Cross posted on my other site, iLearn Technology.com. Just like iLearn Technology, you can search any app by Bloom’s Taxonomy level. All of the websites I share on iLearn Technology are completely FREE, the apps I review tend to be a mix of free and paid apps. At the bottom of each post, I share the cost of the app.|
What it is: Fluency Finder is a fantastically handy app that I learned about from my friend @dkapuler. David was kind enough to offer Team Anastasis some download codes so that we could try the app out with our students. Any teacher who has ever done fluency tests knows that they can be a little bit of a pain. Folders and folders of passages to store, stop watch, scribbled notes on the page as they read, calculator, and keeping track of it all in an orderly fashion to refer back to later. I’m a huge fan of anything that can help minimize the paper I have to store and keep track of in my life. Fluency Finder takes care of all of this! Not only can you record results, you can also maintain records on a class full of students and share information. You can easily find and track fluency rates so that you have more time to help students strengthen reading skills and find books that are confidence-building and enjoyable.
Fluency Finder makes it simple to assess reading fluency in 1st-8th grade reading levels. To get started:
Add students to the app
Select an appropriate grade level passage for the student to read
Print the passage from the www.fluencyfinder.com website (students could also read from their own iDevice or computer if you want to save paper)
Begin assessment, start the app timer as the student begins reading
Student will read from printed passage as you follow on your iDevice marking any mistakes
Tap the (+) button when student makes a reading mistake
Tap the (-) button if the student self-corrects a mistake
End the timer when the student finishes
Tap the “finish assessment” button to instantly see results
Now instead of focusing so much on keeping track of the fluency and score, you can focus on what actually matters: listening for fluency, comprehension and expression.
Being a paperless school, we are LOVING this option for helping students choose books that are at a level that is “just right.” It gives us the opportunity to help students hunt down the perfect amount of challenge and really focus on a story they can love. We are all about encouraging an absolute love of reading!
*** If you need the cliff notes version of this post, skip down to the Call to Action section!
Last year I had a “hunch” about learning…specifically about curriculum. That hunch turned into a full fledged idea and a mission to do better for kids. Everywhere. Along the line I met some truly incredible people who taught me things I didn’t know how to do before. Like wire framing (thanks @ianchia), and pitching ideas (thanks @houseofgenius), and how to go about picking up programmers (thanks@toma_bedolla). Now I’m ready to share the culmination of all this work with you.
This isn’t just a post to tell you about what I’m doing, it is a call to action for everyone (yes, even you). It is a request for you to join me in this mission in whatever form that may take.
I have a vision: to make personalized learning a reality for EVERY child.
“The problem with curriculum and textbooks is that they complete thoughts. Curriculum and textbooks give the impression that learning has an end. That when you have made it from cover to cover, the job is done. I know in my own schooling this was true, I thought that school was teaching me what was important and that anything outside of the curriculum wasn’t important or relevant to my life…wouldn’t they have included it otherwise? How did curriculum get this way? Well, people realized that there was no possible way to cover every facet of learning, so they stripped it down to what they thought was important. The problem? What is important to you may not be what is important to me. What’s more, something that is very important to me may have been cut all together so I don’t even get the chance to know that it is important to me. Humans tend to like things that are definable, we like things that we can put into a neat, orderly box and carry out in a predictable way. It feels safe and manageable. This is what led me to the following hunch:
What if curriculum was more flexible? What if curriculum/schools/learning looked more like Pandora. If you aren’t familiar with Pandora, it is an online radio station that plays the music that it thinks you will like. You type in an artist or song and it creates a customized radio station just for you. It is remarkably accurate. Pandora almost never gets it wrong for me. It is like they have a direct line to my brain and can predict what song I would like to hear next. When it is wrong, I can give the song a thumbs down and it apologizes profusely for the error and promises never to play that song again on my station. The other thing I love about Pandora: I can have multiple radio stations. Because sometimes I really couldn’t think of anything in the world better than Frank, Dean, and Sammy; but other times I also want a little Timberlake, Whitestripes, or Bangles. What if curriculum looked like that? What if learning happened as a result of typing in one subject or topic that a student was enamored with and a completely personalize learning journey began playing out for them? What if students were led through a journey that was completely customized? What if they had several stations mapped out for them?”
