App Differently [SDCUE 2013 session]


No longer does our old pedagogy match the changing world that is all around us.

Our students today deserve more. They deserve more time creating; less time filling out bubbles. They deserve more time collaborating; and less time sitting quietly at their desks filling out worksheets. They deserve more time communicating in ways they never imagined possible. And they deserve to be challenged to think critically about the world around them.

Some of the biggest critics of students using technology in the classroom visualize “zombie” children mindlessly clicking away on their screens. Well I am here to shout from the rooftops that when implemented correctly, technology integration can redefine how students learn in your classroom.

Take a look at Ruben R. Puentedura‘s SAMR model.

Or watch the simplified version of the SAMR model here.

In order to reach the Modification and Redefinition level, you need to take an honest look at how you integrate iOS apps into you classroom. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are the apps my students using “creative apps”?
  • Are the apps my students using primarily “skill review” type of apps?
  • To read more about the difference between these types of apps visit this blog post.

In my classroom, I limit my students’ use of “skill review” apps because they really aren’t too different from a worksheet. Skill review apps promote  more drill type of activities. However, I have many “creative apps” for my students to access so they can use iOS apps to create, collaborate, communicate, and to think critically (4 Cs of the Common Core). This is how you can move to the modification and redefinition of the SAMR model. In my classroom my students and I, App Differently.

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If you attended my session at SDCUE 2013 you may feel a tad overwhelmed by the number of amazing apps that I shared with you today. So have no fear, I have included a list of all the apps I discussed in my session and a few bonus ones as well. Also, in my presentation, I included student samples so  you could see how these apps can be used.

Creative Apps for the Classroom:

Sonic Pics, Storyrobe, or 30 Hands for digital storytelling, storyboarding, and reading skills.

Puppet Pals is a digital puppet theater that creates recorded movies of puppet shows.

Mad Lips allows you to make any image TALK! See my Talking Book Covers post here.

Trading Cards by Read Write Think allows you to create trading card about historical figures and characters from stories. Another great one by Read Write Think is Word Mover.

Comic Touch Lite or Zoodle are great for creating comic strips. I also use this app for reading strategy practice and for annotating pictures in science and social studies.

Popplet is a mind mapping app which can be used in a very substitution type of way. However if you think creatively you can use this app in a way that promotes critical thinking. I use this app for my students to document evidence from the text to support their opinions.

Pic Stitch plus Skitch to annotate images for any content area!

ThingLink creates a “touchable” image where students can type in information, place links, or videos right onto the picture. This is great for students to add to their blog posts.

Subtext is one of my favorite apps ever. My students love it too. With this app my students and I do collaborative reading.

Explain Everything is an app that allows you to screencast. I use this app in my flipped math class. My students even create videos to show what they know.

Evernote is a great teacher app. I use this app to monitor student progress during reading and writing conferences. I love that I can record a student reading aloud and keep a record of their oral reading.

Edmodo (or My Big Campus) are tools that allow your class to interact with each other. It is a “safe” social media for education.

Kidblog is a webpage and also an app. This is a blogging tool that will allow you to set up student blogs and monitor their posts and comments. You can have their blogs set to share with the world or only with each other in the class. Read my Kidblog poster here.

The camera can be your best too ever, too! Have students go outside and find evidence of geometry around school. Look for parallel lines, intersecting lines, acute angles, etc. Allow them to edit their images in Snapseed.

My favorite movie making apps are iMovie (paid) and Splice (free). iMovie’s trailers are a great tool for beginning videographers.

Vintagio is a wonderful silent moving making app. This is great for a classroom environment because students don’t have to worry about sound. Read my Vintagio post here.

Please come visit my blog often as I love to blog about how iOS apps can redefine learning. Also, I will begin blogging more about Google Apps for Education.



It’s Not WHAT App I Should I Use; It’s HOW Should I Use That App



Ladies and gentleman, please buckle your seat belts, we are are about to embark on a little flight through my iTunes cloud. There are a whopping 965 apps stuffed inside my cloud that I am certain at any moment apps will come raining out of the sky right onto my head.

One day after school I sat at my computer feeling a bit overwhelmed by the colossal amount of apps I had to sort through, when I suddenly  had my Newton moment. Except it wasn’t an apple that fell onto my head. But a virtual app falling from my over-stuffed iTunes cloud. I realized quite clearly, it is not WHAT app I should use in my classroom, but rather HOW I plan to use that app to promote student learning and engagement.

Each week when I sync my student iPods and update the apps I have selected for student learning, I thoroughly consider what apps I will upload and HOW I want my students to learn. My first thought is how will this app meet my students needs and engage learning? My overarching goal for all student learning is to utilize and promote the four C’s:  creativity, collaboration, use of critical thinking skills, and communication skills.

We should always consider: What apps are creative apps versus skill review apps?

Creative Apps are apps that can be used in more than one way and in multiple curricular areas. These types of apps usually foster innovative learning and support students to expand upon what they have learned. Creative apps are excellent ways to integrate project based learning and always have a variety of outcomes. They are easily adaptable to learning styles and can be differentiated to meet the needs of all learning levels. These apps always promote the 4 C’s: creativity, collaboration, use of critical thinking skills, and communication skills.

Skill review apps are quite different. This is the most common type of educational app out there and quite honestly, I have quite a large collection of these apps in my iTunes library (more than I could ever really need). Skill review apps provide a child a way to review a particular skill such as adding, subtracting, letter sounds, rhyming, etc. They often mimic a worksheet, in such a way that once the skill has been mastered, there isn’t much more that can be done with the app. The student outcomes are always the same and there is little to no innovation required. I have found students bore easily if this type of app is used too often. While it does sound like my opinion of these types of apps is a bit negative, I still think there is a place for these types of apps in our classroom, they just need to be used to focus on particular skills and should be refreshed often. I usually sync new skill review apps every week and delete old ones.

So next time you are cruising through your iTunes cloud contemplating WHAT app you should add to your students’ iPods or iPads, consider changing your thought pattern. Do reverse planning and think HOW do I want my students to use this app to create, collaborate, think critically, and communicate.

Here is a list of apps which I consider to be quality creative apps. The following apps can be used in a variety of ways and help to promote the 4 C’s:

Creative Apps

SimpleMind+: Mind mapping app that allows students to develop their ideas and add sensory details. Read more about this app in another blog post here. Free.

Sonic Pics: This app allows you to record audio over pictures thus creating a slideshow type movie. Students can use this app to create storyboards, show sequence of events, to summarize reading, or to promote asking questions. $2.99

Puppet Pals: Students can create digital puppet shows. You can use this app for pre-writing activities, to check for understanding, to show cause and effect, and to model science experiments.  iPad Link or iPod Link. You can read more about Puppet Pals in my blog post here. Free but there is an in app purchase that I highly recommend for $2.99

Mad Lips: This app allows you to make ANYTHING talk by allowing you to video record your lips talking. You spend hours laughing as you play with this app. You can use this app to animate objects in science, teach perspective, for special effects in movies, and to create “Talking Book Covers.” To read about this app more read my blog post here. Free Version or Paid $2.99

Comic Touch Lite: This app allows you to use photos to create comic books. Students can take a picture and add talking bubbles and thought bubbles. You can use this app as a making predictions activity, to create a short summary, annotate a picture in social studies or science, or to add thoughts a character may be having in the story. Free.

Strip Designer: This is a more advanced version of Comic Touch Lite. There are a lot more options in this app, but it isn’t free. $2.99

Evernote: This app has the following capabilities: word process, take pictures, and voice record. You can use this app to go paperless! Some ideas for this app is in writing, to practice reading fluency, for self-assessment in the form of a digital portfolio. Read more about this app on my blog post here. Free.

Scribble Press: This is an iPad only app that allows you to create books and illustrate. Read more about this here. Free.

