2012 has been an amazing year for my growth as a professional. The main catalyst of this growth was when I started engaging with like-minded educationalists around the world on Twitter in January of this year. In particular, I learnt about new methodologies like brain-based learning, flipping the classroom and a variety of technology-based teaching aids.
The area I explored most fervently was the bewildering array of educational software and apps for learning. In what follows, I would like to offer a round-up firstly of the apps I found particularly useful, as well as those which disappointed and annoyed me. I will finish by listing some of the most promising apps I would like to trial next year.
Photo credit: Sean MacEntee
1. Comic life - creating conversations as a comic.
I remember being taught French at high school, and the first thing everybody had to do was a simple conversation with a partner. This is my third year teaching Spanish to Year 6, and I have always started with that same topic. To freshen up this tried and tested formula, though, I have the children create comic strips of their conversation. Most children use pictures of themselves (using the iPad's camera) Whilst others will copy pictures from the internet, or even use images from their photo library of other family members, friends or even pets to create a 'Que tal' conversation.
The use of apps in the classroom is now commonplace. The challenge speech and language therapists face is knowing the best way to use apps in this environment. With the sheer magnitude of apps available, it can be difficult to sort through and find an app which targets specific communication goals. Many of the available educational apps can easily be incorporated into the therapy setting to collect data, record conversational samples, motivate students or be used as an augmentative assistive communication device.
Considerations as to whether the student can work using apps on their own, or need an assistant to monitor or provide prompts when using an app, need to be made. Some students will be able to work through an app if the app has a clear journey and the interface is intuitive. However, in most situations, the app would be better used with involvement from the speech therapist, who can not only monitor use, but also encourage and observe how the app is being used. Often, a student’s use of an app may provide interesting information about how they problem solve, their attention, and their memory of how to use the app.
The Government has said that calculators will be banned in maths tests for 11-year-olds from 2014. Here are five cool apps for Android and IOS that should help pupils to sharpen their mental arithmetic and learn how to do more maths in their minds.
A no-nonsense app with a plain but clean interface, Math Workout helps pupils practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, indices, decimals and more. Its “Brain Cruncher” mode is good for training the mind to hold numbers in memory, and the “Times Table Master” should be particularly useful to primary pupils who are laerning their tables. Players must complete quite a few rounds on the easier levels to unlock the harder ones: this should ensure that pupils master the basics before moving on to harder questions, though it may irritate more accomplished mental mathematicians.
When it comes to learning, feedback is critical. So when it comes to one's writing, the principle is no different.
I have been teaching English for only six years but have struggled with this feedback process time and time again. I realise it is the most important part, and yet to do it effectively, I must commit literally hours to making sure I do it right. It's the proverbial thorn in my side.
Then when we went 1:1 with iPads in December of 2011, we discovered Notabilty. I played around with it and at first was impressed. I thought it to be a very versatile note-taking app. Then I discovered that it also has the ability to record audio along with the notes. And that's when the lightbulb exploded.
One of the things that really excites me about the iPad is the ability of the students to show their learning. I am not talking about the end product here, I am talking about the act of learning that can be shown by students recording their processes. It is often about the student putting the information they have learnt into a context. It is this contextualisation that helps the students create meaning.
Here are 10 apps that give students the opportunity to showcase, share and then reflect on their learning. Enjoy, some of these double up as my favourite apps too.
It is very easy to find a list of recommended apps for general or subject specific use. However, one of the iPads greatest strengths is its ability to help personalise learning for all. The following ideas are only a snapshot of the potential of the iPad when addressing the needs of each student (soldier).
‘Quiet, obedient and consistent, the Soldier charges into every assignment and stops only once enough damage is done to get the desired grade. Soldiers don’t show off. Soldiers don’t ask questions. Soldiers don’t complain. Soldiers just get the job done.’
Trademark question: “What will we be graded on?”
iPad Tip: Create an audio-note using Soundcloud so they can review instructions. The educator can make suggestions for extension tasks. It also acts as an excellent prompt if the educator can see the soldier doesn’t want to collaborate.
This post examines a selection of apps, which can be used creatively in primary schools. These apps can be applied to any subject in the school curriculum, it just requires a bit of imagination and creativity. The apps are categoriesed as follows: drawing, editing photos, creating movies, photo stories, animation, graphic novels and ebooks, composing music, and other useful creative apps.
Many of the apps listed have the option to publish work to larger audiences online, thereby increasing the incentive for the children to produce quality pieces of work. Others can be used with other apps to improve children's work. Here's the list:
Photo credit: http://appsforipads.net
In December 2008, Hayward School - our school - was at the point of being closed down. Poor attendance and years of underachievement had cemented a culture of low expectations. Failure was often seen as inevitable. In each of the previous four years, the proportion of students getting five A*-C grades including maths and English at GCSE was below 30%.
Students lacked aspiration and staff lacked inspiration. Our use of technology was ineffective and expensive: there was no network connecting the school’s three main sites; printers and printing costs consumed a large portion of the budget; and students were equipped with pricey planners which they hardly used.
From a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) programme to a 1:1 iPad initiative, there are a number of options available to schools when embracing new technology in the classroom. Consequently, it is becoming common for school leaders to purchase one device to trial in the classroom before making any real financial commitment.
As the iPad is currently the ‘class leader’ in education, there are many educators who have found themselves with an iPad to ‘see what it can do?’ The challenge is to demonstrate enhanced learning, so here are ten suggestions that may help:
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnkarakatsanis