SpeakPipe - Voice Mail for Your Blog

Do you have a class blog using Blogger, WordPress, Weebly, Tumblr or Joomla?  If you do, SpeakPipe is a cool way to connect with your readers.  SpeakPipe add a "Send Voicemail" tab to the side of your blog that readers can click to record a voice message to your class.  The free plan allows you to receive up to 20 voice messages a month (90 seconds max per message).  

To get started, just go to https://www.speakpipe.com and create a free account.  Choose your blogging platform on the setup window and it tells you exactly what to do to put it on your blog.  Very cool!

App Category: Digital Storytelling

Digital Storytelling is a wide and diverse category. Many apps that we've placed in the Presentation, Screen Recording or Photo Project categories could also be considered Digital Storytelling apps. For our purposes here, I'm included apps that allow the student to create animated movies or cartoons that tell a story... any story. It could be a documentary or a fictional story to explain a topic or an actual story to show their knowledge of literary elements. Some examples in the classroom might be:
  • Math- Explain the steps used to solve a problem or explain a concept such as rounding or estimating
  • Science- Create a story explaining the 3 forms of matter or telling the hypothesis and result of a lab experiment; create lab safety videos
  • SS- Create a story using characters to represent two or more historical figures and have them discuss or debate an historical topic relevant to their era.
  • ELA- Create stories to present various grammatical topics in a conversation or to demonstrate sentence types; Retell a story; book reviews
  • Foreign Language- Students can create a story with a two way conversation to practice asking/answering questions in a new language.
  • Other- Create PSAs on bullying, Red Ribbon Week or Internet Safety
My Favorite Digital Storytelling App
Tellagami - http://gcisdtraining.wikispaces.com/App-Tellagami

Tellagami is a free app for creating 30 second talking avatars.  It's like Voki for the iPad!  First pick your character and customize it.  Backgrounds can be added from several presets, the camera or photo library.  Then record up to 30 seconds of audio or type up to 440 characters.   The completed "Gami" can be saved to the camera roll and emailed as a movie.  Tellagami is a great app for layering or "smashing" into iMovie. Create multiple 30 seconds Gamis and then combine them into a single movie in iMovie.

Other Options:

Toontastic is great for creating longer animated cartoons.  Cartoons are created using the built in "Story Arc" with a story setup, conflict, challenge, climax and resolution.  Additional scenes can be added as well.  For each scene, students add a background and characters.  Then students animate the scene and record narration. Finally students pick music based on the mood of the scene.  Repeat the process for each scene in the cartoon. Completed movies are uploaded to the Toon-Tube website.  Pre-planning is super important for creating Toontastic movies.  Have the students create a storyboard before beginning.  Also, be sure to have the sound turned on... there's a built in tutorial to guide you through the steps in creating your very own cartoon!

Sock Puppets is a super simple app for creating 30 second puppet movies. Kids love it because it disguises their voice.  It's great for short explanations.  Simply choose the characters, the scene and the props and then record your narration.  While recording, tap a puppet and that puppet will lip-synch.  Tap a different puppet to switch auto lip-synching to it. Final products can be uploaded to YouTube.

Puppet Pals HD or Puppet Pals 2 - http://gcisdtraining.wikispaces.com/App-Puppet+Pals

Puppet Pals HD and Puppet Pals 2 are a cross between Sock Puppets and Toontastic.  You have more options than Sock Puppets but they're not quite as complex as Toontastic. Choose your characters and scenery and then animate/narrate all in one scene. One thing I love is that the final product can be saved to the camera roll!  The free versions are limited in the choices of scenery and characters.

What's your favorite digital storytelling app?  Leave us a comment!

App Category: Drawing

Drawing apps are perfect for creating student artwork to be layered into other apps.

