Creating Games with the Tiny Tap App Based on Common Core

“Any teacher that can be replaced by a computer, deserves to be. ” By David Thornburg

Tiny Tap

Tiny Tap is an app that I came across when I was waiting to get my oil changed in my car. I was sitting next to this little girl who was in Kindergarten and she was playing on the app. I asked her to tell me about it and she was showing me all the games she could play on the app and then the game she created on the app herself. Of course I had to also test out this new app and see how I could apply it to the classroom curriculum.

Tiny Tap is s a free iPad app that allows you to create simple games based on pictures that you take, find or ones you draw. The app is very user friendly, even a Kindergarten could make a game. 🙂 It is easy for teachers to use for differentiated instruction because students can play a game that is based on their needs. Within 10 mins I made a game that connected with the Math Common Core standard K.CC.7.

Here are the steps on how to create a game:

1. Click on create a game and add the title of your game.

2. Tap on the add photo and either upload pictures, take new pictures, find picture on the web or draw a picture based on your Common Core curriculum standard you want to address.

3. To create your question press the record button and start talking.

4. When you have finished recording, select the portion of your picture that is your answer by circling it.

5. Click on done and it will appear on your shelf.

If you want to go back and edit any of the games you created, you can at any time, by clicking on the edit button in the top right corner.  There is also a TinyTap Market where you can see what other people have created, some are free and some are paid. You can also edit others games once it is downloaded into your shelf.

The best part is students who have shown mastery can make games for students that still need to practice certain curriculum skills. This allows students to use their 21st century skills by allowing them to critically think, communicate and create.

I hope you enjoy this app as much as I have!

Reflecting on NCTIES Conference

“Change is the end result of all true learning.” by Leo Buscaglia


The North Carolina Technology in Education Society (NCTIES) took place in Raleigh, NC this week. It was a great time to present my knowledge but also gain knowledge from others. After synthesizing everything I decided to share  some of my favorite sessions and resources.

1. Richard Bryne, @rmbyrne, was a featured speaker at the conference. One of his sessions was sharing 65 web tools in 50 mins. It was a fast paced session and some I knew but I learned some new tools as well. Three of my favorite that I learned and will be implementing are…

–  Pixabay:  Has free public domain images with no login required (Like the one at top of the page)

Meograph: Four-dimensional storytelling

Real Time Board: Great for online collaboration, sharing ideas or presentations.

2. The conference theme was ‘Game On’ and many sessions were on Game Based Learning. One of my favorite sessions curated all the GBL sites by type of game (ex. strategy, puzzle, role play etc). Check it out here:

3. Sam Walker, @swalker2, presented on how to use digital passport to help teach digital citizenship with gaming. Check it out here:

It was a pleasure to also present on the topics of Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) and Twitter for Educators.

Preventing Social Loafing in the Classroom

“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” by Mattie Stepanek


Many times in the classroom when a group of students are collaborating on a project, we see one or maybe two students not pulling their weight or working to their potential. This is called, Social loafing. Social loafing is the tendency to reduce individual efforts when working in groups compared to the individuals effort expended when working alone (Williams & Karau, 1991). Social loafing can also happen within online groups as well. How can educators prevent social loafing in the classroom? Here are my top 5 ideas on how to prevent it.

1. Create rubrics. Set expectations for the project with a rubric but also include a team work component. Have students evaluate themselves as a group before turning in the project, this allows for individual accountability for the group as well.

2. Create reasonable sized groups. Making sure groups sizes are not too large will help with social loafing. Groups sizes should be between 3-5 members, to see the most productivity.

3. Have the students develop rules for the group. Setting rules at the beginning will help all group members achieve the goal. I would give 5-8 minutes for the students to decide on the rules of the group. This allowed them to take ownership of the group along with teaching them real word skills. If you want, the teacher, can also create the rules and assign the jobs for each group member.

4. Model and teach students how to use accountable talk. Accountable talk refers to the ways that educators precisely encourage their students to think deeply, articulate their reasoning, and listen with purpose. There is a great book called, Comprehension through Conversation that helps give you strategies for you to model and teach students to have these rigorous conversations.

5. Highlight individual and group achievements. Everyone wants to feel accepted and highlighting students strengths and achievements will help show that they are a value to the group. I do this by facilitating around the room and making sure each time I go to a group, I make a comment about a different team members progress.

I would love to know any other ideas on how to prevent social loafing in the classroom. Please share your ideas in the comment section.

