DENSI2013 – iPad Apps

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.



DENSI2013 – WOW!

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.

Multiplication with EduCreation App

My second graders used Educreations on iPads to demonstrate multiplication. As they watched the first student learn how to use the App, they each were excited to give it a try themselves. Using iPads is always an engaging time for my students! They began by drawing a picture using the Drawing Box lite Free App, and then used this picture to write a multiplication story. The stories show multiplication as groups with the same number in each group, or as an array.
My second graders found the App easy to use and their stories were uploaded to the EduCreations website which makes it easy to grab the link and share the stories. You will find the rest of the children’s multiplication stories on our Kidblogs.

DEN Connects – Habitats

This month my second graders have been learning about Habitats as part of DEN Connects, an innovative project connecting classrooms and educators using Discovery Education resources. The theme for this month is Habitats and so far we have taken a Digital Dive into the topic and explored the concept of Habitats using Discovery Education resources. The students enjoyed our first mini lesson, especially listening to and singing, Teacher and the Rockbots: Habitats. We had fun writing animal riddles and using Blabberize to animate them. These three examples are our first attempts. The first riddle was written and created by the entire class. The last two were written and created by individual students.



Perfect Professional Development – DENSI2012

I just returned from The Discovery Educator Summer Institute (DENSI) in Bozeman, Montana. It was the most intense and amazing Professional Development experience. In Wes Fryers’ presentation on Thursday morning, he asked how many of us were forced to attend DENSI. Not one hand was raised. That in itself speaks volumes. Over 125 educators from all over the U.S., Canada and one educator from Romania wanted to be there. We applied to attend, creating videos to show our passion for education, technology and Discovery Education.  Many of the educators not only chose to be there, they paid over $500 (or more!)  to cover their travel expenses. We waited anxiously to find out if we were accepted, rejoicing for ourselves, yet understanding and sharing the disappointment of those not accepted this year. We knew that this was going to be an amazing week, one that would permanently and positively impact how we teach and who we are as educators.


The DENSI is the perfect professional development model. We attend because we want to. We spend every minute working, networking and learning from each other and when DENSI ends, we hug, we cry and we stay in touch. The friendships that we made are professional and personal. We have connected with these people on many levels and those connections continue long after DENSI. DENSI is the beginning of the professional development, not the end.


I have been home only 15 hours, at least 10 of those sleeping and I have already shared my experience with two colleagues, two friends, my family, and another teacher I met in line waiting to pick up Chinese Food. I have communicated with several of the DENSI participants through Facebook, Twitter, Edmodo and Text messages. The conversations began at DENSI and they will keep going all year.


If all Professional Development could be like this, imagine the impact it would have on education.

Thank you to Discovery Education for a wonderful, exhausting, engaging, energizing week!

DENSI2012 = Awesome!

I am having a great time networking and learning at the Discovery Educator Summer Institute in beautiful Bozeman, Montana. The view from my dorm room is spectacular. What a great way to begin each day.

I am thrilled to be among so many amazing educators and am a bit star struck. Many of these people are my Tech Idols and it is great to be learning from and with them. Luckily it is okay to ask for autographs as we are signing each others’  Trading Cards and DENgo sheets.


We had a great time visiting Yellowstone on Sunday. I have never been to Yellowstone, or this far West before. The High Altitude does take some getting used to – I need to stay hydrated and running in the mountains leaves me pretty winded. Yellowstone was beautiful. We saw hot springs, and geysers and a buffalo. Old Faithful did not disappoint and we were able to see her blow her top twice during our visit.


Our first day of sessions was packed with great speakers and I am still sorting through all I learned. I very much enjoyed Karen Ogen’s session and made my first Popplet with her help. I used my pictures from Yellowstone in the Popplet and found it such an easy tool to use. I can see my second graders having no trouble at all learn this tool and start creating. (See Popplet Below.)

This evening I participated in my first ever DEN-mazing Race. I had a great time as did everyone else. Porter Palmer did a fantastic job putting it all together. I enjoyed working with my team, and getting the help of other teams along the way. All of the events were fun (easy for me to say as I did not have to put the horse head on) and not too difficult.

I am happy to be here and look forward to more great days of learning.


I Spy in Second Grade

2nd Graders will be Skyping with Author Jean Marzollo ( on Tuesday. Ms. Marzollo is the author of the I Spy books. We created a class collage with items the children brought in (and many items that I found in my desk – I really need to clean.) The students wrote poems that rhyme (not as easy as it sounds) and we posted them on our Kidblog.
We sent the link to Ms. Marzollo and she replied that she read them all and complimented the children!

The students also created I Spy Collages on Edu.Glogster. You will find those on our class wiki.
Ms. Marzollo Re-Tweeted my Tweet about our I Spy Glogs!

Also in preparation for our chat we watched a movie showing how Ms. Marzollo and photographer Walter Wick worked together to create the I Spy books. We have the I Spy Spooky Nights app on our class iPads and we watched some of Discovery Education’s collection of I Spy Videos.

This will be our second author chat this year. The first was author Erin Dealy author of Goldie Locks Has Chicken Pox. We plan to Skype with Ms. Dealey again soon.

I Spy and Glogster

The second graders have been playing with Glogster this week. They are creating collages with as many of the graphics as they want. This is a great introduction and exploration activity for the students. They get to play with with Glogster, which is the best way for them to learn all that Glogster has to offer. The first challenge is to find at least one pair of items that rhyme. We looked and together made a list of a few of the rhyming pairs. Bear-hair, skate-eight, star-guitar. After they finish creating their collages, we will work to write the rhymes and add them to our glogs. Follow this link to see some of the Glogs under construction. Check back in a week to view the finished products.

I saw one of my second graders over the weekend, and the first thing he said to me was, “Did you see what I did to my Glog?” I of course promised to check it out right away!

We have been reading the I Spy books in class in preparation for a Skype Chat with Jean Marzollo, the author of the I Spy rhymes.

Global Collaboration Music Video and Rock Our World

1000+ students
43 schools
6 continents

Rock Our World – founded by the DEN’s Carol Anne McGuire, the band Alma Desnuda and over 1000+ students from around the world collaborated on this amazing Global Music Video. We were the representatives from Michigan and we had a great time. Each class filmed video clips to send to the band and recorded singing of the lyrics. We are all represented and are proud to be part of this amazing project. Visit Youtube to LIKE the video and spread the word. We want the world to see it and sing with us! We Love the Life We Got!

Ready to Rock!

Thanks to a grant from MACUL (Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning) my second graders and I will be Rockin’Our World with a brand new iMac desktop computer!
As part of Rock Our World we will use our iMac to make music (Garageband), learn about Healthy Habits, and video chat with students all over the world! Rock Our World’s lead Rocker is DEN Star Carol Anne McGuire. I met Carol Anne during DENSI-2010 in Boston. She has created an amazing collaboration opportunity! Thank you MACUL for the Grant and thank you to the DEN for the Carol Anne connection! Woo Hoo!