Free Apps in a Snap: Popplet

Welcome to my very first installment of Free Apps in a Snap!

Today I’m sharing how I’ve used the free app Popplet Lite in my classroom.  I won’t always write a new blog post for every app I share on my Facebook page with this series.  For some of them, I’ll link back to old blog posts or even post just the image itself on my Facebook page.  My goal is to give you quick snapshots and examples of new apps you may want to try in your classroom (without overwhelming you)!  If you haven’t already, be sure to like my Facebook page so you don’t miss any of my posts.  

Popplet allows students to map out their thinking and create visual graphic organizers.  I’ve used it across multiple subject areas and grade levels.  It’s so user-friendly that even a kindergartener could use it with minimal assistance.  

In reading, we’ve used Popplet for various skills such as sequencing, retelling, story elements, cause/effect, and vocabulary.  In the picture below, my second graders are creating Popplets to retell the main events in their stories.  They took pictures of pages in their books using their iPad cameras and then wrote short blurbs underneath each picture.

Here’s an example of a vocabulary map my students created using Popplet.  They would find a picture of their vocabulary words either from a book or the internet and insert it along with the definition, part of speech, and the word used in a sentence.

Popplet can be very helpful with brainstorming or prewriting activities.  Here’s an example of how we used Popplet to describe a special object from home before writing about it.

Popplet can also be used to help visualize tricky math concepts.  Below, you can see how my students created a Popplet to represent a number in standard, expanded, and word form as well as with base 10 blocks. 

The free version of Popplet only lets you create one Popplet at a time, which was always fine for us since I would have my students save their Popplets to their camera roll to send to me.     


I will be posting about another free app on Sunday night, so be sure to like my Facebook page so you don’t miss it!

Kick-start Your School Year with QR Codes: Lots of Freebies!

I apologize for the long absence, teacher friends!  I’ve been busy soaking up every precious moment with my sweet baby boy, born this winter.:)
I will not be returning to the classroom this year, but I have lots of fun stuff planned to share with you.  I’m very excited to announce a new triweekly series happening on my Facebook page called Free Apps in a Snap. 
I know many people are too busy to read long blog posts, especially during this hectic back-to-school season, so I thought it would be helpful to just give you quick little snapshots of new apps to try in your classroom.  Three times a week I will share some brief highlights and photos of apps I’ve used in my second and fourth grade classrooms.  If you haven’t already liked my Facebook page, be sure to hop on over there so you don’t miss any of my posts.  

Now, for the freebies…  
Kick-start Your School Year With QR Codes: Lots of ideas and freebies to engage your students with QR codes at back-to-school
I whipped up a new back to school Scan the Room activity that reviews several important ELA skills: synonyms, antonyms, contractions, parts of speech, and sentence editing.  All you have to do is print the cards and tape/hang them around your classroom.  Your students will roam around the room answering the questions and can check their work by scanning the QR codes.
Another freebie I just posted is this little pack of QR codes that link to brain break videos.  If you plan on using brain breaks, this is a great way to introduce them to your students.  The “Following Directions” video is especially good for back-to-school!
If you’re looking for an icebreaker activity that gets your students talking to one another, this getting-to-know-you QR code cube is perfect.  Students roll the cube and scan the QR codes to reveal questions to ask their partner. 
These sunglasses have been a hit every year with my second and fourth graders because they love being able to move around the room while solving math problems.  
Click HERE for my double-digit addition and subtraction with regrouping freebie for primary (shown above) and HERE for my rounding freebie for the upper grades.

QR code scavenger hunts have always been my most-requested math activity by my students, probably because they are so fun that they don’t realize they’re actually learning.  
Click HERE for the base 10 block freebie (shown above) for primary and HERE for my types of lines and angles freebie for the bigger kids (shown below).
The “QR Codes” tab at the top of my blog has even more freebies and ideas for engaging your students with QR codes throughout the school year, so be sure to check it out.

I hope you have a great start to your school year!:)

Thanks to Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, Ashley Hughes, and I Teach, What's Your Superpower for the cute graphics in this post!
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Fluency Self-evaluations Using iPads (With Free Rubric)


Have you ever given your students the opportunity to record and listen to themselves read?  As teachers, we frequently observe and conference with our students about their oral reading fluency.  However, it can be much more meaningful for students to actually hear and evaluate themselves.  Last year I started doing fluency self-evaluations as a center and was very pleased with the ownership my students began to take toward achieving their reading goals.
Fluency Self-Evaluations Using iPads- With Free Rubric
My second graders used the free workflow app Showbie to complete their fluency self-evaluations.  After practicing their passage several times, they recorded themselves reading it aloud.  Once they played back their recording they filled out the rubric, along with their goals for next time, and sent it to me via Showbie.  

