Thursday, 31 January 2013

February 1, 2013 - Digital Storytelling

Happy Friday Everyone!

Our Tech Tidbits for this week are all about digital storytelling or using digital tools to create and share a story.  We can use various forms of technology such as an iPad, website or online story planner to share stories of in class learning, to extend the plot line in a novel or story or even to illustrate character trait concepts.  Here are a few to get you started…

Frames 4 (OSAPAC Software)
            Frames 4 is a licensed program available on the school computers.  I have given some information about it in a previous Tech Tidbit message, however if you missed it you can access it here Tech Tidbit Dec 7th  

            This website allows students to logically fill in information about characters, conflict, setting and resolution as they begin to plan out their story. Once they have identified the key pieces of information, they are able to print out the maps and utilize them when beginning to elaborate on their ideas.  One thought to remember is that you will need to use the ‘Graphic Organizers’ drop down menu to continue on to the next map (i.e. characters, conflict, etc.).   

Bitstrips for schools is an online comic creating website which is free for Ontario educators.  Simply go to the website, find the Upper Grand School Board and your school from the drop down menus and enter your first class e-mail address.  You will then be asked to enroll each of the students in your class individually and create your own realistic avatar or graphic image representing yourself.  When your students begin logging in they too will to create their own avatars (realistic or somewhat fantastical) and begin constructing comic strips using images of themselves, you or others in the class.  .  Just one word of warning, you need to carefully and correctly type the web address into the web browser otherwise you may find yourself viewing a website which is rather inappropriate.

Storybird (online website)
Storybird is an online website that allows users to create their very own personalized stories in reverse.  The beautiful images are used to spur on children’s thinking and assist them in creating their stories. First, browse the illustrations and choose which ones you want to use in your book (click on ‘use this art’), then drag and drop the images and incorporate your very own dialogue. Although this is a great site for grades 4 through 8, users must be 13 years of age to become a member.

            The Carnegie Library offers a story maker which is perfect for older students.  By clicking on the characters and determining what they will do the story maker writes the story for you.  Although this takes a little getting used to the online Story Helper will assist in guiding you through how to create the stories. Once created the stories can be saved, published, e-mailed or printed out.  Additionally when you are complete the story maker give you a ‘magic code’ which can be used to return to your story for future edits and rewrites.   

Toontastic (Free iPad App)
            The Toontastic iPad application is a great way to break down story telling into its basic parts (characters, setting , conflict, etc.).  By entering the information step by step the students begin to understand how a story can be built up in a logical and progressive manner.   Actually creating the story may take some practice, as after you’ve chosen your setting and characters one has to “move” them to animate the scene, however students are great with playing and trying out new techniques.  By touching and dragging the character it moves as desired, even arms and legs move to simulate the character movement.  You can even make characters move fast or slow, items grow or shrink, come into the frame from outside, and more. Additionally the app allows importing of pictures from the photo gallery to be used as a “face” for a character, which would let kids put THEMSELVES in the cartoon. No hands or feet, just a face selection tool.  Finally, you can add narration and voice overs for a personal touch to each story.   Play around and see what kinds of stories you and your students can create.

Sock puppets (Free iPad app)
The Sock puppets iPad Application allows students to create sock puppet shows to illustrate their stories.   Choose the sock puppet characters, personalize them recoding and by adding your voice, select the scene and props, and record a video. Send the completed videos to an email account or upload to Youtube. Watch this  example from Youtube.

I hope these will help you enjoy storytelling and creating books online and on the iPad with your students!

If you have any suggestions about what you might like more information about, things you’d like to try or simply regarding technology being used in a specific subject area, please feel free to send me a message and I’ll try and find more information for you.



Monday, 28 January 2013

January 25, 2013 - Odds and Sods

Happy Friday Everyone,

This week I have a few odds and ends in the form of a quick tip, a math website,  a flash supporting iPad and iPhone app and a download tool for the computer.

