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23 Mar 2012
Comments: 8

Surprisingly Educational: Part 4 – Episode 22

This is a supplement to “Appy Hours 4 You” Blog Talk Radio Show: Episode 22– “Surprisingly Educational Apps: Part 4. In this episode we featured multiple edutainment apps that that at first glance might not appear educational. For each free app we shared multiple integration ideas that span across content areas and grade levels. Check out our other installments of “Surprisingly Educational Apps1”, “Surprisingly Educational Apps 2“, and “Surprisingly Educational Apps 3“.


What's Your 6 Word Bio? using Motivational Poster app

This week we discussed the following free apps:

  1. Visual Poet (see their gallery)
  2. TypeDrawing for FREE (see examples in Math, More Math, Language, and their gallery)
  3. For All Seasons (get For All Seasons on your Mac or PC)
  4. Sketchbook Express & SketchBook MobileX
  5. Bloom*
  6. Create-O-Mat
  7. Fotolr Photo Studio HD & Fotolr Photo Studio 
  8. Painting with Time
  9. Painting with Time: Climate Change
  10. Mad Lips
  11. Political Time Machine (was FREE at the time of our notes)
  12. Motivational Poster (was FREE at time of episode)
  13. VidRhythm (See iChallenge details below).


Stream this week’s episode or download it in iTunes directly.

Listen to internet radio with Techchef4u on Blog Talk Radio

“Appy Hours 4 U” iChallenge: We really want VidRhythm to be considered “Surprisingly Educational” – we LOVE this app and find it to be intensely engaging! However, we have been unable to assign some sort of core classroom integration to the app. Thus, “Appy Hours 4 U” will award a $10 iTunes Gift Card to the best user submission for how VidRhythm can be used instructionally and purposefully in a core classroom. Leave a Comment Below: Include your name, contact email, and idea for how the app can be used instructionally in the iClassroom. We will choose the best submission and announce the winner on our April 5th episode and in the TechChef4U blog.

21 Mar 2012
Comments: 2


After setting up iPads for each of the Math teachers at Krueger Middle School, I met with two teachers in particular (Mrs. Vela and Mrs. Trevino) to review a few of the district policies involved with the iPad and explore some of the 50+ FREE Math apps that I had loaded on the devices.

Mind-Boggling Integration using Visual Poet

While perusing the available apps, they had inquired if it was possible to get Boggle loaded. Intrigued…I inquired as to how they intended to use the app with their Math students. Had to share their app-tastic ideas and a few that I added:

  1. Probability of choosing a vowel or a consonant.
  2. Solve proportions based on their scores (e.g. if you found 12 words in 3 minutes, how many could you find in 4 minutes?)
  3. Calculate the percentage of words you discovered (e.g. 6 words out of 107 possible is what %) or calculate the number of words you would need to receive a passing score.
  4. Set up a problem to solve for difference in score or percentage of change (e.g. you found 12 out of 107 words on the first trial and 15/125 in the next trial) playing the same game or a different game (users have the option to replay with the same letters).
  5. Calculate the Central Tendency of the class’s scores (e.g. mode, range, median, and mean).
  6. If students are playing the same game or replaying the same game within a group, determine what the most popular words chosen were. (Each student could play individually, set the game to replay and have the next student replay with the same arrangement of letters.)
  7. If students are playing different games, they could hypothesize how certain arrangements of letters may be easier to form and locate words with than others based on their scores for each game.
  8. Have students create an infographic (see examples of EDU infographics) with all of the data they have collected.

Know of any other FREE game apps that lend themselves to being used in mathematics or another content area, please share…

Check out other Math iLessonsiLesson involving probability, and App-tastic Mathematics Part 1 and Part 2 on “Appy Hours 4 U“.


20 Feb 2012
Comments: 3

Gratitude & App-reciation

During our TCEA 2012 workshops and seminars, Yolanda Barker and I handed out cards with promo codes on them for the following apps. I would first like to say that we do not endorse apps or products that we do not APP-SOLUTELY LOVE and USE. We would feature and mention the apps regardless of their appy donation(s). That being said, I would like to take a moment and thank the app developers for their gracious donations to our TCEA 2012 participants. I know everyone APP-RECIATED the schwag.

