Sunday, February 25, 2018

Awesome Tech Deal

A few days ago, my friend and tech guru Leslie Fisher posted an amazing deal on a cool new tech toy called Merge Cube.  I actually had seen the Merge Cube in December and thought about buying one because they were on sale at Wal-mart for $4, but I left the store without buying one and had since forgotten about it.

I am so glad I didn't purchase any at the time because I picked up a bunch over the weekend at my local Walmart for only $1 each!  Yes, $1!  I filled up my cart and quickly messaged all my local media specialists friends that there were still a bunch left if they wanted to snag some themselves.  I couldn't wait to get home and try one out.

You may be wondering what these Merge Cubes do and why I would want to purchase so many.  These little foam cubes are actually an augmented reality trigger image that work with free and paid apps from Merge Labs, Inc.   You use your smartphone or tablet and download the apps to use with the cube.  Merge Cube apps are available on the App Store or Google Play.

The cube then becomes a hologram in your hand.  

My eight year old and I had so much fun playing around with the cube this weekend.

I envision using these in our MakerSpace.

And the wonderful Leslie Fisher also pointed out that Merge Cube is an open SDK, which means that others can develop apps for the Merge Cube, not just Merge Labs so even students could develop apps.  How cool would that be?

Here is a video I made demonstrating some of the free apps that work with Merge Cube.  

We had so much fun with Merge Cube that I knew I had to get a bunch for the students at my school, so I went back for a second buggy full.  I plan to raffle them off at the end of the year to students who have all of their materials turned in.

You can find out even more about Merge Cube from Michael Fricano II of the Janus Group on THIS blog post. He goes more into what apps are available and how to set up an account, although an account is not necessary to use the Merge Cubes.

And THIS EdSurge post gives you an idea of what apps would be best to use in the classroom.

Also checkout the MERGE Educators Facebook group.  MERGE often posts app updates as well as sneak peeks on new apps there and members are encourage to post and share how they are using Merge Cubes.  Click HERE to request to join the group.

So what are you waiting for?  Go to your nearest Walmart and see if you can grab a great deal on these little guys!  Your students are gonna love them!

*I'm an affiliate for things I've bought or used personally.  If you click through any referral links (if included), at no cost to you, I will earn a commission if you make a purchase.  Thank you for your support in this way.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

My Favorite Apps for the Media Center

When I first started in the Media Center, I requested iPads.  Within a year, I had six iPads for the Media Center and was enthusiastic about using them.  A few years later, our admin purchased at least 2 iPads for all classrooms.  How exciting!

There are so many things that can be done with iPads.  I try to use them as much as possible so that teachers can see all the wonderful things an iPad can do in the classroom.

Last year our county became 1:1 with Chromebooks in 3rd grade and up.  As we've gotten more and more used to using Chromebooks, our classroom iPads haven't been used as much.  Because of that, our admin offered the iPads to me for use in the Media Center and I now have access to 27 iPads-enough for 1:1 use for when classes come to the Media Center.  Eek!.  Some of our iPads are older than olders and some of the apps I have used for years on those very first iPads are no longer available in the app store, but I have tried to put the apps I use most on as many of the iPads as I can.

So what are some of my favorite iPad apps?  Here is what I use most and what I use them for...

This is probably my favorite app.  I use it all the time to create fun promotional videos for the Media Center and school videos.  I app smash it with other apps to make the videos even more spectacular.

DoInk Green Screen
I only purchased this app recently after hearing about how awesome it is for years.  I can't believe I didn't download it sooner.  It isn't a free app, but it is worth paying for.  Because I have only just begun playing around with it, I haven't used it with students yet, but can see it being used for book trailers as well as fun promotional videos.

Video Star
This is a great one to create music videos.  I like to use this one towards the end of the year to create a summer reading video starring all of the kids.  They look forward to it every year.

Funny Movie Maker
This one is similar to ChatterPix Kids.  I discovered it first and tend to use it more because of that.  It's fun to use to make book trailer or even for research reports.  Just find a picture to make "talk," save the video and add it to iMovie.

Scrolling Credits
This app is great for adding credits at the end of an iMovie creation. It makes the movie look even more polished.  Just type in the credits, save it to your camera roll and add it to your iMovie.

I LOVE Nearpod.  I use it to deliver content to all my 3rd-5th grade classes.  Now that we have Chromebooks, we don't use it on the iPad, but it can be used on iPads.  I use it mostly on my phone to advance slides in lessons.  It always cracks me up the first time I do this with 3rd grade and they all suck in their breaths in surprise that I have changed the screen on their Chromebooks.  I have an entire blog post planned just for Nearpod, so stay tuned for that.

This is a great app for a ticket out the door type activity or as a wrap up to a lesson to check for understanding.  I started using Flipgrid several years ago when it first came out and shared it with my staff.  You can read about it HEREFlipgrid has come a long way in the last four years and consequently, its popularity in schools has grown.  It has really started to catch on this year, especially with fourth and fifth grades.  I recently used Flipgrid with those classes to share their favorite genres and books.  The kids really enjoyed it and it even inspired one fourth grade teacher to start her own account and use it in her classroom.  I also have a blog post planned for how I am using Flipgrid.  Continue to stay tuned.  =)

PollEverywhere is a great app to use to get instant feedback.  And there are so many options for answers, multiple choice, short answer, even emojis!

