Saturday, August 23, 2014

OSMO is Awesome!!!

Check out what I got in the mail this week!!!! I got my OSMO, and it is Awesome!  I was so excited and could not wait to try it out and show everyone how amazing it actually is.

For those of you who haven't heard about OSMO yet, check out this video.

I saw the video several months ago and though "Wow, that is amazing and I have to have one!"  I was a little skeptical that it could really be that simple and work so well.  I figured even if it turned out to be half as cool as it looks on the video, it would still be amazing.

So I went on to to see about ordering one.  At the time, they still hadn't hit the retail market and were in the early production phase.  You could (and I did) pre-order one at pre-production prices.  You are probably wondering, so how much?  OSMO will retail for $99; that includes all three components above.  Right now you can order yours for 40% off.  (Click here if you would like to order from my referral link.)

So what do you get and what can you do with the components?  The bas, letters and tangram components each come in their own storage box.  They have magnetic closures and store your pieces very nicely.  You use your iPad with the special base and little reflector piece that slides over your camera.  (You do have to take your iPad out of the protective case if you use one.)  Then you download 3 apps from the iTunes app store for free.  The apps are Newton for OSMO, Tangram for OSMO, and Words for OSMO.  It is so simple to set up, nothing to plug in, batteries to add, or charge.  The hardest part was trying to decide what game to play first!

My daughters (ages 10 and 13) began playing right away.  It really is tangible hands on and interactive play.  Interacting with the iPad in new ways and even better, interacting with each other.
We all worked together playing Newton.  Drawing lines and moving objects to help the balls bounce and hit their targets.  Then we broke out the Tangram.  We were able to make several of the shapes without help.  A few of the harder shapes, OSMO helped us out by showing us the outlines and colors of the individual pieces.  Finally we broke our Words and the competition began!  (You can also play in collaboration mode.)  This was a face paced and competitive game.  I must admit I felt a little guilty for celebrating beating my children.  However, the more we play, the better they get and it is harder to beat them.

I am happy to say OSMO exceeded all of my expectations!  It really is as fun and easy as the video shows.  I was also asked for my feedback and opinion from the company.  I hope they plan to make more apps to go with this amazing system!  I would love to see an easier word/phonics game for the K/1 set and think a numbers game could be amazing too.  I think this will be one of the "it" items this holiday season for sure.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Bedtime Story

Wouldn't it be great if you could read a bedtime story about the first-day of school to every student in your new class?  Imagine reading "The Night Before First Grade" to help ease the fears of your new little guys.  With a little tech magic you can!  Here is what you do.

First record yourself reading the book.  I found a digital copy of "The Night Before First Grade" for free on one of my favorite sites:

I opened the book on my Mac and then used Quicktime to do a screen recording of my reading the story.  Once I was happy with the recording, I saved the video as a "public" file in my dropbox account.  (I love dropbox!  If you don't have it, click here to sign up.  It is FREE!)

Next, I copied the public link to my video file.  Then I created a QR code that will take my students straight to me reading their bedtime story.  At my school, we have the students come and meet the teacher the Friday before school officially begins.  I put the QR code on my welcome brochure.  The students, and parents love it!  You can click here to see my bedtime story video.

This year, I plan to have my buddy readers record books like this for our class.  Then later in the year we will record our own stories to share.