Tag Archives: Tellagami

What Happened During Summer Vacation

 

image from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/reinvented/9397115956/
image from: https://www.flickr.com/

Not everyone is obsessed with reading education blogs or following Twitter as I am – especially over the summer.  I’ve noticed this blog’s stats have started growing since the beginning of August, which probably means educators are starting to return to work and might be looking for resources.  For today’s post I thought I would do a short round-up of some of the changes and updates that my readers may have missed over the summer.  This is, by no means, an exhaustive list.  It’s just something I brainstormed in the doctor’s waiting room the other day 😉

Socrative – My favorite student response system has now switched completely over to the 2.0 version (and I like it). Here is info on the switch.

Tellagami – The free app is virtually useless now, as there is no longer customization of characters or Text-To-Speech.  For those, you need to purchase the Edu version for $4.99.  You can read more about my disappointment in this change here.

Google Drive – There is a new interface that might take a little getting used to.  Here is one article that points out some of the new features. Here is a Google Drive Cheat Sheet.

Google Classroom – I signed up, but still haven’t delved into it.  Here is a good introduction from Edudemic.  And, here is another resource from te@chthought.

Scratch Jr. – For those of you with classroom iPads who might want to teach programming to young students, this free app, released this summer, is a definite must-download.

Made with Code – Speaking of coding resources, Google launched Made with Code over the summer –  a site specifically directed at getting females interested in this field.

Thinglink Video – Sign up here to participate in the Beta version of interactive video creation with Thinglink. Here is a post on ways to use this great new feature in education.

Padlet – Formerly known as Wallwisher (that’s so last year!), this great online tool has now added a new grid option to better organize all of those notes.  Here’s the lowdown from Richard Byrne.  And it has a Chrome extension (I don’t know if that’s new, but I just found out about it).

PixelPress – I originally posted about PixelPress Floors, an app that allows you to draw your own video game, in June.  They now have lesson plans for educators based on the Design Thinking Process.

Kid President – In case you missed it, everyone’s favorite inspirational politician now has a TV show on Hulu! Find out more on this blog post.

Lego Research Institute – I was so excited about this, I tweeted it out last week!  This Lego set, featuring 3 female scientists, is now available for purchase ($19.99).  Unfortunately, they are currently sold-out online- and I can’t find any indication on the website if they intend to restock.

Voxer – This may just be the next new Twitter for educators.  I haven’t tried it yet, but there has been a lot of buzz about it over the summer. This post includes information about this “live messaging app.” According to Pernille Ripp, these are the reasons you should be voxing.  Here are some uses for Voxer in the educational setting.

Why I’m Upset with Tellagami

I’m afraid that this is going to be a venting post.  I try to use this blog to share resources and to, hopefully, inspire.  But one of the resources that I’ve shared quite a bit on this blog has sorely disappointed me, and I feel that I need to express this.

Some people may have the idea that educators are cheap and that we do not like to pay for apps.  The first part is not true, at least in the case of most teachers that I know.  We spend a lot of our own money on resources for our classrooms every year.  However, it is correct that we do not like to pay for apps.  This is not because we balk at spending a dollar or two here and there.  If I could, I would probably spend at least $100 a year on apps for my classroom.  And that doesn’t even include the iTunes gift cards that I receive from parents. But I can’t.  This is mostly because of the following reasons:

  • Many of us do not control what we can purchase for our tablets. In some districts, teachers must propose an app to a committee and wait for approval.  In many, apps are only purchased if they serve the need of many classrooms – so an individual teacher request is usually not honored.
  • The Volume Purchasing Program is not very user-friendly and, as I mentioned in my first bullet, most of us don’t have access to it.
  • We cannot buy in-app purchases on campus.
  • It is very frustrating to spend money on purchasing an app in bulk, and then find out that it either doesn’t work because of school district filtering or it does not serve the needs of our students.
  • I can only use gift cards on my personal iPad  – which I do.  I let my students use it quite a bit because of this, keeping my fingers crossed each time that it doesn’t get dropped or broken since it has my entire life on it.

That being said, I understand that app developers need to make money.  To be honest, I’m not sure how that works.  There are some free apps that I have been using for years, and I picture their developers eating Ramen noodles every night.  However, there are other apps that started out free and then they weren’t.  And then there are the ones that stay free, but force you to update to a version that is missing most of the features you had before – like Tellagami.

I don’t mind that Tellagami decided to add a paid version to its offerings.  They have even been kind enough to provide an Edu version so that we do not have to worry about in-app purchases.  The Edu version looks pretty great – with a couple of features that Tellagami did not have before.

