Sunday, October 26, 2014

Chromebook Apps We Love

So it has been WAY too long since I've posted!  I've discovered, that with a husband deployed (less than 2 weeks left!  Woo Hoo!) and a child in his first local theater production, there's not much time to cook, clean, or check papers, let alone Blog!  But today I decided I'd make time - between grocery shopping, the final production of Sleepy Hollow, and cleaning out the attic before the hubby gets home...

So...  What has been going on in my Chromebook Classroom?  Well, I am pleased to report, that on October 1st, a neighboring school district visited our room to see how we incorporated technology in an elementary class room, and by that visit, my students were emailing me every day, bookmarking sites, changing font, size, color, highlighting, etc., and had even created their first document in Google Drive - in which they even inserted a picture!  They were also very comfortable using my Glogs for each weekly story, as well as various apps we had added from the Chrome store to use during our Daily 5 time.  Don't have Chromebooks?  Don't worry.  All of these apps are web-based and can be accessed by any computer.  I've included links to each one.

Well, that was almost a month ago, and the kids are still impressing me with how much they can do!  We've discovered which apps we like and which ones we don't.  Some favorites for Daily 5 include Storybird and iStorybooks.


The Storybird app gives students the option of allowing pictures to drive their creativity.  For reluctant writers, this app has been wonderful.  Teachers can create an assignment, or students can just create their own stories.  Students can search a word and the app generates tons of pictures tied to the search criteria.  The kids can then choose to use a picture or group of pictures they like to generate a poem or book.  The app is very user friendly for even the youngest of kids.  Once the student publishes a story, it is ready for the class to read and comment on or for the teacher to leave feedback.  The only drawback we've discovered, is that my students can't see my feedback while they are trying to edit.  It would be helpful if they could.  The kids LOVE this app during our Daily 5 Work on Writing or free app time.

iStorybooks is an app that works well during Listen to Reading time in the Daily 5.  It has many free books that the kids can follow along with as it's being read to them in a fluent manner. The nonfiction-rich app contains many different selections for the students to choose from.  It works best with ages 5-8.
Both apps have a free version or a paid version, but I haven't seen the need to upgrade to the paid version of either app yet.

Another app that I have recently discovered that has made checking my students' Google Drive stories MUCH easier and quicker, is Kaizena.  This app is a voice app that allows you to highlight and critique areas of student writing.  It is aligned to rubrics you can create and it will even save your comments in an archive.  Students then open their document and click the comment tab at the top where they can listen to your suggestions.  So quick - and if you read the beginning of this post, you know I need time savers!

With math apps we have not been as lucky.  We've tried some of the free apps from the Chrome store, but haven't found any we like better than Reflex Math for fluency, and for other concepts we haven't found a good fit yet.  We'll keep looking and keep you updated.

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