Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ April 12, 2015

“You read and write and sing and experience, thinking that one day these things will build the character you admire to live as. You love and lose and bleed best you can, to the extreme, hoping that one day the world will read you like the poem you want to be.”
~~Charlotte Eriksson

On March 27th, one of our favorite Facebook pages, Humans of New York (HONY) posted a short piece about StoryCorps. The founder of HONY, Brandon Stanton is both the photographer and the author behind HONY, and it’s Brandon’s thought-provoking questions that encourage and enable people to share their very private and personal stories. The comments and the support of the viewers of this page add to its overwhelming popularity. Brandon is now encouraging people, especially teachers and family members, to use StoryCorps to record conversations and memories to add to this oral history project.

StoryCorps 2

Dave Isay is the founder of StoryCorps, and his TED Talk can be viewed here. Listening to his TED talk will educate you about the history behind StoryCorps and its importance.

What is StoryCorps? From their About Page:

“StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 50,000 interviews from more than 80,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.”

StoryCorps 3

Please take the time to visit the StoryCorps website and consider downloading their app to help collect your stories. Start with their “Login Page” to create an account, and you can upload an audio file with an image from their website. We have found creating an account online helps facilitate the login process on the app.


StoryCorps 4

[Tweet “With the newly released StoryCorps app, it is now easier to share memories and personal stories.”]

As an added note, here is a little more about the “man behind HONY”:

classroom management tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 11-2-2014

This is a tip about tips.
A lot of tips.

“Hey, guys. Mr. Smith here…”

Dustin Smith is a first grade teacher at Woodrow Cummins Elementary School in Conway, Arkansas with over ten years of teaching experience.
He comes from a family of teachers,
but started out working towards a degree in telecommunications.
Teaching wasn’t the original plan.
We know how that goes.

But what we don’t know is how “Mr. Smith” has escaped us all these years,
We promise there is something here for everyone.
We are the latest fans of his YouTube channel,

We know.
He teaches First Grade.
And you might be thinking, “How is this going to help me, the high school calculus teacher?”

Again, we promise you, there is something here for everyone.
You will find tips that will add, not only fun, but some practical and motivating management tools to your classroom.
Don’t skip the comments.
His fans often share their own ideas and tips.
One of  the best comments on one such video was, “Are you married?”
Yes, he is married to Miss Suzy, as you will learn in “Fruit for You”.

And the “technology” part?
Mr. Smith’s videos are great examples of what you can do to enhance your curriculum, share your lessons, and hopefully motivate you and your students to produce your own instructional videos.

He has a website with even more tips,
and if you scroll down to the bottom of his home page, you’ll see that he has developed several apps.
There is a Teacher Tipster Pinterest Page,
and you can follow and Mr. Smith on Twitter,

If nothing else, just watch Mr. Smith’s videos for pure entertainment.
His love of kids and teaching is contagious.
And it doesn’t hurt to catch some of that love before you head back to your classroom on Monday morning.
He is a teacher few kids could ever forget…

[Tweet “We are the latest fans of the YouTube channel,”]


audioBoom with a Big Boom

audioBoom with a Big Boom

iPad News tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 10-12-2014

Yes. That is not a “typo”.
If you have an “Audioboo” account, as of this past September,
they have a new name
and a new look.

No worries.
When you log in, you will find your “boo’s” still online and enough changes that you won’t be disappointed.
You still get ten free minutes of audio with each recording,
and you can share them with a QR code, image, and a shortened URL link that links to each of your audio files.

Check out the page specifically for “Educators”.
There you will find examples of audioBoom in the classroom with the message that you can give your students a “voice”.
In addition, you will find podcast resources and professional development tutorials.
When you visit the link for “widgets”, you will find embed codes for your audio posts with design choices to fit your website or blog.

