Monday, April 29, 2013

Tips from Our Readers: Screencasts and Annotating with ActivInspire

Today's topic comes to us from Patrick Lollis, music teacher at Cannon Elementary.

Patrick writes:
"Diane Norwood, the 4th grade math teacher here at Cannon, has been sharing ActivInpire tool ideas with me all year. I've used the screen capture tool to make instructional videos for my kids like this one:
Recently, I was complaining about the slow and uneven performance of the LightPen3 software, when Diane told me to try the Desktop Annotate tool in ActivInspire. It is a DREAM! The writing is instant and skip-free. The handwriting recognition tool is amazing as well. I can write in big loopy letters with the wand, and it is accurately transcribed by ActivInspire."

Tip about LightPen3- When using the Boxlight interactive projector with a Dell desktop computer running Windows XP, use the LightPen LITE  software rather than the LightPen3 software.

To learn more about ActivInspire, check out the resources available on our GCISD Training Wiki. 

Do you have a technology tip or resource up your sleeve that needs to be shared throughout the district? Complete the form here and your idea may be featured on our blog!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Tips from Our Readers: Hello World! Introducing Coding to your Students

The topic of this blog post was suggested by Jackie Baker, campus technician at Colleyville Middle School.

Coding or programming is a digital literacy skill that will allow students to manipulate and transform digital media. Have you ever wanted to make a change to your Schoolwires web page and been intimidated by that HTML tab? With just a basic knowledge of code and how it works, you could easily customize your web page. As we think about ways to offer our students opportunities to use critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity, coding is not to be overlooked.

Scratch is a free coding software for students age 8 - 16.
Watch this video to learn more about Scratch -
They have a support community for educators -

There are several free apps that are great for introducing programming to elementary and middle school students. These apps will allow you to enrich and extend while teaching logic and problem solving. 
Ages 5-7
Drag and drop arrow buttons to tell the fuzzball how to navigate the maze.

Daisy the Dinosaur
Make Daisy move while learning about objects, sequencing, loops and events by solving the challenges in this app.

Ages 8 - 12
Program your own games and apps by dragging color-coded method blocks to create a script.

HotPaw Basic Lite
Many of you who were in middle school in the 80s may remember learning BASIC programming. HotPaw Basic Lite is allows you to create very short Basic programs on the iPad.

To learn more about incorporating coding into your classroom, check out these resources:

Do you have a technology tip or resource up your sleeve that needs to be shared throughout the district?  Complete the form here and your idea may be featured on our blog!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tellagami - It's like Voki for the iPad!

Tellagami is a free app for creating 30 second talking avatars.  It's like Voki for the iPad!  First pick your character and customize it.  Backgrounds can be added from several presets, the camera or photo library.  Then record up to 30 seconds of audio or type up to 440 characters.  The completed "Gami" can be saved to the camera roll and emailed as a movie.

Ideas for Using in the Classroom:

  • Teachers- create short instructional videos or directions
  • Foreign language students- create short monologues
  • Students- create informational videos about a particular topic or skill

Note:  Be sure to check the Terms of Service.  Parent permission is required for students under the age of 13.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Light Pen 3 Software (Interactive Projectors)

Now that most of you have the new Boxlight Projector installed, you also have LightPen 3 software. LP3 allows control of your computer, through the whiteboard, using the pen or wand.

Light Pen 3 allows for full functionality of your computer when in Mouse Mode.  Utilize the pens to draw, write or highlight.  

Select the Whiteboard tool for a blank screen.  Insert your own backgrounds; save your created image; move/erase created objects; easily toggle between Whiteboard mode and your computer desktop.
 Please click the following link to access a short video explaining the tools, and quick starts about LP3.  You will be prompted to log in to Safari Montage. 

