Friday, June 24, 2011

On vacation!

I will be out of the country all next week & then after that I am visiting family, so I will be MIA from the blogosphere for a while!  We are going on a Carnival Cruise to Mexico, and the forecast is rain, rain, and more rain!  Oh well.  Maybe it will be scattered showers, right?  :)

In the meantime, please vote for Teaching Happily Ever After in the 2011 Really Good Classroom Blog Context from July 1st- July 7th.    Thanks!


Thursday, June 23, 2011

An Educator's Guide To Augmented Reality

What is Augmented Reality?
A very basic definition is this:  Augmented Reality is the real world mixed with digital information, usually 3-D.  Another definition: Pure fun.

Usually you will need a smartphone or tablet device in order to view the augmented reality.  The view through the screen shows a background the real world combined with digital information.  Lego has taken augmented reality to a new level- you just walk up to this kiosk to see a 3-D model of the product that is in the box.  How cool is that?!

An example of Augmented Reality in the everyday world

My Krystal Box

Get off your couch and find the nearst Krystal's!  Right now!  I went to grab quick lunch today after the new Dibels training, and my Krystal burger came in the neatest box.  On the side it says "Make me dance" Get the Krystal app free and it has a picture of a penguin.  Well, we do an entire study on Polar Animals and how people and animals adapt to living in some of the coldest climates on Earth (like our Milk Jug Igloo project).  I know a dancing penguin isn't exactly academic- but you could turn it into something educational nonetheless.  How about talk about fiction versus non-fiction?  The class could classify penguin books, pictures, and even this dancing penguin into the proper categories.  What about a writing project?  Why is he dancing?  How about writing a tutorial describing how to do a dance move? I told them I was a teacher and they gave me 3 clean boxes.  I'm planning on using these in a center for sure!  There are 4 different penguins and they all have different dance moves.

Also, Krystal is giving away ipads- one every day until July 10th!  Check out their website to register for the ipad giveaway and free food coupons.  
Here is my video demonstration of Krystal's Augmented Reality App:

How can Augmented Reality be used in the classroom? 

Here is a simple notebook with augmented reality markers.  This could be the encyclopedia of the very near future!  Look how the pictures come to life- I love the Golden Gate Bridge model with the water everywhere.  Amazing!

How can I make my own images for augmented reality?
Augmented Reality uses markers to create the 3-d images.  Here are some sites that will help you:
  • Ar Media- create free augmented reality markers
  • Google Sketch up create 3d images- shapes, buildings, models, etc
  • Argon- augmented reality browser app from GA tech  *super extra cool* :)

  • Aris Games- create FREE augmented reality games
  • Logical choice- Transforming classrooms into engaging 21st century learning environments
  • Google Goggles - Visual web searching- take a picture of something to search for it on Google!  How cool is this one?!  It's currently available for the iphone/ipod and android.  
  • Layar- Augmented Reality Browser
  • Junio- augmented reality app (also for android & coming soon to Symbian)
  • Scvngr is a game about doing challenges at different places to earn points.  You can also build onto the game yourself.  Museums, Universities, Cities, Zoos, and popular Brands all have gaming content now- like the Smithsonian, the San Diego Zoo, and Princeton.  As a teacher, you can build exciting content and then your students can earn points that go towards a real reward- like a free homework pass or use a special chair for the day!  Very interactive and fun!
  • Sekai camera- leaves tags in the air, like a blog prompt for students to respond to
  • K-12 Mobile Learning Exploring resources that enhance mobile learning
  • Committed Sardine 21st Century Fluency Project
  • Scratch- Create & share your own interactive videos, music & art; teaches logic program

Why do we need to use Augmented Reality in education?
It's coming anyway.  These kids will be required to do things that we can't imagine just to complete day to day jobs.  Check out this site on Augmented Reality in SURGERY!  This is real stuff, happening right now.  We need to get on board!!!!
"The resection map, a proposal for intraoperative hepatectomy guidance". (2009). [Web]. Retrieved from

Are you preparing your students to work at jobs that don't even exist today?  Check out the list of Top 60 Jobs That Will Rock The Future to get inspired.

