Make Assessments Meaningful with Shadow Puppet EDU

Monday, January 16, 2017 / Leave a Comment
Make Assessments MEANINGFUL with the FREE app, Shadow Puppet EDU. There are so many ways you can use this app as an interactive assessment. Students will never know they are being "tested".

Using technology for assessing a student's growth and deficits has a lot of benefits. When I was a classroom teacher, I found myself so incredibly frustrated with the amount of assessing going on in public school. Pre-tests, post-tests, re-tests, benchmark tests, state tests and the list goes on! Don't get me wrong. I think assessments are needed in order to document growth and determine a child's learning level; however, the amount of testing going on in our schools is absolutely absurd. It makes me so sad to see students AND teachers constantly stressed and the main reason is attributed to test scores. Therefore, using interactive ways to assess a student's learning level so it is meaningful and effective is something I want to dig deeper into this new year🎉

What makes an effective assessment? 

Effective assessments are able to tell us A LOT about a child and his/her academic needs whether that be where they struggle or where they need to be challenged. They should promote student learning.  I really like the idea of alternative assessments since they focus on what students can do rather than placing too much emphasis on what they can't do. What makes an assessment effective?

In my mind I believe the best kind of assessment should involve 3 components:

  • Open-ended: Not all children (even adults) test well. Multiple choice and true/false questions can be misleading from time to time. A child who has a solid understanding of a certain topic can easily bomb a test if he/she has challenges reading the words on the assessment (ie. dyslexia, vision impairment, etc.). Therefore, giving a child flexibility and ownership to explain their thinking is important to me. Yes, it can make grading a bit more challenging and can be somewhat subjective; however, it is effective for the child. Techhub has a huge list of open-ended/alternative assessments that you can read about HERE.

  • Interactive: Regardless of age, most people cringe when they hear to words test, quiz, and assessment. They can be boring, tedious and knowing you are being judged on your knowledge can be extremely daunting. How can we alleviate these feelings for our students?  Making assessments interactive where the child doesn't even know they are being tested is a true passion of mine.

  • Ability to Voice Record Student in Action: Being able to voice record a child demonstrating their thinking process is invaluable. Not only does it speak volumes about a child's academic and verbal capabilities, you also have a solid piece of evidence for eligibility meetings whether that is special education, a gifted program, etc.. So many times I had a struggling student who I KNEW needed services but took over half a year to be found eligible. One of the big elements to an eligibility is trying to prove the child's strength and weaknesses through assessment results. You also are able to show parents exactly how their child is performing in school. Having recordings of students in action could be very powerful for situations like these. Do I think we have to record students all of the time? No. But it can be very beneficial when you have a few recordings to compare throughout the year! Store them in an online portfolio program like SeeSaw or make your own in Google Drive!

Using Technology as an Alternative Assessment

Today I want to share with you how you can use the free educational app, Shadow Puppet Edu, for an alternative assessment. I remember blogging about this highly versatile app three years ago. THIS BLOG POST shows you how excited I was to discover this technology tool. Since then I have done a countless number of projects with teachers and students using Shadow Puppet EDU and it is one of those apps that just never fails. We all know how important that can be 😄

Why use Shadow Puppet EDU for assessment?

I think Shadow Puppet EDU is very effective for assessing students. The child is not video recorded, just audio recorded with this app. As powerful as video taping can be, having a video camera in your face while you are trying to perform can be incredibly intimidating. I'm not sure if I always capture a child's true capabilities when the video camera is rolling.  However, audio recordings seem to take away an element of raw exposure and make us feel more comfortable when completing a task.

What does it look like? 

Here is an example of a Shadow Puppet piece that was used to assess a five year old's understanding of one-to-one correspondence when counting EM😎JIS on several different slides. Notice how a star pops up and disappears when he is counting. This visually shows when and where the child was tapping as he counted. Shadow Puppet has several different pointer tools students can select when recording. The pointer tool will quickly appear and disappear in the exact location each time the student touches the screen.

This quick little activity is very telling! Seth was able to count the objects correctly on the first and last slide. He failed to correctly count all ten soccer balls on the middle slide. This slide had the objects arranged in an array instead of a straight line. Did that throw him off? He knows how to orally count his numbers (FAST too!) but he needed to slow down so he could accurately track the objects. Having this piece of evidence to send home to parents, share with the other teachers Seth works with or even review with the Seth himself can be very meaningful.

