Bloggin’ at Bulverde Creek

Even though I’ve been knee deep in district laptop deployment and not able to support my campuses in person, I know exactly what the teachers and students are up to at Bulverde Creek Elementary, San Antonio, Texas. They have an awesome group of bloggers that are diligent about showcasing student work and providing their students with a global audience. Bulverde Creek teachers have an instinctual ability to integrate technology in an engaging and creative way. I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of their ideas with you. Please feel free to leave comments on their blogs in support of their efforts.

Natalie Davis – Mrs. Davis is a 5th grade teacher and a master at appsmashing. This year she implemented an “Any App Pass” where they can choose any app to demonstrate understanding. Check out Wyatt and Preston’s product that shows how to simplify fractions using video and Snapguide:

Check out How to Simplify Fraction’s by Bulverde Fifth on Snapguide.

Jill Corona and Jennifer Montemayor– are both Kinder teachers that regularly share online videos with their parents to support classroom instruction. They also post pictures of special days or events that happen on campus.

Amanda Morris is a fantastic music teacher that posts videos of student performances. Below you will find a percussion demonstration of a Jamaican folk song. Mrs. Morris also uses iPads for self-paced music stations. You can read about it and see examples by clicking here.

Kacie Germadnik, GT teacher at Bulverde Creek, is my personal go-to person for new technology ideas. She has a plethora of tools in her arsenal and uses them every week. One that caught my eye was the way she used Blendspace (formerly Edcanvas) to showcase a student collection of biographies made with Smore. It reminds me of those Russian nesting dolls… a tool, within a tool, within a tool. Here is Kacie’s description of the lesson: 

“Push PLAY to journey through the awesome Smore Fliers created by 5th grade Gifted and Talented kids.  These fliers were created to showcase the personal philosophies of these students through their development of I Believe statements, creating a Dream Team to inspire them to reach their goals, a Mandala that showcases their personal values and ideals, and a biography about how they might impact the world in the future.”

So, let’s review: Step 1- Students create biographies using Smore, Step 2-Teacher compiles all flyers using Blendspace, Step 3- Teachers shares student products with the world by embedding the Blendspace on her blog. Check out the example below.


App-Smashtastic Retelling Project!

I recently stumbled upon one of the most creative app-smash projects I have ever seen from Davyhulme Primary School, United Kingdom. The students were focusing on retelling traditional tales, as well as looking at punctuating direct speech. Here is a description of the apptivity:

To help them develop this further, the children created a comic strip of a traditional tale, adding speech bubbles and by using the iPad were able to fill the speech bubbles with videos of the children acting as the characters. This really helped develop the children’s understanding of how to describe the reporting clause. They were able to see how everything the character says including any punctuation, goes inside the speech bubble, therefore inside the speech marks. It also showed how well the children understood the story if they could act in character.

You can read the entire post here. App-smashing is the process of using multiple apps to complete a final product. This particular example uses the iPad camera, Comic Life ($4.99), and Thinglink. The background contains images from the story The Three Little Pigs with the faces of the students superimposed on top, thus making the students the characters in the story. Notice how the students capture the emotion of the characters through facial expressions (my favorite part). Videos of students retelling the story are revealed as you hover your cursor over each speech bubble. I’m sure the energy and excitement during the creation of this product was insane. It makes me want to go back to the classroom! Thank you class 2A for sharing your masterpiece. For more information about app-smashing, check out Lisa Johnson’s post: App Synergy: The Art Form of App-Smashing.


App Smash Workflow for an Interactive Comic:

  1. Use the iPad camera to take pictures of the images in the book you are reading (In this case, The Three Little Pigs). Also take pictures of your students that you will superimpose over the images from your story.
  2. Use Stackr to layer and crop your images from step 1 and save to your camera roll.
  3. Use Comic Life or some other comic creator app of your choice and insert the images from your camera roll. Add speech bubbles as these will be the place markers for the student created videos.
  4. Save your image created in Comic Life, or other comic creator app, to your camera roll.
  5. Have students record video of themselves retelling important parts of the book. The script needs to match the images that you took earlier. These videos will also be saved in your camera roll.
  6. Open Thinglink and upload your comic book image.
  7. Add the video tags from your camera roll and place them in the speech bubbles.