Links to other great blog posts about Augmented Reality

**Most of the links in my post came directly from a session by Cathleen Richardson at our last Tech Conference.  You can have her come and present to your group.

How I'm going to use it in my classroom


  • SHAPES- I will use Google Sketchup to teach 2D & 3D shapes.  We will start by creating a box and then using Google Sketchup to pull it into a cube.  We will have a class discussion on the differences between the two & continue with all the 3D shapes they need to know for first grade (sphere, prism, cylinder, etc...).  Later they will independently create a 3d model, print it, and then label it.
  • BASIC FACTS- I plan to review basic math facts using 3D flashcards called SmashCards.


  • Habitats/Basic Needs- We will use the Zooburst 3D popup book creator to create a book about animal habitats & needs.  This could tie in perfectly to the fall Scott Foresman's Reading Street Animal Unit.  We could also classify animals into the major kingdoms
  • Weather- I'm probably going to create some content so they can go outside and point the camera towards the sky and then other digital items will appear (a thundercloud maybe?).  I think  Aris, Scvngr, & Sekia Camera will be particularly useful in delivering science content. 

Social Studies

  • Long ago versus today Did you watch the Layar video where it talked about how you could view what a place looked like long ago?  We take a field trip to the Adventure Science Center, and we drive right by downtown Nashville.  What if you had this app out and the students could how the mobile device up and actually SEE what downtown looked like 100 years ago!?
Language Arts

  • Digital Storytelling 
  • Writing- Create a class book full of augmented reality like the encyclopedia in the first video.  Create markers using AR Media.  Next, have the students view the 3D picture that you choose, and have them write about it.  Use the Dragon Dictation app (it types everything you say) & have the students read their work.  Now you have a typed copy of every student's work- print it out and put it on the page by the 3D picture.  Create a class book & copy for students to take home and show off!

How could you use Augmented Reality in education?  

Monday, June 20, 2011

QR Codes: What are they? How can teachers use QR codes in the classroom?

What is a QR code?
QR code stands for "Quick Response."  When you scan it with your mobile device, it instantly gives you the information stored on it. Here is a comic tutorial from The Daring Librarian:

You can find them popping up everywhere nowadays- magazines, posters, even clothing!

How do you scan them?
Using an app for your mobile phone allows uses to scan the QR codes and receive the information stored on them.  Information can be a website URL, a video, a map, a text message....
The app I am currently using is called "QRReader" but apparently AT&T has an app called "Code Scanner" that works nicely as well.  Basically you should do a search for "QR" and it might be advantageous to add the word "free" as well.

Why do we need QR codes in the classroom?
The beauty of QR codes is that you can store any type of information on there.  So if you wanted to store a really long URL, your students would just scan rather than typing the whole thing in themselves.  You could link them to a video, or even have the assignment in the code.  I think a great way to do math practice would be to scan a code to get the problem.  You could also send them a map of what you are studying.  The possibilities are limitless!

How can I create my own QR code?
qrcodeQR Code Generator - Make your own QR Code. Free. - or 
Both of these sites are fast and easy to use.  You can also do a search of the internet to find pre-made codes.  I've taken a look at Google Reader, and these are some of the bloggers that already have QR lessons made for you!

Shapes & Fractions by 1st grade learning stars
Mystery Math (addition/subtraction) by Swamp Frog 1st Grader
Math Shapes by 1st grade Frogs
Library Genre Scavenger Hunt by The Daring Librarian 
QR codes in the Classroom by Free Technology For Teachers


 I'm linking up with Literacy and Laughter for a Technology Ideas Linky party!

How do you use QR codes?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Let computers grade your tests & re-gain your Fridays!

What if I told you that you could throw your grading pens away, because I had a faster, easier method?  How would you like to have more time with your family and your WEEKENDS back?! Can I get an Amen?

You may already have tests online.
Many textbook bundles come with online counterparts.  Most teachers know that there is a website out there, and that it does... something.
We use Scott Foresman's Reading Street, which comes with Pearson Success Net as the online component.  I'm going to be honest, I went and poked around on it and then never looked at it again.

