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ScavengerHunt

GooseChase Scavenger Hunt App Review

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IMG_0893Part of what I love about my job is my interaction with our student-based tech team known as the TEACH Team (Tech Experts and Computer Helpers). This group is a compilation of 25 of the most creative, technology savvy thinkers in our middle/high school student body. I have the privilege of leading this group through trainings, activities, and the daily grind of working our Help Desk. They are our testers, our drop-everything-and-go fixers, and our guinea pigs. The most recent guinea pig extravaganza involved the testing of a scavenger hunt app that I’ve researched and played with but had never had the chance to implement.

The app is called GooseChase. This is where formative assessment meets mobility and creativity! The premise of the app is to serve as a host for scavenger hunts of any kind, and it truly does deliver. Claiming to be a “scavenger hunt for the masses,” GooseChase makes it very easy to add what it calls “missions,” both of the pre-made and self-made variety. It could easily be used for the standard youth group or party game scavenger hunt. That use alone would make it a worthwhile download. However, it’s the way that it can be used in education as an assessment tool that really gets me pumped!

IMG_0896I wanted a way to formatively test my students on their tech skills, ability to adapt to a challenge, and problem solving techniques. Hence, the birth of the RV TEACH Team Test of Wits and Wisdom scavenger hunt. By creating a free account online here, and downloading the coordinating app here or here, I was able to easily create a game that assessed the various skills I needed to, while offering a fun, movement-filled way in which to do it.

IMG_0899The game consisted of several of the pre-made missions and a large collection of my own missions that really put my kids to the test (pun intended). There were silly missions that had students challenging others to arm wrestling matches and capturing video of the event. There were missions that checked for tech prowess by using Google Advanced Search options to locate images with noncommercial reuse licenses. There were audio missions, social media missions, text missions, and physical missions. There were dance missions, interview missions, selfie missions, and photoshop missions. As you can see, GooseChase offers such freedom to create exactly what you want.

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 12.43.54 PMTo get a hunt going, you must give it a start and stop time when setting it up. You can opt to password protect your game as well (definitely a suggestion when you’re doing this for an assessment such as this). Students then go onto the app, which is available for any mobile device, and create a log in. They are then allowed to sign into the game. In the free version, you are allowed up to 5 teams. This worked perfectly for my small group.

The real beauty of GooseChase, though, is found in the real-time uploads and points tracker. When creating a GooseChase mission, you can assign points. There are some recommended point values or you can select a custom point value. Within the Mission List Stats on the right (see photo), you can see how many questions and to what value you have assigned them. As the game is progressing, I can stay at “home-base” and watch the activities/submissions roll in. I have the ability to decline any that don’t fit the bill, so the speak. I may or may not have had to wipe tears generated by hysterical laughter from my cheeks more than once.

IMG_0897This really is an app you have to try! It is suitable for any age as long as they can read the missions. It makes learning and assessment engaging and enjoyable for everyone (including the teacher). And, frankly, once the end of May rolls around, we are all feeling it… that mental struggle.

Give this a shot! Go on a wild GooseChase with your students. Literally. I promise that it will not disappoint.

Celebrate Spring with a New Twist on Green! Green Screen App Review

Celebrate Spring with a New Twist on Green! Green Screen App Review

After months of Mother Nature’s winter tantrums, I am ready for spring. The kids are ready to get outside and run off pent-up energy. We all struggle with the notorious third-quarter-slide, and yet we have a multitude of standards to teach in the final months of school. One of the ways to keep it interesting and inviting to students is through the use of green screen.

When most people hear of green screen, they automatically visualize the weeknight weatherman and his ninja-like map skills. However, with the emergence of technology in the classroom, there are ways to put this magic into the hands of students. My app of choice is Green Screen by Do Ink. For a mere $2.99 in the App Store, your students can give their reports on location, provide special effects for a video project, or pretty much anything their imaginations can dream up. Such a simple concept can take the mundane to exhilarating. See here for some tips on working with the app in the classroom.

This week, I worked with a third grade classroom who had been writing reports about famous landmarks around the globe. Suddenly, a task that could be written and quickly forgotten was now going to become a short movie that was going to be shared with the outside world. The energy was palpable as the classroom teacher and I worked with students to find fantastic images that would work well for the project. The goal was to locate a picture or two that would allow them to virtually stand beside their landmarks as they gave their speeches. Not only were students meeting various writing, speaking, and listening standards, but they were also tackling a host of the 6 ISTE Student Standards. These standards are a staple of 21st Century learning as we prepare students to be critical thinkers and problem solvers in jobs that likely don’t yet exist.

