Have you ever dreamed of playing the guitar or the violin? Or wished to have a recording studio at home? The application GarageBand offers you just that. It is like having your own orchestra at hand directly from your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. It is the most popular application that you can have to create songs with the touch of your finger according to Jason Parker from CNET Magazine. He also mentioned that it is an application which offers real-world instruments with real genuine sounds. It contains easy to use tools and no other application is similar to this in its category. If you own a Macintosh computer, the application comes in free. But, you need to pay to have it on your iPad. With all that it offers, the iPad application can be purchased for the cheap price of $5.79.

Guitar, bass, drums, violins, piano and their counterparts are all instruments that can be played on this tool.  Moreover, the application lets you do things that would be impossible to do on a real instrument. You can even make your own ringtone. The Smart instruments in the application give you the possibility to sound like a real professional musician. Even if you have never touched an instrument in your life, it will make you look brilliant. As a musician, you will find interesting stuff to work with. Even more, it can help you improve and experiment different things. This is one reason among others why I decided to upload it to my iPad.  Furthermore, you can plug in a guitar or a bass and play through classic amplifiers and the stompbox effects. As a bass player, I can have my own drum player accompanying me while I’m practicing. There are more than 250 loops to play with too. In addition, you can record your voice by using the microphone and apply fun sounds. It is possible to record up to 32 tracks and the depth of the sound is just amazing if you use a good set of speakers as said by David A. Cox, who is just sold to this application. His tutorial is one of the best I found, it’s easy to follow and interesting. Take time to watch it and I am sure that GarageBand will be a good reason to convince you to purchase an iPad for your kids. But between you and me, this is cool stuff for adults too, just to restate what Mr. Cox said. I will not go in details about how to use the application because it is nicely done in the following video.

Creating and recording songs are also other things you can do with this application. If you don’t like something about what you recorded, no problem. Individual notes can be moved around. The way to do it is simple, you just need to drag the part you want and drop it to the right spot in the track. In addition, you can delete or change note lengths by shortening them. That can be done for each instrument you have recorded. There is also a feature called the jam session. Each person from your group of three friends can play an instrument and one person is referred to the band leader. He will end up by recording everything. Once your song is recorded, you can share it by using email, Facebook, YouTube, SoundCloud, or AirDrop for iOS.

As for a learning approach Common Sense wrote: « Impressive digital audio workstation lets kids explore multi-track recording, composition, and sound design. Pre-recorded grooves and versatile tools empower them for mobile music creation and sharing. »  GarageBand also has an outstanding in-app support to guide children through features. There are 34 languages offered which is a plus for English language learners. In addition, the application contains a glossary that explains musical and audio recording terminology.

Of course this application would be more useful to a teacher who teaches music in elementary (cycle two and three since students are older) or secondary school students but, Jill Hare from Teaching Community mentioned that younger students love to record and hear their voices as much as older students.  As an ESL teacher I can think of some possibilities to use this tool. Although, this is not an application that would be used all year long, it is a great way to have students explore the field of music.They can gain understanding of different musical genres and cultures. GarageBand is a great way for students to share their thoughts and feelings. A collaboration with the school music teacher could be envisioned for special projects. What I have in mind is to develop children’s creativity by writing songs and adding music to their lyrics. Who knows, maybe there is a future Billy Joel in the class. They could also write a poem and arrange a melody as background and then present it in front of the class. Another thing is that sometimes teachers are looking for ideas and projects to fundraise a students’ school trip. Though it might seem a little elaborate, I think it could be feasible to have students compose tunes. The best songs could be compiled and then recorded and sold. This kind of project would need a lot of organisation and roles should be attributed to students to give them important responsibilities. The class could vote for the best student suited for the role of project manager or producer. Some students could work on marketing. Others could be designers or editors, etc. A project like this provides opportunities for students to learn about their peers and work together to develop a spirit of openness and respect. Another idea for class activities is to do a thematic unit on music. Group of students could start by researching different instruments and agree on a specific instrument they would like to work on. Finding who the inventor of the instrument is and where it comes from is a good start. Perhaps, the students could search for someone who is renowned to play that instrument and what type of music is played with it. Why not have the students also draw a poster and write down the main things they discovered about it and to finish it all, record a tune from the iPad with the instrument they chose. At the end of the project, students would be proud to present the whole thing to their class. All these suggestions are ways to improve students’ creativity. Writing, reading, listening and oral comminication are all aspects involved in the projects that I mentioned which are requirements from the MELS program in Québec. Children have a lot of imagination and they can surprise us with their unusual ways of doing things. Furthermore, by exploring the world of music, students’ knowledge would be enhanced and surely music will bring diversity and sunshine in their world.