Using Computers to take assessments
The second grade teachers at my school have their students trained to take their weekly reading test on the computer.  The computer GRADES it, gives them a printout to take home, and can even graph their errors by skill. We only have one computer lab for our 800 kids, but they do go once a week.  During the first 15 minutes they could take the test, the rest of the time it is back to their usual schedule.  One teacher is putting the written response questions on her blog for the kids to answer.

Another reason for doing this is because it's coming anyway.  In Tennessee, by 2014 they want our state standardized test (TCAP) to be fully computerized.  No more pencil and paper assessment-  So get ready!

Create your own
I also wanted to share some things that you could use to create and AUTOMATICALLY GRADE your own assessments.
Google Forms are amazing!  I used these to create an online survey for a graduate school project, and I was very impressed with it.

Increasing teacher evaluations are unfortunately part of this equation.  I will have to be evaluated SIX times next year.  Whew!  Anyway, our district is putting the evaluation form into a Google Form that can be easily accessed by Principals walking around with Ipads.  Pretty neat!

Here is a short video to explain Google Forms:

Richard Bryne of Free Tech for Teachers explains Flubaroo:
"Flubaroo is a free script that you can use to grade the quizzes that you administer through Google Docs. Flubaroo provides great step-by-step directions for using the script. I'll give an quick overview of how it works. First, create your multiple choice quiz using Forms in Google Docs (get directions here). Then take the quiz yourself and have students take the quiz (you can embed it in a webpage or direct students to the URL for your form). Now instead of trying to grade the spreadsheet cells you will insert the Flubaroo script by selecting it from the "insert" menu in your spreadsheet. Once the Flubaroo script is inserted just select it and it will grade the quiz for you."

Let me predict your schedule:

  • Monday: Introduce topic
  • Tuesday: Get more in-depth
  • Wednesday: Keep going...
  • Thursday: Still going, but maybe a review & pre-test
  • Friday: Test day & then "Friday Funday" 
Ok, ok, yours may or may not look like that.  But many teachers do use this schedule!  Cathleen Richardson, our keynote speaker at our educational conference last week gave a striking illustration.
First, she showed us a slide of a teaching hospital from 100 years ago, and then one from today.  Technology was evident, the change was amazing!
Next, she showed us and old black and white photo of a classroom from 100 years ago and then a picture of the classroom from modern times.  Know the only difference?  Color!  The first was in black and white, the second was a color photo.  Aside from that, they were identical!  There was no technology present, and the same mindset from long ago was still in place for today.

This technology can free us from the outdated model.
What about assessing on Wednesday?  Introduce new material on Thursday and give them the weekend to study.  You'll still have two days to get everything going again.  Just a thought.  :)

Maybe computerized tests could make it easier for us to administer pre-tests.  I know those sometimes get lost in the shuffle due to a lack of time.  I'm pretty excited about the possibility of not grading reading tests next year!  

How do you use technology to work smart, not harder?

Tweet Tweet! Why educators (YOU!) need twitter

Why teachers need a twitter account
I don't care to know what my friends are doing every second of every day.  Facebook statuses keep me pretty up to date already, and for the longest time I didn't know what twitter was even for.
News flash: I'm not following people I know in real life on twitter (mostly)
I follow educational topics and trends.

Tweetdeck is a site that allows you to have columns set up for each topic you follow.  I can scroll to the right and add tons of topics.  Here is a picture of mine:

How do you follow topics?
After people tweet a message, the will include a hashtag.  A hashtag is the pound sign # followed by an abbreviated group name.  For example, I'm interested in Educational Applications.  So I follow the hashtag #edapp.  There is a very simple "Add Column" section on Tweetdeck.

Here is Cybrary Man's great list of educational hashtags to follow.  Just add the ones that are interesting to you.

Promote your website/blog to a much wider audience/
How to make a twitter post
How would you like for every elementary teacher that has a twitter account to know when you make a new blog post?  Now you can!  You will need to shorten your blog URL by going to a site such a It will easily give you the shortened URL to your blog that you can now add to your twitter message.  Add in hashtags for every group you want to reach.  For example, one of my posts may look like this: "Come see my list of FREE educational apps #elemchat #homeschool #edtech"
Now I've reached an audience of elementary teachers, homeschools, and educational technology enthusiasts!   Marketing magic happens as people start re-tweeting your status, so it shows up in the feeds again and again!  You could easily go viral with a good topic and have significant traffic generated for your blog.  

