Thursday, December 19, 2013

Nearpod for Elementary Classrooms

Keeping students engaged can be difficult if not impossible.  Perhaps the greatest hurdle for a teacher on a daily basis is to keep your entire class on task, participating, actively thinking and... wait!  Are we off task again?

4th Graders at Oakdale learning about the
Native People of Utah.
If you throw a class set of iPads into the mix chances are you've just given each student approximately two million more things to distract them while you're teaching.  Or did you?  Teachers at Willow Springs and Oakdale Elementary schools are finding the app "Nearpod" for iPads does just the opposite.

Nearpod (available for free in the iTunes store and online at is easy to start using.  Although the app is fantastic for iPad users, it's also available in a web based form at  Try it with a MacBook lab, Chromebooks, or any web based portable device.  As long as you have internet connection you can have an engaging lesson.By using Nearpod you'll be able to hold their attention and control their screens.  As long as students don't leave the app, you determine what they see!

Step 1: Go to and click "Create Account"

Step 2: Complete the form fields required for your new free Nearpod account

Step 3: Watch the short "How Nearpod Works" video to get a preview of how your first lesson will run with students.

Step 4: Now that you're ready to go, browse the Nearpod Content Library available at to find a lesson you can use on your first run of Nearpod.  There are great resources here from LearnZillion, Time4Kids, and more.  Although some resources cost money, there are enough free opportunities for your first few activities.

Step 5:  What are you waiting for?  Fire up your computer or iPad, launch your lesson, and have your students jump in with the unique code that is given at the start of each "NPP", that's short for NearPodPresentation.  Although you might want to present your iPad or computer screen for the whole class, you probably don't have to.  Since all of the content you'll be sharing will appear on each student's device, don't distract them with another big screen.

Step 6:  How did it go?  If you liked it, but think the content library doesn't have exactly what you need for free, don't stress.  You can make your own NPPs with PowerPoint and upload them to your web account.  For directions on this check out the great tutorial available from "Making Tech Simple" at

For more info on how to use NearPod, visit the NearPod Community Blog at

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Find My iPad

If you have an iPad or other Apple device (iPhone or Macbook Pro), knowing how to find it if lost is a MUST!  This is a great tip to know even if you misplaced your device in your house, bag/purse, car, or pile of papers on your desk.  

Even though the app and demonstration video use an iPhone, the app and features function the same way.  Watch the video or follow the written steps below:

1. Install Find my iPhone app on your iPad. 
2. Enable Location Services for Find my iPhone app in Settings> Privacy> Location Settings> Turn On AND Settings> iCloud> Log in with iCloud or Apple ID> Turn on Find my iPad.
3. Log onto with your Apple ID on your computer or other internet-accessible device.
NOTE: You can use different Apple ID's for your different devices, just remember which is which.
4. Click the Find my iPhone button and select the device you would like to find from the device drop-down menu.  
5. After clicking the green button on the map, you can choose to play a sound, lock the device, or erase the device.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

TEDxCSDTeachers on YouTube

We had an extremely successful TEDx event on the 8th of November. It was a great team effort lead by Rachel Murphy who started the dream well over a year ago. We have had a great reception to the talks given that day. The most often hear request now is when will they be online. We are happy to announce the availability of the TEDxCSDTeachers talks through the TEDx YouTube channel. The playlist for the videos can be found at

Talks were provided by a variety of educators from inside and outside the district. Take some time to view them, you will enjoy what our great presenters had to say.

Friday, December 13, 2013

iTunes U and You...

iTunes U is a growing source of knowledge.  No longer are we kept from quality resources because of cost!  There are full courses and materials from the greatest educational institutions available for free for everyone.

Our Ed Tech department is taking a crack at creating content that is available to our own teachers and those who live/work in other areas as well through iTunes U.  A couple of great courses we created are "Using Pearson Successnet in your Classroom" (geared toward K-6) and "Designing Instruction for the 1 iPad Class" (designed for all grade levels).

Topics can be searched by genre, institution, or academic level (K-12/Higher Ed/Beyond Campus).  One featured piece was created by the University of Virginia.  It is called "The Kennedy Half Century" and chronicles his presidency and legacy following his death.  This is one example of how we have access to more knowledge that will help us to become even better teachers.  There are many examples of amazing content available to anyone with an iOS device.

From practitioner information to lifelong learning enrichment, it's all here on iTunes U.  Just download the Free App on your iPad, sign into your Apple ID and download a course that interests you.  For more information check out our ProLearning page on iTunes U!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Presentation Tools

Are your students tired of creating a PowerPoint every time they present to the class? There are many great options for students to create unique presentations that are just as clear and communicative as a PowerPoint, but mix things up a bit and encourage creativity. Check out this list of possibilities!

Computer-Based Software Tools:
  • PowerPoint - A great tool if your students haven't used it a lot already
  • Keynote - Similar to PowerPoint with great creative potential - Available for Macs only
  • Comic Life - Create presentation comics or posters. Kids love using the software.
Web-Based Software Tools:
  • Google Docs Presentation - Similar to PowerPoint, but students can collaborate simultaneously!
  • KerPoof - "Kerpoof is all about having fun, discovering things, and being creative. Here are just a few ways that you can use Kerpoof: Make artwork, make an animated movie... tell a story..."
  • ZooBursta digital storytelling tool that lets anyone easily create his or her own 3D pop-up books.
  • StoryJumperPublish your own children's book. StoryJumper is a place to create and discover stories for kids.
  • Prezi - Presentations that zoom in and out
  • Voki - "Create speaking avatars and use them as an effective learning tool.
  • PowToon - Create animated videos and presentations
  • Animoto - Create easy, beautiful videos online
  • Layar (augmented reality) - Bring print to life with digital content
  • Weebly - Build your own website
  • VoiceThread - Create presentations, then narrate them and have others leave audio comments.
  • SlideRocket - "...make great presentations that engage your audience and deliver tangible results."
  • projeqt - "Dynamic presentations for a real-time world"
  • - "Your creation and presentation tool, simplified"
iOS Apps:
  • Keynote - There's an app for that!
  • Doceri - "The professional iPad interactive whiteboard and screencast recorder with sophisticated tools for hand-drawn graphics and remote desktop control."
  • Stage - Interactive whiteboard and camera app
  • Haiku Deck - "Meet Haiku Deck, a completely new kind of presentation software. We make telling your story simple, beautiful, and fun."
  • KerPoof - There is now a KerPoof mobile app too!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Turn your iPad into an Interactive Whiteboard

Recording a video lesson has never been easier! 

There are several apps that will let you share a presentation (photos, PowerPoint presentations, etc.) and record your live annotations and voice notes. I want to share information about two of these apps below, but there are several others available in the app store.

First up is Explain Everything. This is a paid app ($2.99) but with all of the recording and import/export options it is well worth the money. When you create a new project with this app, you are given the option to import a PowerPoint, PDF, or photos from your iPad or from your online file storage program, like Dropbox. You can also start with a blank screen and add your own notes and annotations. Once your recording is completed, you can save the movie file to your iPad or share it via Youtube.

Another great app is Educreations. It is free and they are adding features all the time. Any presentations you record are saved to your iPad and can be shared via email or via a link to your video on their website. The Educreations website is also a community of other teachers who are creating and sharing their videos, so you may be able to find other presentations that work for your lessons.

See the images below for a comparison of the recording screens in Explain Everything and Educreations: 

In Explain Everything, the primary controls and settings are listed to the left of the recording screen. The page selector, playback, recording and saving options are listed at the bottom.

In Educreations, the controls for recording and other controls are displayed above the recording screen. You can use the controls at the bottom of the screen to change the paper, duplicate and add pages.

Both of these apps work do a great job of presenting and sharing information live or creating screen recording from your iPad for students to review concepts or to share information with students who may have missed your class. From math instruction to annotating parts of the anatomy, class reading projects to professional development, these two apps have application for almost all teaching situations.

BONUS App: Knowmia Teach is also Free, has a database of teacher-created content similar to Educreations and has a ton of great recording tools like Explain Everything. It also allows you to use the front-facing camera on your iPad to record your face while you are teaching to make the videos a little more personal. See more about Knowmia Teach, including some great screenshots on the Knowmia website or in iTunes.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My Story

Today I am spotlighting My Story-Book Maker for Kids. This fun and engaging iOS app allows students to create and share ebooks.

Students become authors as they add text, drawings, photos, and stickers to each page. Then, they can record their own voice on each page and share the story with friends, family and classmates via email, iBooks, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.

My Story is very teacher friendly because you can add multiple authors to the app and sync across multiple iPads. You can have all of your classroom iPads sync to one teacher account via a free Bright Bot Classroom account. It is a perfect app for the classroom and well worth the $3.99 purchase price!

View the video below for a demonstration of how the app works.

