Thursday, March 31, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Toontastic!

Toontastic is another one of those apps we used "way back when" that was free (with paid add-on packs) but went to an all paid model and is now back to free... ALL free.  Google bought the company awhile ago and now EVERY "playset" and feature that used to cost money is FREE.  

Students can create cartoons with scenes.  It defaults to 5 scenes but you can delete the ones you don't need or you can add more if necessary.  Each one has a category (setup, conflict, challenge, etc.) to guide a full story but the individual scenes can be whatever you want them to be... they're all the same.

The first time students go through the app, you'll want the sound to be on (with headphones probably!) because it walks students step by step through the process of creating their cartoon.  There are all kinds of background scenes to choose from... great for stories about community, animal habitats, biomes or even the signing of the Declaration of Independence!  Students can also use their own drawings or pictures from their camera roll as a background.

After selecting a scene, students pick their characters ("toys").  Again there are tons to choose from in a variety of categories.  There are even some famous people like George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Susan B. Anthony.  Just like the background, they can create their own characters from drawings.

Once the scene is set and characters are picked, students record their voice acting out their cartoon.  This is where the content comes in.  Students can create an animation for an original story they've written but it doesn't stop there.  Just like with Scribble Press, Toontastic can be used to create non-fiction videos for all subject areas.  Here's some ideas I shared in a blog post back in October of 2013 (

  • Math- Explain the steps used to solve a problem or explain a concept such as rounding or estimating
  • Science- Create a story explaining the 3 forms of matter or the water cycle (or any other science topic!), document a lab experiment by telling the hypothesis and results; create lab safety videos
  • SS- Create a story using characters to represent two or more historical figures and have them discuss or debate an historical topic relevant to their era.
  • ELA- Create stories to present various grammar topics in a conversation or to demonstrate sentence types; retell a story; book reviews; show their knowledge of literary elements
  • Foreign Language- Students can create a story with a two way conversation to practice asking/answering questions in a new language.
  • Other- Create PSAs on bullying, Red Ribbon Week or Internet Safety

Final products can be saved to the camera roll and uploaded to Google Drive.

Check out this blog post from our very own Irene Boynton, 1st grade teacher at Cannon Elementary.  Her students recently used Toontastic to share their learning about animal characteristics. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Shadow Puppet Edu

Shadow Puppet Edu is an app that Amy blogged about back in July of 2014 and has since entered into our top 10 recommended apps for using in a classroom. We always jokingly (but truthfully) tell people, "It has nothing to do with shadows OR puppets." I consider it a more robust and user friendly version of 30 Hands, with more functionality. It has nice, big buttons so it's easier to use for a kindergarten or 1st grade student than something like iMovie, 30 Hands, or Doceri. It is a great way for students to create videos simply, and talk about their learning.

Shadow Puppet offers the ability to:
  • Add photo, video, and slide pages
  • Record voiceover narration, add music, or both 
  • Record voiceover as you flip through your photos
  • Choose a background song or a song from iTunes library
  • Add text titles 
  • Choose font, color, size, position, and animation 
  • Draw on screen and interact with your images as you record 
  • Draw with pointer tools
  • Zoom in/out, pan, swipe between images 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Global Project - Awesome Squiggles K12 Collaborative Art Project

The Awesome Squiggles K12 Collaborative Art Project looks like an easy (and fun!) way for students to practice being Global Citizens (a GCISD Portrait of a Graduate trait!)  The objectives as stated on the project's website are to:

  • Build friendships among students from diverse backgrounds
  • Practice speaking and listening skills with audiences of different perspectives
  • Empower students to share their creativity with the world
When you sign up, you get to choose how involved you want to be with the project.  There is a level 1 with social sharing only and a level 2 with class to class collaboration. Step by step instructions can be found here:

Registration closes this Friday, March 25th so be sure to get signed up now!

Friday, March 11, 2016

QR Codes, Sharing and YouTube

QR Codes, Sharing and YouTube

Sharing a YouTube Video Using a Link

1. When sharing a YouTube video using a link, the full link must be used. This is the link found in the address bar on the browser. 

2. To make a QR code of a YouTube video, the video must be visible to students (it must be unblocked first. See blog post on Unblocking a YouTube video) and the full URL of the video must be used. The shortened URL will not work. 

