apps2013

Over the year I have used a variety of apps in my teaching of primary school children. They might not be the newest, or the most fancy all singing ones. This list is my must have apps, the ones I wouldn’t be without. For me it is about how they work in the classroom, not just how good they look. So these are the ones that are tried and tested, and I would recommend to any teacher.

2DIY

Create your own interactive resources, activities, games, puzzles, quizzes. With this software teachers and primary school children can create cross-curricular, personalised resources and use them on whiteboards, websites and even on Learning Platforms. There are plenty of opportunities for meaningful learning as children plan, design, create, publish and play. Loads of fun, and easy to use with all ages. I highly recommend this one!

 

abcABCJoinedUp

abc Joined Up makes learning cursive writing an enjoyable and fun experience. It helps children write cursive letters and words correctly and provides positive and supportive feedback by celebrating success. Beginner Level teaches children to recognise letters by their sounds and to write individual cursive letters correctly on the screen with their fingers. Intermediate Level shows children how to recognise letters and blends by their sounds and to join letters together correctly on the screen with their fingers. Expert Level teaches children to sequence the sounds they can hear in a word and then join the letter together and write the word correctly on the screen using a finger or a stylus.

Epic Citadel

Enter Epic Citadel, the dynamic fantasy setting of the award-winning Infinity Blade. From the circus bazaar to the sweeping cathedral in the center of town, Epic Citadel dazzles with a visual parade of special effects, as only imagined by Epic Games and powered by the critically acclaimed Unreal Engine 3. Are you ready to explore the realm of the Epic Citadel and all the beautiful secrets it holds? Really great for creative writing and imaginative thinking. The amount of discussion and imaginative thinking from one app is amazing!

Twinkl Phonics Suite

Whether you are a teacher who wants to use this App to enhance children’s learning alongside your letters and sounds sessions, or a parent who wants to support your child’s learning of phonics at home, this App has something for everyone!
– The sounds and names of each letter of the alphabet
– Letter formation
– Blending sounds in CVC words
– The graphemes taught in phases 2-3 (including digraphs and trigraphs)
– Initial and final blends
– Alternative spellings for phonemes
– High frequency and tricky words for each phase.

Read my full review of the app here. 

Penulitumate

The most natural digital handwriting experience on iPad, Penultimate gives you the convenience and feel of writing on paper with the added power and availability of Evernote. Take notes in class or a meeting, journal your thoughts, or outline your next big idea — in the office, on the go, or at home on the sofa. This is the app I constantly use to scribble down the ramblings inside my head! Easy to jot down ideas, but the kids can also use it as well! I have used it with my digital leaders when doing brain storming sessions.

 

Daisy the Dino

Learn the basics of computer programming with Daisy the Dinosaur! This free, fun app has an easy drag and drop interface that kids of all ages can use to animate Daisy to dance across the screen. Kids will intuitively grasp the basics of objects, sequencing, loops and events by solving this app’s challenges. After playing Daisy, kids can choose to download a kit to program their own computer game.

 

Meteor Maths

Math meets an arcade game in Meteor Math, and you’ll want to play all day! “Crash” meteors together to solve addition, subtraction, multiplication and division equations. Improve your math skills as you progress through increasingly harder problems. Suitable for kids of all ages… and even adults who want a fun challenge! I often use this as a quick starter activity and works really well.

 

Barefoot Atlas 

Barefoot World Atlas is a magical interactive 3D globe that invites children to explore the regions and countries of the world, discovering hundreds of fascinating features and immersing themselves in the rich wonders of our planet. This is a multi-language, universal app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. The rich and beautifully detailed graphics take full advantage of the amazing new high-definition retina screen. 
Geographer and BBC TV presenter Nick Crane is your guide, as you fly at will around a beautiful 3D globe created by artist David Dean. Explore the world’s continents, great oceans and changing environments. Meet different people around the planet and find out about their way of life. Encounter amazing wildlife, discover landmarks, natural features and famous buildings. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! So immersive for the pupils and endless lessons from one little app!

 

So that’s my list, make of it what you will! Please leave some comments below of apps you have used with success in the classroom. 

