Monday, March 17, 2014

We Are Officially iPaddling Through Our Day... (Part Two)

Well, here it is--part two of the "We Are Officially iPaddling Through Our Day" series! I will be discussing a few more apps that have become a staple in my classroom. These apps include: Notability, Google Earth, KidBlog, and Popplet!

Notability has been a game changer in my classroom! We use this app at least two, if not three times, each day. If you were to ask any of my fourth graders what Notability is used for, they would simple say, "A way to do our regular work without using a pencil and paper!" 

What I love about this app is simplicity of it. This would be one of the apps my students caught on to using right away. Many of our daily paper assignments have been transformed into PDF files on Google Drive. I love that I can share a worksheet or task with all of my students within a matter of a minute. What I love even more is that fact that once my students have completed their annotations, they can "customize" it with colors, and export it back to me via Google Drive! 

An example of student work using Notability. 

Using Notability to complete the Southwest Desert Webquest. 

Google Earth: 
Google Earth is geobrowser that accesses satellite and aerial imagery over the internet to represent the Earth as a three-dimensional (3D) globe. In fourth grade, students study the different regions of the United States. During our study of the regions, students are asked to recall landforms, landmarks, major cities, important individuals, and important events. My tech coach, +Ann Feldmann and I decided to come up with virtual field trips, also called "Webquests" to go along with our studies. 

An example of a Webquest/Google Earth study that the students have completed.

Each webquest has a series of instructions and questions. Students load the Webquest into Notability, then annotate as needed. They are asked to search for important landforms and landmarks, using key words, within the Google Earth app. Once they find what the are looking for, they are asked to document their findings in their webquests. (This can range from "fill in the blank" answers to importing screenshots.) Multitasking has become the norm to my students! 
An aerial view of Arizona. (Screenshot taken by one of my students.)

A 3D, ground view of the Colorado River, right in the heart of the Grand Canyon.

In just a few short weeks, my students have been able to travel all over the west region of the United States! They have been able to visit places like the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Golden Gate Bridge, the USS Arizona Memorial---all without stepping a foot outside our classroom! 

I introduced KidBlog to my students back in December. KidBlog is a safe and simple way for students to blog. This app allows me to control and manage student content, as well as comments. A blog is a frequently updated online personal journal. iPads and the KidBlog app have had the greatest impact on the quality of blogging over the past few years. 

How do I utilize this in my classroom? We use KidBlog to practice the writing process and our writing skills through blog prompts. Students also have the chance to reflect on their learning, as well as connect with other students around the world! 

Mrs. Feldmann and I introduced Popplet to the students several weeks ago. Popplet is a power tool that allows students to create mind maps, brain diagrams, and basic graphic organizers. Popplet allows students to customize their graphic organizers by changing colors to the background, boxes, and text. Pictures can also be dropped into the organizers as well. As I've mentioned before, I appreciate the simplicity of apps---and this app does that!

My students have been using Popplet in a variety of areas. Most recently, my students have used this app to organize their rock and mineral observations in Science. I always find it fascinating how they organize their information! This has really given me a "snapshot" of their understanding, as well as their processing! 
Students were given a basic template to use while recording their observations.

As you can see, they just take a template and create and make their own organizers!

So many wonderful things are happening here in fourth grade at Central! Gone are the days of basic knowledge (remember) and  comprehension (understand). My students are now expected to apply, analyze, evaluate, and create material as they learn! I am definitely proud of them! 


  1. Great write up Courtney! Thanks for sharing out! Keep up the great work you are doing!

  2. I am so proud of all that you are doing with the iPads! I love how fluent your students are becoming with the apps and I love how you are allow your students time to create, construct meaning and grow as independent learners! You are blazing a trail.