If you were at ISTE 2016 in Colorado this year and stopped by the Seesaw booth or attended any of their panels, you most likely noticed App Dice. Teachers and administrators were loving them. Many people were on Twitters and their websites talking about App Dice and loving the idea. I even had several people surprised that App Dice have been around for a little over two years. Followed by many asking me how I came up with the idea. Well, I discovered the idea just after Christmas in 2013. I was looking through Pinterest and I found a teacher blog about a teacher who took some stickers of various iPad apps and put them on dice and then had teachers roll them to come up with some lessons. However, they didn’t use them for App Smashing or random selecting of Apps either. No, they originally rolled them when they were making a lesson with Apps they knew and then had to make their lesson with that exact App. So, if the teacher was going to do an lesson on geography and they rolled Pic Collage. They would have to do a lesson with students that used Pic Collage with just that App. There was no real app smashing, and it was always with the basic school Apps that were on their classroom iPads that were a shared cart. I loved the idea of Apps on dice, but it was way too limiting.
Hence, I worked during the rest of winter break up until late winter coming up with making App Dice. I found various free dice templates and was able to use the App Logos from free image resources to create my App Dice. I then made several 10 sided dice and then started rolling them. However, I didn’t pick a lesson idea first, I just rolled them and went to see what I could come up with the Apps that came up on top. It was such an amazing moment, I had Apps come up that I had used but I had to find a way to use together. Teachers can talk about using Explain Everything to make a screen cast but what happens when you get FrontBack or Google Docs with a roll to use together? That was the beauty of App Dice, it made you step outside your comfort zone and look for ways to incorporate the various Apps together. I started using them in classes with my fellow teachers and students and before long. Students were using them more than the teachers or asking if they could use them for all lessons.
It eventually lead to me to using my App Dice to create, Appificattion that was Apps and Gamification together. This lead to a lot of students moving up in classroom achievement and I ended up creating a end of the year Appification Olympics for the classrooms where the students had to play games and create lessons that the teachers would use the following year for projects and lessons leading to a very gamified student lead classroom. App Dice ended up becoming my staple for a while as I was constantly coming up with new designs, ways to use them or putting around multiple platforms to use together including the hashtag #AppDice and used by educators such as: Craig Badura, Michael Matera, Tony Vincent, Adam Bellow, Carrie Baughcum, Clay Reisler and more. I don’t think there wasn’t a weekend when I was printing out new App Dice and having my son and I tape them together and rolling them for new ideas or even creating digital versions using QR Codes and Random HTML. Then something happened, I lost my job.
I lost my job last fall and when that happened, I stopped making my App Dice for a bit while I was busy finding my current job. I remember getting a few tweets and emails asking why I hadn’t shared any recent designs lately or even do my featured App Dice templates from other teachers and I told them that I was busy trying to get settled and slowly, but surely I started making some new templates and then something happened, one of my teachers wanted to start using Seesaw and she wanted to know what other Apps she could use Seesaw with and so of course, my App Dice were reborn. I started adding tools from within Seesaw and with Apps that worked well with it and before I knew it, I was making designs for Edmodo, Adobe Spark, Google Classroom and more. Then in early May, Seesaw saw some of my App Dice and wanted to know if they could use them for ISTE for their booth and of course I said “yes” and now they are being shared once again on a daily basis including teachers trying to make up their own and are even on the Seesaw help page.
During the first six months I shared my designs for App Dice in 2014, I was eventually told to stop sharing them by some educators and stop being a one trick pony. I did take their advice and cut back and started exploring other types of gamification and works to integrate into lessons and project ideas, but I kept making App Dice at least once or twice a week since I loved doing them. After my job lost last September, I thought maybe they were just going to be an occasional design I did once in a while since I had a new school to get accustom too. However, since Seesaw, I have seen my love of my creation come back in a new light and for a new set of teachers to enjoy and have their students learn. I lead a recent PD using App Dice and my teachers couldn’t get enough and my current admin team love them to death, so I think they will be staying around for a while.
In many ways I never lost sight of my creation and the last year has shown me that sometimes you need to enter a new environment to reignite your passion for something and seeing where App Dice started and how far they have come and are loved by so many educators and students world wide makes me so happy I don’t have the words for it. I never made App Dice to get noticed or anything, I did it for my students and for my teachers and peers. Seeing a new generation of teachers discover and use them has been so amazing and I hope to continue to amazing students and teachers for more years to come. I want to thank Seesaw, Craig Badura, Michael Matera, Tony Vincent, Adam Bellow, Carrie Baughcum, Clay Reisler and Dave Burgess for their continuing support these last few years and I want to thank for wonderful wife, Melissa for encouragement and the many cut outs and tapes with our son, Tyler. He continues to make creating App Dice an adventure.