Search This Blog

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Here's are the apps on my iPAD (Vol 1:A-Z)

From time to time fellow educators, parents and other ask what apps I have on my iPad an why. So here's my volume 1 of A-Z listing the apps and how we use them:

A. ABC Alphabet Phonics - Preschool level.   I use this one for my students who are just learning the alphabet, alphabets sounds and letter recognition.

B. ABC Magic 6 & 7 -- I use these for Letter sounds, beginning, medial and ending; for matching upper and lower case; for blends; several of the learning skills of the alphabet for K and 1st grades.

C. ABC Reading Magic 2 - used for consonant blends, segmenting and reading. Free version and upgrade version available.

D. ABC Spelling Magic 2 - World blending, consonants and improving reading skills.

E. Alphabet Fun - This is a beginning alphabet app which allows Pre-K and K leveled students to recognize alphabet letters and

F. SeeTouchLearn from Brain Parade. The lessons and libraries from Brain Parade are great for my students who need extra help in labeling objects, identifying sight words, or recognizing actions and situations There are several libraries that are for purchase and you can even create your own. We use this app several times per day.

G. SlideShark - A great alternative to PowerPoint. It has a great interface to the projection system and can be used as a personal presentation for differentiation of lessons or enrichment of a lesson. Student creation is also a part of their enrichment.

H. Rocket Speller Plus - one of the class favorites. Five different levels for upper case and lower case words, phonics and all different types of categories. The students get to build a space ship and then at the end try to capture stars as they rocket soars through space. (Purchase edition)

I. Rocket Speller Lite - Free version of the one above. Not as many options, but great for the iPhone as well as the iPad.

J.  Geoboard. This app is a tool for exploring a variety of math topics for elementary and middle grades. Virtual rubber bands and a peg board allow the students to for line segments, polygons and make discoveries about perimeter, area, angles, fractions and more.

K. Number pieces. We use this one to build place value and computation skills. There is a Number Pieces Basic for primary age students, but for today's Common Core math standards I found the premium version worth the cost. You can find more at

L. Fluidity - A free app which I use for students needing to learn how to touch and see a cause and effect pattern. As they move their finger on the screen, the movement will stimulate their interest and they will want to see what they can do to make the fluid move around the tablet.

M. Falling Stars - Another sensory app for students who need some stimulation and visualization as they play with how their fingers can make the stars fall onto the vines they have created and the sounds which occur as the stars fall and bounce through the vines/branches created by the students. This is not an app that you want to use without headphones.

N. Monster Chorus - This is just a fun app which the students can watch and react to various monsters singing in the chorus. Nursery rhymes and other songs are available and the students can record their voices singing along.

O. Monster Hunt from Alligator Apps - A monster matching game to help students improve memory and executive functions.

P. Count Money - Coin Matching Game for Kids from  - Used for the K-2 common core standards for learning money. Can be customized for students and supports multiple levels of difficulty. .99 from App store.

Q. Matrix Game 2 - Enhances visual perception skills using a matrix game for children 5+. Also helps with pattern recognition in math. There are seveal card combinations of shapes in horiztontal (rows) and vertical (columns) to help students to learn about arrays as well as matching the specifics of the items. We use this one weekly as part of our math center.

R. Body Puzzle - from the Fliplog Kidbook Series. The various parts of the body are presented as puzzle pieces and in putting the puzzle together you are learning the body part (eyes, lips, nose, etc.) Great for our students who need the intervention for learning body parts and problem solving.

S. Little Finder from Alligator Apps helps students to find the requested object or animal from a field of cards presented on the screen starting from a few to several to see if they can identify the item requested.  We use it with the music on and two players to help in small group centers for finding items on the screen.

T. Flow Free is a great game of using colored dots and you have to connect the dots without crossing over the line created. My wife and I will play this one sometimes when waiting at a restaurant. The students must use logic and directional thinking as they move from level to level. This is a great enrichment game for when you get your work done.

U.  Families 2 - Teaching children about "families" of items. It's for 3 and up, but with students with diasbilities they may need the extra help in realzing what goes together at the beach or as a family of vegetables, or farm animals, etc.

V. Fun Rhyming from AbiTalk. Bubbles of rhyming sounds which you select, are floating from bottom to top and the students have to pick the ones that rhyme. The difficulty level is that some students hear the word and see it floating, but the rhyming word is not the next one - it may not be out of the "chute" until two words later. Thus the students need to have word recognition skills as well as executive functioning to hear, remember and see which words floating toward the ceiling rhyme together. It can be challenging, but is worth for those students needing interventions.

