The “APP’les of my eye

To say that ipads are HUGE on our campus would be an understatement.   We had a cart of 30 — then we purchased an additional cart of 25 — and will be purchasing another 30 this summer.

We are a PC, ipad, and iMac lab — and I could not be happier.   The opportunities at my students fingertips are great and we enjoy much as we learn a lot.

So — I thought I would take the time and share with you some of the “APPS” my students and I both enjoy and learn with.

Some cost — but are worth every penny.
Many are free — and thank you thank you thank you to the companies who provide free apps.


If I could only have 1 app on my ipad (besides the camera) this would be it.   It allows my students to create in so many different ways.   The usability of this app has echoed over into the classroom and at least 6 teachers used it OUTSIDE the lab this year.   (that is HUGE)


The Duck Duck Moose app that I go most often is Draw and Tell.   The Duck Duck Moose app that my students love the most is Moose Math.
We all love chatterpix.   I had purchased some of these apps before they became free!  (but do appreciate that they are free now)


These apps are brand new to our lab/classrooms this year — and such fun + such learning.   The kiddos LOVE the chef apps and are reinforcing and learning math skills as they create yummy foods.  The Tiggly adventure was a bit hard for my students and it was good to see them struggle and then succeed as they figured things out and then shared their learning with each other.
**We have used Subtraction, Chef, Cardtoons, Adventure, Draw

Zoombini’s — $4.99 (and worth it!)

I loved loved loved this program in the 90’s and still love it today.   The higher level thinking skills in this app are probably the best I have ever seen.   The students cannot just drag and drop in this app.  There is problem solving at every single destination w/ 4 levels of learning.   Students can play in JOURNEY mode or PRACTICE mode!

Keynote, Pages, Garage Band — ALL FREE

We had originally paid for these on 5 of our old ipads and then they came free on our new ipads…and now they are free for all!   YEAH!!
We are a 365 campus on our PCs and I am pleased that my students are learning skills rather than programs in that they can choose how they would like to create.   Kids are creating big time with these apps!

CloudArt App — .99cents

I am a huge fan of wordle…..always have been, probably always will be.  Probably one of the reasons why I love this app.   Students can type (or talk) in words or grab info from a website and then create a word cloud picture.  They have a large choice of formatting options and the ability to save and share in different ways.

TocaBoca — Sometimes free

Keep an eye on the Toca Boca apps and when one is free — grab it.
My students enjoy a lot of these apps but the one that STAYS on our ipads is Toca Builders:

I check every Friday and if there is a Toca Boca app for free, I download it.
Just a disclaimer — some of their apps have some (to me) unnecessary choices (like in the school, there is a bathroom and toilet area — which is a distraction to my students) — just FYI.

Hoopa City 1 — .99cents
Hoopa City 2 — $2.99

Another app we found for free and fell in love with!   Hoopa City is an excellent app for building, problem solving, and creation.  #1 has more things you can build (at this time) but #2 is more interactive (you can pick up your people and place them into buildings).   It is the #1 app my students ask for when we have “free” time in the lab.   It is the #1 app I go to when I have “free” time.

Often I will introduce an app in the lab (such as Mathseeds) and then encourage the teacher to use it within their classroom setting.   This is helping a great deal overcome teacher timidity with something new.   And this allows the student to help teach the teacher something as well.


I Don’t Teach Technology

Many years ago — I heard Chris Lehmann say at a conference “we don’t teach subjects, we teach students” — small paraphrase on my part….AND it made a HUGE impact on me.

To the point — that I often hear myself saying it — blurting it — when someone introduces me as

…..someone who teaches computer —
No, I don’t teach inanimate objects
…..someone who teaches technology —
Oh, I teach much more than that.


I don’t teach coding — 
I assist students with adding and subtracting and angles and using the metric stystem and problem solving and if this/then what and cause/effect and patterning and creativity and teamwork and reading a grid and jotting down ideas and reading directions and writing directions….and more.

I don’t teach blogging –
I assist students with word choices and the power of the word and the power of a good comment and synonyms and antonyms and color choices and how to make a font stand out and citation of images and the power of an image and continuity and bravery (of pushing submit)….and more.

I don’t teach wordprocessing or spreadsheeting or presentations —
I assist students with knowing the best option to use to get the job done and addition and subtraction and formulas and text boxes and good font choices (and sometimes fun font choices) and getting your message across with a word and having your words agree with your visuals and the power of conversation and getting your point made and keeping your audience interested and engaged….and more.

I don’t teach video –
I assist students with sequencing and problem solving and creating timelines and looking forward and looking back and looking beyond the obvious and making something simple difficult and something difficult simple and how powerful music can be to share your story….and more.

I don’t teach robotics –
I assist students with being a good team player as well as a successful individual and higher level thinking skills and measurement and journalling and problem solving and troubleshooting and patience and planning and learning from mistakes and moving forward again and again and again….and more.

