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Friday, December 2, 2016


Need to kick the creativity up a notch in your classroom?  Check out four of my favorite animation apps.  They are easy to use and I guarantee that your students will creating with them.  There are so may ways that you can easily integrate these animation apps into your existing curriculum.  


Tellagami is an oldie but a goodie!  Yes, some of the character customization features have been pared back in the free version, but it's still full of potential!  Set the background, create your character, record their voice and you are done.  Share via Seesaw, Google Classroom, etc.  For an extra challenge have your students create multiple scenes with the character and thread them together using the iMovie app.  

ChatterPix Kids or Chatter Pix can make anything talk!  So easy to use.  Simply take a photo, draw a line where you would like the mouth to be, record voice and you are done!  I like to use this app in the primary grades with the art projects that our students create. Make that turkey, Christmas tree or snowman your students make come to life using this app.  Drop your creation into Seesaw, use the QR code creator within Seesaw to create QR codes to hang on the actual art creation!  Great to do this right before parent teacher conferences.

Plotagon is the most robust of the apps listed in this blog post.  I love Plotagon because it is writing intensive.  Your students will have to do quite a bit storyboarding prior to creating within the app, but the end result is quite a show!  I love the fact that students are able to build scenes in which their characters interact with each other.  The only limit with this app is your imagination!  Be sure to give @TimElge a follow on Twitter.  He does some amazing things with his students using Plotagon.

Yap is similar to Tellagami, with the exception of customizing your backgrounds, BUT you get a lot more characters to choose from.  The app uses facial recognition software to focus on the user's facial movements.  If you move your head from side to side, the character you chose does the same.  Once you have recorded your voice you can manipulate it. I like this feature because a lot of students don't like hearing their actual voice.  Save your products to the camera roll and share however you see fit! 

Happy creating!  




Thursday, December 1, 2016

Playing in the Sandbox



Remember playing in the sandbox when we were kids?

Wasn't it great?

I learned a myriad of lessons while playing in many a sandbox while growing up. Creativity, patience, responsibility and even good sportsmanship!  

I was in a Kindergarten teacher's classroom last year and she used the term "sandbox" in a whole new way....

We were introducing a new app to her students.  I don't remember the app, it doesn't matter.  I just recall the moment she told her students that they were going to have "sandbox time" once we opened the app for the first time.

The teacher proceeded to tell the students very little about the app.  As I recall, she told them the name of the app and showed the students the basic tools within the app.  She then told the students that they had "sandbox time" for the next ten minutes.  Since I didn't know what "sandbox time" was, the teacher had the students teach me the simple rules.

1.  You can't raise your hand to ask a question while exploring the app.

2.  You have to figure out how the app works.

Simple, right? Wow!

When I first started my current position as a technology coach, I thought that a major part of my job was to teach teachers every single aspect of any new app that I introduced to them.  Fast forward five years and I changed that philosophy after watching a very good Kindergarten teacher instruct a room full of five and six-year-olds to figure out how to use an app on their own.  She challenged those students.

I like that idea.  A lot.

That simple action encouraged exploration, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration in her classroom.

I believe as teachers we sometimes try to do too much for our students.  We don't challenge them enough in our classrooms.

So next time you are introducing a new app to your students our colleagues, teach them about "sandbox time" and turn them loose!



Monday, November 14, 2016

I had a teacher thank me today.  

I wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary so it caught me a bit off-guard.  She said, “thank you for liberating me.”  I didn’t have a clue as to what she was talking about so I leaned in to ask her for more details.  The teacher carried on, “while you were teaching about the Book Creator app, I noticed that you were teaching some students how to publish their books to Seesaw when they finished.  You then instructed those students to teach other students how to do the same as they finished their projects.  You have liberated me, Mr. Badura. You’ve demonstrated to me how easy it is to let the students become teachers in my classroom.  I don’t have to do all of this technology by myself.”

After class, we had a great conversation about letting go and getting out of the way in our classrooms.  I told the teacher that it took me awhile to grasp the concept because of all of the memories that I had growing up in school.  It simply wasn’t acceptable to one up your teacher.  If you did, you knew not to do again.

Times have changed.  

We need to quit teaching like we were taught in our classrooms.  

Most importantly we need to get out of the way!

Learn from your students.  Don’t be afraid to ask them questions.  Your students will relish the opportunity to teach their classmates. When your students succeed in teaching you something, it’s almost magical.

What an empowering experience you create by letting that process play out in your classroom.

Shouldn’t we have more of this in our classrooms?

Thursday, June 2, 2016


I’m not a settler.  Well, I’m not anymore.  I used to be a settler.  

