Talking Book Covers Using Mad Lips


I have been sitting around with my daughters this summer break and playing with this hilarious app called Mad Lips(for the iPhone and iPod). The girls and I have been making short movies and rolling around on the ground laughing hysterically. And then BOOM! I thought, if we are having this much fun, so can my students!

That is when I came up with Talking Book Covers as a refreshing new way to do a book review, character analysis, or short and to the point book report. Talk about making a book report a fun (yes… I said the F-word.. FUN)! Remember, never take the fun out of reading and, boy, do regular old book reports do that.Now you can use the Mad Lips app (free) to take a picture of a favorite book and make a 15 second summary or book review. Here is how:

1. Read a book! 🙂

2. Write and practice a quick summary or book review. Here is my example using one of my all time favorite books, Because of Winn Dixie:

Here is what I started with:
Hi, I’m Winn Dixie. Yep, I am named after a grocery store. Its really a funny story. You should read this book and find out how I got my name and how I became Opal’s best friend. I came into Opal’s life at just the right time and little did she know all she needed was a dog to help her find her way in her new town. This is a great summer adventure to read during your summer break!

Here is what I had time to say:
Hi, I’m Winn Dixie. Yep, I am named after a grocery store. Its really a funny story. You should read this book and find out how I got my name and how I became Opal’s best friend. This is a great summer adventure to read during your summer break!

3. Open up Mad Lips app and take a photo of your book by selecting NEW.

4. Then select VIDEO and record. Be sure to hold your iPod steady because if the camera moves too much your lips will move out the “lip zone.” After you have recorded, resize the oval to match the size of your lips. When set select DONE.

5. Now adjust the size of your lips to match the character you wish to have talking. You can change the size, rotate the mouth, and even blend to make it appear more realistic. You can also change the sound of the voice but the free version only has three choices (geek, normal, or creep). Not my idea of great choices. So I just keep it normal.

6. Then select DONE. At this point select SAVE and SHARE, then SHARE again. You will then need to write a title (I would have my students put their name here) and a frame. Then select DONE.

7. It will create your video and save it to you photo album.
8. At this point I would have my students post their project on Edmodo, email it to me, or share out on the overhead as a class.Here is my sample:

Free version has ads. You can upgrade to the Pro as an in app purchase for $1.99. I haven’t purchased the full version so I cannot review that part of the app. It looks as though you can add different voices, create a movie without a pre-selected frame, and will probably get rid of the ads. This only an iPhone or iPod app.
How else can you use this app? Please share and don’t forget… have some FUN!
Jo-Ann Fox



Storyrobe is considered a CREATIVE app. A creative app is an app that can be used in a variety of ways. (Versus some apps that only allow you to practice one skill like grammar or math facts.) This app is open ended and is only limited to your own teacher creativity.

 Appstore: Storyrobe
How this app works:
With this app you can take pictures (or retrieve pictures from your photo album) and create a slideshow. With each picture in the slide show your student can record their voice. There is a 3 minute limit to the slideshow.
How have I used this app?
I have used this app across the curriculum from reading, to social studies, to math. In language arts I have had my students take pictures from the story they are reading. First, they take pictures of the main events of the story. Then they record their retelling of the story. In social studies I have used Storyrobe for my students to monitor their understanding of the content area. They take pictures of what they have learned (right out of their social studies book) and then they record their understanding of the content. In math, I have had my students take pictures of each step of a math problem on a small whiteboard (we were working on adding two digit numbers with regrouping). Then they record how to solve the problem step by step.
This app really allows you to have a quick assessment of your students’ understanding. It also provides a safe and secure way for your introverted students to have a voice.

Voice Memo App for Fluency and Comprehension Development


You can go out and spend a ton of money and time trying to find the best app to use in your classroom. But stop spending hours in the iTunes store and save your money to spend at Barnes and Noble. One of the best apps that I use daily in my classroom is one that comes free on your iPod, straight from the factory. Go into your utilities file and viola! There it is… the most useful, bang for your buck app of all. Yep… Voice Memos.

The Voice Memo app is simple. There aren’t any ninjas or dancing bears. There isn’t any fancy motion feature or any levels to master. You simply record your voice! I have used this app for personal reasons many times, but I have found so many ways for my students to use this app in the classroom with their iPods, especially to support reading fluency and comprehension.

