Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What I Want to Be for Halloween

Today in Mrs. Bishop's kindergarten we began a class ebook about what the kids are planning to be for Halloween.  The apps we planned to use were Book Creator and Draw with Us, but we also ended up using Seesaw and students were able to post to their learning journals.

Draw with Us
 is a really fun drawing app!  It includes drawing tools, as well as a huge variety of fun stickers to help embellish students' drawings, and use for math story problems, etc.  Students can also upload items from their camera roll, or take photos to insert into their drawings.

In Mrs. Bishop's class, we used the Draw with Us app to illustrate their Halloween costumes.   They added a selfie of just their faces, then drew in the details of their costumes.  The students then saved them to their camera rolls, to insert into Book Creator.  They turned out so cute!

Next, we added the students' drawings to Book Creator, to make into a class ebook.  They each opened the Book Creator app and started a new book.  Once they choose to start a new book, they are given a layout option.  It can be portrait, square, landscape, or in a comic grid.  THIS IS IMPORTANT: If you're planning to combine the books into one class book, they all need to choose the same page orientation.  The book won't go together if the pages aren't oriented the same.

Students added their drawings and then wrote their names and the name of their Halloween costume using the pen tool in Book Creator.  Students have the option to add text, record their voice, and format the pages.  However, we didn't use any of these tools today, as it was the first time they used this app.  Then, using the sharing button, we were able to AirDrop each of the students' books onto the teacher iPad.  We shared the books as an epub file, so that we could re-open in Book Creator and edit together.  You can see below that you also have the option to share directly into students' learning journals by clicking on Seesaw.  In order to share here, you would need to share as a video or pdf file.
From the AirDrop menu, we chose the teacher iPad and sent it there quickly and easily.  On Mrs. Bishop's iPad, her screen looked like this:
 We clicked "Accept" and then she saw this screen:
Because we exported as an epub file, we needed to tell the iPad where to open the file.  If the book was finished and we just wanted to read it, we would open in iBooks.  Since we wanted to continue editing the book, we chose to open in Book Creator.  We did this on each iPad (only took about 10 minutes).  Once in Book Creator, Mrs. Bishop created a new book and designed the cover for the class book.  Her next step was to choose "combine books", and put all of the student books together into one book (using the one she created as the cover).  We did this step in about 10 minutes, as well.

I loved this project because: 1) it was fun and the kids were really creative with their costumes, 2) they were able to share onto Seesaw, and 3) the finished book can then be AirDropped back to the student iPads and opened in their iBooks, so each student will have a copy to read on their iPads. This.  Is.  So.  Cool!!!

Book Creator is one of my absolute favorite tools and I would love, love, love to share it with you and your students.  If you're interested and want help, book me!

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Seesaw Example: Pumpkin Life Cycle

Super cute example of using the Seesaw video feature to record student learning in first grade.  Thanks for sharing, Mrs. Peel!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

MEA 2015 iPad Presentation UPDATED (K-2 Math Apps Link Fixed)

App Smashing in 2nd Grade!

Mrs. Scheafer invited me into her class to help with a project, and it turned out so great, I wanted to share it with you all!  In Lead 21, her students are studying science in the community.  During this unit, they have been discussing where science can be discovered in the community, as well as where to find resources, such as pictures.  Students had access to their differentiated readers, as well as books from the library that are relevant to the topic.

When I came in, we created collages of science in the community using the free app Pic Collage (there is also a version called Pic Kids).  I showed the students how to use Pic Collage to take a photo of science from one of their books and add it to their collage.  I also showed them how to use the app Doodle Buddy to draw a relevant picture, save it to their camera, and upload to their Pic Collage. Students were asked to add at least three pictures (photos or drawings) and one piece of text explaining science in the community, as well as add their names.

Pic Collage is a fun app to use for this purpose, because students can easily add the photos or drawings, but they can also personalize their collages using fun fonts, backgrounds and colors.  This helped motivate and engage the students, and make each of their collages fun and unique.

When the students were finished creating their Pic Collages, they saved them to the camera rolls of their iPads and uploaded to their Seesaw digital journals using the "camera upload" option.  Mrs. Scheafer then pulled the kids to carpet whole group to review the collages on Seesaw, having each student present and describe what they chose to write about.

These really turned out awesome, and a lot of that is due to the rich background that Mrs. Scheafer provided her students.  When their foundational understanding of concepts is strong, technology can be used to enhance student learning by allowing them to create and share.