If you are a teacher, interventionist or even a parent who is interested in step-by-step directions and the numbers 1-25 EM😎JI slides, check out my Shadow Puppet EDU Counting One-to-One Correspondence product in my TeachersPayTeachers store. Everything you need is provided:

One-to-One Correspondence Counting activity using the free app, Shadow Puppet EDU

Another kind of assessment that could be used with Shadow Puppet EDU is for reading. In the example below I demonstrate how students can sound out phonemes of words. 😋

Currently I have a long & short vowel Shadow Puppet product in my store. It comes with step-by-step directions and 21 different jpeg images. Click the image below to learn more:

Practicing Short & Long Vowels with the free app, Shadow Puppet EDU

Other assessment ideas using Shadow Puppet EDU include but aren't limited to:
  • coin identification
  • geometric shapes
  • telling time
  • geographical regions
  • positional/directional words
  • tracking words while reading
  • sequencing events
  • parts of a plant, cell, ocean floor, layers of the Earth, and type of model/diagram
  • the possibilities are endless!

You can use the built in image search of the app to find images for your slides or you can even take your own pictures. If you are feeling up to it, appsmash using Shadow Puppet EDU by having your students create something in another app and save it to the camera roll. You have the ability to import images and videos. The app even has Common Core aligned activities built in!

Shadow Puppet EDU's Sharing Options

The sharing options that Shadow Puppet EDU provides are incredible! Easily upload the videos to your SeeSaw portfolios or email the video directly to parents/other teachers. You can even copy a link that will take you straight to the video that is hosted online! If you just want to share the video to your iPad's camera roll then tap Done and it automatically saves for you. It is pretty dreamy...

So what do you think about using Shadow Puppet EDU as a way to assess your students?

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Winter Mentor Text for Problem and Solution

Sunday, January 1, 2017 / 9 comments
Practice the reading skill, Problem and Solution, with this winter mentor text and lesson idea that will help you integrate technology!

Winter Mentor Text for the Reading Skill Problem & Solution

Winter is in FULL EFFECT here in Ann Arbor, Michigan! I have survived my first "Polar Vortex" and had a beautiful white Christmas. I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday and you have had a chance to relax & recharge for the New Year🎉

I am teaming up with The Reading Crew to bring you our winter mentor text linky. Each blogger has picked a winter book to giveaway to ONE lucky winner. To win these fabulous books enter the Rafflecopter that appears at the end of this post. Be sure to read everyone's posts to grab some lesson ideas for these books!

The book I am featuring is one written by the famous Olympian ice skater, Kristy Yamaguchi. Her book is called Cara's Kindness:

Practice the reading skill, Problem and Solution, with this winter mentor text and lesson idea that will help you integrate technology!

The copy I have to giveaway is even signed by Kristy!

Cara's Kindness is about a cat named Cara who is having a hard time picking out the perfect song for her new ice-skating routine. One day while she is practicing, a friend shows up to the rink but is struggling. Cara drops everything to help her friend and then asks that he pay it forward. The story is about all of the different characters lending a helping hand and paying it forward. Soon Cara's kindness is passed all around and even makes its way back to her!

You can grab this book by clicking on my affiliate link below:

I think this book would be a great read for grades K-2. The lesson below focuses on the story element problem and solution. Each phase of the reading process contains an idea for implementing technology. Use them all or choose just one..whatever makes you most comfortable!

Before Reading

To kick off this lesson, start by assessing your students' background knowledge about problem and solution using the E-A-S-Y student response system, PingPong. This tool is both web-based and available as an iOS app. Tools like PingPong are my FAVORITE because you can have some students on laptops/Chromebooks while others use iPads. Some classrooms have a combination of both.

PingPong is an EASY to use student response system that can be used on Chromebooks, laptops, computers and iPads. Multiple choice, True/False, Text and Drawing Images are all ways students can respond to questions. Great digital tool!

PingPong is a digital polling tool that I like to use with younger students. This tool is a bit different from Kahoot and Socrative because it involves very little preparation up front. Also, it contains four different response options:
  • Multiple Choice
  • True or False
  • Text
  • Image/Drawing😄
I first learned about this app from Technology with Teaching who put together an excellent video tutorial that you can view HERE. In 4 minutes you will understand and know how to use this simple digital tool.

Create a polling room by visiting and selecting Host (the teacher will have to sign-in). Students will visit the same website but select Guest and enter in the special code and their name. Then all you do is ask your questions aloud and students respond! E-A-S-Y.

Get this...your Room Code always stays THE SAME. Even if you decide to use PingPong the next day and sign in again, it is still the same code! Click on your code and you can personalize it any way you wish (as long as someone else doesn't have the same code)

Once students submit their response you can project the data in two different ways:


The tool does not save and archive the responses. It is intended for a quick check

All drawing responses will appear as little thumbnails:

Click on them to enlarge:

Side note: This webtool/app will allow students to submit emojis as responses when you launch the Send Text response:

iPad users can just use the keyboard iOS emojis. If students are using a Chrome browser on a laptop or Chromebook then they would need to install the EmojiOne extension in order to submit emojis as responses.

To use PingPong as a kickoff to this lesson, ask the following questions:
  • True/False: A problem is a challenge that someone or something faces.
  • Multiple Choice: ____(your name)____ forgot his/her lunch at home today. What can he/she do to fix this situation (solution)?
    • A) Cry
    • B) Drink water
    • C) Buy lunch in the cafeteria
    • D) Run up and down the hallway
  • Drawing: Sketch a picture about a time you faced a problem (have a few students share out when you project their drawing)
  • Drawing: Sketch a picture about how that problem was solved
  • Ask any other questions you feel would fit!

During Reading

Online Tally Counter is an easy to use web tool that will allow you to count using tally marks
Explain to your students that this story has lots of problems that end up being solved thanks to a good friend. As you read have students quietly take note of how many problems arise in the story. They could simply tally mark the number on a piece of paper OR they could tally mark digitally using a website like this Online Tally Counter. After reading, compare numbers as a class! Take a picture walk through of the story and discuss the different problems that appear. This is also a great review of the story.

After Reading

To assess your students' understanding of the story, have them complete this digital sort in Google Slides independently OR together as a class. They will drag and drop the text boxes on the outside of the slide to the empty boxes on the graphic organizer. If you have struggling readers then you might need to read the text aloud as they manipulate the sort. *Your students do not need to be signed into a Google account in order to use this activity*. You can make a copy for each student within one folder and share the link to the folder with your class. Or, you could share the link to ONE presentation and use it collaboratively. You could also just project it on your board and invite a few students to the computer or board to move the different pieces. This presentation can also be exported as a PowerPoint file by going to File>Download As"Microsoft PowerPoint.

Click the image above and you will be prompted to Make a Copy

Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to WIN a copy of all our winter mentor text books:

The Techie Teacher's Mystery Word: ice skating

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Make a New Year's Resolutions Animated GIF on the iPad

Tuesday, December 27, 2016 / 7 comments
Learn how to make a New Year's Resolution animated GIF on the iPad using the FREE apps PicCollage and Lumyer and these step-by-step directions. Great way to integrate technology into your classroom!

Go digital this New Year and have your students make their New Year's Resolutions using an iPad and the two FREE apps: PicCollage/PicCollage Kids and Lumyer. The final product will result in an animated GIF that you can embed on your class blog/website, post on a Padlet wall or drag into a collaborative Google Slides presentation or Google Doc. Here are a few examples:

I love digital activities like this for many reasons:

  • They are completely paperless! You don't have to waste your copies :)
  • You can share them with the world! There are countless ways that digital activities can be shared with the community and/or parents. Email links to files (Google Slides presentation in this case), embed on your class blog/website, post in Google Classroom...I could keep going!
  • Engagement. Kids gravitate to technology so why not use it to our advantage!

Before you start, I think it is very important to discuss the idea of a New Year's Resolution. If you have been following my blog for awhile then you will know that I LOVE a good read aloud to kick off a lesson.

A couple of good ones include (affiliate links):

Carla from Comprehension Connection shared some other great read alouds and ideas for goal setting in THIS blog post.

Last year I did a technology lesson on January 5th with a 2nd grade teacher.  Our lesson was about making New Year's resolutions. The first part of the lesson was cut off by a fire drill🙄 so we decided to skip right to the activity. BAD MOVE. We had assumed that the kids were familiar with the idea of a New Year's resolution. After all, they had talked about it a little before their Christmas break. The sentences they typed and the pictures they drew in Pixie were absolutely off the wall. Some of our favorites included:

  • My New Year's Resolution is to make friends with a dinosaur.
  • My New Year's Resolution is to play video games all day.
  • My New Year's Resolution is to blow bubbles.

The lesson was a bust. Therefore, I will never skip this step ever again.

Onto the activity...

Directions on creating a New Years Resolution animated GIF using the free ipad apps, PicCollage and Lumyer

After you have downloaded the two apps to your iPads, have students visit PicCollage/PicCollage Kids to make their image. This app is SO versatile and is hands down one of my favorite apps! 

To make the image:

Open a freestyle collage. Then click on the plus(+) sign at the bottom of the screen and select the purple Background icon.

Choose a background. If you would like to search for a specific background, click the magnifying glass.

Type in what you would like to look for in the search box. I am going to search for a glitter background.

Select the one you want by tapping on the square.

Click the check mark in the right hand corner.

Tap the plus+ again to add text. Click on the pink Text icon.

Type your text. I broke up my sentence into 4 lines by pressing the Enter/Return key after a couple of words. This will allow my text to stay on the screen when I go to expand it. You can customize your font, font color, font background color and alignment. I have labeled the different tools in the screenshot below:

Make your text bigger by pinching out. You can tilt your text or keep it centered..up to you! Next, click on the plus+ and select Photos.

Click on the camera icon. Have someone take a picture of you. The picture looks best if you can get a waist up shot but you can also do a full body shot if you want to appear standing in your image.

Tap the photo you want to use and then tap the checkmark.

Hold you finger down on the photo until a menu pops up.

 Without picking up your finger or stylus, trace your body. You need to meet the point where you started drawing. If you mess up, simply start tracing again. It might take several tries and that is O-K-A-Y! Remember, it will not be perfect. I think that is what makes this "cute"...the imperfections!

With two fingers pinch out your image or pinch in to make it bigger/smaller. Place it where you would like. If you would like to add other images, go for it!

To save, click the blue icon in the lower right hand corner.

Click Save to Library.

You know you are good to go when you see the blue check mark and message: Saved to Library! Exit out of PicCollage.

To add an animation and turn your image into a GIF:

Open Lumyer. *This app is rated 12+. I have provided an alternative to this app below.* Tap in Gallery.

Select your image at the bottom of the screen and then click the checkmark in the upper right hand corner.

Scroll through the animations.

There is a whole library of really cool animations that you can download straight to the app for free.
Click See All for this option. Update: There are now a few inappropriate animations in this bank...uhhh! The fireworks, glitter and party confetti are the defaults so if you still want to use this app then tell your students just to choose the ones that appear on the bottom row and tell them that there isn't time to "See All"(that is if you have students that do what you say😬. )

If YOU want to add any extra animations to YOUR iPad or your class iPads you can find the animations you want to try out and click Download. Then tap one of the animations to test it out.

If you want to see a different animation, click on Delete FX. If you like what you selected, click Save.

Tap GIF.

It has been saved to your Camera Roll! The FREE app will have a small watermark appear in the lower right hand corner. I paid to remove the watermark ($1.99) because I use it ALL.OF.THE.TIME. However, the GIFs and videos still look pretty amazing even if they have the watermark!



  • Use the app, Vimo (4+) instead of Lumyer to add an animated theme and save the video to your camera roll
  • Pull the Vimo video you created into the app, GifToaster to create the Gif
There are many different ways you can get the GIFs off of students iPads. A few options include:

1. If you use Google Classroom you could have your students upload straight to it. Within Google Classroom you could post a link to a blank Google Slides presentation that contains a slide for each student. Students could upload their GIF to their individual slide straight from their iPad. 

2. Students can upload their GIF straight to a Padlet wall. This is a great way to showcase students' work. You can send the link home to parents or embed the entire wall on your class blog/website like this:

    Made with Padlet

3. Collect the GIFs by using The Work Collector. This is one of my favorite ways to collect student work from iPads at schools that are not 1:1 and don't have time for students to sign into a specific account. Read all about it HERE.

4. Use a file transferring app like like Send Anywhere.

5. Upload straight to Google Drive or Dropbox. This option is always tough for me at schools that aren't 1:1 since the little ones have to sign into an account and typing can be a LONG, laborious process.

Seesaw: I know many teachers use SeeSaw as a workflow. I LOVE Seesaw. Have your students upload their GIF to their folder and then you can collect their GIFs to display somewhere or just keep it right in Seesaw.

Share however you please! Your students will LOVE checking out their classmates' New Year's Resolutions.

Don't have access to iPads? Then you might be interested in my New Year's Resolutions Collaborative Class Book in Google Slides:

Have your students make their New Year's Resolutions using Google Classroom/Google Drive with this DIGITAL New Year's Resolutions Collaborative Class Book in Google Slides.

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Technologies That Will Help with the Writing Process

Monday, December 19, 2016 / Leave a Comment
Technologies That Will Help with the Writing Process for kids and adults. Guest Post by Lucy Adams on The Techie Teacher

Technologies That Will Help with the Writing Process

This is a guest post by Lucy Adams. 

Writing is a skill that can be improved through practice and outside tools. The most common tool used to help improve writing is a person of greater knowledge. However, you now can also use technology to help you in your journey to becoming a better writer or writing teacher.
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