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

Create Silent Films with Vintagio


iTunes Store Link: Vintagio (iPhone, iPod, and iPad) $1.99

If you love creating movies with your students, the Vintagio app is just the app  to spice up your movie making with your students. This is an incredible creative app that guides you to make amazing silent films in just minutes. This a great tool to liven up dull video clips, too.

The app is free for a limited time in honor of Charlie Chaplin’s 123 birthday. There is an option to purchase the “Pro Mode” (in app purchase) or you can work in the standard mode. I went ahead and purchased the Pro Mode and I now have many more options to work with.

Before you film you can personalize your settings. You can choose your film effect, quality, soundtrack options, and video time scale (quicker speed gives the film the authentic silent film effect). If you purchase the Pro Mode, you have more selections within each menu plus you are able to create your movie in a timeline.

Standard Mode

Pro Mode (Notice the Timeline difference)

 Once you have personalized your video options, you can begin creating your movie. You can pull video from your camera roll or take footage with the app. Without the in app purchase you can only film video as one clip. You can’t edit the clip length, add title screens, still images, and transitions without the in app purchase unless you purchase the Pro Mode.

When you have created your movie and rendered it, you can choose to upload to YouTube, Facebook, email it, or save it to your camera roll.

This app is simple to use and very intuitive. If your students have been able to master the use of iMovie or Splice, they will have no problem with this app (as it is even easier to use).

Here is a sample of a quick film I made of my husband downloading this app. You will notice I used the “Pro Mode” (in app purchase). This film is the 20’s movie effect, normal quality, with Plucky Daisy soundtrack, and 1.5x video speed.

Click here to view: App Purchase Love

How to use this in your classroom?

    • Create a film demonstrating students making the “right” choices on the playground
    • Create a film demonstrating steps you took to solve a problem in math
    • Create a film re-enacting a scene from literature
    • Create a film demonstrating the steps in a science experience
    • Create a “how to” film
    • Pose a question with a title screen and have students explain their answer via silent film
    • Use Silent Film Director as a option for students to show what they know in project based learning activities.

Feel free to share other ideas to effectively use this app to keep your students thinking creatively.

This app was formally know as Silent Film Director and has changed in a recent update.

Old Image:

New Image:

-Jo-Ann Fox


Dr. Seuss Day Goes Digital: Freaky Friday!


“You do not like them. So you say. Try them! Try them! And you may. Try them and you may, I say.”

Dr. Seuss, Green Eggs and Ham

Objective: Students will be able to create a Storyrobe or SonicPics presentation detailing the main events of their favorite Dr. Seuss book. They need to include a summary of the beginning, middle, and end. They also need to give their opinion of the book in the form of a book recommendation.

California Common Core Standards

Reading Standards for Literature

  • Key Ideas and Details (1-3)
  • Range of Reading and Level of Complexity (10)

Listening and Speaking Standards

  • Presentation of Knowledge of Ideas (4-6)


  • Conventions of Standard English (1)

Supplies: Class set of iPods, iPads, laptops, or other hand-held devices. Ability to email final project to you.


Green Eggs and Ham

Horton Hears a Who




Dr. Seuss Day Overview

Dr. Seuss Day has finally arrived! I sure hope you have found a lesson (or two or three) that you would love to implement today in your classroom to make Dr. Seuss Day Go Digital. The great news is that Oceanhouse Media (the creators of the Dr. Seuss apps) announced that Dr. Seuss apps will be on sale from March 2-8! The Lorax book is discounted to $0.99 and the Lorax Garden game will be FREE! Their other Dr. Seuss books will range from $0.99-$2.99. Collect these fabulous apps now while they are discounted!

Today we are going to get a little freaky with Dr. Seuss activities! I happen to go a bit over the top on Dr. Seuss Day. Although, I am planning digital lessons for my classroom, there are some old favorite activities that I still love to do. In the morning, after reading Green Eggs and Ham, I am taking my class to the cafeteria for a freaky food surprise! I am treating them to a Green Egg and Ham breakfast!  Also, at the end of the day (and after read Bartholomew and the Oobleck) my class and I will make some freaky green goo… Oobleck! This is a great science activity and the recipe I use can be found on my teacher website. Follow this link.

And of course, it wouldn’t be Dr. Seuss Day without participating in Read Across America. So we spend much of the day reading, reading, reading! All of my students bring in their personal and much loved collections of Dr. Seuss books and we spread out all over the classroom with our books surrounding us. My students love trying to read Fox in Socks without messing up. They love revisiting old favorites like the Cat in the Hat. They even begin to enjoy some of Dr. Seuss’ more serious and longer books like Horton Hears a Who and the Sneetches. We keep track of how many books we read on a reading log and we try to read more books than last year’s class!