W. NonFiction Reading Comprehension (Free) - 1st Grade. The app has four stories for free and another 16 that available for in-app purchase. The stories are about 80-100 words and introduces new vocabulary and concepts. There is a set of exercises that measure the student's comprehension at the end. (Full version is $2.99)

X. Things That Go Together - This is another app I used for students with disabilities who need to develop understanding that dishes go with dishwasher, that hose goes with faucet, or brick wall goes with single brick.

Y. Ready To Print - contains several activities that get students ready for printing and writing Activities include touch of the screen, ordered touch, matching, paths, shapes, pinching, free draw and others. These activities are great for my students with autism who are learning to come into the print world for the first time.

Z. Word Bingo - A great app for learning and refreshing memory of high frequency words. The full version allows for words from pre-primer to third grade and will allow customization for the student in the form of an avatar. We use this app daily for the ELA center.

Okay - this was my first A-Z listing... there are more -- coming soon of the "Apps on my iPad: A-Z, Volume 2."


A Page from Saban's Playbook in our classrooms!


While watching the Alabama  v. LSU game last night I was listening to the game's play-by-call and color commentary being espoused. Then I heard this and was struck as to how there are correlations between Alabama's winning recipe and the bigger arena of success in Education. 

Nick Saban took the helm at the University of Alabama's football program in 2007 and they have had three national championships (2009, 2011 and 2012).  Prior to 2007, Alabama's last national championship was in 1992 under coach Gene Stallings. 

How did Nick Saban create a formula for producing championship teams? What was the recipe for success? Coach Saban calls it the "The Process".  
He helps players to "forget about the score and how the opposing team is playing. He tells his players to play the best they can, with as much effort they can and with a great attitude. Just let the score happen."  

What? Don't worry about the score on 
your ACT? What don't worry about the final exam you are about to take? Eliminate test anxiety and focus on learning all you can, the best you can and with a great attitude? Heavens what a way to play football or to learn in a classroom.

We know that when students feels they are safe and have control over their environment they will have a higher level of motivation and a lower level of anxiety. When the focus is on performing your best for every lesson then they can let go of the score for each lesson and concentrate on the summation or the end game. We aren't afraid to try again and again. We are focusing on the overall win.

As educators we need to help our students by reducing the focus on seeing what score they received on each assignment and rather focus on answering "Did you do your best?" "How's your attitude?" "How can I help you to achieve your best?" "Try again."  "Let it roll off and go for it again." 

I now have a better understanding of "Roll Tide" after watching and listening to last night's game. 

It's not "roll" over your opponent or "roll" up the score. No, it's let the mistakes, the frustrations, and the lack of control on the playing field "roll" off your back. Learn from those experiences and get back into the game to play with all your heart as intensively as possible and enjoying the process of success.

This is so true in business, life and in education that a positive attitude, self-control and intense efforts will lead to better outcomes. 

Also, don't stop with one win or one winning season. Complacency doesn't win National Championships. 

As educators we need to always be looking for ways of improving and teach those skills of reflection and correction to our students. We all have to learn the skills for continuous improvement. It was a part of the successful businesses I was a part of before I became an educator and now that I'm in education it should be even more important for me, the educator, to teach the students to be always looking for ways they can improve their process of learning and improving their study skills, their attitudes and thus their successes each day.

Let's take a page from Saban's playbook. Learn it well. Execute it on and off the field. Take time to reflect, improve, and keep the focus on doing our best with intensity each and every time we teach a lesson, model for our students, and continuously improve in all that we do.  

Roll Tide!

   Note: I'm not a graduate of Alabama, but I do know people who are. We all learn by what we see and what we hear. LSU is also a great school with a great team. This is not about football, it's about life. For some of my friends those (football & life) are inseparable. To them this post is dedicated.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Animated Math Learning from FreeTech4Teachers!

Math is so important in our world. We must not only teach the equation solving, but the understanding of why the equation is solved and the fact it can be resolved in more than just one way to reach the correct answer, but our students must learn to use the math concepts in more than just one setting and in real world settings.  Math Live does just that.

Free Technology for Teachers listed a great animated website on their site called: Math Live.  I've been using it with my students and not only is it entertaining and holds their attention, it is diversity correct.  Check out Math Live and also look at the other great ideas from Free Technology for Teachers!!