iPad Photography

This year my district is 1:1 with devices.  My 2nd graders each have an iPad to use in the classroom and take home for homework.

I always start my lessons with Digital Citizenship.  I use the K-12 Scope and Sequence from Common Sense Media.  These lessons are ongoing throughout the year and the kids love them.  They learn and internalize so much when you make digital citizenship a daily discourse.

After our first digital citizenship lesson, we began to explore the camera app on the iPad.  There is an excellent Brainpopjr video on taking photographs.

We learned how to select photo or video.  We learned how to pinch to zoom in and zoom out.  We learned why we might want to zoom in or zoom out for a photo.  We learned to make sure nothing is blocking the lens. (Like our fingers.)  We practiced taking selfies from different angles. (One of my sweet friends has 175 selfies all taken at the same time from different angles on his iPad.  I just had to laugh.)  We learned about framing our shots so that we get the image we want.  And most importantly, we learned to ask permission before taking a photo of another person.

I made this Hyperdoc so that we could practice some of our new skills.  Please feel free to use this.  You will have to make a copy in order to do so.

My students love taking photos, especially selfies.  I want them to learn, grow, and be responsible with their devices.  So far, we are off to a great start.

YouTube Playlists and Canvas LMS

Last week’s blog post showed how to create a YouTube playlist and load it into Google Classroom.  This week shows how to load a YouTube playlist into Canvas Learning Management System.  I hope you find it helpful.


How To Create a YouTube Playlist

Do you use YouTube in your classroom?  Do you use Google Classroom?  Here is a quick tutorial on how to create a YouTube playlist and upload the playlist to your Google Classroom.  I’ve been doing this for quite some time.

One word of caution though, I alway preview the videos I add to the playlist.  I don’t always remember to view old playlists before allowing students to view them.  I recently got a surprise when something inappropriate showed up on a playlist I made last year.  Always remember to view before your students view.

What a Mess! Unorganized Media

When I began this blog, my goal was to blog once a week.  I managed that goal fairly easily.  I would like to begin blogging every day.  The biggest hindrance to that goal is unorganized media.

I use photos in all of my blog posts.  I have several videos I would like to begin using.  I have learned since I began this blog that file names are an essential aspect of success.

This is what some of my personal photos look like in my album.

It takes quite a while to find photos, video, and other resources when you haven’t given them a file name.  I have been diligently working on naming all of my files.

Files and photos with names.

My Google Drive was just as messy.

Another mess!


Creating folders and giving those folders file names enables you to find what you are looking for more quickly.

Organized Google folders

You can even create folders within folders when you have a multitude of photos and files available.

Folders within a folder

The advantage of naming photos and files is that you can find what you are looking for when you need it.

Don’t be like me, organize and label your photos, your videos, and your documents!

Book Tasting with iPads

Today my second grade team hosted a book tasting for our students in the Library.  We are using author studies and genre studies to teach our Reading and Language Arts TEKS this year.  We wanted to give our students some choice in the authors we will be studying for the rest of the semester.

We chose 6 authors to present at our Book Tasting.  We decorated the tables with some colored paper, fall leaves, books, and QR codes.  The QR codes were to YouTube Book Trailers of books by each author.



Each class had a turn visiting the Book Tasting.  We put the kids in small groups and rotated them to each table.  They watched the YouTube videos with iPads.  There was only one minor glitch.  One of the book trailers wouldn’t play on every iPad.  The students had a wonderful time watching the book trailers and reading the books by the various authors.





Each group visited each author table.  Then we finished with a Google survey.  We made a QR code for our survey.  The students scanned the QR code with their iPad and logged into their Google accounts to complete the survey.  They told us about their favorite authors and book characters from the Book Tasting.  We will make a giant graph in our hallway to graph the results of the survey.  We will choose our next author study based on the results of the Book Tasting survey.

Our students are excited to see which author was the favorite.  They can’t wait to find out who will be the next author we study.

Here are two of our author QR code posters.

robert-munsch                      tedd-arnold





What is Digital Literacy?

Digital Literacy is a broad topic.  What does it encompass?  What do we need to teach so that our students are digitally literate?

For me, Digital Literacy, has two parts, Digital Citizenship, and Digital Fluency.  I begin addressing digital citizenship with my students the first week of school.  There are some key criteria I want my students to know and embrace about responsible online behavior.

I always start with Common Sense Media’s K-2 Scope and Sequence.  The first lesson in this series is a video of a young boy telling about online Safety.  He teaches 3 rules for online safety.  After the video and lesson I have my students create posters for online safety.




