just the right tools and features to make it extra valuable in a school setting. I love the options for feedback that teachers can give, and that all stakeholders are able to login and see what kids are working on. The way that Seesaw enables teachers to give quick feedback to students is incredible. I am also impressed with the integrated audio and drawing features that allow students (even young students) to comment and reflect on their own learning and thinking process. The metacognition implications of Seesaw are awesome!
At Anastasis, even non-digital native assignments get captured in our eportfolio through the camera or video. This means that work “travels” with students from year to year. Future teachers can go back through their progress, but students also have this incredible “bread crumb trail” of learning that they can go back through. It is always fun for us to hear students exclaim over the difference in their writing from day one to day 100. Often the learning process is so infinitesimal that students (and sometimes parents) have a hard time seeing the growth. An eportfolio is a great way to capture all learning so that those baby steps can be seen over time. This has been encouraging for our struggling students especially.
Seesaw supports a variety of platforms making it super simple to use in any classroom environment and particularly in a BYOD setting. Supported platforms include iOS devices, Android devices, Chromebooks, and any computer with a Chrome web browser.
Best of all: Seesaw is FREE!!! If you want to store and organize a child’s portfolio beyond the current year, a Plus account can be purchased by parents for $9.99/year OR a school account.
Tips: Seesaw also has Google App integration, if your school uses Google in Education, they can login with the same Google login they use for everything else!
Today Apple announced that it will be joining code.org’s “Hour of Code” movement by hosting a free one-hour introduction to the basics of computer programming at Apple stores on December 11. During Computer Science Education week (December 8-14th) they will be hosting other workshops.
As a part of the Computer Science Education week, Apple will be hosting designers and engineers in select cities around the world. Pretty awesome! Contact your local Apple store to find out exact details of what your store has planned for the week.
Students at Anastasis Academy have started into an inquiry block about “How We Express Ourselves;” Hour of Code is coming perfectly timed as students can learn about how people express themselves through code.
You (the teacher) don’t have to be an expert at coding to introduce your students to it. In fact, it is kind of fun if you are learning and discovering coding together…definitely a bonding experience! Truly, please don’t stay away from spending at least an hour during the Hour of Code just because you don’t feel like you know anything. Explore together and let your students get excited about coding and about teaching you something new as you go. The resources Apple has listed are a fantastic way to get started. Join the Hour of Code yourself for additional information and support here.
I love that coding can hit every level of Bloom’s Taxonomy. It obviously allows students the opportunity to create something digital, but it also causes them to apply concepts/skills/math, analyze and evaluate code and what it is used for, and can help build knowledge and understanding in code and in a variety of subjects that the code is related to. Pretty great when that happens!
Want to continue your own learning about learning? Join us for the 5-Sigma Edu Conference. There is even a session on coding in the curriculum! It is going to be awesome and as an added benefit, you get to see how classes at Anastasis Academy run. Can’t wait to meet you there!
If you have followed my blog or Twitter feed for any amount of time, you know that this review is kind of a big deal. I have been a hard-core Apple evangelist for at least 10 years now. As in: Apple is the only technology product that I own and use. Why in the world, you might wonder, has she suddenly switched gears and started using the HP Envy x2? The good people of Staples invited me to do a review for them. Full disclosure: they sent me a HP Envy x2 to play with. Being the tech geek that I am, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play with a new gadget!
After taking some gratuitous un-boxing pictures, I plugged it in and got ready to play.
The thing is…I haven’t used a non-Apple product in a LONG time. I forgot that Windows likes you to promise your first-born before you actually get to play. After signing my life away (not really, but it felt like it!) I played with the Envy and did the tasks normally reserved for my MacBook Pro and iPad. I’ve been using the Envy for almost a month (and exclusively in place of my iPad today, @jtenkely snuck mine away for a client presentation) below are my notes.
The last time I used a non-Apple touch screen, it was a train wreck. I was pleasantly surprised that this touch screen was everything you expect a touch screen to be. It is incredibly responsive and works like you would (and should) expect it to.
The battery life is pretty great. I had it on for 4 days of off-on use without having to recharge. I’m pretty sure I got every bit of the 12 hours of battery life out of it. The tablet alone gets slightly less battery life. The thought that HP put into charging is pretty impressive, the tablet gets fully charged before the keyboard gets charged. This makes a lot of sense since you want the most out of the tablet.
The cameras are decent quality, the resolution of pictures seems better to me than what I get out of my iPad 3.
Beats Audio is a nice touch, the sound quality is good for a notebook/tablet. This let me rock out to Spotify while I worked.
The Envy has inputs on the keyboard base including HDMI, two USB, and SD ports. This makes transferring, adding, sharing content really easy.
The notebook/tablet combination are lightweight at just a hair over 3lbs.
