Category Archives: Apps

Twitter to the Rescue!

SuperTwitterIn our most recent PD sessions and department meetings, we’ve really begun to push the notion that Twitter is one the most powerful tools to build learning networks. It also allows you to share, store and aggregate ideas to push your practice to the next level.

If you’ve yet to join Twitter, I’d encourage you to do so, and I’d like to offer you a few quick tips to help you along the way.

  1. Create an account that includes your full name. Don’t be cryptic or crafty. We want to find you, connect with you and learn with you. As an example, my twitter handle is @iAMTrevorHammer.
  2. Start by following some professionals that you know and trust. Members of the program department, NGL team, and like-minded individuals in your family of schools make a great start!
  3. Dip your toes in the Twitter pool by simply ‘liking’ and ‘retweeting’ posts that match your mindset and professional goals. Sharing those tweets with your network will amplify your practice and philosophy.
  4. Use and follow the hashtag #amdsblearns. As a team, we use this hashtag to make it easier to remain connected, and share a conversation around teaching and learning.
  5. Reach out and ask for guidance. I’d be happy to meet with you and walk you through the use and benefits of Twitter. And I’d love to expand the conversation to things like TweetDeck, Hootsuite, and Paper.Li.

Let’s push the conversation, get connected and share! Follow us to get the conversation rolling!

@iAMTrevorHammer   @iAMRickSaunders    @iAMJoeyJackson    @iAMKCarr @LeighCassell


Dec. 1st NGL Day

Here is a link to the Symbaloo webmix that was created for everyone who attended the NGL day on December 1st. Symbaloo is a fantastic way to curate apps and websites. When you create a Symbaloo webmix you are simply adding links to sites and the app store. Users of a webmix just app on the tabs an are taken directly to the desired site. It’s like keeping a page of bookmarks about one topic all in one place. If you want to search the website there are thousands of public webmixes for you to use.


Liquid Text PDF

This app is designed to help readers manage the text they are reading. It offers a number of powerful tools and a set of built-in videos that get students using the app proficiently in a few easy steps. This is one of those great “productivity” apps that can be used by any level of student, with any level of text, in any subject area.

They can download a piece of text from anywhere (internet, Google Drive, PDF). Then, using the app, you can support Active reading. Highlight and annotate excerpts. Take notes, gather excerpts, colour-code notes, compare pages and search the text for sources and information. You can highlight text, make a comment/ note, and then collect your comments.

This is a great app for developing active reading skills. The more time I work with it, the more I like it. Here are a link to app store and the company website.

Liquid Text

Liquid Text PDF

A Great Starting Point


As much as we often try to steer the conversation away from a lengthy list of apps, and more toward the pedagogy involved, we do understand the need for a well-stocked tool box.

If you need a place to start, try this EdTechTeacher resources to search out Apps based on academic subject, topic, or learning activity.


iPad Friendly Novel Responses

Here is the novel response assignment that my students use during our independent reading time.

Independent Reading Novel Response 

You will be expected to complete multiple independent novel responses during term one and two. After you finish your novel you must complete:

1. A summary and personal opinion (Voice, Pages , Google Docs)

2. A character analysis (choose one character and include 3 character traits with support from the text)

3. A creative assignment

Your assignments need to show that:

• You have read the book

• You have thought deeply and reflected on the book

• You have understood the assignment

You will set individual reading goals and due dates for assignments as the year progresses during conferences with your teacher. You should have your novel choices approved by your teacher.

Happy Reading!

Creative Assignment Choices

Links have been provided to suggested apps and websites for each assignment. Please feel free to you any other apps of your choice.

1. If a journey was involved, draw a map with explanatory notes of significant places. (Google Earth, Notability, Showme, Explain Everything)

2. Dramatize a scene from the book. Write a script and have several rehearsals before performing it to the class or recording it. Include stage directions in your script. (Screenplay, iMoviePuppet Pals)

3. Lead a small group discussion with other readers of the same book. Focus on a specific topic and report your group’s conclusion to the class. (Notability, Adobe Voice)

4. Find a song or a poem that relates to the theme or events of your book. Explain the similarities. (Pages,  Keynote ,  Google Docs)

5. Make a travel leaflet inviting tourists to visit the setting of the book. What types of activities would there be for them to attend etc. (Pages, Google Docs)

