Tool of the Month: WeVideo

WeVideo is a web-based video editing tool that can be used on all devices – mobile, tablets, laptops, Chromebooks & desktop computers. Students can create from computers both at school and at home, as well as on their iPad from anywhere. WeVideo also integrates with Google Drive environment that students already are familiarized with, giving access to your files and exports all in one place. All the tutorials you need to get started on your digital storytelling journey can be found in the WeVideo Academy.

WeVideo Tips #1- Create a Digital Story

Interactive Websites for Your SMARTboard

There are so many great interactive websites that work perfectly on your SMARTboard. They can be used for whole class instruction or small group center rotations each week. I’ve compiled about 30 of my favorites, organized by subject area, for the SMART Users Conference held this past summer. Many of the websites featured in this Notebook file are free and easy to use. Some are more complex and require a user guide for deeper understanding. Click on the attachments tab to download user guides or view quick video tutorials to assist with site navigation. My favorite site to use with the board or in the computer lab is Elementary Science from Discovery Education (NEISD login credentials are required). Below is an archived webinar from Discovery Education.

The New Interactive Classroom

Interactive Classroom

Imagine a bulletin board that plays videos created by your students, or a word wall that actually pronounces vocabulary words and provides definitions. Display student work that, when scanned by parents or other class members, gives a brief description of how it was made and learned concepts explained in their own words. Create a collaborative timeline of a historical event that comes to life. Easily gain instant insight into how well the class grasps a lesson. Create a video production area in your classroom to facilitate creation. All of these interactive ideas are possible with just a few digital tools and a creative mind. Below are a few examples of interactive projects that you and your students can create.

      Augmented Reality Tools                                     Augmented Reality Examples                               
     QR Code Tools      QR Code Examples
     SMARTboard Tools      SMARTboard Examples
     Formative Assessment Tools       Formative Assessment Examples
     Collaborative Wall Tools       Collaborative Wall Examples

Aurasma Video Tutorial


What Will You Create Today?

The biggest obstacle teachers face when trying to integrate technology is time. There aren’t very many opportunities during the day to explore new tools, think of ways to use them with the curriculum, or actually sit down to write a comprehensive lesson plan. Plus, the implementation of Standard V just adds to the already existing high levels of stress. Fortunately, higher levels of technology integration promote student choice, which means less planning on the part of the teacher. Over the summer, I worked on some computer lab posters that will help guide students in choosing the right tool for their project, and support teachers in their efforts for easier ways to integrate. I chose the theme of a graphic novel (created using Comic Life) to bring a little adventure into the computer lab. The first poster is attached to the door of the lab and asks, “What will you create today?” This represents the cover of the graphic novel. When they enter, each page of the novel gives them ideas and tools to use to accomplish their task. I encourage all teachers to bring their mobile devices to the lab each week, as adding the component of a camera adds to the diversity of projects students have as options. 

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Many teachers may find this amount of freedom somewhat daunting, especially if they are unfamiliar with how to use the software, web tool or app. This provides the perfect opportunity to bring collaboration into your lessons. Allow students to work together to figure out how the tools work, and then let them teach the rest of the class. You can also utilize a QR code tutorial section where students can view videos for quick instructions. I’ve included a link below to the PDF version of the posters. There are some that are very NEISD specific, but hopefully they will inspire you to create more personalized versions for your own students. I’ve also included directions for printing them poster size.

printing poster

Beginning of the Year Survival Guide


It’s that time of year again when teachers sadly put away the swimsuits and flip flops, and break out dress pants and heels. Hopefully, all of the Pinterest to-do projects were successful and the summer vacations provided a much needed break from stress. For the passionate teacher, a new year also brings that feeling of joy knowing that they will have the opportunity to positively impact the lives of students. That excitement is often coupled with anxiety when tasked with connecting all of your classroom technology and making sure it works properly for the first day of school. Have no fear, the BOY survival guide is here!

This guide contains video tutorials on how to connect NEISD issued equipment, resources for gathering student login information, lesson ideas to use in the computer lab, and much more! Click here to access the complete survival guide.

I Need a Blue-Tongue Lizard

What do you do when insomnia kicks in on a Sunday morning? Explore Australian websites, of course. I found a gem called ABC Splash. In a nutshell, ABC Splash is affiliated with ABC News and Radio in Australia. They partnered with Education Services Australia  to link hundreds of new learning resources directly to the Australian Curriculum. Everything is free and there is no need to register for an account. The first resource that caught my eye is a series of interactive videos that have related questions for each stage of the viewing process. My favorite is the blue-tongue lizard that Isabel keeps as a pet. It’s not only informative, but highly entertaining. See the full video here.

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Some content on the site has been geo-blocked to Australia and territories. This is where the owner of the content has requested this to protect their content rights, so some videos will not play. However, I found many that align with Texas curriculum that you can use with your students.

Resources on this site support all areas of the curriculum. Digibooks are multimedia stories on a wide variety of topics. The videos won’t play due to the geo-block, however, the text is easy to read and supports all comprehension strategies. The Geography and History sections do pertain to Australia, however the Math section contains many interactive games to support the same skills we have in Texas. I really liked the Wishball series of games for place value. 

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“Test your understanding of decimal place value with numbers that include thousandths. Receive a starting number, such as 3.569, and work towards turning it into a target number, such as 7.832. Spin a random digit, choose its decimal place value and decide whether to add or subtract the random digit from your starting number. You can use the ‘Wishball’ to help you reach the target number. Try to achieve the target with as few additions or subtractions as possible.”-


Making Posters Interactive With Aurasma


The days of student created posters using text and images alone are well in the past. We all know there is no such thing as the perfect app, which is why app smashing has become essential to the creation process. The same can be said for devices. Many tasks are more suited for a web-based tool, whereas others are perfect for the iPad. This year, one of my goals is to get teachers to bring their iPads to the computer lab so that students have the opportunity to “Device-smash” – using more than one device to create a student product. The above project is an example of such a task. The poster itself was created with Lucidpress, a web-based Google app similar to Publisher. Videos can be created on the iPad and then Auras (Using Aurasma) can be created by holding the iPad up to the computer screen to capture the trigger image from the poster. Interactivity is indicated in the lower corner of each image to let the viewer know which app to use for scanning. QR codes can also be used to combine additional projects such as Haiku Deck slideshows, which can be created on the web or on an iPad. The final product is not only an interactive digital poster that can be embedded on a website, but an interactive poster that can be printed and displayed on a bulletin board in the hallway. 

Richard Wells, author of iPad 4 Schools, created some beautiful guides that walk you through making an aura using Aurasma. For additional ideas on making your classroom interactive, visit the Interactive Classroom Experience.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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