Intervention Ideas from iTeach with iPads Blog

I absolutely love this teacher's blog!  She is an Apple Distinguished Educator, teaching kindergarten in a 1:1 iPad classroom.  She has such wonderful ideas, and her blog posts are filled with nuggets of wisdom and examples.  I find them to be incredibly helpful.

Her latest post seemed timely, as many classrooms I have visited in BPS are feeling inundated with assessments.  AHHHH!  She talks here about feeling those same pressures, and some strategies she is using to support struggling readers in her classroom.

Click the image below to read her article.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Conference Scheduling Made Easy! Awesome Idea from a BPS Classroom!

Mrs. Schopp, a 2nd grade teacher at Newman Elementary, uses technology to make conference scheduling easier for her and the parents in her room.  By utilizing a form, parents can sign up for conferences online, cutting down on back and forth paperwork between Mrs. Schopp and the parents. (Mrs. Schopp does still send home a paper note for students without access to the internet.  However, with most of her parents utilizing the online form, her paperwork is cut significantly.)  You could do this a couple of ways.

Mrs. Schopp has an awesome blog (check it out at that she has created using Weebly.  When Mrs. Schopp created her conference form, she used a tool directly from Weebly.  It looks like this:

Click the image or click here to view the full page on Mrs. Schopp's blog.

You could also use Google Forms to create the form, providing the available times and allowing each time to only be chosen once.  This same method would work great for any volunteer needs you have in your classroom, as well!  Brilliant!

Mrs. Schopp also utilizes the tool Remind to generate parent traffic to this conference form.  If you've never used Remind, it's a wonderfully easy, quick tool for sending out messages to parents that are like text messages (without sharing your personal contact information).  It's free and it's great!  Click the link above to learn more about Remind.

Friday, October 16, 2015


These were just too cute not to share.  Mrs. Scheafer's sweet husband makes these wooden pumpkins each year, for her students to paint and decorate.  They happened to be finishing them up last week when I was there to introduce Seesaw to her class.  (If you don't know what Seesaw is, please read my previous blog post)!  The students used the camera tool to take a picture of their pumpkin, then used the pen and text tools to write their names and a sentence before posting to their brand new learning journals.  You can see one of the kids' journals projected in the background.  What a great little pumpkin patch!


Have I posted about Seesaw yet?  If not, I can't believe that I have waited this long!  I think it's safe to say, Seesaw is my new favorite app.

After using Kidblog for the last couple of years in my kindergarten class, I am completely sold on the idea of blogging and creating digital portfolios.  Even in primary grades.  (If you're not sold, click here to read a wonderful article by Kathy Cassidy about blogging with little kids.)  However, after introducing Kidblog to a few teachers this year, I realized that their "update" created some problems with the interface of Kidblog and the "user friendliness" that I used to love.  So ... I began searching for solutions.

A colleague in Bozeman suggested Seesaw, so I asked my friend Sally Bishop if I could come try it in her kindergarten class.  In 10 minutes, we were sold.  This app is terrific and EASY.  Kids login using a built-in QR reader and a QR code that is generated for your class.  They open to a screen with several options, including drawing, video, photograph and notes.  Students can create projects right in the app and upload to their learning journal.  They can take photos or upload previously created projects from their camera rolls, and they always have the option to record or add text.  The teacher has control over who can comment and "like" student posts, as well as if classmates and parents can see the posts.  Seriously, this app is great!  Here is an example from Mrs. Bishop's kindergarten, after a bus safety field trip:

Getting started is a piece of cake!  Visit their website: and create your account.  You will create a class and add your students' names, then Seesaw will email you a login poster with QR code.  

Older students have the option of creating their own accounts using email accounts - this could be a cool option for students using their D2 apps accounts.

Another thing I love about Seesaw is their teacher resources.  I receive emails with project ideas from Seesaw, and the projects are always leveled by grade and/or skill.  Their website has a wonderful area for teachers, filled with tutorials.  Click here to see the Teacher Resource page.

Have I mentioned that it's FREE?!

