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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chuck and Friends ~Review~

Chuck and Friends: Friends for the Long Haul
If your child loves his/her trucks, they will enjoy this story. This is a great interactive book that has over 70 pages allowing the user to listen to the story, play letter and word activities that are embedded in the story, and watch an occasional video segment. The story has a few reading options: READ TO ME - allows the user to listen to the story as the words are highlighted (which is an important element when I am considering interactive books for the iPad), READ THE BOOK -  allows users to read the text, or READ and RECORD - allows the user to record own voice for the book, then hear it played back. I think this was my favorite part. My husband I recorded our voices (he was the narrator and I was Chuck's mom, of course) and we surprised out kids with it while on vacation. They loved it too! I also liked that the book offered a "how to play" section (with the option for directions to be read aloud) so that parents/teachers how know what to expect so they could guide the user with when problems arose. This section also gives info about how to complete the "Read and Record" section.
Chuck and Friends takes the reader through a journey with Chuck and his friends. It has a great lesson about team work and always telling the truth. The embedded activities are pretty much errorless or trial and error so all users can feel successful. The embedded activities involve "cleaning" the screen to reveal letters with the letters revealed in the correct spelling sequence and matching activities that reveal letters (again revealed in spelling order). At the end of the story, words/pictures can be used to create your own rebus story. Just an FYI, there is a way to skip the interactive activities. If needed, click on the forward arrow versus swiping page.

Additional IEP applications
This book could be used to develop many skills. It would be a great book to use as an introduction to the iPad since it colorful, has nice sound, and trucks are high interested (at least in my classroom and house). With this app, you could work on isolating the finger while going the swipe to turn page, "cleaning screen", matching letter and words, as well as pointing to pictures within the story. Chuck and Friends would also be great way to work on picture identification (where is the red truck?) as well as all the WH- questions. The only downfall I see is that my students would like it "too" much and a 70 page book might take us all day. :-) In that case, I would start with the LITE version and see how it goes. Then it might only take half the day!

I have not used this with my students, just my own kids. As I explored Chuck and Friends, here are a few things that I noticed were missing that I thougth would be helpful as a special education teacher and using this app within the classroom.
  1. In the Read to Me section, I couldn't figure out a way to "re-read" page besides going forward a page and then back.
  2. As far I explored, there was not an opportunity for the user to interact with Chuck. Maybe have one activity where the user could interact with Chuck, like maybe have user drive him though a track?
  3. At the end of the story, the user can create a fun rebus story, it would be nice to have to pictures stay in the story versus changing to words when the story is read.
  4. Again, with the story at the end, it would be great to have a way to "rewrite" story so if reading the story as a group, more than one student could complete the rebus story without restarting the app. Also, as a teacher, I would like the option to email the completed story so that we could do extension activities with the story.

In conclusion, Chuck and Friends is a great addition to the interactive book collection that I have acquired on my iPad. My own children love it, especially my 3 year old boy, but my almost 6 year old chooses that app too! This was the first book on an iPad in which I attempted to record my voice . It was easy once I was past the nervousness of reading and having to hear my own voice. Between the story, embedded activities, and the ability to personalize it with your own voice, the app is one to definitely add to your collection! ($3.99 price as of review date!)

I have included a brief video of Chuck and Friends. It is a bit more "commercial" than I would like, but it shows some nice screenshots and overview of some of the activities.

Video from YouTube, Ruckus Media Group

developer: Ruckus Media Group
category: Books
recently updated:June 24, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Using MultiTouch Therapy to Reach Children with Austim (from WSJ.com)

This is an interesting video about the use of multitouch therapy with children with Autism. Pretty cool that the Wall Street Journal is taking notice of this learning tool.
Thanks for sharing the video, Jeremy!

Thanks to Jenn (member of one of my facebook groups) for sharing this link to the games!


