Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What's App-ening Wednesday: Skitch

When trying to decide which app to feature this week, I chose Skitch.  It is an app I have had on my iPad for a long time (well, 3 years without using something is a long time...), yet never really tried using.  A few weeks ago, while reading a blog post (sorry, I can't remember who wrote it, but if I do, I'll update to include a link), I was re-introduced to Skitch.

In case you don't know, Skitch is a photo enhancing app.  Not enhancing like blur your forehead wrinkles (which I have) or shave off 10 pounds (which I would love!), but enhance like add text, shapes, arrows, etc.  

I can't tell you how often people ask me (or email me) how to do something, and if I could only send them a picture with an arrow or a circle or a few words, I would have been a very happy camper.  Well, now, I am that happy camper!

Skitch has many options.  

Here are all of the different options to add to your pictures.  As you can see, you can add arrows, text, shapes, comment stickers (these include question marks and exclamation marks), smiley stickers, and a special feature that pixilates images!

Here is my sweet baby girl with her face pixilated;)  I have always wondered how bloggers pixilate images of students in class, and now I know! (or at least know 1 way to get it done!)

There are also a variety of pen colors and thicknesses!  If you know anything about me, you know I love a variety of pens:)

Here is a shot of all of the different features.  I love that you can quickly and easily point to things on an image, add text, or shapes to draw attention to things in a picture.  

It is truly an easy to use app.  It is also very intuitive (I love when that happens:)) and it saves your sketch to your picture roll on the iPad, or emails it to you.  

Have you ever used Skitch?  Is there another app that is better?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Google Drive - I didn't know it could do that!!!

Yesterday, while working on my Google Drive presentation for Friday, I noticed Google Drive Forms will allow you to embed a video (from YouTube) into your form, then add questions about the video below it!  WOWZA!  If anyone else is already doing this, kudos to you:)  Earlier this year, my school was visited by the creator of a website called Educannon, which allows you to insert questions into YouTube videos (the video literally stops and asks you to answer a questions before continuing).  This is a really cool concept, but it was difficult for my teachers to actually insert the questions exactly where they wanted the video to stop (plus, it was taking literally hours to complete just one video/quiz, and time is something teachers don't have an abundance of!).  So imagine my surprise and delight when I noticed you can add video to your Google Forms!  Here's how:

Open up your Google Drive (this can be done on your iPad app or on the computer, but I prefer the computer because it gives you more options).

 Create your form:

Click the Add Item button (click on the triangle to get to these options.  If you click just Add Item, it will default to the last thing you added) and choose video. 

Type in your topic into the search bar and browse through the videos.  You can view them before making your selection by clicking the play button (triangle) right on the video.

Give your video a title, add your questions, and enjoy!

I prefer to share my videos using a QR code.  I simply copy and paste the URL into goqr.me and it automatically generates a code.  Students can scan the code using an iPad or SmartPhone.  You could also link it to classroom websites so students could access for a 'flipped' learning experience.  The options are endless!  

I'm so excited about sharing this with the staff tomorrow!  I know they will be thrilled to learn a fairly easy way to differentiate instruction and allow students to move at their own pace.  Watching a video like this allows each individual student to have control over pausing, stopping and rewinding a movie so they get as much as possible out of it:)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Welcome Spring!

This is the time of year when everything outside is blooming, the grass is growing (and yes, allergy season is beginning).  I love the spring, but especially this year, since we had the worst.winter.ever!  I can't wait until it is warm enough to get the kids outside in the pool, and relax in the sunshine!

I'm also getting excited about next school year.  I'm already planning in my mind about how I would like to do PD for our staff at school.  I have learned this year that offering trainings on multiple technology related things (rather than making them mandatory) gets the staff that are interested in learning out.  The people that show up at optional trainings are there because they want to be there, not because they have been forced to show up.  This makes things much more fun, and you are better able to meet the needs of those who are there, because the group is [much] smaller and interested in what you have to say.

This year, I introduced App of the Month.  I really like it, and I think I will do a variation of it next year.  I really want to encourage our staff members to try something new, whether it is to grow their Personal Learning Network (PLN), try a new app, or visit a new website.  Technology is here to stay, and everyone needs to embrace it, because it is constantly changing.

Next year, I would like my staffers to play Technology TicTacToe.  

I've selected several different types of apps/websites, and I would like everyone to pick 3 (preferably in a row) to learn about.  I think there is enough variety that everyone would get to pick things they can really use in the classroom.  

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to talk about each app in depth.  Some I am already very comfortable using.  Others, I'm going to need to try out and spend time working with.  But that is my favorite part about my job.  Trying new things.  Learning about new apps.  I have always embraced technology, and now I just get paid to do what I have always loved doing.  Who wouldn't love that?

What is your favorite app of those above?