Digital Storytelling Lesson

After my students have spent a good portion of the day reading their favorite Dr. Seuss books, they need to narrow it down and pick their absolute favorite book! Follow these steps for this activity:

  1. Model how to create a Storyrobe or SonicPics presentation. I have blogged about Storyrobe in the past. Please refer back to this blog for more details. I love SonicPics even more than Storyrobe because it allows you to use more than 3 pictures. Basically both apps allow you to create a presentation using pictures. You can voice record over the pictures to create a digital storytelling presentation.
  2. Have students take at least 3 pictures from their book using the built in camera. Have them select the best 3 pictures that would summarize the beginning, middle, and end.
  3. I usually have my students do a quick-write about what they plan on saying during their presentations. They need to be sure to plan what they will say for each picture. Therefore, if they have three pictures, they should brainstorm 3 sentences or 3 paragraphs (depending on the level of your child). Then have them practice their retelling before they begin recording.
  4. Students will then insert their pictures into Storyrobe or SonicPics and record their presentation. You may want to record in shifts or have students move to a variety of locations during recording time. Depending on how many students you have in your class this portion can get a bit noisy!
  5. When their presentation is complete, I usually have them email their final presentation to me. This time I plan on posting their presentations onto Edmodo so everyone can view them and comment on them.

If you have never used digital storytelling apps like Storyrobe or SonicPics I highly recommend them. They can be used in a variety of ways and in all academic areas. These apps lend themselves easily to project based learning activities and have become a regular routine in my classroom.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Dr. Seuss Day! Remember, “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”

Please share with me a couple of “thinks” you have about how you celebrated Dr. Seuss Day.


Dr. Seuss Day Goes Digital- Thinking Thinks Thursday


“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go

Objective: Students will be able to create a simple movie summarizing what they want to be when they grown up in response to the story Oh, the Places You’ll Go.

California Common Core Standards

Reading Standards for Literature:

  • Key Ideas and Details- (2) Determine the central message, lesson, or moral.

Writing Standards:

  • Text Types and Purposes- (2) Write informative and explanatory texts. (see grade level to determine)

Listening and Speaking Standards

  • Presentation and Knowledge- (5 and 6) Create audio recordings. Use complete sentences.

Supplies: Class set of iPods, iPads, laptops, or other hand-held devices. A variety of costumes depicting career choices. This is a great thing to include in your parent newsletter so parents can help supply your costumes.

The Following Apps available in the iTunes store:

AppStore Links

Oh, the Thinks You Can Think

Oh, the Places You’ll Go

Splice (free)

Splice ($3.99)

iMovie ($4.99)

Read Aloud and Book Talk

Today I plan on doing two different digital read alouds on my iPad (but not in the same sitting). My general rule for determining the listening capacity for my students is their age plus five. Since I teach second graders who are mostly 7 or 8, I have them sitting listening to me for no more than 12-13 minutes before I engage them in some type of other learning activity. So I plan on reading Oh, the Thinks You Can Think first thing in the morning to excite them about today’s theme, Thinking Thinks Thursday!

In the afternoon, I plan on reading Oh, the Places You’ll Go. After reading the story, I want to guide the discussion toward the author’s purpose. We will have a discussion about why we think Dr. Seuss wrote this book. I want to guide them toward the following ideas:

    • To teach about perseverance
    • To teach about hard work and determination
    • To teach you to follow your dreams
    • To teach you to have goals

I will then pose the following question:

Where do you think “you’ll go” when you grown up? Or what do you want to be when you grow up?

We will create a thinking map on chart paper to help with ideas. Here are some ideas that can be included on the thinking map brainstorm: doctor, teacher, engineer, author, artist, etc.

Then guide the discussion to this question: What do you have to do in order to become one of the careers on our chart?

Students will then do a quick-write about what they want to be when they grown up and what they will have to do to accomplish this goal.Their written responses will be used in the filming of their movie.

Movie Production and Editing

First of all, I don’t want to mislead anyone. Please be aware this portion will most likely NOT be done in one day. You will want to model how to properly film a movie (holding the camera steady) and how to edit using Splice or iMovie. Personally, I prefer to use iMovie to edit on the iPods and on my iPhone. However, my district has strict rules about using purchased apps on our iPods. So I have to use Splice because it is free. Splice works well, it just requires a little bit more teaching and it tends to be less intuitive than iMovie. I repeat, you will want to MODEL, MODEL, MODEL before you set your class loose to film and edit.