First, are you aware that you are able to take most OSAPAC software home for installation on your home computers?  Or that WordQ is able to be installed on student’s home computer?  Many school libraries have CDs of the software on hand which you can install on your computer for planning and teacher preparation.  If the school doesn’t have a copy of the program you are interested in installing you may find one in the Terry James Resource Center.  Check out the OSAPAC website ( and click on the program you are interested in, this will lead you to a detailed page which outlines the licensing parameters.  Don’t forget to check the disc packaging or insert for a product key to be able to fully complete the install. 

Have you ever used virtual manipulatives with your class? The National Library of Math Manipulatives ( is a great place to seek out interactive math manipulatives for use with the whole class.  By clicking on the box where the strand and grade level intersect you will be offered many different math ‘toys’ to be used with your lessons, including geoboards, base blocks, fraction blocks, polyominoes, charts,  spinners and many more.  Try adding them to the SMARTBoard or simply project them on screen for all the class to collaborate on math problem solving.

Having difficulty viewing videos and gaming on your iPad or iPhone because they don’t support Flash? Try the ‘Puffin’ internet browser app.  This free app will let you surf the net and view content which is not often supported by the Apple devices.

Finally, have you ever tried downloading videos from Youtube for viewing in your class, only to find out that it’s not possible?  Well the solution is Mozilla Download Helper!  By downloading the internet browser ‘Mozilla Firefox’ (found at and its companion ‘Download Helper’ (found at ) you can download videos like never before.   Just find the video you want to download then click on the
coloured bubbles next to the title and choose to download the video.  Once it is downloaded you can add it to a presentation or view it in class without requiring an internet connection.  This ensures that there aren’t any advertisements surrounding the video for students to view and there are no problems to deal with if the internet is down when you decide to show it in class.  It also makes it easy to embed in a website or power point presentation, etc. just don’t forget to give credit where it is due.

I hope these are helpful – as always, if you have any questions or would like further information on how to use the items above please feel free to contact me.


January 18, 2013 - Have you Tweeted this week?

Have you tweeted this week??

This week for our tech tidbit, I am recommending joining Twitter ( and creating your own Personal Learning Network.  Even if you subscribe to twitter and never send out your own ‘tweets’, you can still benefit from the 140 character bursts of information that others share in the ‘twitterverse’.

Begin by creating a username (preferably one close to your own), uploading a photo, and filling in your bio. Then twitter website’s Twitter Teacher will begin to walk you through the process of how to tweet, follow celebrities (you can delete these followings later if you like) and locate friends on twitter using your e-mail addresses.   In addition, you can begin to follow other teachers and educators you know, such as Brenda Sherry (@brendasherry) and Mary Kay Goindi  (@MKGoindi ) as well as other key figures in the world (educational or not).  Doug Peterson @dougpete is a fantastic resource for up-to-date technology in education as is @PLPNetwork (the Powerful Learning Practice) and one recent twitter account which has become a huge sensation (and wonderful resource for  students as well) is astronaut Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) who has been tweeting and uploading photos from the International Space Station..  
Some may question the benefits of twitter, especially after the well-known thought that it is only about publicizing what you ate for lunch, however twitter has become so much more.   By reading what others are tweeting about (often news articles) and growing your list of whom you follow, you are able to build your Personal Learning Network and professional knowledge.  Once you are comfortable you may wish to send out your own tweets or  ‘re-tweet’ what others have said, to your own followers.  Then when you have a challenge you are facing or are looking for a resource, you can ‘tweet out’ your questions and watch the assistance pour in.

Don’t forget, you can view who others are following and click on ‘follow’ to begin following them as well thus growing your list of whom you are following exponentially.

Please feel free to follow myself (@smanzerolle) or the others I have mentioned above to begin your own PLN.  If there are any questions please feel free to ask…

Good luck and happy tweeting!