Educational Chats on Twitter
Check out this calendar on all the weekly educational chats that happen on twitter!  You can join in anytime.  I'm going to try to start participating in the #Elemchat (Elementary Chats) Thursday at 3pm.  Check out Cybrary Man's list of Educational Chats and get started in the next one!

Bloom's Taxonomy with Ipad apps!

Check out this site with visual organization of Bloom's Taxonomy with Apps!  Love it!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Audacity in the 1st grade classroom

Audacity is a free program that you can download to your computer.  It allows you to record and save audio files.  So, in the classroom, your students could record themselves reading and play it back.  This increases awareness of how they really sound and drastically improves fluency!

But to do this, you will need a few tools:
1. Computer
2. Free Audacity download
3. A Microphone

Let's talk about #3 for a minute.  How would you like to have a pretty decent quality Mic for $1?  Sounds too good to be true, right?  Nope!  Check this out:

Hey... wait a minute!  Those are SPEAKERS... not MICROPHONES!
Are you ready for this?......
All speakers are essentially microphones.  When plugged into the input jack (The pink one!) on your computer, they will function as microphones.  You can snag a pair at the local $ store for just one buck.

Pretty cool, huh?  :)

Need some project ideas with Audacity?

  • Record running records and grade at home in your fuzzy slippers
  • Have "Mystery Readers" record themselves reading a book and then use that for a listening center.  Ta-daaa!  Free audiobooks.  Mystery readers can include school staff: Principal, VP, Secretary, Cafeteria Workers, other teachers and parent volunteers.  At the end of the story, they can reveal who they are.  Use a bell or chime when recording to cue the students that will be listening to turn the page.
  • Record each student reading during the fall, winter and spring to document progress.  Keep each file and save in a digital portfolio (more about that in a future post!)
  • Have each student read a Mother's day book and make all the Moms a keepsake CD
  • Create a weekly Podcast and add to your webpage
  • Have students do a school news report and play it over the PA system
What could YOU do with Audacity?

Ipads & Ipods in the classroom: A list of FREE educational Apps + everything you need to get started

***Updates to this post are added in red.


First off, I purchased the standard magnetic cover from Apple, which I have throughly enjoyed.  However, I will also be investing in a separate covering called an Otterbox Defender.  It's pretty much like a tank!  It adds a lot of weight to the ipad, but I think it will be a good investment considering that it will be used by 6 year olds all day!   It does add about 2 pounds to the ipad!   Here is the link to Amazon, where they are fairly low priced.  If you have one strictly for personal use, I do NOT recommend this product.  But for educators, particularly with the little guys, I think it's not a bad idea!  :)  Anyways, the Otterbox Defender Series are the ones that would work best in the classroom.

Apps to Control Your Computer

My ipad can now wirelessly control my computer.  You (and the students!) can even write on it with a pen tool called a stylus.  I'm going to be purchasing this stylus, but there are many available for the ipad.

Some other fantastic news for your is that this app also lets you remotely access and control your home or school PC. The app is called Splashtop ($2.99 for a limited time), Splashtop WHITEBOARD $9.99 and it comes with whiteboard editing tools just like any other pricey interactive white board!  This is HUGE people!!!!  Brand new updates!!!

and you can watch a video tutorial to set it up.  Did I mention you could access your home computer?  From school?!  Or the beach?!

Another exciting tool is an app called "Penultimate" ($1.99).  It allows you to write with your finger or the pen stylus tool in many colors, save your thoughts into several notebooks, change the paper & pen style, and email a single page or entire notebook.

Warning: Many of the apps are just a counterpart to expensive software.  Examples include: Doceri Remote ($50 full version) and Power Teacher Mobile.  Read the descriptions before downloading! 

