Monday, July 27, 2015

Showbie: A Digital Workflow App for iPads

Tips for using Showbie: a digital workflow app
Are you going 1:1 this year or are you looking for a fast and simple digital workflow app?  I’ve been using Showbie since the beginning of last school year in my second grade 1:1 iPad classroom and would highly recommend it for any grade level. 

Showbie allows you to quickly and easily assign, collect and review student work in an organized fashion.  As students submit work, you can provide immediate feedback by adding text and voice notes directly onto their assignments.  The Showbie app is free, but there’s a Pro upgrade available, which I am giving away at the end of this post!

My listening center and my number of the day warm-up are two activities that we use Showbie for every single day.  As you can see in the pictures, some of my students prefer to write and some prefer to type on the recording sheets. 

Many times, when we are doing a whole-group or center activity on the iPads, I like for my students to send me a picture from their camera roll so that I can check for understanding.  For example, this subtraction cube activity was a whole-group lesson and the Popplet sequencing activity was a reading center. 

Usually, with these types of activities, I’ll have my students take a screen shot of their iPad and then send me the image from their camera roll.  I walk around all day with Showbie open on my iPad so I can be sure my students are on-task as well as understanding the content.   

One of the amazing features of Showbie is that it allows the teacher and students to attach voice recordings.  We used this feature for fluency evaluations on the iPads about once a month.  In the picture below, you can see that my student is about to record himself reading a part of a book. 

After my students play back the recording to themselves, they open and fill out a fluency self-evaluation form and send it to me via Showbie. 

Sometimes I will have my students send me a voice recording of themselves working through a math problem and explaining their thinking.  In the picture below, this student is writing out his thinking, and next he will send me a voice recording explaining how he thought about the problem.  This can be a very powerful way to check for understanding.   

Showbie is very user-friendly and they have lots of great tutorials on their website to help you get started.  Setting up a class is very simple.  Showbie will give you a unique classroom code for your students to type in to join your class (no student email addresses are required). 

Then you can start adding assignments to your class.  Click on the wrench by your class name and then the plus sign for a new assignment. 

There are many file types you can add, such as a PDF or an image from your camera roll.  You can even take a picture of a worksheet or graphic organizer and upload it.  If you want to provide a more detailed description of the task/assignment, you can add a comment or voice note along with the file.  The assignment will show up on your students’ iPads immediately, and they can easily open it and begin working.

As students turn in their assignments, a paperclip will appear next to their name.  You simply click on a student’s name and their completed assignment opens up. 

You can make a mark on their assignment and send it back to them immediately.  If they need to fix something, you can make a note directly on there and they can resubmit it to you.  Here's an example of a math quiz that I graded and sent back to a student. 

The free version of the app is wonderful, but you do have the option to upgrade to Pro, which has some cool features such as larger file size and longer voice notes and video clips.  The folks at Showbie were kind enough to offer me the Pro version for this past year and I found it to be my #1 must-have app in my classroom.

Now here's your chance to win a one-year Showbie Pro subscription for YOUR classroom.  Simply comment below with your first name, email, and the grade you teach.  I will choose a random commenter on Friday, July 31st.    

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Free iPad Apps for Practicing Money Concepts

Best FREE iPad apps for money practice
Money always seems to be such a difficult concept for primary students, and if I’m being completely honest, I usually tend to dread teaching it.  However, this year the iPads have helped make our money centers much more engaging and interactive, and my students are really starting to grasp the tough money concepts.  Today I wanted to share a few of my favorite FREE apps for money practice.

Amazing Coin offers several interactive games dealing with identifying and counting coins, making change, and money patterns.  My students especially love the rewards that allow them to buy food in the store.

Coin Crash is a fast-paced game that requires students to flick coins up to reach the specified amount.  The levels get progressively harder and faster, but they can use bombs to keep the coins from growing out of control.  If the coins reach the top, then it’s game over!

My students love Coin Catcher Lite because they have to actually tilt their iPad to catch the specified coins.  There are ten exciting levels they must beat in order to save the princess.

For Lil’ Kitten Shopping Cart, students search through aisles of a grocery store to get specified items on a grocery list.  They get to practice real-life skills such as budgeting and saving money with this app.

Tiny Chicken Learns Currency: Farmer’s Market is a great app for practicing making change.  It gets progressively harder as the children get the change amounts correct.  This app is perfect for keeping your higher students engaged and challenged.  

In addition to these apps, we used our iPads to get up and moving around the classroom with a QR code scavenger hunt and an I Spy activity. 

I whipped up some money centers with QR codes so that my students would have some engaging center activities to do independently.  I love that my students can get immediate feedback by scanning the QR codes while I’m busy working with guided groups. 

Click here or the image below to check out my QRazy for Coins pack on TpT.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Geometry Fun With iPads

Best FREE iPad apps for geometry practice
We just wrapped up my absolute favorite unit to teach—geometry.  Today I’m sharing some free apps and activities we used for practicing 2D and 3D shape concepts. 

Cyberchase Shape Quest is a free app that has three different activities included.  Patch the Path, which uses 3D augmented reality, was my students’ favorite.  They need to use spatial memory, visualization and modeling skills to “patch” the path so the animals can get across. 

For the Hide and Seek game, students must uncover the specified geometric shapes to find their animal friends.  It’s great practice for geometry vocabulary as well as number of sides, right angles, etc.  

For Feed the Critters, students use spatial reasoning to flick food to the hungry critters. 

Cyberchase 3D Builder is another free app that helps students understand how 3D shapes are made from simple 2D shapes.

Since geometry is so easily applicable to the real world, we went on a shape hunt around the school and outside the building.  When we got back to the classroom, my students compiled their pictures into collages using the free app Pic Collage.  Here’s one of the finished products.

We also used the free app Skitch to label attributes of some of the shapes they found.

Of course I had to throw some QR codes into the mix for this unit.  My kids did this 2D shape QR code scavenger hunt around the classroom.  Each time they scanned a QR code on a phone, it led them to the next shape.

They also completed some self-checking QR code task cards and other centers from my new geometry pack.

And last but not least, what’s a geometry unit without GeoBoards?!  I learned about this awesome free GeoBoard app from my friend Amanda.  We used it to practice our basic shapes and then I projected various designs onto my Apple TV for my kids to try.  I got the designs from her Geoboard Mania pack.

Monday, December 8, 2014

#Hour of Code

Computer Science Education Week a.k.a. the Hour of Code kicked off today!  Last year 15 million students participated in the Hour of Code, and this year the goal is to get 100 million students worldwide to do an Hour of Code by the end of 2014!  Here’s a little intro video from if you’re unfamiliar with what The Hour of Code is all about.  

I fully support their philosophy that every 21st-century student should have the opportunity to learn computer science.  If you’ve never tried coding before, is a great place to start.  It offers a variety of self-guided tutorials from kindergarten up featuring Angry Birds, Plants vs. Zombies, and even Frozen!  Here are a couple of my cuties working on an Angry Birds maze sequence.

There’s no prep work required of the teacher, except maybe showing one of these videos to get your students motivated.  I personally love the inspirational message from President Barack Obama.

After learning the basics from, I let my students experiment with the free app Scratch Jr. today.  They had a blast programming their characters to move, jump, dance, and even talk.  If you’re lucky enough to have iPads, I’d definitely recommend this app for little ones!

Happy coding!
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