If you don’t have a class set of iPads, you may want to try one of the many free voice recording apps by doing a search in the app store.  One of the best and most user-friendly apps I’ve found is Voice Recorder by Tap Media (free).  Students simply press the “Record” button and then “Stop” when they are finished.  Then they press the “Play” button to hear their recording.  There’s even the option to save recordings in folders if you want to keep a record of your students’ progress. 


You can grab my rubric for free by clicking HERE or on the image below.

5 Easy Ways to Integrate More Technology Into Your Instruction

Happy New Year, teacher friends!  Is one of your professional goals for 2016 to integrate more technology into your instruction?  Today I’m linking up with iTeach Second to share some simple tips to help you motivate and engage your students with technology in the New Year.
5 Easy Ways to Integrate More Technology Into Your Instruction
Add a listening center to your literacy stations.  Storyline Online is a free site filled with dozens of popular children’s stories read aloud by celebrities.  If you have iPads or laptops/Chromebooks with a camera, you can opt for QR codes that link to online stories.  I made my listening center into a bulletin board so my students could easily walk up to it and scan a story of their choice.  Don’t have time to make your own QR codes that link to stories?  There are many pre-made ones on Teachers Pay Teachers, like THIS free one.

Incorporate a writing/digital storytelling center into your literacy routine.  Storykit is my favorite free iPad app for digital storytelling.  Students can create storybooks with text, audio, and photos/illustrations.  They can either upload photos from their camera roll or draw their own illustrations using the app’s drawing feature.  Check out THIS post for more digital storytelling apps. 

Download a few engaging sight word apps onto your classroom iPad(s).  Check out THIS post where I shared several of my favorite free sight word apps.
Download some fun apps for each topic you’re teaching in math.  Not sure where to begin?  I use THIS site often to find quality apps for my students.  You can also check out these blog posts where I’ve reviewed my favorite free apps for place valueadditiongeometrytime, and money.

 Lastly, QR codes are one of the easiest and most engaging ways to add a little technology into your routine.  You will need to download a QR scanning app onto your classroom iPad(s), such as THIS free one.  If you’re new to QR codes, I would recommend trying out some freebies first to get your feet wet.  Click HERE or on the image below to try out this free base-10 QR code scavenger hunt.  You may also want to check out the “QR Codes” tab on my blog for more ideas and freebies for using QR codes in the classroom.



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Free Telling Time Apps for the iPad

Telling time can be an extremely difficult concept for primary students to grasp.  Luckily, there are some amazing iPad apps out there that make learning to tell time more engaging and interactive.  Today I’m sharing my favorites, which all happen to be free. 
Free Telling Time Apps for the iPad
Interactive Telling Time Lite offers two engaging games—Set the Time and Stop the Clock.  For Set the Time, students move the hands on the analog clock to show the designated time.  Stop the Clock is my students’ favorite because they enjoy the suspense of waiting for the clock hands to get to the perfect position for them to press the stop button.  This app can be played at various difficulty levels and students are motivated to keep playing because of the virtual aquarium where they get to redeem their prizes.

Tell Time: Little Matchups requires students to match analog clocks and digital clocks.  The matchups get progressively harder as the students get better at matching the clocks. 

Math Tappers: Clock Master is a fun and simple app that offers various modes and difficulty levels so students can learn at their own pace.  In the picture below, my student is selecting the digital time based on the time shown on the analog clock.  The other mode requires students to move the hands on the analog clock to match the time shown on the digital clock.

Telling Time Quiz is a fun game for which students choose the analog clock that matches the time shown in words.  It starts out with time to the hour and gets progressively harder as students master and unlock each level. 

Time Teacher Lite offers a variety of activities such as: matching an analog and digital clock, setting the time on a digital clock based on the analog clock shown, and moving the hands on an analog clock based on the digital clock shown.  When students take a quiz, they can earn trophies as well as puzzle pieces to complete a hidden picture.
In addition to these engaging apps, my students had a blast working around the room on THIS telling time QR code scavenger hunt.
They also worked on THESE time to the hour/half QR code task cards as well as THESE time to the nearest 5 minutes QR code task cards.