Archive for July, 2012

Groovy Apps As of Late

Posted: July 20, 2012 in Apps.

I have found some nifty apps to share as we get ready for the school year. Some of these have a cost but I can totally see them being used as a teacher tool so no need to buy a complete class set!

FeltBoard – $2.99 – The app brought me back to the days I was a children’s librarian assistant back in the day. There is something sweet and familiar about this. It will be ideal for a Lower School center for a retell or creation activity.

Barefoot World Atlas – $7.99 – Beautiful, beautiful altas filled with clear information, cartoonish pictures, photo and very easy user interface. I am aware about the expense of this app but I do remember a set of encyclopedias went for a great deal more and this is much more like an encyclopedia than any atlas I know. Unless you had a mother like mine who got our encyclopedia from Jewel – each week a new volume for .99 cents. I still never got Volume S. She must not have cooked much that week.

iF Poems – $4.99 – Just lovely. If you have any affection for poetry you must splurge on this for yourself or your class. Poems read to you by Helena Bonham Carter and Bill Nighy, among others, that just make you drift into the words. But students can also record the poems and hear them read back. There are author bios and poems set into categories, I get lost in the experience of this app.

Interactive Kid Art HD – $1.99 – A darling, interactive app which has children interacting with great works of art. Ever have Mona Lisa wink at you? Or see koi float through Monet’s Water Lilies? I have and it is so much fun!

World War II Timeline – $9.99 – Another big bucks one, I know but if you spend any amount of time with this app you will get sucked in. Videos, pictures, authentic artifacts, letters, short text, longer bits, it just rocks. Honestly, if you are studying WWII in your class this is a must have as a reference and then you don’t have to let the student lose on the scary WWW for info. This app also fluctuates in price so I think I got it for $6.99.

Today I got to take my kids and visit a “start up” company, which actually turned out to be a start up floor in a high rise in the city. There were about 12 or so start up companies all on this floor, filling up offices, sitting on a random variety of chairs, balls, even the floor – creating – some without shoes on, some without! I think it is funny, as teachers, technology or otherwise we almost forget how other professions work. People really do negotiate their contracts, “lunch”, and get time to think! It was groovy for me to see how MentorMob and its crew worked. Granted I am not a start up company guru but you know i have seen pictures of the Google Campus – duh.

Hanging out on the 25th floor, I got to share my ideas with MentorMob and my kids got to talk to some of the founders of the web app and ask questions and learn stuff. What? They were learning stuff – “but mom we were just going to meet your friends”. Yet they learned a bunch – through flow charts and trial & error and diagrams. They learned and talked about it later with me, teaching me what they learned. It was like hiding vegetables in their hamburgers! It was like shoving the cauliflower in their meatloaf – they had no idea! It is this authentic learning – involving technology or not – that really change and effect us as people and what we take with us on our adventures.

MentorMob works that way. It allows playlists of websites or files to be created and shared publicly or privately, and commented upon (you can work a pop quiz in there too!). It is a pretty slick web app and I know the original thought from the company is that it is to be used to “teach” but I want to use it as a way for kids to learn. My students will be the ones creating the playlists. They will need to chose websites which explain research topics or projects clearly: including website which they evaluated before including in their playlists, annotated pictures, videos and an explanation of their process. Curating, creating and learning by making a playlist! Cool beans! I feel bad for the poster board companies.

PS- My son was watching me write this and I asked him what he thought about what we did today.

Start from Timmy, don’t call me Timothy – “It seems like a really fun place, like how they write on the windows and like if you were in New York you could draw King Kong hanging off the Empire State Building in that was in the view. It was a fun, creative place with an idea to be found everywhere you go. Did you know that all types of technology that use the same thing and then the flow chart about our school day, that was really cool.”

In books I read in which authors tell the backstory of where they wrote the book or how they got inspiration, many discuss how they drove to a cabin outside of the distractions of everyday life and created masterpieces or at least trashy beach novels that sold millions…

So here I sit up in Door County, Wisconsin on Lake Michigan, with my computer, it’s Thursday and this is the first day I have been compelled to write. Most likely why I am not Tom Clancy. But I am reading. Books with pages, I just can’t fathom bringing my iPad to the beach. Books with pages are working just fine and I can shake the sand out of them when I get back to the cottage. And my kids are reading, reading so much

Imagethat we have made 2 runs to the bookstore in town and 1 to Walmart. Admittedly my children are not huge fans of reading but they read enough. So when they are completing books and asking for me, I don’t mind the “I need a new book Mom!” runs into town.

This got me thinking about all the students I have taught and I am about to start working with in the Fall – I wonder where they are reading all their books at?  Then it got me thinking a bit more – true that is a lot of thinking for anyone on vacation but it was happening! I started to wonder about putting summer reading into a visualization.

I would love to use Classroom Window but I am waiting for it to come out of beta – booo…But maybe using Wordle to gauge what the most popular generes were this summer. Maybe use ThingLink or Snagit and a map of the US to make an interactive image… ooo even better use Google Maps! I think that is what I might be doing. Using Google Maps and book titles and pictures and… yeah that is the ticket! Here is an easy peasy how to on inserting images into Google Maps. Here is one a weee bit more complicated with the actual Google Earth – but for me I think Google Maps will work just fine!