Other (mostly) free apps you need to download:
  • Grade Book Pro- 
  • Wordlens- Translates any typed text into another language Menus!  :)
  • Teacher Pal- Free scheduler & organizer made especially for teachers
  • Dragon Dictation- free speech to text app.  You talk to it, it types it up and you can save it or email it.
  • Siri- personal assistant.  You can talk to it and ask it for movie showtimes.  You can even tell it to make you dinner reservations!!!
  • Shazam- tells you the title, artist, and detailed information about any song playing around you
  • Walgreens- I refill my prescription through this!
  • Dictionary
  • Calculator- I'm note sure why this isn't standard!
  • WeatherEye or any other weather tool
  • Google Books
  • Zapd- create a beautiful website in seconds from your ipad
  • Pandora- Customized radio to your preferences
  • Evernote- another note creating tool
  • Speller- Spell checker
  • Google Earth
  • Peek- This is the first app designed to work with the magnetic cover of the Ipad 2.  Study anything from Evernote using this clever app
  • Neu.Annotate- Annotate on PDFs
  • Popplet lite- pretty great brainstorming app
  • Disney Family Fun- Digital version of their magazine full of crafts and creative ideas.  Great for teachers and it's free too!
  • Flashlight- you just always need one
  • QR Reader- Read QR codes  See my separate post about QR codes in the classroom
  • Roambi- Interact with your data on your Ipad. I am going to have my first graders interview each other to collect data & then use this app to play with the data!  Great for teaching about charts & graphs.  I'm planning to The students will track our classroom economy next year with this app.
  • Stitcher- free smart radio
  • Flipboard- News, flikr, lifestyle, Oprah, Tech, Facebook & Twitter all in one visual content app
  • iCardSort- word work, anyone?!

Here is an extensive list of every free educational app that we use in my 1st grade classroom.  I think this list of apps is great for K-2 classrooms, and possibly higher grades.

Note: Since these apps are free, they can often come with annoying ads or popups.  This is the downside of free apps.  I talk with my students about how to use the apps and I have not had a problem with this.  You have to enter your password to make purchases- double check that yours is set up like this!  :)

  • McGraw-Hill math apps: Tric-Trac, Top-It, Fractions, Squeeze (I got these for free during a promotion- now they are paid, but still great apps!)
  • Zombie Math ***Class favorite!
  • Coins
  • Coin Math
  • ClockMaster
  • Math Blaster
  • 10 Frame Fill
  • What Day
  • Pizza 1
  • Math Bingo
  • Bills&Coins
  • Coins Genius
  • MathPracLite
  • MathTables
  • Math for Kids
  • Math Free
  • MathMasterLite
  • LobsterDiver
  • Math Mix-Up
  • Nutty Numbers
  • Number Line
  • MAD Math
  • Kids Clock 
  • AB Arithmetic
  • Abakus-Diff
  • Math Bingo
  • Kids Mathlete

ABC/Easy Great for Kindergarten or the beginning of 1st!
  • ABC Phonics
  • ABC Lite
  • 1-Letters
  • ABC Free
  • Dr Kids Lite
  • Phonics
  • Spelling Bee
  • Spelling Bug
  • Spelling Tree
  • Spelling Cat
  • Spelling Farm
  • SpellingMagic
  • Textropolis
  • SpellWizLite
  • Word Abacus
  • Hangman (Hard)
  • LetterHunter
  • SBSpelling
  • Spel It Rite 2
  • Spell & Fill
  • Spell2 Lite
  • Grade1Words
Sight Words
  • 1st Grade
  • Primer
  • Sight Words
  • Sight Words
  • Sight Touch
  • Sight words lite
  • UYH
  • ABC Tracing
  • 123 Writing Alphabet Tracing
  • Handwriting