You’ve seen the Direct TV commercial in which a modern family has “settled” for basic cable instead of upgrading to the supreme services of Direct TV. 
The first time I saw it I flashed back to my third year of teaching in 2002 and thought of how I was a “settler” in the field of education.  I had settled into a comfortable routine in my classroom.  I was comfortable doing the same thing for each unit. The routine was simple. Notes, worksheets, review, then test.  Repeat. It felt good. I was a settler.  

I had settled into doing what made me comfortable in my classroom.  Luckily, I changed my way of thinking in regards to pedagogy and tried to make the learning experience in my classroom an event instead of a class. I had to do it.  I realized I wasn’t doing what was best for my students, I was doing what was best for me.  

We all have “settlers” in the buildings that we teach in.  No, I’m not saying that the settlers are bad teachers.  They’re just comfortable. Too comfortable.  How do we transform those settlers into "pioneer" teachers?  Pioneer teachers being the ones that are on the bleeding edge when it comes to making sure each and every student is engaged in their classrooms?  The pioneer teachers are using various forms of educational technology, creative engagement strategies and are always looking for a way to make learning sticky in their classrooms.

So how do we help our settlers? Below are some strategies that I have used in my role as an Integration Specialist to try and help some of the teachers that I work with in and out of my building.

Be Honest
Some settler teachers don't even know that their style of teaching isn't working.  Once you are stuck in that rut, it's hard to get out! You need to let them know, and that’s a hard thing to do!  Yes, the conversation of maybe changing things up a big should come from your building Principal, but they may have a better relationship with you so the discussion of needing to change things up a bit coming from you will be more meaningful.

Support Them
Get in their classroom. Give them feedback and LOTS of suggestions and ideas on how to change or improve their lessons.  Get you settlers in your classroom or the classrooms of your pioneer teachers.  Let them develop a trust in what you are sharing with them is effective in the classroom.  Share what works for you, don't be an idea hoarder!

Get them Connected
Show your settlers how to harness the power of social media to transform the teaching and learning in their classrooms.  Let's face it, isolation is a choice that we now make as teachers.  Choosing not to use social media for educational purposes when the students sitting in our classrooms are all connected is no longer acceptable. Connected teachers that utilize Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram,  Facebook, etc., have a plethora of ideas and other teachers that are willing to help at any given time.  Helping your settler develop and create a robust professional learning network will pay huge dividends.

I'm sure you have an idea or two that has worked with settler teachers you have encountered.  I'd love for you to share in the comments below.  Until then, get out and continue to blaze that trail of being the awesome teacher that you are!








Monday, May 16, 2016

My Social Media...in 1986





I'm a child of the 80's.  I'm proud of it.  Yep, I wore the black Reeboks with the rolled up jeans.   I sported the Ocean Pacific tee shirts and you might have even noticed about 30 friendship pins attached to those black Reeboks.  The good old days!

The image you see above is from a digital citizenship presentation I created called "Growing Up Digital."  I like to take my audience back to when we were kids.  It's fun to reminisce, plus it's a great attention getter.   It's also great lead-in when talking about social media with parents and students.  

Too often we criticize students about their use of social media.  "They are addicted to it!" "They're on it all the time!" are just a few of the complaints I hear.  Yes, some of them are warranted, but I wonder if our parents would have said the same thing about some of the things we did when we were kids. I know my mother was always telling me to "not sit so close to the television, or it'll ruin your eyes."  Well, I can still see fairly well, but bifocals are in my near future, but that's due to my age.

This whole social media blame game got me to thinking about what I had for "social media" as a child of the '80s. How did I converse with my friends?  What did we do before all this technology?

Well, here is what I came up with for what social media was like when I was a teenager. I bet that you can identify with a few of them.

1.  Handwritten Letters
I read somewhere that the average American receives only ONE handwritten letter each year.  I know I haven't written a letter in cursive in years.  Boy did I write a lot of them back when I was in school! Wasn't it awesome writing a love letter to your sweetie and getting one in return?  I did get a nice handwritten note from my grandma each year on my birthday.  She passed away this last year, so I'm going to miss reading that note and seeing that beautiful cursive writing. And I guess I better plan on writing a couple of more love letters to my wife instead of a simple text.


2.  CB Radios
Remember the CB Radio craze?  So fun!  Think of all the TV shows that had characters using CB Radios.  The Dukes of Hazzard, BJ and the Bear, The A-Team and of course the ever popular movie, Smokey and The Bandit.  The clan I ran around with as a kid all had CB radios on our bikes.  Man, we were ridin' in style!  Until the day Bobby Markvicka ran into the back of my bike, rolled me and in doing so, smashed my CB radio to pieces.  A sad day indeed!  Seems like everyone had a CB radio, either in their vehicle or house and we each had our unique “handle!”   It was like the internet chat rooms or texting of today!

3. Cassette Tapes
Did you ever find yourself inserting a blank Maxwell cassette tape into your boombox at the start of Casey Kasem's "America Top 40" hoping to create your own playlist of your favorite songs?  You pushed in the record, play and pause buttons anticipating that your favorite song would be on next.   Once you did manage to get your playlist created, you created mix tapes for your friends.  We didn't know a thing about copyright, but we were so glad that we finally got the intro to ZZ Top's "Sleeping Bag!"   We'd get together and listen to those silly tapes for hours.  I miss some of those great conversations that were about absolutely nothing, but at the time meant everything in the world.


4.  Talking on the Phone
Ever get in trouble for being on the phone too long?  My mom would holler down the hallway to let me know it was time to end my conversation.  If I didn't acknowledge her command, the ultimate embarrassment ensued as she would pick up another receiver and let me know ON THE PHONE as I chatted away with my friend.   Not cool, Mom!   We could spend hours on the phone talking about nothing!  I won't even get into the prank calling that happened.  


5.  Playing Outside
The things we learned while playing outside.  I learned a lot of life lessons playing outside, some a little before I should have.  No Mom or Dad to rescue me.  Me fighting my own battles, figuring things out.  The street light at the end of our block was my cue to come home in the summer.  When it came on, it was time to come home. Yep, I ended up not paying much attention to that light during a couple of crazy touch football and kickball games, and I had consequences when I got home.  I didn't care, it was worth it.  It concerns me today when I drive by a park and don't see a pickup game of basketball or football going on.  Must be me getting old.  

6.  Going to the Mall
I never got into the hangin' out at the mall crowd.  Some of my friends wanted me to go and hang out with them, but I guess it wasn't my style.  Sure, I'd go to a movie, but the thought of socializing while walking around the mall wasn't very appealing to me.  I still see groups of kids hanging out the mall today.  I'm glad to see that this form of social media from youth has stood the test of time.

Bonus

7.  Cruising

How could I not include one of my favorites?  Remember when you were 16, had your own set of wheels and not a care in the world.....and you started to like girls?  Our cruising spot was South Locust in Grand Island, Nebraska.  It's about 2 miles long and was THE place to be on Friday and Saturday nights.  Cruising speed was about 10-15 mph and it was better if one of your friends was driving so you could do the talking out the window.  I don't know how many times one of us in the car would say "wanna pull over at the Village Inn and chat?" as we were cruising down South Locust.  It was our way of getting acquainted with other teens in our area from all over central Nebraska.  Great memories and conversations.   I really wish that the students of today could experience this.  


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Pushing the Reset Button

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with an old colleague.  We began our careers teaching and coaching together and had some really great years teaching in the same pod of our building.  
I don't get to see that colleague much anymore due to the distance between us.  When we do get the opportunity to see each other, we make the most of it with some great conversation.   During our last chat, we had an interesting conversation.  It was all about the new high school that his school district is constructing.  The current high school that he teaches in is old, dingy and ready to be replaced.  Luckily, their school bond passed approving construction of a brand new multi-million dollar facility. 

I asked my old friend if he was looking forward to the move.  He has taught in the same classroom for the last 10+ years and I was curious as to how much of a hassle it was going to be to pack and move all of the materials that he had accumulated.  His answer really made me think.   A lot. 

He told me that he was looking forward to getting into his new classroom this summer to get it ready for the new school year next August.  I get that.  What teacher doesn't get a little excited to set up their room for the upcoming school year?

  But what he said next, was the kicker.  He told me that he was getting rid of everything in his classroom.  EVERYTHING.  Everything from what he had in his filing cabinets to what he placed on the walls. 

Wow!  

He told me that he was excited to start fresh.  He told me that it is invigorating to think that seventeen years into his career he is starting over.  Starting fresh.  He relishes the opportunity to create new units and lessons for the classes he has taught for several years.   He said he felt like he did that first summer right out of college when he was prepping for his first ever teaching position. 

While driving home after our conversation, my mind began to comprehend this whole situation. Here is a veteran teacher that was excited, if not ecstatic, about starting fresh for his eighteenth year in education.  I likened it to pushing the reset button on a video game.  

Would you be willing to "push the reset button" in your classroom for next year? 


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Warning! Your Students Will Want to "Play" This App All the Time!

Let them Code! Are you using The Foos app in your classroom? It's awesome and your students will love it! Trust me, download it. You will have a hard time putting down your iPad!  I think it is the best app when it comes to teaching students to code and to work on their problem-solving skills!  


The Foos provides a creative space for students to put basic programming concepts to work.  Your students will love creating their own video games and having their friends play them.  Check it out. But, be warned, your students will want to "play" it all the time.  It's one of those apps that never gets old in your cart of iPads.  Download it today....and play!