“If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”
-- Ignacio Estrada

Saturday, May 28, 2011

(FREE) Book for iPod/iPad

Free for a limited time:
The Letterman Go to the Moon

Great resource to include with our unit on the Solar System.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Three Little Pigs: A 3-D Fairy Tale ~Review~

A little background on this app. While stumbling through my new found "worlds" of 'professional' facebook and twitter, I came across an app giveaway. I was to tell why I would deserve a copy of the app and with whom I would use it. I briefly explained my situation (part of iPad project, intervention specialist, mom of 2, etc.) and I was fortunate enough to receive an app compliments of Nosy Crow. With that said, this review was not influenced by the fact that the app was free. (I need to add this disclaimer to a few other reviews I have done.) I am here to give my opinion as a mom, teacher, lover of learning, and budding technology 'geek'. With all that said....let's begin:

The Three Little Pigs A 3-D Fairy Tale
Let me just start by saying, I am not sure how to classify this app. Is it a book? is it a movie?.....I think that The Three Little Pigs is more of an "interactive video". The creators took a well-known children's story and brought it to life with this app. After downloading it, I (yes, I...a 30-something year old) played with this story for over 30 minutes. The graphics were very engaging and the voices were amazing.

The app follows the traditional story: pigs leave home, build houses, wolf comes along to eat them. Yet this interactive book makes it so much more. It begins with the three pigs saying good bye to mom and dad pig and the pigs go walking along the road. Each pig builds his/her house with the assistance from the user. The user can touch various parts of the screen to interact with the story. If the user doesn't touch an area, a small blue dot gives a visual cue on where to touch. I liked the idea of the prompt and the color and size were very discrete. As the wolf visits each house/pig, the user is able to "be the wolf" and try to blow the house down. This can be done by touching wolf or blowing into the microphone. I was not successful at using the microphone to do that. (I think part of it might have been user error on my part.) I was a little worried about how the story might end. I was worried about how much explaining I was going to have to do to my own 3 year old or to the several 5-7 year olds whom I was planning on reading with at school. To my delight the ending was well done and kind of cute to hear a little voice say the big bad wolf "burnt his bottom!" I felt the ending was very age appropriate for ages 3+ and I received no questions or comments from students who I read this with.

Additional IEP applications
Besides being one of the most entertaining "book" apps on my iPad, I can see several IEP uses. I would definitely see this app being used as a way to teach sequencing as well as work on developing vocabulary. Since it is a "book", I could see the "read by myself" being used to work on reading skills and the "read and play" section as a reward. With the excellent graphics, character voices, and music, I could see this app being used to work on increasing attention to an activity or visual tracking. Lastly, it would also be great work on cause/effect skills, especially with the dots that cue user to touch and make something happen.

The app is great! If I had to give one suggestion, which I will, I would like to see the words be highlighted as they are read. So many students, especially individuals with special needs benefit from both the visual and auditory input that having the words highlighted while reading would assist them with developing new vocabulary and reinforcing existing vocabulary.

In conclusion, I just have to say, I truly enjoy this app. It is one that is not placed in a folder on my iPad, I have it out on one of the main screens, next to the folder of my book collections. The level of interactivity and the graphics really make the story come alive. With that said, I keep asking myself if I would have purchased this app on my own if I would have seen the $7.99 price tag?? The price exceeds my personal rule on app purchases. On this hand, I would say that I probably would not purchase because of the price. Then, after I have experienced it, I have started to think...if the app was only a trial and they were going to take it back, would I purchase it? I would have to say yes. Not only for my students (ages 5-9) and my own children (ages 3 and 5), I would purchase it for me to continue to experience this traditional story with a 21st century twist with all the children with whom I interact.