These rules are a great place to begin teaching basic online safety rules and procedures.

The essential understandings of online safety I want my students to fully understand are:  Never share personal information.  We have a lesson on what personal information is:  name, address, phone #, birthday, school, town, etc.  I want them to understand that they shouldn’t share information that will allow someone they don’t know to know who they are and where they live.

We also talk about who we know and don’t know.  Online you can chat and play games with someone.  You might recognize their profile photo or avatar.  You might know their online name or handle, but you don’t know that person in real life.  This is someone we have to be especially careful of revealing information to.  This is tricky and a hard concept for some young children to understand.  We have to have many discussions about this issue over the school year.

The third key criteria I want my students to grasp is:  Always login to an account or game and logout when you are finished.  This keeps their work, information, and projects safe and secure.  This one is easy to teach.  The first time my students go into the computer lab and discover someone has altered their avatar or changed something they were working on, they suddenly “get it”.  I always point out that those things happen when we forget to logout of our Google accounts or our RAZ Kids accounts.

Online safety and digital citizenship are ongoing topics that we visit in my classroom weekly if not daily.  There are so many more important areas to cover.  Visit Common Sense Media for more information.  Here are some links to some other great resources for teaching digital citizenship.




Technology is everywhere.  Our kids live in a world where anything is possible at the click of their fingertips.  I them to know how to be safe in this 21st century in which they live, learn, and play.


Making Maps with iPad

Map Skills is one of my favorite topics to teach.  There are so many fun activities to teach students about maps, map keys, directions, and landforms.  You can make QR Codes and go on a Safari.  You can dress up as pirates and have a Treasure Hunt around your campus.  This year I used iPad maps to teach this skill to my students.  (Thanks Danielle for the idea.)

We started off exploring maps in the iPad app.  We learned how to find places we were interested in.  We learned how to toggle back and forth between map view and satellite view.


You toggle from Satellite view to Map view by tapping the i key on the iPad screen.  On my iPad it was in the bottom right corner.  On some of my students iPads it was on the top to the right.


We explored several places the students were interested in finding on the maps.





Then I turned them loose to explore on their own.  They found our town, their homes, our school, favorite parks, and many other relevant locations.

After the free exploration time, we paired up with partners.  I always use random pairing for this.  The partners decided together the kind of map they would create.  Their task was to make a map using both the map and satellite view on the iPad.  They could choose a location.  They were to include a Map Key and a Compass Rose.  Other requirements were individualized depending on their choice for map making.  We spent 3 days working on our maps.  (Not whole days, just part of each day.)





Along the way we learned about landforms, directions and the Compass Rose, and Map Keys.








These are some of the maps before they were finished.

The students learned how to navigate the iPad Maps app.  They learned important features of maps.  They learned how to make a map and what to include.  They are still exploring within the Maps app when they have Tech Time.  This was a successful lesson on map skills!







Banking Day

I reward good behavior in my classroom with coins.  This helps my 2nd graders learn to identify coins, count coins, and make change.  Once a week we have Banking Day.  My students trade in their pennies and nickels, which I am very generous with, for quarters, dimes, and even dollars.  They also purchase rewards on this day.  I usually let them choose what rewards they would like to buy.  Here is a sample shot of what they chose.  Most of these were already on my Choice Mat.



At the beginning of the year I offer limited choices.  Many friends aren’t ready to choose from the whole list.  They spend their whole reward time trying to decide what they want to do.  This past week I let my friends choose a few of their favorites.  Tech time, Building, and Making/Creating are always at the top of the list.  Making and Creating is what my friends call Free Time this year.  They are only allowed to make one choice per week.  I do let them Pick 2 if one of the choices is Shoes Off.


It is loud and crazy when the kids are trading in their coins at the bank.  Some of them have trouble with this for a while.  Unfortunately I have no pictures of this phase as I am the banker.

The kids love this day and usually settle into their choices with great abandon.  2nd graders will do anything for a plastic penny or nickel.  I rarely have behavior problems in my classroom.  They love to collect coins and buy rewards on Banking Day.  As I said, I’m very generous with their earnings.  I want everyone to have coins to identify and count.  I want everyone to have a reward of some sort on Banking Day.







Here are some iPad apps you can use to reinforce money skills in your classroom.


Here is a coin reference sheet you can place in your student’s math journals.  You can also use these reward charts.

10-cents 25-cents 40-cents 50-cents


Identifying coins, counting coins, and making change are difficult for students.  Give your kids some real life experience with money.  They will love it!