5E Cycle Integrates 21st Century Skills

“Many school focus too much on achievement… (they need) to create opportunities for young people develop their learning muscles and their learning stamina through working on real problems… to reflect on and manage their own learning.” by Guy Claxton

The 5E model was developed by The Biological Science Curriculum Study (BSCS). The 5Es represent the five stages of a sequence for teaching and learning: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaboration and Evaluate. The 5E model easily incorporates all 21st century skills (4c’s- create, critically think, communicate and collaborate) along with technology.

Engage is where the objective/task is introduced but also allows you to pre-assess. The goal is to spark the learners interest and get them involved. Using technology you can do this many ways such as creating an iMovie to introduce the topic or have the students watch a clip of  a You Tube Video about the new topic you are going to study. I also like using a mind-mapping tool such as Popplet to get the students to start thinking about a topic and telling me what they already know so I can build upon their knowledge.  

Explore is where the learners should take part in activities that allow them to work with materials that give them a ‘hands on’ experience. Simulations or models whose elements can be manipulated by learners, so that they can build relevant experiences of the topic. The learners should be collaborating, questioning, sharing and communication with other learners. The teacher should be facilitates the process and asking questions to get the students to critically think.

Explain is where the learners analyze the exploration and is encouraged to put observations, questions, hypotheses and experiences from the previous stages into action. Communication and collaboration between learners can spur the process. The teachers might choose to introduce explanations, definitions or mediate discussions. Having students create Pic Collages, iMovies or blogging etc will help seamlessly integrate technology along with having students show what they have learned through creating.

Elaborate/Extend is where the understanding gained in the previous stages by the learners, should be encouraged to build and expand upon the new knowledge. Inferences, deductions, and hypotheses can be applied to similar or real-world situations. Varied examples and applications of concepts learnt strengthen critical thinking and provide further insight and understanding.

Evaluation should be ongoing and should occur at all stages, in order to determine that learning objectives have been met and misconceptions avoided. Any number of rubrics, checklists, interviews, observation or other evaluation tools can be used. If interest in a particular aspect or concept is shown, further inquiry should be encouraged and a new cycle can begin that builds upon the previous one.

Flipped Classroom and Common Core Standards

“The focus of flipped teaching is different from other examples in that the technology itself is simply a tool for flexible communication that allows educators to differentiate instruction to meet individual student needs and spend more time in the classroom focused on collaboration and higher-order thinking.” Jac de Haan, educator and founder of Technology with Intention

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 11.24.20 AM

A year and a half ago I wrote a blog post about flipped classroom for elemntary classrooms and since then a lot has changed.  I think more people are realizing that flipped classroom is not just a buzz word or catch phrase but a shift in the classroom approach while redefining homework. Educators are focusing needs to be on having the students master the content rather than just covering it. The Common Core has helped with the shift, as it is deeper, not wider.  The Flipped Classroom lets you attend to each students individual needs and making differentiate easy. There are a lot of newer sites that can help you do this easily along with connecting the Common Common Core standards already done for you. My two new favorite sites are Ted Ed and Learn Zillion.

The Ted.Ed site offers a structured access of content through subject or series. It allows teachers to “flip” any video on YouTube—including TED-Ed videos, Khan Academy or ones you have created on your own You Tube Channel. With each ‘flipped’ video you can add quizzes, links and other resources to the video. It also progress monitors for you as well. Check it out here and test it for yourself introducing Ted Ed. Other great features are that it is free and if you like a video that has been flipped already but you don’t like some of the questions etc you can customize it to your liking! You can also use the Khan academy site, that has a Common Core Toolkit and match the Common Core standards as well. I also love you can embed this into your wiki, Gaggle assignment, Edmodo or other platforms for your work flow.

Learn Zillion site offers great lessons that are linked to Common Core standards with there Common Core navigator.  You can then download lesson slides and resources that help you teach the lesson, depending on what you need. They have a coach’s commentary that you can listen to, to get expert explanation of the lesson and Common Core State Standards. (This is very helpful when you are still trying to understand these new standards. You can also assign lessons and track student mastery by setting up your class. This site is also free as well!

Flipped Learning Resources:

My Flipped Classroom Wiki

Google Doc by Dan Spencer

TechSmith Flipped Classroom 

Twitter chat #flipclass (Monday @ 8:00)

If you have used another site that allows you to flip your classroom and connect Common Core standards, I would love to learn about it.

National Digital Learning Day…What Are You Doing?

