Posted in Apps, Osmo

Osmo – My Favorite Ed Tech Tool

Have you had a chance to play with Osmo? If not, I’m about to change your world.


The Osmo system is a series of apps for the iPad that utilize the camera to create a hands-on workspace in front of the iPad. Using the base and a variety of Osmo manipulatives, the work space moves to the table, instead of on the screen. Digital learning becomes hands-on with these games. The Osmo system has several great games, and the promise of more to come. Words, Numbers, Tangrams, Coding, Pizza, and those are just the games I own. Today, however, I’m going to focus on Osmo Words and how it will completely revolutionize your vocabulary instruction and practice.

osmo wordsOsmo Words is a word guessing game that puts an image on screen, and corresponding bubbles for how many letters are in the word. Students can play in teams or together to figure out what the picture represents. Players guess the word by throwing letters into the center of the table, and the score is calculated by how many red or blue letters are correct. Points are taken away for incorrect letters.

So how is this going to change your vocabulary practice? While Osmo has a bunch of pre-made albums to use in class, it is also completely customizable (and shareable). Teachers can create PowerPoints that can be converted to Words albums very easily. So the sky is the limit on what you do with the albums. We use Osmo Words in all four subject areas in my fourth and fifth grade classes. In ELA, we use the Osmo to practice our Greek and Latin roots. I’ve put together a couple of huge review albums that have images that represent the roots. For more targeted practice, I’ve also got a series of albums that practice a specific Greek root. The pictures are of words that have this root at their base. In math and science, we practice our content vocabulary. For each unit, I’ve put together albums that have images that represent specific vocabulary words. For instance, the landforms unit has images of a variety of terrestrial and aquatic landforms. In math, the albums may show different geometrical shapes. In both science and social studies, instead of relying just on pictures in the albums, I’ve also added short review questions. We review for major tests using these review question albums.

Osmo is perfect for learning stations. It easily engages groups of 2-6 students, letting you, as the teacher, focus on more direct or guided instructional groups. The cool thing is that all of the albums I’ve made are in the Osmo MyWords database, so they can be shared with anyone. Teaching is a team sport!

My albums are all geared toward upper elementary students. However, there are a bunch of great albums online that focus on early literacy skills. In fact, I’d hazard to say that the majority of albums are geared towards early elementary. Simple sight word practice, word families, and guessing games are easy to find and download. My family particularly likes the United States geography album.

Osmo Words is only one of the awesome games in the Osmo system. As I’ve tried to limit my gushing here, I’ve gotten more and more excited about pulling out my Osmo this year. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions on how we use the Osmo!

Posted in iLesson

Tweet Sheet

twitterKids love social media; even my elementary school students.  I’ve shamelessly used this love to motivate them to expand their vocabulary.  I was inspired to have my kids “tweet” after seeing the various ways other teachers have students jot down their learning in Twitter format.  Simply search Pinterest for examples.  In our classroom, we use it to create grammatically correct sentences featuring a selected term.

Students scan a QR code that takes them straight to our class blog and the Tweet Sheet.
Students scan a QR code that takes them straight to our class blog and the Tweet Sheet.

Each week, I post a Twitter Word of the Week on the board.  I generally select vocabulary words that my students might not be familiar with, but might find themselves confronted with while reading directions or tasks.  I try to use a variety of higher level words to expand my students’ vocabulary: annotate, support, defend, etc.  We review the definition of the word, I give them a couple of example sentences, and we discuss affixes that could be added to the word.  Students then have the remainder of the week to create one single sentence using the word appropriately in a grammatically correct sentence.

Students write a rough draft of the sentence in their journals, self-edit, then “tweet” their sentence.  Since we can’t use Twitter at school, we fake it.  I update a discussion topic on our class blog weekly.  This blog is found on our school hosted website, and is a safe place for students to learn blogging.  Students use the Scan app on the iPads to scan a QR code that sends them directly to the discussion topic.  After logging in, they simply type up their sentence and submit it.  I grade the sentence for grammar conventions and appropriate use of the new word.  It’s an easy way to expand my students vocabulary, a quick and easy ELA grade, and a great way to engage my students in what could otherwise be a fairly boring weekly task.