Write About This ($3.99) is a great app for writing and storytelling. Please add questions or concerns in the comments.
You can find my other app 101 videos here
Quick intro to setting up a FREE Weebly site in the video below. Please note the last step which I failed to mention is pressing the orange publish button on the top right
For my Master’s course we were required to work with tools that could be used to create and e-portfolio. I picked Weebly mainly because it was a tool that I had not worked with before. I have used Google Sites, Wiki’s, Blogs and other tools in the past but Weebly was something I never got around to trying. The main benefit of Weebly is the simplicity of the process in creating a website or blog. The interface uses simple drag and drop functions that are laid out nicely and the process is fairly intuitive. Teachers that are looking for a way to have an online presence for their classroom (class website or blog) should give this tool a try.
The site allows for a lot more customization than other options which is an important feature for giving the creator ownership of their design. The other tools I mentioned before allow for customization but none of them do it is a simple way like Weebly. Of course Weebly is not as powerful a tool as WordPress as far as customization but WordPress is also not as user-friendly. Weebly is a great tool to use to introduce students to e-portfolios and to begin the process of creating one. The site has options to upload all the standard media a student might use in their portfolio such as video, audio, documents, pictures and text. For students new to the process Weebly is the perfect tool to start with but I think it is important that we give students autonomy in choosing the tool they want to use. My main concern would be the ease in exporting the content from Weebly. Technology and the tools available are changing fast and the ability to move seamlessly from one tool another is an important feature. Another aspect of Weebly that is a benefit is it shows the process of creating a website in a visual way. Of course creating a website requires a much deeper understanding but Weebly does begin that process of showing how websites are created. My hope would be that some students would take that basic knowledge and look for other options as they want to customize and add features. Weebly seems to be a good “gateway” into creating and designing online spaces.
The website created in the video can be found here if you want to see the product
Skitch has updated their app since my original Skitch 101 video an updated video is below for the new version.
I started using coloring pages this year for our labeling center with Skitch on the iPad. (Need a tutorial on using Skitch app? Click here) The kids have always liked labeling pictures and being able to take those images home but using the coloring pages allows them to color them also and they love that added bonus. If you look at the images below they represent three weeks of examples. The first two you will notice the kids have most of the words spelled correctly. This is because I included an example with some of the things labeled for them and they were copying my example. Starting with the third week there is not an example and the kids will sound out all the words on their own. We will continue doing this many times throughout the year because the kids seem to never get tired of it and it is a great way to encourage writing and phonics practice. The expectation is that they label at least five things but often they label much more than that. My class always work in pairs on the iPad so these examples are two kids working together. I pair them so that at least one child will be strong enough to complete the phonics part. Setting up expectations for how the kids work together is important. For this project one kid pics what they want to label and then that child draws the arrow and writes the word. Their friend is allowed to help them figure out how to do this but is not allowed to do it for them. The friend can help them figure out the sounds and point to the letters on the keyboard if needed but not actually touch the iPad until it is their turn.
I find the coloring pages by doing a simple search for a keyword (such as Fall) followed by “coloring pages”. There are many sites that share free printables. Once the kids are finished I email the finished product to my teacher computer using the kids names as the subject line. To print the images I simply insert them into Microsoft word. To save paper I fit two images on each word document, print that page and then cut the page in half to give to each kid that worked on the project.
Here are a few things we did with pumpkins this year…
Growing seeds inside a pumpkin! Cut open the top and fill with soil. Water and watch them grow, it really does work. Make sure the pumpkin gets A LOT of sun. I also made a few small cuts on the bottom for water to drain. You might notice there is a grasshopper in the picture. That is because we put one of the pumpkins inside our terrarium. We are very curious to see if he eats the leaves or not. I love the wonder and excitement the terrarium brings to my room. We also have crickets, worms, snails and beetles in there currently. Special thanks to my teammates Carole and Jen for letting me include a pic of their pumpkin. Crazy how many plants are growing in it!
Giant pumpkin. We had a parent donate this 100 pound pumpkin! It was a prop for home living for several weeks and then we took it outside cut it open. We are also going to watch and see what happens to the pumpkin over time. Next year I am going to visit some of the pumpkin patches and stores to see if they would donate any leftover pumpkins for us to observe. All you need is a small patch of dirt or garden area.
And of course the kids explored pumpkins themselves! Read more about that project here.