Step 1: Students need to rehearse what they are going to say. They need to be able to use a strong presentation voice. They also need to prepare their costume.

Step 2: Students work in pairs to film each other. You may need to film in shifts and in a variety of locations. Otherwise, you will have problems with the sound quality of the short films.

Step 3: Editing. Students will edit their movie by adding a title to their movie, at least one transition, and music to the background (optional). My idea for the title screen is… Oh, the Places I will Go…

Step 4: Sharing time! Students can email you their movies to share with the class on your laptop or you can have students bring their iPods to the docucam and show it through the projector.

I realize this may be a very complicated and advanced lesson. But if you teach your students to use Splice or iMovie as a routine, you can use these apps in so many valuable ways. Just imagine filming…

    • a book talk
    • a story summary
    • a report for social studies or science


Perhaps I will do a more detailed blog in the near future about how Splice and iMovie work. Just start playing around with these apps and I know creative and innovation teachers will think of at least 100 ways to promote learning. This is just to get you to start Thinking Thinks!

Stay tuned, Oceanhouse Media (developers of all the Dr. Seuss apps) will be announcing something tomorrow on Dr. Seuss Day! I don’t know what exactly… but come back to AppEducation to find out.

Happy Thinking Think Thursday!


Dr. Seuss Day Goes Digital- Wacky Wednesday!


Objective: Students will study how Dr. Seuss uses language to enhance his stories. Students will go on a word hunt to search for silly words Dr. Seuss created. Students will create a mind map of Wacky Words.

California Common Core Standard: 

Reading Standards for Literature:

  • Craft and Structure- Describe how words and phrases supply rhythm and meaning in a story, poem, or song.
  • Integration and Knowledge- Compare and contrast stories.
Reading Standards for Foundational Skills:
  • Fluency- Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

Writing Standards:

  • Production and Distribution of Writing- Use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing.

Supplies: Class set of iPods, iPads, laptops, or other hand-held devices. Ability to email video to you. An assortment of Dr. Seuss books.


Links to AppStore:

Dr. Seuss App: Cat in the Hat

Dr. Seuss App: Fox in Socks

Dr. Seuss App: Hop on Pop

SimpleMind+ or Simple Mind

Voice Memo (built in to iPods)

Digital Read Aloud

Begin by doing a digital read aloud of several Dr. Seuss books. I chose books that I thought fit the Wacky Wednesday theme. There isn’t an app for the actual Wacky Wednesday book, so just do a regular read aloud of this book. I will also do a digital read aloud with Cat in the Hat, Fox in Socks, and Hop on Pop apps with my iPad.

After each read aloud discuss how Dr. Seuss makes his books interesting. Guide the conversation around the following topics:

    • Use of rhythm and rhyme
    • Use of interesting language
    • Use of pretend words
    • Use of alliteration
    • What would his books be like if these things were missing?
    • What makes his books enjoyable for young readers?

Wacky Word Hunt

After having a class conversation, allow students time to read Dr. Seuss books of their choice. Have them search for Wacky Words. Students can create a SimpleMind+ or SimpleMind map of the words they find. They can work in partners or small groups. Please see my previous post about using SimpleMind by following this link. Have students take a screen shot of their MindMap and email it to you.

Fluency Practice with Dr. Seuss

Discuss how the rhythm of Dr. Seuss books guides the reader to read the text fluently. Model how to read Dr. Seuss books fluency and with good intonation by reading several pages aloud.

Then show the following YouTube videos:

This first YouTube is a video of two young men rapping Fox in Socks. This 5 minute video is quite entertaining.

The next video is just fun to watch how this young girl can read Fox in Socks in less than two minutes without messing up. This leads to a great discussion about the importance of repeated readings.

Allow students time to practice reading one of their favorite books. See if they can read the book fluently by allowing them to record themselves using Voice Memos. Please read my Voice Memo post about how to use this app effectively.

Allow time for students to share their voice recordings with their friends.

Other Wacky Wednesday Ideas:

    • Have students wear wacky socks to school
    • Make wacky hats or Dr. Seuss Hats
    • Write about wacky things you can do on a rainy day (refer to the Cat in the Hat)
    • Bring bubble wrap in and allow students to “Hop on Pop”

Please share ways to enhance this lesson. I love your input.

Happy Wacky Wednesday!

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!