Friday, July 22, 2011

iTech conference

For those of you in the tri-state area (of Cincinnati), there will be a iTech conference at Redwood in Northern Kentucky. It will be similar to the iLearn conference from April, but only a half day. It will take place on Saturday, August 27, 2011 from 9:00-12:30. I will be discussing using iDevices for academic/classroom support. Click here for registration. See below for details...

graphic from http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=ikji9feab&oeidk=a07e4cgn1d60c8ea46a

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Adapting worksheets to be used on the iPad

I have had some dialogue, well virtual dialogue anyway, regarding using the iPad to complete worksheets that would usually be completed with paper and pencil. No only is a "green" way of completing worksheets, the added novelty of completing the work on an iPad doesn't hurt either.

With that said, I tried my best to give directions for doing this: turning paper worksheets into pdf files to be used on the iPad. There are a couple of ways I have found you can turn a regular paper worksheet into an activity you can complete on the iPad. I use a printer that will scanner and email document as a pdf file my iPad 1, and an app called pdf notes-free. (Yes, it is a free app download and definitely worth the money. )  I’m sure there are other ways this can be done, probably easier ways. Since this way worked for me, I continued to use it. If you have a different way or an easier way, please share.

  1. Find a worksheet that you would like to use. If you have a paper copy, you can run it through a scanner or printer and save in pdf format. If you find a worksheet online, most are viewed as pdf files already so just click save to save to your computer.

  1. Once the worksheet is a pdf file, email it and open it on the iPad. Once open on iPad, go to the box with the arrow and tap open with pdf notes-free. Once it opens in pdf notes, you will be able to write on it, erase it, email blank copy or email completed paper. (**I think this is an awesome feature for gathering student work samples.**) Some resizing may be needed. Pinch and swipe work well with this app so you can enlarge words or pictures if needed and to navigate from page to page, if you pdf file is more than one page.
Another option is to use Microsoft word or Google Docs (I’m sure other word processing programs do the same, these are what I am familiar with) and create your own worksheet. When creating your own worksheet, consider using symbols or pictures that are familiar to the child. I have used Mayer-Johnson Boardmaker Symbols to create a few. I prefer PPT because you can move the objects (pictures, words) around more easily; however, it will take some creativity to get the page to go vertically since PPT is more of horizontal format.

  1. Use Microsoft word  or Google Docs to create a worksheet working on a target skill. Once the page(s) is complete, go to save as, then to PDF or XPS. This will allow to save the document/worksheet you created as a pdf.
  2. Then follow step 2 from above to email and open document in pdf free notes.
When I used this in my classroom, I printed out a paper copy of my smartboard language lesson and scanned/emailed it to myself. When I opened it on iPad and in pdf notes, the student was able to follow along with the lesson, complete the activities by writing the answers while class completed on smartboard. I also used it for practicing pre-writing skills and for writing name. I created pdf documents for these as well. I see this as being a great tool for students to complete work as well as a “green” way to create adapted work.  For students who are reluctant writers, use of the iPad might just be motivation enough to complete work.

I have included a few websites that offer free worksheets that can be saved as pdf files. 
education.com ~ this site opens in adobe reader so just click on disk icon to save, it asks you to join group, but I was able to click out of that and still access site and worksheets
Super Teacher Worksheets ~ this site opens in adobe reader so just click on disk icon to save
The Teacher's Corner ~ this site opens worksheets in a separate website, might need to print, scan, email to get these
Kaboose ~ this site opens in adobe reader so just click on disk icon to save, this site does make you click through several pages to eventually get to the printable so it may not be the most time effective

If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I will try an answer it the best I can. Also, if you found this helpful, I would love to hear from you as well. Just wanted to mention again, I consider myself a "techie", but a newbie techie. I am willing to try new things, but am still working out bumps along the way. Please share any tech tips with me as well.


List of apps by category

Posted from Diigo.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Exciting day for the Bugle!

I woke up this morning to a pretty sweet "tweet".

@TheBooksource chose this blog as their "blog of the day, thanks to the previous post #schooldidagoodthing.

