Monday, April 25, 2016

TouchCast - Create Your Own News Show!

TouchCast is a free app that lets you create your own newscast... complete with picture in picture content and green screen effects.  Some ideas for using TouchCast to show learning in content areas:

There are many "vApps" that can be added to your news show.  

In my opinion, the most useful ones for elementary students to show their iPad work would be:
  • Web Page - to link to the student's blog post
  • Photo - to add picture from camera roll (PicCollage, Skitch, camera, math tool apps)
  • Video - (only available on iPad Airs and higher) to add video from camera roll (Tellagami, Chatterpix, Shadow Puppet Edu, 30Hands, iMovie)
  • Question - to add a quiz
  • List - list facts, top 10, etc.
  • Pull Quote - to share a quote from a book, famous person, etc.
  • Poll - it won't be interactive, but students could create a question to ask the audience.
A couple of cautions for using TouchCast with students:

  • Be sure they stay on the "Cast Side".  This is where they will create their projects.  Don't allow them to switch to the "Touch Side".  This is a gallery that has already created projects.  While most of them would not have inappropriate content, it's better to be safe than sorry and there's really no need for them to explore these.
  • When they create a new project, it's safest to choose the "Start from Scratch" option.  The others may look cool but there's a possibility of inappropriate information scrolling on the built in news tickers, etc.
  • Don't allow students to create a TouchCast account if they're under 13.  They can save their projects to their camera roll and upload to Google for sharing.  If it asks you to sign in when you start the app, just choose "Another Time".  Note: The TouchCast terms of service do say that under 13 students aren't allowed to use the service.  I've contacted the company directly and they have given us permission to use it with under 13's as long as they are supervised by their teacher and don't create an account.

Here's my step by step guide for getting started with TouchCast:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Google Keep

Technically, we've never talked about Google Keep, because it's new-ish (actually two years old)! But we have talked about other ways to keep track of To-Do Lists like this post from Vicki in 2012 about Evernote. A lot of people still use Evernote to write notes and to-do lists and it's still a great option. I'd argue that Evernote is more robust, but I am a digital simplistic person, and I like minimal applications to organize my life. 

Google Keep is a product from, you guessed it, Google. You can log in with your GCISD email to access it. In Keep you can:
  • Color code
  • Make To-Do lists (they call these notes)
  • Set Reminders
  • Make audio notes
  • Copy your note to Google Drive
  • Share a single note with a person or group of people without sharing all of them.
  • Add photos to your notes
This is what Keep looks like on the web: 

Setting a reminder:

Sharing with people:

Setting your note to have checkboxes:

A new feature in Keep is adding this Chrome Extension  to bookmark things you want to go back to into your Keep notes. This is similar to how Evernote works!

My favorite thing about Keep is that the iOS app for my phone looks exactly the same! So it easily syncs across devices and allows me to try not to lose track of things I need to get done.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Kid Rex and Safer Search Sites for Kids

I first blogged about KidRex in this post from May of 2013.  It's still a good resource for elementary students to use to search for information.  Now that all our elementary students are 1:1, it's more important than ever that we're teaching them how to search as safely as possible.  You'll never hear me call a search site "safe".  Even the most kid friendly of search sites are always going to just be "safer".  We still have to teach students how to use these sites appropriately.  

Some good "Information Literacy" lessons from Common Sense Media to use with your students are:

ABCs of Searching - how to find things alphabetically
Using Keywords - how to pick the right keywords to find the information you want
Things for Sale - learning what things on a page are advertisements and what is information

The Key to Keywords - how to pick the right keywords to find the information you want

This document contains links and QR codes to some of our recommended resources for elementary student searching.  

Another great resource is your campus librarian!  With MackinVia, librarians can create personalized group collections of appropriate sites and resources for your students to access all in one place.  

Recently there was a lot of publicity for a site called that (like KidRex) is powered by a custom Google search engine (neither is actually a product of Google).  I haven't added it to my list for 2 main reasons.  
  1. There are sometimes ads right on the search results page. They seem to be related to the search but my concern is whether or not they are always going to be appropriate. 
  2. The image search at the top might be filtered for content but I can't find anywhere that it says it's filtered for copyright.  Students need to know that they can't just use any image they find in Google.  Check out our list of recommended image search sites for kids for copyright friendly images.
If you choose to use with your students, please teach them about the possibility of ads on the search page and copyright issues regarding pictures found there.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Audio Recording

Over 3 years ago, Amy wrote about how easy it is to record audio via the vocaroo website on any web browser on a computer. It still is very easy! Check out that post if you want to learn more.

Another great audio recording option is Voice Record Pro on the iPad. Not only does it record easily, but once you hit "stop," it gives you the option to upload to Google Drive! Students can use this to record any kind of audio, for something different in your classroom. Have them make a podcast teaching something they've learned to a younger grade, or interviewing each other, or reading a story they wrote, or performing a dramatic reading! 

For middle school or high school using Chromebooks or Dell laptops, Beautiful Audio Editor is a great option for students to record and edit audio. Once exported, students can easily upload to Google Drive or post to their blog.

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