Aesthetically the HP Envy x2 is nice. It feels sturdy but still manages to look sleek (everyone seems to be taking styling cues from Apple these days…hard to go wrong with that inspiration).
Flash works all the time. Not having to open a new browser just for Flash is nice. So many educational websites are still built using flash so for a classroom setting, this feature is handy!
The Less Awesome
I like the HP Envy x2 better as a touch-screen computer than I do as a tablet. The screen size is just a little too big and heavy to hold comfortably as a tablet for reading, typing, etc.
On this device, I constantly used the touch screen instead of the track pad. The track pad drove me absolutely crazy. It wasn’t as sensitive as I was used to, and there are spots on the pad that were way too sensitive for my liking and kept sending me into full screen mode. It also has some little grooves in it that make it feel like it is sticky. When you work with children, things that feel sticky are never good.
Windows 8- I don’t get it. It seems hard to complete even simple tasks. This could just be my bias toward Apple’s OS, but I am not impressed. When I got the hang of navigating, things got smoother. I still wouldn’t trade Apple’s OS for it. One of the things that I missed (and this may just be the apps I was using) was that apps don’t integrate seamlessly together like I anticipated they should. The Windows 8 store is not my favorite. It isn’t easy to search for something specific.
While the camera’s resolution was good, I wasn’t impressed with the response time to get it to focus on something.
What to Anticipate for the Classroom:
The HP Envy x2 would make a fine classroom computer/tablet. I like that students can use it as a laptop, they can type on it easily, can access downloadable content, and it stores away nicely so you are not taking up too much space in the classroom. I also like that it transforms into a tablet so that students can make their learning, and capturing of their learning, more mobile. Our students constantly take photographs and videos of their learning whether they are inside, outside, on a field trip, etc. The keyboard dock would be too cumbersome to tote all over so it is great that students could just use the tablet portion when a task called for more portability. I found the Microsoft store a little lacking in apps that are available. I think that in the classroom, this gets made up for by the free Flash content you can access online. I anticipate that with the Windows 8 interface, the learning curve for using the device would be more significant than with an iPad (which has no learning curve). This is especially true for the primary grades. It really took me some playing around with to get it figured out, and although I’m all Apple, I am also tech savvy.
Most of the apps that I downloaded are those that I use regularly on my other devices. I was impressed with some (Twitter app was great!) and less so with others (Pinterest app was ridiculous…it was easier to just use the browser). One of the fun finds that I immediately searched for afterward in Apple’s app store was wordBrush (not there). It lets you type some words into a box and then draw with them. Pretty awesome! This could be fun for vocabulary/spelling practice, poetry, book quotes, etc.
I was impressed with the number of free apps available for download.
The HP Envy x2 is a nice device that would hold up well in a classroom. My personal preference is NOT for Windows 8, but if you are used to a Windows environment, it probably won’t phase you. I was extremely impressed with Staples customer service, after I ordered the HP Envy x2, it came within just a few days. Everyone I worked with on the Staples side was great! (They didn’t even ask me to say that!) 🙂 At $699 this is a good competitor for the iPad. The combination tablet/notebook is nice. It really was like being able to use my iPad and then instantly turn it into my MacBook. Being small, it doesn’t have the same capabilities as my MacBook, but for the majority of what kids do in the classroom, it would be great!
We use Staples a LOT at Anastasis Academy. I’ve been there every day this week getting school supplies true story. They have some great back to school deals that you should check out. The first is Teacher Appreciation Day. 20% back in Staples rewards on all purchases! You can also enter to win a $25 gift card. Check out the website to find out when your local Staples is holding the Teacher Appreciation Day.
Staples also recently introduced Reward a Classroom. Sign up and then invite parents to help you earn rewards by buying the school and office supplies they do already. This could help keep you classroom well stocked all year-long!
**The thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are strictly my own. Thank you Staples for letting me step outside of the Apple world to explore!
What it is: This week Apple is all set to make a BIG announcement about education. I always tune in when Apple has something to say, but this week I am particularly interested in what they are going to do with education. The announcement has been connected to some of the big 6 (publishers). This worries me a little bit because I find that the 6 are pretty traditional and in-the-box kind of thinkers. It will be interesting to see how (or if) Apple has managed to convince some of them to break free a little bit. What I am not excited for: a re-invention of the old way. Been there, seen that. We need something that will let students be creative and innovative, NOT rearrange their textbooks! I digress.
In honor of Apple’s announcement, I thought I would do an early release of a catalog of apps I have been working on organized by Bloom’s Taxonomy. I’ve been putting off publishing it because frankly, there are ALWAYS more to add. I just keep chipping away at it as I find it. To be honest, I have a large collection on my iPad that are ready to be added but haven’t yet. So…bear in mind this is incomplete and will continue to grow! For those of you who have iDevices in your classroom or at home, I hope it is helpful!