LifeCards: This app is a postcard creator that allows you to take your own picture, write a letter, and email it to anyone! You can use this app to write a letter from the perspective of a character, practice friendly letter writing, write a letter to an author, or to write letters in social studies as a faux primary source. $1.99

Skype: This app allows you to video conference with wifi. You need to create an account then make arrangements to call other classrooms. If you are interested here is a link to the Mystery Skype Project who recently became the Mystery Location Calls. Visit Skype’s webpage to learn about it here. Or get together with a group of educators online. I found my first Skype through the #4thchat on Twitter. Free.

Edmodo: The simplest definition of Edmodo is that it is a social media network for education. However, Edmodo allows you to create assignments, quizzes, add photos, videos, links, and allows students to interact with each other online at school or at home. Free.

Movie Making

The following are my favorite movie making apps that can be used to promote the 4 C’s. Movies are made based on curriculum standards. These are listed in order from my least favorite to absolute LOVE IT!

Splice (free)

FiLMic Pro 2 ($4.99)

iMovie ($4.99)

Vintagio ($1.99)


 Quality Skill Review Apps


Counting Coins (Free)


Splash Math There are several Splash Math apps for each grade level. They have iPods and iPad versions. They are quite pricey however, you are able to set the app up so you can monitor student progress. They are aligned with standards and review each of the 5 strands of math. Free-$9.99

Baseball: I really like the McGraw Hill apps as they are aligned with standards and have engaging gaming elements that do not distract from the learning and reviewing of math concepts. $1.99

Sushi Monster: This app reviews addition and multiplication. I like this app because it has a variety of levels and requires critical thinking strategies. This app takes a long time to master and can be accessed by students with varying math levels. The game is engaging, too! Free.

Word Work:

Spelling City:  I was waiting and waiting for this app to come out! And when it did I was very please with the results. This app allows your students to access your SpellingCity lists and play the spelling games on their iPods/iPads. Free.

Bee Spelled LiteThis game allows students to practice their spelling patterns in an engaging way. It has a bit of violence, but it is extremely engaging to boys! Free.

BoggleThis is played just like the real game. This is a great way to practice spelling patterns. There is a free version or the paid version is $0.99


Mad LibsCreate free Mad Libs. There is an in app purchase if you would like more Mad Lib books.


Grammar Jammers: This is a great app to review grammar skills. It has a series of lessons and songs to help review grammar. There is a free and paid version. The paid versions have an elementary version and a middle edition.

Same Sound Spell BoundPractice homophones! Free.


Opposite OceanPractice antonyms. Free.


Dictionary Apps

Dictionary.comI use this app mostly for word meanings and for the amazing thesaurus. Free.


Webster MerriamI use this app to look up the spelling of words because it has a a voice to text option. Free.


This blog post goes with a presentation that I have given numerous times. Follow this link to find out more about my presentations.





