Category Archives: app

App Up Your Social Studies

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Lori Rice teaches fourth grade at West Elementary in Wamego and is the current Kansas Council for the Social Studies elementary teacher of the year. You can find Lori on Twitter at @MsLRice. She also blogs on all things teaching (not just social studies) at The Educator’s Room.


Albert Einstein said, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative Einstein_1921_by_F_Schmutzer_-_restorationexpression and knowledge.”   There is a never ending demand teachers in a classroom; things to change, things to learn, and things to implement.  Mobile devices are a wonderful tool in a teacher’s tool belt of knowledge. Bringing apps into your social studies classroom will enable you to continue with proven teaching strategies while opening the doors to learning for your students.

I recently had a conversation with a friend.  We were discussing high school and remembering funny anecdotes and stories of our past.  I mentioned I had a social studies teacher I did not care for and I struggled in this class.  The struggle was my engagement, not the grade. The class was simply boring. My friend also remembered that social studies was one of his least favorite subjects in school as well.  There is an irony in the fact that a subject full of stories, history and culture would be boring.

Teaching is an art and a science.  There are many proven strategies that can be used to increase student motivation and learning.  As an educator, it is our job to allow for expression and creativity in learning. “App Up Your Social Studies” will bring a connection to proven strategies and apps that allow for creativity.

Using Bloom’s taxonomy in a classroom where students feel connected and safe is a wonderful tool.  We will explore apps that can be used to help students analyze, evaluate and create to demonstrate their understanding of their social studies content. These apps will allow you to expand on what you are already doing in your curriculum.

Along with Bloom’s, we will also explore Marzano’s instructional strategies of summarizing and note taking (having a 34% gain in student learning), nonlinguistic representation (having a 27% gain in student learning), and asking questions (having a 22% gain in student learning).*  We will use apps to allow students to sketch their learning and ask higher level questions. How powerful would our world be if our students had a deep understanding of our social studies standards along with a passion for other cultures and relationships?

Social studies is the stories of our past and our cultures.  This can be personal past and culture, recent past and culture, or ancient past and culture.  Helping students understand their own stories and connections to the stories of others allows for empathy.  Apping up your social studies will allow students to explore, analyze, evaluate and create. So reflect on what you are already doing and join me to explore how to bring apps into your classroom for social studies fun!

Sound interesting? You can see Lori live next Monday at the Kansas Social Studies Conference at 2:10pm!

If These Walls Could Talk: Maximize Your Classroom’s Instructional Potential! (Part 1)

On Friday, November 13 my good friend Joe Zlatnik of Basehor-Linwood Middle School and I had the honor of presenting at the NCSS national conference in New Orleans.  In addition to taking every possible opportunity to eat Cajun food, we spoke with a group of about 40 teachers from across the country about strategies we have used to utilize our physical classroom wall space for instructional purposes

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I am a firm believer in trying to give conference attendees as many practical ideas as possible during a session and this year we offered up four activities I have attempted at both Tonganoxie and Gardner Edgerton high schools.  What follows is Part One of this presentation, with parts two through four soon to come.

Strategy  I: If These Walls Could Talk: The Aurasma Concept Review

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(Please note that I am in no way connected with the Aurasma app, it is simply something that was shown to me by a media specialist that I thought was cool!)

A common problem that all teachers face is the reality that there are many students who need assistance and only one teacher to go around.  Worse yet, how often do students need a refresher on a topic they are studying without anyone to ask other than the almighty Google?  The Aurasma app provides an innovative way for kids with smartphones to receive that refresher from the teacher him or herself in the comfort of their own home.

Continue reading If These Walls Could Talk: Maximize Your Classroom’s Instructional Potential! (Part 1)

It’s a Google World and I’m Just Teaching In It (Part 1)

imgresHoly Google!  Have you gotten the opportunity to start using all of the amazing Google resources in your classroom yet?  I am kicking myself for not implementing these tools in my classroom earlier, and I haven’t even been teaching for very long!  I want to take the opportunity to share a few very short and quick strategies with you that I have used in my classroom and that are very simple to implement in any classroom, and are also very quick and easy.

Trust me. I know what most of you think when you hear about a new piece of amazing technology that you can use in the classroom – a used car salesman probably comes to mind when I start talking and you immediately want to tune me out.  I also know what it is like to get information overload on new strategies and then forget about them two days later because it is impossible to use all of them in your room in the short window of time you have before you information overload again at the next inservice day.

The great thing about these Google resources is they are something that you can create in five to ten minutes and they can be used immediately in your classroom!  It is seriously a very good thing that my plan period is 1st hour because I am planning and creating Google activities the day I teach them on a weekly basis. Nothing says professional teacher quite like procrastination!

First, I want to introduce you to one of the ways that I use Google Forms in my classroom. Continue reading It’s a Google World and I’m Just Teaching In It (Part 1)

Find the best apps, games, and sites with Graphite

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The digital landscape that you and your kids have to navigate has exploded. Mobile technology, apps, instant access, digital content. The stuff is everywhere. And all of that stuff is changing how we do school.

But sometimes it feels like there is just too much. Sometimes it’s easier to just throw up our hands and try to ignore everything out there. How do we sort through all of it? We need unbiased and relevant information that can help us find the best of what we’re looking for.

And now there’s help. Enter Graphite, a free tool designed just for educators.

Graphite is a service Continue reading Find the best apps, games, and sites with Graphite

Low On Devices? Plick this App!

Photo on 8-27-15 at 12.34 PMI was recently introduced to an awesome piece of technology that allows you gather real-time data when giving formative assessments.  Plickers (paper/clickers) is a mobile app linked to the Plickers website that gives teachers the ability to test students using mobile devices, even if they don’t have any devices for their students.   Continue reading Low On Devices? Plick this App!