To learn more about using the Boxlight interactive projectors and LightPen software in your classroom, check out the resources available on our GCISD Training Wiki.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dinky Page

Need to create a quick webpage without having to login to your wiki or blog?  If your answer is yes, Dinky page is for you! 
  • Access the site at
  • Click "Create new webpage"
  • You can now enter your information.
  • Easily edit your page by bookmarking your URL and making changes whenever necessary.  
  • Your web page will NOT expire nor be deleted, ever.  (Make sure to read their terms of use.) 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Easy Chart (for iPhone)

I love this app because of the ease and simplicity. There are only a few buttons to learn! After downloading the app, tap ADD NEW CHART:

Enter the data into the provided columns
NOTE: Tap the home button in the top, left corner, tap the gear icon and select Sliders or Keyboard to determine which data entry tool you want to use. Keyboard is pictured below.

Experiment with the other buttons - the Chart Type, the Color Schemes, and the Share Options.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Haiku Deck

Haiku Deck is an iPad app that allows you to create beautiful presentations in which a photo and small amount of text are the focus.
  • Email address required to create account (NOTE:  Haiku Deck Terms of Service do NOT allow for students under 13 to create an account or use the service.)
  • Words per slide is limited allowing for critical thinking
  • Choose a photo from the iPad's camera roll, Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, Flickr, Picasa, or Google Drive if you have accounts with those services
  • Choose a Creative Commons licensed photo by searching from within the app using the keywords on your slide
  • Create charts and graphs
  • Share your deck on any device or embed it on a web site
Check out their gallery of the best decks of the week:

Follow Haiku Deck on Pinterest:

Student-created meme using Haiku Deck:

My Haiku Deck about our Beliefs of Instructional Technology

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Three Ring Website and App for Creating Student Portfolios

Three Ring Website:
Three Ring App:

Three Ring is an amazing free resource for creating and sharing digital portfolios of student work.  

Watch this short video to learn more about what is possible with Three Ring: 
(watch the video on YouTube if reading this blog post via email - ) 

To learn more about Three Ring check out the Learn More and FAQ sections of their website at and

Monday, April 8, 2013

App Shopper

Have you ever heard of a great free app but when you went to the App Store, it was no longer free?  App prices are changing constantly and many apps often go free for a limited time.  How can you be sure to catch a specific app when it's free?  It's AppShopper to the rescue!  AppShopper is a great website for tracking app prices. 

Start by creating a free account at

Then use the Search box to find apps.

Each app has a page with the full description and screenshots from the App Store.  Click the "Want it" box to add the app to your Wish List.

Once you've added apps to your Wish List, go to the Wish List tab at the top of the page and then scroll down to the Price Drop Notifications section.  Check the price drops box to have AppShopper send you an email any time one of your Wish List apps goes on sale or free.  Pretty cool, right!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Make Dice Lite

Make Dice Lite allows your iPad to become a set of digital dice. Along with standard dice, you can create your own by adding text or symbols to dice.  

To roll the dice, just shake the iPad, tap on a die or use the arrow icon located on bottom of screen. 
Roll the dice  
Customize dice
Add additional dice

With the free version, you can:
1. Add/Create up to 6 dice
2. Choose from 6 different colors
3. Change the background of the table to a different color or add a photo background
*An idea for using a photo background would be to add a photo of a particular landform. Students would then roll the dice to land on a number. They would then have to tell that number of facts about the landform showing as the background.  

For a quick tutorial, watch the video below, or click here if reading this post via email.

Classroom ideas for using Make Dice Lite:
1.  Add student names to determine who answers a question or what center to visit.
2. Customize dice with vocabulary, spelling, or site words to use in a sentence or story.
3. Type curriculum topic on dice such as Landforms, Forms of Gravity, Story Elements, etc.. When a die lands on that topic, the student must describe or explain it as it pertains to your directions. 
4. Using 3 customized dice, 2 with numbers and 1 with mathematical symbols such as +, -, x, students create and solve their own math problems.

What other ways can you think of to use this app with your students? 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Number Pieces Basic

Number Pieces Basic is a drawing app with place value manipulatives. Students can create models to represent numbers, count, regroup, add, subtract and label the parts.  Pieces can be joined or broken apart (10 ones joined to 1 ten).

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