Here is a great application for educators and students alike. It’s a learning tool that gives the opportunity to children and adults to mentally take in loads of information in a fun, interactive, and addicting way. You can download the application from the app store on your iPad for free. Whenever an application is free and seems interesting enough for me to use in the future, I go right ahead and download it. The next step for me is to try it and have fun with it. If it’s not worth it, I’ll just discard it, but if it is of value to me, I’ll keep it. Well, this one passed the test. So, this is why I would like to share this application with you. Read through this article to discover all about this teaching tool. To start, you can take a look at the following short video:

You can further discover Bitsboard’s app through their website. The presentation is long to read but easy to follow and nicely done. It’s presented in a step by step to do list. There is no other place where you’ll be able to get complete information on this app as this site. To make it shorter, I’ll try to review the main features so you can have a good idea about Bitsboard.

First of all, why is it so unique? Because the application offers dozens of mini games and quizzes and a catalog with an excessive array of content. In the article Fifty Nine Minutes, Randon Ruggles writes, Bitsboard « is absolutely a game changer in terms of educational apps. At this time the app has access to over 100,000 flashcards that include pictures and audio.” Furthermore, it is fully customizable, which means you can create your boards, add users and tweak the settings of games to your liking. Additionally,  Bitsboard is a global learning platform, you can share custom lessons with anyone via the catalog. According to Special Needs APP if you had to download just one application, this is the one you need.
The home screen is where you can access your existing boards and that is also where it is possible to create more boards. The creation of a new board is done by clicking on the plus sign. There are different options offered to you to create one. You can browse the premium collections section to quickly find some of the most popular boards. You can view the existing catalog, download your boards, import from Dropbox, Import from Quizlet, create a new board, copy or combine. If you found a teacher that submits great stuff, you can eventually search by writing her or his user name. If you click on the catalogue, you can select from popular topics, popular boards or type a key word for a specific search. When creating a board, you get full access to Bitsboard’s catalog of images, so you won’t be losing time trying to find the right image. But, you have the possibility to add your own photos from your library, camera, web search, Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, or Dropbox if you wish. Let’s say you want to search the word provinces, the result will show the different options containing that word. This is the fastest way to find what you are looking for. When a board is selected, the various games will be launched. There are 24 in all to choose from. Some examples of the games are: Word Search, Match Up, Unscramble, Spelling Bee, and Story Time, just to name a few. And now, it is possible to glance at your progress. As a teacher, you can customize games to each students’ level of learning and Bitsboard will automatically save the settings.  Patricia Monticello Kievlan from Common Sense says “Bitsboard is an attractive, flexible way to approach simple content in different ways, to vary studying approaches, and to have available a tool that automates certain processes that can be tedious for a teacher, such as creating multiple-choice or true/false questions.”

How can this be used in the classroom?
As a future ESL teacher, I think this app has varied usages. You can create your own sets of flashcards depending on the topic that you are teaching. The app can serve as a preparation to students for tests and verify if they learned their vocabulary well enough. Why not include Bitsboard’s games within station learning activities implemented in a classroom? Or even have students play with it as a reward when in class work is completed before others. Randon Ruggles cited above also suggested that teachers create spelling lists that students can download on their iPad on their arrival at school. He adds on that vocabulary lists can be viewed at home and there wouldn’t be any more excuses for lost papers. In the same vein, I suggest that students can create their own lists and play the games to help them memorize difficult words. It’s a great tool to help learn a new language and new vocabulary. The options are endless. You can teach your students about currency, time, the months of the year, action verbs, etc. You can assign the students homework if they have access to iPads at home. One thing that I also found interesting about Bitsboard is that when students visualize vocabulary lists, a voice pronounces the word and students can have it repeat as many times as they want and practice how to say the word.  Unfortunately, at the moment, there is no website for Bitsboard and I think that would be handy for those who don’t own a tablet yet.