“To achieve goals you have never achieved before, you’ve got to start doing things that you never done before.” Stephen Covey

National Digital Learning Day

Today’s students need to achieve 21st century skills such as communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. In order to cultivate this, I believe in building upon a child’s curiosity and encourage them to pursue new knowledge. What better way to kick start this then on National Digital Learning Day on February 6th, 2013! National Digital Learning day is a great day to start transforming your classroom if you have not already and if you have, then try something new, such as a new web tool, a based learning approach or going paperless!

Our school district is encouraging each school to do something for National Digital Learning Day no matter how big or small. As a district we are also having an ‘unconference’. An unconference is a low-key place where educators will learn, share, exchange ideas on different topics such as digital literacy, iPad integration, flipped classroom and BYOT. We will also be having a ‘petting zoo’ so educators can see different devices that could be brought in for BYOT as well. The teachers will be able to see how to put it onto the network along with the devices features.

So I ask my blog family, what are you doing for National Digital Learning Day? Please share in the comment section so we can gain ideas from each other!

To learn more about how to be a part of this groundbreaking event, sign up at here. NDLD site has a great Tool Kit with Lesson Plans and Ideas.

You can also “like” Digital Learning Day on Facebook at and follow the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #DLDday and @DLDay2013

Problem, Brain, Challenged Based Learning…Oh My! Distinguishing Between the Methods

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” by Albert Einstein


Fill in the blank and you have heard about some type of ‘based learning’. With all these different terms and methods it is hard to distinguish one from the other.  Many overlap and this post will be my attempt to help distinguish between them all and provide resources if you want to learn more.

Problem Based Learning: (PBL) is student centered instruction where the student learns the content through solving different problems. If you want to get started  or learn more about Problem based learning here is a good site and PBL book

Project Based Learning: (PBL) is where students create a product based on an essential content question being posed. If you want to get started  or learn more about Project based learning here is a good site and PBL book

Challenge Based Learning: (CBL) is Apple’s approach at looking at a big idea and having the students explore and find a real world solution using technology. If you want to get started  or learn more about Challenge based learning here is a good site and CBL book.

Brain Based Learning: (BBL) is taking what we know about the brain, about development and about learning and combining those factors in intelligent ways to connect and excite students’ desire to learn. If you want to get started  or learn more about Brain based learning here is a good site and BBL book.

Passion Based Learning: is allowing students to study what they are passionate about. If you want to get started or learn more about Passion based learning here is a good site and  book.

Game Based Learning: (GBL) is when students learn through playing games. If you want to get started or learn more about Game based learning here is a good site, blog and  book.

Resource Based Learning: (RBL) is an instruction which gives importance to the role of resources in the teaching and learning process. If you want to get started or learn more about Resource based learning here is a good site and RBL book.

Experience Based Learning: (EBL) is learning through experience through critical and reflective thinking. If you want to get started or learn more about Experience based learning here is a good site and article.

Discovery Based Learning: (DBL) is having students learn through discovery. If you want to get started  or learn more about  Discovery based learning here is a good article and DBL book.

Inquiry Based Learning: (IBL) is learning through explanation and discovery. If you want to get started or learn more about Inquiry based learning here are two good sites by Northeastern Illinois University and Concepts to Classroom along with this IBL book.

Technology Based Learning: (TBL) is the infusion of technology and the curriculum. There is a Technology Based Learning book but TBL should be incorporated in all learning styles.

No matter what, as educators, we must engage all learners and equip them with the skills for the 21st century. I suggest student centered learning which is doing what is best based on the student. Yes, that could mean 8 different lesson plans but isn’t that why we are in education, to do what’s best for them!

Connecting Common Core with Comics Using Chogger

“Once we rid ourselves of traditional thinking we can get on with creating the future.” James Bertrand


Chogger is a new website to me and I learned about during a #21stedchat a few weeks ago. I have been ‘playing’ and exploring with it and think it is a great new web tool for the classroom.

Creating comics is engaging and inspires creativity within students. Creating stories in comic board format helps scaffold students. In Chogger, you have 10 layouts/formats to choose from. You can choose to upload pictures from your computer, webcam, draw your own, or google search right inside Chogger.  This program is easy to use, and the possibilities are endless. Did I mention it is FREE!

Creating comics also promotes 21st century learning skills such as creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration (if they work on the comic with partners or small group.) The best part is you can easily connect many ELA Common Core Standards with Chogger. You can have the students…

  • Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson (RL.2 or RI.2)
  • Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events. (RL.3 or RI.3)
  • Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language. (RL.4 or RI.4)
  • Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence. (W1)
  • Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content. (W2)
  • Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences. (W3)
  • Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.  (W6)
  • Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.  (SI.5)

You can also connect Common Core with Math; as students can create ‘how to comics’ for any topic such as fractions, “How do you add and subtract fractions with like denominators.” If you are in NC, you can also connect the NC Essential Standards for example with Science by having the students create a comic that is about ‘The day in the life of a water droplet’ for the water cycle or any other RAFT activities.