How often have you heard yourself read aloud? Now think, how often have your students heard themselves read aloud? Never thought about that, have you? Most kids know what a good reader should sound like. After all they listen to you read aloud to them in an enthusiastic voice on a daily basis. They have heard their parents or older siblings read to them, as well. But most kids have no idea what they sound like! Not in my classroom. My students know exactly what they sound like and can even reflect about their own read aloud capabilities. Everyday my students record themselves reading aloud using the Voice Memo app. When they finish recording they title their recording, listen to it, and reflect using a student-friendly rubric. I call this the RECORD, LISTEN, REFLECT model to using the Voice Memo app. I provide my students leveled passages (according to his or her reading level). I have been using the Read Naturally passages as well as the fluency passages from our Language Arts curriculum. They get one passage a week and record every day. My students are beginning to notice (on their own) the benefits of repeated readings! With each reading and recording their fluency rate increases, their intonation improves, and ultimately their comprehension improves. Teachers in my district have been utilizing the Voice Memo app for many years with great results. We have seen student test scores improve and the joy of reading has become the reward for many struggling readers. This is a great ROUTINE for any grade level or any reading level.

Another skill teachers are always seeking to improve is comprehension, right? Students in my classroom use the Voice Memo app to help monitor their comprehension. Gone are the stickies stuck all over the book! Now my students can record their questions, note details, compare and contrast, reflect, and summarize using Voice Memos. One of the many ways I have my second graders use the Voice Memo app is to retell their books they are reading. I have taught my students to use the story yarn to retell a story. The story yarn includes when, where, who, problem, first, next, then, and last. After reading their book (and before they take an Accelerated Reader quiz) they can record their summary on their iPod. Then they can email me their oral summary so I can have a better idea of wether or not they are ready to take an Accelerated Reader quiz. Plus I have a record of their summarizing skills and know exactly who needs intervention. Another way I have used the Voice Memo app to support comprehension is to have my students read two pages, then record what they remember. Then they hit pause, read two more pages, and continue the recording again. They repeat these steps until they get to the end of the book. When they are finished, they have a retelling of their entire book! This is great for them to listen to just before they go to take an Accelerated Reader quiz.

The possibilities of the Voice Memo app are limitless! Get creative and think of other ways you can guide your students towards mastery using this free app. Sometimes the simplest of things can be the most ingenious!

Please share with everyone ways you have found to use the Voice Memo app!

Here is a link to a Prezi I created for a staff development session I did for teachers in my district.


Puppet Pals


Puppet Pals is a digital puppet theater complete with a large array of characters and backgrounds. This is another creative app that can be used in your classroom in a variety of ways in all curricular areas.

Puppet Pals in the iTunes store.

How this app works?
You can create puppet shows by moving the puppets around while recording your voice. You can also change the background (limited to 3 backgrounds). When you are finished recording it will guide you to publish the puppet show as a movie.
While this app is free and you can enjoy this app as is, I highly recommend purchasing the Director’s Pass for $3.99. Now I am not usually a fan of having to pay for apps, especially if I am using them in the classroom, but in this case, bite the bullet and buy the in app purchase! With the Director’s Pass you have a larger selection of puppets and backgrounds. Plus (and here is the best part) you can create your own puppets and backgrounds. They have made this a simple process of taking a picture with the camera feature then using your finger to cut around the shape of your body. Using your finger is quite sloppy and perhaps a better way to do this is with your stylus. You can also take images from your photo library and use them as backgrounds.
How have I used this app in the classroom? 
We have had a blast in my classroom bringing our reading summaries alive by creating a puppet show! First, my students brainstorm what they will say for a summary of the story we are reading (usually a self-selected leveled book or from our reading anthology). They brainstorm three main events in the story and need to be sure they use transition words such as FIRST, NEXT, and LAST. Then we took turns taking pictures. Each child needed a picture of themselves showing some kind of expression. For example, the Vanna White pose with hands outstretched. The kids can get pretty creative here, but remember they really only need one image. Then they used the “cutting tool” within the app to cut away the background so only their body is left. This puppet will be saved into the app. The next step is to add backgrounds. The app will allow you to choose pictures from your photo library. I have pictures from the story already downloaded into their photo library on their iPods. I do this when I sync their iPods. I have an album in iPhoto labeled Language Arts where I place pictures that we will need for projects such as this. This saves time, but you can always have the students take pictures of the book using the camera feature.Finally, each child created their story summary using themselves as the star puppet and the three backgrounds showing the main events of the story. Each child then published their movie and they all took turns sharing their puppet show summary on the docucam!