Apps to Start the Year

It’s almost the start of year for some so here’s a few apps you might like to try whether you’re a one iPad class, a 1:1 class or it’s just you and your iPhone and a document camera.  Love that there are ways to integrate great apps in your classroom regardless of what devices or how many devices you have available in your classroom!

BookLeveler (free)
artifactI wish I’d found this app at the start of last year! You can quickly and easily find appropriately leveled content for young readers. Either scan the ISBN barcode of a book or search for content by title and/or author to appropriately level and store that content based on your in-classroom experience.

If you use this app in your classroom, I’d love to know how it goes!

Update 2015: This app is now call Artifact Book App. You can still find appropriately leveled content for readers and it has other interesting features as well.

Artifact enables teachers, students and other readers to search, discover and reflect on books in new ways. The app combines reader contributions and machine learning to uncover the unique attributes of books and turns them into searchable criteria (aka artifacts).

iLEAP Pick a Student (free)
ileapTired of using popicle sticks and want to “kick it up a notch” with a wow factor? This app supports multiple different classes and various options to choose students. Choosing a student randomly will pick any student from the class, and using turn based selection every student will be picked before any student is picked again.  Show your iPhone under the doc camera or plug your iPad into the data projector to let students see what’s happening.

Whilst I haven’t used this particular app, (the one below is the one I used on my iPad ALL the time & my 3rd graders LOVED it) I thought this was worth mentioning especially because there doesn’t seem to be ads on this one (the one below does have ads – sorry).

randomnameselectorRandom Name Lite Selector (free)
I used this app all last year with my 3rd graders – they loved it – me, it was ok, but I found the ads annoying (they pop up ALL the time, not just at the beginning) but hey, small world problem for a FREE app! You can create one or more classes/groups. Add students to those groups. The App will then randomly select students from the highlighted group. All names will be displayed before a name is displayed for a second time. The background music is very circus-y but you can mute it – the star noise will still occur though. Sometimes, when I needed sort “turns” for presentations,  I’d plug in my iPad to the data project and have a monitor be responsible for pressing the select button.

TooLoud (free)
Absolutely LOVED this app – I’d just quietly plug the iPad into the data project (not saying a word) during independent working time and the impact was astounding!  It never lost it’s impact (I didn’t use it ALL the time).

Gave us the opportunity for a brilliant visual discussion about graphs during math time too!

Update Nov 2015:  App no longer available

Hope you find these useful in your classroom especially if you’re looking to slowly integrate technology into your learning environment in meaningful ways or even if you’re just looking to “change things up” a little!  I’d love to hear how you get on or what apps you’re using at the beginning of the year – please leave a comment!

Next post will be apps for the teacher – I’ll be sharing all the apps I just couldn’t imagine not having as a classroom teacher.

Featured Image Credit: TeachingSagittarian

Site Update & URL Change


Photo Credit: Lori Greig via Compfight cc

To reflect the change in my professional life and in an effort to curb the extraordinary amount of spam I seem to be getting lately (188 in 3 days!), the URL of this blog is about to change slightly in a few days.

If you’re an RSS subscriber, or a faithful reader (and you would have to be considering my almost year long hiatus!) please update the feed (or not) to

You will still be able to access this blog via but that URL will become a launching site to my various blogs.

Motivational Statistics

Eeek! Last post to this blog – September 29, 2012!

Motivated by a spam comment notification received on my iPhone and not being able to spam it (for whatever reason) like I usually do on my phone ….. prompted me to log into the backend of my blog on my laptop.

Yeegads! 16 Updates required to take care of, one spam comment that made it through the always brilliant Askimet plugin for spam (yup – it needed updating!)  Love the clean, uncluttered WordPress Platform update 3.5.1 too by the way!

Moments later, updates done – including a nifty little plugin that I installed (yes, back in September – note: head hanging down in shameful silence) called Jetpack for WordPress.

Jetpack is supposed to “supercharge” your self-hosted wordpress site with a whole lot of cool enhancements.  One that caught my eye, and of course, prompted this blog post, is the Site Stats.

I actually had some stats to look at, and that really made me think.  I’m still getting site visitors even though I haven’t updated my professional blog with a blog post since September 2013.  Granted, I’ve got some pretty good stuff on here that’s relevant still for classroom teachers or technology coaches.   I could list a raft of excuses for why I haven’t updated my blog recently (ok, in forever) – but I’m not going to (that’s negative).  Instead, I’m thinking about the positive effects this little plugin had.