I believe this is possible. I believe it is within our reach to create a completely personalized learning experience to every unique child. I believe that we can honor humanity instead of treating our kids like widgets in a factory. I believe that teachers should be teachers, focused on the needs and development of the child instead of teaching the masses through scripted curriculum.
The Learning Genome Project will empower teachers and parents to become engineers of learning by providing each individual student the exact content they need, at the exact moment they need it. The Learning Genome will enable students to explore the process of inquiry, experimentation, discovery and problem solving. Instead of learning how to pass the next test, we will enable students to construct meaning and learn how to transfer that meaning to new life context. At the hub, the Learning Genome is a platform that aggregates resources and, using a series of algorithms, provide recommendations of the BEST resources to meet the individual learning needs of a specific child. The Learning Genome creates those serendipitous moments of finding just the right learning tool to meet the needs of children at the right time.
Much like Pandora finds that perfect piece of music, the Learning Genome will find the perfect piece of learning material to aid the student in learning. The key to the Learning Genome’s success is crowd sourcing. I will be drawing on educators around the world (that’s you!) to help me tag curriculum, books, lessons, videos, apps, websites and other educational content. This collection of tagged content lives in the centralized ”cloud” and wil allow users around the world to find and access materials that best suit student needs. By gathering information about the individual student’s learning style preferences, multiple intelligence strengths, social/emotional levels, interests and passion, the Learning Genome can help teachers to create customized learning maps for each individual. This portion will be free. Every child deserves a unique learning experience.
In addition to the Learning Genome Hub (the aggregate), the site will include a complete Student Information System, planning tools, e-portfolios, e-learning, individual learning plans, assessment and blogging tools. All of these will work seamlessly together for you go-to for learning and planning.
4. Tweet about this project…a lot. Let’s completely take over the Internet with tweets about the Learning Genome and taking over education for kids! Please make sure to link back to the indiegogocampaign so that others can learn about it! Use the hashtag #standagain (because after all, we are helping children “stand again” in their learning)
6. Mention us on Facebook and like us on Facebook!
7. Did I mention spread the word? Seriously, that is SO helpful! You never know who might see that tweet and drop a couple thousand (or more) to make this project go!
8. Time is of the essence. I have 40 days starting NOW to make this happen. eeek! I need your help!
So, what are the perks to helping with this project?
$5 gets your name on the Learning Genome Change Makers page. You are changing education. That makes you a big deal. I want everyone to know what a big deal you are! I know many of you don’t think that your $5 can do anything. Wrong. According to my cluster map, I have hundreds of thousands of visits to this blog. If each of you pitches in…we all win fast!
$10 Remember all those cool Bloom’s Taxonomy posters I made? This campaign is now the ONLY place you can get them. These are 8.5″ x 11″ versions of the poster.
$30 Learning Genome beta tester. You get the inside scoop and ability to play before ANYONE else. I know, pretty cool.
$60 EXCLUSIVE A full size large-format print of my Bloomin’ Peacock mailed to you. That awesome little Peacock looks even better large. Did I mention this is the ONLY place you will get a big version of this?
$500 Even more EXCLUSIVE you get all of my Bloom’s re-imagine posters in the large format. Perfect for your classroom, library or as a gift to your favorite teachers.
$1000 My Searching for daVinci webinar for your school. What better way to spend your professional development dollars than learning how to create a daVinci like culture of learning at your school? Worth it!
$5000 For my corporate friends who want to see their logo in lights as a company that supports education and changing the world. If you have an education company, The Learning Genome Project will be the place to be seen.
We have $85,000 to raise. It sounds like a big number. We can do it together. I figured if I am going to lean on crowdsourcing to transform education, the funding should be crowdsourced too. How awesome will it be to join together as an education community to say, together we transformed the way learning is done. We changed things for every child in the world. Yeah, it’s big.
iOS 6 comes with a very handy new addition called “Guided Access”. Guided access lets teachers (and parents) limit use of the iPad to one app. This is helpful for keeping students on the task at hand without being lured into “multi-tasking” in other apps. I created the following for our parents (since Anastasis is a 1:1 iPad school) and thought I would share it with all of you as well! This is especially great for kids who are still navigating how to properly manage their freedom with technology.
Thanks to Tony Vincent who tweeted about this feature this morning!
What it is:How it Works:Machines is another spectacular app from Geek Kids. The app includes 9 vehicles and machines that students can assemble including: a car, washing machine, hair dryer, lawn mower, vacuum cleaner, rocket, steam engine, wind mill and pump. Not only do students get to see the inner workings of everyday machines and vehicles, they also get to learn how to put them together to make them work. The puzzles in How it Works: Machines are easy enough for young students to put together the major parts of the machine. When students complete the puzzle, their is a short animation that shows how those parts work together to make the machine operate.
How How it Works: Machines can enrich learning: How it Works: Machines is a great way for students to be introduced to engineering and the mechanics of how things work. I love the way that this app guides students in the discovery of how things work. Students play their part in putting a machine together and then see the result of how all of the parts work together to set a machine in motion. This would be a great app to use when learning about simple machines. Students can identify the simple machines and forces in each machine they build.
Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad iOS 4.0 or later
What it is:Move the Turtle teaches kids the basics of programming and coding. Student learn the basics for creating computer programming by using graphic commands. A friendly little turtle teaches students how to plan complex activities composed of simple elements, how to reuse previously completed work, and how to use graphics, spatial orientation and sound in programming. Students will also learn about loops, procedures, variables and conditional instructions. Move the Turtle was created specifically for use with young students (5+). Using Move the Turtle, students will use their imagination to create their own programs from scratch or based on some of the built-in examples!
How Move the Turtle can enrich learning: Programming is becoming a universal language. Whether students will become the next Steve Jobs or not, programming is a skill that spills into, and enhances, many other areas in education. Programming teaches students logical thinking skills and taps into creative problem solving. It can be helpful in understanding of more complex math (algebra, angles, measurement, two dimensional geometry) and lends itself to connections being made across multiple disciplines. Move the Turtle is a really wonderful introduction to this type of thinking. It is easy to navigate, has friendly graphics and instructions, and students see the results of their work right away. I love this type of trial and error learning!
At Anastasis Academy, we offer students Crave classes. Each block students get to choose an area of passion/interest to explore for an hour each week. One of the classes we offered was programming. It was a popular class for students in first through eighth grade. All age groups wanted to learn how to create their own games and apps! Move the Turtle will be a great addition to teaching the youngest the building blocks of programming.
Devices: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad iOS 4.2 or later
What it is: mobimaths is a brand new math app for iOS and Android devices. I love the mission of mobimaths: to move away from textbooks and rote memorization and toward real world problems with an emphasis on communication and collaboration. It doesn’t get better than that! I wish more education app developers would take note and follow suite! The app has great learning tools including the angle of elevation tool, the outside distance tool, the angle of rotation tool, the inside distance tool and the visual mapping tool. There is also a rods game that focuses on fractions, decimals and percentages.
The current version of mobimaths for iDevices is a lite, free version. It includes the angles and distance tools. The Visual Mapping tool that is coming will allow learners to take a picture and overlay a grid to work out ratios and areas. Students will be able to move and resize the grid and add points on the grid to measure area. On the mobimaths website, you will find fantastic lesson ideas for using mobimaths to learn. Math teachers will love this launching off point, I’m sure you all will come up with new brilliant ideas for using the apps in your math classroom.
How mobimaths can enrich learning: mobimaths is a great addition to the math class. Just like a protractor, ruler, or compass this app aids students in measurement. I like that the app doesn’t focus on drill and kill (the way so many math apps do), instead it acts as a tool to make learning more authentic. There are some fantastic lesson plans on the mobimaths website, but the sky is really the limit. If you teach measurement, this app can be used by students to get them out of the textbook and applying their learning to the world around them. Currently the lessons include: an angle of elevation activity, angle of elevation exercise, and trigonometry activity guide.
Devices: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch iOS 4.2 or later
What it is: Cognitive Kid, the creators of the Ansel and Clair’s Adventures in Africa, have just launched their latest app: Ansel & Clair Cretaceous Dinosaurs. Just like the Adventures in Africa app, students are dropped in the middle of a story where robot Clair and alien photographer Ansel travel back in time to take photographs and document their adventure so they can teach others about Cretaceous dinosaurs. Throughout the game, student take photographs of the things they are learning about and arrange them in a travel log to document their travels to share with everyone on their home planet, Virtoos. Before traveling back in time, students get to visit a modern day fossil dig site where they meet Dr. Lindy Bones, a paleontologist.
The graphics in the app are beautiful and students are included in immersive game play all the way through the app. The game is simple enough for young students (pre-k- Kindergarten) but engaging and informational enough to hold the attention of older students (1st-2nd grade) as well. This is the first of three dinosaur adventures for Ansel & Clair, each new adventure will teach about another Jurassic period.
How Ansel & Clair Cretaceous Dinosuars can enrich learning: This app does a wonderful job of teaching students all about the Cretaceous Jurassic period. I have yet to meet a child who isn’t captivated by dinosaurs, they are fascinated by them! Ansel & Clair Cretaceous Dinosaurs capitalizes on this interest through a fantastic interactive app where they will learn all about this Jurassic period, fossils, and paleontologists. The game is guided by Ansel and Clair so even young students know exactly what to do in their adventure.
I love the way that the app drops students right in the middle of a story. They get to go along with their animated friends back in time to learn about the Cretaceous dinosaurs.
If you teach a unit on dinosaurs or fossils, this app is a must include!
Devices: Compatible with iPad, requires iOS 4.2 or later.
What it is:Tapose is a fantastic (currently the BEST I’ve seen) journaling app for the iPad. Tapose goes above and beyond the other journal apps that I’ve seen with a few key features:
It offers customization- When a student creates a new journal, they can choose a custom cover for the journal and one of six paper types (graph, legal, lined, blank, textured, colored).
The interface is beautiful. Really, this app is very well designed. All of the tools are hidden until you want to use them so there is no clutter taking over the screen as you work. When using the drawing function, students can turn on wrist protection so that they can write or draw in a way that is most comfortable without throwing off the touch screen input.
Students can draw, highlight, type, add sticky notes, video, or images to the journal.
My favorite feature: multitasking within the journal!! Students can view the journal they are working on in one half of the screen while surfing the web, searching a map, looking up a contact, using a calculator, or viewing work from another journal at the same time! It is quite simply, awesome!
Journals are searchable, can be viewed by an index of the pages, can be shared with others through email, printing, Dropbox, or Evernote, and can be collaborated on.
The wrist guard can be tailored to how a student writes with three options for both left and right handed students.
One of the COOLEST features is the ability to copy things to a clipboard to paste it into the journal. Students can cut out a specific picture from a website or map and paste it directly into their journal.
Tapose is the most brilliant blend of everything you want from a paper journal combined with the best of what you can do when a journal is technology enhanced.