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Maya and Gabriel working to add a Great Wall image

Working the app is fairly simple. Upon opening it, you will find a student-made tutorial. In the upper right-hand corner, is a plus sign which will allow you to begin a new project. Once opened, the magic happens via the three bars along the bottom. It is suggested to use the middle bar as the location for adding the green screen video. Your green screen can be as elaborate or as simplified as you wish. In our case, we used sheets of green rolled paper taped to the front whiteboard in the classroom. I’ve also seen this done on a small scale using tiny puppets and nothing more than green folders. I would also suggest a green bed sheet or even a green plastic table cloth as viable options. You can choose to record the green screen video straight from the app or import from the camera roll. Considering the experience and age-level of the kids, we opted for the latter. The “chroma” color wheel feature within the app allows you to tinker with the coloring as needed to make the images appear just as you’d want them. To show you exactly what I’m talking about, check out this short video from my friend, Jonathan Wylie.

The bottom bar in the app is used for the video or image you’d like to have as the background. Again considering the age of our kids, we chose to use images so that the kids could find suitable backgrounds with ease. Keeping in mind that our informational writing standard was at the heart of this project, we also didn’t want to take any chances that their sweet voices wouldn’t be heard clearly. You’ll note that there was a top bar we didn’t use. If you so choose, this can be for adding animations. Do Ink has a sister app called Animation and Drawing by Do Ink for $4.99 that would work perfectly for an added element and some extra challenge.

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Ella giving a video report on Big Ben

It goes without saying that the “coolness factor” of the project really helped get kids into creating a unique video worth sharing. To save the video, our students exported it to the camera roll of the iPad (an option that will pop up upon hitting “Save”). This allowed students to be able to independently upload their videos to their Seesaw Portfolio for all classroom parents to see. Seesaw works a bit like a private social media experience complete with “likes” and commenting. Before we knew it, kids were getting responses from their uploaded “on-site” reports. I’ll definitely be covering Seesaw in more detail in the coming weeks.

So, as we head into the fourth quarter, I encourage you to ramp up your teaching with a tool like Green Screen. Keep learning fun! I promise you won’t regret it.

Alien Assignment App Review

Alien Assignment in the Classroom– App Review

There is something about a leg squeeze from an excited 5 year old that solidifies why I chose this profession.  Some of them will never, ever get my name right.  I’ve heard some doozies.  Lamdenhorst…Langhornst…and my personal favorite, Mrs. iPad.  But those little cherubs try, and they melt my heart.

Kindergarteners, though, can be scary little creatures.  They call it like it is.  They’ll tell you if you have awful hair. They are prone to random expulsion of bodily fluids with little to no warning.  Despite this, any time I see a booking coming from any of our phenomenal kindergarten teachers, I know I’m in for a treat.  This week was no exception.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 8.52.26 AMMy tech integration adventures took me to Mrs. Heitritter’s class for an introduction to a new app.  I had been itching to use this app with the kids because it was going to be a very innovative way to help them reach standards they had been working on recently and make them think about their surroundings.

Alien Assignment is an excellent iOS app developed by the Fred Rogers Center that combines reading and a camera in an effort to search for items with specified attributes (i.e.; something with wheels, something that holds liquid).  Equipped with an iPad, each student was able to travel about the room, in a type of scavenger hunt, collecting images they felt match the criteria being requested.

 

 

Camden finishing his level!

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 8.27.57 AMScreen Shot 2014-12-09 at 8.27.37 AMUpon completion of the round, which is always four photos, the student is told to show a grown up.  It was at this point that Mrs. Heitritter and I could go through their photos and evaluate whether or not each picture met the characteristics needed.  A simple thumbs up or thumbs down on the screen tells the app which pictures students have to retry.  When all four of the photos match what is needed, it’s on to the next round!

Alien Assignment not only builds early reading skills, but it guides children to deeply think about the characteristics of everyday items in a fun and engaging way.  Teachers are easily able to assess problem solving skills and concepts that need work because each student is able to progress at his or her own pace.  It also serves as a great metacognition (thinking about your thinking) tool for students to advance their higher order thinking skills.

 

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Mrs. Heitritter checking the photos in Alien Assignment

 

Alien Assignment is free in the app store.  An iOS link is available here.  Ages preschool through 8 would enjoy this app and the parental or teacher interaction it provides.

While I’m here, I also need to give a shameless plug out for a new friend, Leesha.  She is a cosmetologist who also has an impeccable sense of style.  She has stretched her wings into the blogging world.  Check out her adorable outfits.  She’s a fun one!  You can find her blog, Captivating Femininity, here.