Bev's adventures in ICT

Posts tagged ‘ipad’

The Magic Touch

Using hand held technology in the classroom is coming more and more popular in classrooms around the UK (and elsewhere), and with good reason. Some schools are using a lot of Nintendo DS activities to develop mathematical skills and problem solving (among other things). Other practitioners are using the ipod touch to engage pupils and a number of school have been involved in projects showing the versatility of the ipad in the classroom.  Many pupils find it easy to engage in learning when it is via something they find familiar, tactile, appealing and interactive and the number of apps being developed for classroom use , or being used in a classroom setting even if that wasn’t the initial intention, is growing and growing.

I’ve come across few apps that are particularly useful if you are in a setting where pupils need assistance in understanding their emotions and how to read other people’s faces. Emotion x has a great selection of faces that such pupils can explore in detail; independently or with a supporting adult. The expressions are clearly defined and zooming in on details like the characteristics of the eyes or mouth is a helpful inclusion. Once pupils are becoming a little more aware of different emotions and expressions they could move onto an app like  Micro-Expression trainer, although it’s trickier than it looks!

Of course, I like to tell people that the ipad is totally inclusive and good for pupils of all ages and all abilities: something I believe to be true! There are a number of apps that, on the surface of it, seem to do very little and yet have great impact and potential in the correct setting. The video above shows a short demo of an app called Cutie Bounce which, along with another great but simple app called Granimator, has just enough interactivity for any pupils who is at the ’cause and effect’ stage of ICT. These pupils might usually access technology using switch enabled technology or a specialised set up like Intellikeys: both of which can be cumbersome and are quite obviously different from the average computer set up. Using the ipad not only allows such pupils greater choice – it also, in my opinion, levels the playing field just a little (in the same way any great touch screen technology does).

There are lots more apps I could talk about (maybe I’ll discuss some more on another occasion), including some great ones that can be used to compose music or find thematically based information but I’m going to finish off with some ideas that could be used to engage pupils in story writing and creation, some of which you might already have heard of. Puppet Pals is a particular favourite: pupils move record their own little movie created by using their own voice, a few characters, a background and their fingers. I can’t explain it any better than that really – I just love watching the pupils excitement when they realise what the app can do! You can use your own backgrounds and characters if you want to (and could, therefore, create movies on whatever your current topic happens to be) or use some of the characters included. You can, for very little money, purchase additional character sets to extend the use of the app even further. My friend @ebd35 blogs about it here and every teacher I’ve shown it to has been able to see the potential to develop its use in their classroom – in short, it’s a keeper! Other fantastic apps include Strip Designer: a great comic strip generator that uses your own illustrations and photos (similar to the fabulous Comic Life), Tootastic (which, along with Puppet Pals, has been spoken about here) and Rory’s Story cubes – fabulous for getting the creative juices flowing!

You might notice, while checking out these apps, that not all of them are free. There are a great number of free apps available and some of them are useful but you should never limit yourselves to what is freely available – you would miss out on some amazing things that could really change things within your setting. So, if you’ve got an ipad or ipod available and feel like using it creatively just give it a go. And if you find something REALLY cool and useful, please let me know!

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London Calling!

So the BETT Show has been and gone and it seemed like it was all over in a flash! There was much to take in and admire but there was also an opportunity to look around and think ‘How are schools going to afford all this amazing stuff (are you listening Microsoft 365)?’. That’s not to say everything I saw was amazing mind you: much of the hardware on offer looked very impressive, but is there really a place for 3d technology (plus other new, yet misplaced, innovations) in the classroom? I’d take some convincing on that one…

 

The awe inspiring Kevin McLaughlin works TMTakeover

Much of the BETT experience for me was about sharing ideas with other like minded educationalists and I feel this was, by far, the most successful element of BETT. Thanks to great people like Dave SmithIan Addison and Ian Usher (plus a whole host of others – apologies for not including you all) events like Collabor8 4 ChangeTeachMeet Takeover and TeachMeet BETT 2011 were unbelievably inspiring, welcoming, inclusive and well organised. They were also well attended and supported, suggesting that these are the sorts of ‘events’ the people that matter (i.e. those actively involved in education) want to be part of: I hope others are taking note.

