Monday, April 29, 2013

iBoat Mini Maine Sets Sail

My school district has an alliance with four other school districts and together we are the Sebago Alliance. This year we decided to experiment with an iBoat Project, a mini boat attached with a GPS locator and placed in the Atlantic Ocean with only a sail as its guide. During our Student Tech Camp last August, a few students from the Alliance built a mini boat. Some teachers met during the Teacher Tech Camp, also last August to create some lessons revolved around the iBoat Project. During the month of September the iBoat visited many of the schools within the Alliance. Students were able to touch the boat and make artifacts for the flash drive that was placed in the hull of the mini boat. Then the boat set sail in November. We have been tracking the boat and having contests on predicting the boat's location on a certain date. I created a site to guide students on the prediction process and help them learn a little about latitude and longitude. The real fun will begin when the boat lands and we can have contact with whoever discovers the iBoat.

Right before the iBoat set sail I had some of my students create predictions on the final destination of the iBoat by using Skitch on iPads. Skitch can also be used on a computer. Since the iPads were very new to the students at that time, I did demonstrate the app. Those kinds of lessons are not as necessary now that students have become comfortable with exploring apps and the students even come up with uses I have yet to dream of. In the Skitch lesson, I model how students can make a prediction on where the iBoat will voyage to by drawing on a map using Skitch. Then the students were set lose to make their own prediction. Once the boat is beached, students will check their prediction and compare where the boat actually lands to where they thought it would land.

Next year the Alliance will be purchasing a boat for each of our five districts and the iBoats will set sail as a fleet of five. Our hope is to design this fabulous opportunity as a PBL adventure during Tech Camp this summer.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Literacy A New Way

I have been working on a website dedicated to literacy and technology, Literacy A New Way. It is in the beginning stages and I have been adding to it as I get ideas on how technology can enhance student literacy. Please check it out and I would love some feedback or ideas covering what could be added to the site. Leave a comment on this blog or contact me at

Literacy is slightly changing with technology and, as educators, we need to keep up with the younger generation. Texting is its own language. What will literacy look like in the future? We may be holding on to the past. The future is fast approaching and bringing us new languages. Ways to communicate may not always be what it is has been. In the meantime we (educators) must stay current, be flexible, and continue to help students become fluent in and knowledgable of our traditional language.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Increase Student Fluency with Evernote

In the video example below, you will witness students using the Evernote app on iPads, however much of what students demonstrate on the video can also be done when the Evernote application is downloaded for free ( onto a computer. I have only used the Evernote application on a Mac, but I have heard that it works the same on a PC. The video, Increase Student Fluency with Evernote, includes testimonials from students sharing how Evernote helps them work on their fluency, ideas on how to use Evernote, and student demonstrations.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Wake Up the Brain

Often in an elementary classroom, students need motor breaks. One motor break system that I used in my second grade classroom is called Wake Up the Brain. It consists of exercising for a brief five minutes, spending one minute on each of five different activities like jumping jacks, jogging in place, sit-ups, etc. Switch it up with fun dance moves for one of the minutes and the students are hooked. Accompanying the exercises with music also adds to student enjoyment.

Recently, I discovered an app for iPads that will provide another enjoyable motor break for students and I bet more of these kinds of apps are soon to follow. Watch the video below to witness how Bit Breaker, a motion sensitive game based on Pong, can get your students moving while using technology.