I have proof know now that I’ve still got visitors almost everyday visiting my site.  I know that they are probably looking for content (using inference of which posts/pages are being viewed the most).  Jetpack breaks down so much of the traffic information for you, including where your visitors are coming from.  All this information can help you make decisions about your audience and tailor your blog accordingly.  I’m impressed but most of all I’m motivated.  Motivated to write a blog post – this blog post.  So that got me thinking about my students.

My gorgeous Grade 3 students have recently begun their own journey of blogging.  Each student has their own individual blog (we’ve had a class blog together for half the year already and you can find the links to their on the right-hand sidebar if you’re interested in seeing what they are up to!) I taught all of them how to add a RevolverMap to their blog (to count site visitors and to be able to see in real time if anyone else was looking at their blog) and I also taught them how to add a flag counter.  We recently discovered that you can change the settings on flag counter to show the number of visitors beside each flag!  Both of these widgets are free and easy to install.  I know these widgets are motivating – we tracked our visitors to our class blogs and counted flags and visitor totals which was very exciting!  But ……

I’m wondering how I can go deeper with that motivation.  Our blogs are hosted on our own server at school, it’s a multi-user platform so I know I can’t just install the JetPack plugin and get access to wider, more informative statistics.

Do you have any suggestions?  What do you do to help motivate your students blog? How do you use the revolvermap or flagcounter statistics?

Image Credit:
Featured Image: License: CC0 Public Domain / FAQ

iPad Apps to Try Out

We are currently using 3 iPads in our Grade 3 classroom – and loving them!  Wish we had more – but we are making the 3 work for us.  Recently, I was able to share some “must have” apps with my colleagues – it’s immensely enjoyable when you inspire people with a few really good apps that are engaging to use and have the potential to enhance learning for the students we teach.

By pure coincidence, I stumbled across two educators slideshare presentations (linked inside blog posts from my Must Reads RSS google reader feed).  Although I’ve been using many of the apps that both educators mentioned, there were a few that I will definitely check out.  I thought I’d share those (and links to the two educators) with you today. Guess what – they’re all FREE too! My favourite kind of apps!!

Monica Burns (blogs and tweets via @ClassTechTips) is a Fifth Grade Teacher at Alain L. Locke Magnet School for Environmental Stewardship (which I think is in South Harlem?).

Student podcasts about Math created by students at Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica.  These might be a bit too advanced for my G3 students – but some of you may find this app useful for students.

There are many fotopedia apps, specific to particular places – check out the National Parks one – it’s gorgeous!

Update Nov 2015: Unfortunately Fotopedia shut down it’s app in August 2015.

Beautiful nature images – I’m keen to explore this one – although I have a funny feeling that some in-app purchasing will be necessary to get the most out of this app (which will be a shame).


Great leaf images – perfect for our Structures of Life unit that’s coming up soon.

Perfect Captions perfectcaptions
I know some boys in my class that are going to have a lot of fun with this new app! I can’t wait to use – especially with our Character Unit!

acceleratedreaderAccelerated Reader
This needs to be individualised – and since we only have 3 ipads, I’m thinking that I’ll only use it with students who need this kind of practised reading the most, for a short period of time to see if it gives them the boost they are needing.

Now, I’ve always used iTalk (and I LOVE it – but unfortunately our personal devices (aka: my iPhone) and our school devices (aka: my laptop) are on separate parts of the wireless – this means that I can not get my iPhone and Laptop to “talk to each other” over the wireless!  The beauty of iTalk is being able to share the recordings without having to download to the laptop.  I usually transfer files at home.  I’ll be trying out QuickVoice for our running records and for students practising their fluency and expression.  I like students to record themselves at the beginning of the year, then again mid-year – reflect and then record themselves again at the end of the year – comparing the beginning of the year recording with the end of year recording.  Students are always amazed to hear their improvement.  Works especially well with EAL students.

scholasticreadingtimerScholastic Reading Timer (not available in NZ Store)
Was disappointed to find that this app isn’t available in the NZ apple store – enter backup plan – use B’s US apple ID.  (Kiwi’s always have a back up plan!)


Check out Monica’s full slideshare presentation here!  There might be some more apps that you’re not using in your classroom yet.