  • Toy Story Interactive Read Aloud- The best app EVER!!!!!!  LOVE THIS!  The students can listen to reading while it highlights the words, read by themselves and touch a word if they get stuck, or even record themselves reading!!!!!  When they record themselves, it adds the background music from the movie and zooms on the picture to give it the effect of coming to life!  It's amazing, it's free, and it's fantastic!!!!
  • StoryChimes- Do a search in the itunes app store for "StoryChimes"  I have about 40 FREE books from them!!!!!!
  • 3 Pigs 2
  • A Story B4 Bed
  • Read Me Stories
  • Time Reading
  • Stanza
  • Wolf's Story
  • OceanFriends
  • Alice ABC- **Very cool story app- feels 3d!
  • ShelMovies- As in Shel Silverstein!
  • SingNSend
  • Grammar Jammers Primary
  • KidsSongs
  • Singing Fingers
  • There are many, many more in this section including pianos and amazing things.  I haven't really gotten around to exploring the full potential of this area.
  • Leafsnap HD- take a picture of a leaf & this app will identify it.  Pretty amazing!
  • BrainPOP- a free movie everyday! (Needs a wireless connection)
  • Google Earth (also needs wireless)
  • Learn Sharks
  • Stellarium
  • Cosmic
  • HubbleSite
  • NASA
  • SkyORB
  • Space HD
  • Space Images
  • DinoMatch
  • Animal Fun
  • Dinos
  • Planets
  • Moon
  • Weather Eye
  • Dinosaurs
  • Dinosaurs for Kids
Social Studies
  • Stack the States Lite
  • Trains
  • Match Chinese New Year
  • World History Maps
  • French for kids
  • Kids Chinese
  • iTheaurus
  • Spanish LE
  • WordPower Lt
  • Translator
  • Dictionary
Special Needs
  • TapToTalk
  • FaceCards- Great for children with Asperger's!  

  • Tap Zoo
  • Switch
  • Tangram
  • Kid Genius
  • Miss Spell
  • Things
  • Zapd- Create a webpage in seconds from your ipad

Digital Storytelling
  • Story Kit
  • StoryRobe

Just for fun:
  • Angry Birds
  • Netfilx
  • New York Times/USA Today or any other major news as well as WSMV app for local news
  • MoMA
  • Around Me
  • Amazon
  • IMDb- Internet Movie Database
  • iHandy Level
Paid Apps- Just cool stuff

  • Vernier Video Physics- create your own video and then it graphs the trajectory, position, & velocity.  It's only $2.99, and I would love to figure out a way to break this down to the lowest level and put it in the hands of our firsties.  Any ideas?  I mean, we teach them about graphs.  And recording their own through a video would be super cool.  Let me know what you think. (If it's nice!  ha!)
  • RulerPhone- This app is soooo neat!  It uses your camera to MEASURE any object!  How cool is that?!  There is a lite version for free that limits what you can measure and a paid version for $3.99 Check out this video:

  • Frog Dissection is another unique app-  Kinda gross and fascinating all at the same time.  $3.99
  • Word Wall HD- $0.99 See, hear, say, write!  75 sight words, 65 word family words, 12 word families.  Ages 5-6
  • Analogies 4 Kids- $0.99 from the makers of Patter Recognition. 
  • A 1st Grade Pattern Recognition Game has a different 99 cent game for each lower grade level!  
  • Life Cycle App $0.99
  • 1st grade Reading- I Like Writing Free Appears to be really a digital storytelling book where the students take pictures, write sentences and record their own voice to narrate.
  • Phonics Easy Reader (1-4) HD- From the beloved educational company Rock 'N Learn, this looks like a really great set of apps.  Each app comes with 3 stories.  The stories have 'read to me' and 'let me read' features, including where they can actually record their voice and play it back to hear their own fluency.  $1.99 apiece- 4 total apps.  They also offer a Multiplication Rap for the older grades.
Here is a link to my Livebinder with a plethora of resources!

Thank to our local Apple Rep, Jim Eden, who sent me this list:

1. Here are links to App Reviews and Resources:

  Create links for the iTunes Store or App Store using the iTunes Link Maker:

  iPad Integration & Security:

  Mobile Device Management Solutions for iOS Devices:

  iPhone (iPod Touch, iPad) Configuration Utility for Mac:

  iPhone (iPod Touch, iPad) Configuration Utility for Windows:

Anyway, I hope this gets you started a little better with your Ipad/Ipod/Iphone. I think this is the best educational investment that we've ever made as a school.  Next year my students will be creating, editing, and publishing their own educational movies and tutorials through the ipad.
We will be studying Chinese, Spanish, and French as behavior rewards.

What apps are you using in the classroom?   What apps have you purchased?  I would love a list of PAID apps- so that is where I'm turning to all of you!
 Leave a comment so we can have a great list!  :)