Some examples in the classroom might be:
  • Math- Use as a whiteboard to work out math problems. 
  • Science- Illustrate the moon phases and save to the Camera Roll. Use pictures to create a digital presentation in Keynote, 30Hands or another Presentation app. 
  • SS- Create a map replicating a classroom or school campus. Draw examples of hieroglyphics. Illustrate different types of housing Indians in Texas lived in.
  • ELA- Illustrate idioms, metaphors or other parts of speech. Recreate the setting of a story. 
  • Other- Draw a self-portrait for Art class. 
My Favorite Drawing Apps

Doodle Buddy - http://gcisdtraining.wikispaces.com/App-Doodle+Buddy

Doodle Buddy is the most common basic drawing app. Students can choose from a spectrum of colors to draw with a brush, chalk or even glitter. There are some built in stamps that are great for creating patterns or modeling math problems.  Students can choose from several built in backgrounds or use any picture from the camera roll as the background... great for annotating!  Typed text can be added as well.  The final product can be saved in the camera roll and then layered into other apps like 30Hands, Haiku Deck, etc. to create a more complex product.

ColorBox HD - http://gcisdtraining.wikispaces.com/App-ColorBox+HD

If Doodle Buddy looks to "kiddy" for your students, try ColorBox HD. It looks like a real art box, complete with colored pencils, pens, markers and highlighters. Bonus points go to anyone who can tell me why on Earth there are the 2 lace handkerchief option tools... just tap the tool again to get rid of them if you accidentally add them to your drawing. Weird!

Doceri - http://gcisdtraining.wikispaces.com/App-Doceri

We've already looked at Doceri as a Screencasting App but it can also be used just for drawings. I've found that students really like the color choices and there's just something about the smooth lines that is appealing. Rather than recording audio over your drawing, just export it to the camera roll using the share icon.

What's your favorite drawing app?  Leave us a comment!

Aurasma - It's like QR codes but better!

Aurasma App

Aurasma is a super cool augmented reality app.  Aurasma creates "Auras" that allow you to hover over an object or image (like a poster on a wall) and another image or even a video will appear on the screen to give you more information.  Sound confusing?  Imagine this:  A science teacher wants to teach her students about lab equipment and safety.  An aura is created so that when the student scans eye goggles with the Aurasma app, a video about eye safety will begin to play on the iPad.  Check out this example for making posters come to life (if you're reading this via email, click this link to watch the video:  http://vimeo.com/44303473 )

The possibilities are endless:

  • Talking word walls or alphabets - scan a word or letter and a video starts to play talking about the word or letter.
  • Campus tours - place markers throughout the building that, when scanned, play student created videos describing particular places on campus
  • Talking posters - students create posters for projects and add Auras to key pictures on the poster to provide more information via video
  • Talking book trailers - scan a book cover and watch a video trailer for the book
  • Interactive notebooks - create Auras on diagrams or drawings in interactive notebooks to play instructional videos

Basic auras can be created with the iPad app or more sophisticated ones can be created using Aurasma Studio on the web.  The iPad app is great because the overlay videos can be taken straight from the iPad camera roll.  That means that you can create the videos with any app that saves to the camera roll... Tellagami, 30Hands, Doceri, iMovie, etc. for movies or 
Doodle Buddy, Pic Collage, PhotoCard lite, Skitch, etc. for images.  What a great example of app layering!

For more examples of Aurasma projects and tutorials check out my Pinterest board:

Getting Started with Aurasma Step by Step Instruction Sheet:

Into the Book - Reading Strategies for Elementary Students

Into the Book

Into the Book is a great free website for elementary students to learn and practice reading strategies. It can be used for whole class, group or individual instruction using a computer (it's Flash based so it won't work on the iPads).  You'll find interactive lessons and videos for 8 different strategies (see below) as well as lots of teacher resources in the "Teacher Area".

Strategies for Learning:
Prior Knowledge
Making Connections
Using Strategies Together

App Category: Photo Projects

Photo Project apps are used for creating collages (with labels or information) and annotating pictures. The products of these apps are perfect for "layering" into other apps to create a more complex final product. For example: students might make a PicCollage and use that as a background graphic for a Thinglink project or insert multiple Visual Poet images into the 30Hands app to record narration and create a video.

