Sharing My One Best Thing Published Book!

Express Yourself: The Art of Me by April Requard

Express Yourself: The Art of Me by April Requard

I’m so happy, thrilled, and humbled to share my book, which you can download to your Mac or iPad and it is only available on iBooks. If you have the iBooks app installed on your iPad or Mac, then you’re good to go! My book highlights a lesson from start to finish with multiple applications and components. It’s a great lesson on self-discovery and it really makes you think about how you can take an older or “outdated” concept and make it new again with technology! The creations the students make when they are finished are worthy of framing because they really turn out to be that cool! To learn more, please download a copy of my book and let me know what you think!

Additionally, you need to check out a whole collection of Apple Distinguished Educators’ One Best Thing. The ideas, lessons, and concepts shared are truly amazing and provide such an authentic learning opportunity for all of us educators! It’s amazing to see Apple’s commitment to furthering the opportunities of educators, therefore enriching our student’s lives.

Check it out here:



Keyboarding and the Common Core


As a technology teacher, teaching younger students keyboarding is something I’ve considered a best practice for many years. I’ve always thought that technology wasn’t “going anywhere”, so kids better learn how to be as productive as possible with technology tools, keyboarding being one of them. I believe students as early as kindergarten should be learning the basics of the keyboard as well as basic shortcut keys to increase productivity. When I mention to my students that we are practicing keyboarding, it is unlikely that I will hear a loud cheer from them because naturally, it is not the most fun thing to do. However, you can make it fun and create an environment where your students really love to challenge themselves and they want to go home and practice. That’s the key here…practice. Expecting a student to achieve great results in typing accuracy when they only get to practice an hour a week is really setting them up for failure. Kids need to be doing drills at home and at school as well as typing within applications to create a meaningful learning experience. The upcoming PARCC exams will be used in our district to assess students’ mastery of Common Core State Standards. The PARCC will be given to students in grades 3 and up, beginning in the 2014-2015 school year. The PARCC exams will be administered digitally, with students completing the tests on computers. You can read more at Since the PARCC’s ELA test will be taken on computers, students will need to type their written answers. While examples of type-written questions have yet to be released, we can draw conclusions about the rigor of these writing tasks from the Common Core State Standards. According to CCSS w.4.6, fourth graders must be able to type “a minimum of one page in a single sitting.” CCSS w.5.6 requires fifth graders to type “a minimum of two pages in a single sitting.” Here are some ideas to try out when you are using laptops or a computer lab with your kiddos in preparation of the PARCC as well as meeting critical Common Core Standards.

-Make a fun theme for the beginning of your big focus on keyboarding! Some examples I’ve used in the past: ‘Keyboarding Survivor’, ‘Are You Ready for Some Keyboarding?’, ‘Keyboarding Olympics’, and ‘Keyboarding Bootcamp’…you get the idea. It just sets the kids up to have some fun.

Keyboarding Boot Camp from April Requard on Vimeo.


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Keyboarding Boot Camp

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Are You Ready for Some Keyboarding?

Keyboarding Survivor

Keyboarding Survivor

-Go over proper typing technique (I call it the Important 4)

1. Sit up straight

2. Feet flat on the floor in front of you

3. Look up more than down

4. Hands on the home row keys

-Do a pre and post assessment on your students so you can measure their growth.

-Have your students participate in many free web-based learning games for keyboarding (I’ll list them at the bottom).

-Have your students participate in frequent timed tests to assess their growth. Create a spreadsheet to record the data.

-Have your students do this exercise: Pick a topic and have your students type for one minute. Time will be called after one minute. Have them count their words and type it next to their paragraph. Repeat this exercise a total of three times and see if their accuracy and or speed improved.

-Stress the fact that accuracy and proper typing technique is more important than speed!

Those are some ideas to try out! Now, let’s put those ideas to use with some practice for your students!

My favorite web-based program where you can track your students’ progress is Typing Web. You will have to make them an account, but it’s really great for going in and looking at how many exercises they’ve completed and if they are completing their assigned homework. Also, it gives great pre and post data to how your student is progressing. I use this will all students in grades 2-5.

Dance Mat Typing is another favorite because kids love it and it really goes through all of the steps in correct finger placement and it is quite interactive. I got this awesome idea from another teacher to create “punch cards” for students to get punched after they finished a level in Dance Mat Typing. Here is the website this teacher created with “stages” that correspond with the punch cards. You can download the cards here.

Here is another list of keyboarding links: (some may be repeated, as these lists have been grabbed from multiple lists on my computer)





Mirroring your iPad


I use my Apple TV in my classroom on a daily basis. I demonstrate on the iPad and my students share their creative work on the iPad to the whole class via Apple TV and our Promethean Board. I do know that some teachers can’t afford to spend the $99 on an Apple TV. Enter a very nice and inexpensive solution: Reflector.  Reflector is an AirPlay receiver that allows you to wirelessly display your iPad or iPhone on your computer. Mirror your device on a big screen without wires or complicated setups. Play games, watch movies, demo apps or present on the big screen from your iPhone or iPad. With Reflector, everything you do on your iPad is wirelessly streamed to your computer, which is connected to your board, in real time! The best part is that it is only $12.99! You can’t beat that and it is a great solution for the teacher who is having a hard time coming up with the $99 for Apple TV. Additionally, all of my screen recordings that I create on the iPad are recorded using Reflector. Students can use Reflector to do their own screen recordings and app tutorials. You can record your screen but also need to use QuickTime to record your audio and can export your movie and edit it in iMovie. So many great possibilities for teaching and learning…time to start exploring!


My Favorite Photo/Video Transfer App is FREE for a Short Time!

Photo and Video Transfer over Wifi is FREE for a limited time!

Photo and Video Transfer over Wifi is FREE for a limited time!

My most prized app (Photo and Video Transfer Over Wifi) is FREE today, folks! It’s usually $2.99! I don’t know what I’d do without this app! Since my students don’t use email, I rely on this app to transfer work they create on the iPad to the desktop computers. For example, students created an iMovie on the iPad. We aren’t able to post to YouTube, and I definitely want the iMovie to be shared, so I can transfer the iMovie from the iPad’s Camera Roll to a desktop computer. From there, students can upload to their blogs, save on a flash drive, or I can grab it and use it for student examples. You can also transfer photos or videos to another iPad! This is awesome if students are working on a group project and they need to share their work with each other! I personally use it all the time. Sometimes emailing myself photos or videos can be time consuming, but transferring the photos or videos through this app takes no time at all (depending on file size). (Oh, and you can send more than one photo or video at a time). And…who wants to connect cables to their computer when they want to transfer a video from the iPhone or iPad? Not me!

Here’s how easy this is: (You must be on the same wifi in order to transfer)

1. Open the app

2. Choose from your camera roll or photo stream which photo you want to send

3. Choose to send the photos or videos to an iPhone, iPad, or computer

4.  Now you have two options: You can click on a web address to access your photos, or use a unique IP address

5. Wait for the download to take place

6. Now you have the photos/videos on another device!

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An Introductory Lesson in Keynote for Primary Students

An Introductory Lesson into Keynote with Primary Students

An Introductory Lesson into Keynote with Primary Students

I loving using Keynote, both on the Mac and the iPad. Keynote is a powerful presentation tool where students can show off knowledge of a subject. There are many web-based presentation tools I love, but Keynote has some really cool features that really resonate with students. For this project, 2nd graders used Keynote to illustrate and animate the letters in their first names.  Here are some helpful tips if you do this project with your kiddos!

Keynote from April Requard on Vimeo.


-Create a text box for each letter in the child’s name so each letter can be animated separately. (This is a great teaching moment about shortcuts Copy/Paste)

-Have your students experiment with various fonts, sizes, and colors. Each letter can be a different size, color, and font!

-Teach your students about alignment and placing. Also, Keynote has built in tools to help with alignment!

-Practice the timing of each letter. You want to make sure that they go in the right order? Or do you? Have them play with the timing of the letters.

-The animations are the best part. They will love choosing a different animation for their letters.

-Export as a QuickTime movie…upload to iMovie and make a class movie with all of their names!

Have fun!

Copy Paste Character

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Many of you might already know about this, as it’s been around for years, but an oldie but goodie is worth sharing! Have you ever written something, created a poster, or made a presentation and you just wished you had an object or character that was easy to insert into what you were creating? Well, here’s your answer! Copy Paste Character has so many options and you do exactly what it says…copy the character and paste it into your document or presentation. Here’s a screen shot of some of the options of various characters you can choose from…Have some fun and easily insert the characters you need! 

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Bring Literacy to Life with Technology!

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Sometimes I wish I were a kid growing up in this digital world. I think I would understand math concepts better and I’d have so many resources at my fingertips. I also think using technology allows children to be creative in ways they couldn’t before. Here’s a fun literacy project that I did with second graders this week and they LOVED it. It really was so much fun. When kids have this much fun, they don’t even realize that they are learning! I love reading the book the Z Was Zapped by Chris Van Allsburg to my students. If you haven’t read it, it is a book where the letters of the alphabet take center stage and all of the letters have something happen to them that they probably would’t prefer. For example, A was in an avalanche. We discuss the pattern in the book and what the term alliteration means.

I usually have them do some type of digital project that coincides with the book, but this year, I decided to change it up a bit. I read the book aloud to the students and then I distributed a different letter of the alphabet for them to do their own “page” of the book on the iPad. For this project, we used two apps: Drawing Pad (paid)  (You could use any drawing app as long as it saves to the camera roll) and Chatterpix Kids (free). When the kids have their letter, they are instructed to draw something happening to their letter. It’s pretty fun to see what they come up with. They save their drawing to their camera roll and then open up Chatterpix Kids. Chatterpix Kids is an app where you can make a picture have a mouth with a voice. The kids import their drawing into Chatterpix Kids and draw a mouth and read a sentence just like the book. From there, they can save that to their camera roll and link to their blogs or the teacher can share their finished products. So fun. See some examples below:

The Z Was Zapped Literacy Project from April Requard on Vimeo.