Thursday, October 25, 2012

Providing test reading accommodations using the Soundcloud app and QR codes #scc21c

There are several ways to record audio for test accommodations that can then be accessed by students during a test or in other settings where audio would support the learning needs of the student. The procedures described below were specifically designed to support a 1:1 iPad setting but could be modified to meet a variety of classroom settings.

One other note: Offering audio to all students and not just students who require accommodations is great Universal Design for Learning strategy. You may be surprised who chooses to listen to your narrated test when given the option!

Procedures for using Soundcloud app on the iPad for test reading accommodations

iPad steps

Step 1. Download the Soundcloud app from the iTunes app store.

Step 2. Open the Soundcloud app and register for a new account.

Step 3. Make a demo recording, name it, select “private”, and save.

Computer steps

Step 1. Download the Chrome Browser. (You can use Firefox and Internet Explorer, however the steps for adding a “bookmarklet” may differ).

Step 2. Go to the Active History QR Bookmarklet page.

Step 3. Click on the Chrome settings icon, hover over the “bookmarks” and select “show bookmarks bar”. You can also use the keyboard shortcut ctrl-shift-B to reveal and hide the bookmarks bar.

Step 4. Drag the red “QR Coder” bookmarklet into the bookmarks bar.

Step 5. Go to and log in.

Step 6. Click on “You” and select “tracks” to locate the recording you made earlier on the iPad.

Step 7. Click on the “Share” icon for the track you wish to share.

Step 8. Copy the “secret link”, Open and new Chrome tab and paste the link

Step 9. Click on the “QR Coder” bookmarklet. This will generate a QR code link for the Soundcloud recording.

Step 10. Right click to save the QR code image or Right click and copy to paste the QR code into a document or click ctrl-P to print the QR code

Step 11. Attach, paste or post the QR code where students will be able to access using a QR code scanning app from their mobile device

Friday, October 12, 2012

Why I'm excited about for schools - #scc21c

Update: Check out this great Creative Commons Attribution Helper Chrome Extension

Copyright, Creative Commons, Fair Use? As educators we should be familiar with these terms as well as our obligations to use and properly cite the work of other individuals. But in the flury of getting lessons together or beating out another presentation it can be extremely difficult to credit others in this age of instant digital media, not to mention helping our students do the same.

Thankfully, a new tool has arrived that helps to streamline the proper citation of creative commons images - What ImageCoder does is help you find images licensed under the various creative commons licenses on Flickr, presents you with a concise overview of what the license does and does not allow, and then provides you with an embeddable html code that properly cites the image for your blog or website.

Here's a screenshot of the license information and embed code for the image above.

Unfortunately, this won't work on Word documents or PowerPoint but would great for classroom and student websites or blogs. 

Thanks to Richard Byrne and his fantastic blog for pointing me to this great new resource!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

App Review: audio recorder is a super simple audio recorder that works on multiple devices including iOS (iPad, iTouch, iPhone), Android phones, or via your computer browser. It is similar in many ways to with the added benefit of having a mobile app. The advantage of using a cross-platform program like is the ability to use every computing device available whether these be student or school owned.

Another advantage of the recorder is that it does not require any account sign up. This means students can quickly create and share their recordings without the hassel of logging in. One suggestion that I have for saving recordings is to create a simple Google Form that students can use to submit their recording links. (see video below) This allows you to collect student recordings with out having to use an e-mail account.

(Use Google Forms to collect screenchomp, glogster and youtube links)

The recordings are limited to 30 seconds or less which could be both an advantage or disadvantage. I often warn teachers to be careful when assigning video or audio projects to students due to the time it takes to listen to each recording depending on the length. Because of the 30 second time limit you may want to encourage students to rehearse (never a bad idea) before they record.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Upcoming Conference Presentations

I am excited to share that I'll presenting at two great conferences this fall. Hope to see many of you there!

Michigan Google Educators Conference - October 19, 2012 (Southfield, MI)

Session Description: 

Amplify the agenda - Making meetings and PD more engaging with Google Docs.
This session will model the use of Google Docs to create and facilitate dynamic/interactive agendas and training resources. Learn how the online collaborative features of Google Docs have transformed the way St. Clair County RESA delivers information and facilitates participant driven meetings and professional development. Participants will walk away with a better understanding of the power behind creating resources that encourage participation, reflection, and extended communication. Highlights include: An experiential model of participant driven PD, examples of agendas for meetings and PD, and formatting tips to create auto-generated hyperlinked tables of content.  

