Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Quick review: 5 Apps

Pic Collage
Designed for creating montages and posters this can be used in a number of ways in the classroom. My class love using them as quick writes to demonstrate their learning after reading books, but we've used them to produce Wordwalls, drama explanations, funky text only posters while I loved the way some students made on-the-go posters while on field trips. Some cool features is the ability to search for images on the Internet, use photos on the tablets own library, use stickers (free & paid sets). Available for free on both Android & iPad.

Choose your characters, backgrounds, can throw in a few props. Record your audio, playback and share. What's not to love. Haven't used this a lot in my class but as a practice run used it with the junior school age nephews in the T2 holidays, together we had heaps of fun creating a zombie attack puppet show. A good tool for publishing all forms of writing but could also be used to break the monotony of teacher instructions.

An app where you can design your own character, background and then either your own recorded voice or typed text to produce a Gami. Kids love the easy manipulation to build their character but its the ability to make and share the audio aspect that is the real goldmine. Another tool that can be used for writing, reading as well as classroom management.

Explain Everything
A slide based tool for presenting information through your tablet. Allows for recording of audio while you create and you can also insert movies (yours or off the Internet). A little bit of effort is required to figure out all of the functions when first using but is worth persevering with as the finished outputs will show you.

Little Story Maker
I'm writing this without having used it in class myself, but had a play over the holidays based on many recommendations from other teachers. As the name suggests its for creating stories and allows you to illustrate, write, record audio and publish your own story. I am looking forward to using this in my class and believe many other teachers will be pleased with the results they get using this in their class.

*Its worth noting that if you are considering blogging in the classroom that neither Tellagami or Little Story Maker have an embed function as part of the app.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore

The final 2 weeks of term provided some great highlights. I had bought this book (pictured) at the end of last year and put it away for a rainy day but an idea shared through twitter got it off the shelf earlier - it has an App...

Last Friday, I read this to my class and was amazed with the level of engagement. We had predictions coming left, right & centre and they were commenting about all sorts of language & plot features. The book also contains some beautiful artwork, ranging from full colour to black & white and everything in between as the mood of the main character changes. The class had picked up on this and were getting very excited as they progressed through the book.

Once we'd finished they were uber-excited about doing some work to demonstrate their learning and this resulted in the creation of several posters including posters, a PicCollage, many pieces of writing. It was awesome to see the kids so engaged with a book but the best was yet to come...

On the last day of term I planned to show the class the Imag-N-O-tron App, we knew that it was an interactive version of the book but weren't prepared for the awesomeness that occurred. First, we visited the book's website where we saw a sample of the short movie the book inspired and then read the real book again using an iPad/projector combo to show the pages on the smart board. The App features Augmented Reality images that blew the classes mind, I'm not going to describe these images here except to say the class applauded the app at the end of the book! 

Next step is to find more books & apps of this quality for the class and I recommend that you get the app & book for yours

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Favourite web resources

I presented one of my favourite apps to the staff at Henderson North School last night, Pic Collage is a fabulous tool that can be used in many ways. The first thing I was asked afterwards was if it was available just on the internet. It's not but I thought I could share my favourite web resources.

Padlet (formally Wall Wisher)

A great resource for use in planning or creating information. I love the way that it has become a virtual noteboard for me which makes my planning easier. In the classroom we use it for all sorts of things.

Primarily used for the recording and sharing of music. However, we are using Soundcloud for all sorts of things including doing spelling tests, recording class discussions, speeches, songs. The class also uses this as a source for music when making movies.

Shock, horror! Like a lot of teachers I'm using this to find great videos for education purposes. As a video hosting site it serves a purpose, my class and I both have channels for videos we're creating. It's also a great tool for working out how to do things with your computer such as learning how to use other computer tools, if you have a question about how to do something someone has probably filmed it for YouTube. 

Google isn't just for web searching, maps and images. Google Drive provides a magnificent assortment of tools in the Google Drive. As a class it provides a great alternative for word processing because the kids can access their work at home once they login. But its the ability to collaborate in real time that is a great advantage, several kids working on one document/presentation/etc results in engaging writing lessons and cool projects.  My class love the Google Form option and even surveyed their parents about  our class at the latest Student-Led Conferences.

How do I know about all these resources, all the apps I use and lots of the ideas for my classroom? It's not about telling everyone you're having a coffee, its about sharing information and collecting information. My class uses it to talk with other classrooms around the country and are becoming more aware of the world around them because of Twitter. It also helps that it gives me a tool to then talk about digital safety or cybersafety (whatever handle you want to use).

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Chicken or the egg?

I have a little tech guru in my class, he's been leading the way with individual blogs and is always there to answer questions or provide assistance when teachers and students have questions. He has also been eager to help others with movie making.  Late last week he came to me with this lightbulb:

He is a reluctant writer and I recognised a great opportunity to improve his literacy skills.

The journey began with a tweet to get some recommended resources and we searched online to see what was available.

This recommendation was spot on, Peter has been captivated since, is even earlier to school and has been proud of his achievements. I'm finding mini-lessons to improve his writing through his HTML journey and am learning a lot myself. I'm starting to form ideas around some  ideas to leverage this and can't wait to share them.

Personalisation is so much easier with devices and the proliferation of interactive web resources, I love using these resources for engaging reluctant learners and facilitating learning. I believe its a way to engage but I know others think its the reward for hard work.

So chicken or the egg?