Tellagami is a free app for both IOS and Android devices. With Tellagami, the user creates an avatar and records a message, called a gami, which can then be sent or shared in a variety of ways. Click on the gami to the left to see an example.
Here's how to make a gami. When you first open the app, you are asked to create your avatar. There are just enough choices to personalize the avatar, and you could choose to make your avatar look like like yourself, or another character. Each tine you cick on head choices, the head gets larger, resembling a bobblehead, so that's really fun! You can also choose the main emotion your avatar is feeling.
Your next choice is the background. There are lots of choices in the free app, with even more backgrounds available as in-app purchases of $1.99 each. You could also import an image you have saved in your camera roll or open the camera app to take a picture. Another option is "doodle," where you can draw on top of the image you have selected. One of my favourite backgrounds to add is an image that I have created from another app. The example at the top of this page includes a word cloud I made using the app Word Collage. I've also used Pic Collage to make a pretty cool background. Any time you use more than one app during creation, that's called "appsmashing!"
Now you're ready to record your message. You can choose to record your actual voice, but be careful if you are adding your students' voices, as the gamis are stored online, so you need parent permission to display student work, including recognizable features, online. The messages are only 30 seconds long, which I feel is a limitation of the app, but it does force your students to get to the main idea quickly.
Instead of recording voice, you also have the option of typing your message (limited to 440 characters). When you choose this option, you can also choose the type of voice used by the gami. Kids (and adults) will have some fun with this, and is a great option if you can put your students' work online, but parents don't want their child's voice online.
If you click the image to the left, you can hear the gami from the message I typed above. For this gami, I used the Doodle Buddy app to draw a picture, saved it to my camera roll and then imported it for the background. When you are finished making your gami you have several options for sharing, including adding it to a blog, wiki or website, emailing it, or uploading directly to Twitter or Facebook.
Here are some ideas for using Tellagami in the classroom:
This is a very user friendly app and would make a great addition to any workstation where students are asked to work either collaboratively or independently. If you have any other ideas for using Tellagami, please add a comment below. I'm always on the lookout for new ideas!
What are word clouds, you ask? Well, the image above is an example. Basically, a word cloud is a visual representation of text. They are lots of fun to create, and I have collected a list of ways they may be used in the classroom:
So how does one make a word cloud? I'm glad you asked. I'll start with a couple of websites.
This is the first word cloud website I heard of, and I've used it many, many times. It's very dependable, and easy to use.
Tagxedo.com is a website i've only just recently come across. It's so fun! With this website you can make your word clouds into shapes. There are a variety of shapes to choose from, and you can even upload a photo of your own into the site to make one-of-a-kind word clouds. Tagxedo uses the words over and over again, unlike Wordle, and there are many more options to choose from. When your word cloud is finished, you can save as a jpg to your computer, and even order merchandise with the image. Very cool!
To get started with Tagxedo, click "create," then "load." Then enter your text, or copy and paste. Click submit when you are finished (you can edit later if you want to). Again, I think the other tabs are self-explanatory. If you want to add your own shape, click the arrow beside "shape," and click "add image." Be sure that your photo has lots of contrast, or it won't look good.
There are some great IOS apps out there that do the same thing on your iPad.
Word Collage is an app that works much the same as Wordle ($.99 on the app store). WordFoto ($1.99) is similar to Tagxedo in that you upload the picture and the app fills the photo with the words you input. Path On ($1.99) is not really a word cloud. I'm including it because you input a photo and then draw a line where you want the text. Next you input the text and the words follow the line. It's pretty cool too! See the example below of my lazy cat Sammi.
So that's it. That's all I have to say about Word Clouds. Try them in your classroom. Your students will love them!
I have a new respect for an app that I've had for a long time. Book Creator looked to me like a nice little app where kids could write their own stories and illustrate them. And that is true, but it is so much more than that! Students can not only add their own illustrations, but upload images saved to their device, and even record their own voice. Here's how to use it:
3. Once you have your cover the way you want it, you may decide to record your voice. Choose "Add Sound" from the menu. Press the red button (be sure to allow the app access to your device's microphone) and then talk away!
4. When you are finished speaking, press the red button again, and choose "yes" or "no" to indicate if you wish to include the recording in your project. If you decide to keep the recording, a small circle icon with a speaker symbol is placed on your page. You can resize and move this icon anywhere on the page.
5. The picture top left shows how to add images saved in your camera roll.
6. Once you have text (or a drawing, or an image, for that matter) press the "i" icon to edit. This give you options such as resizing text, changing text box shape, font, font colour and more (see top right).
7. When you are satisfied with your book, or even if you just want to see what it's like so far, I like to open it in iBooks to view as if it is now a published book. In iBooks, you turn the pages by swiping, and click to hear the recordings you've included, just like a real talking book that you buy!
8. You'll see in the photo at left how you can share books between iPads. Just click the AirDrop icon to load all of your students' books onto one iPad to make it easier for sharing or assessing.
9. And finally, here's what I learned to do today! I installed the Reflector app onto my Mac computer. Now I can see my whole iPad on my large Mac monitor. I can also use QuickTime to do a screencast of the book I've made, which turns the book I've made into a movie. My colleague Mandy (@Mandy_S_24) wrote about how to do this on her blog (click here.) Now I can share this with parents who don't have an Apple device.
I have used this app now with a class of Kindergarteners who made a counting book about winter. They each made their own page and then we combined them into one class book. Their voices are so cute!!! "Three snowmobiles - vroom vroom vroom!"
I used this with a Grade 1 class, who used Book Creator to retell the story of Jan Brett's The Mitten. In that book, a little boy loses a mitten in the forest, and one by one, more and more animals squeeze into the mitten as it stretches and stretches. The Grade 1s not only illustrated their retelling, but counted the animals by 2s, making it an excellent Math/ELA integration project.
I also used this app with a Grade 3/4 class who used it as a travel journal. Their class was studying India, and every day their teacher had virtual excursions planned for them. After their day trips, they wrote about their experiences in their journal as if they were really in India. I have to say, these journals turned out wonderfully! After their yoga class, for example (they followed along with a yoga instructor), many of the students took photos of themselves in various yoga positions to add to their journals. Voice recordings were included for each day. Awesome!
It is the sharing of these journals that really adds to the significance of using this app. Book Creator can be exported as a PDF or as an ePub via email, print, iTunes or opened in other apps such as GoodReader, Evernote, DropBox, Google Drive and more! With every update Book Creator is easier to use and includes more options. Can't wait to see what they have in store for us next!
If you have some ideas for using Book Creator in your classroom, please share them in the comments below!
I have finished an amazing week with a wonderful bunch of Gr. 3- and 4-ers! Their teacher and I planned a reading response activity for them which included creating a book trailer for the book they had just finished reading. Before I arrived at their school, they had read the book and created a new book jacket for it. I made a trailer for a book as well, to show them what a trailer might like like. Here is the one I made for them about Goldilocks and the Three Bears, retold and illustrated by James Marshall. (I didn't take the time to make my own illustrations, as the students did, so I have to say the students' trailers are much, much better than mine! )
Together with the students, we created the criteria for their trailers, which we would make using iMovie. We decided that about half of the illustrations in the trailer should be their own. The trailers had to include the author's and illustrator's names, and we discussed the Fair Dealings copyright laws of Canada, which states that "short excerpts" of printed material can be reproduced for educational or review purposes. Because we wanted to upload the trailers to YouTube, we also discussed parental permission for putting their work online. Parents were asked to indicate exactly what their children could put online, including their work, their first name and their image. If permission was not granted, that child's trailer would only be viewed in class and not uploaded. If no name was to be used, the students used an alias. And if no image was to be included, we just made sure that no photos included the child's face. We really hoped that we could upload to YouTube, as we wanted to create QR codes for the trailers, as discussed below.
Then we got to work! Students learned how to take photos of their own and the illustrator's work, as well as how to resize, rotate and crop. Illustrations were created, and the trailers were viewed and reviewed many, many times! They also created some puppets of the characters in their books and videotaped scenes. Each student created their own trailer, as the school has 1:1 iPads on loan for several weeks. This meant that if they needed to videotape, collaboration between students would be required. It was busy and messy, but the learning in that classroom (including the teacher and me!) was amazing! Remember Bloom's Taxonomy? Creating is at the top. And while using the trailer templates didn't allow for complete creativity (lots of drag and drop), these students were definitely creating! Here's a great blog on using Bloom's Taxonomy with digital tools - the Bloomin' Peacock.
Lastly, once the trailers were completely finished, we uploaded to YouTube, and then used the share code to create a QR Code on goqr.me. We printed out the code and attached them to the inside cover of the books. Now, when students want to check out a book from the school or classroom library, they can use i-nigma or another QR Code Scanner app to easily view the trailers. (I wrote about using QR Codes in the classroom here.) I should mention that when we uploaded the trailers, we decided to make them unlisted. That means that if someone searches for the trailers, they can't be found. The only way someone can watch them online is if they have the link (or the QR Code).
I have used Investigations in my early years classrooms for many years. Basically an Investigation is a research project on a topic of their choosing. Students may choose to work independently or with others. I first learned about this format of non-fiction writing from a Tony Stead workshop that I attended many years ago. Since then I have purchased several of Tony's books, including Reality Checks, Is That a Fact? and Good Choice. Is That a Fact? is the text that includes the most information related to Investigations. I recommend reading all of his books though! They are an easy read, and so valuable for early years.
To begin an Investigation, students choose a topic that is important to them (say, dogs). Then, they create an essential question related to the topic (say, What are some ways that dogs communicate?). This is the step that many of my students have trouble with, and require a great deal of support.
Photo credit: www.montanaheritageproject.org
Students then work on their research. They may have a book that has spurred this question, or they may do research on the internet, or through interviewing an expert. In a 21st Century classroom, the internet plays a huge role in research. I encourage my students to evaluate the sources of information they are using. Is that a good website? Why? Maybe we should Skype or tweet a question to an author, scientist, or veterinarian? How else can we learn about your topic?
When the students have collected their information, the next step is to share it with others. In the past, my students did this by making a poster, which they presented orally to the classmates. These were then displayed in the classroom and students had a certain criteria (created collaboratively) to follow. Now students have so many more opportunities to share their learning. Here are some ideas:
In my classroom, I have always taught through themes, and I follow the Reggio Emilia approach to early years education, which advocates for students learning about what interests them. To make time for Investigations, I do not timetable Science, Social Studies or Art. Rather, I timetable 40-60 minutes per day of Exploration time. This is where I offer provocations for learning on topics related to these subjects. Another approach that is popular in today's 21st Century classrooms is Genius Hour or Passion Time. Paul Solarz, an educator I've connected with through Twitter, has an excellent blog on this topic. I recommend exploring it!
Travelling Curriculum Support Teacher