How to integrate Bloom’s Taxonomy of apps into the classroom: Bloom’s Taxonomy is by no means the best or only way to categorize websites, apps or other educational tools. However, I often find that for my purposes, it is a really nice way to organize tools so that I can find them later. It also keeps me (and my students) thinking about the learning process and keeps us all from getting stuck in a one-type-of-learning rut. Bloom’s is also extraordinarily handy for categorizing apps that don’t fit neatly into a subject matter or that fall into several different subject categories.
In the apps, I have given you a little guide. If an app cost money, I’ve added a $$ on the app. The others are free. The free apps are just as wonderful as some of the paid!
Keep the guide of apps handy for those parents who ask for your best app recommendations!
What it is: Want to see something really super cool? You can create your very own app for multiple mobile platforms in, I don’t know, 7 minutes flat! Seriously. Conduit Mobile makes it incredibly easy to create your own app out of a blog, class website, wiki, etc. and publish it to share with others. It honestly could not be easier. Type in the URL you want turned into an app. Click go. Customize and tweak to your hearts desire and publish. That. Is. It. Holy cow it is easy! You all are going to look like super geniuses when you turn your classroom blogs/wikis/websites into mobile apps that parents and students can access easily from anywhere. Better yet- turn your school website into a mobile app and then you will be super genius of the school. That is an impressive title. Once your app is published, you have the ability to send push notifications to your app users (field trip reminders anyone?). You can also easily track the analytics of who is using your app. You can even enable advertising to earn revenue in accordance with your apps installation and performance. It never hurts to have a little extra mail money around for all those classroom supplies we buy!
How to integrate Conduit Mobile into the classroom:Conduit Mobile makes it easy to meet your students and families where they are-on mobile devices. Make classroom content and news easily accessible by running your site through Conduit Mobile-it does all the hard work leaving you an app for Apple devices, Android, Windows mobile, bada and Blackberry.
Do your students have blogs or wikis that they have created? Help them publish their hard work into an app. I’m thinking this would be a really NEAT way for our Jr. High students to turn their blog ePortfolios into apps that they bring with them to high school interviews. Now that would be impressive! It is so easy to do, there is just no reason not to!
As a school, publish your school site as a mobile app where parents can get quick-at-a-glance information, review policies and get the latest news.
Tips: To publish your app to the various app stores, you will need a developer certificate. These differ depending on the app store you are aiming for. Conduit mobile even makes this process easy, walking you step-by-step (with pictures) through the process. Once you are connected to each app store, you can publish as many apps as you would like. If you have a class full of students who would like to publish a mobile app, it may be worth creating a class developer license that everyone can use to publish.
Please leave a comment and share how you are using Conduit Mobile in your classroom!
What it is:Rock Our World has one goal, to give students authentic global collaboration opportunities by connecting them with music. Rock Our World has been doing just that since 2004. Students and teachers collaborate in composing original music, making movies, and meeting each other in live video chats. Using GarageBand (Apple), each country creates a 30 second drum beat. Every Friday, the drum created rotates to another country, where the bass guitar is added. It gets passed from country to country with another instrument added at each stop. When it gets back to the original country, it is an original piece of music that has been created with the help of kids around the world.
While the music is being passed from country to country, students have opportunities to meet and discuss various topics of curriculum in live video chats. Incredible companies have been involved in this project including Apple, Fablevision, Discovery, American Film Institute, Smart Technologies, NASA, Visual Learning Company, Lintor Publishing, Mariner Software, actor Will Smith and more. Pretty impressive!
Applications for Rock Our World will be accepted for pre-kindergarten through university in January. You can sign up for membership by providing your email address to be alerted to the exact date you can begin applying.
How to integrate Rock Our World into the classroom: This is an incredible opportunity for your students to work and collaborate with other students around the world. Not only will your students be learning and interacting with new cultures, they will also be learning more about music. Your students will be a part of creating a unique song by adding their piece to it. At the end, each country will have a song touched by students around the world. How cool is that?!
It would be really neat at the end of the project to create an iMovie of the final song that includes the globe animation zooming into each country as their bit of the song is played and including a slideshow of students from each country.
Tips: Take a look at previous projects by clicking on the “Media” tab.
Please leave a comment and share how you are using Rock Our World in your classroom.
The following is a re-post from my other blog: iPad Curriculum. I shared Send Felicity a few weeks ago as part of my advent collection but thought I would give everyone a little more information about this incredible site and invitation for play. Even though Send Felicity has an iPhone/iPod Touch app, the app isn’t necessary to engage in the creative play which is also available on the Send Felicity website and Facebook page. I encourage you to offer your students opportunities for play. I deeply believe that play is a strong catalyst for learning.