Lose the Binder: Use Evernote in Your Classroom

It’s been almost three weeks since my first ISTE conference and the wheels continue to turn or better said, spin wildly! This is by far the largest and most inspiring education conference I have ever been to and has resulted in creating new life in my ed tech world. While I spend a lot of time reading blogs and professional articles and following extremely inspiring educators on Twitter, I was able to take all the ideas I have been gathering and really plant some solid seeds into next year’s plan for my classroom. Another plus, was actually meeting and networking with some of the very same teachers I follow and network with on Twitter.
     Now I have been formulating all of the ideas into my head for long enough and it is about time to put them down on my blog. This will be a series of blog entries because as I sit here and think about everything I want to write about I find myself overwhelmed with writer’s block. So as a cure to this, I am posting in smaller chunks. I hope you enjoy and can take at least one new piece of edtech awesomeness away with you!
Lose the Binder: Use Evernote in Your Classroom
Remember the good ol’ days of getting your brand new Trapper Keeper? You stuffed it full of tabs, pencils pouches, and fresh clean college ruled paper. Then after a year of sub-organization, with papers falling out, you place that Trapper Keeper on the bookshelf never to be looked at again. Now imagine the world for our students where Trapper Keepers and binders were considered a blast from the past. Imagine a world where your students carried their digital binder from grade to grade collecting work from their past years of schooling. Essentially, collecting a history of learning and a digital portfolio all at the same time. That time has come and Evernote is that digital binder of the future.
     If you use Evernote for your personal use, then you know all too well how wonderfully simple and amazing the Evernote app is. When I first began using Evernote, I downloaded it so I could take notes there rather than using the iPhone/iPad’s built in notes. I was amazed how easily it synced with my iPad, iPod, iPhone, and desktop. Then as I began to dig deeper into Evernote’s capabilities I began to see the potential of this app in the classroom.
Here are the functions that make Evernote amazing for use in a classroom:
  • Note taking (word processing)
  • List maker
  • Audio recording
  • Snapshots (take pictures)
  • Tag notes for searching and filing ease
  • With the Premium version you are able to search items in all notebooks (including words in images and handwritten words)
  • With the Premium version, students can share work with you (but not in real time like in Google Docs)
     The first thing that came to mind was to use Evernote as my student’s word processing tool. I have a 1:1 iPod classroom and this made writing and publishing of student work a fun and easy process. However, after listening to Nick Provenzano (@thenerdyteacher) speak about his full integration of Evernote into his high school English class (at #ISTE12) I was inspired on a whole new level. He is part of a 1:1 iPad program and claims that once he introduced Evernote to his students they took to it immediately and wanted to use it for all of their classes for note-taking and word processing. He explained how Evernote is like a binder that a student can carry with them from year to year. Each year a student can collect all of their learning in one location and essentially, indirectly or purposely, compile a digital portfolio.
     Nick has so fully integrated Evernote into his teaching that he is now paperless! He has scanned all of his assignments and teaching tools and has them stored in notebooks in Evernote. Nick said last school year he made only 240 copies! In addition, instead of carrying home crates of writing projects to grade each day, he just walks on out with his iPad. That is truly phenomenal.
Instantly my mind was turning with new ideas to integrate Evernote into my classroom. Here they are:
  • Have students create notebooks for their projects. They can then email me their entire notebook as their final project.
  • Create digital writing portfolios
  • Use Evernote to capture pictures of their artwork (from our art program). Students can include either a written reflection about their piece or an audio recording.
  • Students can use the audio recording to record their final fluency practice. This can be turned in with a written reflection (using a kid-friendly rubric).
  • With the premium version (teacher only) I will have students share their writing with me. I will then be able to comment on their work or attach an audio recording of my reflection of their work. Imagine the time I will save and the documentation I will be able to gather!
  • Students can access their work on their iPods, in the computer lab, and even on their devices at home.
  • Students can email their work to you.
  • Teach my students to take notes using Evernote fully utilizing snapshots.
  • Use Evernote to document my Daily 5 reading conferences. I can even use the audio recording to record students reading aloud. Read this blog for more information: Evernote as a Reading 1 on 1 Conference Tool 
Great Evernote links from other amazing educators:

If you have more ideas to add, please add them into the comment area! I love hearing what everyone else is doing.
Thank you,
Jo-Ann Fox

Use Google Forms and Go Paperless!


If you are looking to spend less time waiting in the copy machine line and more time planning engaging and innovative lessons, keep reading! You won’t have to visit the Apple Store in order to use one of the best strategies with your classroom set of iPods and iPads. All you need is a Google account and your teacher creativity. So have I kept you in suspense long enough? No? Well, perhaps I should mention that you will also be helping the environment by going paperless.

One of my very talented and tech savvy colleagues, Chia Grossmann, has become an expert with using Google forms in her classroom.  I have utilized her idea of creating a simple Google “Response Form” that can be used over and over in all curricular areas. Chia’s “Response Form” is a simple form to create, since it only has a place for the student number, name, and a written response area.

Here is what the “Response Form” looks like:

Keep reading if you would like step-by-step directions to create this form:

If you have never created a Google form, the process is rather simple. First and foremost, you must have a Google account. If you don’t have one already… get one. You won’t be sorry.

Then once you have logged into your Google account, click on “Documents” at the top of the page. Then click “Create.”


Once you click on Create you will see a pull down menu. Select “Forms.” An untitled form will pop up, along with the first question ready for you to edit.

Title your form “Response Form.” You can add directions about the form below the title if you like. I typed, “Please remember to write complete sentences.” My advice is leave the directions very vague because you will want to use this form for many different activities.