I have introduced Seesaw to lots of classes, and I'd be happy to come help you get started, too.  Just go to to find a time!  Here are some examples from Mrs. Davey's first grade.  Her students were studying bats, so we started using Seesaw by making a drawing of a bat, then adding a name using the pen tool and a bat fact using the text tool.  Students then had to post their drawing to their Seesaw learning journal.  They did this in about 30 minutes, and most moved on to posting photos, as well.  I am excited for parents to be able to connect to these accounts and see what their students are doing - I think they are going to be as excited about this as I am!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Osmo Numbers!

So ... let's be honest ... Ann and I were almost late for our KILT group today because we could NOT STOP playing the new Osmo game, Numbers.

This game is really cool, with many different levels of play that includes basic counting, addition, multiplication and order of operations (we don't know if it goes any further ... one of us finally remembered we needed to prep for our afternoon KILT kids, LOL)!  It's a terrific way to incorporate both technology and tactile learning.  In order to use Numbers, you would first need the Osmo starter kit.  If you already have this kit, you can order the Numbers game for $29.99.  If you don't have an Osmo at all, you can order the Osmo genius kit (which includes the new Numbers game) for $99.99.

Osmo also has a cool feature on their website where teachers can access curriculum and lesson ideas (by grade level) that has been submitted by other teachers.  Click the image below to visit that page.

There are other cool Osmo games that include Tangrams, Newton, Words & Masterpiece.  If you have never used or seen an Osmo and would like to try it, let me know!  I'd love to come into your classroom and show this cool tool to your kids!  Remember, you can book me at tracipiltz.youcanbook.me

Skype in the Classroom!

I had an awesome time in Mrs. Risser's 1st grade this morning, helping them use Skype Classroom for the very first time.  They are participating in the Global Read Aloud, and they connected with a kindergarten class in Indiana to Skype with.  Their goal was to learn more about each other's state and school.  They also discussed this week's GRA book, Duck!  Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

It was really fun.  The first graders asked great questions and used awesome manners!  I was impressed.

If you are interested in Skyping, a great place to start searching for connections is Twitter!  I have connected with educators all over the country by using Twitter.  Global Read Aloud is also great, because it provides a network of teachers who are participating in GRA and looking to Skype.

To connect, you can use either Skype or Google Hangout.  Either way, make sure the person you are connecting with is in your contacts.  It's usually great to try a quick "test call" without kids to be sure your connection works okay.  It's also important to plan out what you're going to do, how you're going to ask questions (i.e. Take turns between classes?  Have students come up to the screen and ask questions?, etc) and what the purpose of the call is.  Decide who is going to make the call, and be careful planning (time differences can make coordinating a call pretty tricky).

Sometimes it's fun to discuss a book you've both read or a topic you're studying.  Some teachers like to "Mystery Skype" where you ask questions to figure out the location of the class you're connecting with.  If you do this, I think it's fun to keep a map where you can mark off which states you have connected with.  Check out this article for more info about Mystery Skype.  I liked playing Mystery Number using Skype or Twitter.  The kindergartners loved it, and it really helped their "math talk" skills.  They had to learn to ask "big" questions ... not just "Is your number 6?" but "Does it have two digits?"  "Is it even?"  "Does it have a 6 in the tens place?" There is a great article on Mystery Number Skypes here.

If this is something you'd like to try, but don't know where to begin, let me know.  I would love to help!

A Tutorial for Parents Using Kidblog

Monday, October 12, 2015

Native Numbers App Gone Free!

Mrs. Bishop & I got the Native Numbers app last year when it was free (thanks to Mrs. Niemeyer!) and we both really love it!  It is usually around $6.99, so we don't recommend it a lot since it's so pricey.  However, we were on iTunes today and saw that it's free.  Who knows for how long, so I encourage you to download it while it's free and then check it out when you have a chance! It's great for building number sense.  NOTE: Only the rods section will be unlocked.  Kids have to progress through each of the activities sequentially - when they finish one, the next one will be unlocked.  You can assign kids to iPads so they would "login" and pick up where they left off from one day to the next.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Smart Apps for Kids: Top Ten Free Halloween Apps

This is a great post from the website Smart Apps for Kids featuring some fun, free Halloween games. I love this Color by Number pumpkin game, that gives kids some options to complete equations in a Color by Math mode.  The free version only offers a few pictures to color - full version has more.

If you haven't signed up for their Free App Friday e-newsletter yet, I would recommend doing so! Lots of great stuff!

