Thursday, February 18, 2016


This week I had the opportunity to attend a technology conference from eTechCampus called #iTeachDigital. I love the moments I get to spend exploring technology to incorporate in my classroom. The #iTeachDigital seminar is part of eTechCampus and provides Learning Management Systems (LMS) for courses, professional learning, and consulting. Our trainer for the day was Bridget McKnight and absolutely fabulous!

What I really liked the most about this seminar was that Bridget addressed both the needs of computer users as well as iPad users. All the apps we looked at were web based and had an app. In a district like ours, where the students have Dell tablets and the teachers have laptops AND iPads, I found this very helpful. A few of my favorite apps we looked at and were able to play with were Zaption, Tackk, and Quizizz. These were probably my favorites of the day and ones that I can see using in my classroom.

I have been wanting to find a do-able way to flip my classroom. Where do I start? What video do the kids watch? I don't teach math so how can I flip a lesson without me direct teaching in my video? What if I want them to actually stop and reflect or answer questions on the video? Zaption to my rescue!

Zaption has a gallery of videos that you can search for topics that you would like to use in your classroom. My Language Arts class is currently studying persuasion and argument. What do I find on Zaption? A video of commercials (already compiled) that addresses rhetoric and persuasive techniques. One of the greatest things about the Zaption lessons is that you decide where you want the video to stop and ask the student a question! Yes. That's right- now there's a purpose for this video and the students aren't just blankly staring at the screen.

But what if you wanted to use it in class? Well it wouldn't serve much purpose or be engaging if every kid had their device on with earbuds zoning out and robotically punching the answer. This is why Zaption has the broadcast function where students can join the lesson from their device and receive feedback about their choices. Now we've engaged the learners in your classroom.

I'm really excited to try this out. Next week, I plan to use this lesson to review persuasive techniques with my Language Arts classes. After a week of Benchmark, they may need a refresher.

Tackk reminds me of Smore. It is a little bit different but the idea is the same. Smore is more for newsletters and I definitely don't see Tackk just for that. In fact, they have a board of 20 ways to use Tackk in the classroom. I plan to use it for collaborative projects right now but we'll see!

You can sign up with Google, Edmodo, Office 365, and many other ways.  Select a template to create a board. Students use #tags to organize their Tackks and they can even give one another feedback.

Another idea for teachers is to search for boards and see what other educators are doing for lessons and copy that board for your own use. I love Tackk! Great app!

I might switch over to Tackk after using it instead of Smore. Sorry, Smore but Tackk is free! I can only have so many Smores before paying and the number of things I can do with a Tackk board make it almost limitless.

There is one down side and that is that the web based version is jam packed with options while the iPad doesn't have everything. If that isn't a problem for you, then start today and make an account!


At first glance, Quizizz may look like another Q&A platform similar to Kahoot. Look a little closer and you will see that it's more. Quizizz has the user create an account and begin making a quiz or choosing from their collection of pre-made quizzes. Just like with Kahoot, the quizzes are multi-player, or can be assigned for homework (this is a new function!!!), and then you receive data.

One of the great things about creating a quiz using Quizizz is that you can search other quizzes while making yours and add questions from other quizzes! That means less time spent making the quiz and more time on other more important things that we as teachers need to do. You also don't have to add ALL the questions from those quizzes. You can pick and choose which questions you're interested in.

I'll be using Quizizz in the next couple of weeks for my students' vocabulary assignments. It's always painful and I'm hoping this will dull the pain we all feel.

I hope this has been beneficial. Please give some of these apps a try. There are so many others that we played around with but these were my favorite for my classroom application. Some other apps you may be interested in trying are: Padlet, Thinglink, Haiku Deck, Formative (pretty cool if you're transitioning from paper!), and Nearpod.

Next week, I'll be trying out Periscope for the first time in my classroom and broadcasting my PreAP students' A Midsummer Night's Dream scene interpretations. Follow me on Twitter and download the Periscope app to be part of the broadcast: @MrsBushLA

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Spiral Education

This past week, Spiral Education contacted me via Twitter to ask me to try their app called Spiral Education. Spiral allows you to create classes, utilize apps that are for questions and answers, host discussions, and work on group projects.

There are two ways to go about adding students. You can either send them to the site and they search for your school or you can create a login for them. I actually did it both ways. I much prefer that I create the login for them. My students (8th graders) had issues remembering what their username and passwords were. This just makes me shake my head in embarrassment but they really made their own username and password and forgot what they created.

According to Spiral, users can use any device to login and participate. I'm not sure what the best device would be to use. We had problems from the beginning. Maybe there were too many people on at once. Students had issues submitting their answers, seeing the box to type/draw their answers, and work on the group project that I assigned later in the week. Some students were never able to participate.

My school district is 1:1 and I need the apps and technology we use to work more times than not. I found Spiral to be a little too glitchy for me. This caused time to be wasted, frustrated students, and frustrated teacher. Spiral doesn't have a good FAQ or guide to get you started either. This is all by testing things  out.

I wish I could recommend using Spiral Education but at this time, I see that there are many problems that need to rectified before using again in my classroom. I love the idea. Kinks need to be worked out.