Michigan Digital Learning Conference - November 15-16 (Clinton Township, MI)

Session Description: 

Learning is beautiful:Leveraging the iPad as a tool for expression and creativity

Learn how to make the most of your iPad’s cameras, microphone and multi-touch gestures with Free apps like Educreations, Popplet Lite and Splice. The principles of Universal Design for Learning will frame our conversation as we look at how to meet the needs of all learners. In this hands-on session we will explore how these dynamic multi-media tools help teachers and students create resources that address a variety of learning strengths and needs. And best of all, have Fun!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

App Review: Make Dice Lite - Differentiating with cooperative learning structures and thinking cubes

Here is a brief video app tour of Make Dice Lite. This app allows you to create up to six custom six-sided dice. One or multiple dice can be thrown at a time. Creating custom dice is relatively simple and could be created quickly by having students open a document or website that contains pre-written questions or categories and then copying and pasting these onto your custom made dice. The one drawback to this Free app is the pop-up adds that occur between rolling events.

For more information on using Cooperative Learning to differentiate instruction with or without the iPad I highly recommend these resources put together by St. Clair County RESA Math and Science Assistant Director, Laura Chambless.

I've also included a few links to Cube and Thinking Dot activities and examples to help get you started.

Kagan Cooperative Learning - Learning Cubes
Cube and Thinking Dot Activities
Thinking Cube resources
Thinking Cube example

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Edmodo overview video with embedded formative assessment using the new quiz feature in Camtasia 8

I wanted to share this 7 minute introduction to Edmodo that I recently created using trial copy of TechSmith's newest version of their screencasting software Camtasia 8. Previously, Camtasia provided the option to embed assessment questions into their videos, however, the results could not be collected by the video creator. In this newest version of Camtasia the results are e-mailed nightly to the creator or an e-mail recipient selected by the creator as a spreadsheet file. This could be a fantastic way to promote active viewing within the video and determine how well the information is being received.

Feel free to check out the video below to see how the embedded assessments function or to learn more about the basic features of Edmodo. You can select the option to skip the quiz if you like by clicking on the "watch video only" link. Enjoy!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Make your mark on Google with Handwrite for Mobile and Tablet Search - Inside Search

Make your mark on Google with Handwrite for Mobile and Tablet Search - Inside Search:

Hat tip to my colleague, Kristin Day, for sharing this great new accessibility tip for mobile devices. Now you can skip the keyboard when you want to do Google searches and use handwriting instead. Enabling this feature is pretty straightforward.

  1. Open your mobile device web browser and go to
  2. Locate the gear icon on the top right hand corner.
  3. Tap on the "search settings" link.
  4. Select "enable" under the Handwrite section and then tap save at the bottom of the screen.
  5. To begin using handwriting tap on the "g" at the bottom right hand of your Google search screen.
This could be a great feature for younger students who are unfamiliar with the QWERTY keyboard, practicing letter formation, and students who struggle with selecting individual keys on the virtual keyboard. This can also be a time saving tool when you are searching on the go.

For as a video demonstration and more information about this feature follow the link at the top.

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Video - Using the Assistive Touch setting on the iPad

I wanted to share a brief video overview of the assistive touch features for the iPad. This feature could be useful for anyone with limited mobility or fine motor control such as a student with Cerebral palsy.

In particular, I created this screencast to help support a high school student with CP. He was able to control the iPad quite well using one finger in most cases but had difficulty accessing any of the physical button. He also could not perform any of the multi-touch gestures.

On a personal note I found this feature useful after I broke my hand this winter and lost some control over my right ring finger. I had difficulty performing 4 and 5 finger swipes on the ipad for several months and used the assistive touch as an alternative means of accessing these features.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Curating the web with

I'm exploring options for curating and sharing the web as I find apps, articles and how-to's that support student centered learning. As you can see from the screenshot of my Chrome toolbar, I haven't exactly settled on one tool to use.

