Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday, July 25, 2014

Teaching with Maths Apps

There are loads of Maths apps available, mostly as games for independent maintenance. But there are also a few that can be used in teaching sessions.
One example is 'Thinking Blocks'. There are several apps in the series and they are all free.

All of the Apps present problems to be solved and the solving of them is done in several parts. Mirror the app to a TV  or a projector  and use it in a group lesson. When I demo this I like students to have their maths books or a small whiteboard, plus a device i.e. an iPad where they can use other apps to solve/record the problems and their learning.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Calendar Art and Photo Montages

Jane has some fantastic art created by students in her class. I have just discovered a great Photo Montage app called Juxtaposer, so I suggested to her that we could superimpose the children onto the art work. She has decided this would be a great way to do their 'Calendar Art' this year. Calendar Art is a fundraising activity that schools do where they take the children's art and make it into individual calendars that family and friends can buy.
The examples below show how it can be done. Jane is going to get her children to dress up as Medieval Characters, take their photos and then superimpose onto photos of their artwork.

Friday, June 20, 2014

"Miss! I've turned my brain on..."

"Miss! I've turned my brain on..."
This is what one young man said to his teacher and me after I had taught him and another student using my favourite 'Free' maths apps.

While I was talking with the teacher  I noticed that he was having difficulty with his maths. I called him over and started him on Educreations. He needed help with some of his 5 timestables so with the help of the Number Rack app (or he could have used the Number Frames or Number Line) he wrote the problem on Educreations and solved it using Number Rack.
He knew what 5x5 was but not 5x3 so he used Number Rack to solve it.

He tried several other problems  and using Number Rack in his own way he was able to solve them.

A little later I demonstrated to the teacher how she could use her projector with the iPads for teaching. I have Airserver on my laptop which enables me to mirror iPads to my laptop which is connected to the projector.

 Both students airplayed from their iPads to my laptop and we were able to see both students solving the problem at the same time.
 After showing students how to move the pieces across and how to write, they started solving the problem themselves.
I did not have to tell them how the rods and ones would stick together if you move them close to each other, they worked that out. It was interesting to see problem after problem how they started to reorganise the pieces into ways that worked for them.

Eventually I showed them how to select all the ones by drawing a circle around them (not with the pen tool, just trace around with your finger and a dotted circle will appear) and then tap on the join symbol at the bottom of the screen which takes 10 ones and joins them up into a 10 rod leaving behind any ones.

Once they discovered that they were away and solving the problems was performed very quickly and accurately.
Shortly after that the boy who had been having the problems in maths stated "Miss! I've turned my brain on!"

I went and worked in another classroom that was working on Problem Solving. The students were working on large pieces of paper. Some of the students were having trouble verbalising their thinking. 

At the same time I did the problem with a bit of App Smashing.
I took a photo of the problem that was up on the IWB.
I started to solve it and used Number Pieces to solve the first part. I then took a screen capture and inserted it into Educreations.
I used the text tool on Educreations to summarise my first lot of solutions. (I could have at this point recorded my voice explaining what I have found out so far).
I then used Number Frames to solve the next part of the problem. Again at this point I could have recorded my voice.
The only issue I have with Educreations is that you can't save without recording your voice, and you can't edit once it is saved. You can take a screen capture though (Home and Power Button pressed together). You could use Show Me but there is no text tool, but it will allow you to save without voice and to edit later.
I showed this to the teacher after the session and she is very motivated to try it with her students.

If you do want to edit and add voice later I would recommend the App Explain Everything

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Quick Publishing Idea

I was working with a Year 0/1 teacher who has iPads and uses them in her class for reading and maths but not for writing yet.
I suggested that she download Book Creator and use it as a quick publishing tool.

I asked her to get one child's writing book. I opened up Book Creator, tapped on the + button, selected camera and took a  photo of the child's drawing.

I then tapped on the + and selected text and typed in the student's story. We then called over the student and got her to read her story to us while I recorded it in Book Creator by tapping on + and selecting Add Sound.

This is something that can be done quite quickly when conferencing with the student.
Once you have recorded all the pages you want, this can then be shared and opened with iBooks.
  • this can then become an independent reading activity within iBooks
  • or a shared book mirrored to a tv, IWB or projector where you can annotate
    • full stops 
    • capital letters
    • features of text
  •  presented via projector to syndicate or school assembly
  • if students have a book each, it will show the progress of writing and drawings over a year, it can be a great assessment tool and can be shared as an ePub file to parents who can open and view if they have a smart phone/iPad/tablet or software on their computers that open ePub files
  • a next step is to video the child reading their story and adding the video to the page as well

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Don't forget about computers

An interesting phenomenon I am seeing in schools at the moment, is 5 year old children arriving not being able to use a computer. They don't know how to use a keyboard, a mouse, let alone a trackpad... but they know how to swipe! 5 year olds have been playing with smart phones, tablets and iPads for a few years now but they seem to have had very little experience with computers. I have heard New Entrant teachers saying, I don't want computers in my classroom, I only want iPads! My response to this is you must have a least one computer in the class (if not more). 5 year olds still need exposure to keyboards and they still need to develop mouse skills.

At the other end of the spectrum, I was talking to some secondary teachers the other day, who are also saying that they are starting to get students through who have very poor keyboard skills as they have been in BYOD classrooms and have used only iPads. All of the schools I work in have a balance of devices available. Even the 1-1 iPad classes will have available several laptops that students can choose to use for their learning.

So my recommendation is to still have computers in the classroom. Children need to have a choice of what device they want to use for their learning. Keyboarding practice is still needed. 
These are 3 of the online keyboard games I recommend.
Headsprout game, learn how to use a mouse and a keyboard.
See how high you can go. Make sure that you are using the correct fingers. This one also has the magic line which means letters for the left hand side of the keyboard appear on the left side of the magic line and on the right for letters for the right hand.
Start at level one and work your way up to Level four.
 For more activities that you could make into a learning centre, have a look at these downloads.

Monday, December 2, 2013

So can iPads make a difference with achievement?

Yes they can! I had a teacher who was very excited to talk to me the other day. She has 6 iPads in her junior classroom and I have been working individually with her and the teachers in her school this year. Over this time, the teachers have been taken through the basics of how to use an iPad, troubleshooting, apps to use in the classroom and then how to use iPads in teaching and learning. This teacher was a little skeptical about the iPads. She knew that they were a great way to engage children but was it making any difference to their learning and achievement? I encouraged her last term to use the iPads in her teaching sessions with the students rather than just only letting them use the iPads as a followup activity.
She had been using the traditional cardboard Tens Frame chart to teach students how to count on.
Most of her students got the strategies but there were a few who didn't including one special needs boy.
Previously I had shown her Matthew Thomas's app 'Tens Frame' and so she used it in her teaching session. The special needs boy picked up the strategy first time using the iPad and the rest of the group got it very quickly as well. She was astounded by this and has continued to use the app with all her students with fantastic results. When I asked her what she thought made the difference, she was not sure but she said that the monsters on the counters appealed to the children.

She also uses Matthew's 100s board extensively with the same success. Have a look at some of the other apps Matthew has on his website.

Another app that she uses a lot in her teaching is the Number Pieces Basics. Again she has found all students were able to be very successful in their learning when using this app in the teaching session.

Since then she is looking at apps in a new light and thinking about how she can use them as a teaching tool.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Boys, reading and iPads

I read this article 'Boys take to reading-when it's on an iPad' and I was inclined to agree with the author. In my own experiences teaching recently at Clevedon school in a Year 5/6 class, my previous teaching experiences with iPads, the demonstrations I have shown and the observations I have made in classes this is what I have seen. Boys like reading on iPads, of course you have to choose the books that are likely to interest them but there are some very useful features on the Kindle app that I particularly like and bring reading to life.

Using the example of 'Stormbreaker' $5.34 (US) a great book to entice boys to read (girls like it too). The main character 'Alex Rider' is a like a 'junior' James Bond. When students came across a word that they didn't understand I asked them to highlight it in a particular colour, the dictionary definition would come up as well. They then have to enter that meaning (in their own words) into their vocab log (a Google Spreadsheet). They would then use the word in a sentence. I limited this to 10 words a chapter. When the students met with me they would share which words they had difficulty with.

Another great feature of Kindle is the search for a word in the whole book. All the students would search for the word by tapping on the Search icon (magnifying glass), the incidence of the word might show up on more than one page so we would look at the different snippets to see if we could work it out. If not then they would tap on the snippet to go to the page and then read the paragraph before and the paragraph after and try to work out the word from that context. If they still couldn't work it out, then we would look at the dictionary meaning.

Some dictionary meanings would have more than one meaning so we would have to look at all the meanings and work out which one worked in the context of the story.