Thank you Nosy Crow for taking the time to create a great app that is fun for both children and adults. I look forward to Cinderella, but not as much as my 5 year old daughter!

developer: Nosy Crow
website: http://nosycrow.com/
itunes: The Three Little Pigs
category: Books
recently updated: May 19, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

Word BINGO ~Review~

This app is set up very similar to Math BINGO. It uses the simple concept of BINGO to reinforce sight words. The app gives the options to choose various levels of sight words (pre-primer through third grade). Once a level is chosen, the next option is to choose a game: word bingo or spelling practice. In word bingo, a word is spoken while a grid of words are displayed (AKA bingo board). The user is expected to recognize word, find it within the bingo board, and touch correct box. The user is continually given words until they get a BINGO. Wrong answers are displayed at bottom. The user gets points for correct answer. Once you get a BINGO, a score is given and user wins BINGO bugs. Once BINGO bugs are earned, the user can use them to play game additional games. I have to admit, we often didn't get time to "play" with the bugs. Spelling practice is for working on spelling the words correctly. It can be customized to show letter "hints" where students match the letters or without "hints" so just the mixed up letters in the work are shown. With the spelling practice section, I really liked how each time the letter was touched, it spoke the letter. Bonus games were given if you spelled 10 words correctly. After games are played, the app will generate a "report card" so that you can view how well the student did on each of the activities.

Additional IEP applications
There are so many IEP application for this app above the basic sight word reinforcement. The BINGO section can be used to assess students word recognition in a 'fun' way aside from flash cards or simple text. The spelling section could be used when working on letter identification and matching letters. The natural set up of the app (first work, then a 'game') allows for a built in reinforcer to complete the task so that they can play.

The app, unlike the Math BINGO, has a section for game settings. This allows for control of sound and game setup (yeah!), that was not available with the math one. The "How to" section is a little easier to read, but still having a 'read me' for the directions may be helpful. A couple other options:
  1. When wrong word is touched on Bingo board, I found that the students often wanted to get a second chance and touch the correct word. This often lead to another incorrect answer because they were then answer a question behind. If possible, it would be nice if once a word was wrong, that the correct word would get highlighted on board so students could get that reinforcement. I know that this kind of doesn't work with the whole true BINGO experience and it may also not work for scoring. It would help reinforce the correct responses. I know my students would find that helpful.
  2. I like the game setting features; however, it would be great if those features could be saved under each student profile. This way the app would already be set up to go from student to student without an adult having to change the settings.

In conclusion, Word BINGO is a great and fun way to teach and reinforce the sight words. The customizable options allows you to differentiate; however, the options are not user specific. They apply to the whole app. Word BINGO provides a way to assess students word recognition without asking them to say a word. With $0.99 price tag, this app is a fun and engaging way when teaching and reinforcing the basic facts either 1-1 or with a small group of students.

developer: ABCya!
website: http://www.abcya.com/
itunes:  Word BINGO
category: Education
recently updated: Word BINGO March, 2011

Math BINGO ~Review~

Check out the ABCya! website for great online games. I have tried several in my special education classroom as well as used some of the KDG and 1st grade activities within the Kindergarten classroom. Most have worked well with the SMARTboard (interactive whiteboard).

This app uses the simple concept of a BINGO game to reinforce math facts. The app gives the options to choose addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division as well as a mixed operation option. There are 3  level selection. The app allows for up to 5 players to be saved with ability to play as guest. Math problem is given (ex. 4+1=__) along with a grid of numbers (AKA bingo board). The user is expected figure out the answer and touch correct number on grid. The user is continually given math problems until they get a BINGO. The user gets points for correct answer and for speed with deduction taken for incorrect responses. Once you get a BINGO, a score is given and user wins BINGO bugs. I have to admit that I was a little confused at first about the BINGO bugs. As I explore the app, I found it has a very nice "How to" section that explained the game. After I read the section, navigating the game was much easier. I did find that directions were geared more towards older students and adults. Once BINGO bugs are earned, the user can use them to play BINGO bungee game. The object of BINGO bungee is to shoot bingo bug via sling shot to collect the most coins. Game points are listed on a score board . Within the score board, individual student's "high" scores can be viewed as well a high scoreboard for all students. The view all students option is nice for when multiple users may be using the same iPad.

Additional IEP applications
This app is great for reinforcing basic math skills. I used it to work on addition and subtraction skills with both Kindergarten students with and without IEPs. It is a great way to have students show you what they know but taking off the pressure of giving a verbal answer. I was able to sit near student, he could complete the problems while I simply watched (and documented) his responses. It made the assessment task much more fun for all involved. I also could see using it to work on number identification. The teacher could help facilitate the answer, then ask student to find that number. Again, working on receptive language.

