Ubooly- iPhone/iPad plush toy

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.

Bloom’s Taxonomy of apps

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!
Tips:   Use the Bloom’s Taxonomy app guide with my Bloomin’ posters!  Stay tuned for BIG versions of the posters coming soon with my launch of the Learning Genome project on Kickstarter! Woot!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Bloom’s Taxonomy of Apps in  your classroom!

Conduit Mobile: Create your own apps

What it is: Want to see something really super cool?  You can create your very own app for multiple mobile platforms in, I don’t know, 7 minutes flat! Seriously.  Conduit Mobile makes it incredibly easy to create your own app out of a blog, class website, wiki, etc. and publish it to share with others.  It honestly could not be easier.  Type in the URL you want turned into an app. Click go. Customize and tweak to your hearts desire and publish.  That. Is. It.  Holy cow it is easy!  You all are going to look like super geniuses when you turn your classroom blogs/wikis/websites into mobile apps that parents and students can access easily from anywhere.  Better yet- turn your school website into a mobile app and then you will be super genius of the school.  That is an impressive title.  Once your app is published, you have the ability to send push notifications to your app users (field trip reminders anyone?).  You can also easily track the analytics of who is using your app.  You can even enable advertising to earn revenue in accordance with your apps installation and performance.  It never hurts to have a little extra mail money around for all those classroom supplies we buy!
How to integrate Conduit Mobile into the classroom: Conduit Mobile makes it easy to meet your students and families where they are-on mobile devices.  Make classroom content and news easily accessible by running your site through Conduit Mobile-it does all the hard work leaving you an app for Apple devices, Android, Windows mobile, bada and Blackberry.
Do your students have blogs or wikis that they have created?  Help them publish their hard work into an app.  I’m thinking this would be a really NEAT way for our Jr. High students to turn their blog ePortfolios into apps that they bring with them to high school interviews.  Now that would be impressive!  It is so easy to do, there is just no reason not to!
As a school, publish your school site as a mobile app where parents can get quick-at-a-glance information, review policies and get the latest news.
Tips:  To publish your app to the various app stores, you will need a developer certificate.  These differ in pricing depending on the app store you are aiming for.  Conduit mobile even makes this process easy, walking you step-by-step (with pictures) through the process.  Once you are connected to each app store, you can publish as many apps as you would like.  If you have a class full of students who would like to publish a mobile app, it may be worth creating a class developer license that everyone can use to publish.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Conduit Mobile in  your classroom!

Appvent Calendar: A new free app waiting for you every day!

What it is: It is Advent season again.  This means that BlackSmith Games has launched their app-a-day Appvent calendar.  Each day a new app is released and is downloadable all day for FREE!  Very cool.  Not every app released is appropriate or useful for the classroom, but they are always fun!  Even if you can’t use them in your classroom, they are worth downloading on your own device- you just can’t beat a boatload of new apps for free during the holidays.  The apps are great for passing time in all of the LINES that this time of year seems to bring.

Price: FREE each day

Wishing you all a joy-filled holiday season!

Travel the World with the Flat Stanley App!

Flat Stanley

What it is: Everyone is going iDevice crazy!  Want proof? Flat Stanley has traveled around the world and now finds himself in the app store!  Flat Stanley is a project that schools around the world have participated in, generally it consists of sending a flat, paper Stanley through snail mail with the goal of getting his picture and story with others around the world.  Flat Stanley  has been used by educators around the world to help students learn about travel, while discovering different cultures to develop a love for reading.  With this new app, students can learn about the world through the eyes of Stanley in a way never before possible.  Way cool! Students can create their own Flat Stanley (or Flat Stella), they can change Stanely’s features and clothes and even give him a name and bio before sending him out into the world.  Students can share photos through Facebook, Email, Twitter and Flatter World within the app.   In Flatter World, new Flat Stanleys have been spotted. If students take enough pictures, they can unlock the new Flat Stanleys to take photos with.

The Flat Stanley app is COPPA compliant, which means that it is happily usable for kids under the age of 13.  An approval crew monitors and approves images shared through the app for an extra layer of safety for students.

How Demibooks Composer can enrich learning: There is no easier way to get involved with a Flat Stanley project!  The Flat Stanley app makes it SO simple to take pictures with Stanley and re-post them that you are bound to get nearly 100% participation.  The integration of social networking tools means that Stanley can travel the world in no-time and expose your students to more corners of the world than ever.  Using Flat Stanley with your students can introduce them to geography, world cultures, languages and landmarks.  Your students can use Flat Stanley’s travels as a creative writing prompt, making up stories about where Stanley has been.  Read the Flat Stanley books for a great literacy tie-in!

      

Devices: Compatible with the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, requires iOS 4.0 or later

Price: Free (iTunes Link)

Quixey: App Search Engine

What it is:   Have you ever attempted an app search?  It is a miserable experience, unless you already know what you are looking for, you are out of luck!  Quixey changes all of that by powering app searches across multiple platforms (Android, Bada, BlackBerry, Chrome extensions, Chrome web apps, Facebook, Firefox add-ons, IE add-ons, iPad, iPhone, Mac, Symbian, Web, WebOS, Windows, Windows Mobile and Windows Phone).  Quixey works with manufacturers, carriers, search engines and platforms to create a custom app search solution.  Quixey uses what they call “functional search” just for apps.  When you useQuixey, you don’t have to know the app’s exact name or “official” description to find the app.  Quixeyscans blogs, review sites, forums and social media to learn what each app can do and how people are using it.  The Functional app search isn’t dependent on keywords.  When you search an app, you can type in the kind of app you are looking for.  Easily narrow your search by device.  Next to the device, you can see how many apps are related to your search making it simple to see how much digging you will need to do.  Next to each app that comes up in your search, there are snippets: short pieces of information that help you decide if the app will do what you need it to.  Need to narrow it down even more? No problem,Quixey let’s you organize by paid or free apps, or filter by a custom advanced view.  Very handy!

How to integrate Quixey into the classroom: If you or your students use ANY of the above platforms,Quixey is a must!  Hunt down the exact app you need quickly and easily.  Have a mixed platform classroom? Quixey makes it simple to see where app crossover is possible for the classroom.  This is one handy search engine!

Be sure to bookmark Quixey on classroom computers for easy access to an anytime search. When you find an app you are interested in, click for more information, screen shots of the app and a link to the app store.  You can even tweet the app out or share it on Facebook!

Demibooks Composer

 Demibooks Composer

What it is: This may very well be the single greatest iPad creation tool yet.  Demibooks Composer is the first iPad based authoring software.  Do you know what that means???  It means that you hold in your hands the ability to create interactive books!  Weeeee!  Students and teachers can use this powerful authoring app to create interactive book apps (yes, I said apps) that include realistic physics, animation, sound and visual effects.  This app lets you create books that take full advantage of the iPad’s capabilities.  Finished stories can be shared to a Dropbox account, iTunes or published as an actual book app that can be purchased in the App store.  Seriously, how cool is that?

With Composer, students and teachers have powerful tools that let them create interactive tools without knowledge of programming.  Students will get a small taste of programming language as they use Composer with “if, then” commands.  Composer is intuitive enough to have your students creating their own interactive ebooks in no time. Bam!

Composer lets students:

  • select from a portrait or landscape book
  • Import images and audio from a computer or use photos from the iPad
  • Add text and styles
  • Create frame based animations
  • Build pages
  • Add a navigation system
  • Add complex behaviors (like turning physics on or off, adjusting bounce, friction and boundaries, gestures, taps, touches, hidden objects, etc.)
  • Add and edit audio including music, effects and speech
  • Preview your newly created book in all of it’s interactive glory
  • Export and save work to iTunes or Dropbox
  • Share work with others who have the Composer app
  • Publish your book to the App store with Demibooks PrintShop web service

How Demibooks Composer can enrich learning: This app gives your students the power to create true ebooks.  This is not just a book that can be read on the iPad.  This is a book that they can make interactive.  Students can publish creative writing, explanatory informational text, poetry, math story problems (and solutions), ABC books, phonics practice, story retells, historical narratives, etc.  The list could honestly go on and on.

Demibooks Composer lets your students create everything that they imagine.  It is a powerful tool that is intuitive enough for young students.  As students work in Composer, they will gain a beginning understanding of programming with if-then relationships.  Students will have to think as programmers, designers, illustrators, authors, mathematicians, physicists, and  animators.  Brilliant.

           

Devices: Compatible with the iPad, requires iOS 3.2 or later

Price: FREE- introductory price (iTunes Link)

Stick Pick app

Application: Stick Pick

What it is: Stick Pick is a great app for the teacher iOS device.  Teachers can randomly (or intentionally) choose a student’s name from a virtual can of Popsicle sticks.  Student sticks are tied to a mode and level of difficulty for each learner.  Each time a student’s stick is drawn, you will be shown over a dozen Bloom’s Taxonomy related questions that are tied to the learner’s individual ability level.

Questions can be linked to cognitive or linguistic needs to each student.  Teachers can have multiple soup cans (classes) filled with sticks (students).  During setup, teachers choose a category of questions that they want to focus on for the learner.  Questions can be based on Bloom’s Taxonomy, English as a second language skills, and a degree of difficulty can be chosen for each learner.

Formative assessment is easy to track because teachers can tap a corresponding correct, incorrect, or opinion button based on the student’s answer.  Teachers can also rate each student’s answer by selecting 0-5 on the critical thinking rubric (for Bloom’s) or an elaboration rubric (for English as a second language).  Student data is saved directly in the app and can be emailed.

How Stick Pick can enrich learning: Stick Pick is a handy tool for any teacher device.  Stick Pick can guide classroom discussion and formative assessment in really helpful ways.  Teachers can mark sticks so that they aren’t constantly calling on the same students or asking students the same questions over and over again.