A very useful visual feature is found when you tap on a word in the text, the dictionary meaning appears down the bottom of the page but there is a link to Google and Wikipedia as well. Tap on Google and links will appear, in the example below we tapped on Waterloo (for Waterloo Station), there was no link for Waterloo Station so we added the word Station in the search we have images,  links and maps all about Waterloo Station. This is a great way of bringing a book to life where students can see where and what these things look like. Tapping on Wikipedia provides more information and images.

Using these features bring a book alive and help with understanding vocab. If you can't work out what a word means by the dictionary meaning then have a look at Google. If the text talks about an object or a place that you know nothing about then tap on Google or Wikipedia to find out more. An extra activity with the map above was for students to take a screen capture (press the 'Home and Power' buttons together once) and insert that into an app that allows you to draw over the top like
  • Showme
  • Educreations
  • Notability
and draw lines to the places the Character visited on this map. This would be a wonderful activity if the book was set in your own country or town.

Apples iBooks that comes with the iPad does a similar thing. You can highlight words, tap on a word to get a dictionary meaning, and tap on Search Web to go to Google. The difference between this app and Kindle is that iBooks 'Search the Web' feature takes you out of the iBook app where Kindle keeps the Google search within the app and you tap the blue Done button when you want to return back to the story.

So do try this with your students, especially using the integrated 'Google' and 'Wikipedia' to find images, maps and more information about the word. You will see their vocab knowledge grow and they will become more independent about finding meanings for themselves.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Writing and iPads

In Term Two 2013 I demonstrated teaching in an e-Learning class for 2 weeks in a Year 5/6 room at Clevedon School. This post is about how the students used iPads (and other tools) in Writing.
As I plan the work students will be doing, I am always thinking of

  • How could I introduce this to students in a visual way?
  • What choices of tools, ideas, activities could I make available for them?
  • Am I covering different student learning styles?
When I am in the classroom, I like to ask the students how they like to learn and what are their favourite activities. From that information I add other options to the choices they have.
I personally think that students should have options of how they want to do their work and some of those options are explained further down the post.

On the first day I worked with a couple of groups showing them how to download their Inspiration mindmap 'Narrative Writing Framework' ready for tomorrow and they then went on and taught others in the class.

I made the framework in Inspiration 9 on my computer and then exported it to Inspiration Maps on the iPad. (If you don't have Inspiration 9 on your computer you can still make your frameworks in Inspiration Maps) I provided a link to the download on the class wiki. I had showed the students how to make a website link on their iPads so that they could access the wiki quickly by loading the website in Safari, tapping on the Share button and tapping on Add to Home Screen. It will appear as an app on your iPad.

We talked about introductions and setting the scene for writing and I demonstrated using the Narrative framework and the Myths and Legends Narrative Walkthrough I had uploaded to Slideshare and embedded on the Wiki Writing Page.

 Students used the Inspiration Map as their drafting template and when they had finished they  shared and opened in Pages for crafting and editing.
Day Two
On the second day I managed to see all of the writing groups at different times to
show them their Proof Reading/Assessment which was created in Google Docs.
Before they are ready to conference with me they have to have looked at the 'Have I...' table and check off that they have attempted or achieved all of the goals.
Because this document was in a table, students had to go to Safari, Chrome or Puffin to edit Google Docs as a Desktop version. They could view the table in the Google Drive App.
On further reflection, I would not use tables in Docs until Google Docs have updated them to be used seamlessly on an iPad.

Day Three
Students are gradually understanding the Writing Charts of Drafting, Conferencing and Publishing. They know not to put themselves on Conferencing if they haven't checked off their 'Have I...' chart. And they are learning very quickly that if I see any missing punctuation they have to leave the Conferencing group immediately and work on it.
Below are some of the choices they can make for Drafting, Conferencing and Publishing.

This was the first time I worked with a conferencing group using the Apple TV and TV set. It was perfect for the job. Students were able to mirror their work to the TV, and the other children were able to peer edit it for them with a little input from me. I had their group learning intentions and success criteria on my iPad in front of me and was able to keep referring students to what they had to concentrate on.

Day Four
 One of the students finished her writing today so she was able to
publish it to our Myths and Legends blog.
In this photo she has her edited draft open on her iPad and she has transferred it over to the laptop to paste into Blogger and add some pictures.
Later I made the Blogger App available to students so that they could add to the blog from their iPads.