Learning while playing is always fun. Everyone loves to play and when you play, you don’t even realize that you are learning. It’s not a burden to learn this way and it captivates those who don’t see school as very interesting. Bitsboard will make happy students and keep them engaged longer.



What an interesting subject to talk about! Pinterest is a virtual pinboard online allowing users to organize and share images they find on the web. It is like having different bulletin boards on your room’s wall where you hang notes, papers and interesting stuff that you like. For example, you could have a board on titles of books and authors that you found and you pin the ones you eventually want to read. The difference is that this is virtual. You create your own boards and you pin whatever you wish. You can have as many as you want too. To find Pins, you must search n the site. Pinterest proposes an array of categories to choose from, but the search tool bar can be used to find something more precise. Pinterest has a wide variety of resources and it is just fabulous.

Why should anyone use it? Because first of all, it’s free. Second, you can search on specific subjects. Third, you can connect with other teachers and your students. Fourth, you can reach many people. Fifth, you can show a wide array of things instead of telling about them. Last, commenting, repining and liking can be done by students and teachers. However, take note of Pinterest’s terms of service that is, users under the age of 13 are not allowed.

Just how popular is Pinterest? According to WorldWideLearn an article written by Kristen Marino, the number of users in 2012 was 10 million. Minutes per month spent on the site for each visitor is 98 hours. In one year, the visitors grew by 4,377%. I agree with the argument written by KWWL.  This article stated that today, with technology improvements, teachers can share ideas year-round through popular social networking and sharing sites such as Pinterest.

The site offers much beyond ideas for decorating your classroom, crafts, recipes, ideas for holidays and sharing stuff with other teachers. There are tons of prepared lesson plans that are available. You can also discover new behaviour management strategies, new ways and materials for teaching harder concepts and collect downloadable materials and pin them to print out when needed. Teachers use this tool to search and keep resources. For example, one of my friends has a board for every subject she teaches, another one for classroom management resources and one for general school activities. On her math board, she pinned different activities that she found and wants to try with her students. I started pinning stuff to my own boards too. A couple of times I stumbled on a site that I did not have access because the resources came from Pinterest, so I finally decided to subscribe. During the course of my practicum, ideas of subjects were given by my cooperative teacher and Pinterest helped me find interesting suggestions for activities that I needed to prepare and I keep finding things that will be useful in the future when I have my own class to teach.

Cassandra Collins from said Pinterest is great for first year teachers and that they should not try to reinvent the wheel and her advice is to take what is already there and works. Stephanie Bucks from Mashable gives 16 suggestions on how teachers can use Pinterest in the classroom such as: creating a board inventorying your classroom library so students know which books are available to them and promote student work online. Not only teachers love Pinterest, students share the same enthusiasm. Doing projects is easy with this tool because the students can find relevant information quickly and keep this information. They can share their Board with friends. For example, if basketball is the theme of a class project, each student can create a board about that sport, pin what they find, share it and then sort or select the information they will use for the project. This is one easy way to use Pinterest in class. The teacher can follow what her students are doing by being friends with them. This option allows the teacher to see almost every students’ Boards. Hiding Boards is possible if you do not want your students to see certain information that you pin.

I think Pinterest can keep students active outside the classroom context and keep them finding and sharing things with their friends because they like what technology offers. Finally, the site is one of the best tools I have discovered lately and like many writers have already  said, I could possibly become addicted to it very soon myself.



Flipboard was released in 2012 and is a top newsreader available for mobile applications. With a swipe of your finger, pages are flipped and you can see your favorite topics just like flipping the pages of a real magazine. It is a personal, social, virtual magazine that permits you to have access to the best articles on the web. It is a great application for all your social media and perfect for following specific websites or staying informed on the latest updates of your favorite subjects. You can get all the information you like in one source in a nice magazine layout. The applications interface is neat and very easy to use.