January 11, 2013 - iPad Know How

Hello Everyone,
I hope that you have all had a restful break with family and friends.  Some teachers have mentioned to me that they have received iPads as gifts and would like some tips and new apps to use with them. Some you may already know, others you may wish to save for later, but I think there is something here for almost everyone.  So here we go…

iPad Tips and Tricks
1. How to Rearrange the Icons and Create Folders
As you download more applications the system will continually add them to the last page on your iPad.  You can alter their location and group them in folders if you would like. Simply touch and hold any icon on the screen until they begin to wiggle.  Then you can drag them to a new spot or to the dock at the bottom of the screen.  Also if you drag them to the side of the screen they will transfer to the next page.  If you drag one on top of the other they create a folder where you can add other icons.  The iPad will name the folder for you however you can change the name by touching the current name and typing a new one.

2. Lock the Screen Orientation
The iPad will switch between portrait and landscape orientation depending how the device is being held.  If this is bothersome or if you are working with a projector you may wish to lock it in one view so that it won’t rotate.  Double click the home button (circle button not on the touch screen) until you see a row of icons at the bottom.  Swipe your finger from left to right until you see the orientation icon (see image below). When you tap the icon the device will lock in that orientation.  

3. Close Running Apps
Apps will continue to run in the background even if you have begun to work with another one and this may cause your iPad to run slowly.  To close them double click on the home button (circle not on the touch screen) then touch and hold any icon until they start wiggling.  Tap the minus sign on the icon to close the app then double click the home button to hide the row again.  This can also be used to switch between applications you are working with.

4. How to Copy and Paste Text (or have it spoken aloud)
To copy and paste text, you need to highlight the text first.  Begin by holding your finger on the word you want to copy.  Once it highlights, you can drag the bars at the ends of the word to enlarge the selected text to include a paragraph or whole page of text.  The iPad will then offer the options available to you (copy, define, speak, etc.) depending on the application you are in.  Simply tap the option you would like (in our case copy) then go to the place where you would like the text copied to (i.e. e-mail) and tap and hold the screen again.  The iPad will then give you the option to paste the previously selected text.  When you press and hold for text selection the speak option is fabulous for students who are struggling readers.  Try using it with iBooks or other reading apps.

5. Multi-tasking gestures
Most iPad gestures are ones that you will easily learn while you are using it - try swiping, tapping and pinching the images and pages.  In addition, you can use multi-finger motions by turning on the multi-tasking gestures option in the ‘Settings’ under the ‘General’ heading.  This will enable you to do the following:
-          Swipe upwards with four fingers to reveal the multi-tasking bar, swipe down again to close
-          Swipe left or right with four fingers to switch to the previous or next app
-          Pinch four fingers together to close the current app.

Fun Free Apps for Kids

Alphabet Tracing - Kindergarten and Primary
This app allows small children to use their finger to trace out the alphabet letters (upper and lower case) and numbers.  The animation shows the child the correct order and stroke direction as well as an image which begins with that letter.  By tapping the raccoon in the upper left corner you can change the colour of the tracing, offer blank pages and print off worksheets for students to use.

Tell Time Lite – Primary
This app helps students learn to tell time by offering a time and a clock face for students to manipulate the time.  In correctly identifying the time three times students earn a star.  In stop the clock mode students stop the hands of the clock to match the time given.  Earning stars is fun for the kids and after five stars they earn a fish for their aquarium.

Science 360 – Primary Junior and Intermediate 
This app offers images and videos from the National Science Foundation on a variety of science based topics.  By tapping news you can learn more about current research in scientific areas.

Planets – Junior and Intermediate
This 3D guide to the solar system is a fantastic way to view the solar system and celestial bodies.  By clicking on Globe at the bottom you can view the earth with the day night system.  Then if you tap the ‘Earth’ button at the top right-hand side you can change to other planets.  2D and 3D options are available to view the night sky and constellations. Great for Grade 6 science curriculum!