Standard V Lesson Examples

Beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, NEISD teachers will be required to submit 1 student product that was created using technology. This initiative supports the Standard V requirements as outlined by SBEC.

My El Dorado peeps have been very busy planning with me and wanted to take this opportunity to share some of the projects they will be doing with their students. Many of these app/web tools are cross-curricular and can be applied to different TEKS or units of study. Please contact me if you have an idea for a lesson and need a similar task card to use with your students.

  • Kinder Language Arts K.6A identify elements of a story including setting, character and key events: Facetalk Retelling
  • 1st Grade Math 1.3 The student applies mathematical process standards to develop and use strategies for whole number addition and subtraction computations in order to solve problems: Farmyard Math
  • 1st Grade Language Arts 1.9 A Describe the plot (problem and solution) and retell a story’s beginning, middle, and end with attention to the sequence of events:  BME Summaries
  • 2nd Grade Science 2.5D Combine materials that when put together can do things that they cannot do by themselves such as building a tower or a bridge and justify the selection of those materials based on their physical properties: Videolicious Structures Project
  • 2nd Grade Science 2.5B  The student knows that matter has physical properties and those properties determine how it is described, classified, changed, and used. Matter and Energy Digital Story
  • 3rd Grade Reading SE 3.16 Students use comprehension skills to analyze how words, images, graphics, and sounds work together in various forms to impact meaning.  Students will continue to apply earlier standards with greater depth in increasingly more complex texts: Big 6 Research Project-PDF, Big 6 Research Project-Word 2013
  • 3rd Grade Math 3.11B: The student directly compares the attributes of length, area, weight/mass, and capacity, and uses comparative language to solve problems and answer questions. Perimeter Party
  • 4th Grade History 4.3 The student understands the importance of the Texas Revolution, the Republic of Texas, and the annexation of Texas to the United States: Google Tour Builder
  • 5th Grade Science 5.8 Students will understand that weather represents the short term conditions of the atmosphere by producing a video that explains weather patterns of a specific region over a 3 week period: Videolicious Weather Project



Tool of the Month: Book Creator App

One of my favorite apps for the iPad is Book Creator. It costs $4.99 but they also have a free version that lets you create one free book. There isn’t a limit (as far as I can tell) as to how many pages your one free book can have, so it is possible to use your free book for several different projects. I stumbled upon a wonderful blog post from Tech With Jen where she describes how she uses graphic organizers as the background for student interactive reading journals. This one particular quote really stood out and made me think:

“When students have to write they spend a lot of cognitive energy on composing the message. Because of this, many students tend to choose to write what is easy rather than going deeper. Therefore, why not allow students to record their thinking using video, audio recording, and finding evidence by highlighting text.”

This is the perfect example of how technology can be used to enhance the learning process in a meaningful way. Using graphic organizers is a great way to bridge the gap between what is comfortable and trying something new. Below is a screenshot of one of Jen’s graphic organizers that includes video, audio and text. Notice that she used other video creation apps to summarize and retell events in a story.

Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 10.09.01 PM

There are many free sources where you can find digital versions of graphic organizers:

The easiest way to get the graphic organizer into Book Creator would be to simply take a picture of the printed copy and upload as the background. If you really want to get creative, you could make your own graphic organizers in Pages or PowerPoint and then save as a jpeg. Dropbox or some other cloud storage utility will allow you to import to your camera roll. For more information on using Book Creator, visit their support page or view the video tutorial below.

January Themed Technology Lessons

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As the new year approaches, we naturally tend to reflect on the success of our teaching practices and seek out ways to improve our craft. The one resolution I hear most often is to include more technology throughout the year. The intent and effort is there in January as the labs see more visitors, however, as STAAR testing approaches, teachers tend to revert back to their pencil/paper driven instruction. One of the goals I have this year as an instructional technology specialist is to bridge the gap of discomfort for those teachers that find it difficult to take the “technology plunge”. My first few posts will be dedicated to rethinking how teachers use graphic organizers and worksheets in the classroom. But, before we dive into new ideas, let’s look at this month’s collection of January themed technology lessons. Below you will find fun ideas for the lab or iPad that will keep your students warm and cozy. Check back often as I am still updating the list.

2013 Edublog Nominations



This is the first time I have participated in the Edublog nominations. Gotta say, kinda exciting!

Blendspace and Digital SSR

In an effort to provide lesson examples that give students choice in the tools they use to demonstrate understanding, I’m finding the best vehicles for this are curation sites. Listly is my usual go-to tool, but for the following example I’ve chosen Blendspace. I like Blendspace because it allows for Vimeo, YouTube and Educreations embedding, Google Docs and Dropbox integration, and even lets you upload files from your computer. Below you’ll find a Blendspace for Digital SSR. Kids Discovery has a wide variety of free informational text magazines. Students choose which article they would like to read, then will choose from various productivity apps to summarize what they have learned. The choice of apps will depend on what the teacher has downloaded on the device. An example rubric has also been included to guide specific expectations.

November Themed Lessons

(If you are viewing this post from within NEISD, make sure to override Lightspeed so you can see the above video from YouTube)

It’s a new month, which means a new holiday, which means new themed technology lessons. Of course, I have to begin by sharing a Thanksgiving Google Doodle from last year. (Remember that you have to override Lightspeed to view the video from within the district.) The following list contains free sites and apps that you can use in the classroom or computer lab. My favorite lesson you should try is the Thanksgiving Timeline virtual field trip using Google Earth. I taught this a few times last year and it will take at least 2 lab visits to complete.  It’s well worth the time investment!

Music iStations @ Bulverde Creek

Amanda Mooris and Chelsea Short from Bulverde Creek Elementary have incorporated iPads in their music stations in an authentic and seamless way. Each station has a focused task that includes a QR code linked to a video tutorial of how to use that particular app. They have a total of 25 minutes with each class, which does not allow for time to demonstrate each station. The students are able to rotate through more stations and have more hands on time with the instruments because of this efficient use of technology. In fact, it inspired me to rethink how I create my task cards that I share with teachers. Instead of a page full of screenshots on how to use the apps, I now include a small QR code in the upper right hand corner that takes them to a video tutorial. You can see an example for Videolicious here. I have a feeling this will not be my last post about these 2 amazing teachers.

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Free StoryBots Access for Teachers

This fantastic find comes to you via Carmen Sepulveda from El Dorado Elementary, San Antonio, TX. The StoryBots Educator Network is offering free access to their entire collection of learning tools, which include over 175 videos, books, songs and activity sheets covering a wide variety of early education concepts. All you have to do is request access through the link below, provide a link to your teacher web page that proves you are an educator, and wait for the code to be emailed to you. 

Hello Teachers!

Click below to request FREE access to our collection
of learning tools through the StoryBots Educator Network.

Request Access »
Learn more about the StoryBots Educator Network. 
Offer valid for accredited educators only.

Once you have your code, enter it through the link in your email and confirm your account information. Their books can be viewed on a computer or on an iPad using the following apps:  Books, ABC Videos, Learning Videos,  Starring You Videos, and Tap & Sing. They also have 104 activity sheets that can be printed and used in a learning center. What makes these apps different from other e-storybooks is students take pictures of themselves using the iPad camera, upload them into the story of their choice, and they become the star of the show as the book makes them the main character. Normally this service is $4.99 per month so sign up now! View the video below to learn more:

What is StoryBots? from StoryBots on Vimeo. If viewing within the NEISD Network, go to to override LightSpeed.

Quizlet: Interactive Vocabulary Flash Cards

Quizlet is a free website that allows students to make their own interactive vocabulary flash cards, or choose from millions of flash cards sets created by others. But that’s just the beginning – once you’ve got flashcards, you can use several study modes including multiple choice tests and study games. You can add images and listen to audio, and even study on the go with the Quizlet mobile app. The Quizlet Features page provides an in-depth view of the site. Click here to learn how to create a class account. Below is an example of Geometry vocabulary.