Thanks @TheBookscore! You made my "Tuesday"! It's very exciting to know that my blog is being read by such a wide variety of people.

If there are any topics you would like to have me discuss or post information about, leave a comment and I'll do my best bring you the information!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

#schooldidagoodthing....an inspiring twitter hashtag

from: http://www.digmo.co.uk/photo/free-creative-commons-photos-for-education/

So I have been in "twitter-land" for about 3 months now and I have learned a few things:
  1. Twitter is a wealth of information...I mean a WEALTH of information. You can find websites, blogs, individuals, companies.....on almost any topic you can think of.
  2. Twitter can introduce you to professionals, parents, pre-service teachers, etc. You find people from all over the world (hence the social network term) who have similar interests and who are willing to share information! Yes, you have to watch out for the "spam" people (usually a dead giveaway when you get a message from someone who has no followers, doesn't follow anyone and have zero tweets), but most of the "tweeps" out here generally want to be informative.
  3. Having a spouse or friend with a twitter account can induce some competition about who has more followers. For the record, I have more than my hubby! (@chiefanbittydad if you want to tweet about sports, especially Reds baseball and University of Cincinnati football!)
  4. Within one day, I Diigo bookmark at least 3 websites that will benefit my students.
  5. I have a virtual PLN (professional learning network) of over 100 amazing educators who are willing to share with me each day. I hope that I am 1/10 as helpful to my followers. I look forward to being a resource for my new face-to-face PLN this school year.
    With all that said (yes, I'm getting to the point that ties into the title of this blog post), a hashtag was started by @thenerdyteacher (remember the post title? Here is a link to his original post and he came up with the idea: The Nerdy Teacher: #schooldidagoodthing). @thenerdyteacher wanted his "tweeps" to post comments about something good school had done for them. I saw a few posts here and there. He retweeted a couple. I added my "less than 140 characters tweet" then I walked away from the computer for a while. When I came back, I was shocked to see the amount of tweets with this hashtag. Strangers all sharing what school had done for them. In a time where schools, especially public schools, get a bad rap, I was inspired to see all comments. Strangers telling what school (teacher, coach, principal, etc.) did for them, how it helped them, how it made them a better person.

    For those of you who may be struggling with choosing teaching as a profession. For those of you starting college who are unsure if education is your calling. For those of you who struggle with the negative views schools sometimes get. I challenge you to read a few of these tweets (I have included a few here), go to twitter and search #schooldidagoodthing and get INSPIRED!

    @teachwtechbrox: When a jr high teacher taught me "you must study for life, not the test!" and I still follow that philosophy today! #schooldidagoodthing
    @ThePaperGrader: Notice that no one on #schooldidagoodthing says the test score was important. We don't remember the grade, we remember the relationship.

    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    ABC Numbers ~Review~

    ABC Numbers
    This app is from Punflay. I would consider it a baby/toddler app. It incorporates music with basic letter and number identification. It is set up to look similar to a few commercial baby/toddler toys that I know my kids had when they were little. The numbers section gives a simple visual representation of the numbers up to 10. Users can choose colors displayed and pictures that light up (fish, flower, bird). Users can activate pictures and app counts for them OR they can choose number an appropriate number of pictures light up. This section has a music option, playing 3 different songs. The ABC section displays a ABC wheel. The user "spins" or moves the wheel to a letter of his choice, a picture starting with that letter appears along with a traceable space to practice tracing letters. A singing star, activated by "pulling a string" sings ABC song. The song is very good quality and pleasant to listen to unlike some other apps I have encountered.

    Additional IEP applications
    Since the app is quite basic, I think it would most appropriately be used with students to work on cause/effect who need a developmentally appropriate activity, but want to use a more age appropriate tool (such as an iPad). This app could be an effective tool for students who need to work on developing the correct finger motions to activate the iPad with the various areas that need single touch or swipe to activate app.
    The app is very simple and easy to use.
    My only suggestion:
    1. In ABC section, it would be nice if when picture is touched, the app would say the sound, word and/or sentence about the picture.
    For future, I would like to see a more age appropriate app (maybe 5-7 y/o) that would work on same basic finger motions needed for iPad use, maybe with more popular music or pictures that were more age appropriate (sports pictures, environmental words, etc.)

    In conclusion, this app mirrors similar baby/toddler toys that are commercially available. In this case, I would go with the real toys versus the virtual ones. If you want an app to use in one of those "entertain" the baby times, then this app would be ok to have on hand if you don't mind the $1.99 price tag. Due to the developmental level of the app (baby/toddler), this app would be best suited to use within resource and therapy room versus within the general education classroom (when working with school aged students).

    itunes: ABC Numbers
    category: education
    Released: Aug 20, 2010

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    i Learn With Poko: Addition ~Review~

    i Learn With Poko: Addition
    This recently released app is another app from iLearnWith/TribalNova, same developers as iLearnWith Poko: season and weather and The Mighty Jungle: Animals.The set up of the app is very similar to Poko weather so my kids (ages 5 and 3) had no problems opening the app and getting started. ILW Poko: Addition consists of 3 levels, each level adjusts to the level of the user. Level 1 is a simple bowling activity introducing combining sets and number recognition up to 6. Poko and his friend throw ball and knock down pins. Users touch and count pins that were knocked down, then choose the correct number. Level 2 continues the combination of sets. If user is able to count 2 sets of blocks, it increases to three sets. With Levels 1 and 2, no addition symbols are used so the user is focused on grouping/counting the ideas NOT focused on the + or =. A great feature for the beginning mathematician! Level 3 adds the visuals of the addition symbol and equals sign. The user needs to help Poko clean up his toys by clicking on items he asks for. Once items are chosen, they move under the number sentence and corresponding number. The user is then asked to add the items together and choose correct number. If the user continues to get answers correct, the difficulty in this level increase to combining 3 sets (i.e., 3+2+4=__). Within each level, an "award" is given with the completion of a set number problems.The "reward" was a huge hit with my 5 y/o. A bonus for this app is that the users are able to touch the screen while counting items without disrupting the activity.

    *This app got a thumbs up approval from both my 5 and 3 y/o so that is always a good sign!

    Additional IEP applications
    Poko: Addition has several IEP applications. Level 1 would be great to use when teaching and reinforcing 1-1 correspondence skills as well as number recognition. Level 2 could be easily incorporated into goals relating to 1-1 correspondence skills, combining sets up to 3 groups, and number recognition. Level 3 would be perfect for students who have mastered 1-1 correspondence and need to work on grouping sets and seeing the connection with the numbers and symbols.

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Song of the day...

    OK, so do you think we talk about the iPad, APPS and app reviews in our house a little too much...

    Sung to the tune of Frère Jacques:

    "Let's play apps, let's play apps,
    let's play apps, let's play apps,
    come on play apps, come on play apps,
    let's play apps, let's play apps."

    ~ composed by my 5 y/o daughter, going to have to get a video of this one!


    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    + me? Circle me? Getting to know Google+

    With all the recent hype about Google+, my curiosity could not wait to get an invite to join! Waiting, waiting, waiting....then, it finally happened. I received 2 invitations within minutes of each other. (Thank you Jeremy and Kristen!) With excitement, I signed on (at about 12:45 am EST) and was immediately overwhelmed: What to do? Where to go? Who to circle? For that matter, what was a circle? Who goes in my circle and once they are there, what does than mean?!?!

    Here are a few of the recent resources about Google+ that have come across my twitter or facebook feeds. (Thanks to all the great people I follow who are so willing to share this info!) If you are new to Google+, like me, these should help you being to navigate this new networking tool. I know I'm still struggling!

    So, if you decide to join Google+, be sure to look me up and "circle me".





    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    Looking for some fun activities??