The last few weeks of the half term are always a bit hectic in the build up to Christmas. Often pupils are busy preparing for their Christmas performances, or with year 6…SATs still! If you’re all APP’s out, or want to get a break from the making nativity props why not have a quick Xmas ICT session. Below are 5 quick lessons and activities that can be adapted to different year groups, and should bring some festive cheer into your ICT suite, even for the biggest techno-scrooge!

1. Make the kids do your Christmas Shopping!

Give your pupils a list of items you need to buy online and time limit to find them in. Pupils should use some web research skills to try and find the cheapest price. They can then choose how they want to present it, I tend to go for a bit of Excel so I can get another bit of database evidence for them! You could push you top pupils by giving them a list of people to buy for with a budget. Thinking about what they like and whether their choices are appropriate. Always a fun little lesson,, and you’re bound to hear a shout of ‘I found it cheaper!’ at some point!

Capture2. Build your very own tree (sort of)

Those who follow my blog will know I try to do as much as I can with Google Sketchup, I love it! So if I have even the smallest of opportunities I try to shoe horn it in! Last week with my year 4 pupils we had a go at building some Xmas trees, complete with a star on top and multi-coloured baubles. To challenge those with a higher level of ability why not try adding a helix (spiral) of tinsel around the outside. Very trick to do, but will keep the kids enthralled. If you have some pupils who find it to difficult get them to try drawing one in 2D on the program.

3. Save Christmas Game

If you don’t have 2DIY in your school stop what you are doing and go get it! One of the styles of game you can make is a ‘Collecting Game’. The idea behind the game is simple. You have a main character who moves around the board collecting points, but make sure you avoid the bad guys! Basically every game ever! With my year 2 class we had some fun making a game where a child was saving Christmas for Santa. The background was a wonderful snow scene, and the main character had to go around collecting all the presents Santa had lost….but watch out! There are some Grinch like characters roaming around doing their best to spoil the day! The conversation and sharing that come out of a lesson like this is fantastic. Pupils love having a go at each others games, and often engage in some great critical discussions without even knowing it!

4. Animations 

This half term I have been looking at a variety of animations with the pupils and it’s something they love. Why not spend the morning making a lovely Christmas video. Pupils could make their characters out of plasticine, or the cheats way are these awesome Christmas cones from the guys over at Twinkl. In a morning you should be able to throw something together, then on the last day of term why not have a Christmas Movie show with popcorn and everything!

5. Blogging fun

Blogging with the kids is something I have recently tried to do more and more, and I’m really trying to get the pupils to blog of their own accord. Over the holidays I like to set a blogging challenge for the pupils as an extra bit of homework. The school I work at is full of different cultures and our children spend their winter holidays in a wide variety of different ways. I try to get the pupils to share what they, and their families do for the holiday season. Those who excel at blogging have had a go at adding pictures and video clips to share with their friends. For those pupils who struggle it’s also a great space for them to just sit and have a go at some writing. They all know it comes to me before it gets published so let them have a go!

 

Hope you all enjoy your Christmas build up as well as your holidays! Hope some of these ideas have saved you a bit of time, and have some fun!

 xmas

twinkl phonics

This week I wanted to share with you a wonderful new app from the guys over at Twinkl. A must have for foundation stage teachers…


What is it? 

iPad Screenshot 1

Twinkl Phonics Suite is a one-stop-shop for all your British phonics needs. The phonics suite breaks down the learning into 5 phases, each with their own wide range of activities to engage younger learners. Made up of a wide variety of activities the app walks children through the world of letters and sounds. It makes learning fun and easy, and often pupils don’t really know it’s work.  It provides teachers with assessment tools built into the app to track the progress of letters and sounds for each child. These are really clear, and show the teacher w

here the strengths and weaknesses are for each child. Brilliant!

What’s great about it? 

iPad Screenshot 3

LOADS! The number of activities available means you can get hundreds of lessons from one app. The visuals and narration of the app are fantastic and clear throughout, and make the sessions visually stimulating. All of the activities run really smoothly, and have their own built in settings. This means each activity can be personalised to the child, or made harder as they progress. In phase 1 of the app pupils can expect to see challenges like matching sounds and letter recognition. as the pupil prgresses through the app to phase 5 the tasks become a little trickier with games that encourage cognitive reasoning sentence building. I really love the DfES guidance along with some video examples of sessions that could incorporate the app.