How Tapose can enrich learning: Tapose is a wonderful place for students to do and store work. (Teachers too!) It gives them a place to draw, write, take notes, do research, do math problems, or keep a science or art sketch book. Students can keep separate notebooks for each subject, assignment, block, or inquiry unit. The app keeps all of students work neatly in one place and gives them a way to share it with you and the world. For young students, Tapose makes a great place to “publish” books. Students can combine handwriting with type and drawings for an outstanding digital keepsake.
I like that students can include video and photos that they have taken in the journal. At Anastasis Academy, our students often create field journals. They take pictures to document the process or learning and can go back and annotate their images, add reflections, and combine it with research they find online. The app makes it easy to do all of this from within the journal so they aren’t jumping between apps. If a student has taken (or created) a video, it can be embedded directly in the notebook with the rest of their learning. So brilliant!
This app is a great one for math journals. Having the ability to do a side-by-side screen share with the Internet means that students can watch a Kahn video, solve problems stored online, etc. and have a place to make notes, work out problems and even graph. If they need to, they can pull up the calculator to check their work or to help them work complex problems. Students can turn in all of their work easily or print out final copies.
Tapose is also a nice place for teachers to plan out and share lessons. You can surf the web while jotting down ideas for your classroom and easily share with other teachers through Dropbox, Evernote or email.
Tapose could be a great place for students to construct an eportfolio because of the ability to easily combine different mediums. Parents, teachers and others who view the eportfolio can easily search, using the search feature, to find exactly what they are looking for.
Devices: Compatible with iPad, requires iOS 5 or higher
What it is:Ubooly is a new stuffed toy that comes to life with the help of an iPhone or iPad. This is one smart toy! Every month, interactive content is downloaded over wifi to keep Ubooly fresh and engaging. Content includes games, stories and adventures. The goal: “to get kids excited to learn through engaging content.” Your iDevice becomes the animated face of the Ubooly. Ubooly works like Siri- only it is cuter! The initial download will include over 4 hours of content including games, jokes and stories. Later, additional content packs will be available as in app purchases. In addition to the app, Ubooly has an online lab where kids can train their toy to learn new languages, play games and make treats. Over time, the online world will include educational content that encourages children to learn through discovery. Ubooly is active play. It is engaging. It leads kids to critical thinking.
In the next 13 days, you have the opportunity to help make Ubooly a reality. Right now this fantastic little creature is on Kickstarter, waiting for funding. They are SO close! If innovative learning solutions resonate with you, help bring Ubooly to life!
How to integrate Ubooly into the classroom: My mind is racing with the possibilities that this kind of learning brings to the classroom. Your students have a personal learning side kick! I love the way Ubooly can be customized by the child. From the face that displays on the screen to the lab where students can train their Ubooly, there are opportunities for the learning side kick to be exactly what every child needs them to be. Imagine those students who are hesitant to read aloud because they aren’t confident in their skills. What would a learning side-kick who doesn’t judge them do for their confidence and willingness to practice? HUGE!
Ubooly could become a great catalyst for individualized learning in the classroom. A “second teacher” for students. A new blended learning model. A new learning as play model. Way cool!
The other implication: Ubooly would be fantastic for students on the autistic spectrum or with social/emotional struggles. Ubooly is a great bridge for communication for them!
Support Ubooly now and help make this new way of learning a possibility for all students!
Please leave a comment and share ideas you have for using Ubooly in your classroom.
How to integrate Bloom’s Taxonomy of apps into the classroom: Bloom’s Taxonomy is by no means the best or only way to categorize websites, apps or other educational tools. However, I often find that for my purposes, it is a really nice way to organize tools so that I can find them later. It also keeps me (and my students) thinking about the learning process and keeps us all from getting stuck in a one-type-of-learning rut. Bloom’s is also extraordinarily handy for categorizing apps that don’t fit neatly into a subject matter or that fall into several different subject categories.
In the apps, I have given you a little guide. If an app cost money, I’ve added a $$ on the app. The others are free. The free apps are just as wonderful as some of the paid!
Keep the guide of apps handy for those parents who ask for your best app recommendations!