All Things PicCollage


I love PicCollage.  It is a versatile app that can be used in your classroom in multiple ways.  PicCollage is one of the first apps I teach my 2nd graders.  Every year about half of them are familiar with PicCollage and about half are not.  For this reason, I always start with a simple lesson on how to use PicCollage.

We have been learning about Science.  What is science?  What are scientists?  What do scientists do?  What tools do scientists use?  We are preparing our 2nd graders for becoming scientists and STEAM learners.  I used PicCollage to let my students showcase what they learned about science topics.

PicCollage is an app that allows users to take photos or upload photos from the web.  Students can add text, background, and stickers to their collages.  These are simple and easy to use.  There are also templates available.  I always begin in freestyle mode.  I show students how to use the web search feature to find images they are interested in using.  I show them how to add text and change the font.  I show them how to add background.  PicCollage is so user friendly that “how to” lessons take a very short period of time.  Students catch on quickly.  PicCollage becomes a favorite app for use in the iPad station.  Students will create collages for friends, family, birthdays, favorite sport teams, and all sorts of topics they find  interesting.  Very soon, I will be teaching them how to email these collages to the family members for whom they’ve been created.

I love PicCollage for the simple fact that it allows my students who avoid paper/pencil tasks like the plague, a quick and easy way to show me what they have learned.  Many children have fine motor skill issues that make completing paper/pencil tasks pure torture. Many children are so 21st century oriented that they would truly prefer to use technology to show what they know.  I have had students in the past that I truly didn’t see from their paper/pencil activities what they were capable of.  Those students often excel at iPad activities such as PicCollage.  I like to see higher level thinking in my students.  PicCollage allows kids to shine in ways that paper/pencil activities often do not.

Take a look at a few of our first PicCollage assignments.  This is a simple, easy way for kids to show what they have learned and for teachers to assess that learning.



As our skills in PicCollage grow, and we become more fluent digital learners, I will be updating and sharing the many ways we will be using PicCollage in my classroom.  Please share in the comments the ways you and your students apply PicCollage to 21st century learning.

Click the follow button in the bottom right hand corner to join my classroom journey in creating digital fluency in today’s learners.

Making Friends with Teligami

The beginning of every school year brings new adventures, new opportunities, new beginnings, and new friends.  Elementary school teachers spend much time helping students renew old relationships and develop new ones.  We always read stories about friendship and search for new activities to create bonding experiences for our new students.

I love random pairing.  I also prefer to put my students into groups of 2 for partner activities.  I like 2 kids to a group for the simple reason that participation tends to be higher in smaller groups.  With groups of 3 or more it seems like someone is always sitting and observing instead of actively participating.

This week, our first week back in school, we spent a lot of time doing partner activities.  I use a random drawing process to partner my students.  There is always some shock at first.  There is usually some trepidation when someone ends up paired with someone they don’t really know.  Girls and boys who end up paired together usually give each other some strange looks.  By Friday, the kids understood how the process works and for the most part just grinned at their new partners.  I truly believe this random pairing goes a long way in forging new friendships within my classroom.

We undertook all of the usual first week activities for early elementary grade levels.  We read a series of Kevin Henkes books.  Chester’s Way, Wemberly Worried, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse and of course, Chrysanthemum are just a few of the books we used this week.  He is my favorite author and the perfect author for a Back to School unit.  We played Getting to Know You games.  We prepared activity after activity for partners to come together, work together, and in the process, get to know each other.

On Friday, we had another random partner drawing.  This time we were drawing for friends to interview.  Each student had a brief interview sheet with some basic questions such as age, favorite food, favorite subject, etc.  The two partners then set about interviewing each other.  After the interview process was completed, we watched a YouTube video on how to create a Teligami.  We also watched a 33 second Teligami video that had been uploaded to YouTube.  All of this preparation took about 10 minutes.   A few of my students had used Teligami before, but most had not.

Their task was to create a Teligami introducing their new friend.  They could create an animated character for the introduction.  They could use a Teligami background or they could take a photo of our classroom for the background.  I didn’t let them download from the internet for background images.  We haven’t had that lesson yet.  They could record their voices introducing their friend or they could type the text and let the Teligami app generate a computer voice.  Everyone chose to make their own voice recording of course.

Teli 1

The kids had a great time interviewing friends and creating  Teligami characters.  I got to know my kiddos a little better by observing their tech skills and their creativity.

Teli 2

How do you use Teligami in your classroom?  Please comment to share your ideas.  If you like my blog please click on the follow button in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.