App-reciation Collage created with Turbo Collage app


  1. Puppet Pals Directors Pass: This app is a main staple in the techchef4u kitchen and can be utilized to create animated videos to support any content area at any grade level. (See Samples).
  2. To me By me: This “surprisingly educational” app allows users to write a letter to their future self to be delivered on a specific date. The app is perfect to practice letter-writing and goal-setting.
  3. Tacky Wales Create: This app is fantastic to teach parts of speech and creative writing. (See Samples).
  4. iCardSort: This app is a MUST for any classroom. It can be used in multiple settings (e.g. individual, cooperative pairs, small groups, stations, whole group) and has so much functionality (users can customize the background and decks in a variety of ways as well as wirelessly beam/blast decks to other users) and versatility (can be used in multiple content areas and grade levels). (See Samples).
  5. Explain Everything: This is by far the best paid app for screen-casting! You can import documents and presentations from Dropbox and Evernote and then annotate and narrate over them. Explain Everything also offers multiple export options that do not require logins! (See Sample).
  6. La Di Da: Created by the makers of Songify, this app allows users to speak a selection and transform it into a song. Clearly “surprisingly educational“, users can practice foreign language, speeches and soliloquies, and create innovative media to support any content area’s project. (See Samples).
  7. Root-1: Root-1 donated the cool “Begin Your Quest” eco-friendly shopping bags and have created the “surprisingly educational” app, StoryLines for Schools. The app is a modern day telephone game. Users choose a vocabulary word or quote or generate their own, pass the device to another student who must draw a representation of the word/quote, and pass it to yet another student who must decipher what the drawing is. The app can be used to support vocabulary, themes, events, and concepts in multiple content areas. Root-1 also makes a few other wonderfully free and educational apps: Word Joust K-5, Word Joust 6-8, xWords, and Word Kung Fu in beta (coming soon).
  8. Inspiration Diagrams: Inspiration Diagrams donated an iPad cover for each of our 3 workshops. I had the pleasure of being a beta tester for Inspiration Diagrams. The Lite version will be released in March and the full in April. The possibilities for support and integration of the writing process are endless. The current version of the app has 11 templates ranging from Cause and Effect and Book Report to Fiction Reading Notes and Chronology. The app still mimics Inspiration software in the outline and diagram views but boasts new features such as Send to Dropbox and iTunes. I am very eager to see what the final product will look like.
  9. Matt Barker: This is Yolanda Barker’s husband. He graciously donated his CD to our participants. While his music is copyright free and he welcomes those who seek to modify and integrate it into their own projects, I am sure he would love to hear how it is being used in the classroom or other settings (share your thoughts with him). Matt is also the artist behind “appy hours 4 u” intro, outro, and voice over and plays live at a few local hangouts in San Antonio.
  10. Coach’s Eye: This was a late edition to our schwag. Coach’s Eye is from the makers of ScreenChomp and Camtastia and offers countless classroom integration possibilities. The name is a bit misleading as it was originally created for coach’s to instantly review and analyze their player’s videos. The app allows users to record or import video, slow it down, narrate and annotate over it, and even export it! Imagine recording and reviewing a science lab, public speaking event or debate, or even  weather patterns on a field trip.


Please give these people and app developers a nice round of APP-LAUSE! Thanks Again!


13 Feb 2012
Comments: 0

It's An Appy Day 4 an iPlayground: TCEA 2012

I feel very blessed to have the app-ortunity to be part of the iPlayground at TCEA 2012. Yolanda and I weren’t quite sure what the format of the session would be or how many people would be in attendance. The room was set up with a place for presenters on the left which included seating for observers. The right side of the room included colorful bean bag chairs and a Bretford cart of fully-loaded iPads (decked out with 600+ apps to explore). The room was also open to the hallway so passerby’s could stand and take it all in.

Having an App-tastic Time at iPlayground


During our stint at the iPlayground, we presented Surprisingly Educational Apps sharing 28 “surprisingly educational apps” providing classroom integration ideas for each. We had not expected such a large crowd but were appy to entertain and explain. If you missed playing at the iPlayground, I have included all of the apps we shared on Symbaloo. All of the integration ideas provided during the session came straight from the 3 surprisingly educational apps episodes aired during “Appy Hours 4 U“.

Bringing Appy Hours to TCEA 2012


Here is a rendition of “Call it What You Want” by Foster the People (video below) created with the app Video Star. We made sure to stay within copyright length limitations.