Diigo,,, livebinders, edmodo, twitter, pinterest - What tool are you using curate the web?


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Early Elementary Literacy Apps

Trying out as a way to currate app lists. Let me know what you think. 

Getting Started with Educreations and Screencast-o-matic

Getting Started with Educreations and Screencast-o-matic

Educreations -

Educreations is a recordable interactive whiteboard that captures your voice and handwriting to produce amazing video lessons that you can share online. Students and colleagues can replay your lessons in any web browser, or from within our app on their iPads.

Educreations works on both the iPad and on any internet browser.


Educreations iPad app -


  • Insert images and screenshots from the web to create narrated/annotated guides and tutorials.
  • Create multiple pages for longer presentations (tip: pause recordings to preload images or draw annotations.
  • Tutorials can be shared privately with students, by school, or with the whole world.
  • Publicly shared screencasts made by other educators and students can be viewed, linked to and embedded in a class website.


  • You cannot start over or re-edit a screencast once you begin recording. Be prepared and don’t worry if it isn’t perfect.
  • Keep your presentations brief and engaging (your voice is a critical component)

Screencast-o-matic -

One-click screen capture recording on Windows or Mac computers with no install for FREE! Record up to 15 minutes.

Screencast-o-matic is great for creating screencasts of powerpoints, TI-emulator tutorials, NCTM applet and Geometer’s sketchpad activities, and narrated directions or test accommodations.

Getting started video -


  • No account required (Great for quick use with students). However the free account lets you store and link to your files online as well as upload to youtube automatically.
  • Capture anything on your computer screen and your webcam.
  • Pro-version is only $15 for one year


  • You cannot start over or re-edit a screencast once you begin recording. Be prepared and don’t worry if it isn’t perfect.
  • Keep your presentations brief and engaging (your voice is a critical component)

Other screencasting resources

Kit’s screencasting website -

Other iPad apps for sreencasting
Other screencasting software and websites

Upcoming PD:

Kit Hard
Education Technology Consultant
St. Clair County RESA

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friend or Foe? Mobile device cameras in the classroom.

One of our greatest fears as educators surrounding mobile devices like the iPad is the camera. The camera more than any other feature seems to have the potential for doing the most harm while simultaneously having countless educational value.

As we introduce mobile devices into the classroom or invite students to bring their own devices is there a way to effectively teach good digital citizenship and safety regarding the camera before it's too late?

I believe that the solution lies in asking students to use their mobile device camera frequently and repeatedly within the classroom to accomplish a variety of academic purposes each and every day and to conduct regular, purposeful checks of the images we ask them to take.

Here are some examples designed with a 1:1 or BYOD setting in mind with the potential for modification to fit in a shared device classroom. As students enter the room I might ask them to take a picture of the day’s agenda written on the board. This visual schedule will assist students with time management and provide a reference to the day's objectives when they are home. I might then ask students to open an app such as skitch or or paperport notes and have them photograph the day's bell ringer activity. They can then use annotation features to respond to the question and submit their response. Throughout a lesson I would encourage students to photograph notes on the board, their own notes and ancillary items in the room like posters or models. I would also ask students to take pictures of assignments I pass out or graded work that I've returned to them. And throughout this process, I would be explicit in my expectation that they refer to all of these photos for completing class tasks, homework, or as study guides. I would also do spot checks to see that students are taking photos of the required items and embed tasks within assignments that draw on information found in the photos. Finally, I would have students evaluate their photos for evidence of mastery and organize these photos for a portfolio.

Variations of these photo activities might also work in shared device settings by having students organize folders for the photos or by sharing the photos to an e-mail or dropbox account that the student can access using a different device. Designating student roles such as class photographer and class videographer would also help model appropriate use of mobile device cameras and turn the shared mobile device into a classroom resource.

Realistically, the storage on these mobile devices is limited and organizing the countless photos would require some room in our already crowded instructional schedules. But let’s be honest. This is not a storage or time crisis. This is about digital footprints and averting disaster.

In short, we hog the heck out the camera and expect not only access to the content but also encourage application, reflection, and the development of a final product using the photos taken. Not only does this reinforce the idea the camera is a tool and not a toy, it supports student organizational skills, provides multiple means of a representation (See Universal Design for Learning), and most importantly makes questionable content far less inviting.

M"DeI believe that given two weeks of near constant reinforcement of using the camera as a tool coupled with embedded instruction on the importance of digital citizenship and safety the majority of students would hesitate before taking and posting the kinds of pictures we all fear.

Today I came across this great infographic for helping students make good decisions about the pictures and videos they take. I also had the opportunity to share the poster with some Middle School students working in a nearby school. Yes, they’ve heard some of these “rules” before. But hearing it again and within the context of taking a picture of themselves (a reflection activity they were asked to complete) deepens their understanding and lets them apply the criteria we discussed.

By the way, there is an alternative. We can disable the cameras on devices we own. We can ban the devices they own. We can have once a year conversations about digital citizenship and safety that are isolated from the content of our lessons and that interfere with “real” teaching because “we have too.” Oh wait, that’s what we do right now. How’s that workin’ for ya?

In all seriousness, teaching digital citizenship and safety requires innovative strategies and deliberate effort. Let’s work together to find solutions that work. Please share how you are tackling the “fear of photos” in your classroom.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A few quick thoughts on why I like the iPad

No, the iPad will not fix education. And, no, it is not the right device for all settings. But here are a few reasons why I think the iPad has already had a significant impact in schools.

1. I believe that the iPad is encouraging schools to fast track infrastructure projects involving wireless access and to increase bandwidth.

2. I have encountered more conversations about "going 1:1" and "bring your own device" in the past year than ever before.

3. The iPad can't truly be locked down. I think that this is pushing educators to look at "digital citizenship" more closely and to revise their AUP's from what you "can't" do to what you "should" do. It also encourages meaningful and authentic learning over "you need to learn this just because". If we can't answer the question, "Why do I need to learn this?" then our students will turn elsewhere. Honestly, why shouldn't they?

4. It's mobile. That's right folks. This thing can move to any part of the room, can leave the room, can "gasp!" even go outside. The 4 walls and a stage with tidy desks in a row is not working. Our learning spaces can and should be more dynamic. If the iPad helps, Fantastic!

For me, it's not about the apps, the swipes, or cool. It's about shifting our focus toward student centered learning. If the iPad is pushing our conversations and practice toward this goal then I'm excited.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How to enable diigo bookmarking in Safari on the iPad

While I am no diigo guru, I have come to rely on the bookmarking and highlighting features it offers. I use the diigo browser extension for chrome to make saving websites and web highlights a snap. I recently learned how to enable similar features using the iPad's Safari browser and have create a brief tutorial showing how to set this up. The tutorial assumes that you have downloaded the diigo app for iPad and that you have created a diigo account.

For more information about diigo and its uses in education take a look at this resource.

Tech Tuesday Tip - Usernames and passwords #scced #ttdn

It's inevitable.You go to a professional development workshop, a colleague shares a cool website with you, or you've just downloaded a new app and you are asked to create a new account. You enter your username - taken! You enter a password - "12345" isn't secure, try again! What to do?

Image Attribution: Padlock by
Here are a couple of links to suggestions on managing your countless accounts that will hopefully help you to develop your own system. Remember, these are only suggestions. A truly secure account is unique to you. I also recommend having separate systems for your highly sensitive accounts such as financial, e-mail, or sites with confidential or privacy related content (student data, etc.)

Teaching Parents and Others About Passwords - By Richard Byrne

Creating Effective Passwords - By Steve Katz

Another recommendation from a colleague is to use KeePass is a free download that you install on a flashdrive for storing and securing all of your passwords. Having a secure and portable password locker is great idea for individuals on password overload.

Friday, April 13, 2012

So many Friday the 13th opportunities to learn, it's frightening!

My task list can wait. I've been virtually attending three different conferences all morning. You've got, Council for Exceptional Children 2012, and Breaking Tradion 2012. All three are rich with student centered resources and fantastic examples of Universally Designed instruction.  If you're on twitter check out these hashtags to follow the conversations surrounding these great confernces (#mobile2012, #cec2012 or follow @pammoran for updates on Breaking Traditions 2012)

Here are a couple video teasers I've picked up today to get you started. 

Choice in Action


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Using the iPad's zoom accessibilty feature to enhance screencasting apps like showme and educreations

Showing greater detail or handwriting text on iPad screencast apps such as educreations, showme, and screenchomp can be difficult. This tutorial shows you how to use the iPad's accessibility features to zoom in and out of your screencast canvas and provide greater levels of detail in your tutorials.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

#macul12 Raw - My notes from Challenge Based Learning - Andy Losik @mrlosik

Apologies in advance for typos, boo boos, and all misinfomation - Hey, they're notes!

Challenge Based Learning - Andy Losik


  • CBL teaches real world problems
  • multi-disciplinary
    • using flickr to gather resources
    • researching news
    • creating posters to promote resources
  • use the technology the students already have
  • tends to avoid content that is too politically or socially controversial
  • Hamilton helping Hamilton project
    • “I can learn why Hamilton needs our help” - Big question
    • tornado relief
    • local tv picked up story and assisted (authentic audience)

CBL project example - How can I be a leader in our school and a positive influence?
How can we make this a doable project?
  • Technology benchmarks are backloaded rather than prescribed
  • story boarded, wrote, directed, edited
    • used google docs to collaborate
    • 3-6 all have their own google docs accounts
    • utilize language arts skills
  • Students suggested a film festival style assembly
    • Students will also deliver an auxiliary verbal message to support the video
    • parents will act as
    • after party in the media center
  • Prove that iPads are impacting your learning
    • Prove ‘em or lose ‘em
    • difficult to push students beyond the “they’re cool”
    • Used a google form to let students formulate their answers and have a working script

Teaching the path to innovation

    • simulations for students
      • has close captioning and video
      • science (i.e. types of surgeries)
    • Design a cell phone
      • actually has very little to do with cell phones
      • Problem is posed - Senior Citizens need a phone with different features than students
        • What do you do first
    • Site teaches the path of innovation
      • research
      • design
      • test
      • evaluate/reflect
    • Good way to scaffold CBlearning

Essential questions to solutions

Setting up the environments

Physical environment

  • Cave
    • Private space to work
  • Watering hole
    • Space for collaboration
  • Campfire
    • projector and smartboard for local showcase
  • Mountain top
    • A place to showcase globally
    • blogs, wikis, website

Virtual environment

  • Collaborative online spaces
  • access to experts
  • provide immediate feedback
  • provide an audience
  • Peer feedback
    • Using Google Docs (scripts, planning)
    • Glogster

Suggested Technologies

Using video reflection as evidence vs data
  • more meaningful than dots on a spreadsheet
  • parent reflection of student impact is very powerful

More resources are coming
  • Apple is partnering with teachers to develop more CBL resources
  • iTunes U app is a great way to access CBL resources

Challenge Time

How do we turn the thousands of families traveling from the Upper Great Lakes right past Henryville, IN on their way to Florida into a disaster relief delivery effort?
  • Think impossilbe to possible
  • What are the logistics that need to happen?
  • Anticipate the questions from doubters

Q/A skype with Katie Morrow

  • She doesn’t do CBL all the time but it is an important part of creating engagement with her students
  • Motivating students by connecting them to a great purpose
  • She does or feels you can pre and post test
    • But also
      • Self-assessment
        • reflection booth
      • peer-asessment
    • Document the journey
      • take photos
      • take video
      • take screen shots
      • Have students collect evidence of growth
  • How have colleagues reacted to your CBL lessons
    • Some teachers are afraid
    • Failure is ok
    • Building success with smaller groups or work with another colleague
    • Adoption has been somewhat slower than she might have liked but even small attempts build momentum
  • Biggest impact is in the long term effects on students
  • Essential questions
    • Sometimes teacher pre-created the essential questions
      • Students build guiding questions
    • Other times students work as a class to create the challenge questions
      • Creates more buy-in
      • Questioning is one of the harder skills to teach students
        • They are too use to having students ask the questions
        • QFT - questioning format technique
          • Open ended vs closed questioning
    • The essential questiona and the challenge are the same
      • action verb of the challenge is just the “I dare you”
    • Remaining open to possibilities
      • Allow the questions to evolve toward good open ended questions
  • What do you do to help students who still don’t buy in?
    • Working in teams and peer pressure seems to have a big impact on participation
    • Instill pride in teams
      • team names
      • work space
      • defining roles
        • Good tools in CBL community under support for roles
    • Katie shared seeing students who sometimes struggled the most at first can have some of the biggest turn around and become the most involved


Sunday, February 26, 2012

(My Diigo Notes) Study touts benefits of a "wired" classroom

  • tags: research
    • The 40-year retrospective study, published in the Review of Educational Research journal, concluded that classrooms where computer technology was used to support teaching had a "small to moderate positive" effect on learning and attitude.
    • The literature shows that more recent, sophisticated applications of the technology produce greater positive gains than older applications, he said.
    • "There were many studies that said that it actually had a negative impact. But the preponderance of evidence suggests that it has a positive impact," said Schmid.
    • In a followup study now under way, Concordia researchers are looking not so much at whether computer technology in the classroom has a positive effect, but under what circumstances positive effects are observed.
    • If the technology is used solely as a content provider — for example, if iPads are used as alternatives to books — then there won't be any positive change, he said.
    • The researchers' preliminary analyses show that things such as PowerPoint presentations don't have much effect on student learning or attitude, Schmid said
    • "Where technology does have a positive impact is when it actively engages students, when it's used as a communication tool, when it's used for things like simulations or games that enable students to actively manipulate the environment."
    • Herzliah has been piloting a digital/human exam reader in Grades 7 and 8, an iPad application that the Jewish day school adapted for its needs.

      Students who are auditory learners — who do better when things are read to them — can use the iPad to listen to exam questions. The questions are read into the computer tablet by staff members.
    • Students said the process made them more independent in exam writing, Grumberg said. And by using headphones, they were able to block out external noise, allowing them to focus better on the test.
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Classroom audio recording is a Cinch

Update: and it's app are no longer in service. I recommend replacing these with AudioBoo or Soundcloud. and the cinch app for iOS devices have become my go to audio recording and podcasting tool. Let me tell you why.

My son listening to a Cinch recording of his favorite  book

First is ease of use. Both the website and the app are very easy to use when it comes to sign-up, recording, and listening to recordings. Second is the unlimited recording time (unlike which limits recordings to three minutes). Third is the ability to make recordings using your computer and a microphone (website), using an iPad, iPhone, or 4th generation iPod touch (app), or record using any phone associated to your Cinch account.

The classroom applications are endless but here are just a few of the reasons why Cinch is the best option in my opinion.

  • Recording lectures that are immediately available online for students who are absent or need to hear the material again
  • Parent communication podcast (Audio newsletter, Daily activity and homework reporting)
  • Audio directions for worksheets or test accommodations
  • Student interviews and observational data 
  • Student recordings of think alouds, group projects, audio notes, student created tutorials, fluency practice, or adding audio to physical projects such as posters, dioramas, or written work
 For a more detailed look at using audio and podcasting in the classroom take a look at this post I wrote last year.

With you can also add photos and text to the audio recording. With the iOS app teachers and students can quickly and easily add a picture from the camera roll or take a picture with camera enabled devices. Text is limited to 140 characters. Ideas for teacher or student use include:
  • Taking pictures of objects around the classroom or school that relate to a theme or concept (e.g find and describe examples of ecosystems or geometric shapes)
  • Taking pictures of charts, graphics, or text and recording audio to answer questions
  • Asking students to take pictures of their work and record reflections about the content
  • Have students record themselves reading classroom books or materials. Use QR codes or shortened URL's to let others listen - See the How-to below.
Setting up a Cinch account - I recommend creating a generic classroom account if students will be recording. I also suggest making your folders private by default.

or using the cinch app

Make private folder(s) for your recordings (folders can only be created from the website)

Make a recording using the website or app

Add photos and text to the recording

Share your recording by shortening the URL or QR codes from the website

I recommend installing a QR code/URL shortener like to your Chrome or Firefox browser or going to

Start adding QR codes and shortened URL's to books and other classroom objects. You can use a QR scanner app for your iOS devices to make access to the recordings a snap!

Listen for your self.