Tag Archives: iPads

ReadNRespond App

The ReadNRespond App is one I found a few months ago.  This app covers Bloom’s Taxonomy in an interactive way.  Each of the 6 levels shown below (in my handmade bulletin board display) has 20 different prompts/questions.


Yes, that’s a sled in my classroom. Dee needed it for science.

For a few different selections we read, I assigned numbers as you can see in the photo.  Students worked in groups and worked their way down the list from Recall to Create.  For some of my students I just focused on the lower level prompts.


  • There are lots of unique prompts at various levels
  • It’s easy to differentiate and challenge students
  • Students think it’s fun and enjoy the activities.


  • It is very hard for them to go back and edit their work so I can’t offer much in corrective feedback.
  • Some students dislike typing on the iPad.
  • Checking their work is a little tricky to since we aren’t one-to-one.

I tried having them screen shot their answers so I could flip through the photos to check their work. Didn’t really work

The best way I can use this app is put the assignment up on the bulletin board, have them access the activities, and complete them on paper to turn in.

If nothing else, just check out the 120 leveled prompts. You might find something you can modify to suit your needs.

Mini-Epic Fails with Technology

In the classroom, I feel like I have been having a streak of bad luck.  Things are constantly going wrong.  Recently I think I even muttered the words, “I’m done using these iPads!” and “I hate technology!”

Neither of these statements is true, but for a teacher who relies on and incorporates technology into lessons on a daily basis, I have definitely been frustrated.

I am going to preface this by saying I do test the technology in various ways before each lesson to make sure everything is a go.

However, I have had several issues in the past weeks when it comes to technology.

First of all, my teacher workstation computer crashes constantly due to old age. I’m “due for a new computer NEXT year.” That’s great news and all, but we have over 100 days of school left. I can’t wait that long!! The tech department has already wiped my computer clean and I’ve started from scratch. It helped for about a week.

The two programs I use the most are unreliable. SMART Notebook crashes every single day.  I am constantly trying to recover the lost files. Chrome also has a tendency to crash at least twice a week.

My projector bulb is growing dimmer and dimmer by the day, but hasn’t blown yet. With a price tag of $300…I’m still waiting for it to die so they will replace it. Right now it is pointless to use my AppleTV because you can’t even see what’s projected on the board.

The next issue is a blessing and curse. (Isn’t all technology really?) The iPads are awesome  and I like to use them every single day, but there is always some catch. I have learned to run through my lessons every time I plan something new. However, there is always something I overlook or don’t realize. Especially if it requires the students to use their own accounts. Filters, privacy, logins….all issues I can’t always see coming.

Along those same lines, some of the apps are fussy too.  I was all excited to use Subtext a few weeks ago.  I really wanted to use the text-to-speech feature and have the kids tag their evidence to focus questions.  I set it up at home on my iPad and ran through it with Ian on a school-issued iPad.

Then I went to class….the students logged in with their student account to access the article and assignment.  And then they had to “Ask the teacher to upgrade to the Premium account to access the text-to-speech feature for students.”  Not once during my run-through did that important piece of information come up. Grrrrr……

My class has grown in size.  I had two new students enroll at the start of the nine weeks and now with 10 students and 6 iPads (plus my own), the almost one-to-one thing I had going is not possible.  This is a big adjustment for my original class.    As a class, we were definitely spoiled during the first nine weeks.

As someone who obviously loves technology and wants to incorporate it as much as possible in her teaching, I am not sure how to handle all of this aggravation. Is it worth it to plan lessons with technology? Am I relying on it too much?   Every day I feel like I am wasting my students time or not teaching the lesson effectively.  I sometimes think, “What if I was being observed?  How horrible would this look?” 

Like my dad (who just recently gave up his flip-phone) always says, “Technology is great…when it works.”

I don’t think my expectations are too high. I don’t think I am using “too much” technology. I don’t want to be limited or prevented from teaching like I want to teach.  I am not sure how to work around these issues. It’s almost become a running gag in my classroom, the kids noting my “epic fails.”  I try to laugh it off and act like it’s funny…how the computer is messing with me or how the SMART board is smarter than I am.  Inside, I’m not laughing.

What suggestions do you have?
How do you handle on-the-spot tech disasters?
Would my problems keep you from incorporating the technology?


We are finally wrapping up When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by the end of the day Tuesday.

Oh my goodness, does anyone else feel like novels can drag on forever?

This was actually the fastest I’ve gotten through a novel (5 weeks), but I am glad to be done and moving on.

I am also really excited for the activities I have planned for the next two weeks. Yesterday things just sort of fell in place as I was planning and I came up with not one, but TWO, weeks’ worth of plans with a variety of new activities. I love the idea of NEW ideas.

Things I have on tap that I am really anticipating:

In an effort to be current and real, we will be brainstorming, Instagram-style, on Schoology in an activity I am simply calling #zacharybeaver.  Ian and Dee loved practicing this activity the other day. (#guineapigs)

To differentiate and get kids engaged with the informational text unit, we will be trying out the .99¢ app called ReadNRespond.

