Monday Made It! App Review Rubric for Kid Critics

                               Time for 4th Grade Frolic's Monday Made it.
Last week Brandee created a Rubric for scoring iMovie Trailers (which I think is just a great idea) and it made me think a little bit about what I want my students to do with technology when it's in their hands.  So I made a simple one-sheet Student App Review Rubric.
There are 5 sections and each can be graded 0-4, so an app could score 20 points, which would be a perfect score.  And no, Candy Crush does not get a perfect score.  

 I want my students to understand and analyze apps they use and figure out what works, what doesn't, then share their findings.  This fits both in Bloom's Tax. and CCSS while creating authentic learning opportunities for these students because they'd be sharing results with others.  I didn't want to create rubrics that would be too difficult for kids to understand either, which was a concern as I started this.  Honestly, I looked around the web to see what categories/interests would best fit a student reviewer and tailored this rubric from the fabric others (oooh, fancy writin').

You can actually get a copy here (Google Docs) or you can jump over to my TPT store and download a free version there.  I'm genuinely excited about this because it just adds to student's depths of understanding then sharing their findings.

Now I realize this will be a learning process at the beginning, but I think over time this could become second nature for students.  Also (and ideally) the rubric is just the starting point.  Eventually kids would take the rubrics and turn them into written reviews (blog, paper, etc.), but that is further down the line.

If you've got other ideas, links about this, or improvements: I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR THEM.

My wife did a little Goodwill shopping and found an old beat-up end table.  
I was promptly asked to reMAKE it so I gave it a 
coat of red and a layer or antiquing/aging oil.
This is the finished product.  
I know you can't see the whole thing, but notice the antiquing stripes?
A little This Old House thing is going on... 

I spent a little time redoing character trait maps that I use and turnied them into foldables.  Given the chance my students will take cutting, gluing, and writing over simple worksheets.  And that is fine with me.

And Finally:
I made a collection of TASK CARD Templates that will fit 8.5x11 paper (portrait and landscape).  There are over 40 different png files that all vary in color.  Plus the templates can be for 2, 3, 4, or 6 cards in a page.

That's it.  Time to start another week of making!
Who am I kidding...
Time to Start Getting Ready For a Real Vacation!

Tune Into Tech: Classroom Websites

Tune Into Technology:  Classroom Website
This wonderful link-up is from Learning to the Core and iTeach 1:1
This week the idea is Classroom Websites and while some might share organizational ones, I really do that based on my classroom set-up.  Instead, I'm just going to share a bunch of different ones that I use, and maybe even some you haven't seen.

Ninja Words:  A simple and quick dictionary for kids (and us, I'll be honest.  Just a great site, plus it includes the term ninjas.
 Fakebook:  Create fake-looking Facebook accounts.  This is great for using with characters in books/novels/historical or whatever else you can think of.  For U.S History imagine if each state had their own Facebook account.  Michigan and Ohio would never be friends, Texas would only have pictures of their flag (everywhere), and Illinois' would probably get shut down for taking improper bribes with politicians then posting about it.

How Stuff Works:  Great site with tons of videos, photos, and everything else.  Kids love it.  Great for science, socials students, current events.  Oh, and you should probably be listening to the podcast too.

Symbaloo:  Visual bookmark of websites.  So great for kids because it cuts down on typing in URL addresses.  We set up our home pages so that kids could use this in the computer lab.  Plus you can take other boards that have been created and use them yourself.
This is part of the boards my kids use at home to find their sites.

Draw A Stickman:  Just a fun little website that has a couple of stories using figures and shapes that kids draw.  I love doing this with the kids and they get quite the kick out of it.

Floor Planner:  This is unique because you can build homes, offices, etc.  It's like Sim City but the idea of using it with area and perimeter is very cool.  Students can design just about anything.  You do have to log in, but you can use your Google account.  It is free.

TodaysMeet:  Set up back door channeling with teachers during meetings so they can collaborate on topics, ask questions, and learn more.  This is a pretty cool little tool, but it takes some practice.
                             This is one of my favorite sites.  It is a lot of quizzes that can be changed in complexity and amount.  I like to sit with students while they do this then we can work through questions.  It has math, vocab, spelling, and so much more.  And free, plus you can set up your own quizzes for students to take and it keeps track of it all.

Vimeo:  There are some amazin' videos on Vimeo.  Just incredibly well made HD film on there.  Great video that should be shared with the class just to spark discussion or ideas.
Check out this one below.  Just some guys that went around the world showcasing food.  It is beautiful.
AND now I'm hungry.

Universal Scale:  Cool little site from Nikon that shows how large (or small everything is.  There is a moving linear timeline that can be zoomed in and out.  Very interesting and great to use with science

Bill Nye:  I mean, do I have to say anything else?  This is a direct link to his website. Just filled with science goodness.  His shows were/are's a reminder.