Check out my Chogger Comic here

I am really excited that Chogger is coming out with an educators version! Making it a safer place where students can create web comics, share with their friends, and have fun learning. I do wish they had an app! That would make it even better!

Chogger has other great features such as Chog it! Bookmarking to learn more: Click Here

If you have used Chogger in the classroom, I would love to hear how, as I know the possibilities are endless.

RTI and Math

“If the child is not learning the way you are teaching, then you must teach in the way the child learns” – Rita Dunn

Over the past few weeks I have been working on making our Response to Intervention (RTI- except in NC – RTI refers to Responsiveness to Instruction) process smoother for Math. In reading, there are many researched based baselines, progress monitoring tools and interventions we use often in classroom such as Fountas and Pinnell but there is not as much for Math.

Our biggest obstacle was getting teachers to breakdown where the student was going wrong in their math. Many times they would say problem solving. Before we can say it is problem solving we need to make sure it is not other target skills that are hindering the child such as computation. Many times when we went back and analyzed the students work, there was a different target skill the student really needed such as number sense or reading comprehension.

I decided we needed a graphic organizer to help us with the RTI process in Math. I took the idea from Jennifer Jones Blog, Hello Literacy, RTI “If, Then Menu” she did for reading.

Here is our “If, Then Menu” for math. If_Then_Intevention_menu_JV_WASHAM_Math

Below are books and websites we have used for baselines, progress monitoring and interventions that are all research based.



 Math in Plain English (Literacy Strategies for the Mathematics Classroom) Amy Benjamin

My Kids Can-Making Math Accessible to All Learners

Number Sense Routines by Jessica Shumway

Kathy Richardson Books

I would love to know any resources you have found helpful for RTI and Math to help make our resource guide even better.

Grading in the 21st Century

“Life is an error-making and an error-correcting process, and nature in marking man’s papers will grade him for wisdom as measured both by survival and by the quality of life of those who survive.” by Jonas Salk

Tonight’s #21stedchat (Sundays @ 8:00 EST) topic is Grades and Grading in the 21st century. I have many mixed feelings about this topic and though through a reflection, I might be able to have more clarity of how I really feel. I know this is something that I can not change as it is based on the district and state policies but it is still worth thinking about as grading is always a ‘hot topic’ and it’s important to have an open mind.

My first thoughts are, I don’t think we should grade elementary school student’s. In elementary school we as educators are trying to build the foundation of skills so the students master reading and basic math. I think grades in elementary school turn off many students causing them low or no self confidences and is the start of ‘hating school’.

I think standards-based education is what our students need. Students require ongoing teaching and learning where each student can demonstrate mastery in Common Core standards. Using standard benchmark concepts and skills, will provide an alignment among classrooms and schools yet take away the added pressure of grades.

If we eliminated grades we could focus on true learning. Teaching and learning is a cycle that should measures student achievement through a variety of formats and assessments along with ensuring multiple opportunities for students to learn until they reach mastery. I think that students should be able to retake assessments until they show mastery. I understand some educators concerns that it is not ‘fair’ because those students that worked hard the first time, should not be ‘penalized’ but isn’t mastery what learning is all about and isn’t that what we want for all students? I heard a great quote recently, “Fair doesn’t necessarily mean equal” which fits this situation perfectly.

Portfolios, I am a huge fan of student portfolios and student goals. I think all students should have a portfolio and work at their speed. Growth is what we want to see in students, portfolios are a great way of doing this. Having student lead conferences are a great way to show their growth and lets the student take ownership of their own learning which is what we want to build within students.  Portfolios can have assessments within such as performance tasks or PBL, which can be ‘graded’ or can show mastery based on a rubric.

With all this grading talk we must talk about rubrics. Again, I have mixed feelings on rubrics. I like rubrics, I think they are a great way to grade fairly and set expectations. However, I think rubrics also stunt creativity sometimes and hinder students because they either know what they have to do to get by or they don’t think ‘out of the box’ because it is not in the rubric. I have come to the conclusion that like anything you need to have a good balance which is why sometimes I use rubrics and sometimes I don’t.

I think 21st century skills such as critically thinking, communicating, collaborating and creating can all be  assessed multiple ways no matter if you are using a grading system or not.

As you can see I have mixed feelings and am excited to learn tonight from others around the  world. If you can’t make the chat or missed it, I still would love to hear your thoughts.