Monday, June 23, 2014

Another Easy-to-Use Digital Story App

Take some time over your summer break to explore and have fun creating entertaining videos with Wideo.

Here's a clever one I caught created by a librarian.

Here is another example I found that was featured on the Wideo site. It addresses digital citizenship. Perhaps you can use it as a starting point for discussion with your students.

The following one was created by a graduate student at the University of Saint Joseph, CT, for a course focused on digital citizenship. She created the video to show students how quickly information circulates on social media as a lesson in digital citizenship.

The site offers some images to use, but I also found it worthwhile to upload my own photos, done easily with the Upload feature. Transitions and music can be added to finalize the video, and the final cut can be uploaded to YouTube for easily inserting the video into a blog post.

One point I would make about using Wideo is that those who create videos should be sure to include a slide with their name and other related information, so others viewing the videos will know who the creator is.  Notice in these three cases, the videos did not include this information at the Wideo site, so when the video was uploaded to YouTube to insert in a blog post, there was no way to trace back to see who created the video via the Wideo site.

On his blog, Free Technology for Teachers, Richard Byrnes has a post about the site: "Create Animated Wideo." You might want to check out the post. 

As for embedding a Wideo into a Blogger post, I found it easier to send the video to YouTube and insert the video into a post that way than to use the embed code offered at the Wideo site.

So, Wideo is another digital storytelling tool to add your toolbox. Overall, the power of digital storytelling as a learning tool cannot be underestimated. My suggestion is to become comfortable with several tools, some that work off websites, and some that work as apps on iPad or Android tablets; plus, expect to find more of these apps working right from smartphones. As we see more devices in all formats--desktops, laptops, tablets, and Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD)--as educators, we should be prepared to lead our students in discovering specific digital story tools. Digital storytelling is an excellent way to meet curricular goals as well as standards set for students as 21st century learners and digital citizens and digital learners. Numerous literacy skills are encompassed: brainstorming, organizing, scripting, visual literacy, oral literacy, communication with an audience, research and reading, and learning from digital stories that peers create on content within the curriculum. Most of all, when students create digital stories to share with others, the process empowers the students as leaders, instructors, and teachers. Plus, the students find the process engaging, hands-on, and intuitive, a way to be creative while also honing their technical skills.

Here is how the videos look if they're embedded using the site's embed code. Note the width of the video can be changed to accommodate the dimensions of a blog, website, or other digital space.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Always in Search of Digital Story Tools

Although it is fun and challenging to use movie-making software like iMovie, I also like experimenting with apps. Ones that I especially like for young children are Shadow Puppet and Toontastic.

Recently, I experimented with AdobeVoice, a free app. Stories are created by uploading your own photos or by selecting from the wide variety of Creative Commons photos accessible directly in the app. Animated characters and images are also available. Once the visuals are inserted and arranged, the next step is to voice record your narration. The app contains music selections for a background effect.

Here's my first attempt with using Adobe Voice, selecting photos I found by searching the app's library using the search terms "Alaska" and "Denali National Park."

To view the story, click on the image:

The program is easy to navigate and would work well for young children on the iPad. They would probably like the animated choices in the app for their images, but photos taken in and around the classroom, school, and community, or from a field trip would also work well. 

What are your favorite programs for digital storytelling? I think I will continue to play around with AdobeVoice, maybe next time uploading my own photos. Though I find the animated images in the program limited, I still think young children would enjoy that option. Best of all, I like the access to the tremendous library of Creative Commons photographs and how easy it is to search for them by using key terms.

To add to this post, no sooner did I post it, within a day, I found an example of how 6th grade teacher Kevin Hodgson used Adobe Voice to recap students' end-of-the-year survey responses. I invite you to take a look, but come back here to post your thoughts on the ways in which this tool and similar ones can be used for varied educational purposes. Click on the image below to see Kevin's end-of-the-year wrap-up. Plus, it helps to learn what 6th graders liked and did not like regarding what was implemented in their classroom, and Kevin offers an honest recap.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Examples of Ways to Use Padlet

Here is the Padlet from the activity we did on favorite children's books. Scroll across to see the full Padlet wall with all of the contributions.

This is the Padlet the 2nd graders from Canada and Australia shared focused on facts about their countries. Scroll down to see it al the contributions.

Here is a Padlet that Richard Byrne did with a group of teachers at a professional development workshop. The Padlet was used for participants to share project samples. Note each of the contributions is inserted into the Padlet with a hyperlink to access an online resource or in some cases a video. Click on the page icon or video icon in the center of each picture to access the online source.

If you would like to view this Padlet online, at the site, use this link: Mississippi Bend AEA Sample.

In his blog, Free Technology for Teachers, Richard notes the tools that the teachers used for their original creations included: PicCollage, PicMonkey, Canva, and Thinglink. The teachers then used Padlet to insert a link to the web page resource or video they created with the other tools.

Here's a Padlet I participated in at the Building Learning Communities Conference, organized by Alan November's November Learning Company, that draws educators from around the globe. We did an exercise in which the presenter asked us about what it means to be a connected educator. You can scroll around this Padlet to see more of the contributions, and by clicking on any of the contributions, watch as a window opens to view them one at a time as slides. Once a slide pops up, using the X in the corner of the viewer returns to the Padlet to full view.

