Managing Student Logins

How many times have your heard… “I can’t remember my login and I forgot to write it down.” or “Teacher, I lost my login.” It can really be a challenge for us, as adults to keep track of our own logins so how can we expect our students to? After many frustrating attempts to keep track of this information myself, I decided to create something to help my students keep their logins organized. Let’s face it, we elementary teachers often relent to managing way more than we should for our students. I am certainly guilty of this myself! Despite the fact that we need to give our kids opportunities to learn responsibility, they do need our purposeful modeling and tools to do so.

Student Login Photo for Blog jpg HighQuality with Limpert link.001

So, I created “Power Login Organizer” for my students to keep track of our digital resources that are sorted by: commonly used websites, presentation tools, lesson websites, drawing apps, fact fluency apps but most importantly, manage their various logins in many of those resources. You will see the names of over 60 awesome resources that I have tested, both web tools and apps!

 This has taken a long time for me to develop so I hope it is as valuable to you as it is to me and my kids. My students keep this spreadsheet in their planners for easy access and it helps parents (And you!) to see all the tools sorted by category that we plan to use over the course of the year. I have a class three ring binder printed and sitting out available to students for each resource just in case they happen to lose their planner. This system has worked very well for me so far and I have received great feedback from parents too.

*This is spreadsheet is always a work in progress so I do update it every year as we add and delete resources. If you have any questions, or think of something I left out, please leave you message in the comments below.


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Using Word Study Apps and Managing Rotations for K-3 Centers

Best Word Study Apps Canva Blog Photo

“What apps can I use during my morning Language Arts center rotations that fit Common Core Standards for word study?” “Are there apps that collect formative data so I can hold my kids accountable for their work and to also help me form my skill groups more easily?” “How do you manage those stations with only a few iPads?” I have been asked questions like these many times as colleagues inquire about my Blended Learning format that I am using in my classroom. My answer is always, “I am so glad you asked!” They typically receive way more suggestions than they had in mind since I do get carried away sometimes, loving the opportunity to share exciting new resources that I know will help my friends engage and teach their students. I am going to give you app suggestions that I have been impressed with and answer both the content and the timing management questions below.

Managing Content-

To manage the content of those rotations, I post the icon and name of the apps that have been previously introduced for the iPad stations on our Class Rotation Board so the students know what their options are for that station. These obviously will change as the year progresses. I have created differentiated LA and Math charts that I use so I do not have to rotate them everyday. See my TPT (Teachers Pay Teachers) Differentiated Rotation Boards link below (One for LA and one for Math) if you would like a few ideas about organizing stations using iPads or whatever tech you have available to you.- Station Rotation Charts with Suggested Free Multiple Timer App

Managing Time-

 To help me manage the timing of those rotations, I found a fantastic free app called – Timer + App that you can preset a time to loop as many times as you want and give it a title to be saved within the app. You can see the screenshot below of my timer settings. I will have this iPad facing the students so they can manage their time, in my experience, amazingly enough, I find that my students do a much better job staying on task knowing they are being timed and using this visual from the app. I really like the alarms in “Timer +”. They are subtle and not too startling. My favorite is the Marimba tone. 🙂

Timer Plus App Directions Image.001

When my school received our first iPad cart, consisting of 30 iPads, I set off to find shiny new apps to download on them. I soon discovered that there were many apps out there that looked like they were going to target various reading skills, but were just not rigorous enough or not a good fit for Common Core Standards. It is very challenging to find appropriate and rigorous word study/phonics apps for young students. Particularly, ones that offer formative data on the skills students have acquired.

My shorter list below is in order of priority and sorted by apps that collect data. I will be adding to this Apps for Rotations List in the next couple of weeks, but I wanted to get my top apps out here for you first, so stay tuned! 🙂

Content Apps for Rotations-

1. Spelling City App  Spelling City App- iTunes  – *Collects Data. Free app & Web tool. Spelling City is by far my heaviest hitting tool in my “Word Study Tool Belt” that collects data on everything my students do, even on the games that they play. The free version allows you to enter and save any word lists of your own or even search by teacher name or list from other teachers’ list to import into your own library! Many of us use the “Words Their Way” series and those lists are searchable by lists or by teacher (Feel free to search for me) however I have found that the numbers and words are not always the same but since the focus really is applying the spelling feature, you can decide which ones to use. You may also give spelling tests with the free version. Talk about saving time on grading and immediate feedback for students and the parents can login to the results tab on the website to see student data, I know…how awesome is that?! Like many other great resources, there is added value in the yearly subscription, which at the time of this entry, is now $53.00 a year. I do pay for this because the data tracking is more conclusive, there are many other vocabulary and grammar lessons, along with the additional 11 games that the kids absolutely love. Click here to see more details – Premium Spelling City vs. Free Account

2. Word Wizard app Word Wizard – Talking Alphabet (Currently $2.99- Subject to change) – *Collects Data. This app is truly a “5 Star” app. I love how my students can explore “Talking Movable Alphabet” by dragging letter tiles to create words. Seeing and hearing each phoneme is very helpful in our word study group activities. There is a funny feature, no naughty words will be pronounced, when it recognizes the naughty word and changes it to “Oops”. 🙂   There are three activities- Word Practice, Scrambled Letters and spelling quizzes. Give it a try!

3. Hairy Phonics App  Hairy Phonics 1 App -Hairy Phonics Series by Nessy Learning. There are three for higher level phonics skills and one for basic blending letters into simple words, called Hairy Letters. (Price Ranges from $2.99 to $3.99)  *This app does not track data.

4. Tic Tac Toe Lakeshore  Phonics Tic-Tac-Toe Interactive Game by Lakeshore (Free) *This app does not track data.

*I have more on lists on the way! 🙂

*Coming up in my next few posts will be management solutions that have worked for me, like how to organize all those student logins for you and the kids, more apps for LA rotations. Then to follow will be posts on sight word apps, reading comprehension, math apps and my favorite- “”.

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Tech Integration for Elementary Language Arts

Do you need solid, easy to use language arts resources to help your elementary students produce and share digital work required by our new Common Core Standards?

Katelyn's Butterfly Blog Photo

Many of our Common Core State Standards require us to teach our elementary students to use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others. The standards themselves take into consideration that kids will need adult support to help them walk their ideas through the writing process- organizing, drafting, revising, editing and publishing their work. So, as we begin to expose our students to the three main genres of writing- narrative, expository and opinion writing, we will need to give them direct, targeted opportunities to manually write and digitally document their stories. A few digital resources I have used in my instruction are:

Handwriting Instruction-

1.   Writing Wizard  Writing Wizard Kids Learn to Write Letters ($4.99)

2.  iWriteWords   iWriteWords (Handwriting Game) ($2.99)

3.   LetterSchool App Icon LetterSchool- by Sanoma Media ($4.99)

For basic sentence writing and language building Instruction-

4.  Sentence Builder  Sentence Builder for Special needs ($5.99)

5.  Sight Words Sentence Builder  Sight Word Sentence Builder by Sierra Vista ($1.99)

6.   SentenceBuilder Ipad  SentenceBuilder for iPad by Mobile Learning ($5.99)

7. Daily Sentence Edit 2  Daily Sentence Edit 2 ($2.99) * There are other grade level apps for differentiation.

For various genre process writing instruction –

8. Write to the Core  Write to the Core for beginning Writers by Brainsters ($.99)  * Love this one, it has student samples!

9.  Writing a Narrative   Writing a Narrative – by Matthew Harrison ($.99)

Produce and Publish Digital Stories– As most of us have learned, balance is the key when establishing work patterns for young learners, so this also holds true in the paper/pencil and digital work debate. Most of my 20 plus years of teaching children has been focused on teaching them to read and write, so I strongly believe they need to spend quality time with paper and pencil especially at the beginning of the year alongside the digital exposure. The tactile part of writing is still necessary to their development. The challenge for us is how to prepare our students for a digital age that we ourselves are not familiar with. We will not have all the answers and that is okay! All we can do is to model a growth mindset for our students that we are all learners and jump in with both feet! They will take on our attitude toward new things, if we show frustration and a closed mindset, so will they. I can recall many occasions that I had what was in my mind, a great lesson planned and either our internet was spinning, what my students call “The Waiting Wheel of Dome” or I had not been thorough enough on the research of an app that I planned to use and found it to not work the way I was assuming. As stubborn as I am, I did learn to drop it with as much composure as I could possibly collect and move on with a “Plan B”. The last thing I wanted was to have students go home with a negative experience with technology. I want them to experience the excitement and understand the leverage that technology can give them in their education and everyday life.

There are literally hundreds of content creation apps out there and I have tried many of them. I would like to share with you three resources that I have had great success with and think that you will love them too. One major mistake teachers make when introducing iPads into their classrooms is to overwhelm themselves and their students by trying too many apps and tools in a short amount of time. Trust me I have fallen into this category myself. So, the three apps below are all you will need to get started. My top two, Book Creator and Shadow Puppets Edu are very comparable to each other for primary students. As a matter of fact, this is a video comparing them side by side. Be sure to click on all three links below for details.

Book Creator vs. Shadow Puppet EDU Review by

1.   Book Creator   Book Creator by Red Jumper Limited ($4.99)

 There is a free version of this ebook creator, which allows a student to only work on one book at a time. Which is fine if you have your work flow all ready to go. Book Creator recently updated their app to save and export the ebook as a video, an ePub to send to iBooks through iTunes or a PDF to be emailed to a parent.

2. Shadow Puppet   Shadow Puppet Edu (Free)

My favorite thing about this app bedsides the fact that it is free is that it has it’s own images for the kids to search.


Interact and Collaborate

3. Educreations- New   Educreations (Free with $12.00 a month subscription fee through iTunes for all features, which was so worth it to me.)

This has been my favorite resource for students to “Show what they know” across the curriculum. They also have a fantastic selection of clipart style pictures for the kids. As you can see in My Katelyn’s Butterfly Screencast, (Also shown in photo above) there are many great age appropriate images for the kids to use. Click here and scroll to the bottom for a video demo! So Awesome!  Educreations is also a web tool. I have my Educreations account/home page open on my Smartboard so student recordings or “Screencast” can be viewed right away. I often times refresh my browser so they can see the newest addition to our class collection. The kids can also see each other’s work anytime they want inside their app that is linked ahead of time on each iPad or laptop. I did end up setting up a recording booth in the corner of my room with a headset that had a microphone attached for those that were serious about not having peer voices in the background of their screencast recording.

I hope these recommendations are helpful to you. I do absolutely love finding “Just Right” new tech to fit the varied needs of our students and for you, the valued teacher!


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3 Steps to Introducing iPads to Elementary Students

Are iPads new to your room this year? Maybe I can help. For the past three years, I have had access to iPads for my second grade students. Let me just say, that I had many frustrating moments at the beginning that I hope to spare you of and save you a ton of time. With that being said, I also have to say that iPads have revolutionized my classroom, from passive learning to over-the-top engagement and student ownership of learning. It made a huge difference too that I use my own iPad for personal use at home, so it is highly beneficial to know how to use the device yourself, so take time to explore how your device works, maybe take one home to navigate through if your district allows you to. I am not just an advocate of the iPads themselves because I do believe that students also need access to laptops/PC for keyboarding and advanced workflow options that I will address later.

Henry 2 Screen

There are a few basics that will really help you in the management of integrating these incredible devices. The resource suggestions below are paid resources (Totaling $20.00 at the time this was posted, as always, prices are subject to change) from Teachers Pay Teachers and iTunes. There probably are some equivalent free resources out there somewhere but I am sharing what I have used and see as the best in my experience. This is a very basic list but I will be adding more posts regarding other management ideas very soon!

1. Set Expectations– Go slow and walk your students through your expected procedures for handling, charging and disbursement. It is totally worth the invested time in order to lessen the chances of breakage and frustration on your part.

Reagan Tunstall and “Tech with Jen” have great resources for procedure posters, student certificates and Reagan even has a cute video for you to show your students. Check out their Teachers Pay Teachers sites for other great resources.

iPad Basics by Reagan Tunstall ($8.00)

iPad introduction by “Tech with Jen” ($3.50)

2. Organize Devices- You will need to install numbered backgrounds so that each student can quickly identify each device. You can download several super-cute ones from “Erintegration” also in the Teachers Pay Teachers site. She also include Rules in her packets along with other iPad products.

iPad Numbered Backgrounds by Erintegration ($1.75)

3. Organize Student Work- You will need to begin thinking about how you want to organize student work, apps, folders, student workflow and storage of work. This is a huge undertaking, knowing that there is a learning curve for us as well. Don’t get discouraged, it may take some time to pound out your own preferences. I can say that for my primary students, the biggest obstacle was not having email addresses for individual accounts so they could send me their curated work. I have had great success with Dropbox, so I would recommend that you start with it as your cloud storage. I set up a separate Dropbox account for my class to access, linked in each iPad and used their own folder in the app for work storage. I then shared that student’s folder with their parents to see their digital work. I also used the awesome Notability App  ($2.99) for student word processing and annotating documents that I pushed out to them in the subject area folders inside my classroom Dropbox account. When I finally got this workflow organized, it was amazing how much time and paper that I saved! A few of my co-workers used a free app similar to Notability called PaperPort Notes App. I personally have not used it but the feedback I received from them was that it was not as user friendly as Notability but hey, free is still “Free”.

“Teaching with Technology” has a free Dropbox set up product here that is super helpful.

Dropbox Set up Using the App

I created a product on Teachers Pay Teachers to help the kids follow the steps that includes student bookmarks for reminders of the steps to save their work if you are interested.

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Paperless Workflow Using Dropbox and Notability  ($4.00)

I have collected an extensive list of apps and other suggestions that I also used to teach K-3 Common Core Standards that I will post next.

I hope I did not overwhelm you with these three suggestions, as my intentions are to save you time and frustration. This process does take time but it is so worth it!

Take Care 🙂

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Welcome to my blog!

The purpose of this blog is to provide a place to contribute my successes and failures in my journey to integrate the most valuable and practical technologies to best support our children and teachers in preparation for the 21st Century. My hope is that possibly others can benefit from my journey as well. We are teaching our students to be ready for a world that we are not yet prepared for ourselves. It is a daunting task and we are each others’ most valuable asset. What an exciting venture!


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