Patti Harju’s Blog

Patti Harju is a STAR member of the Discovery Educator Network

Archive for July, 2013

Jul
23

DENSI2013 – iPad Apps

Posted by Patti Harju

So much was learned last week at DENSI2013 in Burlington, Vermont. The phrase “I think my brain is exploding!” was heard more than once. I need to break all I learned into smaller pieces so I can process and keep track of it. Smaller chunks will also help me when I try to share it with my staff.

I am starting with iPad Apps. There are a gazillion Apps out there and many are excellent for education. I cannot possibly review or use them all so I need to concentrate on the ones that best meet the needs of my students and staff. I have chosen a few of my new favorites introduced at DENSI2013. I would love to give credit to the people who shared them with me, but my mind is a bit fuzzy on that one. I know I learned a great deal from Gurus Karen Ogen and Tracy Carpenter, but I also learned by reading the tweets and Edmodo posts of others and from Sara Badiner’s Unconference session. So to everyone who shared – Thank you!

Here are the ones I know I will use with my students this year.
Kodable is an introduction to the concept of coding, programming  and problem solving for the younger grades, ages 5 and up. I played a few rounds and it really is easy to get started and the levels get more complicated as you go through. The children need to drag and drop the commands in order for the FuzzFamily to follow as they explore a new planet. This is a FREE app with the option to purchase a Pro version. The free version looks as though it has quite a bit for the students to work through before you need to consider upgrading.

Questimate allows the user to create questions and comparisons. It has images that you can manipulate as you try to compare the size of two figures. It compares size, speed of animals, objects and more. Users can create thousands of questions. The App may be single player or more than one player. Sample questions include; How many soda cans tall is a giraffe? How long is a squirrel compared to an iPad? How much food do Dolphins eat per day? This is a free App with the option for in App purchases to unlock other sets of questions. Users may also earn coins by playing which will also allow them to unlock the other sets.

Trading Cards has a lot of possibilities. Students may create trading cards about themselves as well as real or fictional people, places or things. The Trading Card App provides a template for each type of card with leading questions to help the student explore and explain the chosen topic. This is a Free App.

 

Pixntell is one of my favorite kind of Apps. It can be used for storytelling or presentations. The free version allows only 5 pictures which is plenty for my younger students. The paid version allows up to 70 pictures. You insert pictures from your camera roll. It allows you to edit and embellish the pictures with text, stickers and other highlights. When finished students are then able to narrate each picture. They talk about each picture, then slide to the next one. It is a quick and easy way to publish a story and can be shared via email, Youtube or you can download it to your desktop.

Tellagami is another favorite App for storytelling. It uses one image and the avatar does the talking. You may use the background scenes that come with the App or upload your own image. The avatar may be designed however the used wishes, and then the user records or  types the text they want to go with the image. There are unlimited possibilities for use in the classroom – students could explain a science concept or math process, read an original poem or story with their illustration in the background, or use the Tellagami and part of a larger presentation. The Tellegami (or Gamis) as they are called by the App, provide you with a link for sharing so it may be emailed, saved to the camera roll or embedded on a blog or wiki. This is a Free App.

 

 

Jul
21

DENSI2013 – WOW!

Posted by Patti Harju

I returned from the Discovery Educator Summer Institute exhausted and energized at the same time.
This was the third DENSI that I have been blessed to attend. This time I made it a point to meet (and remember) as many of the other participants as I could. The DEN yearbook put together by Dave and LeaAnne was my guide. Several nights before I went to sleep I would go thru it, counting those I knew and marveling at how many more there were that I hadn’t even spoken to yet. I met so many amazing educators and I have already continued the conversation with many of them, via Twitter, Glide, Edmodo, and Facebook.
I had the opportunity to see a few of the DEN Gurus in action by attending their sessions. I was very impressed and they are greatly deserving of the title of DEN Guru. I plan to share what I learned from them and all the other sessions through additional blog posts or a presentation for my staff (thanks for the idea Shelby!)
The entire week was organized by a talented group led by Porter Palmer. She has thought of every detail and all of her work is appreciated. From the outing to the evening activities to the sessions, it was an amazing week. So many great ideas!

– Newbies were given a pack of gum or bag of mints which they had to share. This was wonderful way to get them involved, let us know who was new and help them meet others.
– The Got DEN? T-shirts were fun to try to get. I got one by writing a song. (I’m Dreaming of a Got DEN? T-shirt, just like the ones the cool kids wear….) I also enjoyed getting my picture taken while others were trying to win one, even though I didn’t realize that was why they were asking for a pic with me. I just thought I’d suddenly become popular (after all I did write that song…)
– All the sessions I attended were amazing. I don’t know how I can possibly use everything I’ve learned this school year, but I am going to have fun trying.
– I met, connected, and re-connected with so many great people. I wish we could meet in person more often. We may need to play a game of HEADS UP! Via Google Hangout.
-Dean Shareski’s closing was inspiring. Learning should be joyful for the students and teachers. I agree completely and hope that is what my students experience. A joyful learning experience was exactly what DENSI2013 was. Wouldn’t it be great if our students felt like this after a week in our classrooms?

My goal is to inspire other teachers in my school and district to become DEN STARS and get involved with the DEN even if it means they get a spot over me at the next DENSI. DENSI should be experienced by as many teachers as possible.

I know there is more to share but I still feel a bit jet lagged. My flight home ended up being a 21 hour, four plane trip due to weather and canceled flights. (I was only traveling from Vermont to Michigan.) I did get them to re-route me through Boston so I could see my daughter from midnight to 6 am. While the flight experience was exhausting, I’d go through it all again even without the visit with my daughter to attend another DENSI.