Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Annotating with Skitch

I have always been a big (ok, huge) fan of sticky notes -- yes, the yellow squares of paper that you can write on and stick anywhere -- I love them.  Plain and simple.  I think it's because I tend to come up with random thoughts, questions, or connections and love to have a spot to jot them down and stick them so I can come back to them later.  Or, maybe it's because they're so small that you have to limit to-do lists to bare essentials and abbreviate notes with shorthand and symbols.

Therefore, it probably comes as no surprise that I also enjoy incorporating sticky notes into lessons I teach at school.  One of my favorite ways to use sticky notes with students has been to facilitate students' interaction with a text -- by taking notes / annotating what they read, and then sticking the notes to the text (or textbook) for easy reference at a later time.

This practice makes for quick note checks (did you get 5 notes on that topic?), formative assessments (turn in your most important note on this topic), reorganization of ideas (try flip-flopping your 2nd and 3rd sticky notes), recording collective brainstorming (write what you already know about this topic and stick it on the board), etc... (for more innovative and impressive uses of sticky notes in the classroom, check out this Edutopia blog post by Ben Johnson: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/sticky-note-teaching-tool-ben-johnson).

But, I have come across a few important limitations with sticky notes in the classroom --
  1. sticky notes eventually loose their sticky-ness
  2. sticky notes can be a great record of learning, but are difficult to share with those outside of our classroom
image: http://inthelifeofanerd.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/skitch.jpg

So, I did some checking and soon discovered...there's an app for that! (actually there are several great annotation apps out there!) 

Skitch happens to be my favorite iPad annotation app to use with students because it is very easy to pick up and use and is also very easy to share and save.

First step:
Students select the background image they would like to annotate.  They can use a photo, map, blank screen, or capture an image from the web.

Second step:
Students use the annotation tools (arrow, text, shapes, highlighter/marker, pen color, blur, crop) to take notes and annotate the text or photo to show thoughts, ideas, questions and / or connections.
From: Great Source ACCESS History - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

From: National Geographic Explorer, Pioneer Edition. January, 2013

Third step:
Students save their annotation, either to the iPad to to their Evernote account.

Fourth step:
Students share their annotation:
  • create a public link (post on blog, class website, Twitter, Facebook, etc)
  • via AirPlay (project and display)
  • send in an email (classmates, family, friends, teachers, etc)
  • save to the iPad's camera roll

Skitch provides students with a meaningful way to annotate and interact with a photo or text, while also providing options for both saving and sharing the annotations on a grander scale.  Sorry, sticky notes....Skitch's got you beat this time!

How do you use Skitch with students?  Do you use a different annotation app?  Leave your ideas in the comments section!

My next app-y goal: use HaikuDeck with students as a medium for sharing their learning...looking forward to trying it out!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Dividing Decimals and iMovie on the iPad

I have to say that one of the best parts of my job is collaborating with my colleagues -- I love working together to develop plans and turn good ideas into great learning moments for students.

One such collaborative brainstorming session occurred just a few weeks ago between myself and a 6th grade teacher.  We were meeting to rethink parts of our co-taught math class and were discussing the fact that the next unit is typically the most difficult for students.

The 6th grade teacher mentioned that decimal division and 'swooping' the decimals is often an extremely difficult concept for students to catch on to... and before long,  we had come up with an idea to help make 'swooping decimals' a bit more catchy.  (Reasoning: mnemonic devices and songs are great ways to help English learners - and all students - remember steps in a process!)

The 6th grade teacher and her son wrote the lyrics that night, and the next day, we recorded as many students and staff as we could using iMovie for the iPad.  I edited the complete iMovie on my iPad (so easy to do!) and we shared the final product with students and staff -- it was a hit, and before you knew it, 'SWOOP there it is' became a common phrase throughout the building.

Check out our iMovie and feel free to use and share as a resource for dividing decimals:

When you got a problem with
a decimal divisor
Gotta know how to divide
if you're gonna be wiser.

First multiply divisors by a
power of ten,
If it's got two places, 
gotta swoop it again.

Make divisors whole numbers- 
that's what you gotta do
Don't forget the inside decimal
Cuz you gotta swoop that, too!

Swoop, there it is (4X)

You swoop the inside decimal
the same number of places
As you did with the divisor -
Don't mess up with the spaces!

Raise that decimal up
High above that solid line
Then it's regular division
And you're gonna be fine.

Swoop, there it is (4X)

Divide, Multiply, Subtract, 
Check and Bring Down
Are what you need to do to 
To take that problem down!

And....Swoop, there it is! 
Swoop, there it is!
Swoop there it is!
Swoop there it is!

Lyrics written by Ms. Moran.

(Based on the original song: Whoomp There It Is by Tag Team)


We are already brainstorming our next number....perhaps a science-themed re-make of Psy's Gangnam Style?!  

What are some ways you have used iMovie for the iPad to enhance learning for students?  Leave a comment to share!

Looking forward to many more creative and productive brainstorming sessions with my colleagues in 2013!