To get everyone involved in discussion and control the conversation dominators, I am going to try a strategy called “Two Chips”. (I think it was originally  called “Three Chips,” but I only have 8 students in my class so I needed to adjust.)

To get a feel for my students’ use of Quizlet for studying, we will be using the quiz feature to assess vocabulary.

To push the writing (because, honestly, we don’t do enough) , I am going to try a book that I bought two weekends ago called “Writing Frames for the Interactive Whiteboard” by Scholastic. Based on the concept of modeling, I think this will help my students organize their thoughts and write structured, organized paragraphs for a variety of purposes.

To move away from Language worksheets (blech!), students will be using the Explain Everything app in groups to work on combining simple sentences.

To teach Theme and Author’s Purpose, I am going to use the lessons from my favorite Interactive Notebook collection.

To fulfill my SLO duties,  we will also be completing our pre-assessment for writing/language this week…not looking forward to that quite as much!

I know this is just a teaser post, so stop back soon to hear more about the things that interest you!


Eight days in and I am in love.

The iPads are amazing and my kids are amazing when they are using them.

I have my resource room the first two periods and it is a great way to start every day.

What exactly do I love?

They try harder.

They are more resourceful and better problem solvers.

They are more willing to participate, share, and discuss.

They are enjoying learning.

I found on the first day that all of my students have some experience with iPads, iPods, or iPhones. This helped tremendously in terms of basics.

So far in eight days:

  • We have used QR codes and I-nigma to locate Guinness World Record articles online for reading and summarizing. During this lesson, they were asking questions as they read (“How does she find clothes that small? How tall is that compared to us?”) and searching eagerly for answers. And I probably don’t have to tell you how excited I was when students asked to read additional articles they saw in the side bars.
  • We have used Educreations to practice typing, taking photos, and recording our voices. This was a pretty basic activity but it helped them learn how to use the app in preparation for bigger and better things.
  • We have used Notes to type some responses to the morning Bell Ringer (in lieu of journal writing). It seems like students hate to edit and erase on their papers, but on the iPads, it was a whole different game. I found I can easily raise the bar with some of my higher students and ask them to elaborate and do some more difficult editing. I primarily focus on spelling and sentence writing basics with the others.
  • We have used Tools4Students to complete a few graphic organizers (Compare/Contrast, Vocabulary Word, and Problem/Solution). Again, I asked the 8th graders to do a little more. The girls did some extra vocabulary on their own and I showed them how to switch between apps to use the dictionary.
  • We used Grammaropolis in my study hall to review nouns. Talk about motivation to get all your work done!

This week we are starting our novel, When Zachary Beaver Came to Town, and will be using Educreations quite a bit as we learn about the new characters.

I am really looking forward to getting the right cords to hook up my AppleTV so they can share their work with each other on the SMARTBoard.

I also need to find an analogy activity for study hall this week.

Another thing I want to figure out is a way to work on fluency and decoding. Something not too babyish for 7th graders. Ideas???

Oh, one more thing and probably the best part…..When I got my roster I had less students than I thought I would. I only have eight students right now and I have the six iPads from the grant and my own iPad. A few students have iPhones so we can be 1-to-1 most of the time depending on the activity. I was not expecting that and am so excited about the possibilities of 1-to-1!

Is anyone else just starting out with iPads this year? How’s it going? What do you love? What’s puzzling you? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Guinness World Records Lesson Plans

I spent a day last week creating what I will need for my Guinness World Record unit .

Activity #1 will kick things off and utilize the posters I purchased from Joann’s. This will be their first experience with the Educreations app. My primary focus of Part 1  will be taking photos with the camera, typing a sentence, and recording their voices.    Part 2 will be an individual writing activity where they will have to open and view a lesson in Educreations.

Activity #2 will focus on more academic skills while students summarize brief articles that can be found with QR codes.  Students will get experience with the i-nigma app to access the articles and they will have paper copies of the graphic organizer (shown below).  The PDF at the bottom of this post has the links and QR codes for 6 articles on the Guinness website.  I tried to choose stories that would be of interest to my students since I already know them.  You can create your own QR codes at http://www.kaywa.com
Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 1.35.14 PM Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 1.35.00 PM

Activity #3 will be informational text comprehension and I will use the leveled stories from the Guinness website.   Here are links to the selections written for Grades 3-6.  While students work on these independently (reading the article in iBooks) and I will be doing some writing with others.

Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 (These are all taken from the Guinness site)

Other files you may want or need:

Guinness Activity 1
Guinness Activity 2
Guinness Summary Chart

The Possibility of iPads Next Fall

This week I should find out if my friend and I are getting iPads for our Resource Rooms.

We wrote the grant over Spring Break and submitted it to our Tech Department the morning the email came out announcing it.

We quickly received a really nice email from the person in charge, thanking us for our application. But you know how the mind plays tricks on you….”Did she thank us for applying, but…..?” or “Did she really like our applications that much?”

One minute we are like, “We are so gonna get them!” and then we are like, “We better get them!” and then “We are never getting them.”