I don’t teach 3D printing –
I assist students with adding and subtracting and resizing and symmetry and coordinates and congruents and foundations and stability and how a solid becomes a liquid becomes a solid…and more.

I don’t teach digital citizenship –
I assist students with making good choices (regardless who is watching) and becoming skillful in finding information and discernment with that information and how to be kind and how to be honest but kind and how to protect themselves yet make themselves visible and knowing when to click OFF and what to do when they click ON….and more.

I don’t teach computers — 
I don’t teach technology — 

I teach my kids to see opportunities, embrace opportunities and then use those opportunities in a myriad of ways…..for their todays — and their tomorrows.

My thoughts today





Ending the Year — something new

Our computer lab is ending the year with several new opportunities!

6th Grade is working with the new Google Earth.
5th Grade will be creating iMovies!
4th Grade is working with Pages!
2nd Grade is making keynotes.
1st Grade is working with green screen.

and 3rd grade is learning how to make stop motion videos!

Last week — they each received a green sheet of paper — (for their green screen) and a paperdoll to cut out.  (looking a bit like a gingerbread man.)

We talked about how to use the ipad to take a picture — move the man — take another picture — move the man — etc etc etc.

It went really well — but with moving the man and holding the camera and taking a shot and then moving the man — and then holding the camera — etc……well it was a learning experiment — a bit of frustration mixed with a lot of “hey look at this.”

They understood the concept — but we needed to do better.   They needed some way to not have to move the camera.

So this week — out came our wood blocks to use as ipad holders and we purchased 5 Stikbot sets and 14 extra stikbots.

Each group worked in teams of 4 and they traded jobs — 3 had stikbots, 1 took the picture.  After 5 pictures, they rotated.

All in all — working with 8 year olds — it went relatively smooth.

I was surprised to see what they started to create and how they were using the stikbot boxes.

They started climbing the green wall — I would not have thought of that.
They started connecting the stikbots together at the sticky part — I would not have thought of that.
One group had their stikbots performing gymnastic routines — I would not have thought of that.
Often it seems my job is providing my kiddos with resources – give a wee bit of instruction – and get out of the way!

We are using the Minecraft stopmotion app — and we still need to figure out the best way to not have the background move.  And it looks like I might need to design and print some ipad holders to stabilize the ipads better….but all in all…..

so far — so good!


Trying Something New — March Appness

We had a LONG stretch of time from Winter Break until Easter vacation.   And I did not want our kids becoming weary and I needed something to kickstart my ho-hum-possibility as well.

Now, in no way am I a sports person.  I like to watch the Olympics, Superbowl, the World Series, Golf, and sometimes Wimbledon.    I used to be a Dodger fan in the 70’s — and now am a Cubs fan (though I could not tell you 1 players name) — I just need to admit, not a sports kinda gal.

But I knew there was this thing with basketball and colleges in March (go ahead and be shocked) — and decided that I would springboard off of that for a idea to try with my students.

And thus began — March Appness.

I built a mockup bracket — no measuring so that’s why it didn’t line up perfectly — but I was creative.

Then came the decisions of what apps.

I put them into categories.
For fun, we had Hoopa City 1 VS Hoopa City 2.
For problem solving, we had Zoombini’s VS Stack the States.
For coding, we had lightbot VS kodable.
For robots, Dash VS Sphero.
For math, we had Monster Math VS MathSeed.
For video, we have Discovery Education VS BrainPop.
For spreadsheets, we had Numbers VS Excel.
For writing, we had Book Creator VS Comic Life 3.

I found all the app icons and created circles for each and placed them on the board and introduced it to the students the first week of March.

Since we had A LOT of other stuff to do as well….participating in March Appness was an extra option.   So one day, you might come into the lab and one group was working on a slide show, someone might be typing, a few might be blogging, some were march apping, and others might be coding or 3D printing.

March was one of the most ECLECTIC months ever in the computer lab.

Not every student participated with every app.  But we had enough participation in each to get a true showing of votes.

I knew from the get-go that Hoopa City would be in the finals — just was not sure if it would be #1 or #2.   (it is a class favorite).   I was suprised how CLOSE the vote was for Stack the States vs Zoombini’s.  (Stack the States lost by only 2 votes.)  Brain Pop and Discovery were also neck and neck.   Younger kids love BP, olders seem to prefer Discovery.   Both like extra options both BP and Discovery bring.  Kodable was the past favorite — but we had some logon issues with it that did not occur with Lightbot — so Lightbot won mostly because of lack of frustration.   (But wow, I love to watch my kids code and watch them help each other code!)

So, on Monday, when the students enter the lab — I will have updated the board and they will see the final winner of March Appness.   There will be no trophy, no huge fanfare, no parade…but I know all the students will enjoy knowing the winner & I know they all learned a lot in creative and unique ways.

Lightbot vs Hoopa City 2 — who do you think won?