Here at Hoodlum Central, we believe in Design Thinking. We integrate it into most things we do and it’s been pretty fruitful both in our day jobs and in our business practices.

No matter which flavor of Design Thinking one subscribes to, ideation is essential. You can’t prototype anything if you don’t have a smorgasbord of ideas to play with. While Webs and I generally do this with the Googles, I recently came across a tool I hope to use during my 9-5 hustle. Pitchcard seems like a promising tool to use in a classroom looking to encourage designing.

Pitchcard allows you to ideate publicly if you wish. You title your idea, choose a color, and then write a brief (200 word) description, which I think is awesome. Being forced into being concise allows one to hone the “spirit” of the idea more authentically in my opinion.

Once your idea is placed on the card, you can distribute it publicly on social media or privately via email.

The feedback that your idea garners is sent to the email that was entered which hopefully allows one to refine the idea into a better concept.

Classroom Applications


If you are at a GAFE school, one could utilize this tool pretty easily. Everyone of your students would have an email address, giving them the ability to send ideas to classmates efficiently and to archive the feedback so that it could be referred to when needed. Generating feedback on ideas for projects and writing assignments just got #mosexy.

Exit Tickets

Looking for thoughts about what students learned during class? Don’t want to create a Google Form or use Exittix? This is a pretty streamlined way to gather information from your students about what they learned or struggled with during the school day.

Lesson Feedback

So you want to know if your lesson was the bomb or just bombed? Send a Pitchcard to your students and allow for feedback.

Lesson Plan ideas

Send a Pitchcard to colleagues about an idea for your have for that quantum physics lesson and see what they say.

A Open Ear to the World

Say you’re a teacher with very little technology at her disposal and you’d like to use the tool. If you had a classroom email or social media setup, you could have students generate ideas that could be posted for feedback and then disseminate that feedback to students. Class project could be #mosexy if you sent a Pitchcard rather than used snail mail or limited contributions to conversations in the room.

In short, Pitchcard is a tool I hope to roll out next week during my day job. Students will be pitching video game ideas and Pitch could be a very slick way of making students feel even more empowered.

There in a Gif-fy…

I love making gifs. LOVE it. I just recently became aware of the a new site called Gifs which is pretty “baller” as Webs would say. It makes making gifs insanely easy from media that is already uploaded on Youtube or to upload gifs you’ve made on your device. It’s free.99. It’s ease of use definitely has implications for your classroom especially if you’re a GAFE school. ***As always, set your students up for success and model proper digital citizenship. **

Exit Tickets

A picture is worth a thousand words, right? A gif is worth a million views. Have students stretch their creativity in order to describe what they learned in class and how they feel about it.


Instead of having students write responses to questions, have them answer in gifs. The created gifs have links that can be placed in Google Forms, Wizer, GoFormative , etc. Talk about taking the mundane and making it the magical.


So one of the things one can do with gifs is have students use them to present research. They embed nicely in websites, blog posts, and learning management systems.

Teaching with gifs is pretty slick as well. Embed them into your Smart Notebook files and ClassFlowsto help students visualize information. The entertainment value is priceless and it’ll make your lessons far more unforgettable. Just ask Drake…


Express-o Yourself: Adding a little caffeine to your writing

I’ve been a Hemingway user for a while. I even bought the Mac App because, though it’s not omniscient, the feedback it provides me is invaluable to the content I create. This allows me to reflect on the decisions I made while writing which hopefully lessens the number of mistakes I’ll have to have someone else help me find.

That being the case, another product I’ve begun using is Expresso, which is currently in BETA. Expresso is a little more “busy” than Hemingway and it also does a good job of spurring one to reflection. I won’t go into how to use the product as there is a “How to use” page, but the classroom uses are pretty evident.

Vocabulary Acquisition

The most obvious usage of the app is for kids to expand their vocabularies. The app can find synonyms for words used in the text that is either typed or pasted in. It turns these words green and lists possible words that are synonymous. Great for teachers with “word graveyards” in their classes or logophiles of all ages.

Parts of Speech

The app also does an analysis on the parts of speech used. Have an activity where students need to practice using a particular part of speech? This is a pretty nifty way to track it.

Twitter Chat

Looking to stream line your writing? Expresso identifies filler words for you. I quite like filler words sometimes so many times I ignore this functionality. However, if under the rule of the dreaded “Word Count,” this could be maximized to weed out words that you included in your verbosity.

Remember the app is in BETA and hopefully it will get even better. The Expresso App is currently Free.99 and waiting to be utilized in a classroom near you.

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.

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.






Close Reading Tool: Crocodoc

by @chocolateteacher

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 1.06.57 AM

With the current “Close” Reading craze, teachers are looking for tools.  Using your Interactive White Board is a good thing.  But what if you take your students to the computer lab? Use Crocodoc.  All you need is a PDF of the complex text and use the tools that are provided.

Use this for a walkthrough of how you could use Crocodoc to mark text during your Close Reading.