Tool of the Summer: Bulb

I’ve been a busy little bee this summer creating PD classes for the new school year. One of the tools I’m using to gather my resources is Bulb. Oh, how I love this site! Bulb allows you to organize content into collections, making it very easy for the user to separate content into different sections. I like it because you are not overwhelming the participant with lots of information at one time. This also makes the perfect tool for flipping lessons or collecting work for student portfolios. You can learn how to get started by visiting their Bulb for Teachers and Students.

I’ve seen many differentiated resources on the Internet lately and decided to make one for an App Smashes and Flows class I will be teaching in August. I created a Bulb with 6 different sections. The idea is to introduce the concept of App Smashes and Flows, explain the differences between the two, and then allow the participants to choose their tasks based on their comfort level with the iPad. Bulb is the perfect tool for this purpose. 

app smash and flow

I’m not the only NEISD fan of Bulb. Sue Carlson, NEISD Instructional Technology Specialist, also used Bulb to curate her resources for our district’s What’s New in Office 2013? professional development course. Sue was able to create separate pages for each of the different software titles within the Office Suite. Participants are able to return to her Bulb for quick reminders, if needed.

Check out some of my other PD courses I’ve created using Bulb:

Print Friendly

Tool of the Month: Symbaloo

Symbaloo has been a longtime favorite curating resource of mine, so I was really excited when I stumbled upon this Symbaloo of Symbaloo tutorials. This week, they are launching a new feature that allows you to create folders for better organization. It’s very much like creating folders on an iPad for similar apps, just drag and drop to create your groups. Symbaloo is the perfect tool for organizing all of your favorite websites for easy student access. For additional ways to use Symbaloo, check out my VDI Elementary Toolkit page.

Print Friendly

Interactive Techniques from SMART offers a variety of free resources that show you how to create interactive reveal techniques for their Notebook Software. This is a great place to start if you just received your SMARTboard.

Self-paced tutorials

  • Using the Attachments Tab in SMART Notebook Software – Flash
  • Using the Add-ons Tab in SMART Notebook Software – Flash
  • Using the Google 3D Warehouse in SMART Notebook Software – Flash  

Quick reference guides

  • The Magic Tunnel Effect – PDF
  • The Magnifying glass – PDF
  • The SMART Notebook Page Recorder – PDF
  • Creating and Customizing Pull tabs – PDF
  • The random generator Tool – PDF
  • The Balloon Pop Tool – PDF
  • The Checker Tool – PDF
  • The Erase to Reveal Effect – PDF


Print Friendly

Freakishly Creative Ways to Tell a Story

So, I’m sitting in one of the computer labs at my campus when I get a text from a co-worker, “Hey, do you know of any good storytelling websites?” Then he sends me a link to Hobolobo. Well, that’s all I needed to become obsessed for the next few hours searching for similar freakishly creative ways to tell a story. Thanks Michael.

Print Friendly

Narrated Digital Drawings

It’s that time of year again when teachers and students are reflecting on the learning and growth that has occurred over the past year. One way to share learning experiences is to create a narrated digital drawing. There are several tools out there to help you accomplish this. If you are looking for a web-based tool to use in the lab, abcya has a nice paint tool that doesn’t require a login, which is perfect for elementary. There are several iPad apps that can also be used during stations time such as Drawing Free or Drawing Box. Once students have completed their drawing, it can be saved to the camera roll or exported as a jpeg to your class Dropbox account. Apps such as Fotobabble, Adobe Voice, or Videolicious can be used to record the narration that describes the drawing. Below you will find an example of a narrated digital drawing of the water cycle. I used the abcya paint tool and Fotobabble. I chose Fotobabble for its simplicity and embeddable function. This is a great way for students to reflect on learning and a wonderful keepsake for parents.

