Thursday, August 4, 2016

Top 10 Tech Tools - #4 - Green Screen by DoInk

#4 - Green Screen by DoInk
Everybody wants to be a super star right? Well with Green Screen by DoInk all your students can have the chance to be super stars while sharing what they have learned! Green Screen by DoInk is a super simple Green Screen app available for the iPad. It costs $2.99 and it's the best $2.99 you can spend for your classroom!  

One of my favorite parts about it is how easy it is to use. I love that I can quickly teach my 2nd graders how to use the app and then they are easily able to create amazing videos themselves. I believe that allowing students to be the creators truly empowers them and Green Screen by DoInk is so simple that it allows for this to occur. 


As you can see, students are the actors, the producers, the videographers, and even the editors. These projects are completely student created! 

My 2nd grade students have created green screen videos on animals, ocean animals, insects, dinosaurs, habitats, cultures, and more! You can have so much fun with this app! The possibilities are endless!





I like to give my students choice when possible. As culminating projects for units I often give my students several choices for their final projects. These choices include: written reports, posters, Pic Collages, Book Creator books, Google Slides, Thinglinks, Nearpods, and Green Screen movies. Overwhelmingly, Green Screen is almost always the most popular choice. 

An added bonus to students creating green screen videos is that they get a lot of fluency practice. As students write their scripts and practice them for their videos they are working on their fluency. Often times students will record their video and when they watch it back they reflect on their fluency, practice their script some more, and then re-record with improved fluency. 

Another bonus - teaching students about responsible use when finding background images. Using Green Screen by DoInk gives me the opportunity to teach my students about finding images that are labeled for reuse (I enjoy using Creative Commons, or using the Google search tools for this). This is an excellent lesson in being responsible digital citizens!

Other green screen ideas:
  • Use a poster board and student created puppets with green straws
  • Green screen books reviews
  • Take still frames and use as writing prompts (ex: If I was stuck in a snow globe...)
  • Character interviews
  • Biography interviews
  • Digital story telling
  • App Smash - Allow students to create their own backgrounds in Book Creator

Still not sure about green screen? Check out this slideshow:



For more information visit:


Happy Green Screening!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Top 10 Tech Tools - #5 - News-O-Matic

#5 - News-O-Matic


Kids are curious about the world around them. They see the news and don't always understand what's going on. News-O-Matic is a device agnostic daily digital newspaper designed just for kids! Everyday News-O-Matic offers 5 news articles about what is happening in the world. The articles are engaging, exciting, and most importantly geared towards younger students. 



Each article contains many different engaging extras:


My students loved the "read to me" option. I also loved this as it makes the text accessible to anyone. It is also read in a real sounding fluent voice - not robotic. My students also loved to look at the slide shows, the videos, and they loved the draw it feature where they could draw how they felt about the article. 

I loved the questions feature - I always instructed my students to read or listen to the article, complete the questions, then do the "extras". The common core standards focus a lot on informational text. I got a lot of information about my students comprehension skills of informational text through News-O-Matic's questions feature. 


As a teacher, I was able to create accounts for my students. I was even able to assign lexile levels to individual students to make sure the content was accessible. The teacher dashboard looks like this:


I loved the ability to see my student's scores and to look at their individual answers to see where their strengths and struggles are. This is excellent formative assessment. 

News-O-Matic also includes fun learning activities for students in their Newsroom and Games sections:




Another thing I love about News-O-Matic is they are not afraid to tackle the tough issues that are happening around the world. At first, I was nervous about this, however I now know that News-O-Matic has a child psychologist on staff who makes sure the articles are appropriate for children. 


My students read News-O-Matic everyday. Whether it was during centers, when they finished their work, literacy choice time, or even indoor recess. Students would get REALLY excited when an article would come up that was related to content we were currently learning in class! I loved to see them making these connections. 

News-O-Matic sends out a teacher edition of the newspaper the night before so that as a teacher I can see at a glance the articles and the lexile levels that will be new the next day:

A year ago I completed and action research project on using technology to improve informational text comprehension. News-O-Matic was one of the tools I used (as was PebbleGo). Check out the results here:




For more information visit:


Happy Newspaper Reading!!!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Top 10 Tech Tools - #6 - GoNoodle

#6 - GoNoodle
Six and half hours or so is a long time for students, especially young students, to be in school. Research shows that movement and brain-breaks help students learn, focus, and retain information. GoNoodle is a classroom must have for teachers of young students! It is an amazing website that offers all different kinds of brain breaks!

Students LOVE to choose their "class champ". The champs are adorable little monsters and the more brain-breaks a class takes the stronger their champs become! There are 25 champs to choose from:


(the ones with green backgrounds are the ones my class used and maxed out)

When you open up your class GoNoodle webpage you open to a screen showing your class champ, his/her progress bar, and often silly things for your class to read that your class champ is saying:


There are lots of amazing and fun channels to choose from for different kinds of brain-breaks/activities (favorites of my class include: Koo Koo Kangaroo and MooseTube):


Another way to choose a brain-break/activity for your class is through the different categories of brain-breaks. You can choose based duration, energy level, and the different types of activities. Your class may need to calm themselves or maybe they need to move around for a bit - choosing by category allows you to choose what your class needs!


The best part about GoNoodle is that is is FREE! There is a premium version that you can pay for which I have not checked out yet - but the features in this blog post are all FREE!


Some of my classes favorites include:

Awesome Sauce Channel:


Koo Koo Kangaroo Channel:






We did this one every time it was someone's birthday:
MooseTube:



My class also loved these channels:



As teachers, we all love indoor recess right? Well...maybe not - no worries GoNoodle has a solution for that as well. The indoor recess channel mashes up several brain-breaks/activities to give students anywhere from 7 minutes to 18 minutes of continuous activity! Whooo hooo!


So next time your students seem to be glazing over, wiggling all over the place, or need to be calmed down turn to GoNoodle to help you and your students out!

Warning: The songs and dances WILL be stuck in your head ALL THE TIME!!! 

This is seriously a tool I cannot live without in my 2nd grade classroom!

For more information and to sign up go to:


Happy dancing, running, jumping, singing, yogaing, and much more!

I'll leave you with a little clip of my students having a blast with Koo Koo Kangaroo's Milkshake:


video














Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Top 10 Tech Tools - #7 - Code.org


#7 - Code.org

When I first heard about the Hour of Code a few years ago I thought "How cool - the high schoolers must love that!". I didn't even consider that my second graders would be able to participate in it - after all they are in second grade and I know very little about coding. After researching the Hour of Code a bit more I came across code.org and realized that my second graders can absolutely participate in the hour of code! I was so excited! My class has been participating in the Hour of Code for the last three years and every year my students LOVE it! I continue coding throughout the year using code.org and some fun classroom robots as well! 

Code.org is a free resource and a great place to start for basic coding for elementary students. You can find all the activities in the code studio at: studio.code.org.

You have options:

  • Option 1: Begin your students in a code.org "course". This requires you to create accounts for your students. They will use usernames and passwords to log in. The course guides them through coding with videos and fun and engaging activities. I can check in and see my students progress in the courses. I begin my second graders on course 2 and many of them graduate to course 3 by the end of the school year. Not only does Code.org teach elementary students to basics of coding but it also helped my students develop problem solving skills and perseverance which are two very important habits of mind. The courses get progressively more difficult and the students really have to problem solve and persevere to get through it!

  • Option 2: Allow the students to explore different activities in the Hour of Code section. These activities allow students to jump right in and are very engaging. My class really enjoyed the Minecraft and Frozen activities. 

Code.org is FULL of information, tutorials, videos and anything else you may need to get your class coding! I found it to be an excellent introduction to basic coding. It then helped my students easily transition into coding our classroom robots (but I'll save that for a later post). 




For more information and to get started visit:


Happy Coding! 


Friday, July 8, 2016

Top Ten Tech Tools - #8 PebbleGo

#8 - PebbleGo by Capstone




Informational text, nonfiction -whatever you want to call it - it's EVERYWHERE in the common core standards. PebbleGo is an awesome way to expose primary students to engaging and accessible informational (nonfiction) texts.

I am fortunate to work in a school district that has a subscription to PebbleGo by Capstone. If your school district does not have a subscription I urge you to beg and plead for one - trust me it'll be worth it!

Upon signing in to PebbleGo the students are greeted with a friendly easily navigated homepage which displays the different categories (PebbleGo currently offers 6 categories - my district is subscribed to 5 of them).



Once students select a category it is then further broken down and categorized (organization makes me so happy):


 Even further categorized:


Who doesn't love options? In PebbleGo there are plenty!


It's difficult but you must make a choice:


Once the students have selected the topic they want to learn about their screen will look like the screen above. There is an option to have the content read aloud to the students. There are several tabs of information on each topic. 

The bottom of the article includes many different options including (but not limited to): 
  • A proper citation - pencil - I can hear the librarians cheering from here! 
  • Option to print the article or picture - stack of papers
  • Graphic organizers on the selected topic - crayon
  • Videos - TV screen 
  • Audio - animal with sound waves
  • Map - globe
My students absolutely loved PebbleGo. They found it engaging and often choose to use PebbleGo in their finished time or even during indoor recess. Some of my students used PebbleGo as a reward for good behavior! 

Projects created using PebbleGo in my classroom included:
  • Informational paragraphs
  • Animal Reports
  • Culture Green Screen Videos
  • Biography Reports
  • Insect Green Screen Videos
  • Animal Digital Books 
  • Biography Digital Books
  • and more...
For more information visit:


Happy researching!