Some examples in the classroom might be:

  • Math - Create a collage of shapes, patterns, or geometric terms with short captions to explain. Create a visual dictionary of math vocabulary.
  • Science - Create a collage of images with short captions from an experiment. Create a visual dictionary of science vocabulary.
  • SS - Create a collage with short captions for events in history or about a famous person.
  • ELA - Create visual poetry. Create collages to describe the setting, characters, events, etc. in a story.
  • Other - Create collages to be used as illustrations for projects created in other apps like Pages, Keynote, iMovie, etc. Create infographics about a topic.

My Favorite Photo Project Apps
There are so many good options and each have a slightly different product so I can't possibly pick just one! Here are some of my favorites.

PicCollage - http://gcisdtraining.wikispaces.com/App-PicCollage

With PicCollage, students create photo collages with multiple pictures and text. Photos can be added from the camera or photo library. (NOTE: It is not recommended to let students explore the gallery or import pictures directly from the web.)  PicCollage also has built in frames for organizing your images.

Visual Poet - http://gcisdtraining.wikispaces.com/App-Visual+Poet

Visual Poet is similar to PicCollage except that it has just one frame with 3 photo spots (like the picture on the app icon).  Strips of text can be added to each picture. It's great for creating a graphic to be used in a larger presentation. 

Skitch is used mainly for annotating over a single picture. Students might take a picture of a science experiment and label what was happening or they might take pictures of geometric shapes in the real world and label the parts.  Skitch also has built in maps and, if your students are using Evernote, any PDF in the linked Evernote account can be opened and annotated in Skitch.

PhotoCard Lite is a great app for creating postcards.  One image can be inserted on the front side (or you could use a saved PicCollage if you want more than one image) and students write the message on the back. Check out my blog post from May to learn more: http://goo.gl/1P7ND1  

What’s your favorite photo project app and why? Leave us a comment!

App Category: Presentations

Presentation apps create slideshows that students can present live or can embed on a blog or website. Presentation apps are a great place to combine products from other apps, especially those in the Photo Project apps category. For example: the visual for a particular slide in a 30Hands video might be an annotated picture from Skitch or the background of a Haiku Deck slide might be a PicCollage image

Some examples in the classroom might be:

  • Math- Create an explanation of problem solving or math vocabulary.
  • Science- Create audio explanations for science experiments or topics.
  • SS- Create a presentation to explain historical events, people or places.
  • ELA- Create book trailers or reviews and visual poetry

My Favorite Presentation Apps
I have 2 favorites for this category because they each have a slightly different product.

Haiku Deck- http://gcisdtraining.wikispaces.com/App-Haiku+Deck
Haiku Deck creates beautiful presentations in which an image and a small amount of text are the focus. It forces students to be concise in their thinking and encourages good presentation techniques (ex: don't just read everything that's on the slide). You can also create simple bar and circle graphs. Learn more about Haiku Deck and see an example in Janie's blog post: http://goo.gl/fteVGE

30 Hands- http://gcisdtraining.wikispaces.com/App-30+Hands
30 Hands is an app that allows users to insert pictures and record audio narration to create a video. Images can be edited or annotated directly in the program or you can draw your own. Images from other apps like PicCollage can be added and narrated for further explanation. It's a great way to integrate the physical world with the digital world. Take pictures of student's paper drawings and create a narrated video.

Another Option:
Keynote- http://gcisdtraining.wikispaces.com/App-Keynote
Keynote is the iPad's version of PowerPoint. Students can create slideshows with images, text and embedded videos. Final products can be presented directly from the iPad (using the Reflector software on a teacher laptop computer or using a VGA adaptor) or saved as PowerPoint or PDF files.

What's your favorite presentation app?  Leave us a comment!