QR Codes with YouTube 

QR reader apps redirect YouTube videos to an unrestricted level of YouTube instead of the restricted education configuration in GCISD. They therefore won’t work on our district network. The QR codes will work fine for any device not on our network. 

To correct this issue GCISD: 

1. Log into YouTube from within the QR reader being used. Though you may already be logged into Google on that device, once you scan a code you don’t actually go to YouTube. The video is viewed from within the actual scan app so the scan app is where you’ll need to log in. 

2. When you scan the code with an iPad on our
district network, you will get a restriction error. After a few seconds, the error will be
gone and there will be a place to log in.

3. Log in with your GCISD Google account. Quit the app and restart. This should have to be done only once for each scanning app. 

GCISD YouTube Settings

Tips and Settings When Using YouTube in the Classroom

**When using YouTube for GCISD business,
use only your GCISD Google login and your GCISD YouTube channel**
  • GCISD student YouTube accounts remain filtered at the current GCISD restriction level.
  • As a classroom teacher, please use your GCISD teacher account.
  • Check that all videos shown in class are appropriate and are within the guidelines of the campus policy. 
  • If you intend for your students to watch a video on their student devices, please verify that the video is unblocked for students to watch from their GCISD student accounts.
  • Using a computer and a browser, default upload settings can be set in advance for your channel using the Video Manager in YouTube. The default channel upload settings apply only to videos you upload from a browser on a computer (laptop, desktop). In addition, the settings for each individual video can be changed.
    • Privacy: Unlisted 
    • Category: Education 
    • Comments and Ratings: Turned OFF (uncheck the boxes) 
    • Video Statistics: Turned OFF (uncheck the box)
  • When using a device (such as an iPhone, iPad, tablet), the settings for each video must be set when uploading.
Procedure for Unblocking a Video:
  • Enter an Eduphoria work order 48 hours prior to needing student access to a blocked video. After this, allow 24 hours for the video to be visible to students
  • When viewing a video for classroom consideration, look at the first page of comments. If there is an inappropriate comment on that page, the video will not be unblocked for students. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Scribble Press Deluxe - Creative Book Maker for Kids

Scribble Press Deluxe

Elementary teachers may remember the Scribble Press app from the first days of iPads in GCISD back in 2011.  It was originally free but went to a paid model in 2012.  Last November they released an all new updated version of the app and it is currently free!  All elementary students should now be able to go to the Purchased section of their App Store and load the new Scribble Press Deluxe - Creative Book Maker for Kids on their iPad.  

Scribble Press Deluxe is a great app that students can use to create books but it's not just for stories!  Here's some ideas for using Scribble Press in all content areas:
  • Math - Use as a math journal throughout the year to illustrate and explain concepts.
  • Science - Create a book to explain a science experiment. Use pictures from the actual lab to illustrate. Create books to explain a topic to younger students.
  • SS - Create biographies of famous Americans. Create books about important events in history.
  • ELA - Create books with illustrations of student's original stories. Create a collection of poetry.   
Students can start with a blank book or a template.

When students select the blank book, they can add multiple pages with the + sign at the top. On each page, students have options to type, write, draw, add images from the camera roll, record their voice, or add background music.   


Students can also insert premade backgrounds from a variety of themes. 

Completed books can be saved to the camera roll as a video (the best way... so that it's all together) or as a photo (makes each page its own image). 

Check out Scribble Press Deluxe today and let us know what you think in the comments!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Throwback Thursday/Tips from our Readers: EDpuzzle

Today's blog comes from Lu Adkins, 6th grade STEM math teacher at GMS. is a free web based tool, much like Blendspace, that will allow you to take a YouTube or other video and include audio notes and questions for your student to answer. It also will allow you to crop the video to what length or portion you desire. 

The greatness about EDpuzzle is that it links directly with Google Classroom. You can import your classes from Google Classroom and assign the videos directly from EDpuzzle to your classes or provide a link for your students. It's great if you are out for a day.  Your students can still be provided with content with your voice overs guiding them on the videos. I do a "flipped" classroom and this is one of the programs I am use currently. 

To learn more about all the features in EDpuzzle, check out Angie's blog post here:

Do you have something to share?  Fill out the "Tips from our Readers" form and maybe you'll be selected as our next guest blogger!
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