What it is: Everyone could use a little more magic and enchantment in their lives and Send Felicity brings students (and teachers/families) just that. Take a look at the video below to watch some of that magic unfold.
Felicity is six and three-quarters years old. She loves imagination, making things, and magic. She comes from a magical place called Thin Air. Felicity invites children everywhere to join her in play. Every day there is a new special surprise waiting for children. Each surprise invites students to engage in creativity, play, imagination, and learning. It is an enchanting-ongoing place that involves technology, imagination, and the real world in new ways. The artists, geeks, and minds behind Felicity are deeply committed to keeping the childhood experience one of magic, imagination, and exploration. They bring these values to life beautifully as an application, website, and social experience. What I love about the Send Felicity experience is the storyline behind Felicity, and the invitation to be part of something that is engaging, meaningful, and magical. The combination of the three makes Send Felicity a unique learning and interactive experience. So, how does Send Felicity work? Children can visit the application or website to learn of a new craft (adventure) to take with Felicity. Felicity takes every day objects like paper plates and makes them magical. Children follow the adventures and create and pretend along with Felicity. Children can take pictures of their finished masterpieces and upload them to the Send Felicity website, sharing the creative experience with others. The application is truly unique and takes what is real and adds a bit of magic (as you saw in the video).
How Send Felicity can enrich learning: Play is an important part of learning. It provides the building blocks for self-regulation and executive functions, promotes creativity, imagination, and divergent thinking. Unfortunately play is often stripped from the classroom. Send Felicity weaves together a wonderful tapestry of play and learning in the form of an application, a website, and a social movement. Felicity uses open-ended play and experimentation that leads to an attitude of fun learning. Felicity helps your students turn ordinary objects into creative works of magic. Use Felicity’s daily dose of magic to spark your students imaginations. Set aside some time for your students to do a little creative play. The benefits that play has on the rest of the learning day will be well worth the time invested. Go beyond the crafts and invite your students to write stories, poems, or secret letters in connection with the imaginative play of the day. Activities for Felicity are open-ended and include art, language arts, literacy, and even math and physics. Send Felicity marries technology and real life in new fun ways. The application is just a piece of the bigger picture. The application takes students physical creation and adds a little magic to it.
Today we are boldly making mistakes.Today, our children will make a small mess.
Today, we’ll set out on an adventure and begin with an “oops” and end up in a place where we can look and wonder. Together, we can do something mistaken and wrong; and audacious and wonderful to surprise everyone.
This project shows children that it is okay to make mistakes, and that, in fact, those mistakes can be turned into something wonderful, new, and meaningful. Students don’t hear often enough that it is okay to make mistakes and that it is indeed an important part of the learning process. Take a look at what these beautiful oops turn into:
The Send Felicity App has not yet been released to the iTunes store, but don’t let that stop you from using Felicity in your classroom right now, the Send Felicity website is full of fun activities, instructions, and even a bit of magic. You can also check Felicity out on Facebook where she shares creations made by children from around the world! Send your students home with a wonderful gift this holiday season and point them toward the Send Felicity website. Students will love the opportunities for play and imaginations, parents will love the ideas to keep their kids learning and playing. Let parents know about Send Felicity along with this article from Geek Mom for a little explanation.
The wonderful people over at Send Felicity are so passionate about creating a world of wonder and imagination for children to play in that they have made the technology that Send Felicity is based on open source. Interested parents, educators, and developers are invited to sign up to play along with them.
Devices: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch iOS 3.1.3 or later
Okay, here is my LAST Bloom’s re-imagine (although I’m not promising it is the last that I will come up with, it is just the last I created for my classroom).
Over the past few weeks I have been sharing some of my Boom’s Taxonomy re-imagines. I created these for my classroom so that I could share Bloom’s with my kids in different ways that would make our classroom fun, but also give them a different way of viewing the information. Today I am sharing my Bloomin’ Tree. As I started making my Bloom’s re-imagines, students started coming to me with ideas of how to display the information. The tree was a student idea and the boy underneath is Lance, who made the suggestion. (Lance was my personal Dennis the Menace, loved him to pieces!) Some of you have asked what program I used to create my pictures. I use Apple’s Pages for almost everything, the Bloom’s Taxonomy was no exception. I use the free hand drawing tool, the shapes, fill tool, text box, and inspector to make my version of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Below you will find my original Bloomin’ Tree, along with my digital version. Many of you have asked for a printable version of these Bloom’s Taxonomy re-imagines, you can now find a bundle of 4 (Bloomin’ Peacock, Um-bloom-ra, Bloomin’ Pinwheel, and Bloomin’ Tree) in my store. You will get 8 8.5″x11″ posters, this includes the digital version of each.
Digital Bloomin’ Tree
Here are links to the digital resources in my digital Bloomin’ Tree: