Had to Get Creative 



A few weeks ago my daughter’s first grade teacher asked me to read English stories to her class. There are 26 students in her class and only 2 or 3 speak English fluently. Since I didn’t have access to big books I took advantage of the big screen TV in the class. There was no wifi so I connected my iPad with an hdmi cable to the tv. This allowed me to use interactive books to tell stories to the class.

In the first few weeks the students really enjoyed the stories. I was able to choose stories that were simple but engaged the young students. However,  there are only a limited amount of free interactive books appropriate books for first grade EFL students. So I am faced with the dilemma of choosing less interactive books or buying books. After spending the last few weeks teaching my own students, how to use Book Creator for the iPad I decided to write my own stories with the help of my own first grade English students. The idea is to add short videos clips created by my first graders to engage my daughter’s class. We planned the stories in class today, and we shot a few short clips. Over the weekend my plan is to write the stories and add the video clips. On Monday when I see my first graders I will add some voice over and maybe even some sounds effects. If all goes well I will post the final project here.

Update July 2, 2014

I wanted to update my progress on the book. Well my students and are were able to complete the book on Monday. Now it’s ready to be read to my daughters class. I’m very proud of what my first graders were able to do. The mini vidoes in the story are quite comical.

Update July 8, 2014

I finally figured out an easy way to share my students’ completed books. If you have an Apple device you can easily download and read the stories. If you are on Windows I am not really sure, maybe the Kindle Reader App from Amazon. Here are the links to the books






Minecraft PE Projects


Book Creator


Over the past few months I have been piloting different projects at different age and grade levels using Minecraft PE (MCPE). Since we have a 1 to 1 iPad problem in our little school it was only natural for us to try Minecraft PE over Minecraft PC. MinecraftEdu is an educational version of Minecraft that allows teachers to create more academic lessons through Minecraft. Even though I have an EDU account with only two computers in the classroom using Minecraft PE was more accessible to all students.

Our first projects were based on the stories we were reading in class. For example, one of my classes created their own wacky schools based on the book Side Ways Stories From Wayside School by Louis Sachar. The girls created their own schools in MCPE and gave a short tour of the school.

Following the success of these project I introduced a Minecraft Movie project to one of my 5th grade classes. Because all of my students had access to MCPE at home I setup a Pocket Mine server to allow children to connect to our world from home. We began the project by writing Movie Scripts. We used a new app Celtx Script which was perfect for students to create and collaborate on movie scripts. Once the scripts were completed and the building of the world finished we began to film each scene.

Filming the scenes proved to be more difficult than I had originally thought. For example, in order to record an iPad screen you need a mirroring program. Luckily we found a program called Reflector. Another challenge was acting as the cameraman within the MCPE world. I have no movie making experience so the first few scenes were hard to view for anyone who gets motion sickness. Therefore, we decided to allow the each student to take turns filming the movie from a first person point of view.

Currently we are filming scene 4 of 8 and we hope to finish by the end of this month. Here is a short movie trailer the students made with iMovie on the iPad.

Through Twitter I was lucky enough to connect to a teacher from Ontario Canada who shared my enthusiasm for using MCPE in classroom. Scott McKenzie a 3/4 grade teacher was already creating MCPE projects with his students and was thrilled that we could create a joint project.

MCPE Project

Again I sent up a Pocket Mine sever so that students from Korea and Canada could connect to the same world at any time. I should mention that Pocket Mine is a free program which allows you to run a MCPE server from your home computer.

For our project we decided to create Choose Your Own Adventure Stories. For those who remember these stories as a kid, the stories give you a choice at the end of each page, which allows the reader to dictate what happens to the characters.

Scott’s student went to work on building their backgrounds in MCPE while I had my students write their stories using Book Creator. The app was simple for students to use and also we could easily add hyperlinks to jump around throughout their books. Once my students were nearly finished writing their stories I opened up the server to them. Some of them even logged in at night so they could interact with the Canadian students. Both groups of students were very polite and were excited to be speaking to students from the other side of the world.

Currently we are in the final stages of the project. Both of our classes are adding signs to the world to lead other students through each of their stories.

We the MCPE update right around the corner which will bring huge worlds to PE I’m hoping to use Minecraft PE and MinecraftEdu in future classes!


iStop Motion Article


I wanted to share an article which was written about our stop motion projects using iStopMotion. Here is the article and the link


This year, Richard Campbell learned a new meaning of success when he invested in a bunch of iPad Airs for the students at his private English academy in Busan, South Korea. He found that his students became much more engaged when working with the iPads. Above all, they were truly enjoying what they were learning.

“Technology allows teachers and students to explore new areas of learning,”says Richard, who teaches students from grades one through nine. “Also, it helps students to learn skills for future careers that may not even exist yet. For my classes, technology allows me to create differentiated instruction more easily, while encouraging students to explore their own creativity.”

Richard discovered iStopMotion a long time ago, but it wasn’t until he implemented iPad use in his classroom that he could begin using the program with his students. When the iPads came in, the iStopMotion app was one of the first they downloaded.

“Encouraging my students to work with stop motion was difficult at first,” he says. “The amount of time it takes to create a short clip was a tough sell to my students. However, after we read ‘Coraline’ by Neil Gailman, my students were hooked. One of my classes has recently started projects based on the book ‘The Westing Game.’ Students are using iStopMotion to recreate their favorite scenes from the book.”

To do this, the class began by discussing different parts of the book that would translate well into stop motion. Then, each student created his or her own storyboard. Richard notes that the Animation Chefs (our good friends !) had some great example videos on stop motion that really helped the class brainstorm. Once the storyboards were complete, the class learned more about operating iStopMotion as an app, as well as filming stop motion animation in general. They began filming at the end of the week, and the next week was dedicated to editing their videos in iMovie. One student even used a blue screen for her project to add an extra special touch. Both Richard and his students particularly enjoyed using the iStopMotion remote camera.

“The reaction of my students has been great,” Richard says. “Not everything has gone as planned, but students really enjoy the process and it’s hard to get them to go home sometimes!”

For stop motion beginners, Richard has some words of wisdom. “My advice would be to read as much as you can about the process. Watch stop motion videos or movies and ask questions. There are a lot of experts and experienced people out there who are more than willing to help you get started.”

We agree! Watching other stop motion videos is a great way to spark your imagination. It’s useful to see how other people decided to make their characters and sets move, what materials they chose to use and what topics they decided to cover. Try searching for stop motion videos on websites like YouTube, Twitter or Vimeo, or check out the Theater in our app. Take a scroll through the Boinx blog and check out the Animation Chefs’ site as well like Richard did. And be sure to check out the example from one of Richard’s students above for some excellent pointers!