E Highlighter for Close Reading

by @chocolateteacher

eHighligher is a pretty nifty way to integrate both physical books and technology into your close reading activities.  The app is reasonably priced at $1.99 and offers real value with minimal risk.

Say you are using a text book, reading a novel with your students, engaging in research, or having students read independently with certain goals in mind.  You have iDevices at your disposal and you want to integrate notetaking and transcription into the activity.  eHighlighter could be a tool you might employ.

Have Barcode? Will Scan

The first thing I love about the app is that you can acquire a books bona fides (title, Author’s name, and publisher) by just scanning the book’s barcode.  The app uses WorldCat, “The World’s Largest Library Catalog,” for reference and the speed in which it returns results is impressive.

If you’d rather search for the book and edition you possess, that option is available as well as just manual entering the information.

You scan a barcode and..."Voila!"

You scan a barcode and…”Voila!”

If you can take a picture…

Then you can bring in your text pretty easily.  Once the picture is added, you’ll have options to add page numbers, any notes and tags, which will give you the ability to organize any work you’ve done.

Take picture, bring in your text

Take picture, bring in your text

Adding a Note (for Metacognition)

Want a response to a text dependent question?  Want to record an “Aha!” moment, a question about the text, or something to bring up during class discussion? Make a note of it.

Notes for Metacognition? That's convenient.

Notes for Metacognition? That’s convenient.


You’ll be prompted to add highlights to the beginning and ending of the text you’d like to have transcribed.  This is my only real beef with the app.  It can take a while to transcribe something.  The good thing is that I wouldn’t necessarily be using the device for transcription as the original image and note you take are always available for viewing.

Even if the transcription process is labored, the functionality of the app makes it one that both teachers and students could use effectively.

It's not perfect, but it's pretty darn close

It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn close

Yakit, Hack it

by @chocolateteacher

I love Yakit kids. All the apps in which one can manipulate pictures tend to make me smile. It seems I’m easily assumed.  Yakit kids can be applied to many aspects of your classroom besides the obvious ones.  This app can tilt the “Dopeness” scale positively and it’s really easy to use.  Even my kindergarten friends on my day job can manipulative it pretty adroitly.

A Portrait of a Student as a Strange Man (or Woman)

I was never a great artist.  Try as I might, my dream of being Van Gogh took a rather large tumble quite early in life.  I still love to doodle and draw however.  If you want to integrate a bit of art into your classroom duirng your literacy block, you might do this…

1. Have students choose a character from a story that you’re reading.  It could be independent reading or a story everyone is enjoying.

2. Give out some construction paper or printer paper and ask students to choose a scenario that the character finds herselfr or himself in.  They should be mindful of the setting, the character’s attitude, and actions during the scenario.

3.  Have the students draw the character by beginning with a large circle (or another shape) as the head.  DO NOT HAVE STUDENT ADD EYES, EYEBROWS, LIPS, OR A NOSE.

4. Add a rendition of the setting that the character finds herself or himself in the background.

5.  Open the Yakit App on your iDevice and click on the camera to take a picture of the newly drawn artistic work.

6.  Have students add whatever flourishes they’d like, including the eyes, nose, mouth, etc., and then record themselves as if they are the character.

7.  Finished products can be shared by text message, AirDrop, Cloud Storage, or with an app like WeTransfer rather easily.


Now, this one takes a little more imagination.  Apps like Doceri, Educreations, Showme are far easier apps to pull tutorials off. They’re not half as much fun to use as Tellagami or Yakit kids because you can add an avatar or speaking image and you have to use a little ingenuity.

One way you might use Yakit kids to have students do tutorials, say in math, is the following.

1. Have students write a math problem down on something.  I’d use a white board personally, but you could just use a sheet of paper. Then take a picture of the white board from within the Yakit kids app.

2. Have students script how the problem would be solved.  Using storyboarding here would be awesome.

3. Armed with a script, pull in one of the characters into the scene in Yakit kids.  Have students record the first part of script/storyboard, then immediately stop as soon as they are done.

4. Press “Add a Scene” and change your math problem to fit the criteria necessary for the next part of the script/storyboard.

5. Add the new picture and continue the same process until the problem is explained.

*The only issue with this functionality is that there is a limit amount of recording time. 

You can just keep it Basic

So if you want to be basic, just use Yakit to take a selfie and make it run it’s mouth.  This is great for any subject area.  Also, you can just bring in any picture of any figure from historical period and then make him or her bend to your will.  To avoid complications with copyrights, one might acquire pictures from a site like Photos for Class so citations will be made for you.

The Final Frontier: A Kinder, Friendlier American History

by @chocolateteacher

Heroes?  We don't need no stinkin' heroes.

Heroes? We don’t need no stinkin’ heroes.

Always on the look out for new apps and fun games to play,  I happened upon an app called “Frontier Heroes,” from A&E which depicts a pretty interesting version of American history.  The app is divided into 6 eras- Early America, The Colonies, American Revolution, The Frontier, California Gold Rush, and the Land of the Free.  I was quite excited to play the game. Each era is full of games depicting “life” during that era and DYKs (Did you Knows) that inform the player about life during the era. I thought this was a tool that would be great instructionally.  I was both very wrong and very right.

Early America (1600)

Them Natives?  They're all the same...

Them Natives? They’re all the same…

Nothing really exciting here. You shoot a bow and arrow and bang a drum.  Again, nothing really mind blowing. The remarkable thing about this is that in the DYKs Native Americans are lumped together, despite there being 566 Federally recognized tribes currently.  It’s great to lump people together, but then again, it’s not.

The Colonies (1607-1755)

Colonists?  Oh, they survived all by their lonesome.

Colonists? Oh, they survived all by their lonesome.

Early America only lasts seven years. (Who knew?) The colonists come into the picture with no mention of what has happened to the Native Americans.  The activities one engages in never even allude to the very real reliance of the original colonists on the Native tribes.  The only mention of “Native American” is that the main food in the Pilgrim’s diet was ‘Indian corn.’

American Revolution (1765-1783)

The American Revolution...a  enterprise devoid of diversity.

The American Revolution…a enterprise devoid of diversity.

So, it’s 1765.  Estevanico has been dead for 200 years now.  But in the world of the “Frontier”… there ain’t no sign of Negroes.  None. Oh, except the Affirmative Action blackish face that one encounters in an anachronistic rendition of Yankee Doodle Dandy.  By 1640, there were Africans on what is now the continental United States, yet they are conspicuously absent from any point of game play in this era.

There were black spies during the American Revolution. There were female spies during the American Revolution and women were integral to the success of the war. There were black slaves during the American Revolution.  There were blacks that fought for the British during the American Revolution.  Heck the first dude to die for “American Freedom” was a black dude, but…you wouldn’t know that if you used the app.

The Frontier (1800-1848)

Manifest Destiny is ALIVE!

Manifest Destiny is ALIVE!

Home on the range and…still no sign of the Native Americans, who by this point are being forced off their ancestral lands or killed.  There is a red face dude that looks severely sunburned who might (maybe) be a white guy in red face when one simulates the Pony Express.  No mention of Spanish missions. The only people involved in Manifest Destiny were white dudes.  True story.

California Gold Rush (1848-1865)


What? Who what have thought the Gold Rush was more important than the Civil War?

What? Who what have thought the Gold Rush was more important than the Civil War?

Different era…same song.  It is interesting that this era encompasses the years of the Civil War.  No Abe Lincoln.  No Jeff Davis.  No Frederick Douglass.  No Harriet Beecher Stowe.  Just toothless miners. Totally glossing over the war that freed the slaves?  Kinda inexcusable.


Land of the Free

I left this one undone because obviously, the brothers were still in chains.

I left this one undone because obviously, the brothers were still in chains.

The Land of the Free being locked is a metaphor for this entire game.  One cannot arrive at the reasons why our country now has a level of freedom for all those that reach it’s shore through the game play of the app. It would seem to reinforce the fact that white men are the only people that have and will make history here…and that’s a real shame.

Let It Flow, Let It Flow

by: @weberswords

I’ll spare you the “Let It Go” parody video.


Creating word art: the only thing Wordle is good for.

What is it? It’s a great buzzword, but why is it valuable?

One of the big misconceptions is that workflow requires technology. That’s not the case.

It’s simply the way in which your work……..flows. The way it progresses from one stage or process to the next.

In the classroom, writing is a great example of this. In many cases, first you prepare an outline or work in a graphic organizer, then you draft, revise, edit, and write the final draft or publish.

This can also be applied to doing tasks. For example, if I think of something I have to do I might write it down on a sticky note. After I have five (completely arbitrary number it could be three or 10 just as easily) sticky notes, I sort those tasks into categories of to do lists – errands I have to leave the house to do, professional tasks, and tasks that can be done at home. After that, I write them in my handy, dandy notebook and as I finish those tasks, I mark them off. No tech involved. Yes, AND a great example of effective workflow.

To do list workflow

To quote the late, great Stuart Scott, “BOO-YA!” workflow. No special degree required, people. You can totes do this.

Just like planning in the classroom, you have to know WHAT you want to do before you bring in any technology.

In the case of workflow, sometimes seeing what other people have done will inspire you to create a new workflow.

Just remember: The point of creating a workflow is to make things MORE streamlined, not more complicated.

If you create a new workflow and find it’s actually making work more difficult, I’m giving you permission right here and now. ABANDON SHIP! Try something new, but reflect and learn from the failure. Where did the workflow go wrong? Maybe you don’t have to abandon it entirely, just pivot. Tweak it and see if that helps.

Here are some tools and workflows (digital and analog) *I* use that will hopefully inspire you:

Bullet Journal – Webs-style (Analog)

We love journals here at Intelligent Hoodlums. It’s a bit of a love affair for some of us (*cough* @chocolateteacher *cough*). Writing things by hand helps you remember things.  I’ve adapted my bullet journal to something that works for me.

[Everything in the next paragraph is something I talk about in the video so don’t watch AND read. Save yourself some time and do one or the other. The video might clarify if you can’t visualize what I’m talking about though]

In addition to the index and summary of the month I have a summary of the week where I record events that will occur when I’m looking ahead at the week and events that do occur as things happen during the week. I also fold my pages into two columns and record one or two days worth of to dos and events in a single column. This way I can fold the page and focus on just one or two days or open up both pages and see the whole week.

Automator (OS X)

I think this is a hidden gem of OS X. If you have a Mac and you haven’t peeped this check it out. Go to spotlight and search Automator or from your Launchpad it’s in the Other folder.

Other folder

I’m pretty sure I’ve barely scratched the surface of what is possible with Automator. I use it for three major things:

  •  One double click = quitting all open programs

Quit all buttonThis sits on my desktop and all I have to do is double click to close everything that’s open on my computer.

  • I created a pseudo-program that generated a random writing prompt for my students to practice the state writing test.
  • Bulk editing photos: You know how your camera or phone names your photos IMG9829829829834928 and you have no idea those are your pictures from your 2012 trip to Tahiti? With Automator you can select a group of pictures and rename them complete with date and a numbering system in a couple clicks and a few seconds.

IFTTT (web, Android, & iOS)

Workflow screen capture


Similar to Workflow and Automator, IFTTT, which stands for If This Then That, takes tasks you already do and puts them together to make you MORE ALL POWERFUL (MUAHAHAHAHAAA). IFTTT is available on the web, iOS, or, if you’re so inclined, Android.

In the examples I shared, if I lose my phone and email myself with #lostphone, it will call my phone and an automated voice says Liam Neeson’s monologue from Taken.

Other things I do with IFTTT are:

  • Favorite tweets get sent to Pocket to read later
  • I can send things to Evernote and they get automatically organized by the way I hashtag them in the subject. For example, if I had an Evernote notebook for 3rd period algebra, I could email #3rdperiod and all my notes would automatically go into the right notebook.
  • I have a secondary backup of my contacts because any new contact I add gets sent to a Google Drive spreadsheet.

Workflow (iOS)

This app is pretty sweet.

Photo Jan 19, 9 44 48 AM

This is the app that prompted this post. The world is pretty much your oyster on this one (as long as you have iOS 8). You can put together as complex or as simple a workflow as you like. I have one that allows me to speed dial from my home screen. That’s one of the best features IMO. I can save workflows to my home screen for one touch access.

Hopefully this has given you some insight into the mysterious term “workflow” and shown you how you can become a productivity ninja using these concepts and tools.

Whatfix: Let it Flow In Your Classroom

by @chocolateteacher

Imagine you need to instruct students on how to access a website, perform a series of web based tasks, or use a tool for genius hour.  There are a myriad of ways to do it- screenshots, screencasts, walking them through the process physically. Another option might be to create a “flow” using a site called Whatfix.

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 11.39.10 PM

Instructions are a snap with Whatfix.

In my day job, I’m often asked to show teachers how to use digital tools. I’ve begun to use Whatfix when faced with these issues.  Whatfix integrates with Google Chrome and allows you to rather easily create tutorials.

What makes Whatfix dynamite though are the options one has for viewing the tutorials.  You can make the tutorials run like a slideshow, have them be accessed from an url, or even make it a video.  You can also run it live so the viewer can go through the instructions step by step.  This is a dynamic function that should cut down on the amount of students that are unable to keep up with instructions.


Try navigating to the SBAC Practice Assessments by using this link to the flow.

What I Dig

  • free tool
  • can be used quickly
  • multiple ways to view
  • adds efficiency without headaches
  • won’t disturb anyone during centers or computer lab time

What I Didn’t Dig

  • sometimes “live” functionality doesn’t work
  • websites with logins rarely have issues


This is a dynamic tool that integrates nicely into a blended learning environment.  This could be used dynamically by coaches to explain workflows as well. This is a great tool for 20% time or Genius hour for creating tutorials for a bevy of tools without having to waste time showing kids “what the tool” does.  My rating? Five Mikes.

chocolate  chocolatechocolatechocolatechocolate

Launching Pad: 7 Things to Keep in Mind When Using Padlet

by @chocolateteacher

Padlet is a great tool.  It’s so nifty because it can be adapted to a number of uses with just a flick of the ole brain cells.  Here are seven things that you might want to keep in mind when using this tool.


1. Add some Gifs…

Padlet Adding Gifs

You can add gifs! You can add video to Padlet, but they must be rather small.  Small is limiting. If you want to add a video of any length, you’ll need to add it via link.  Think of a gif (graphic interchange format) as a simple (it debuted in 1987) but effective way to exploit sites that allow you to upload image files, but not large video.  If you are in a school district with no restrictions on the internet, there are millions of sites that will allow you to create and distribute these files.

If you are teaching in a school district that doesn’t, you might want to check out a site like Picasion or Gifmaker.me which seemed to work last time I checked on my day job.

Gifs can be uploaded to Padlet to create images that move.  Want kids to illustrate the flight of a bird in the book you just read?  Make a gif.  How about having to react to an emotional story from history?  Make a gif.  Kids need to show you how their science experiment went?  Make a gif.

All you need to do is take a few pictures with a camera, upload said pictures into Picasion/Gifmaker.me and the site will do the rest.  If you really want to get fancy, you can turn video into gifs using VideoGif or a similar program.

2. Selfies are your friend

Selfies on Padlet

Everyone loves a good selfie.  The old adage states that a picture in worth a thousand words. Why not use them in your instruction? Padlet allows you to use your webcam, tablet or smartphone camera to shoot a quick selfie.  This might be used for reaction to a lesson, a story, an activity, or just to gauge the mood in a room.

3. Linking is Thinking

Linking and bundling are the bedrocks of education.  We want students to see connections between things.  Padlet allows you to place links that will take students to different locals or allow students to place information from different places into central location where that information can be discussed.  This is a method by which you can bring video, cloud storage, and the vastness of the web into a forum that is a powerful learning environment.


4. Anchor Chart, anyone?

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 2.57.17 PM

Instead of creating anchor charts by hand, why not make them on a Padlet.  Padlet’s can carry many images and text.  The boxes place on a Padlet can be resized to fit your tastes.  The resulting product can be printed and hung nicely on a wall or embedded on Edmodo or one’s personal website or blog so students would have a reference whereever they went.

5. Lesson Plans?

If you are visual learner, Padlet is a great tool for lesson planning.  I used to unit plan using Popplet and I see no reason why this tool could not be leveraged in a similar fashion.  If you have seen the Five Minute Lesson Plan, one could easily duplicate the work flow on a Padlet.  The advantage doing so on a Padlet would be access to live links and resources as well as quickly being able to send a lesson to a friend.

6. Reflecting

Padlet is also a great place for reflection.  The tool could be utilized to place artifacts taken from a lesson together, journal about the highs and lows of a lesson, and reflect on a day’s growth.  Again, these could be easily shared with colleagues or one could keep them private.


7. Small Group Instruction

In the same vein as the lesson plan, you could plan out your day for your students on a Padlet, with every activity and event visible.  This is great when one pulls small groups, for example, as students unsure of what the task at hand was demanding could visit the Padlet, read any instructions or click any applicable links and be back on their way to learning without interfering with your group.

Preparing for the SBAC: Edmodo and Augmenting Your Assessment

by @chocolateteacher

With the SBAC quickly approaching, teachers are looking for looking for ways to challenge students through assessment.  Edmodo and its competitor, Schoology, offer solutions to this problem.  They both not only offer quiz functionality, but also ways to augment the quizzes so they are more robust and thought provoking.

Since my day job is in a school district which endorses Edmodo,  we’ll examine ways to augment a quiz using that LMS.


1. Log into Your Edmodo

Your ability to generate a quiz is rather easy to locate once you log in.  Click on it and then the blue “Create a Quiz” button.

Find your "Quiz" button

Find your “Quiz” button

2. Choose Your Question Type

You can choose multiple question types. Vary them as necessary.

Edmodo Quiz 2


3. Add Your Question

Choose your question type and type the question you’d like your students to answer.

Edmodo Quiz 3

 4. Augment Your Quiz

It’s rather easy to simply type some text for the questions and answers.  Nothing is really remarkable about that.  To pump up your assessment, add multimedia, images, and text to the questions that will force students to function on the highest levels of Bloom’s.

You can add multimedia and resources from any place on the web via a link or from any resource that is placed in your Edmodo library. Clicking on the “link” to the left under your question to add your weblink.  Click the “book” to the right of the “link” to add a resource form your library.

Edmodo Quiz 4

5. Resources that You Can Add to Your Quiz

In the example, I linked a video from GoAnimate.  There are tons of sites that can make your quizzes more enjoyable, challenging, and engaging.






Edmodo Quiz 5Resources you might use to augment? (There are thousands.  They are a google search away.)

Video/Presentation: WeVideo, GoAnimate, Animoto 

Presentation: Metta.io, Visme, Bunkr, Haiku Deck

Audio: Vocaroo, Audioboom, Speakpipe

Visuals: Pixton, Storyboard That, MakeBeliefsComixPhotopin,

Close Reading: iPevo Presenter App

by @chocolateteacher


Close Reading can be done with a number of apps, many of them of the paid variety.  In schools that have a number of iPads, cost is an issue.  With that being the case, iPevo Presenter App (free) can be used for the budget conscious teacher or school administrator.

If you don’t have iPads for each student, this  tool can still be leveraged in your classrooms by a single user.  iPevo has video function that can be used to upload examples to a blog, website, Cloud Storage, or Learning Management System (Edmodo, Schoology, etc.).  In addition, you might want to invest in a mirroring program such as Reflector, Airserver, or X-Mirage in order to mirror you iPad onto your laptop which is attached to a projector.  You could also purchase a dongle that will connect your iPad to your VGA connection.

iPEVO Presenter

1. Open an internet browser (Safari, Google Chrome,etc.) on your iPad.
Find your complex text through a browser and take a screenshot.

Find your complex text through a browser and take a screenshot.

You’ll need to locate some complex text from a website.  I’d recommend using a piece that is a paragraph or two and no longer.  If you can’t find a suitable text, you can type one in a word processing app.  Either way, you’ll need to take a screenshot of the text (sleep button and home button simultaneously). You’ll see your screen flash if successful. The screenshot will be placed in your photos.


2. Open the iPevo Presenter App
Upon opening for the first time, pay attention to what each component of the app does.

Upon opening for the first time, pay attention to what each component of the app does.

Quickly double click the home button (the white square that is physically on the iPad).  Find and open your iPevo Presenter App.  Don’t be hasty to push buttons! Read the functions of each component of the app first.  This will give you an idea of other ways to incorporate this app into your practice.





3.  Bring your Screenshot into the App
Look at the bottom of your screen.  You'll see a picture icon.

Look at the bottom of your screen. You’ll see a picture icon.

Look at the bottom of the app.  You’ll see the picture icon with the plus sign in the bottom left corner on it.  Click it and it will prompt you to allow it access to your photos.  Do so and choose the screenshot.

*Pay attention to the other import options.  You can use this tool in a number of different ways. You can also bring in multiple pages.




4. Mark your text
Look at the top of the screen for your options for interacting with your screenshot.

Look at the top of the screen for your options for interacting with your screenshot.

Look to the top of the screen, you’ll find tools that will allow you to write, erase, and add text to the screenshot. Play around with the colors and size of your writing and text.  You might want to have certain metacognitive markers use a specific color of text and writing.





5. Save your Marked Up Text
Look to the bottom left corner, you'll see a camera and video camera icon.

Look to the bottom left corner, you’ll see a camera and video camera icon.

Look to the bottom left of your screen and you’ll see a gray and white camera icon.  Once you’ve finished, click it and you can save your work to your photo app.  There is also a video camera that can be used to record all the marking in real time.