Using the Video Star app and music from their iPod, students can create “surprisingly educational” music videos. The classroom integration would be choosing segments of songs or thematic music that would represent a character or a scene. Then students could act out a scene having each character sing a relevant portion or trim the song to only have one character sing a segment. (Check out these History-Based Music Videos for more ideas).

Over the weekend, I came across a couple of blogs with notes on “suprisingly educational apps” and wanted to share.

Paul Briseno: Paul is an Instructional Technology Administrator for South San ISD and a fellow alumni from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio.

Live. Learn. Teach. Lead (see full post here)

Paul Briseno's Post: Live. Learn. Teach. Lead.


Terri Eichholz: Terri is a teacher in North East ISD who teaches gifted students in grades K-5.

Engage Their Minds: (see full post here)

Terri Eichholz's Blog: Engage Their Minds


iShare: If you attended our iPlayground session and have blogged about it, we would love to see your feedback, notes, and ideas. Please send an email or leave a comment below.

More iPlayground Sessions: Utility Apps and WoScholar Apps 


02 Feb 2012
Comments: 1

Surprisingly Educational Apps: Part 3 – Episode 18

String Augmented Reality Creatures: Print Targets Here!

This is a supplement to “Appy Hours 4 You” Blog Talk Radio Show: Episode 18– “Surprisingly Educational Apps: Part 3. In this episode we featured multiple edutainment apps that that at first glance might not appear educational. For each free app we shared multiple integration ideas across content areas and grade levels. Check out our other installments of “Surprisingly Educational Apps1” and “Surprisingly Educational Apps 2“.


This week we discussed the following free apps:

  1. TurboCollage
  2. Photo Measure Lite
  3. Tracing Paper Lite
  4. Skitch for iPad
  5. String (print the targets to use with the app)
  6. Epic Citadel
    1. Epic Citadel Teacher Challenge Resources
    2. Creative Writing Using Simulated Environment Apps
    3. Creative Writing with Epic Citadel (possible teaching and learning ideas)
    4. Citadel: Telling an Epic Tale (Student Writing Samples)
  7. Video Star
  8. Word Lens
  9. My Secret Diary
  10. Awesome Photo Calendar Lite
  11. QR Code Beamer


Stream this week’s episode or download it in iTunes directly.

Listen to internet radio with Techchef4u on Blog Talk Radio


Check out all of the Surprisingly Educational Apps we featured thus far. If you are attending TCEA 2012, stop by the iPlayground for more classroom integration ideas for all of the apps listed below:

Surprisingly Educational Apps

19 Jan 2012
Comments: 3

Yes, Technology CAN Transform Education!

After reading the Tech Crunch article “Can Technology Transform Education Before It’s Too Late”?, I was a bit shocked and surprisedShocked that there were 15 comments in less than 3 hours and 40+ comments in a span of 24 hours. Clearly the topic is popular. What surprised me was the vast spectrum of comments ranging from arguments between the importance of how and what is taught, lack of focus on critical thinking and need for tools that facilitate retention, lack of parent involvement, and the need for a influx of social media to correspond and collaborate. Some felt technology was a tool and others cited technology-driven innovations like Khan Academy as the answer.

Tech Crunch Article by Prerna Gupta


Mobile Devices are a Game-Changer: While I do agree how and what is taught is integral to student learning and achievement, I have to say that mobile devices (especially the iPad/iPod in particular) are a game-changer… paired with purposeful instruction and meaningful application. They are the vehicle for personal, differentiated, and global learning. So how do we leverage these devices to effectively meet the needs of all of our learners?

Katie Gimbar says it better than I can: Why I Flipped My Classroom?. While she does not focus on the iDevices as a vehicle for flipping the classroom, one can see how these devices could easily support delivery of content (and later… application).

Now, How Might this Look in a Real Classroom? Let’s let Aaron Sam’s classroom serve as a model. (Also check out Katie Gimbar’s explanation: “What Does Your Classroom Look Like Now?”)

Now what are the road blocks to this initiative? What if a student doesn’t have access to the videos? What if a student doesn’t watch the videos? Who creates the videos? How are the videos created? Again, we will visit Katie Gimbar for the solutions!

What About Students with No Access?

What If Students Don’t Watch the Videos?

Who is Creating these Videos? If a teacher doesn’t feel he/she has the time or expertise to do so, Khan Academy and other sites have wonderful video libraries. However, Katie Gimbar (and myself included) feel the best author for change is the classroom teacher.