I do have a few of suggestions that would make this app more even more appealing:
  1. The music during the introduction time is a little overstimulating, especially to someone who might be sensitive to sounds. I used the mute button or turned down volume, but it would nice to have option to turn on/off.
  2. In a classroom setting, I could see this app being used; however, the ability to add more than 5 users would be helpful in accommodating classrooms where only and iPad or 2 are available.
  3. It would also be helpful for the directions to be read aloud, if needed.

In conclusion, Math BINGO is a great and fun way to reinforce the math facts. It provides a way to assess students without asking them to write an answer or verbally give the number which is often a struggle for students with special needs. I could see this app being used 1-1 as well as with 1-3 students. With $0.99 price tag, this app is a "must have" when teaching and reinforcing the basic facts.

developer: ABCya!
website: http://www.abcya.com/
itunes: Math BINGO
category: Education
recently updated: Math: Feb, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dear dad, (example)

Here is a completed "note".
Dear Dad,
Today I was feeling happy. I was feeling that way because I am at school.

Dear mom/dad....

Another extension activity that I did with MeVille to WeVille was having the students compose a "note home". As a review of the feelings words, students were asked to write a note home regarding feeling and why they felt that way. I decided to make the note into a SMARTboard file, giving the students picture choices to finish the sentences. To some degree, it was "errorless" as most of the choice all make sense in the sentences. However, some of the options would not be appropriate for all students.

This group of pictures are of the blank pages of the note presented to the students on the SMARTboard. Students were expected to make a choice by sliding picture to the blank spot. Some students needed for assistance than others. The 2 students with Vanguard devices used eye gaze or arm movements to indicate choices between two and then used the device to make a choice of feeling. All other students were left to choose through SMARTboard, then asked to verbally tell/read sentences with model as needed.


The students all did an excellent job with the activity. Students' answers were very appropriate to the situation and feelings chosen. One student chose happy, then I went potty...we are in the process of potty training and she is SOOO proud of herself. Another student has been struggling with changes at home and allergies....this student chose sad, then I am at school.

Students: Great work today!
Parents: I hope you enjoyed the "notes home" today.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Me I Am by Jack Prelutsky

As the school year draws to a close, I didn't want to start a new MeVille to WeVille Unit. We complete Unit 1 a week or so ago. Since then, realizing we only have about 15 days of school left (now about 11 days), I decided to include some of the "enrichment" activities. As I flipped through the manual, I saw several activities, but the activity that suggested an internet search for the poem Me I Am! was interesting to me. (Great suggestion, if you are doing MeVille in your class, please complete this activity!) I have to admit, I don't often think about introducing poetry. I often get so focused on "sight words" or "picture identification", that I forget that all types of literature deserve to be introduced.

Here is a picture of few of the students' Me I Am! collages. I traced hands and feet, then students help measure them from top to bottom. The adults cut them out (so they maintained they original shape) and students assembled collage. They turned out really nice!
This poem was so appropriate for the classroom and for our whole school. We do our best to embrace the uniqueness of each student and I believe that we succeed. The students have made so much progress this year. I have enjoyed learning from them as much as I hope they have learned from me. I just had to share this poem. I hope you enjoy!

Me I Am !

I am the only Me I Am
Who qualifies as me,
no Me I AM has been before,
and none will ever be
No other Me I Am can feel
the feelings I’ve within,
no other Me I Am can fit
precisely in my skin
There is no other Me I Am
who thinks the thoughts I do,
the world contains one Me I Am
this earth shall ever see,
that Me I Am I always am
is no one else but Me!
by Jack Prelutsky

Friday, May 13, 2011

i Learn With Poko: Season and Weather ~Review~

It appears that my original review of this was lost in "blog-land". I published the night Google was apparently doing some kind of upgrade and it is now lost. I will do my best to recreate the post. Blog lesson #1: type and save somewhere else before posting to blog just in case "blog-land" decides to eat your work.

