Wednesday, September 24, 2014

InstaCollage App

Today was a F-U-N day in 4th grade at one of my elementary schools. The students have been studying the VA regions as well as nonfiction conventions and the teachers wanted them to create a digital flyer about a region of their choice. Since MAPs testing is going on this week and we did not have access to the laptops, we had to get creative on their iPads. This specific school is lucky to have 36 iPads to use for 3-5 instruction. When they first got the iPad carts I made sure to bookmark OneSearch (a county website that has access to a variety of resources) knowing that we would use it frequently. Students were first directed to go to OneSearch and then Britannica Image Quest to find copyright free images. They needed to find four pictures to represent the land formation, products, recreation and location. This was excellent practice for using keywords in a search.
From September 24, 2014

Students saved their four pictures to the Camera Roll and then went to the FREE app, InstaCollage. They were allowed to pick any template as long as it had four sections. Students uploaded their pictures into InstaCollage, added a title, their name and a caption for each picture.

From September 24, 2014
Afterwards, they saved their collage to the camera roll and uploaded their collage to a shared folder in Google Drive (I had previously logged into Drive on each iPad under the school's COW sign up gmail account and set up a folder for each class) Next week we are going to upload these into Mixbook and begin Mixbook digital portfolios that the children will add to throughout the year to track all of the units they learn in Social Studies! Check out some of today's creations:

Monday, September 22, 2014

Adventures of Ai + TpT Giveaway

Are you an upper elementary or middle school teacher looking for a NEW read aloud or higher level read for one of your reading groups? Check out Craig Bouchard's The Adventures of Ai. This book is distributed globally by Apple, Google and Samsung. You could WIN your very own copy below :)

A quick description:

The unique story intertwines independence, strength and the determination required of kids today with unquenchable imagination. Art, history, poetry, music, and mathematics find their way into the dangerous journey of an eleven-year-old-Japanese girl in search of treasure and her father in the year 1514.  Released in six languages and distributed through one of the greatest 3D video games of 2014, The Adventures of Ai is a story of empowerment transcending global boundaries. 

I think using this as a read aloud would be so powerful. After downloading it to iBooks, I would project my iPad or computer screen for the whole class to see as I read. Since the story is very well written and contains such rich vocabulary, it would be incredibly effective to use as a mentor text to teach various writing skills. A FREE Adventures of Ai video game can even be downloaded from the iTunes store {HERE}. Talk about a story coming to life! Kids would L-O-V-E this!! Enter the Rafflecopter below to enter for a FREE copy and $10 to spend at my TpT store :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 and a Research FREEBIE

My last post, Internet Research for Grades 3-5, got me thinking about research skills in the younger grades. It is a hard skill to hit at that age, especially for those children who have not developed the literacy skills needed to learn new material. Our school district has a subscription to PebbleGo which is an incredible site for research and listening to readings. Another way I have included research skills in the younger grades is by using Brief.lys. is a free online service that allows you to combine multiple websites/urls into a single url. You can create a collection of videos, images, and appropriate websites for children to access with just one click! You can even customize the url address AND the site provides a QR code for you. Your students can scan the QR code or just type in the web address and ALL of the websites will pop up in one location.

Here is an example of a I created about the Water Cycle:
This is what it looks like:

Super easy to use and a great way to touch upon research skills with the younger ones by finding easy to read websites and other age appropriate resources!

Do you have an inquisitive class this year? Do you have a lot of early finishers that need something "academic" to do? Why don't you set up a "Research" computer/iPad center for your kids to practice their research skills and learn something new at the same time. Here is a set of 20 different research topics your kids can choose from if they have a hard time coming up with a topic of their own. Click the images below to take you to this FREEBIE:

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Internet Research for Grades 3-5

The world of research has come a LONG way since I was in elementary school. I remember going to the library to locate nonfiction texts using the card catalogue and sitting down with my book to take notes on white notecards. It was never easy and it was NEVER fun for me. I really believe I would have enjoyed research so much more if I had had access to the internet!

Children today have the internet at their finger tips. Therefore, we need to TEACH them how to use it correctly for research. Often times I see kids just "Googling" topics and reading anything that pops up on their screen. We need to teach them the basics of internet research:

   -what makes a website reliable
   -tips and tricks for better search results
   -how to take notes
   -how to site sources from web resources
   -how to find copy right free images for their reports/presentations

The foundations of research skills begin in elementary school and travel with a student through college and then into their field of work. Even though I'm not in school I find myself researching the latest educational technology practices on a daily basis. I make sure my sources are reliable and up to date.

How can you tell whether or not a website is reliable? Here are a few ways:

This slide comes from my latest product: Internet Research Grades 3-5:

This product is 50% OFF today only so hop on over to my store and check it out, especially if you are going to have your students conducting research this year!

Using keywords is always a difficult concept during research time. I also have a Powerpoint that will help your kiddos with this skill:

Friday, September 12, 2014


Cameroid is a cool webcam that I am looking forward to using in the classroom this year. You can start snapping away as soon as you get to the website, no sign in required. There is a gallery full of fun backgrounds and frames. Here are a few:

I bet your kiddos would love using this! You can save it as a jpeg or it allows you to download from a link. Send the link home to parents for them to print!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Slidely Slideshow Maker

Are you trying to gather pictures for a slideshow to show your students' parents at Back to School Night? I know a lot of my teachers have been busy taking tons of pictures. We have been using Animoto (you do have to sign up for the free 6 month education account trial) and Slidely. I REALLY like Slidely because it is FREE and easy to use. Here is one I put together with some AMAZING Virginia Bloggers' blog buttons. You have to check out their blogs!

VA Bloggers by Slidely Slideshow

If you are interested in making slideshows then definitely hop over to and sign up for a free account. Upload your pictures, choose a song from a YouTube search, select your theme and your slideshow is created! You can email your slideshow to parents and even get an embed code to put on your blog or class website. Many other kinds of share options are available too.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Google Forms Update: Finally!

Woo hoo!!! You can now customize your theme in Google Forms. Add your own photos or logos to the header, customize fonts and colors, pick a background, and more. I have been waiting for this :) Check it out:

There are cool new themes too!