Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ode to SonicPics

Oh, SonicPics, our new favorite app. I have to give credit to my colleague Mike Amante in New Hartford, New York, who casually mentioned this app during a recent recording of Michelle Bourgeois and Katie Morrow's excellent podcast, Always On. We are always on the lookout for new apps to support student media creation, and SonicPics has yet to disappoint.

SonicPics is an app that allows students to select photos from the iPad Photo Library and then record narration to create a simple video. Kids simply swipe from one photo to the next as they talk and record their thinking. The final product can be e-mailed to the teacher as an m4v video file; if the file is too large, the teacher can transmit the video directly to the classroom computer over the network using an IP address provided by SonicPics.

SonicPics allows teachers to capture students' thinking visually and verbally, which is so powerful for young learners who may not yet be fluent readers and writers. The final products can be synced back to the iPad or shared with students via your iDisk or Dropbox. This gives students an audience and allows them to share ideas with their peers. Audio recordings also give students opportunities to self-reflec
t and self- assess, because they can listen to their recordings and re-record if they want to make improvements.

We have countless ideas for how to use this app and plan to try them all! Here are a few:
  1. Create multimedia books. Students create illustrations in a drawing app like Whiteboard Lite or Drawing Pad, save the illustrations to Photos, and then pull them up in SonicPics to record the words.
  2. Document a classroom experience. Load photos of a field trip, science experiment, special visitor, etc. onto the iPad and have students narrate the photos.
  3. Assess a learning experience. Load photos of an individual or group working in the classroom, and then have students narrate those photos to explain their process and reflect on their learning.
  4. Retell a story. Have students draw pictures to represent the beginning, middle, and end of a story, and then record their retelling.
  5. Generate questions to support inquiry. Load content-related photos on the iPad. Have students select 3-5 images and record their questions. This can also be an assessment piece to collect data about the level of thinking and questioning students are engaged in.
  6. Create a podcast. Use photos or student-created illustrations or diagrams as your images. Consider content-oriented podcasts, news about school, book reviews, issue-oriented podcasts -- the sky is the limit.
  7. Create a weather report. Take photos out the window and narrate them with data from any weather app or website. Share it on your class home page.
If there are any SonicPics users out there, we would love to hear how you are using this app to support student learning.


  1. Thank you! I love SonicPics.

  2. Carolyn,
    The Creighton School District in Phoenix, AZ began an iPod project in our third grade classroom this past school year. We also love SonicPics and had found it a great tool for student projects.

    One thing we did with SonicPics this year was to create student narrated high frequency word videos. We used HFW lists developed by our district literacy specialist. The list had already been put into photo flash cards using PowerPoint. Students created the videos that could be synced to our iPods. However, we also created exported them into .mov files and added them to our district website so that all students could access and learn from them.