Okay, eleven sites should be good enough for now.  This is so fun.

You Stay Classy Bloggers.

Tune into Tech: IPADS...Oh, Snap--Check Out These Apps!

Tune Into Technology:  iPads
This link up is by  from Learning to the Core and iTeach 1:1
It doesn't matter to me if you like Mac or PC.  I use both, but own all Mac just works best for me.  That being said, I don't discriminate those that are pro PC, Android, or VCR.  But when it comes to the classroom and using a digital tool to enhance learning potential in students and teachers the iPad is second to none.

It should be noted I'm excluding laptops.  Those are completely different animals and need a post for there own.  This is really just about the best mobile device in the school (IMO). 

I've been using an iPad for just over two years and my immediate reaction after using it and realizing the educational value was disappointment.  Why disappointment?  Well, I know at least four of my prior students that would have been tremendously successful using it with reading, writing, math, and social skills.  And there is nothing more aggravating than hindsight.

For speed, accuracy, student engagement, learning styles, integration, and anything else that will stick to the wall--the iPad is a game changer (sorry Surface).  The types of activities and lessons I can do with a classroom of 25 kids and a single iPad is pretty cool.  It's even better when they each have their own, but budgets are a whole different story.

Public Service Announcement:
Cats like iPads.

So what I figured I'd do was list a few apps (and such) that I use in the my class and around school.  Some of these are definitely outside the box (but doesn't teaching need to be that way?).

1.  This is a direct link to post I did on the Jurassic Park App.  It's great for reading, decoding, vocabulary, step by step instructions (and following), plus ordering of events, and more.  And it is a game.  Have a student walk you through this game and you'll see what I mean.

2.  Scribble Press.  I got this free, now it is about 3 bucks, which really isn't bad considering you can write, draw, create, and publish books.  Then you can upload them to your email or their website and save it as a PDF. There is also an option to print the books out (or you could just do that yourself).  I did this year with a couple of my fifth graders this year. 

They wrote stories, edited them, illustrated, and then we Skyped with the early childhood school and my students read books to the kids.  It was a beautiful thing.  Check out this app...mind bottling.

3.  Coach's Eye.  This app allows you to edit video immediately by adding diagrams, lines, pausing video, speaking over it, you name it---except it has been used predominantly for sports.  We found another alternative for it.  Social Awareness/Social Situations.  Myself and the social worker have taken video of specific areas in the school and the students diagram exactly what is happening.
We're basically asking students to break down video (like athletes) and try to recognize what is happening.  The kids study this like crazy and then discuss it with teachers and they get to do all the diagramming too.  I love having students recognize areas in class, the lunchroom, or recess that could be difficult (and why).  Definitely check this out.

4.  One of the simplest features is the video/photo.  I know it might sound silly, but having the ability to immediately play back what you've done or said is powerful.  We've had students film themselves when preparing for speeches so they could work on speed, volume, and clarity.  No More Robot Speech Talk (said like a robot).  I still think the power of video is underrated in education and this is just another way to utilize it.

5.  Skitch.  This bad boy is free.  Anytime you can teach students how to annotate articles, images, and more is a win for the everyone.  Have them take a photo of an article then highlight vocabulary, main idea, the 5 W's, and more.  Others have integrated this app into math for area and perimeter too.  There is a lot you can do with this.

Also, the fact that Skitch is part of Evernote doesn't hurt anything.  It just makes the connection more seamless and easier for teachers to understand. do know about Evernote right?

6.  FlipBoard.  My FAVORITE!  Oh this, it's just an ever expanding digital magazine that is constantly updating itself with news from around the world.  Oh, and you can hook up any RSS feed, Facebook, Twitter, or WhateverAccount you have and it places it in easy to see and use magazine form.
It pulls in all your feeds and organizes them.  
Plus it shows smaller sections and titles of articles/etc.

Here is a little secret I have about Flipboard...this is the place where I find most of my free apps.  Go to the search bar and type in #tcea, #edapp, #ipadapp you can save these as individual magazines.  Most of these hashtags are used for all things app-related included a lot of limited time freebies.  TCEA sends out at least 2 free app a day.  Some great, some good, some blah...but all free.  Also add in and subscribe to this too.

This is one of the best Professional Development tools out there....besides all of you, my blogging friends!

7.  Action Movie.  This app is just fun as heck (and free)  The kids love it.  Here is a post I did on it earlier.  Make your own quick movie, add in an effect, and feel like a movie star.