Now we will begin to edit question 1. This will be for student numbers (if you use nick-numbers). Title it “Student Number.” I am not including any “Help Text.” We are going to change the question type to “Choose from a list.” Now begin typing. Chia recommends typing the first name on the list as Anonymous. Then add student numbers. When you have finished, click the box next to “Make this a required question.” Last, click “done.”


 Now we will make question 2. Select “Add item” at the top of the screen (it is next to the green plus sign). You will get another pull down menu. This time select “text.” Title it “Name.” Click the box next to “Make this a required question” and click on “done.”

Now for the last step for question 3. Select “Add item” again and this time on the pull down menu, select “Paragraph text.” Title it “Response.” Click the box next to “Make this a required question.” Last, click “done.”

Now you have a completed form! If you like to make things fancy then select a new theme at the top of the window. I selected the “blue bird” theme and this is what my live form will look like. When you select apply, it will take you back to your “edit form” page. You won’t see the your cutesy theme, but don’t worry it is still there.

Now that your form is compete you have several options. You can email this form to yourself so you have a link to it. But this is what I do… I copy the link at the very bottom of the page. Then I visit a QR code maker website and create a QR code for my students to get to the form quickly. I have also put a link to the form on my school webpage. Either way, you need some way for your students to link to this form on their iPods.

Once your students have accessed the “live form” on their iPods, have them make a web clip of this link (hold home key and sleep button at the same time). This way you can have your students access this same form over and over for a variety of different activities. I bet your next questions is how do you use this form with students?

This is the part where teacher creativity and innovation takes over. Here are some quick ideas for you to mull over:

  • Have students respond to a question about a book you are reading.
  • Have students write an opinion about a topic or story you are reading.
  • Have students share facts they learned from their social studies or science lesson.
  • Have students share with you their topic sentence for their new piece of writing.
  • Have students write a “7 up” sentence.
  • Have students explain how they solved a problem in math.
  • Use this as your way for students to “TATTLE.”
  • Use this form as an exit ticket.

After your students have completed their “Response Form” from an assignment you have given them, their responses will appear in the form of a spreadsheet. To access this spreadsheet, go back to your original “edit form.” Up at the top right hand corner is a tab that says “See responses.” Select “spreadsheet.” You will then see the responses from your students. In the following picture you can see the answers that I filled in on the form.

When my students are completing a “response form” assignment, I will quite often display the spreadsheet on the docucam so everyone can review others’ responses. However, I do slide the form over so the names and numbers cannot be seen so that the responses are still private. If you do this, keep hitting the refresh button to update the form as students submit their work.

If you want to save this work on the spreadsheet, select “file” from the menu bar and download it to your desktop or make a copy. When the assignment is completed and you have saved your spreadsheet, then delete the information on the spreadsheet so you can reuse this same form for another assignment.

I bet you can think of at least a thousand ways to use this simple Google form in your classroom. Not only will you be able to receive valuable written responses from your students, you will be helping to save thousands of trees by  going paperless! I would love if you would share your ideas with everyone. Don’t be shy to reply!

Jo-Ann Fox

Thank you for inspiring me, Chia Grossmann!


Scribble Press: The Best Drawing App!


App Type: Creative App

Grade Level: all

Skill Level: Easy/Beginners level

Common Core Standards: Can be used with all Common Core standards.

App Store: Scribble Press is free. (iPad only)

When I downloaded this app my first thought was, “This is just another drawing app.” I mean really, how many drawing apps can one have on their iPad? I know from my own experience that I have at least 5 different drawing apps. But go ahead and delete the other ones and download this app NOW! I say NOW because there is no way this app is going to be free for much longer. This is one of the best drawing apps I have seen in a long time. Here is why…

This drawing app allows you to do two different things: draw (My Drawings) or create a book (My Books)!

I love the layout of the drawing application of this app. Select “New Drawing” and let your creativity flow. Scribble Press allows you to open up a “marker wall” full of pens of varying colors, widths, and styles.

This is an artist’s dream! A huge selection of pens and stamps awaits your creativity. Simply open up the wall, tap on the color of your choice, and finally select your pen. The pen is then added to your pen collection at the bottom of your drawing.

You can also add stickers, text, photos, and even change the background color. You can save your drawings within the app, take a screen shot to save it, or you can order your picture through Scribble Press (I have not ordered one so I cannot comment on this process but I guess this is how they make their money).

You can can also author and illustrate your very own book! Simply select “New Book” and follow their simple steps. First, you select which kind of book you would like to create.

Scribble Press has a blank book for you to create on your own,but it also has many different pre-made books that helps you to create a book.  Then, select the theme of the book. This app allows you to choose several different stories within each theme. I chose Fantasy. Then I selected “Good Luck Mermaid.”  Each book begins with a cloze type of paragraph (a cloze is a story with missing words that you can fill in). Fill in the missing words and touch “Create My Book.”

It will then create the book with the text at the bottom. Now you are able to go and illustrate each page. When you have finished illustrating touch “I’m Finished.” Of course, you can purchase your book from Scribble Press, but it also saves the story within the app so you can reread it over and over. You also have the option to share but you need to set up an account with Scribble Press. One of the options when you “share” is to open it in iBooks. This saves the book to your iBooks library so your students can go back and reread their own stories.

This app can be used in your classroom is so many different ways! The book creating option is a great writing tool for reluctant writers and especially for students with Autism who quite often have a difficult time during the writing block. You can use the “Blank Book” to support writing story summaries, sharing facts gathered from social studies or science, or to create books for vocabulary practice. This creative app is an excellent addition to your library of apps for the classroom.

Get innovative with this app and share your ideas!

Jo-Ann Fox


SimpleMind+: Digital Mind Maps for the Classroom


App Type: Creative App

Grade Level: all

Skill Level: Easy/Beginners level

Common Core Standards: This app can be used to cover just about any standard.

iOS Device: iPod, iPhone, iPad

Cost:  SimpleMind+ is free (for the version on the iPhone, iPod, and iPad). SimpleMind (full version) is $6.99. Also, there is a desktop version of the software that can be purchased for your computer. You do not need to purchase the desktop version to use this app effectively in the classroom (I have not purchased this).

SimpleMind+ is a mind mapping app. If your school site is using the Thinking Maps program, SimpleMind+ creates a “bubble map.” This creative app can be integrated in every academic area from language arts, to math, to social studies and science.

Students are able to easily save their map creations within the app so they can refer back to their maps later. However, they are disappointed when they can’t print their maps. While I am not a huge advocate for printing all student creations (we are trying to save some trees by using iPods), students can take a screen shot (to make a screen shot simply hold down the home key and the sleep button at the same time) of their map, save it to their camera roll, then email it to you.

I have used this map in my classroom mostly in the area of writing. As a prewriting activity, my second graders can create a mind map about their writing topic. However, this app is easily adaptable for any academic area. Here are some examples of what you can do with this app:

Language Arts:

  • Describe a character from a story.
  • Describe the setting of a story.
  • Describe the events of a story.
  • Create a map of facts gathered from reading an expository text.
  • Vocabulary development: write the vocabulary word in the middle and branch out with the meaning, parts of speech, synonym, antonym, and use it in a sentence.
  • Create a map of a phonics skill (such as words that have ow or ou, etc.).


  • Brainstorm details for your writing topic.
  • Create a mind map of alternative words for words that are used too often (like good, fun, etc.).

Science/Social Studies:

  • Create maps of the topics of study.
  • Create maps using science and social studies vocabulary.


  • Create a mind map of math vocabulary.
  • Use to describe shapes.
  • Create a map that shows the key words for problem solving.

For the purpose of the classroom you can easily use the free version, SimpleMind+. If you want to be able to have more control with the editing features such as color choice and linking maps together, then the paid version would be better for you. I would love for the app developers of this software to add a feature that allows you to insert pictures into the mind maps.

I hope you enjoy using this app creatively in your classroom! Please share with me any other ways you can use this app with your class. Thank you!

Jo-Ann Fox