WAIT.......Through the amazing world of the internet, I was able to find a pdf copy of my post! (Thank you iLearnWith for posting a link to a pdf version of my blog post on your website!) I was able to copy and paste the review, then take a few minutes to preview, edit, and post! I love technology!!

i Learn With Poko: Season and Weather
This app is by the same people who created The Mighty Jungle:Animals. This app focuses on weather conditions, what to wear during different types of weather, and figuring out days of the week and activities that take place on those days. The app consists of 3 levels: level 1: weather, level 2: what to wear, and level 3: days and activities. The objective for Level 1 is to help Bibi fill her photo book. Pictures are displayed and a clue is given. User must choose picture that fit the clue. Once correct choices are made, the picture that doesn't belong disappears and another clue is given. Once one picture is left, the picture that Bibi wanted, it goes into her photo book. Due to the ability to answer incorrectly and have the picture disappear, my students were able to complete this level with minimal assistance. However, they were not always getting the correct answer and were utilizing the "hint" (disappearing picture). The objective of Level 2 is to get the best picture of Bibi and Poko. Users are asked to choose what is wrong with the picture after a clue about the weather condition is given. The number of incorrect things in the picture is indicated by the number of lights on the camera. When all the things that don't fit the weather are found, it acts like a picture was taken of Bibi and Poko. I used this app with both students in the general education KDG classroom as well as my intervention room (totally of 4 students). It took the general education KDG a while to complete this level. The student really struggled with finding the wrong clothing items. My intervention students were able to complete some of the activities as I was prompting them and retelling about the picture. I eventually was giving my own clues of "where is her head?, where would he wear his boots?" in order for them to find the incorrect item. Level 3 get more difficult as the user has to figure out day, type of weather, season, and where activities may have taken place. User is expected to touch and drag "post it"-like note to correct day. I did not trial this level with any students.

When a level was completed, user was brought back to the main screen to choose a level again. The option for clues to be re-read is available on each level by touching a given area. If user needs help, they are directed to touch the monkey, Mr. Murphy. Incorrect responses were indicated by a "incorrect" sound. Correct responses were rewarded with stars chime sound.

Additional IEP applications
This app presents the opportunity to work on so many skills. Not only can it be used to reinforce seasons, the weather, and appropriate clothing, it could also be used to work on language skills (such as on level 2: touch her head or what do you wear on your feet). I think this app would be a nice addition to a unit on seasons.

There are a couple suggestions that crossed my mind while working with this app:

  1. During some of the activities, the user was asked to find the picture with "no" (of something), like "find the pictures with no clouds. It has been my experience, that students have difficulty distinguishing the negative. The often tune out the "no" and only hear the "clouds". This made for some discussion on the subject which was good, but could cause a problem during independent use.
  2. To repeat clue, users were expected to touch different areas (radio in level 1, Mr. Murphy in level 2 and the day on the calendar in level 3 ). I could see this being difficult for students to figure out. A central clue icon, whether that be Mr. Murphy, Bibi, or Poko would be helpful for users with special needs.
  3. I mentioned this with the Animals app too. It would be nice to have an option of how student is reinforced with sound or to not have a "incorrect" sound at all.

In conclusion, this app would be a great was to reinforce weather and seasons with students both individually and within a small group. Many basic languages concepts that most of my students work on (body parts, clothing, etc.) could be reinforced through using this app. Graphics are very engaging and the students seemed to really like the characters. This app is priced at $2.99. Decently price for an educational app that is different from any other I have come across.

Blog lesson #2: hope that the developer posts your comments to their website for you to retrieve them later! Thanks again, Marc and iLearnWith crew!

developer: iLearn With
website: http://www.ilearnwith.com/
itunes: i Lern With Poko: Season and Weather
category: Education
recently updated: May 4, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Solar System

photo from http://coolcosmos.ipac.caltech.edu/cosmic_kids/AskKids/planets_order.shtml

As we conclude this school year, I decided (with some convincing from a very adorable kindergartener) to do a unit on The Solar System. Nothing like telling him we are doing this theme and having him, look up at me and say "Awthum! Tank oo!" (Translation: "Awesome! Thank you!") Pretty cool. Not sure last time, if ever, a student thanked me for making him work.

Anyway, I thought I would post a few websites we will be using during out unit if you would like to try them at home.

Now, I'm off to do my research because I'm not sure the last time that I learned about The Solar System!


Astronomy for Kids

The Nine Planets

** Caution with this website, adult supervision required as content is not screened. All video clips used in class were pre-screened by me, prior to us watching in class. Do not let student utilize this site without adult supervision.