A few years ago, we wrote a grant together to get  a Senteo Response System (and we got it!).  The year before that, I wrote a grant for a SMARTBoard and document camera. (I was initially denied but then the special education department had some extra money.)

But iPads….they are a hot item right now. Everyone wants them. And there is only so much money in the budget…and we’ve already  received a grant. We can’t expect to get them all.

I think we had pretty valid points and I think we could do amazing things with 6 iPads.

I have the RR students 1st and 2nd period for Language Arts and then they go to RR Math during 3rd and 4th.  At the most, we will have 10 students on our roster.

Why do I think we should receive a grant?

Here are a few excerpts from our application:

-The addition of iPads will allow students in the resource room setting and the inclusion classroom to receive instruction which will be interactive, engaging, and individualized for their particular learning needs.  By combining tablet technology, students will be able to view instructional materials firsthand and in real-time.

-As we each teach multi-grade level resource rooms, it is important that we have the resources available to differentiate their instruction as their IEP calls for.  For example, reading levels this year range from non-reader to 7th grade.  In Math, students’ ability levels range from 1st grade to 6th grade.

-Incorporating iPads into the classroom will allow us to break students into appropriate groups for specific skills. While the teacher is working with one ability/grade level, the others will be directed to appropriate activities using the technology.  With so many apps and programs designed to keep record of student progress, this will allow us to receive immediate feedback and easily plan individualized instruction. Core Math, which is fully compatible with Common Core Standards, is able to track progress for 50 students.  Khan Academy would allow similar progress monitoring and prescriptive teaching.  DropBox will allow us to create individual folders for each student with appropriate reading selections and spelling activities.  Vocabulary and spelling skills can be individualized on Spelling City.

-This new technology will be especially beneficial as our math and language arts series are available online. As the instructors, we will be able to direct students’ attention to particular features of the text, highlight important details, and demonstrate strategies for improving reading comprehension and basic math skills.

-As inclusion teachers, we would be able to provide access to our other IEP students across the curriculum with the teachers we co-teach with. We could break the class into small groups and provide direct instruction in the general education classroom and then design activities for small groups on the iPads.

-One of the most exciting capabilities of this technology is that students will receive immediate feedback from apps and internet web site as to their progress.  With programs such as DropBox and Nearpod students can easily share their work with the teacher and their classmates.  Students working together in small groups will be able to brainstorm ideas, complete graphic organizers, develop a plan to solve a problem, or explain a process and then bring the team’s ideas to the attention of the teacher which will allow for corrective feedback.  Many students are motivated by this type of technology.   We are interested in the possibility of using the tablet and its technology to create a small-scale in-class version of a flipped classroom.  While some students are receiving direct instruction, others will be front-loaded with information on the next lesson.

Although we’ve only been out of school for a week, I will admit, I’m already in the planning stages for next fall.  A tiny part of me is holding out on the hope that iPad activities will fill one column of my lesson plans.  As I sit and create lessons for the first few stories, I keep asking myself, “How would this work on the iPad? What apps would work in place of this?”

And then I think….”If I don’t get the iPads…..”

If I don’t get them, I will regain three days of my summer vacation back, because anyone who receives a grant has to attend a 3 day training in either June or July.

I am ready to just find out either way.

Have you ever written a grant?

What was it for?

How did it change your classroom?

Share your story in the comments!

Apps with Friends: Language Arts

Continuing my “series” on great apps for the classroom….

Here are the top apps suggested by my friend who teaches 6th grade Language Arts:

1. Notability  It took me less than two weeks to become a huge fan. It was hard to get used to writing on the iPad, but I’m improving every day.

2. Educreations Students can record their voice in a whiteboard style video.

3. iTooch 6th grade Language Arts (They have this for different subjects and grades.)

4. Animoto I am interested in what this app can do, but don’t have the time to take it on right now. Seems like something Tweedle Dee can learn for me.

5. Grammar Up

The next two apps are great ways for students to create their own stories. Ian entertained himself with Toontastic during an hour meeting.

6. Puppet Pals
7. Toontastic

8. Pages A personal favorite even though it costs $9.99. I like this app on my iPad….not a fan on my MacBook Air though???

9. iMovie I am determined (in my free time???) to learn how to use iMovie in 2013.

10. Nearpod – The math teacher I work with, Captain Algebra, uses this in math class too.  “The Nearpod platform enables teachers to use their iPads to manage content on students’ iPads, iPhones or iPods. It combines presentation, collaboration, and real-time assessment tools into one integrated solution.”

11. QR Reader – I am still not quite sure how QR codes work.  Something else to add to my 2013 Technology Bucket List.

12. Prezi – Tweedle Dee learned how to use this in 7th grade science for a biome project. Some snowy afternoon I’m going to have her give me a lesson.

13. Sticky Notes – Virtual post-it notes!  I use a similar app called Infinote Pinboard which cost $2.99 but is a must for a traveling teacher like myself.  I keep all my notes for inclusion, as well as many To Do lists in this app.

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