A Couple of Online Educational Games
Finally, if your students have some time left at the end of a class, have them give ‘Sugar, Sugar’ or ‘Where’s my Water’ a try.  Sugar, Sugar (Junior and intermediate) is a logic puzzle where you swipe or drag your mouse to create ramps and chutes upon which the sugar falls.  Try to direct the sugar to fill the cups with the correct amount of coloured sugar before the sugar runs out.  Give it a try but be careful, it can be addictive! With 30 levels available online in both ‘Sugar, Sugar’ and ‘Sugar, Sugar 2’ you can keep them busy for a while – and it’s educational!
“Where’s my Water’ is a similar game for primary students where they have to dig through the dirt and activate bombs to direct that water so that ‘Swampy’ can have enough water for his shower.

Where’s my water-

Junior Intermediate –
Sugar, Sugar -
Sugar, Sugar 2 -


December 21, 2012 - Holiday Fun

Happy Holidays Everyone!
In light of the upcoming festivities, I have chosen a few fun and kid friendly websites for you this week. 
The first one is NORAD Tracks Santa ( also available as an app on the iPhone and iPad). The North American Aerospace Defense Command has set up Santa’s sleigh with a radar system so they are able to track him as he travels around the world making his deliveries.  This is great fun for students to watch as he travels all the countries of the world and there are even some videos of him visiting important landmarks.  Until he begins his journey, the website lets you play some games and learn more about Santa. 

p.s. this is a great tool for parents too – ‘Oh look he’s in Finland…you better get to bed quickly.  He will be here soon.’

The second website is New Year’s Traditions Around the World ( This website contains brief descriptions of New Year’s traditions from countries around the world as well as how to say ‘Happy New Year’ in many different languages.   What a great way to remember that the world is a much larger space that what we interact with on a day-to-day basis. 

Finally, here is a fun website to keep the kids entertained during the break.  Make –a-Flake ( is a virtual snowflake making website.  You use the track pad and buttons or a mouse to control your scissors and create your flake.  When you are done, click ‘preview flake’ and it unfolds to show you what you have created.  You can e-mail it to yourself, view it as a JPEG file and save or print it, or you can download it to use in a graphics file.  It’s just as creative and fun as making traditional snowflakes, but no messy paper bits to clean up after!

I hope you have a relaxing and quiet break.

December 14, 2012 - Card Creator and Doc Converter

Happy Friday Everyone!!  Here is your Tech Tidbit for this week…

I have two fun, useful and FREE websites for you:

The first is called ‘Trading Card Creator’ ( - you can also go to and type ‘trading card’ in to the search box).  On this website students can create sports style cards for famous people, places, or fictional characters, or even abstract concepts such as an emotion.  By entering the title of the person, place, etc. then clicking on the type of card to be created, the website will walk the student step-by-step through the process of uploading an image, entering important dates, events and sharing their impressions of the character or geographic location.  This is a great tool for students working on social studies or history (Prime Ministers and explorers are great starting points) as well as language studies of novel characters.  Cards can be saved and shared via e-mail with instructors and peers for evaluation.

Additionally, I would like to share with you another useful website called Online Convert ( This website will convert anything to anything – a PDF document to an MP3 for students to listen to, a GIF image to a JPEG image, even convert a COREL file to a PDF!! Yes, finally when you e-mail documents created at school in Word Perfect for editing at home, online-convert will change it into a PDF or Word file for you! Simply click on the web address and choose which application you need to convert.  Here is how I changed my word perfect document to a Microsoft Word document…
1.     Type in web address ( into the address bar
2.    Choose the type of file to convert – here I chose ‘Document Converter’ and from the drop down menu I picked ‘convert to DOC’ and clicked on it
3.     Where it says ‘Upload your document you want to convert to DOC:’ I clicked on ‘Choose File’ and found where on my computer I had stored the document (FYI - you can also add the web address of a webpage if you need it converted instead)
4.    Then click on ‘convert file’

The only difficulty is that it does not convert back to Word Perfect.  I hope that this website proves to be helpful in the future.