 

Anthony from 2Simple showcases PurpleMash with a bit of help from the audience

I have to say I felt very honoured (and lucky) to be invited to speak at the 2Simple software stand and be part of their team at Collabor8 4 Change. I feel the (2)simple and intuitive nature of PurpleMash, in addition to their other software  packages, are really blazing a trail and showing people how to make good software that is both accessible and inclusive for ALL pupils, including those with Special Educational or Additional Learning Needs,  from Early Years to Ks2 and beyond. While on the stand over the three days I was there I got to watch all sorts of inspiring presentations from both members of the 2Simple team, and other great educators, which gave me loads more ideas of how to use their great products in the classroom. I also looked at their new development Mash 2 Web (thanks Philip – it looks AMAZING) and had a closer look at 2Start English, which looks like it could be useful to use with a large number of pupils from different settings: not just those pupils who might need a bit of support learning English but also in the average Foundation classroom. Well done guys – and thanks for making me feel so welcome. Your stand was buzzing with excitement and anticipation throughout the event – testament to the brilliant work you do! It was also great to see so many people from SEN settings coming and having a look as I think this is an area that is not always best served by what is marketed as ‘accessible’.

 

The truly amazing Anthony Browne on the Scholastic stand

A special shout out also has to go to the ever wonderful Chris Ratcliffe (honestly – he’s fantastic) and the team on the Scholastic stand. Like 2Simple, Scholastic understand what schools need and produce products which enhance the teaching and learning experience rather than items which make the whole process more complicated. They are also very supportive of the TeachMeet idea: I managed to complete a hat trick of TM Takeovers on their stand, one of which occurred just after I’d stepped off the train.  I hope my presentations were useful – I can’t really remember what happened! Lots of other TMtakeovers took place on their stand over the four days and it was a pleasure to present and watch everything going on there. High spot, for me and many others, was the launch for Scholastic’s fantastic new literacy resource: Read and Respond Engage (well worth checking out), where I managed to meet Children’s Laureate Anthony Browne (as seen in the pic above). They’ve also got some great new science resources at Scholastic: just check out their website!!!

The legendary Dughall participates in Kevin's TMTakeover slot

In case you are wondering if this blog post is ever going to reach a conclusion I’m going to finish with a few things I loved at BETT. Apologies to anyone I leave out – there were so many great things to see: real ‘diamonds among the rough’ if you’ll pardon the expression. Here’s my top ten (not including the ones I spoke about above)…

  1. Meeting back up with great people I chat to on Twitter: the best place to build an effective PLN in my opinion. Particular mention should go to my good friend @EBD35 (we were the only attendees to the exclusive Häagen Daz TeachEat!!!!), without whom…etc…etc… but I met many other wonderful people, many for the first time, who were happy to put up with my fairly effervescent personality, willing to share ideas and supportive at the different events I was involved in. You know who you are and you’re all marvellous!
  2. Watching the fabulous Tim Rylands , and his posse, talking about the amazing Epic Citadel project and how it inspired children’s writing. That was followed up by showing and sharing great ipad apps and talking about the impact they have in the classroom. You can read all about it here!
  3. I loved the format of the Collabor8 4 Change event: it was lovely to be chatting and sharing/presenting ideas in small groups and needs to take place more often.
  4. Being at Kevin McLaughlin’s TMTakeover (see earlier photo): great ideas and a huge crowd gathered as it was so engaging. Staff on nearby stands had to stand around and wait for punters to return as he drew them in from all areas. He also admitted that he occasionally picks up the guitar in class in a Jack Black stylee…
  5. Taking part in the TeachMeet: great again to meet people and all the presentations offered something to take away. Special mention should go to Bill Lord (‘don’t throw that camel – I’m not a well man’) and the LEGENDARY’ Dughall (that’s as in ‘The Magic Roundabout’ people – please remember) McCormick, talking about how a VLE engaged pupils during closures caused by snow while, simultaneously, wearing part of a Sonic the Hedgehog costume that prevented him from being able to actually see the screen. Pure class!!!
  6. Meeting up with Welsh Tweeps and talking about future TeachMeets in Wales (amongst other things). There’s one in Cardiff very soon! It was particularly nice to meet up with Karen and Ceri – two Welsh people who are trying to get others involved in creating PLN via Twitter. Diolch yn fawr!
  7. On Friday I mentioned TMTakeover to someone I was sitting next to at the Tim Rylands seminar. On Saturday I saw them in the audience during my TMTakeover. Result!! (and thanks).
  8. Rising Stars have a great new ICT product out called Switched on ICT. The launch on their stand was packed with fabulous people including Neil Adam and Miles Berry, both of whom made me feel at ease immediately. It was also great to see Andrea Carr again, she is always busy but makes time to talk to people: is a truly lovely person.
  9. I had a lovely welcome at the Mayer-Johnson stand where I was truly impressed by their developments in communication aids (custom skins for Dynavox – what a great idea) and Boardmaker which is now easier to use and has loads of great new features and teaching tools. Also thinking about supporting pupils with SEN: I loved the SMART table but it is a bit pricey for many schools at the moment I fear. I could also see how Anithings could enhance learning in an SEN (and Foundation) setting: thanks to John Sutton for sharing.
  10. Did I mention Anthony Browne…?