Start off by taking a look at this video to get to know more about the app:

First of all, Flipboard keeps you informed on many current events. Flipboard has over 125 publishing partners such as BBC, the New York Times, Vogue, Rolling Stone and more. Furthermore, there are sections curating around topics like news, traveling, design, food, etc. This app is great to read fantastic magazines, newspapers and blogs, just tap the red ribbon.
Second, you can search and subscribe to an array of magazines. Use the search icon to search for different topics and people of interest.
Third, you can create personalized magazines. Articles can be curated according to class related content. Other students can be invited to contribute to your magazine project.
Fourth, use this application to streamline your social media activities. By tapping on the Account, Flipboard gives you the choice of many social networks to connect to such as Google +, Twitter, Linkedin, Youtube and more. It is also possible to save articles for you to read later into a private Flipboard magazine that only you have access.
Fifth, this can be a very interesting option for schools. Nowadays, many people own their own mobile phones and tablets and use them to get the news. If schools have a paper or newsletter and is available as an RSS feed or through social media, it can be looked up on Flipboard.

I agree with Prasanna Bharti from Edtech Review, the pictures are just outstanding, the images are clear and sharp. She further continues her review by giving an array of things that can be done in the classroom to teach students like reading assignments, student projects, creating digital magazines, or sharing and organizing relevant study material in Problem-Based Learning. Class project magazines can be created by students in teams or individually on a particular subject. It can be a useful tool for students to collect materials such as videos, images, editorials and compiling resources relevant to the course. Students and teachers can share what they found and work in collaboration on projects. Have students create a classroom magazine by putting in some curriculum examples, class readings, images from class and updates. Then, have the parents subscribe to the magazine to keep them informed on what is going on in the classroom. Fred Delventhal from the EdReach Network lists 32 website addresses to put on Flipboard for students. This list can be very handy for teachers who are looking for great sites to refer students to. Vicky Davis posted an interesting blog about the application, Flipboard was the main reason she begged her family to buy her an ipad. Her blog gives step by step instructions to navigate through the application and is perfect for first users. It helped me use the appliction with effectiveness and now I can follow interesting magazines such as National Geographic.

By using this application students will have opportunities to demonstrate their ability to implement learned procedures and methods according to Bloom’s Taxonomy. As a future teacher, I think Flipboard is of most interest to stimulate students’ curiosity on subjects they have never heard of and increase their knowledge on subjects they like. This tool is great to help them search specific topics for class tasks and presentations could be done in front of the class. I would use it to have students summarize articles and construct on new vocabulary found in the articles. Activities such as interviews and sharing information in groups could lead them into interesting conversations. In a class where students have access to tablets, Flipboard can be a valuable learning tool for them.


Explain Everything

“Explain Everything” is an interactive whiteboard and screen casting tool at the same time. It is useful to create lessons, tutorials and any kind of presentations. It allows you to annotate videos while you narrate them. The videos can come from power points that have been previously created or made from groups of pictures that you have on your iPad. Actually, it allows you to use an array of unexpected sources. You can also select items from a cloud storage or a pdf document.

Ann Elliot who wrote for Edudemic said that this application stands apart from the other competitors that she has tested and makes it the best of its kind. She says it is user-friendly, compatible and there were no features she found she wanted more when she used it.Before going any further, let’s start by checking out a short tutorial from youtube:

This application was designed for educational, business, and entertainment settings and is used by thousands of people all over the world according. Even though the application is not free, the price is cost effective. The reviews on internet mention $2.99, but in fact, the price is now $3.49. I found it myself after downloading the application. The developer offers a 50% volume discount to anyone who works in the field of education and wants to buy it.

Mark Fijor from NewSchool Technology said that this application is a must have and they have installed the apps on all students’ iPads in his school. He mentions that teachers enjoy using it in the classroom and kids like to work with it to show solutions to problem solving activities.He also adds the fact that it is now possible to use the front-facing camera to record yourself while creating a screen cast.

The creator and seller of this application is Morris Cooke. Their website offers many tutorials on the commonly used features of the application and the videos are very well done. The steps are explained in an easy and comprehensible way. It is worth taking the time to look at them in order to be able to use the different options efficiently.

With this application, it is possible to:
 Import and insert any document, picture or video.
 Move and animate all objects and texts.
 Draw and annotate at the same time you record your voice.
 Zoom and pan.
 Record and play with the possibility to edit as you wish.
 Export and share.

How to use it: On opening the application, there is a page that appears where all your projects are saved. To create a new document, the plus sign has to be clicked on, this will give you options of four colour templates. When the colour is chosen, the interactive board will appear ready for you to export, create, narrate etc. To add slides, you have to click on the plus sign at the bottom of the screen. You can navigate through your slides by clicking on the right or left arrow if you want to see the previous slide or the next one. If you click on the indication of your slides at this same place, there is a template change option that will appear. Keep your finger on a slide to switch places with another one or press longer and an X will appear on the corner of it to give you the choice to delete it or even duplicate it. Among the different tools, there is a pen with five different options of thickness. Automatically by choosing the pen, the eraser is available with three possible sizes. Everything you draw or write becomes an object, to delete it completely, it is possible by clicking on the X. There is also a choice of colours, options to create shadows (transparency) and borders. The application also comes with a laser tool and there are different forms of pointers like a hand and arrows. The “i” in the box permits you to arrange your objects by duplicating, copying, pasting, bringing them to front, back, lock them in place, etc. There is possibility to add text with the choice of different font, size and border, just to name a few. You can also go to google map or any page on the web and find an image that you want, press the home and the sleep awake button at the same time and it will take a picture of that image. It will be automatically inserted in the photo roll of your application. If you import 20 photos all at once, the project will open with the same amount of slides. A picture can also be taken directly from the camera of the iPad. When you press and hold the triangle beside the record button, another triangle will appear above it and permits you to hear and see all the project if you have selected the first slide. The application has the option of selecting a web page and insert it in one of the slides. It is even possible to navigate on the web page, annotate and record with live browsing of the web.

My opinion: About “Explain Everything”, I really like the fact that you can download website pages, take instant pictures from the iPad and annotate directly on them. The possibilities of making imaginative videos is infinite. I wish the company would put in more choices of colours. It is limited compared to what other programs offer such as Word, but this is just a minor thing. Furthermore, I wish the application would have an integrated music list to use just like iMovie has. I think it would add a little something but would probably distract students from their work. I would not particularly have young students use the application even though it is quite easy to use with the touch of a fingertip, but it takes a few try outs before being really comfortable in managing the recording, the annotating and all the rest. Surely, the children would find it interesting to create projects and presentations and then share it virtually with others. It definitely will teach them important presentation and technoloical skills. I remember one project that a grade 6 had to do on historical facts of Québec. They had to act out an event and film themselves and do video editing, adding comments and slides, this would be perfect for this kind of project. Since projects can be uploaded on Dropbox, it allows you to share lessons with a substitute teacher and play it as a video in the teacher’s absence. Moreover, students who missed a class can also preview lessons later on.

In conclusion, this app is for students, teachers and those who want to make their own videos just for the fun of it (like making a video of your last exciting trekking trip in Spain!). In one of my classes, I had to create a video and this application was just the one I needed to do what I wanted. The use of this application in class will permit the creation of interesting lessons for children. I now agree with Santosh Bhaskar from Edtechreview  who said “Technology not only makes a lesson interesting but also reduces the effort of teachers in making it interesting”.

Explain Everything

Review on Story Jumper

After assisting a teacher’s formation on an educational website in my first year stage, I thought it was going to be a good idea to talk about it in my blog. Story Jumper  is an enjoyable and delightful website for children where they can create stories directly in a picture book in just a few easy steps and share their stories online. For those new authors, the site leads to a link where a nicely well done video tutorial can be viewed.

The site also offers their own hands-on tutorial.  A quick overview is accessible for teachers and guides them through on how to sign up a teacher’s account, create and edit a class, plan a lesson, print hand-outs and start a class, email home access directions to parents, review student’s books and share class collections. In addition, there is an option to print the books you create from highest to lowest quality. Prices vary and start from $24.95 for hard cover books to $1.95 for a digital version, but you can also print a paper copy free. One minor thing is that since it is an American site, it is regulated according to US laws and has strict privacy controls over student information. So, if teachers want their students to access Story Jumper at home, parents need to give their approval by completing a permission slip and sending it back by email to Story Jumper. That process can be a little long.

It’s a great tool to spark creativity and develop students’ writing skills according to Education Technology and Mobile Learning. The site is so easy to use that even children from kindergarten can browse through it and create nice pictures though they will need help to write the text at this very young age. Common Sense Media says that the process to make the stories is so fast that children will be enthusiastic and inspired to write new stories as soon as they finish their first. Good management classroom will be needed and preparation is always a good thing before introducing a new activity. So, it would be preferable to have students’ write their stories in advance so they don’t end up to freeze in front of the computers in search for their ideas. If their story is already written in class, it will just be a piece of cake to then do their book on the web. Chromebook talks about the many skills children will acquire from this website from lower grades to higher ones like critical thinking, decision making and communication. Children will have no trouble at all creating images with the pictures that the site offers by dragging them onto each page of their books. Even though the graphics offered by the site are quite childish, student’s own original pictures or drawings can be used to make their books. This doesn’t limit the site only to young children but to all age groups to use. Even teachers can create their own books on a subject if they don’t find anything available on library bookshelves or bookstores. Teachers First mentions that it would work nicely for individual work in a class or with paired students in a lab and also work well with ESL students.

As a future ESL teacher, I see many possibilities to take advantage of this web site. It can be used as an activity to make a story book gift for a family member on any special occasion. Collective books can be made by having all the class participate in the writing process, it could be that each student writes a small story or poem or even make a recipe book with their favorite recipes. It can serve as a portfolio project where students would put in all the work they do in the year. It could be used as a yearbook project for grade six to have souvenirs of their classmates. Students can create calendars with a fact associated to each month of the year. It would make them do research to find an interesting topic, summarize it and possibly illustrate it or take a picture from the web to add in the project. I know teachers work on projects in class that have specific themes, and they always have students write something about that each time, it would be a good motivator to tell students that at the end, their writing projects are going to be printed in a book for the classroom. A collaborative project could also be done matching students from higher grades with students from lower grades. They could create books for the smaller ones and when the books are printed, they are matched with them and they read them their story.

It didn’t take me long to find these ideas and I am sure that with just a little imagination you could think of other possibilities to use Story Jumper too.

Review on Story Jumper


DOGO means « young » or « small » in Swahili. DOGOnews is an online newspaper for children. It offers amusing articles on current events, science, sports, entertainment. Also, international, green, amazing and fun articles.  It is a learning resource full of stories, lots of pictures and its content can be used for classroom work from grades K to 8.

Facts about DOGOnews:

  • Attracts 500,000 visits each month.
  • Attracts 18,000 educators.
  • Holds 28,000 book reviews.
  • 12,000 teachers have already subscribed.

It was founded in 2010 by Meera Dolosia who is the editor and the main contibutor. New articles are posted almost every day.  Each contains pictures, highlighted vocabulary that leads to an integrated dictionary or maps for geographical contexts, a video, and questions for comprehension. There is also a link for lesson plan suggestions and a word search. Publishers Weekly gives a good description of the website and cites Meaghers comments on the mission they have which is to « empower kids to engage with digital media in a fun, safe and social environment ».

Besides feeding children with fun knowledge and instructional articles, DOGObooks and DOGOmovies is just a click away.  The site gives children the opportunity to write their opinions and reviews on what they read and movies they watched (all reviews are verified before going online). Children can even join the National Geographic Club and flip pages of a magazine or play games. They have opportunities to win free books giveaways or free books contests. Tara Linney posted a video on youtube that briefly guides students to navigate on the website, but really, it is easy to browse and search, interesting and it looks good.

The web has a platform for teachers where they can create lesson plans, student accounts, reading lists & recommended books, they can add links to favorite websites, add events to class calendars and control student comments. And all this is free. Teachers First gives an array of things that can be done in the classroom using these materials such as creating a class magazine or have students choose from the articles, and email it to themselves.

According to the The Québec Education program, it is important to give accessibility of English media and cultural products to students. The articles in DOGOnews are perfect to put students in contact with the structures of the target language and reinvest in the understanding of written texts. Furthermore, discussing on these articles makes students also reinvest their oral skills. I found the articles well written and they can serve for many different activities. Reading comprehension of articles can be further exploited by adding ourselves more questions since the site offers around three questions to reflect on.  And why not have « the news of the day » posted in your classroom as a regular activity routine to have children discuss, it can be an icebreaker activity to start off class. As teachers we want students to be eager to come to class, perhaps these cool facts will keep them interested while they learn. Students like change and bringing innovative new materials that suits their interests will surely increase their participation, knowledge and enthusiasm.

In conclusion, DOGOmedia is a fantastic discovery. The site gives access to abundant articles on various subjects and much more. It is an interesting tool that brings teachers, kids, news and books together.