Apps, Education, Geography, K-5, Student Products, Teaching Tools

Quiver Education – Planet Earth

The Quiver 3D coloring app was formerly known as ColAR.  It’s available on both Google Play and the iTunes app store as a free app. However, there are some in-app purchases on the free app.  Another option is to purchase the Education version of the app, which includes all of the content.

I published a post about this augmented reality app at the end of last school year, lamenting the fact that I had discovered the free Planet Earth page too late for my 1st graders to experience it.  This year, I knew I wanted to include this page as they learned about the continents, so I made sure to add it to my lesson plans before I forgot.

Yesterday, the students were introduced to the continents with a cute SmartBoard lesson involving a traveling guinea pig.  We also used my handy floor map (best $22 ever spent!) and the huge wall map I made (longest hours of my life) to see the continents in many different ways.

Then I asked the students to label and color Quiver’s Planet Earth page.  With a little instruction on how to use the app, I set them free to explore.

As I predicted, they were completely amazed to see their own writing and drawing come to life in 3D.  The other features (seeing the world at night or during the day, etc…) also fascinated them.

The one challenge of the app is getting the iPad the exact height above the paper to correctly “read” the page.  This meant the page could not be on the table, but needed to be on a chair or the floor for my vertically challenged 1st graders.  They adjusted to this quickly, but it also became a new activity when one of the students (accidentally?) waved her foot over the page.

“Look!  It’s showing my foot!!!!!!”  This, of course, led to a mass migration over to the iPad that suddenly had a shoe-shaped continent.

“What else can we try?”

“Let’s try a pencil!”  I found this suggestion intriguing as it actually appeared that the pencil was pointing at a particular continent. This seemed like it might have educational uses.  Granted, 3D-ness would not be necessary for that image, but it does make it more fun.

The pencil suddenly became less exciting when I found a Lego zombie that had been left behind in my classroom. This, of course, inspired more enthusiastic experimentation.  Because. You know. ZOMBIES. That makes geography so much more fun.

As usual, this lesson did not go the way I expected.  But, if it makes it easier to remember that South America and Africa are two rather large continents separated by an ocean zombie, then I’m not too worried as to whether or not learning took place.

Plus, they rocked the assessment at the end of the lesson.

Want more ideas for augmented reality in the classroom?  Check out this page of resources.

Quiver App - Planet Earth


5-8, 6-12, Education, Social Studies, Teaching Tools, Websites is a site that shows some interesting statistics about the world’s population in relation to the user.  According to the site authors, “Our hope is that people from all walks of life, in all ages and across all countries will explore a new perspective of their own life and find their own place in the world of today and tomorrow.”

Once you input your birth date, country, and gender, you can learn what percentage of the world is younger than you (far too many, in my case), milestones in your life (such as that I was the 5 billionth person to be alive on April 5, 2012), the number of people who share your birthday, and various other facts that can make you feel very old and very small.

This seems like it could be a useful site to make your students more aware of how many humans actually share this not-so-large planet. It’s interesting to see how your life expectancy might change depending on where you live (so far, it looks like I probably should make a move to Spain in the near future), and could bring up deep conversations about the reasons for dramatic differences.

I have to admit that I was a bit disturbed by this offer at the bottom of the page:

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I’m not really sure I want my iPhone (or its future equivalent) ringing an alarm to alert me of my imminent doom.  But maybe it would be nice to be somewhat prepared…

3-6, 5-8, Critical Thinking, Education, Geography, Social Studies, Teaching Tools

Zombie-Based Learning

Yep.  You read that correctly.

How have I not heard of this before?!!!  Problem-based, standards-based, project-based…. All familiar to me.  Zombie-based?  Not so much.

image from

The only reason I know about it now is because of another of Edutopia’s fabulous 5-Minute Film Festivals.  This one, posted on 7/17/15, is about inspirational teachers.  I scanned the list and, well, the word, “zombie” kind of jumps out at you.

David Hunter invented Zombie-based learning as a way to engage students as they learn about geography.  It’s aimed at 4th-8th graders, and he created his own graphic novel to supplement the lessons.  Curriculum standards are covered; you just happen to be evading zombies as you learn them.

I don’t know about you, but geography was such a yawn subject when I was in school back in the day.  With Zombie-based learning, I might have actually been interested in the location of Siberia and whether or not its climate was conducive to zombies.

I have not tried the curriculum,  You can check it out over here, and look at examples.  To use the curriculum you will need to fork over some cash.  You might find it worth it.  After all, you’re really getting two things for the price of one – an engaging curriculum for your students and a survival guide for the Zombie Apocalypse.

Let’s face it.  It’s coming.  It’s only a matter of time…

Education, Geography, K-12, Math, Social Studies, Teaching Tools, Websites

The Many Colors of the World’s Flags

A couple of years ago, I posted about an interesting infographic included in a presentation by Kathy Schrock.  The image showed each world flag as a pie chart of color.

Nicholas Rougeux has a different take on the colors of the world’s flags.  He chose to categorize them by color scheme.  Check out his poster that illustrates the flags of the world like flowers in a garden, with the height of the “flowers” indicating the number of flags sharing that color scheme.

image from:
image from:
Apps, Computer Science, Education, Geography, K-5, Social Studies, Teaching Tools, Writing

A Dash for Treasure

Full disclosure – our class received a Dash and Dot package from Wonder Workshop for review.  

Last month I posted an article about the new additions to our classroom, Dash and Dot (and Fitzgerald).  Since then, the school Maker Club, our Robotics team, and my 1st graders have been learning more about the features of these robots.

My 1st grade GT students are learning about different countries around the world.  Before digging into that research, I wanted to make sure they understood the difference between countries and continents, and had a general understanding of their locations.  We have a giant map of the world on our wall, but I thought Dash and Dot might be able to help us by taking their own virtual trip around the globe.  I ordered this vinyl map for the floor from Amazon.

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My daughter helped me to write an adventure for Dash that took him to every continent. (Yes, she came up with the idea for the Shoe of Honesty in the story – which the students found quite hilarious!) As I read the story out loud, the students took turns programming Dash at each juncture using the Blockly app.

A Dash for Treasure

The synergizing and problem-solving were phenomenal.  They took their task of guiding Dash very seriously.  They learned about angles and programming logic.  And, in the meantime, they learned their continents and compass directions.


My daughter and I deliberately stopped the story before the end. When we got to Dash’s “uh-oh” the students were in complete suspense.  It took practically no prompting from me to get them to write their own endings and to illustrate them.

You can see the endings the students wrote below. (Click on the image to see a larger version.) Don’t be confused if you see “Fitzgerald” in some of their stories.  We have 2 Dashes, so one is named Fitzgerald.  The students are very attached to both, and get upset if all of the robots are not included!

If you are interested in downloading a copy of the slide show with the story and programming prompts, click here.  Here is the PDF of the writing page the students used.  Thank you to Susan Prabulos (@fabprab) for the awesome graphics!

Apps, Education, Interactive White Board, K-12, Student Response, Teaching Tools, Websites


This week I am going to dedicate my posts to sharing resources I learned about at TCEA in Austin last week.  I think packing too much info into a blog post is overwhelming, so if you are craving more, feel free to check out my notes (which are not finished yet!) here.

At her “Fabulous and Free” session at TCEA, Shannon (@SweetBlessShan) offered a lot of neat resources.  You can visit her website to get all of the links here. If you have any time after reading my post, I highly recommend you follow her on Twitter and subscribe to her great blog, “Technology Rocks. Seriously.” (She currently has some free Valentine printables!)

Since I try to just feature one resource, or a small group of related resources, each day, I had a hard time choosing from the notes I took on Shannon’s session.  But TeacherLED is one site she mentioned that is “good to go” in the sense that you don’t have to register or put any work into using it ahead of time.  It has neat Interactive White Board Activities for all sorts of subjects.  Also, it looks like most, if not all of the activities, will work on mobile devices.

Being a GT teacher, I was immediately drawn to the puzzles.  This site isn’t all about games, though. There are math interactives, geography activities, and ELA games.  You can see the full list here.

Some of the resources on TeacherLED aren’t necessarily curriculum-based, but they are definitely fun.  I think I actually heard “ooh’s” and “ah’s” when Shannon showed us the “Quiz Buzzer” which will allow you to know right away who answered a question first!

The Quiz Buzzer available on TeacherLED
The Quiz Buzzer available on TeacherLED
One of the many interactive puzzles available on TeacherLED
One of the many interactive puzzles available on TeacherLED