8 Indispensable iPad and iPod Apps for Elementary Education

Solar Walk: one of my 8 indispensable apps for education

Solar Walk: one of my 8 indispensable apps for education

If you’re like me, you might feel a little overwhelmed by the hundreds of apps you could be using your classroom. You might even feel guilty that you’re not up on the latest and greatest from the iTunes store. I sure felt this way, and then I realized that I already had over 150 apps on my school’s iPods and iPads… many of which I had rarely — if ever — used, and some of which just plain didn’t work.

So, in a bout of New Year’s cleaning, I culled through my collection and deleted everything that wasn’t worthy of my students’ time — or yours.

And here — drumroll, please — are all the apps that made the cut.

Not content to stop there, I whittled the list down further to just eight apps that would benefit almost all students in grades 2-4. Not passing fads, if these apps were physical books, I’d have to tape their spines to keep them from falling apart. I hope you find them as useful as I have. Continue reading

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Creating Google Presentations with Elementary Students

Today, I want to talk about one of the most powerful and versatile technologies to use with students: Google presentations. For anyone who just groaned and thought, “That’s all? Google’s version of PowerPoint?” don’t count me out yet! It’s true, Google presentations are a lot like PowerPoint or Keynote presentations.  Except, they allow for seamless collaboration and sharing between students, teachers, parents, and the rest of the world.

That power turns a simple technology — a digital slideshow — into a way for students to teach an engaged, authentic audience as they synthesize ideas, pursue independent studies, compare conclusions from experiments, jigsaw small group learning, and even publish e-books. Continue reading

Implementing an Independent Reading Choice System: Part 1


"Bear on a Unicycle" by Julius N. Santiago (www.bulius.com).

"Bear on a Unicycle" by Julius N. Santiago (www.bulius.com).

Sometimes, Reader’s Workshop makes me feel like a bear on a unicycle.

I’m pedaling and pedaling… trying to keep “balanced literacy” balanced, all the while worrying about reaching all of my kids’ needs.

And just look at the little guy’s giant head!  It’s just how I feel, always thinking and planning, sometimes even dreading how much work needs to be done.

And I know I’m not the only teacher who feels this way. Continue reading

Help Needed! A Choice System for Independent Reading

I was thinking about homework choice this morning, wishing there were more times during the school day when kids could set, work towards, and achieve their own goals as learners.

The problem was that I almost always make the choices for kids, whether it’s during math, writing, or just about any other subject.

If only there was a time in the day when kids had a lot of choice… when they’d benefit from setting goals… when they need to be held accountable for putting in effective effort and not pretending to read a book while really staring into space…

That was it!  Independent reading!  Duh!

Why didn’t I think of it before?  I could marry the homework choice system with independent reading time! Continue reading