What I mind is that the free version to which I was forced to update because my old free version no longer worked suddenly has 0 of the features that my students loved about it and made it unique.  They enjoyed customizing the character and background, and they really loved the text-to-speech.  You can no longer do this with the free version.

In addition, the change was made over the summer.  Many teachers will return to school with the intention of using Tellagami the way they did last year and may not even discover the changes until they have an entire class of students trying to use the app.

I also mind that I now need to go back to any of my old blog posts from the last year that referred to these free features and revise them to reflect the change.

I mind that a creation tool that had become a favorite and was used on a regular basis in my classroom last year is now suddenly useless.

If anyone would have asked me (and they obviously didn’t), I would have recommended to Tellagami to keep the free version exactly the way it was with a pop-up offering the Edu version.  The Edu version could offer more customization options and, as it does now, the new features of doodling and extra backgrounds.

Because Tellagami allowed me to use the free version for an entire school year, and then took away practically all of the reasons I had for using it, they have lost my loyalty to their product.

UPDATE: Here is a response that Tellagami has posted to address the concerns of educators.  I still maintain that, by retracting many of the features that were available on the free version, they have betrayed those of us who had become accustomed to using the app.

UPDATE #2: I just ran across another blog post by an educator (Meghan Zigmond) who is also disappointed with the changes Tellagami has made.  She pointed out another reason to find fault with the recent switch to a paid app.  It is $4.99 for educators – and there is no discount for volume purchasing.

 

Photo Mapo + Tellagami + Aurasma AppSmash

Shanghai Photo Mapo
Shanghai Photo Mapo/Tellagami Project (Scan with Aurasma app to see video.  Be sure you are following the Hidden Forest channel.)

UPDATE:  Photo Mapo is no longer free (.99) and Tellagami no longer offers the text-to-speech or customization in the free app.  You can read more about the Tellagami changes here.

Yesterday I wrote about an app-smashing project my GT 5th graders did, and today I want to present to you one that my GT 1st graders have been working on.  They have been researching countries, and recently created Photo Mapo postcards to tell about particular interesting landmarks. Typing is a bit of a laborious process for some of the 1st graders on the iPads, so I let them keep their Photo Mapo descriptions fairly short.  However, I wanted them to elaborate a little more.  This was the perfect opportunity for them to use Tellagami. With Tellagami, the students were able to choose if they wanted to type or record their own voices.  This involved some heavy decision-making for some of the students. On the one hand, they weren’t fond of typing.  On the other hand, they loved all of the different accents they could choose for their avatars if they did take the time to type the script! For some of them, that was plenty of motivation 🙂  Others decided they would rather speak for themselves. Once the students created their Tellagami videos, I loaded them up to Aurasma studio.  Now, you can scan their Photo Mapo postcards, and see the videos that give a bit more detail.  Their parents will be able to view them at home, as well, by scanning the pages with the free Aurasma app. For more ideas on using Augmented Reality in the classroom, check out my Augmented Reality Resource page – to which I just added an amazing lesson from Andy Plemmons using Layar for a 4th Grade Wax Museum.

Spain Photo Mapo
Spain Photo Mapo/Tellagami Project ( Scan with Aurasma app to see video.  Be sure you are following the Hidden Forest channel.)

App-Smashed Character Strength Floor Plans

Scan with the Aurasma app to see a video explanation. (You must be following the Hidden Forest Elementary channel.)
Scan with the Aurasma app to see a video explanation. (You must be following the Hidden Forest Elementary channel.)

Several years ago, I got a fabulous idea from a book called What’s On Your Mind? by Joel Anderson and Joan Brinkman.  One of the lessons recommends that gifted students create an “Eight Trait Floor Plan.”  The students are asked to think metaphorically about what a blueprint of their attributes might look like.  Which “rooms” would be the largest?  How many doors would each room have – and where would they lead?  The book gives many excellent questions to help students visualize this “House of Traits.”

I’ve used variations of this lesson with my GT 5th graders over the years.  Sometimes the students created the floorplans in MS Excel, sometimes on graph paper.  Generally a description accompanied it, whether typed or written. It’s been so interesting to see the creative ways students visualize their own attributes – from hidden rooms to indoor pools to closets with no doors.  The project is always insightful for me and for them. Last year, it was an excellent introduction to their Dream Team projects.

We were kind of cutting it close on time this year, so I gave the students graph paper instead of asking them to complete the floor plans on computers.  I directed them to the Periodic Table of Character Strengths to choose their traits.  Instead of adding paragraphs to the bottom that explained their floor plans, they were told they could use one of the creation apps on the iPad, such as: Tellagami, Puppet Pals, or ThingLink.  I promised the students who created videos that we could add some “Aurasma-tazz” by linking them with the Aurasma app.

One of the projects is pictured at the top of this post.  If you have the free Aurasma app, you can follow our channel (Hidden Forest Elementary), and view the Puppet Pals video that accompanies the floor plan by scanning the image above.  Or, you can view the video that I’ve embedded below.

The advantage of using the Aurasma app is that my student can take this project home, and her parents don’t have to go to a website to look for her video explanation.  All they have to do is scan the picture with Aurasma.

If you are not familiar with Aurasma, which is one of several augmented reality apps, here is a link to my page of Augmented Reality Resources.  This page includes links to tutorials, as well as other activities.

Bonus Post – More Augmented Reality Holiday Cards

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Last year, I posted a couple of augmented reality holiday cards that you could use as thank you’s, holiday greetings, or rewards in your classroom.  I made a few more this year by using a different process.  First, I created the cards using Canva, one of my favorite online graphic design tools.  Then, I “Dropboxed” (yes, I’m inventing a new verb) them to my iPad.  I opened them in ChatterPix Kids (love, love, LOVE this free app that I learned about from 2 Guys and Some iPads!!!!), and recorded the characters saying something.  (As a reminder, I don’t like the sound of my own voice, so the voices you hear were made using the Tellagami app.)  I exported the videos from ChatterPix back to my computer, uploaded them to Aurasma Studio with the original Canva graphics as trigger images, and, well, you don’t really want to know all of that, do you?  You probably just want to know what you need to do to make them work! All you need is the pictures and a device that has the Aurasma app.

Here are the steps for using these creations:

1.)  Download this free PDF, and print it out in color – Holiday Cards 2 (You can find 2 more cards here.)

2.)  Download the free Aurasma app to your Android device, iTouch, iPhone, or iPad.

3.)  Within the Aurasma app, you will need to tap on the icon that looks like a fat “A” at the bottom of the screen.

4.)  Click on the magnifying glass icon to “Search”.  In the search window, type “Hidden Forest”.  (At some point, you will be asked to register.  Go ahead and register; it’s free.)  Subscribe to the channel for “Hidden Forest Elementary”, and then tap “Done”.

5.)  Now, tap on the icon that looks like photo corners.  You should have your camera on.  Hold your device over one of the pictures (make sure the volume is turned up), and position it slowly until you see the “Loading” signal that looks like a purple swirl. Then hold your device still so you can see the video.  (Be sure your sound is turned up!)

6.)  Enjoy the short video!

The gingerbread man will give the student an opportunity to borrow a game from the classroom.  Santa allows the student to sit at the teacher’s desk.  The snowman permits the student to borrow a book from the classroom.

Morfo/Tellagami/Aurasma App Smasharoo

Graphic Design - Canva, Videos created using Morfo and Tellagami, Scan with Aurasma
Graphic Design from Canva. Videos created using Morfo and Tellagami. Scan printed page with Aurasma to make art come to life.

UPDATE:   Tellagami no longer offers the text-to-speech or customization in the free version of the app.  You can read more about the Tellagami changes here.

I decided using three apps and a website for one project was not enough, so I decided to throw another iPad and an additional website into the mix this time. Inspired by these Morfo projects, I thought I would use that app for a lesson I was planning on searching the internet.  My 3rd graders are about to embark on a brief study of Leonardo da Vinci, but I hadn’t told them that yet.  I decided to let them figure out who the mystery artist was by doing an internet search using clues from some of da Vinci’s work. I knew the Mona Lisa would be a dead give-away, so I chose some other pieces from the artist’s massive collection.  I saved four of the portraits/sketches in which the subjects were mostly facing forward (one is not, and her Morfo somewhat suffered as a result) to my Photos on my iPad. Since 3 of the subjects were men, I deliberated on how exactly I was going to record them speaking.  Then I remembered Tellagami.  I got out a second iPad, and typed into Tellagami what I wanted one of the subjects to say.  On the first iPad, I got my Morfo ready to record.  I hit the Record button on Morfo at the same time as the Preview button on Tellagami, and got my video recording without having to fake a deep voice! I created the page using Canva, my new go-to site for graphic design,  to display the four portraits.  You can learn more about Canva here. I uploaded the 4 portraits to Canva, did a couple of page edits and then printed out the final copy. Then I fired up Aurasma Studio on my laptop, and loaded the original images as the triggers, and the Morfo videos as the overlays. I opened Aurasma on an iPad, and scanned the page. Nothing. I realized that my trigger images needed to be from the page I printed, as the original images from the internet were much smoother than what my inkjet printer produced.  I took shots of each image on the printed Canva and loaded those as the trigger images instead. It worked! Each portrait “spoke” when I aimed the iPad at it with the Aurasma app. I’ll be honest.  I wish the Morfo videos merged better with the printed images (maybe some of you have a suggestion?).  Instead, the video overlay puts a black box on top that kind of ruins the effect.  But the students did not mind at all, and were completely engaged in taking notes from the spoken clues.  This will be great prep for when they make their own. So…

Morfo+Tellagami+Aurasma+2 iPads+Canva+Aurasma Studio = Engagement
Morfo+Tellagami+Aurasma+2 iPads+Canva+Aurasma Studio = Engagement

Interested in checking out the finished product?  Be sure to follow the Hidden Forest Elementary channel in the free Aurasma app before you print out and scan this file with Aurasma (and turn up the volume on your device!)  Also, be sure to check out myAugmented Reality page if you are interested in finding more resources.

Tellagami, TypeDrawing, and Aurasma – an Awesome App Smashup

UPDATE:  Tellagami no longer offers the text-to-speech or customization in the free app.  You can read more about the Tellagami changes here.

I originally found the term “app-smashing” on TechChef4u.  According to Lisa Johnson, the term was first coined by Greg Kulowiec, and she gives some great examples in her post, “App Synergy: The Art Form of App-Smashing.” I’ve been smashing apps for awhile – though I didn’t know that was what I was doing.  When you use the iPad as a creation tool, it’s natural to begin combining apps in order to refine your creations.  It’s rare to find one app that will meet all of your creative needs, and it’s fun to see the new ways to fuse different ones together. Last year, my students often used Puppet Pals, along with Aurasma, to create 2-d bulletin board presentations that morphed into 3-dimensional ones when scanned with an iDevice (see the post, “Misunderstood Monsters” for an example). When I learned this summer about the release of a free animation app called “Tellagami“, I saw immediately that it could be used in a similar manner to Puppet Pals.  The fun twist to Tellagami is that it allows you to choose an avatar to speak for you.  You can type the words, and select the person as well as the accent. I really don’t like speaking in front of groups.  I know this sounds odd coming from a teacher, but I am much more intimidated by a congregation of adults who would prefer working in their classrooms to listening to me, than to an enthusiastic group of curious kids.  So, I decided to enlist Tellagami to help me with a presentation that I needed to give to our staff. (As a side note, I used iMovie on my Mac at home to weave several Tellagami’s together.) Tellagami, like the all-access version of Puppet Pals, allows you to add your own backgrounds, and that is where I used TypeDrawing for one piece of the introductory video that I used.

Tellagami + Type Drawing
Tellagami + Type Drawing

I created an Aurasma scavenger hunt for the staff.  They went around the school to find papers with images to scan.  Each image triggered a new Tellagami video that give them a little bit of information about the GT program.  (I would share the presentation with you, but it’s specific to our district’s GT program.) Tellagami videos can be saved to your Photos on your iPad.  And, one easy way to get your images to use with Aurasma is to play your Tellagami (or any other) video, pause it, and take an iPad screen shot.  You can even use the editing tool in Photos, then, to refine the image.  Then, open your Aurasma app, match up the trigger image with the video, and you have a new “Aura.”  Be sure all participants are following your Aurasma channel.   Print out your Tellagami screen shots, and post them around the school if you are doing a scavenger hunt.  I like to put some kind of title at the top of each paper, so people do not remove them accidentally, like, “This is for a GT Presentation, so please do not remove.”  (If you are not familiar with using Aurasmahere is a basic introduction.  Also, I have a Flipboard magazine on Augmented Reality in Education.  You can search and subscribe on the Flipboard app, or you can access it on the web here.) I can’t wait to see how the students use Tellagami.  What I like about the concept of app-smashing is that it really brings another level of problem solving into using the iPads.  The students might want to do something with a particular app that does not have that feature, and they need to consider how to combine apps to achieve the result they desire.  I added a bunch of “creation apps” to my iPad over the summer, and I am working on getting them organized so the kids can do some more app-smashing of their own!