  The clipart she has used comes from the fantastic website which is full of wonderful resources
and free clipart for children. Eventually students will start creating their own clipart. They have learned how to create clipart using Keynote on the iPad and at the end of each day I give them quick 5 minutes lesson on how to draw cartoons. I use 'How to Draw Cartoons' by Brian Platt ($2.99
Kindle on
The apps the students used for practising their cartoon drawings were Paper 53 or
Crayola Paint & Create

This photo shows the students peer editing using the TV and AppleTV. They have mirrored their iPads to screen.
They also discovered to their amazement that they could mirror their mac laptops and iMac as well!

After talking about Vivid Verbs in writing, the children set to their work. A few students have started on their second story and lots are ready to conference and publish. Several have posted to the 'Myths and Legends blog' and some are working on Book Creator. Here is one example of a finished book.

Students are using the Writing task boards well. Some of the students are on their second round of writing stories. When it comes to publishing, they are loving the choices they have.
Several more children were publishing today. They really like using Book Creator. I reminded them that they could create their own graphics while they were waiting to conference with me which means they can use Sketchup, Minecraft, Pages shapes or any app they have on their iPads.

Students are now starting to get into the habit of checking their Writing Assessment Doc when they are proofreading their writing.

What I have particularly enjoyed in my time at Clevedon,  is having the opportunities to look at how children learn, identify what are some of the difficulties they have and thinking about the 'what' and 'how' I can assist them. An example is using the Telescopic Text last Friday which has helped the students to think about expanding their sentences using more adjectives and verbs. Some students are having difficulties sequencing their myths and legends so tomorrow I am going to get them to screen shot or copy the text from an original myth, insert into Notability and let them use the highlighting and pen tools to identify all the different parts of the structure of the story, then they will use the Narrative Framework to plan their writing.

It's not all about iPads!
This student is reading her next Myth and 'writing' down the facts/information on a piece of paper!

Day Seven
I tried out a couple of new ideas today with the students. I noticed that some of the students were having problems sequencing in order and identifying the main points in a story. I ran a workshop session where they copied the story Dionysus and Ariadne from the website and pasted into Notability.

I then showed the Narrative Framework on the Projector which has been made in Inspiration.
I asked the students to highlight 'Who' were the main characters in Green.

They then had to highlight the 'Where', 'When' and 'What' in different colours. After that we identified what the main problem/conflict was by highlighting in red. We then went on to highlight in blue the main points in the story and finally the conclusion in a different colour. At first students wanted to highlight whole paragraphs, but after discussion we were able to identify just the main points. They can use this information to fill in their Narrative Framework. From there they can add more detail and eventually share it to Pages for final editing. A target group of children will be expected to do this every time they start writing a narrative on a new myth or legend. 

 Most of the students like to publish their work in Book Creator, but from tomorrow I am going to introduce them to more ways. I am going to take one student's piece of writing and present it in several different ways. As they decide what they want to use, I will only show those students how to get started and they will become my teachers for the rest of the other children when they are ready to learn how to do it.
Below is a Slideshare I have created that shows different ways students can publish the same piece of writing using one of the student's own writing as an example.

Sometimes an iPad alone is not enough (4 devices, 2 students!)
The parents came in today and were able to see the children at work. They were able to see students
  • writing in Graphic Organisers
  • editing by developing their ideas in Pages
  • proofreading by checking their learning intentions and success criteria
  • publishing in a variety of ways
  • observing the teacher as she held conferencing sessions with the students as they talked about their writing

So over a two week period a variety of apps were used and the students became very proficient at using them to create their writing. Laptops were used quite extensively as well which indicates that iPads alone are not enough. In this post I have mainly concentrated on iPads but if I was full time in the class there would be a balance of non digital writing and creation as well because it is a choice that is available to students.

What didn't work so well?:

  • Tables in Google Docs. If you want students to edit easily then do not put tables into your docs

What worked really well?: 

  • students having access to their Writing Assessment so that they could check off that they were following their success criteria
  • mirroring iPads through Apple TV onto the TV screen and a group of students peer editing
  • showing a small group of students (in less than 5 minutes) how to do something with an app and then they teach the other students
  • having the links to the Graphic Organisers on the class wiki page
  • students having a quick access link to their Assessment and to the wiki on their home screens of their iPads
  • students having a choice about the tools (digital or non digital) they are going to use for their learning