December 7, 2012 - Frames Four for Fun

Happy Friday Everyone!

This week I have chosen to highlight one of the OSAPAC software programs which is Ministry licensed and available for use on the school computers - Frames 4.  By clicking on the Courseware backpack on the home screen you will access all of the available programs listed alphabetically and can find the Frames 4 Icon. 

This program is wonderful for creating presentations and stop frame animations.  Students create individual 'frames' which when played together can resemble a power point presentation or miniature movie, depending on the content and duration of the slides.  Using the library of clip art images, students can 'drag and drop' images and scenes, add different characters and a large variety of animals..  By creating a slide, duplicating it then alter the image slightly then duplicate again, they can create a simple stop motion animation.  Music and background sound effects can be added with a microphone or by adding music from the computer library.  Claymation and Lego-animation are possible using a digital camera and uploading the images to the program.  Text can be displayed on the frames so that students can turn images in to a comic style with voice bubbles for characters, or to add titles and messages to their presentations.  

Let your students play around with Frames 4 - you will be amazed with what they can create.  If you would like to try it out with your students and need some insight feel free to chat with me or send me an e-mail.   Also, Mrs. Wagner's class has been working with Frames 4 for a couple of periods and I'm sure some of her students would also be more than happy to show you their imaginative creations.


November 30, 2012 - Wordle and Tagxedo

Happy Friday is your Tech Tidbit for the week...

I am sure that many of you have seen the amazing images created by a Wordle, but have you tried creating one?

A Wordle is a collage of words based on a specific topic.  You go to and click on create,  then input the words into the text box, or submit a web address and all of the words will be used in the image.   The more times a word appears in the text, the greater the size of the word in the final product.  You can choose to alter the colour, font and layout of the words.  A great way for students to create title pages or to introduce a new topic to the class,

Once you have mastered the Wordle, you may wish to try a Tagxedo.  A Tagxedo is similar to a Wordle, however the words are arranged into shapes and images. The process is realtively the same; just go to and click on create.  Under 'Load' enter your text and choose the shape for your design from the Shapes menu on the left hand side.  If you are feeling adventurous you can even tweak the Word and Layout options to omit frequently used words such as 'the' or 'and' or to include numbers.  The possibilities are endless...

You may recall the Terry Fox poster where the message created the image of his face - a perfect example of a tagxedo!  Amaze your students with your graphic design abilities!
Give it a try, there is no wrong way to make one and it is fun to see the images and collages which they create!

As always if there are any questions or problems with this or other tech related issues please feel free to ask me!

Have a great weekend~

November 22, 2012 - Pin It Down

Hello Everyone,

I have decided to send out a ‘Tech Tidbit’ at the end of every week in hopes that it might stir some interest in the technology options which are available for your interest, and for use in classrooms.

This week I’m starting off with an unusual one - the website ‘Pinterest’.  If you haven’t had a chance to sign up (for free!), I would recommend that you have a browse and see if it is right for you. It is a fantastic place to find new and interesting teaching resources and organization ideas. 

The home page shows images of recent ‘pins’ by members, which you can ‘re-pin’  to one of your boards or click to find the original website for more information.  Once you have joined, you can begin to create your own boards and choose the subject/topic you would like to store there.  From the home page you can click on ‘categories’ at the top which will open a drop down menu of general areas you can explore (i.e. education).  If you would like to be more specific, there is a search text box on the upper left hand corner (i.e. Daily 5).  ‘Pinning’ is not limited to the items on their website however. You can download the ‘Pin It’ button to your web browser task bar, and if you come across an interesting idea while searching the internet, you simply click the button and choose the image you would like and which board you would like it to go to and it is saved for later. 

I know that it is rather unusual to use Pinterest as a teaching resource, however I have found it to be a great source of information.  You can view my Pinterest boards to get an idea of what it is about at:  If you have any questions about this or other technology items please feel free to contact me.