These are four varied ways to use Padlet. As you learn more about the tool, what are some of your thoughts about how this tool can be integrated into schools?

As with many online digital tools, the more we use them and see examples, the more we begin to understand their classroom applications. What tools have become your favorites to explore in the classroom?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Looking for Some Book Read Alouds for Young Children

A professional colleague in the language arts area recommended the StoryTimeMomShy channel on YouTube.

My colleague noted her kindergarten child has been glued to the read-alouds. What a wonderful way to develop a love of literature in young children.

I am embedding some of the stories for you to preview, but recommend going to the StoryTimeMomShy YouTube site to see all the stories available, and expect more will be added. 

You can also check out StoryTimeMom's website for more information:

Do these read-alouds look like something you would use in the classroom or recommend to parents? I am new to  StoryTimeMomShy channel, but subscribed, so I am ready to recommend it to parents and teachers when they seek a source of read-aloud sites.

Let me know what you think. Have you heard of StoryTimeMomShy? Do you know of children who watch the read-alouds on the channel? Where do you go to find online read-alouds for young children?

Monday, June 16, 2014

How Well Are We Preparing Students For the World in Which They Will Live?

Over the last month or so, these images have been floating around on Twitter and other social media, and at this point, the original source for all is not known.

Thought I would share them with you, as each asks us to re-examine our teaching and how we prepare students today for what lies ahead for them.

Which of these images speak to you and how?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Best Children's and YA Authors for Teachers to Follow on Twitter, Facebook and Beyond

Melanie Holtsman on Flickr

I was on The We Are Teachers Blog, and found a link worth sharing to help others find authors to connect with online.

 "The Best Children's and YA Authors for Teachers to Follow on Twitter, Facebook and Beyond"

Among the authors featured in the list are the following:

  • Patricia Polacco
  • R.l. Stine
  • Eric Carle
  • Mo Willems' Pigeon
  • Lemony Snicket

Author Kate Messener has on her site a list of authors who Skype for free. Her list breaks down the authors by intended school-age audience. Check her post: "Authors Who Skype with Classes and Book Clubs for Free."

Have you tried connecting with authors virtually to bring them into your classroom? Did you realize many authors like to tweet, and a good number will reply? A class twitter account is one way to explore working with an author through the Twitterverse.

Survey about Some of Your Favorites

This is the survey I created while doing a screencast tutorial on:

  • How to use Google Forms to create a survey
  • How to embed the survey in a Blogger post. 

Please take a few minutes to complete this survey. Responses are submitted privately to my Google Drive, as you will see when you listen to the YouTube tutorial.

Here is the tutorial. Turn up the volume on YouTube, and set the volume on your device accordingly to follow along.

Sometimes, it is more convenient to use a survey in a blog post to collect information than to rely on posted comments. The survey allows for collecting the responses in a spreadsheet for review and analysis. Also, use of a survey in a blog post enables respondents to reply without their replies being public on the blog.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Moving Along with Our Favorite Children's Books

So we started a VoiceThread in class tonight. This was the first time we used the program.

Here is what we have so far, and we will add more comments next week.


We then experimented using two apps on the iPad to make quick videos. Our goal was to compare the three tools for creating a photo story about children's books.

We won't edit the versions completed on the iPad. That was not the intent. We just wanted to compare different tools to deliver comparable content.

On the iPad, we first used the free version of Shadow Puppet, which allowed us to upload 10 images. We then audio recorded our comments about each of the books. Next, the final version was transferred to the iPad's camera roll, so it could be accessed there to upload to YouTube.

We next experimented with iMovie on the iPad. We did not have the limitation of 10 images, but we also kept each of the clips to 15 seconds to keep the final video short. We used one of the music tracks in iMovie, but did not use other features, except to audio record ourselves for our allotted 15 seconds. The final version was uploaded to YouTube.

Here are the two versions.

Shadow Puppet Version

iMovie on iPad Version

So what do you think so far? Would you consider doing a collaborative photo story like this one with students?

We also used Padlet to create a bulletin board of our favorite children's books. It was easy for us to collaborate online using the tool. Here is what we have so far, shown in a screen shot.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Haven't Joined the Global Read Aloud Yet: What Are You Waiting For?

No matter what grade you teach, there's something for you and your students to gain from the Global Read Aloud.

We all believe in the importance of developing a love of reading in children today, starting from a young age. We also like to hear a good story read aloud.

Join the Global Read Aloud held each fall. It starts at just the right time of the year to get your students on board. With a month into the school year and routines established, the Global Read Aloud starts at just the right time to introduce a new concept into the classroom.

Check out the selections for the fall.

Regardless of the grade you teach, Peter Reynold's illustrated books are a win. I've used his books with graduate students, watched as the book was read to young children, and participated and watched Skypes in which children from around the world discussed his book The Dot.

Image credit:

Happy to see he is one of the features authors for next year.

Not to spoil the fun, check the selections from Pernille Ripp's Global Read Aloud blog. Recently, she posted

The Top 10 Reasons to Join Global Read Aloud

And more recently, she created this post, "Why The Global Read Matters," showing how this project through books has connected children globally.