HP Reveal (formerly Aurasma)
This is probably my favorite augmented reality app.  I used it every year for a lesson about locating fiction books for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade, and have used it with Kinder and first grades when reading books to make the books "come alive" as well as teaching the parts of a book.  You can see how I've used HP Reveal in the past by clicking HERE, HEREHERE and HERE.  I will be updating the How to Guide soon.

I use this app a lot during special days like Dot Day because Quiver has so many free downloadable pages that work with the app.

AR Flashcards
This app is so fun to use with PreK and K as they are learning their letters.  Just download the free alphabet flashcards and scan them with the app. So cool and so fun for the littles!

Spacecraft 3D
This is a great app to use with classes studying about space.  Download the free trigger images to see different space vehicles.

This free app has thousands of eBooks.  Students can sign up for accounts to be able to read at home. I like to use Epic! to show books on our ActivBoard.

Follett Destiny
If you use Follett Destiny as your cirucuation software, you can use the Follett Destiny app to remotely check in and check out books. This is great if you need to circulate during checkout and not be stuck behind the circulation desk.

Scholastic Book Fairs
This is a must if your school uses AR, Reading Counts, or Lexile.  It will save you time looking up levels of books for customers.  Just scan the barcode on the back of a book or even the cover and get the AR level and points, RC Level, Lexile level, age and grade level, and price of the book.

If you have the Osmo system, I recommend any of the Osmo apps which include Words, Numbers, Tangram, Newton, Masterpiece, Monster, Osmo Coding, Coding Jam, Pizza Company, MindRacers, and Coding Duo.  My students especially love Osmo Coding, Osmo Coding Jam, Tangram, and Words.

Dash and Dot Apps
If you have Dash and Dot, you will want some apps to be able to use them.  Wonder, Go, Path, Xylo, Blockly, and Blockly Jr. all work with Dash and Dot.

Sphero Apps
If you have Spheros, these apps will help control them.  Sphero, and Chromo are some of my favorites.

Coding Apps
Kodable, Hopscotch, Tickle, and Code Spark Academy are great apps for students to learn and practice coding.  Some are easier apps to use than others.  You can play around with them and see which ones would work for your students.

Tiny Tap
I have to admit that I haven't used this app as much as I would like. But it could really be a great learning tool.  You can create your own games using this app where the user taps the answer on the screen and receives feedback, programmed by you, as to whether or not the answer is correct.  This would be a fun app to use with older grades to create sight word games or addition and subtraction flashcards for younger students.

This is another app that I haven't quite used as much as I anticipated, but can definitely see the potential in it. I think because we are a Google school, I tend to use Google Classroom more, but Seesaw is a great alternative especially for sharing student work.  Students could create on the iPad and upload it to Seesaw to share with their families in a safe and secure way.

What are your favorite apps for the Media Center?

Monday, February 12, 2018

Kindness Week

It's Kindness Week-the week we celebrate being kind to one another.  Here are some of my favorite books that celebrate kindness:


Source                                                Source

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I am going to be using Be a Friend by Salina Yoon this week with my kinders and firsties. Then we are going to watch Emily Arrow's song Be a Friend that goes with the book and draw about what it means to be kind.  I <3 Emily Arrow!

And just because it's Kindness Week, I've put together a little Kindness Week freebie for you.  This freebie includes the worksheets I will be using this week for my students to draw about acts of kindness as well as some kindness bookmarks in color and black and white for your students to color and signs to advertise books about kindness.  Just click HERE to download this freebie.  I'd love it if you left some feedback about what you think of this freebie.

And the kindness continues this week as there is going to be a site wide TpT sale on Wednesday and Thursday!  Yay!  You can save up to 25% off paid products using promo code XOXO. My store will be participating in the sale.  Now is your chance to snag up those products you've had sitting in your wish list.  Hope you enjoy!  =)

Do you celebrate Kindness Week?

*I'm an affiliate for things I've bought or used personally.  If you click through any referral links (if included), at no cost to you, I will earn a commission if you make a purchase.  Thank you for your support in this way.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Valentine's Day Resources

Valentine's Day is coming up!  Are you celebrating in a special way?

I usually make a display using these Valentine's signs I made a few years ago. 

I've also done a "Blind Date" with a book display for my fourth and fifth graders to encourage them to try something new.  You can read about it HERE.

 You can download them for FREE in my TpT store by clicking HERE.

I also like to put out bookmarks for my students.  This pack of 4 free bookmarks includes 2 different colored bookmarks and 2 different black and white bookmarks for your students to color.  Click HERE to download this freebie.

Or you might want the bigger pack which includes 20 bookmarks- 12 colored and 8 black and white bookmarks for your students to color.  Click HERE to view this product in my TpT store.

I have used these bookmarks  to go with our Valentine Grams purchased at our Book Fair.  You can read more about Valentine Grams HERE.

You can get a copy of the Valentine Gram letter HERE.  You can download it and save it by clicking on the down arrow in the top right corner of the screen.  No need to ask for sharing rights.  =)

Want to see more ideas?  Click on the picture above or click HERE to follow me on Instagram to see all the fun happening in our Media Center!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Groundhog Day Freebie

It's almost Groundhog Day and although I won't be celebrating it this year as our Book Fair Preview Day is on Groundhog Day, I wanted to share a freebie with you that you might be able to use.

I made this freebie a few years ago to go with Gail Gibbon's book Groundhog Day.

You can download the freebie HERE from my TpT store.  I'd love to hear what you think of it.

*I'm an affiliate for things I've bought or used personally.  If you click through any referral links (if included), at no cost to you, I will earn a commission if you make a purchase.  Thank you for your support in this way.