The next question for me… How are these Videos Created/Produced? Katie (through her video series, I feel a unique familiarity with her… so perhaps we can be on a first name basis) chooses the Flip Camera and white board as her tools of choice. Others may opt for an iPod with a camera, an Avermedia Document camera (and/or A+ interactive software), the SMART recording feature built in to SMART software, or Camtasia Studio (Aaron Sams’ and Chris Groff’s choice), an iPevo, or even screen-casting tools like ShowMe, ScreenChomp, and Explain Everything. Choose a tool that is familiar to you and a tool that will deliver your content in the most appropriate way.

In closing…can technology transform education? No, not technology in it of itself. BUT, technology can be used to support initiatives like “flipping the classroom”, differentiated instruction, and personal learning. Utilizing these technology innovations is the key to empowering teachers to impact student learning and in doing so…transform education!

02 Jan 2012
Comments: 1

Surprisingly Educational Apps

I have to say “Surprisingly Educational” apps appears to be the most popular topic on our “appy hours 4 u” show to date. In these shows we feature mostly free *(some apps may have been free for a limited time) edutainment apps and discuss integration ideas for each app that span across content areas and multiple grade levels.

To support this app-erific surprisingly educational phenomenon, I was inspired to create a Symbaloo web mix to house the apps from our previous and upcoming Surprisingly Educational Shows. This Symbaloo will also serve as a resource for an iPlayground workshop at TCEA 2012.

Symbaloo can be accessed off of a mobile device – each link will open in Safari or iTunes.

Surprisingly Educational Apps Webmix created with Symbaloo


And while we are on the subject of “surprisingly educational apps”, I would like to thank the iOS geniuses behind To Me By Me (featured on Surprisingly Educational Apps: Part 2) for such an innovative app…and for giving “appy hours 4 u” some iTunes love! Also check out out To Me By Me can be utilized with children and students for goal-setting!

To me By me app featured on "Appy Hours 4 U" and image annotated with Skitch


Stay tuned for a fully interactive “Hot Apps 4 HOTS” ePub educator workshop which will feature free edu apps from our episodes… including surprisingly educational and appear in iBooks early this Spring!



14 Aug 2011
Comments: 1

Surprisingly Educational Apps: iPad Blog Hop Host

In honor of the launching of Techchef4u’s Blog Talk Radio Show “Appy Hour”, I decided to cook up my first ever iPad Blog Hop Contest (the winner will receive a $20 iTunes Gift card!). The rules are fairly simple:


  1. Compose a blog entry on your blog with the title “Surprisingly Educational Apps”.
  2. Select one free iPad/iPod app: Apps can be covertly educational like Talking Tom or Songify or somewhat transparent like U.S. Quarters and Magnetic Alphabet Lite. The task is more to shine a light on these gems and highlight how they would or could be used innovatively for educational purposes. Please hyperlink to the app’s iTunes page.
  3. Highlight how it could be creatively used in the classroom (the app must not contain inappropriate material). Please include a screen shot or video (so others will fully comprehend your vision) with your apptivity description. Screenshots of apps can be pulled into Doodle Buddy, Popplet Lite, or ScreenChomp to be easily annotated. Chosen App can be used in conjunction with another app. 
  4. Include recommended age group and content area for your apptivity suggestion(s) within your post.
  5. Finally, include a link back to the iPad Blog Hop’s host site (


More info: The U.S. Quarters app is not innately educational like Number Line (activity-based) or Khan Academy (instructionally-based). Other than supporting the U.S. Congress’s mission to honor the federal republic and “promote the diffusion of knowledge among the youth”, the app itself doesn’t truly teach or produce anything more than basic facts about the fifty states (e.g. motto, date ratified, and symbols). Thus, it is up to us to create a surprisingly educational experience with this app… in a middle school mathematics classroom or elementary social studies… perhaps. I decided to showcase the app to teach mathematics vocabulary and proportional reasoning (scale factor)I will be including my full post on U.S. Quarters and the other apps we discuss before the 25th.

The winner will be determined by a group of Instructional Technology Specialists from NEISD and announced on my first installment of Appy Hours 4 U with my Co-host Yolanda Barker: Thursday August 25th at 10am. Submissions will be judged on creativity/ingenuity, supporting materials (screenshots, videos, etc…), and appropriateness for the classroom.

The winner will receive a $20 iTunes Gift card!