Carlos Fernandez oversees the Instructional Technology in Leon County Schools, Fl.  You can see his full slideshare presentation here.

A multi-device collaboration tool from Universal Mind. I’m curious to see how I can make the “flick of a finger” collaboration between my iPhone and the iPads in the class – I’m wondering what that will do to brainstorming in the classroom between my students and myself?  I’ll keep you posted!


School A-Z
Produced by the NSW Department of Education and Communities, the School A to Z app brings together a wealth of resources to help parents to understand and support their child’s homework. I’m thinking that this would be a really good app to introduce to my parents – most have an iPad or two floating around the house!

Hope that some of these apps might be new for you too.
I’m always interested to know if you try these apps out in your classroom and how it goes – so please come back and leave a comment!


Image Credit: TeachingSagittarian



Dots Around the World

The response to an idea I had while watching this movie, was amazing. When I pitched the idea to my 3rd Grade students, they were more than willing to help spread the idea and get some other classrooms to collaborate in our Dots Around the World global collaborative project.  You can check out how we did that in our post Dotting Ourselves Around the World.

And it worked! We managed to dot ourselves around the world – literally! 17 countries, over 30 classes ranging from PreK to Year 11. Each and every dot made us smile – I hope it makes you smile too! Happy International Dot Day everyone!

Many, many thanks to the teachers who signed up, took part with their iPads and their students and got their dots in! You can see everyone who was involved in the credits at the end of the final video.

If you are interested in how the whole global project was put together, you can read our Dots Around the World Collaborative Project post.

Dots Around the World! (Updated: Version 3)

sample of Dots Around the World from Room 207

Dots Around the World Collaborative Project

My students and I would like to organise a collaborative project – and use our iPads in class at the same time.  We have 3 iPads in our class right now – all provided by me, not the school.  If you have access to at least one iPad for your class (or an iTouch) and you’d like to take part in a collaborative video – please read on …


The inspiration for this collaborative project came from this video (Mr. Colosi’s First Grade Class) posted by Lucy Gray on Google+ last week. Their inspiration came from Peter Reynold’s book “The Dot”

There is an official dot day – September 15th.  I’d like to extend this video idea to Dots Around the World and release the video on September 15th.

What Do You Need?

An iPad (or more if you have them) and time (time for your students to create their dot pictures using any ipad app you wish – I’m thinking the more different apps we use the more versatile we can show the iPads art capabilities).  I was also thinking that iTouches would be ok to use as well if you don’t have iPads.

Possible Apps to Use

You are certainly not limited to just these ones – but here’s a few suggestions!
Doodle Buddy (free)  Inkflow (free)  Drawing Box (free) Draw (free)
Procreate (4.99)  MyBrushes (1.99) Drawing Pad (1.99)

Optional Extra

These iPad apps shared below are awesome to use if you are willing to choose one or two students to record the actual drawing of their dots (I’ll speed these special recordings up for the final Video). 

EducreationsShowMe, ScreenChomp (sorry, no longer supported), Doodlecast Pro, or Explain Everything  

Please let me know directly (via email) if you would like to do this optional extra part as well.

Very Important

Please include student name and the app used to create the dot on the image.  Click this link to see an example.

How Do We Get The Dot Drawings To You?

There are several different ways to get your dots to me before the 12 September deadline:

Dropbox / Box net
If you’re a dropbox/box net user – simply let me know in the table below and I will share you in on a special folder for dropping your images in

I’ve set up a flickr group called Dots Around the World.  If you join our project simply upload your photos to this group if you are a flickr member already. (Request membership & it will be approved).  Short videos can also be posted here as well.

Or you can just email your dots to me (or better still have your kids email their finished dot straight from the iPad if you have it set up)


To help meet the release date of September 15th, there is an important timeframe to stick to please!

All dots to be included in the video need to be in dropbox, box net, flickr or sent via email by Wednesday 12 September – so that the video can be ready for release on Saturday 15th September. This date will be strictly adhered to so if your video has not been received by the due date, we won’t be able to include it in the September 15th release!

Can anyone think of anything I’ve forgotten?

Still Interested?

Please click this link to the Dots Around the World Spreadsheet to help me keep track of who’s taking part and how you’re going to get your images to me!

Please feel free to invite anyone you think might like to join in!

Update: Link to Finished Project Video