Friday, December 6, 2013


Teachers at East Sandy Elementary have a reason to celebrate!  Alison Stroud, Lora Griffin and Karen Johnson were all awarded Donors Choose grants.  With the help of their Achievement Coach, Brooke Rauzon, the teachers wrote grants to purchase technology for their classroom.  Alison wrote her grant for two iPad Minis which was fully granted.  Alison stated that it was very easy to complete the grant and that it only took about 30 minutes to complete.  She would love to do it again and says, "Take the time!!!  It is well worth it.  I am so excited to have two new iPad Minis in my classroom to enhance my technology curriculum throughout the day."  Lora and Karen also applied for iPad Minis through Donors Choose. Lora included headphone splitters and other accessories for her iPad Minis.  They agrees that the process was easy and only took thirty to forty minutes to complete.  Karen and Lora were both very excited about the support that their Donors Choose grants will help in their 'College and Career Ready Classrooms.' Lora states, "Would you like to earn $800 in an hour?, It is possible! I have applied and received numerous grants...but Donors Choose is by far the shortest and easiest grant to apply excuses unless your classroom doesn't need $800."

For more information about grants available for teachers, visit ProLearning!

Thursday, December 5, 2013


As winter draws near, it is easy to fall into the slump of the winter teaching blues.  The TeachingChannel is a great way to rejuvenate yourself and remind you why you became a teacher! For example, watch the video below by Taylor Mali posted on

The TeachingChannel has a collection of videos and other resources to keep you motivated.  The free site houses nearly 800 videos in many different content areas and topics.  These short video clips provide a wide variety of teaching strategies for pre k-12, and are a great way to renew engagement in your classroom. The videos have great lesson plan ideas, engagement and behavior strategies, and even have ideas for new teachers.

By using the share button in the Resources tab, the website can be used as a web 2.0 tool.  You can upload videos, lesson ideas, or other documents and presentations.  You can also follow other teachers, creating an extensive collaborative network.

So, instead of dreading going to school during the cold wintery months, try visiting the TeachingChannel and get some new ideas to brighten and cheer up your classroom.


Tales2Go is a kids audiobook service that streams books to computers and mobile devices.  Parents and teachers have unlimited access to thousands of name-brand audio titles that can be used in the classroom and even in the home.  Titles are available from pre-school up to eighth grade.  Tales2Go is a paid service, but a free 30-day trial is offered for those who are interested in trying out the service.  There is a monthly subscription of $9.99 a month or a yearly subscription of $99.99. Audiobooks are used in the classrooms to teach reading, build critical vocabulary, and to help with fluency and listening skills. Student achievement can be improved when adding a listening component to reading instruction.  This is a great resource for kids to have and another way to get them involved with reading. 


Link to free app:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How to Download Youtube Videos

Did you use a YouTube video last year, but this year the video is gone?  Know that you are not alone.   I found a great five-minute video teaching students about political cartoons my first year of teaching in a way that I could never do by standing in the front of the room lecturing.  However, I went to show it the following year and it was gone.

At that point I decided “NEVER AGAIN!”  I searched the web for a way to download Youtube clips and save them to my hard drive and/or insert them into PowerPoint.  Listed below are different tools for downloading videos and safe viewing of Youtube videos.  Resources were shared by CSD EdTechs and are free. 

     Downloading Tools:
        Downloadhelper –Plug-in for FireFox
         * This is my favorite.  Here is a How to Document. 
        Fast Video Download - plug-in for Firefox.
        DownloadYouTube Videos as MP4- Plug-in FireFox
        iSkysoft – Free download

    Safe viewing options:
       Safe Share

Monday, December 2, 2013

Music for Learning

Music is one of the most prevalent and universal forms of expression in our world. Music is not only one of the biggest money making industries around, but is also a staple of most people's daily routines and is included in everything from a morning workout to an afternoon drive home from work, yet we don't see many teachers utilize music for learning in most classrooms.

According an article from Johns Hopkins University School of Education entitled "Music and Learning: Integrating Music in the Classroom,"author Chris Boyd Brewer states that "music can be used to help us remember learning experiences and information..." and it "...can also create a highly focused learning state in which vocabulary and reading material is absorbed at a great rate." 

The article includes many fantastic ideas for using music in the classroom as a way to help the learner and the learning environment be more effective. Click here for more of his ideas and the research that supports music for learning. 

If you decide that adding music to parts of your teaching is something you'd like to try, talk to your Ed Tech about options and possibilities, but another great place to start is Pandora. 

Pandora is a free music-playing website that you can customize with the kind of music you prefer to hear. (This does require you to set up an account, but you can select the free option.) This is just one of many resources available to teachers and is a great place to start when it comes to changing a stuffy classroom atmosphere! 

(Just be sure to use caution and common sense when selecting types of music to play for students. Be sure that all music is age and language appropriate for your classroom.)