    If you are looking for some fun activities to do with your kids, check out this site.  If gives ideas for simple sensory activities that can be done almost anywhere and in any space. Great for home, classroom, or almost anywhere kids need a sensory break. And we know that ALL kids need a sensory break sometime!

    Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    Don't Leave Your device in the sun/heat!!!

    Read this post from Lillie's Pad about leaving iPad's in the heat! (I'm pretty sure that goes for any electronic device, such as iPod, cell phones, talkers. Extreme temperatures can harm electronic devices and limit the performance!)

    Please take good care of all of your electronic devices and do NOT leave those devices (talkers, iPads, camera, etc.) in the car!


    Stay cool my friends!


    Free APP

    I received an email from HarperCollins announcing a new free app companion to WARRIORS, the cat adventure fantasy series from author Erin Hunter. The WARRIORS app is currently listed on Apple's New and Noteworthy section in the App Store. The app includes facts about cats and clans, information on how to download WARRIORS ebooks, plus WARRIOR trivia. 

    I am not familiar with the WARRIORS series, but if I was or if I had a big cat lover in the house, I think this app would be a nice addition to my app collection.....and it's FREE! I have not previewed this app as of this post, but I look forward to checking it out!

    Click here for WARRIORS app in the itunes store.

    ~ Melanie

    Tuesday, July 5, 2011

    Survey says....

    I am creating a presentation about using iPads/apps within the classroom. I would like to get some (VERY INFORMAL) data on what you think are important characteristics of various apps or what is the first thing you think of for a specific type of app. 

    If you have a few minutes, please fill out this survey and submit. Once the answers are collected, I will be creating visuals to use within my presentation. By no means is this scientific...I just wanted a chance to get information for my presentation and officially use Google forms for the first time! 

    **update** survey will be available until July 11th**

    Thank you for your time! 


    This is a great resource for parents and teachers. ReadWriteThink offers lesson plan ideas, student interaction ideas, professional development as well as as a whole section of parent and after school resources. It is sponsored by International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English.

    Posted from Diigo.

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    Great resources for iOS and non-iOS users

    Looking  for some great resources for your iDevice?
    Looking for some great resources to use on your home computer?

    Check out this website.
    Posted from Diigo.
    **I just started a diigo account and this is my trial of quickly sharing all the awesome resources I have gathered.**

    Happy 4th of July!

    Just a quick post. I'm still trying to get on track after returning from vacation, catching up with some "tech" things, and now preparing for some out-of-town visitors.

    I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful holiday! And may you enjoy time with family and friends!

    Thanks to my daughter (age 5) for creating a great 4th of July hair-do, thanks to toca boca Hair Salon app.

    For my students, here is a message from Ms. Weathers: 
    "Did your Evendale student receive their "Reading Challenge" in the mail from Principal Weathers? If not, be looking for it on Tuesday and keep reading this summer!"

    If you need any idea for books, please let me know. Also reminder that the school email and website has changed as of July 1, 2011. My school email is now: mbroxterman@princetonschools.net AND the disctrict website is now: http://www.princetonschools.net/. Please make sure you change these in your address book and browser bookmarks/favorites.

    Lastly, here are a few 4th of July related apps you might be interested in. I have not tried all these so not sure of the quality. Sorry I didn't post them sooner.

    4th of July - Auracle: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/4th-of-july-auracle/id446275675?mt=8

    Fireworks 123: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fireworks-123/id442807770?mt=8
    description from iTunes: Fireworks 123 is an interactive “cause and effect” app designed to support the development of early literacy skills and the comprehension of descriptive concepts such as number, size, and color in a fun and entertaining way.

    i See-quence Firworks: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/i-see-quence-fireworks/id440977983?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4
    description from iTunes: i See-quence… Fireworks is an application providing a picture story for individuals that need support in understanding the process of watching fireworks. Personal photos can be added by the user with a camera ready Apple device or imported from the user’s photo album.