Print Friendly

Using Padlet to Collect Student Products

Mrs. Seddighzadeh’s, 1st grade teacher at Canyon Ridge Elementary in San Antonio,  recently had her students complete a descriptive writing project using a combination of tools. After reading Where the Wild Things are by Maurice Sendak, she had her students design their own “wild things” using This is a free website from the New York Zoo Aquarium group. Students can create models of themselves in a very artistic storybook style and add cool monster features such as claws, fangs, or dragon wings. Once their artistic masterpieces were complete, students were tasked with writing their own descriptive paragraph using long and short sentences. Mrs. Seddighzadeh then used Padlet as a way for them to submit their work. You can view the full size wall by clicking here.

Screen Shot 2014-05-10 at 7.30.34 AM

Here are some additional examples of how to use Padlet to support classroom instruction. The video at the end of the post will demonstrate how to create your own wall. If you have a great example of using Padlet, I’d love to see it. Please leave a link in the comment section below.


Print Friendly

Digital Storytelling on the iPad

There are many apps out there (paid and free) that are great for digital storytelling. I’ve written about several before, but I wanted to share a new one with you called Storehouse. Storehouse is a free, easy to use app that allows students to visually tell a story through video, images and text. They just recently added the ability to share on social media, embed a preview on a website, and add comments or ask the author questions. As with other storytelling apps I have showcased before, Storehouse can be cross-curricular for non-fiction projects such as explaining scientific concepts or retelling historical events. Below is a stunning collection of images and videos capturing the beginning of spring.

Interested in learning about hedgehogs? Check out this one:

For more ideas on digital storytelling using the iPad, visit my Book Creator Apps for the iPad page that includes examples of use and video tutorials.

Print Friendly

App Flows Template via Graphite

I have been obsessed over the past few months with the concept of app-smashing, the process of using, or “smashing”, different apps together to complete tasks and create rich student products. Organizing the way in which I present an app smash to teachers is something I have been struggling with, so I was thrilled when I stumbled upon Graphite’s App Flow Template and lesson bank. Kelly Mendoza does an excellent job of comparing app flows and app smashing in her post on Graphite,

If you’re already using App Flows, our interactive lesson-planning template on Graphite, you might be curious how app smashing and App Flows compare. Both approaches move away from being singularly app- or tool-centric. Instead, both highlight how apps can be used in conjunction with one another to reach an objective or complete a task. However, it seems that app smashing centers on transforming student projects to be rich media creations, whereas an App Flow is a broader framework for instructional planning. App Flows include pedagogical insight, allowing you to focus on incorporating a variety of digital media tools, including subject-specific ones, throughout lesson. Both of these concepts truly encourage the seamless use of technology to meet chosen learning objectives. The possibilities are endless!

The image below shows how this framework is organized. The tool used in each part of the framework can be an app, web based tool, or just a simple discussion to clarify concepts. It truly demonstrates seamless integration and is a nice way for teachers that are uncomfortable using technology to experiment with a few tools at a time. Check out the flows that are already in the database and try creating one of your own.


Print Friendly

Tool of the Month: Kidspiration 3

All NEISD computer labs have been replaced and are now running Kidspiration 3. This is an excellent cross-curricular program that allows for differentiation and does not require a large amount of prep time. Kidspiration 3 differs from version 2 in that it now provides a math component that includes virtual manipulatives. I’ve created some resources to help get you started. Hover over each tool to view an Atomic Learning video tutorial. Log in using your full NEISD email as your username and your 6 digit employee number as your password. For hundreds of already created lessons, visit Kidspiration Online Teacher Resources. Looking for more in-depth Kidspiration Support? Check out these pre-recorded free webinars on a variety of topics:

  • Keep Your Students Learning to the Last Bell with Kidspiration
  • Teaching STEM and 21st Century Skills with Kidspiration
  • Learn to Use Kidspiration Math Tools
  • Writing to a Prompt with Kidspiration
  • Individualizing Early Literacy Instruction with Kidspiration
  • Making Sense of Fractions with Kidspiration


Using Kidspiration Starter

Using Math Starter


Using Picture View 



Using Writing View

Using Teacher Menu

Print Friendly