6. Write a letter to the main character of the book. Write the letter he or she sends back. (Pages,  Google Docs)

7. Make a fake Facebook page of a main character in the book. Think about how their status would change throughout the plot. Who would be on their list of friends? What music would they listen to? What movies would they like?  Be sure to include specific details from the text. (fakebook , Pages )

8. Make a comic with photos of yourself acting out important scenes from the book. (Stripdesigner , )

9. Design and make the front page of a newspaper writing articles, designing adverts based on the character and events of the book. (Pages,  Google Docs)

10. Write a song or rap for your story or non-fiction book. Make sure to include specific details from the text. (Garageband)

11. Write a poem (or poems) related to characters or events in the book. (Wolfram Alpha, Pages, Verses notebook + rhyming dictionary)

12. Create a storyboard for a section of the book. Decide on camera shots etc. Remember to explain the plot and also why a particular camera angle was chosen. (StripdesignerExplain Everything , Book Creator )

13. Find the top 10 web sites a character in your book would most frequently visit. Include an explanation of why each would be of interest. Add screenshots of the websites to explain. (NotabilityPages , Keynote,  Google Docs, Haiku Deck , Adobe Slate)

14. Create a board game based on events and characters in the book you read. By playing your game, members of the class should learn what happened in the book. Your game must include the following: a game board, a rule sheet and clear directions, events and characters from the story. (PoppletTotal Recall, Inspiration Maps )

15. Construct a diorama (three-dimensional scene which includes models of people, buildings, plants, and animals) of one of the main events of the book. Include a written description of the scene. (no app here. Get dirty with paper, coloured pens and glue!)

16. Imagine that you are about to make a feature-length film of the novel you read. You have been instructed to select your cast from members of your class and/or teachers. Cast all the major characters in your novel from your English classmates and explain why you selected each person for a given part.  (Haiku Deck , Adobe Slate, Notability, Pages, iMovie, Keynote, Google Docs)

17. Plan a party for the characters in the book you read. In order to do this, complete each of the following tasks: (a) Design an invitation to the party which would appeal to all of the characters. (b) Imagine that you are five of the characters in the book and tell what each would wear to the party. (c) Tell what food you would serve and why. (d) Tell what games or entertainment you will provide and why your choices are appropriate. (e) Tell how three of the characters will act at the party. (f) What kind of a party is this? (birthday, housewarming, anniversary, engagement etc.)  (NotabilityPages, KeynoteiMovie, Explain Everything,  Google Docs)

18. Make a collage that represents major characters and events in the book you read. Use pictures and words cut from magazines in your collage. Include, on separate paper an explanation of some of your choices. (Photo Wall Pro, Pic Collage Pages, Split Pic)

19. Record a video interview with a character from your book. Ask at least ten questions that will give the character the opportunity to discuss his/her thoughts and feelings about his/her role in the story. (Reel director ,  iMovie )

20. Create a presentation about your nonfiction book with 10 key ideas that you learned. (Haiku Deck , Adobe Slate, Keynote, iMovie , Explain Everything)

21. Write an alternative ending for the book. (Pages , Book Creator,  Google Docs , Book Creator )

22. Make a silent movie of the story. The audience needs to understand the storyline without sound. (Silent Film Studio)

23. Create a Mash Up  that contains at least three songs that relate to your novel (plot events, characters, theme,setting). Share your mash up and defend your song choices to the class. (Garageband)   Fantastic Mash Up example –

25. Create a movie trailer for your book. Make sure that it includes information about the plot, mood, theme, setting, conflict and solution, characters. You can use still camera shots, images from the internet of live action film. (iMovie)

24. Keeping the theme, plot and character in mind rewrite the words to a popular song to fit this book.  (Pages,  Google Docs)

25. Create a podcast about your novel.  Your podcast should include information about the plot, mood, theme, setting, conflict and solution, characters, and as a bonus some biographical information about the author. Share your podcast with the class. (Garageband)

26. Create an movie trailer for your book. Make sure that it includes information about the plot, mood, theme, setting, conflict and solution, characters. You can use still camera shots, images from the internet of live action film. (iMovie) *Remember to cite your sources if you are choosing images from the internet. 

27. Recreate 2-3 settings from your book in Minecraft. You must include specific details from the text. Share your world with the class. Remember to always be working under the “Creative” setting to ensure no damage comes to your project.

28. Create a commercial for your book. Make sure that it includes information about who you think the target audience for the book would be. Give support detail from the text. How did the author do a good job of appealing a specific audience.  (iMovie)

29. Write a detailed summary of your book including information about the protagonist, antagonist, setting, plot, conflict and theme. Using the information from your summary, create a Kahoot on the website . Read your summary to the class and then play your Kahoot. Your classmates will have to google to join your game.

30. Create a Touchcast about your book. For a fiction book be sure to include vApps to illustrate major plot points, characters, setting, conflict, theme & mood. For non-fiction book include 10 vApps to illustrate new things that you learned. (Touchcast)

31. Create a sketchnote about your book. For a fiction book be sure to illustrate major plot points, characters, setting, conflict, theme & mood. For non-fiction book illustrate 10 new things that you learned. Download your sketchnote into Explain Everything and narrate the thinking behind your note ( Paper 53, Sketch Express, Explain Everything, Notability)

If you have another idea that isn’t listed please discuss it with me 🙂

Independent Novel Response Success Criteria

Please consider the following success criteria every time you  complete and Novel Response for your Independent Reading

  • Response contains specific support details from the text (settings, names of characters, events from the plot)
  • Response shows a thorough understanding of the plot of the book
  • Response shows a clear understanding of the theme of your novel with support from the text
  • Response shows a clear understanding go the conflict in your novel with support from the text
  • Character analysis is supported with different specific events from the plot
  • Response shows that you have reflected on the book
  • Response shows that you have understood the assignment that you chose
  • Clarity of your work
      • Conventions (spelling and grammar)
      • Word choice and vocabulary
      • Variety of sentence length and types
      • Using part of the question in response
      • Clear voice during presentation

The Next Step in Next Generation Learning



Much has been made of the central role of the iPad in our next generation learning initiative. And, as much as our technology rollout has been significant in both a physical and pedagogical sense, NGL is about so much more than the tool itself!

Remember that the iPad is only one of many technologies that we carry in our teacher tool belt. And, in truth, the technologies that existed before the iPad, were also designed to make our work flow, communication, and creativity more efficient and visible. Think -Smart Board, Clickers, Light Scribe Pen, and even white boards/markers. So, should the iPad be the central player in your 21st-Century learning environment? We’d say “not necessarily.”  (See the lack of a committed response there? 😉 Previous technologies (including the light bulbs in your classroom) are just there – and are integrated seamlessly into the things we do with and for our students. We’d argue that the iPads should fall into that category, and that the emphasis falls upon making thinking and learning visible in a shared learning environment.

Last week, in the company of the other NGL coaches, I travelled to the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit in Boston, MA. It was a wonderful learning and networking opportunity, but I walked away with a renewed focus on what it means to be a next generation learner. NGL encompasses growth mindset, agile learning spaces, a shared responsibility for the teaching and learning in the classroom, and it also includes a host of apps, online resources, and devices that redefine our learning spaces and attitudes.

In the days and weeks to follow, we will expand on our learning in what I like to think of as  a “Monday/Someday” approach. There are many things that we feel we can coach you through on a Monday (including “Explain Everything 2.0”, Go Formative, Sketch Noting, etc).  But, there are other goals that we will collaboratively work through in order to achieve them “someday” (soon). Big picture ideas like agile workspaces, growth mindset and design thinking will take some time and effort to integrate as we continue to reflect upon and evolve our practice.

These next steps in Next Generation Learning will ultimately take some time to digest, but in the end, the efforts we make to overlap our technology, content and pedagogy will make for richer learning environments and opportunities.



ExplOratorium has two Apps available (for free) on the App store – Colour Uncovered and Sound Uncovered.  Both offer interactive activities that explore the science of sound and the science of colour, with detailed explanations that pop up when you tap on the “What’s Going On?” question mark icon.Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 1.36.20 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 1.36.53 PM


Fast Scanner

The Fast Scanner app gets the job done. This app uses the camera on your phone or tablet to scan documents and export them into PDFs that you can email or print. Fast Scanner also allows you to crop and color-change your images before you export them into PDFs.

My Study Life

This app for students, replaces a paper planner by keeping track of your workload across multiple platforms and devices. Manage your classes with week and day timetables, keep track of tasks and exams in the cloud and receive notifications to keep you up to date for exams and classes. A clean interface and the ability to color code your classes make the calendar easy to read.