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

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Dropbox and Evernote...What is the difference?

I get asked these questions a lot
  1. What is the difference between Dropbox and Evernote?
  2. Do I need both or could I just use one?
  3. I hear they are good but I don't see how they could be useful to me. What can I do with them?

Dropbox (Free for iPad; Free for iPhone/iPod Touch)
2 Gig is free
Stores all types of files
Downloads an application to your computer that will appear as a main folder in your hardrive. You can save files from your computer directly to Dropbox.
Many apps will save to Dropbox. Use Dropbox to share photos from your computer to your iPad. If you have the latest version of Inspiration you can create maps and save to Dropbox which will allow you to open them in Inspiration Maps on the iPad.

Evernote (Free for iPad; Free for iPhone/iPod Touch)
Upload up to 60mb per month
Stores most files.
Downloads an application to your computer and to your devices. Save/Share/Send most files on your iPad. Download website links and pages.

What is the difference between Dropbox and Evernote?
They are both places that you can store files but each app does something special. Dropbox is like another 'Documents' folder that you can see on your hardrive but it is actually saved online. If you have all your files saved in Dropbox and you lose your computer tomorrow,  you wouldn't have a problem as you can get them back by logging on to 

Ways that I use Dropbox:
  • all my documents are stored there
  • when I want to add photos from my laptop to the iPad, I can add them to Dropbox
  • create Inspiration activities on my computer and then upload to Dropbox to access from iPad
  • download a file on somebody else's computer, log into 
Ways that I use Evernote:
Evernote is more visual, you can see what the content is of most files. You can add notes or voice comments. You can add tags to files so that they can grouped together.
  • download Webpages to look at later
  • download weblinks and make notes
  • take photos of examples of student work and make notes and/or voice comments
  • collect resources for topics
  • share folders with other people
I also see Evernote as a great tool for students to share their learning. They can share their examples of work and then make a voice comment about how they feel about their work. Teachers can write comments or make voice comments as well. Students can take photos of non digital work they have done and make comments as well.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

It's all about finding the right tool #1

I have had a lot of teachers asking me recently how can they use their iPads more creatively with the children. This will be the first of many posts, as teachers ask I will post the ideas I have had. My first question is what topic are you doing?

Aboriginal Art
What apps are on your iPad?

How can you use these apps?

Use Drawing Pad to create your own Aboriginal Art. Choose the black paper and the Felt tip to create patterns.

Share back to your photo album and insert into
Keynote, Comic Life, Pages or Book Creator - make a presentation of your own art, some examples of Aboriginal art you have found, information about the art,
Safari - Find images via Google, tap and hold on an image to either copy or save to Camera Roll. Don't forget to reference where the images came from.

Comic Life: choose the blank template then choose Collection under the Layout tab and tap on Maps layout, choose Australia and tap the photo icon in the centre of the map to insert your your own art work. Use Text boxes and picture boxes to cover up the parts of the map that shows other countries.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Create a multimedia book with Book Creator

Book Creator for iPad ($6.49 for iPad)
Insert photos, graphics, movies, record voice, music,  and text
Share as ePub file to iBooks, email, Dropbox
Share as a PDF to email and iTunes

Art Maker ($1.29 for iPad)
Create pictures with Play School characters and graphics

Felt Board ($4.19 for iPad)
Create pictures with 'felt' characters and graphics

Book Creator is my most favourite book creating app for all ages. It is simple enough for a young child to make a basic book and has many great advanced features for older students to make interactive books such as
  • hyperlink words and pictures to websites or other pages in the book
  • combine books together
  • add movies
  • resize and move pictures and text
  • wide variety of fonts and sizes and other formatting tools
  • record your voice or add music to your story
Apart from using it to upload photos and writing text to go with those photos, consider using other apps with Book Creator.
Felt Board is another favourite of mine which can be used by all ages. It is pricey at $4.19 but it does have a large amount of backgrounds and objects that could be used to create scenes or picture stories.

ArtMaker is another felt type app. It is based on Play School characters. It has limited backgrounds and objects but you can make animations with it.

Use these apps to create story scenes and then add to Book Creator and finish off with text and voice recordings.
The book can be shared to iBooks or you can share it to Dropbox as an ePub and install on other iPads or iPod Touches in iBooks.

Other apps that can be used with Book Creator are
Puppet Pals: Make animations and export as a movie to insert into Book Creator

Puppet Pals HD Free for iPad
Has in-app purchases for more characters and backgrounds
Puppet Pals HD Director's Pass $4.19 for iPad
Full version with all characters and backgrounds

Puppet Pals Pocket Free for iPhone/iPod Touch
Has in-app purchases for more characters and backgrounds
Puppet Pals Pocket Director's Pass $2.59 for iPhone/iPod Touch

 Feltz Lite: Free for iPhone/iPod Touch; Free for iPad
Create pictures with 'felt' images