8.  Roxie's a-MAZE-ing Adventure.  This is one of my oldies (in app terms) and it was one of the original apps I first bought.  This is a fun Where's Waldo type-of-app where students must travel through level/maps finding puzzle pieces, letters, and more.  But it is a little tough because kids have to follow traffic rules since you move around by card, foot, bike, and more.  
This is really good for motor skill activities because students have to keep their fingers on the figure as they move from place to place.  This is really a good partner game. I've seen kids get frustrated with it (which is fine), but adding in a partner can alleviate some of the aggravation.

9.  Photon and Rover.  These apps convert FLASH media to make them viewable on your iPad.  Rover is free.  It is average because (and I swear I'm not making this) it only lets certain educational sites work through it.  It filters out a lot of stuff, which I understand but can be kind of aggravating.

Photon costs around five bucks but it has no filters and works really fast.  I've thoroughly enjoyed using this one and it works great with a lot educational sites that use games with Flash.

Not an App, just an Idea: LAYERING
One of my favorite aspects of the iPad is LAYERING.  What is layering?  That is when you start with one app, create something, export it (video, image, drawing, audio), then you open up another app to add to it.  This process can be completed quite a few times and only ends when the users says so.

An example would be using Action Movie to make a video clip, then exporting it to my camera roll.  From there I would import this clip into iMovie and add it to my film.  

This is a simple layering technique that adds to the over quality of the work.  Plus, this is great for Project Based Learning (my favorite).  This takes practice and isn't something that students immediately think of, but once they are shown how it can work the possibilities are endless.  Layering is probably a post all to its own, so I'll throw that on the back burner.

DOGS like iPads too.

I think that will about do it for this post.  
I've rambled on a little longer than I planned.

Tune Into Technology: Math Edition w/ Apps

If my math is correct it's time to link up 
Integrating Technology into Math.

I just started using one of these.  A solar powered calculator.
So many possibilities.

Just kidding--though many of my students don't have any idea how to REALLY use them.  There has been a stigma that rides along with calculators and it is a lost skill (kind of like cursive).  I'm hoping that it makes a comeback. But that's a whole different post.

What I'm really going to focus on is my use of iPads in the classroom with math.  I know that will be next weeks topic, but integrating math concepts using technology (using an iPad) is really easy because of the great amount of apps that are available.  

The difference between reading and math apps is fairly substantial in my opinion because math apps are much easier to use on specific goals and objectives.  

I don't hand out an iPad and say "have fun learning." That just doesn't make any sense. Many of these apps are used after the lesson to reinforce skills (or even in the middle), but never to teach the initial skill.  An important aspect of technology remains that teachers must teach the ideas and concepts.  The technology is not going to.

What I figured I'd do now is run through a list of apps that I've found helpful over the past couple of years.  I'll try to link  to as many direct links as possible (and even some of my older posts where I wrote more about them:

Math Fact Fluency:

I love this game.  Pick from any type of math fact and difficulty level.
Then try and save the world.  Kids loooove it.  The music is great and builds tension.

I've been known to use this as a whole class lesson where I project it.  
Students must call out answers and the class volume gets very loud.  
You'd never realize they were learning division.

There is also a four person game of this which also 
works out well and could be used in stations.

Math Dojo:
Math Dojo is a very simple math fact game. Answer problems correctly and then you defeat evil ninjas.  Pretty simple and straight forward but my little guys LOVE it because it looks so similar to video games like Street Fighter (who remembers street fighter?) 

Great for younger students (primary).  I had a couple of boys that HATED math until they played this game.  The simple fact that ninjas were used was the game changer.

For math games, Numbers League is one of my favorite for 1st-5th graders.  I love it!  Students have to be able to add, group, regroup, stand upside down, and walk backwards to play this game.
This is a game that can actually hold a classes attention for almost an hour.  And I've done so.  
I also love that it deals with NEGATIVE numbers.  
The kids see them and be like...

Alright, I'm thinking a little outside the box for a couple of these because I don't think that math is always about the numbers.  It's about finding a solution, figuring what works, why, and then trying it again.  This is why I love Rube Goldberg apps like:

Casey's Contraptions
This is a great app for stations.  A brain break mixed in with problem solving. 
This is Mousetrap on the iPad.  And it is not easy...I love seeing the kids get frustrated.

I really like this one.  There are a couple of different options including free build or rebuild from an image.  There is a gallery where you can see tangrams that others have created which are normally in the shape of objects like animals, flowers, cars.  The app is very user friendly too.  Definitely worth checking out.


Interactive Workbooks.  Just great.
The only thing that would make these better is if they read the questions out loud.
I have grades 2-4 and use them quite a bit.  Great for refreshers or stations too.

More problem solving.
These are great brain teasers and really make the students think (and give up).

That's it.  I'm done.
I'm excited to see what everyone else is doing so I can steal some ideas.


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