Amazing iPad App

I usually don’t go out of my way to review iPad apps, as there are so many website that do just that. But as it is a strong possibility that my school will be 1:1 with iPads next year, I thought it would be good to share an app that I feel has tons of potential and really is perfect for a 1:1 environment. In fact, I would go so far as to say it is essential.

TouchCast is an app that allows you or your students to create interactive videos for flipping your classroom or as a presentation of information. Sound familiar? Well TouchCast does just about everything that other similar apps do and it is completely free! The best part is that it is not just a static video, but something you can click on and interact with in meaningful ways. TouchCast allows you to place small virtual apps that are placed in your videos and add interactive elements. CLICK HERE to download the app for iPad.

Here are a list of the features that I absolutely love:

-Record your video using either camera on your iPad and apply filters to the video, such as black and white.

-There is an option for using a whiteboard (similar to Educreations, Screen Chomp, etc.) as you record your video.

-There is a teleprompter feature within the app so you can type up what you are going to say and then read it back while recording. I put the teleprompter on the side of the iPad with the front-facing camera so I am actually looking into the lense.

-Easily insert a background using the green screen feature. With some green butcher paper and good lighting, you can create an image just like the one below.

-There are themes, such as the Breaking News one, that automatically add some nice little virtual apps to your TouchCast.

-Students can answer multiple-choice questions within the TouchCast and receive immediate feedback on whether they answered it correctly. They also can submit responses to survey questions and see the percent of people who picked each response while watching the TouchCast.

-Every user on TouchCast has a channel. Your students can follow your channel and see all your updates. And if your students don’t have iPads available, you can upload your TouchCasts to YouTube easily, though interactive elements are not usable on YouTube.



Class Dojo – Behavior Management Software


This past year, I noticed a steady increase in students acting negatively and disrespectfully to their classmates. It may have something to do with the fact that I taught 7th graders, but many of these students were good kids just following the crowd. I decided to introduce Class Dojo, a behavior management software, to my classroom.  

Here is a great introduction video that I showed my students, courtesy of Class Dojo:

After that video and a little explanation, I was very surprised to find that many of my students were really excited about it and desperately wanted their “secret code” so they could customize their avatar. We then established what behaviors we felt were important and created a reward system for positive behaviors. I saw an overall trend of improvement over the next few weeks and really enjoyed tracking behaviors while students were working in small groups or partners. I could also use it to randomly select students for answering questions or for choosing volunteers. It also gave me a better foot to stand on when parents came to conferences, as academic grades don’t show the whole picture of a student’s performance in the classroom. By the end of the semester, I realized this would be far more effective if used throughout a school year.

Here is a Prezi I made that I am presenting to my grad school class next week regarding classroom management strategies, which explains how I will use Class Dojo next year.

P.S. In case you are wondering, this works in 7th grade classrooms but it really would be perfect for an elementary setting where you get to see a student for more than 50 minutes a day.


One iPad Classroom Ideas

Next year, I will have a school-issued iPad and an Apple TV so that I can wirelessly project my iPad onto my SMART board. In preparation for a 1:1 initiative, I know that this will be a great time to test apps and ideas on smaller groups of students and make this year a great year!

using-the-ipad-2i41r9qPhoto by Barbara Day via Flickr

Here are a few ideas on how to utilize one iPad in your classroom:

1.) Presentations! Show off your cool presentations you have made using cool tools such as Prezi, Haiku Deck, Keynote, etc.I like using Prezi with my Apple TV because it seamlessly plays YouTube clips and allows you to pan and zoom around using the iPad’s touch screen.

2.) Set up a wireless desktop app (such as Splashtop 2) so you can wirelessly control your computer through your iPad screen. This could allow you to write out math problems, circle key information, etc.

3.) Showcase student work. Have students create work on their desks, in their notebooks, on small whiteboards, etc. and then take picture of their work. You could then project those pictures to the class so everyone can see what is written on their work. You could import these pictures into apps such as educreations and highlight or annotate it in some way.

4.) Make it one of many stations. It may be scary, but students will treat your iPad with respect. Create 6-8 stations for your class and have one of them be at your SMART board and one of them at your iPad. Examples of an iPad station could be watching a youtube clip and answering discussion questions, playing Jeopardy (create it free here), or reviewing vocabulary using Quizlet (a free iphone app).

5.) Record a video. You could record students giving a speech (privately or publicly), record a play they create, or record a video that you create for them. Other teachers have been using their iPads to create videos to “flip their classroom” and have students watch their lectures or lessons from home so they can use

6.) Sock Puppets? Have students plan out and then create a dialogue or story using any of the following apps: Toontastic, PuppetPals, or my personal favorite – Sock Puppets. I made a dialogue between two puppets that showed different conflict resolutions methods for health class. The students were sent in the hall with their small group in order to record them.

7.) Classroom Management. I used an app called Class Dojo over the past year. While I started it late and didn’t use it much after semester 1, it was a really cool site/app! You can upload a list of your students, customize negative and positive behaviors you will document during class, and then share this data with students and parents. I also used it to randomly call on students to answer questions daily. Sometimes, I would give a “difficult student” the iPad to be in charge of randomly calling on students and then they would document if students got it right or wrong. I might need to make an entire blog entry on this site! Go here for more info.

Here is a video done by Modern Lessons that has some more ideas: