Hello everyone! I am glad you have joined in for lesson two! Today we are going to jump right into discussing the A of tech tools to use in your primary classroom.
This type of tech tool comes first on purpose because it is the simplest of the tools to introduce to students. It also deals with the unique needs of primary students when it comes to creating projects.
Whether you are a veteran primary teacher or just fresh out of college, I am sure you understand the importance of illustrating when it comes to students developing their writing skills.
Young students are just learning to write, and their ideas and understanding of concepts are way beyond their ability to write those ideas down in words often.
Illustrating offers a way for students to communicate those ideas. Illustrating can also be used for the planning of writing too because it helps students think in a concrete way what they plan to write.
That is why drawing apps are a must when it comes to using tech in the primary grades!
Not to mention, you can use their illustrations with tech tool B once students are comfortable with both! That way, they can incorporate art with their work.
That gives it an A in my book!
Many of you might actually already have a go-to drawing app in your classroom. This one is foundational for sure.
Now there are many drawing apps out there, so it all boils down to finding the right one that will work with your classroom with the type of device you have.
Look for these Features in a Drawing App
I will say it is important that the features to export an image are easy and simple to use. Another important feature is the button sizes for students to select the colors and other components. Kid friendly is a must! The interface with the drawing tools need to be simple too.
Color selection is also another key element. There are plenty of cute apps with those neon rainbow colors, but I do think it is important for students to have access to some basic colors like you would find in a small pack of crayons. Those apps can be fun for some activities that you could introduce later on down the line. An eraser tool is a good feature to have too.
Also, ads is another thing to investigate. Thankfully, all the free ones I am recommending today do not have any ads! If you ever go with one that does have ads, some apps are better about displaying them more classy than others. Some can be rather obnoxious by popping up constantly.
Resources for You
I have created video tutorials of the apps suggested here with some tips and tricks that makes this system function best. They will be linked below after a brief overview explaining why each one is a good choice. I also have a cheat sheet to help you figure out which app will work best for you. It simplifies the information in this email for you. That will be linked below.
Also note, I am not affiliated with any of these apps in the entire course in any shape or form, so this is all just my honest opinion here without a single endorsement from anyone.
A Drawing App that Works for Everyone
Whether you are on a desktop, a laptop, a tablet, or an iPad, SeeSaw is an option for all of you!
SeeSaw is easy for students to use when it comes to drawing. Now, SeeSaw is not technically just a drawing app. It is actually an online portfolio with other features that you may want to use later possibly. However, I recommend sticking with this system I set-up because tech tool B is going to offer you a lot more options as far as learning activities goes. I will dive into detail on those features tomorrow.
With SeeSaw, they are also very generous with the features available for free. The paid features are above and beyond what is needed for this system I am teaching, so you can totally use the free version. The paid version is more of something your school or district might want to invest in using.
One perk with using SeeSaw over a regular drawing app is that it will keep student’s artwork more organized if they have to share devices. Students will create and save images under their first name, so they are not all mixed in together on the device. However, I will be recommending a way for students to turn their work into you, so even if you use another type of drawing app that should not be a deal breaker on going with something else.
The main drawback between SeeSaw is the exporting of pictures involves a little more hike. Not much, but a few extra steps. In this system, it’s important for students to be able to easily export an image to the camera roll to add it into other parts of their projects. You can do that with SeeSaw, but students have to go back after they have exited out of creating their picture. It will take a little training to get them in the habit of doing this. Their work is also saved, so they will remember when they need to use that picture in another app.
I highly recommend using SeeSaw even with that small drawback because there are no ads, there are no watermarks, the tools are very kid-friendly because it is geared for kids, it's not that complicated to export pictures, and there are no hidden dark chat rooms in there that you may have accidentally overlooked. I am not joking.
I thought I had found one app that checked off most boxes, but a review tipped me off that there was a chat room that I almost overlooked. It was definitely not a place for kids. While that is really not the norm with drawing apps, its a good idea to inspect them closely. That was a lesson I am grateful I did not learn the hard way.
Another Choice for Those with iPads
If you are using an iPad or other iOS device, you do have another possible choice. It is called Draw & Tell. This app is funded through donations, so there is zero ads and it is absolutely free. It offers a pencil tool, paint brush, and crayons. Exporting images is a breeze! There is no need for students to log in either, so it is easy for a student to pick it up just like a piece of paper and crayons. It’s really ideal in a lot of ways, except it does leave a watermark once the pictures are exported. I actually drafted out how you won the drawing app lottery with this one originally until after I had filmed a tutorial for tech tool B and noticed the watermark in the corner of the image while editing the video. It made me have to revise this entire email, lol! It’s still a good app, but I really honestly wish the watermark was not there. Since I already have tutorials prepared for it, I will attach it below though. It does have some cool drawing features that you can’t do in SeeSaw such as students can fill in their drawings with patterns and choose from different drawing tools, so you might want to consider it for those reasons if you want more of those kinds of features.
If your students are using a mouse or trackpad instead of a touch screen, there is going to be some limitations to drawing on the computer. Drawing with a mouse can be difficult. Students may struggle accomplishing this with a trackpad too. However, students can still create art. Just know, it is not ideal.
For Those using a Mouse to Draw
If your school has Google Classroom, you will be able to use Google Drawings easily with your class. With Google Drawings, students can create images with shapes, incorporate photos and clip art, and also create free-style lines that smooth out a bit. Students can even make collages with those three elements. Creating collages with the elements is a good compromise since drawing with a mouse and trackpad can be tricky. Drawing in Google Drawing is not as ideal as using a stylus or finger, but drawings can be made. Also, it's the least kid friendly of all the options and exporting might be confusing to students and will take reteaching it to get them in the routine of it.
The other option is SeeSaw. SeeSaw does not have the shape tools, but drawing with the mouse in there is not too shaky. If it was me choosing between Google Drawings and SeeSaw, I would go with SeeSaw. It is also more kid-friendly to use when exporting art as an image file.
At one point, I was thinking to suggest PowerPoint as a last resort for those using Office 365. I even spent many hours creating tutorials for these, which made me realize even more why this one is a very, very bad idea for drawing and exporting images. I think you all would have hated me for even suggesting it as a last resort, haha! And really, you got SeeSaw, which allows for more free-style drawing. I don't recommend PowerPoint for creating illustrations with primary students.
I will be attaching tutorials for Google Drawings and SeeSaw. If you have Google Classroom, I recommend trying out both. I suggest drawing in them like your students would be drawing and exporting the picture to test out which one you like best for your class.
For Those with an Amazon Fire
If you are using an Amazon Fire that has access to the app store, I will be honest to say I do not have access to ones of these devices. I did do a little homework on them. You do got SeeSaw too by the way.
I searched on my Mac for the Amazon App store to see what apps are available there, and I noticed they had an app named Drawing Pad for free. Maybe try that one out. I tried buying it for $1.99 on my Android based tablet to test out. (Yes, you read it right that it is free for Amazon devices and a charge for Androids, lol!) I had issues with it crashing while trying to export pics to the gallery every single time, but this was on an Android. It has some negative ratings for that reason too. I looked through the ratings in the Amazon app store from my Mac, and weeded through several pages of whining, haha! However, it was more people complaining about it being good for kids! I went through several pages of one stars and did not see anybody complaining of it crashing when exporting. That is a good sign that it might just be an Android bug. The other features look good that it is worth a try to test if it will export pics without crashing. It’s free after all.
I also encourage you all with either an Amazon Fire to share your drawing app discoveries in the Facebook group to help each other find a good one.
Feel Free to Share Other Drawing Apps with the FB Group
Of course, no matter if you are on a laptop, desktop, iPad, or tablet, you all have SeeSaw as an option to use for drawing. This is an excellent choice. Even if some of my findings for other drawing apps were not ideal, you all have a solid tool right there. New things come out all the time, so always feel free to share in the Technology in the K-2 Classroom Facebook group. I do encourage you to look closely at the features before recommending one in the group though.The standards I mentioned here are a good outline for scouting out new drawing apps.
•Kid friendly with the buttons, interface, and overall usability
•Easy to export pictures to the camera roll
•No hidden dark chat rooms, eek!
•If there are ads, they are appropriate.
•Also, I did not mention before, but also make sure it does not ask for any information that can be used to identify your students such as full names or other identifiable information unless you have gone through the proper channels to do that.
Links to the Teacher Tutorials & Final Thoughts
If you are wondering about the logistics of collecting their work, I will be providing some solutions to that in a few days.
You can find the video tutorials by clicking here. Password: CandyClassD2#
You will only need to watch the video(s) applicable to you. Find the cheat sheet on tech tool A here. It simplifies the information in the email, so you can figure out the best app for tech tool A.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the FB group here.
Lesson three will discuss tech tool B. I will also cover how you can use tech tool A & B together. Stay tuned….
Jolene Mathew from the Candy Class