Finally, there’s an app for that.Audioboom App
Download the app, allow access to your device microphone, and you will have the easiest way to create an audio file.
We hope you will experiment with this site and give your students a voice.
[Tweet “Audioboo has added an “m” to its name and a new look…”]


Spell Up

Spell Up

app iPad tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 10-5-2014

Last spring, Google released a new app and a Chrome web-based game that plays like a “personal spelling-bee”. Using voice recognition, it provides several ways that will help you build a tower of correctly spelled words. I played with this app on Friday night. (I know. No life.) It has a few hiccups in terms of recognizing my responses, but I really think our students will find it fun and won’t be put off by this at all. Make sure that you turn up the sound in your “Audio Mixer” specifically for this game.


It is also a Chrome app, available for download here.

It works well on iPads and other ISO devices when you access  the website in your Safari app.
The only difference is that you need to spell each word on a keyboard.


Give it a try, but don’t get “hooked”.
Your kiddos are sure to enjoy it, too!

[Tweet “Google releases “Spell Up”, your personal spelling bee in a game format.”]

Turn It, Tap It!

Turn It, Tap It!

iPad Photography tips Travels

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 9-21-2014

This will be short and sweet.

Summer was filled with commitments, and I decided that fall would be the best option for a vacation excursion.
Shannon’s dad and I are in the Rocky Mountain National Park hiking, photographing, hiking, horseback riding, hiking, exploring, hiking, and breathing deeply.

We have been getting out early to get into the parks with the rising sun,
and we try to leave as the largest crowds arrive.
It truly has been just us and other photographers and artists.

As we make our way back to the parking lot, I have seen so many people using devices to photograph the natural beauty of fall in the mountains, and I wish I could help them with a few tips.

#1: When you are shooting video, turn your device, whether it is your phone or a tablet,
to landscape (sideways) mode.


And while we’re at it, notice the term “landscape”.
Use that to take pictures of “landscape” and “portrait” (up and down) for, (you guessed it) portraits.

Please RotateMost of the time, though, I would recommend landscape for everything,
especially those shots where you place  yourself in front of a beautiful background.

If you ever want to use your pictures to add to a video or slide show,
this will help eliminate the black borders on the sides you so often see.

#2: After composing your picture, tap the screen where you want to focus.
This will autofocus the point that you want to emphasize and will help center more light there.

Bonus Tip: Divide your picture into “thirds” horizontally and/or vertically.
Avoid putting your subject in the “center” of your composition.
It is much more pleasing to the eye when it is off-centered either vertically or horizontally.

We hope you take time for yourself and your family.
Get outside and so something “selfie-worthy” and practice these three quick, easy tips.
As for me, I am headed up the mountain to do the same!

Wuala = Voilà

Wuala = Voilà

classroom management tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 4-28-2013

“When it comes to organizing a work-space,
relaxation and comfort aren’t the primary goals.
Work is about efficiency and productivity. …
The more neat and logically organized your work-space is,
the better you will be at your job.”

— Peter Walsh

Shannon and I have used Dropbox to store and share online contents for years.
One of the things we love about it is how seamlessly it works on the iPad.

Dropbox, however, is blocked in some school districts.
If that is the case in your district,
you might consider another online storage site which is touted for its “bank-level” security.

On Wuala, (pronounced “Voilà”) your files are all encrypted, and nobody has access to your files or your password, not even their employees.

Like Dropbox, you receive 5GB of storage free, you can share your files, and you can synchronize your stored files between your computer and your online account.

Wuala app

For more information, visit their FAQ Page. 

Oh, and yes!
There’s an app for that.
And, of course, it is free!

Stay dry, have a restful Sunday, and a great week.
We are on the homestretch to warmer weather and the end to another school year!

YodelOh™ Math Mountain App

app iPad iPad2 tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 4-21-2013

The essence of mathematics is not to make simple things complicated,
but to make complicated things simple.
  ~S. Gudder

Back in October of 2011, Shannon wrote a review about Spinlight Studio’s app, TableTots.

We have shared this app in iPad training sessions for elementary teachers,
and many have written notes confirming its versatility and usefulness.YodelOhMathMountain

This week we received a note from Spinlight Studio with this announcement:

“The sheep’s out of the bag! YodelOh™ Math Mountain hit the App Store today,
and we can’t wait to hear what you think about it!”

We love Spinlight Studio and their professional commitment to developing apps for educators.

  1. They are our neighbors located in Champaign, Illinois.
  2. Their apps do not contain “third party ads”.
  3. Their apps do not link to a social network.
  4. Their apps do not track your location
  5. Their apps do not link to web access.
  6. Their apps do not include “in-app purchases”.

For 99¢, you have an app that “blends arcade action with traditional classroom math drills”. The game is fast and is designed “to help elementary students memorize the basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division tables essential for math.”
It is rated for ages 6-12.


Below is a link to Spinlight Studio’s guide for  YodelOh™ Math Mountain.

YodelOh™ Math Mountain and Spinlight Studio come with our highest recommendation. Read more on their “Press Release” page.

My only wish is that we had a few mountains around us so that, on this beautiful Sunday, we could hike a few ourselves. I will have to be content to take a walk through the woods surrounding Lake Shelbyville…

Have a great week!


classroom management tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 6-10-2012

As I tweak and change the iPad presentations, I’m also thinking about the teachers we’ll be training this week in Palatine, Illinois.

We will be working in a school district where twenty different languages are spoken within the large ESL student population.

Going through the list of apps that we will be introducing to them, I found an app that wasn’t on my device, and one that was new to me.

SayHi will be their “go-to” translator app.

$.99 cents later, and I had an app that I love, love, love!

I wasn’t sure how accurate it was, since it defaults to Spanish, so I changed the settings to German, which is my mother’s language and the language I heard and spoke often when I was young.

Every single phrase I spoke was translated “dead on”!

Then I took the same German phrase and spoke into the device for translation back into English and it scored 100% again.

I wish I knew about this app two months ago when our new student from Mexico enrolled into our school unable to speak any English at all!

Visit their website, and download this app now!
Don’t wait until you need it!

Some of the features are:

  • 33 languages and dialects.
  • Copy to insert into other writing apps.
  • Choose female/male voice.
  • Slow down the playback for clarification.
  • “Favorite” different phrases you might find yourself needing often.
  • The ability to edit your translations with a keyboard.

If you aren’t convinced by all of the features and the low price of $.99,
then surely this Customer Review will “seal-the-deal”:

“I just got married to a Mexican and trying to have conversations was really hard. This app helps tremendously! If you need to learn or have something translate for you. This app is awesome!”

How can you not <3 an app that supports wedded bliss…?!

Two Timely Tips

Conferences iPad2 SMARTBoard tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 11-20-2011

Shannon and I were on the road this week presenting at IETC in Springfield and at the Triple-I Conference in Chicago.

We did three sessions in Springfield that included iPads, SMARTBoards, and our favorite web tools.

In Chicago we enjoyed the opportunity to co-present with Dr. Voltz as a team with “Dueling Apps”.

While waiting to present in Springfield, we grabbed a little “down-time” to sit in on a few sessions. Two helpful tips we picked up that we felt were worth sharing apply to our favorite technology pieces, the SMARTBoard and the iPad. (LOVE the iPad!)

We usually toggle our iPads to “airplane-mode” while traveling to conserve the battery when we are working without the Internet. A tip provided by Ledith Whitehall was to use this toggle (found in your settings) as an alternative to rebooting your iPad. It saves a ton of time shutting-down/restarting your device.


Here’s a tip for our SMARTBoard users. If you use the “Random Word Chooser” in the Lesson Activity Toolkit, and you find that it makes the choices in the same order, look down in the lower right corner and choose “Reset” and your choices will, once again, be random.

As we begin another week,
we want to take a minute to let all of our friends know how much we appreciate the opportunity to work with you at our workshops and in your schools.

It truly has been a blessing for which we are thankful.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and we wish you the best as you “unplug” to spend family time together with those you love…

Nancy & Shannon
The Recess Chicks