October Themed Lessons

(If you are viewing this post from within NEISD, make sure to override Lightspeed so you can see the above video from YouTube)

It’s my FAVORITE time of year again, and I must begin with the best Google Doodle of all time. Kids love to see time-lapse video in action, especially if it contains a spooky ending. I’ve started a collection of several October themed lessons to get your kiddos excited about fall. This list (embedded below) includes a combination of free iPad apps and websites you can use in the computer lab. One lesson I think everyone should check out is the Goosebumps Make Your Own Graphix site on Students can create their own short graphic novel (comic book) with 10 different layouts to choose from. Be sure to include specific language arts skills you would like your students to include; such as descriptive vocabulary, dialogue, cause and effect, or inferencing. Here is an example they have posted on their site:


Classroom Management Apps for the iPad

There are several free apps available to teachers that make classroom management fun and easier than ever. Below you will find a list that contains a brief description, links to tutorials, and pros/cons to help you determine if the app is right for you. For NEISD teachers: Place a colored sticker on the back of one of your 3 student iPads to indicate which one has your management app accounts and your TPRI account.

While searching for resources to support these apps, I stumbled upon a great website called AppCrawlr. It’s an app discovery search engine that lets you sort by specific criteria. It comes in handy if you are searching for only free apps. 

My Brain on ISTE


Oh how I love my conferences. No where on Earth will you find a larger concentration of teacher geeks (she says, proudly). I attended many sessions with new and relevant integration ideas and would like to share my new found knowledge with you.

The first session I went to was my favorite. Sean Junkins (follow him on Twitter!) and Danny Wysong presented iBook Field Trips using iBooks Author.  I have used this application before, but never on this creative level. Here is his description: “In this era of interactive content, an iBook should be more than a book. iBook Field Trips are an opportunity to take full advantage of the wealth of interactive features available in iBooks Author. From Photo Safaris, iSpy books, Create Your Own Adventure novels, and Virtual Museums, there is no shortage of engaging learning experiences that can be created and carried out through iBooks.”  Plan on reading many posts about this topic in the near future.

Leslie Fisher, who is one of my favorite presenter/entertainers, introduced me to a few new web tools, which poses a problem since I have no more room on my bookmarks bar.

  • Edcanvas allows on-line learners to organize and share their collection of digital resources. This nifty tool is a great way to share online resources with a set audience. As a teacher, I can see it working well as a student assignment: sending them on a digital ‘ scavenger hunt’ in a particular content area. I can also see it as an easy way to set up a series of on-line experiences for students (around a particular topic) as part of a “flipped classroom”. Edcanvas even allows you to create multiple choice and true/false assessments as part of your collection. Check out this PDF to get started.
  • Infuse Learning is a free online student response system similar to Socrative but a little more robust in that students can also hand-write, or draw responses.  Like Socrative, students respond using a device (computer, iPod/iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, and Android based phones and tablets) to teacher questions presented either verbally or through a pre-made quiz.  Infuse Learning also offers the ability to push out internet links and images to connected devices.
  • Learnist allows you to create “learn boards” that are dedicated to a particular topic of choice. The learn boards are basically file folders that keep track of all the websites and resources that your students would need to access for research or projects. It is very similar to Pinterest, but many districts have blocked it due to social networking categories. Learnist is not blocked by our district (NEISD) and provides a safe environment for your students. 
  • Let Me Google That For You – People may think you’re a genius when you’re actually a master Googler. Learn how to gently tell people to look up the answers to their questions by themselves. – See more at:

Tammy Worcester presented Tammy’s Top 20 Tech Tools. The one tool I was unfamiliar with was Batchgeo. This is a site that will generate a map based on location data. You can use a Google Form to collect the information and then copy/paste the data directly into the site. Some possible ideas for implementation include place-based story telling, mapping the birth places of your students, and visually displaying data for students to create their own math problems and solutions. Fortunately, I found Tammy’s presentation on You Tube so you can experience her knowledge first hand:

Kathy Schrock is the foremost authority on how to students can use the iPad to support higher order thinking. Her presentation focused on apps that support each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy. She has an entire website that will guide you through the implementation process. For more information, visit Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything: iPads in the Classroom.

Needless to say, my head is still spinning from the abundance of information presented at this conference. Look for future posts showcasing how teachers from our district are using these ideas with their students.