Students can use Stick Pick too.  During small group work, students can take turns asking one another questions based on Bloom’s Taxonomy making group work more productive and on-task.

Record and send student progress to parents easily directly from the app.

Devices: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.2  or later

Price: $2.99 (iTunes Link)

Virtual Rat Dissection App

Application: Rat Dissection

What it is: The Virtual Rat Dissection app from Punflay is a fantastic alternative to the actual dissection in the classroom.  The app is perfect for students who are learning about organs and the organ system in life science.  The app is brilliant in the way it offers students all of the tools that come with a real dissection without all the mess (and smell…do you all remember the smell? *gag reflex kicking in*).  Students are led through the dissection procedure step by step, guided with instructions and explanations all the way through.  When students have completed the dissection, the rat’s organs are exposed so students can study them further.  High quality 3D images make it easy for students to visualize the organs.  The app also includes great reference information about rats.  The step-by-step instructions include voice over, perfect for accessibility to all students.

How Virtual Rat Dissection from Punflay can enrich learning: First of all, did I mention this app is free from the smell of Formaldehyde? That alone makes it worth it’s weight in gold (in my humble opinion)!  Virtual Rat Dissection solves the budgetary and physical problems of getting a rat for every student to dissect.  Not only that, it is a much greener alternative.  The app has been beautifully created with attention to detail.  Students will get the full effect of a wet dissection lab without needing all of the tools.  Best of all, students can go back through the lab over and over again.  This gives them the opportunity to review learning and process, something that isn’t possible with real rat dissections.

Use this app as an alternative to actual dissection, or use it to prepare students for a real dissection.

Devices: Compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 4.2  or later

Price: $3.99 (iTunes Link)

Ansel and Clair’s Adventures in Africa

Application: Ansel and Clair’s Adventures in Africa

What it is: Now this, my friends, is what I’m talking about!  Ansel and Clair’s Adventures in Africa is everything an educational kids app should be.  The app is truly spectacular with animations, quests, puzzles, games, excellent graphics, fantastic storyline and plenty of ways for kids to engage in play and learning.  Ansel and Clair’s Adventures in Africa was designed for kids aged 4-9.  When students enter the app, they are introduced to Ansel, a friendly inter-galatic travel photographer from the planet Virtoos, and Clair, a brilliant robot.  Ansel and Clair introduce students to Africa where students can explore interactive locations including Nile Valley, Sahara Desert and Serengeti Plains.  As students explore, they are asked to discover, help Ansel and Clair find spaceship parts and help Ansel take pictures.  As students explore, Ansel asks questions that Clair answers with her encyclopedic knowledge.  Students are deeply immersed in story and learning of:

  • Geography: continents, oceans, rivers, monuments and landmarks
  • History: pyramids, pharaoh, mummy, hieroglyphics, Sphinx
  • Science: Metamorphosis, migrations, climate seasons, temperature changes, animal characteristics, behavior, habitat and food habits
  • Concepts: Camouflage, migration, nocturnal, herbivore, predator, vertebrate, cold-blooded.

Students can learn more with more than 50 screen overlays complete with text and illustrations.  Throughout Ansel and Clair’s Adventures in Africa, students will find fun games and puzzles with multiple levels to challenge students at different ages and developmental levels.  Games include a treasure hunt where students learn about actual Pyramid and tomb artifacts; a clock puzzle where they learn to tell time; Frog Life Cycle where they learn about the life cycle of a frog; a maze where they learn about omnivore, carnivore or herbivore animals and Fur Ball-a-tor where students identify animal patterns.

There is SO much attention to detail in this app.  Students can spin, touch and learn geography on a 3D globe, explore the Sahara in the day AND night (that way they can interact with nocturnal animals), experience a sandstorm, learn about extreme temperatures, experience the wet and dry season of the Serengeti and watch animals migrate.

Throughout the app, students observe Ansel asking questions and using higher order thinking skills to learn about Africa.  Critical questioning is modeled in every area of the desert.

How Ansel and Clair’s Adventures in Africa can enrich learning: Ansel and Clair’s Adventure in Africa is one of those wonderful apps that packs in all kinds of learning and important thinking skills.  This app could be used to teach students how to ask critical questions, to improve listening and reading comprehension, to learn more about geography, to enhance a unit on Africa, to strengthen audio direction following, to enrich an animal adaptation unit or to let students “experience” history in a new way.  Honestly, this is what I WISH every text-book looked like.  This app immerses kids in learning in a fun and engaging way that encourages discovery and inquiry.

Rating scale: 1= low  5= Highest

Overall satisfaction 5

Graphics   5

Easiness to learn   5

Educational value  5

Fun  5

Overall performance  4.5 (Some screens take just a few seconds to refresh)

I cannot wait to see more from Cognitive Kid, they know how to make an educational app!

Devices: Compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later

Price: $1.99 (iTunes Link) – I know!! You were probably expecting it to be more like a $10 app, at $1.99 it is a steal!

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