Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Task 1: Ed Tech Audit

While conducting this self-audit, I realized that my major technology focus this school year has been locating and using productivity apps for our new classroom iPads.  I love, love, LOVE having iPads in a primary classroom!  They are quick and efficient and I only spend milliseconds troubleshooting.  

My favorite apps:

1.  ProShow Web

This is a free slideshow/movie creator.  It is like Stupeflix for an iPad.

Pros:  Easily made by students; easy to share and embed; music library; professional-looking; unlimited number of videos

Cons:  Limited to 14 slides (including text slides) w/o upgrade

Here's a link to one of my student's ProShow videos:  

(There's a reason she picked the birthday theme for her matter video; but that is a story for another day.)

2.  Puppet Pals HD

The HD upgrade costs a little, but it is worth every penny.

Pros:  Kids can create and record puppet shows using the app's puppets or by using their own puppets (made by outlining parts of photos).  Easy!  Cute!  Fun!

Cons:  None!  Here's one I made to congratulate my class for winning the much-coveted Health Fitness "Golden Tennis Shoe" award for good behavior.  (The beginning is kind of slow, but it has a dynamic ending!)

3.  Edmodo

Although I used Edmodo more with my 4th grade class (it just has more of an intermediate look and feel), I still rely upon it to provide quick access to links and videos for my second graders.  

4.  Time Lapse/Miniatures/MegaPhoto

Not much educational value (yet), but fun to use and watch!  I'm hoping to come up with good curriculum tie-ins, soon.  I did manage to justify the use of MegaPhoto to illustrate our haikus.

5.  FaceTime

Instead of Skyping, we Face Timed with Theresa Trevino's Rummel Creek 2nd graders.  Great success!  Great potential for future collaboration!

I also like abcNotes, BrainPopJr., Draw&Tell HD (the stencils are fun and I find the music oddly therapeutic), and Solids Elementary.

Apps I'm not completely thrilled with:

QR Reader - This app makes it easy for kids to make and read QR codes, but I'm not real happy with the display window for websites that pop up.  I haven't had a chance to explore other QR apps yet.  There are probably better ones.

Educreations - It is wonderful how you can easily record lessons on it; but I've found it difficult to edit once you have gotten to the end of your presentation.  The kids and I keep accidentally deleting entire lessons when we try to make minor changes.  Now we take screen shots of each page while we go along, just in case we erase the whole lessons.  Frustrating for perfectionists!

App I don't like one bit: 

Skyward - Obviously I am doing something wrong.  It won't ever let me in.

Apps I am about to thoroughly and happily investigate:

Book Creator - You can create eBooks with this app, then start your own ePub with the iBook app!

ZooBurst (3D pop up books), Evernote (for the classroom), iSchoolBox (creating an app for your school!)

Apps I am in the market for:

* An audio app similar to the iTalk app on the iPod Touch (haven't been able to find one that transfers data as easily)

* An easy photo collage app that arranges photos like Picasa used to

* A slide show app that you allows you to move slides horizontally with a scroll bar (like on the SBISD website)

Anybody know of any of these that are available?

My App Goal is to use eBook apps and other productivity apps to help flip some of my lessons. I want to let the students take charge of a lot of their own learning.

Other technology in the classroom:
* I love having a class wiki and will continue to maintain one.
* The students still enjoy using Bighugelabs.com.
* I haven't used MangaHigh as much this year as I did when I taught 4th grade.  I think the 4th grade games are more numerous and they seem to be more fun to play.  The 2nd graders weren't enamored with MangaHigh in September. I'm going to try to reintroduce it after Spring Break.
* I need to spend more time on Google Docs and Stupeflix with the kids.  Since our campus changed locations, it took us a while to get the laptops in good working order.  The iPads took the front stage.
* I need to make Odyssey and Learning.com a regular part of our routine.  I had trouble launching it earlier this year, due to problems getting our laptops up and working.  When the kids eventually did attempt these lessons, they didn't seem to be enjoying them.  It could be because they were actually having to think.  I need to investigate further, to see what the problem is.
At TCEA, I found out how you can project your iPad's screen and sound to your ActivBoard wirelessly!  For $12.99, you can download a program called Reflector to your PC. Go to Reflectorapp.com. When you open the program on your computer, it will allow you to project your iPad's screen wirelessly!  I have only used it about five times, so far.  The last two times there seemed to be some static (black, horizontal bars wiggling across the screen a few times).  It could be because our classrooms are in trailers.


  1. You have really got me thinking! Thanks for sharing such an exhaustive list! First, can you clarify a few things (and it might just be easier to meet F2F):
    how does Facetime compare to Skype - advantages/disadvantages; i don't understand the issues with the QR code reader.
    Other thoughts related to your post: Thanks for sharing your experience with Puppet Pals - I haven't upgraded so I was always curious. Now when we teach our class we can use your recommendation! Can't wait to hear about ZooBurst - I have looked at it in the past and it didn't do much for me. I may not have spent enough time with it. Not sure what you're looking for with the photo collage app - "Picasa like" - Photo Wall, Pic Collage and Turbo Collage are three collage ones that i have played with.

    I have heard really good things about AirServer over Reflector (for you the perfectionist!)

  2. So you don't like Evernote-hmm. Interesting feedback on MangaHigh--have you tried SumDog? Odyssey is very much worth investigating because of prescriptive assessments making it a useful "test time tool." You really put some thought into what tools you would like to further develop for the classroom!

    Reflectorapp--I haven't see it. Will you please demonstrate your new App at Monday's meeting? I think the other ETrainers would like to see it.

  3. RE: Evernote.
    Actually, I DO like it! It was in my "Apps I am about to thoroughly and happily investigate" category. I probably shouldn't have written my subheading in light blue font. I saw some great things done with Evernote at TCEA.

    I don't remember ever trying SumDog. Thanks for the tip!

  4. RE: Face Time vs. Skype
    Face Time seems to involve less troubleshooting than Skype. When we made the connection, it was quick and painless, and the iPad screen was sufficient for small group interaction. I've only used Skype with laptops, so I'm not sure how it works on iPads. It seemed like every time I tried Skype in the classroom, there was some kind of sound or video feed issue that had to be resolved.

    RE: QR Reader
    I was going to say that every time I scanned a QR code that linked to a website, I was unable to see the website full-screen or send the link via email. Well, I just tried it again, and it worked like a charm! So either I wasn't using it correctly, or the problems got fixed in an update. I am now moving QR Reader to my "Favorite Apps" list! :)

    Thanks for the photo collage ideas! I'll try them out. My main objective with collages was to be able to display classroom events easily on our class wiki. Picasa used to offer several collage styles to choose from.

    I didn't know about AirServer. Is it free?

  5. I love that you are thinking about ebooks and how both you and the students can use them to expand learning. Students will be so proud when they see themselves "in print" with digital ink and it can be so easy to do. If you are looking for an ebook reader that can display any book regardless of which program created it, check out Calibre. It is a program that will allow people to read your ebooks on their laptops.