Another free app that can be used in your classroom for Halloween fun is Doodle Buddy.  Using the stamps function, you could ask kids to create and complete equations with fun Halloween themed icons.  You could also have them arrange a group of objects and circle what is more or less.  It could also be a fun way to illustrate a spooky Halloween-themed story.  Lots of creativity with Doodle Buddy!

Prodigy Math Game has an App!

For those of you using the fun math game Prodigy, good news!  They have a brand new app.  To download the app, click the image below.  For help and support, visit the Prodigy website.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Research Project: Going Batty!

We started a cool research project in a 1st grade classroom using bats as our focus.  I am going to document the activities here, but you can take these ideas and apply to any topic you'd like your kids to research.

We started by reading the story Stellaluna by Janell Cannon.  You can read the book, or use this fun video from StorylineOnline.  (It's the lady from Kindergarten Cop!)

We then used the Scholastic News Let's Find Out! issue about bats and birds to learn a little more about the similarities and differences.  If you don't have access to this, I suggest checking it out! AWESOME leveled resources that are super great for using with an interactive whiteboard!  It is about $5 per student, but here's a hint: I barely ever used the paper copies, I just like accessing the digital tools (and cool iPad app!).  So order the minimum number of subscriptions (which is 5) and you could have access to this tool for around $25!  Wahoo!

We recorded our ideas into a Venn diagram to discuss the differences between bats and birds.  We made one whole group, then had the students use the Feltboard app to create their own Venn diagrams.  The whole group Venn diagram creation would be a great opportunity to use your interactive whiteboard!  Create a Venn diagram, letting kids share the pen during interactive writing. You can use a template from your interactive whiteboard software (like Mimio Notebook) or pull a Venn diagram pdf into the interactive whiteboard software to write on.  They can save these to their camera rolls and publish to their Kidblog or other digital portfolio, if they are keeping one of these (which is so cool!)

Another idea is to use the app PicCollage for Kids to have them make a collage of birds and bats and add a fact about each.  I use the PicCollage for Kids app so they can use the web image search to safely add images to their collages.

To begin making a PicCollage, they tap the + sign to create a new collage.  Once in the blank collage, use the + sign to add elements like photos from the camera roll, web images, text, stickers, etc.

Students can adjust their font, size, color, etc and type into the area where the X is marked below:

We also utilized this theme in math class, using the free app Doodle Buddy to have students create equations using bats and birds.  Their job to to make an equation where there were less birds than bats.

Again, these can be saved to the students' camera rolls and uploaded to a blog or digital portfolio.  Wahoo!

The next part of our research project will be using the YouTubeKids app to safely search for information on bats.  They will type in: bat facts and see a series of videos with facts about bats.  
We will give them time to watch several of the videos, making note of facts they are learning about bats.  They could take notes while watching.  We will then meet whole group to discuss what we learned and create an anchor chart to use for students to use for their writing project.  We will use pages from this fun bat unit that I downloaded for FREE at Teachers Pay Teachers.  (Click the image to visit the Tpt page.) 

We will create the adorable bat craftivity from this unit, as well, and connect it to a video.  More about that later ... :)

Setting Up an AppleID without Using a Credit Card

Am helping my BFF and fellow Tim Riggins lover Shelly with a super fun TILT group at Lewis & Clark Middle School today, and we ran into this problem.  You SHOULD be able to create a new AppleID without using a credit card by following these steps.

However, if you run into trouble like we did, where the "None" option isn't available under "Billing Information", (AHHH!) check out this great blog post to see how to work around it.  Essentially, you will go into the App Store and add a free app, then create a new AppleID when you're prompted to do so.  For some reason, this prompts the "None" option to appear under payment.  Teachers can select and continue creating their AppleID without entering credit card info.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Awesome things happening in BPS classrooms!

Here are some awesome ideas I saw in classrooms this week!

In a 2nd grade classroom, we used Popplet on iPads to create Popplets about their roles in their homes, community and school. The kids worked so hard and made some awesome projects! Here is an example:

In Mrs. Niemeyer's first grade, she used the app Scribble Press to have kids make a "10 Apples a up on Top" counting book. She modeled, using Reflector to project her iPad for the students to see. The students took selfies and used the apple sticker and typing tool in Scribble Press to make their books. SOOOO cool!

And in Mrs. Bishop's kindergarten, I was able to help her and her students use the Stop Motion app to create their own stop motion animation counting videos using number cards and tiles. They worked in pairs and did awesome!! Here are some examples: