Great Audio Recording tools for Students and Teachers

Audio Tools for iPads & Chromebooks

Why Record Student and Teacher Audio Files in Our Classrooms?  I can tell you why….

#1. Because many of our Common Core “I Can” statements for Language, Reading and Technology involve skills that many of us are still learning how to teach and hold students accountable for mastery. We see standards that include words like, read fluently and with expression, sound out new words, retell in correct sequence just to name a few. We then also see words like; explain, answer, describe, retell, and identify all of which indicate the importance of verbal communication.

Speaking and Listening Standards-

SL.2.5. Create audio recordings of stories or poems; add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.”

Then for writing-

W.2.6. With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish student work, including in collaboration with peers. ”

So, how can we collect that data or even share this data with a colleague or parent? You guessed it! Record your students’ performance using whatever technology you have access to.

#2. Audio and visual recordings utilize technology to engage students and make our jobs more enjoyable and a bit easier. In the last few years, as I have taken steps toward integrating new technologies into my classroom, I have found that on several occasions, I wanted to preserve an audio recording. 

*To document and share what a student has learned or show mastery of a skill.

*To allow a non-reader to understand content and so that they can participate in classroom activities with their peers.

*Further develop my students’ language skills by hearing stories read to them by other readers and to record their own thoughts for an authentic audience.

What Tools do I use?

Depending on your tech resources, I would recommend the following apps that I have used myself.  Click on the links below to see the iTunes App description page.


Tellagami -Free   Tellagami

Educreations – Free  Educreations- New

ChatterKid Pix – Free   Chatterkids

DropVox – $1.99   Dropvox  This app records the audio and save it directly to your Dropbox account.

Literably– Free   Literably App I love this app/webtool! It records students reading a leveled book and scores it for you!

Notability – $.99 – $3.99 (Price can Vary)  Notability

Book Creator – $4.99   Book Creator Creates an actual ebook. There is a free version but only allows one book to be stored at a time.

Draw & Tell HD – $1.99    Draw & Tell

RecorderHQ – Free   RecorderHQ I use this when the kids want to just record an audio file. It can be uploaded to their Google drive.

Google Keep – Free  Google Keep Note taking with a new audio capability. I was super excited about this. You can see my other post about how I use Keep for student portfolios.

Shadow Puppet EDU – Free Shadow Puppet

Sock Puppets–  Free  sock_puppets_main_icon_07


Chromebooks or PC-

Google Slides   Google Slides (Free) create content, go into the PRESENT mode and then have students create the “ScreencastifyScreencastify Ext video (Also free)  using the Screencastify extention from the Chrome web store. This is awesome for Google Apps for Education districts because there is only one sign in and once the extension is added to a student’s Chrome account, there is automatically a Screencastify folder created that saves each recordings upon completion. No lost or unsaved work and it can be shared with peers, teachers and even parents.

Recording Booth -Chatterbox Blog Post Image  Need a quiet place to record audio any of these projects in your room? Try my Chatterbox for $45.99!

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New! Portable Recording Box, Perfect for Classroom Recording

Portable Recording Booths For Classrooms- Two Models

Amazon Link to Black Cardboard Model -$49.99

* This model is our hottest selling of the two. If it is out of stock, please revisit Amazon again a week or two later as we are having trouble keeping up with the demand. 🙂


Amazon Link to Red Linen Podcaster Model With Pouffe Lid & Pop Filter $79.99

Okay, how many of you have finally gotten your tech routines in place and ready to get your students started with recording audio into their presentation projects, only to be thwarted by the frustration of a noisy classroom?

This was a huge issue for my class last year, so this year, I was determined to come up with a solution to my problem! My students wanted to record and share their “Show what they know” audio recordings in Educreations, Google Slides, Tellagami and Chatterkid Pix. They would be so upset if there was background noise in their recording, so they would ask to go down the hall to a quieter room that was often times used for small group intervention. Students being unsupervised was not a smart option for anyone, so I began researching options for an in-class recording booth. They say, “Necessity is the mother of invention”, so I came up with two small, collapsible and portable box with velcro acoustic tiles inside, the perfect size and weight for my students to carry across the room. We have affectionately named them our “Chatterboxes”. They have worked great and my students love to just grab one off of my shelf and take it anywhere in the room or even in the hallway just outside our door. If you are interested in purchasing a “Chatterbox” for your room, you can purchase one from one of the Amazon links above.

Kits Features Includes:

1 Sturdy portable cardboard box with easy to carry handles on the sides

4 Acoustic Soundproofing Foam Tiles that are Class A fire retardant -12” X 12″ X 1″ (Made in USA) 5th Foam Tile not necessary for base surface. Recording device (iPad/Chromebook) lays on sturdy bottom surface to discourage movement noises which produces better quality sound retention.

Velcro tab sets to adhere foam tiles to the inside top, back and sides of the box. 

Easy to follow assembly directions included along with some suggestions for digital tools my students use.

Light enough for even young students to easily carry

Can be collapsable for easy summer storage


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Managing Technology in the Elementary Classroom

Managing Tech in the Elementary Classroom

“How do I manage the new iPads in my classroom?” “How do I keep track of the Chromebooks themselves and who has them during the day?” ~ As I continue to invest time and energy in my professional learning endeavors and read other blogs and Twitter feeds, I have noticed these common questions arise when it comes to using new technology in our classrooms.

Device Sharing? Not Optimal but Can Be Managed

If you are fortunate enough to have iPads or Chromebooks in your classroom, more than likely, you do not have a enough for every student, known as a 1:1 ratio and most teachers are even sharing devices with other teachers depending upon how your administration has set up managing those devices. I have my own very strong opinions on this topic and that is that students NEED to have access to the same device everyday. They take a strong ownership role in the maintenance of a device that they are familiar with, like keeping it charged, where to store it when not in use, maintaining the apps, updates and memory limits not to mention how the device is handled everyday. It is also a huge time saver if a previously entered login on a device can be utilized in an app or browser. If not, I have a previous post on what I use to keep track of student logins that may be helpful to you. (See – iPad Management Tag) But even though the accessibility to tech is not always in our control, we do have to be very discerning about what we do with them to best develop our 21 Century learners.

I have found that most teachers are excited about implementing new technology but are highly intimidated by the time necessary to learn how to manage them in a way that works for them and the ability to access experts in a timely fashion or at least someone that has some background to help them along. I can think of many times that I set up a workflow for a lesson, only to have an unexpected barrier come up and no one to ask for help. My “Plan B” is usually a hard copy choice or dry erase group activity. I have certainly learned that no situation is perfect and we all deal with slow bandwidth at times, (My students have named this- “The Waiting Wheel of Doom”) a dead battery and even that same device that just will not complete the task you have initiated at least 10 times. Yes, some of you know just what I am talking about. 🙂

We are all learners when it comes to leveraging technology to best personalize learning for our students, so it can be a daunting task to not only decide how to use them to fit our pedagogical responsibilities but how to keep up with the day to day tasks of who has the devices, when and what are students doing when they have them.  Let me just encourage you my friend, that it is all worth it! The first few months are a bit frustrating at times but when you get to the place that can walk around your room, with ALL students engaged and independent, navigating through programs and helping each other…it is an incredible feeling! Seeing their projects and creativity is amazing to witness.

You Can Do IT!

I myself, have 15 iPads of my own for my second graders in a daily 2:1 situation as a result of a grant I wrote in 2013. I also have inconsistent access to a cart of 30 iPads or for a 1:1 experience at times. I have to say that once you experience a 1:1 situation, it is hard to adjust to anything else. Seeing the efficient use of highly engaged academic time and flexibility of student creativity is irreplaceable! Not to mention the limitless opportunities to differentiate lesson content. On a daily basis, I am reminded that our students are digital natives and thrive in their “Natural Habitat”. Now, please understand that being a primary teacher for over 20+ years, I am a huge advocate of children having hands on writing experiences and face-to-face communication as well but that is another heavy topic for another post. 🙂

Most of my blog posts are curriculum driven, as many other bloggers are doing, knowing that we are our own best asset and sharing with others is crucial to our success. However, I think it is also very helpful to see how other teachers are managing their devices in their classroom. Here is what has worked for me and my iPads but this system can also easily be used for any device.

Device Management- iPads

You can see the chart on my wall that displays a list of partners assigned to an iPad with a numbered background. I have tried stickers with numbers written on the outside and they do not stay on very well so I used an oil based marker that I found at a craft store, to write the assigned number of that device on the outside front cover. There is an “A” partner and a “B” partner. On certain days, I assign either the A or B partner to an independent task or I have them partner up using the splitters that you can get on Amazon for about $4 to $5 each to connect their headphones. The bigger white splitter with green wires connects up to five headphones and is called a “Rock Star” for multiple listeners. As you can imagine, it is the preferred gadget of choice for me and my kids. Now, with 15 iPads and 26 students, that leaves three extra that are not actually assigned to anyone so I use them for that one student that really needs to get on a project or I keep them at my reading table for reading or math intervention activities. I would love to hear how you manage your devices! I am always looking to improve my classroom management. 🙂


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Digital Citizenship Lesson and Assessment For Kids Using Brain Pop Jr. and Kahoot!

Internet Safety for Kids

Internet safety is a huge concern for parents when talking about integration of technology in our classrooms. As a result, this can cause a great deal of stress to us as teachers if we are not confident in our own understanding of utilizing new technology. In my own experience, I have spoken to many parents that come to me worried about their child’s “Screen Time”, which I plan to write more about soon in an upcoming post because I think this topic is one deserving of greater depth because we will be facing this topic for years to come. It is difficult for some parents to adjust to a new way of learning that differs from their own educational experience. Parents and teachers have a heavy responsibility in preparing our children to live in a world of easy access to an overwhelming amount of resources, some resources are healthy, making life better and convenient and other resources that can literally destroy lives. It is up to us to help them know how to protect themselves with our support and procedures in place.

As a mother myself, I consider this to be a cause worth our best effort, modeling self control and discretion just as we would in crossing the street or talking to strangers.

Using Brain Pop Jr. & Kahoot! for an Awesome Lesson & Formative Assessment Combination:

Brain Pop Jr.

In an effort to greater my Blended Learning repertoire, I have found a great lesson resource in Brain Pop jr. for “Internet Safety & Digital Etiquette and many other common core lessons. This web tool and app aligns perfectly across our curriculum from history to math concepts. I highly recommend the paid version, although the lessons I am suggesting here are free, thankfully. My students love the lessons that they can access and replay at their own pace on their iPads or laptop. After the lesson, students may choose an easy or harder quiz on the content of the lesson as they include their name for data collection.

Angela Watson, a highly acclaimed educational blogger, teacher, learning coach, and author of many teacher devotional books writes for Brain Pop so I have a great deal of confidence in the content as a result.

So, in your plans for introducing technology to your students, I am suggesting this Brain Pop Jr. Lesson and on this link you will also see a tab for a Bullying lesson for free (K-4).


To go with this Brain Pop jr. lesson, I found an awesome Kahoot  (Kahoot Video Tutorial) formative assessment that another teacher shared to go with the Brain Pop lesson. Kahoot is a “Gamified” webtool (Not an app yet) that allows teachers to administer a formative assessment in a fun and engaging way but the best part, which is a new feature to Kahoot, the option to see the test data in a spreadsheet format immediately after the “Kahoot” is finished! I know, so awesome! You can also edit an existing “Kahoot” that another teacher has created by finding a relevent Kahoot, hovering over the title, duplicating it so it shows up in the “Created By Me” tab, then you may alter it any way you like.

I hope you enjoy this resource as much as I have! Definately a “Wow Factor” for my kids this week. 🙂

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Transfer Your Old Cassette Books on Tape to MP3 Files

From Cassette to MP3

Did you spend a small fortune on children’s books on cassette tapes back in the day? I know I am dating myself, but I guess if you are reading this, you are close to my age as well or maybe inherited old cassettes from an older teacher. 🙂

I had over $2,000 in books on tape collected from my many years of teaching that were just sitting in my basement. It made me sad to see them when I would come across them every now and then, the waste of this resource beckoned a response. I thought I would try to research a way to access these great stories for my students listening station in my classroom. After many hours of searching, I found the answer, a Cassette Tape Converter. Of course Amazon to the rescue! Those of you that know me, know that I am huge Amazon fan. I then waited on the ever notorious sound of the UPS truck entering my neighborhood. This sound usually meant I had been shopping again.

So, you will need:

1. Those old cassette tapes. 🙂

2. Your laptop or computer that you use to access you iTunes account.

3. Your Dropbox account with folders that you wish to transfer the audio files to.

4. Audacity downloaded on your computer.

5. A cassette converter

Here is one like the one I purchased:

Cassette to MP3 Converter at Amazon for under $20

Here are the Step by Step directions for converting cassette tapes to mp3’s. (Hopefully, Audacity has not changed this process since last summer.) You are basically downloading the audio from the tape through the converter, via Audacity. Then using iTunes to store the file and then transfer it to your Dropbox to allow access to students at school.

*I did this over the summer and let the tape record while I did things around the house.

1. Open Audacity and iTunes. Drag the outer frame of each window until you can see both.

2. Rewind & Load tape into Converter

3. Push play on converter 1st- usually long lag at beginning

4. Click red record at the top of the Audacity screen once the audio begins- watch for sound waves to begin.

5. After recording, may need trimmed- click somewhere in the gray band to drop a line, select/ highlight what you want to trim off.

6. After the area turns a darker gray, click the scissors to trim that section off.

7. File-export-save to Music folder on Computer HD- then the inside folder, I named-Audio Books-Type in book title. It will ask again to imbed into file.- click ok

8. Now we need to retrieve it from the computer/folder to upload to iTunes. So open computer file, find that book- click. It should download in the recently added playlist in iTunes.

9. Drag and drop to list.

10. I would wait until you have all files in iTunes before you save to Dropbox. Or practice with one before you try them all?

      You can see my file if you zoom in on the photo above.

11. If downloading more, you will need to click the “X” box, upper left, to close out previous recording.

You may need to practice this process a few times but once you get the hang of it, it is pretty sweet!

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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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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.

3 Dropbox & Notability Thumbnail JPeg.001

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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