Why get it? 

iPad Screenshot 4I would recommend this as a MUST have for all NQT’s or new staff to the foundation stage. The assessment and recording tools mean that a teacher can work, track and progress pupils learning along side your letters and sounds lessons. At the moment these assessment tools only go up to phase 2, but tools for phase 3-5 are in the making. To further help with your tracking and progress you can easily email screenshots of children’s work from the ipad, all it needs is a teachers password, and the app will email work straight to your account. Great for printing in pupil profiles.

I would also see this as being a great app for EAL children of all ages. The quality of the activities mean they would be stimulating to all ages. Tasks like the ‘full circle’ in phase 4 are quite trick concepts to learn, and would be a great activity for older children. New to English children can all access the app in the same way, as well as tracking

Overall

I really rate this app highly and would recommend it to any primary school teachers. The depth of the app means you could spend hours playing and exploring, and still find something new to use with your pupils. Go and get it! 

gamification copyThis week at work I have been starting to plan and prepare a new unit of work on Gaming. Then on Saturday I watched a TV program about the history of gaming, and the leaps in technology we have had. It left me thinking of nothing but games, and how I could bring the world of gaming into my classroom.

I don’t just mean bring computer games into the classroom, the wonderful @TimRylands has been doing this with the likes of Myst. The definition of Gamification is the use of game design and mechanics to enhance non-game contexts. I want to bring this ethos and mindset of a computer game into the way I teach, and the way the pupils learn. As children growing up we learnt so much from the world of video games. We learnt timing, organisation skills, morality, and more importantly, right from wrong. The biggest thing I would like to see though is the sense of achievement in the pupils. As a gamer I like nothing more than getting some obscure, challenging achievement point in my latest Xbox exploits, and I want children to feel the same in my room. So I started thinking of how. How could I change my teaching style to accommodate this, and what resources will I need. After a bit of thinking and tinkering I have come up with 3 points below.

Achievement Points 

One of my 1st steps was to think about how I could use gaming to assess the pupils progress and track their work. Badges are popping up everywhere in games, with players collecting achievements as they progress through games. A great online resources for this is Class Badges. The site provides both you, and your pupils, an account you can create your own badges to pass out to pupils. Pupils can login to see how many they have, and what they need to do to get the next achievement badge. To make this resource as effective as possible I wanted to make sure the badges went beyond the small and trivial. I decided to go through level descriptors and fit them to the badges. This means that when the pupils receive one they get a fun badge to collect, but I get a quick and easy way of knowing where they are and how they are progressing through the levels. Something that I really concentrated on was the descriptions. I wanted my pupils to know what they needed to do to get to the next level, and understand what they needed to show me in order to get it. I am hoping this will really promote pupil engagement, and see a good increase in motivation.

Add a little competition

leaderboardI personally don’t feel we offer enough competition in schools any more. In my experience small tournaments or challenges work fantastically at incentivizing pupils and getting the most out of their work. Everyone wants to see their name at the top of a leaderboard! Challenge classes or pupils everyday when they are in your classroom. These can be simple little tasks like making sure they bring their homework, or seeing who can get onto the extension activity. I plan to award my classes Experience Points based on their behaviour and work level in my room. How well do they listen to instruction? How many skills can they show me in their work? All of these things could add up to points on a leaderboard. Which class will be top at the end of the term or year? To give the EXP points more gravitas I want to keep them up to date at all times, maybe a job for my digital leaders. I also want to publish them online, either as part of a gaming blog, or on school website. Has anyone tried working with something similar?

Think about the language

One of the smaller changes I want to make is the language I use in the classroom, and how I use it in things like displays. The world of gaming has it’s very own language and this is something I want to embrace and adopt in my ICT lessons. When trying a new program with a group I will have a class of Noobs. Instead of pupils I will have players. I want to have Zones in my room or on my network. Could I bring in Hardcore or Legend levels of work for my more able, or help out the lower ability with beginner or intermediate level work. Our pupils are already using this language on a daily basis, and have a full understanding of what it means and how to use it and apply it in their computer games, why not do it in the classroom?

What do you think about Gaming in the classroom? Have you used something similar or are you already running a gamified classroom? I would love to hear from you! I hope to report back in a few months with how it all went, and hopefully some more tips and tricks as I go!

 

game over

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