Sunday, April 29, 2012

iPads in Special Education

For all the Special Schools out there using iPads Ive been looking around for suitable Apps, and its good to see that there are an increasing number of sites beginning to emerge listing Apps for this purpose.

Take a look at the following and let me know which Apps you like and trust - any suggestions for new sites and Apps appreciated :-)

Gayle Berthiaume's website 'iPad in the Primary School - from the drop-down Apps menu select Special Education.

iPad User - which has a section on Special Needs with links to some interesting articles and at the bottom of the page a link to a useful App list.

'Special Education' Apps are also available as a category from the iTunes App Store, but the selection is surprisingly limited. 

Switch4 App FREE - enables you to control, programme and switch a range of Mike Ayres design multi-sensory equipment. Connects by wifi to bubble tubes, fibre optics, LED lighting systems and more .... read Sean O Sullivan's (Headteacher - Frank Wise School, Banbury) blog for more information.

For more information contact me:

More short films to support writing

Short films and animations are great to use in class to support various types of writing, including fictional storytelling, non-fiction, biography, poetry and instruction writing.
There are loads of great short films and animations available on YouTube, its just a case of looking and that takes time.
Check out Teacher Rob Smith's () great blog which focuses on the use of film and some great teaching
 ideas to support the teacher in developing literacy writing activities.  All of the films can be accessed directly from his blog too, saving you time looking; so giving you more time to plan and deliver!

Some of my favourites over the years include the following:

Epic Citadel by Epic - not exactly a book, but infact a demonstration of the 'Unreal Engine'- ideal as a storytelling tool for use within school and available as a free app.
Read how Porchester Primary School in Nottingham have used it for literacy development.

The Silent Book by Maia Walczak
The Piano by Aidan Gibbons - famously used by Year 5 teachers in the literacy strategy
The Plot Device by Seth Worley

Alma by Rodrigo Blaas
War Horse The Trailer
Monsterbox by Bellecour 3D

If using an iPad you can download videos from YouTube, some of the older videos such as The Piano may be incompatible, but you can still view online in YouTube via your iPad (if not blocked in school) or via Posterous (need an account, but free to use).
Unsure how to download YouTube videos?
Click here to find out how.

If you have any ideas for how short films might be used for teaching purposes and how they can support the curriculum let me know and I will add it to the suggestions.

For more information contact me:

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Free Children's Book Apps

Looking for a great range of children's books for the iPad, then look no further.  This site offers daily book App deals, many of which are free. And some available for Android, Nook and Kindle too ....

For more information contact me:

Literacy - Developing children's writing on iPad

Plot Device by Red Giant  

If you really want to inspire young writers to write fiction then what better way than to use short films or animations (see below for more ideas for use on iPads).
Check out Seth Worley's film Plot Device, available on Vimeo and YouTube. This short film (9 mins.) is action-packed and full of drama unfolding in just one location - many strange and entertaining things happen.  Its gripping to watch, no time to be bored and yet the plot is so simple....

"A young filmmaker obtains a mysterious device that unleashes the full force of cinema on his front lawn......."

I also really like it because there are many different genres and opportunities to explore within this film, with familiar scenes you are bound to recognise, some of them taken straight from Blockbuster movies ranging from:
Romance & still more romance - including unattainable and attainable, to fast Action (without actual violence). Then theres the Gangster scene complete with appropriate dialect, moving into the Zombie, 'Shaun of the Dead' scene and finishing with classic Sci-Fi, complete with UFO and meteorite showers.

In class you may choose to watch the entire 9 minutes, or just some of it to give your students ideas of how to progress their storyboard and writing activity. 
To begin with try switching off the video and just listen to the soundtrack of the film, can they identify the genre or mood of the different plots? How would they describe the background music and sound effects at specific times, how does it make them feel? Does it contribute to the success of the story? Ask them to do some note-taking and then for your first activity you could try and compose a track for different moods/ genres in the Garageband App.

I would definitely use the start of the film as a 'story starter' activity - ask your class to predict what they think might happen when the young lad hits the button on the device and come up with your own ideas/ plots for developing the story.  Then maybe get different groups to focus on just one idea.

You could also use the Pie Corbett Story Mountain process to assist students in writing their plot:
Opening, Build-up, Problem, Resolution, Ending
The setting is easy, everything happens at home and directly outside on the street in front of your home (this could quite easily become the school or classroom). Think about the characters for a plot, the dynamics between yourself and the characters and the resolution and ending.

To throw a different slant on things and also ensure that new ideas are introduced, how about making it a 'Plot Device' with time travel potential, rather like a Stargate portal or a Tardis, transporting you through time to a different period, such as the Viking, Roman, Medieval, Tudor, 1666, Victorian ages or WW2.

Although Ive been unable to download this video directly to my iPad (incompatible format), I can view it via YouTube and share over Airplay (need AppleTV). The iCabMobile App also directly provides the share via Airplay option within a menu.

If using iPads this would be a great activity to develop using the following Apps:
Aim: To create a short fictional story based around the 'Plot Device'.
Storyboard - Popplet or similar (free App) for ideas generation
Safari and Camera tool - copy online character images or take real photographs
PuppetPals (free App) - Create your story using the characters, objects you've collected.
Morfo (free App) - Up to 30 secs of recording time, make your fictional character come to life.
GreenScreen (free App) - video yourself at different stages in the story with a green screen background.
Gargageband (£2.99) - use the loops and sound effects to create your own appropriate background track for your project.
iMovie (£6.99) - Pull the project together and export for use on a blog or website.
Pages or Keynote (£6.99) - For further project planning and outline.

Click here to find out more about using short films for use in Literacy

For more information contact me:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Show Me App

Ive said it many times before and I'll say it again, its the tool based Apps that make the learning exciting and fun.
The ShowMe App is simple to use, uncomplicated (and they intend to keep it that way) and FREE.
As teachers we have all probably flogged PPT presentations, and to be honest the students do like it.  But ShowMe is different; for example, there is no way any pupil can achieve a quality presentation without putting the hard work in first - unlike PPT you can't just copy a bunch of text from the internet and paste it onto a slide.  All text is written with your finger, there is no option to use a mouse or keyboard and so it remains a simple presentation tool.
Pictures are either hand drawn or imported from your camera roll on the iPad, and timing is everything......

For best results:

  • Do your research
  • Write a script
  • Decide on a collection of images or drawings
  • Order your ideas
  • How many slides will you have?
  • Create a ShowMe and share with the rest of the world - or copy the embed code to add to your blog, website or learning platform.
This is an example presentation I created using ShowMe.

My one frustration with the App is that there is no undo button on the recording, so if you get it wrong you have to start all over again from the beginning.  Ive fed this back to the developers and they were aware of the issue, so I guess I'm not the only one to have mentioned this.
There are lots of great educational examples on ShowMe ready for you to use with your class for learning or to kick-start you making your own.

Once you get past your initial embarrassment of hearing your own voice it really is fun.  Personally, I think all teachers should experience what they are asking their students to do at least once, to see exactly how they feel!

For more information contact me:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Speakers for iPad

If you're looking for a decent quality speaker to use with your iPhone, iTouch or iPad then the
X-Mini II

X-Mi X Mini II 2nd Generation Capsule is perfect for personal and professional use. Every teacher should have one for demonstration purposes in the classroom - the sound quality is excellent - highly ergonomic, very portable, collapsing into a small ball which can be carried in your pocket!

Available in various colours but the black one is the cheapest for some reason.
At just £14.99 with free p&p available from Amazon and
Features include:
  • Compact size, various colours
  • High quality sound, with clear bass resonance
  • 11 hours of continuous playback from one charge
  • Included USB charging cable, felt bag
  • Integrated 3.5mm audio lead

For more information contact me:

Monday, April 23, 2012

New Beebot Pyramid App released

Beebot Pyramid
Im pleased to be able to announce that TTS (@TTS_group) have now released their new Beebot Pyramid App - available from the App store.  At just 0.69p this brings you some fab problem solving opportunities.  
Whilst the original free Beebot App is suitable for Early Years and Key Stage 1 children, the Pyramid App will challenge many of your more able pupils at Key Stage 2.

Use a set of commands to control Bee-Bot through 12 levels of an ancient Egyptian pyramid.  You will need to collect keys to unlock doors, collect treasure along the way and avoid the terrifying Mummies which are intent on blocking your progress - not to mention beating the clock too!
This App encourages directional language, sequencing and problem solving and is ideal for supporting aspects of  Maths and continued learning at home. 
Have fun!
For more information contact me:

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Morfo App

Morfo App
I used the Morfo App recently at an iPad workshop in Rotherham. If you know of and like 'Crazy Talk' on a PC then you won't need convincing about the opportunities for learning this App presents. Morfo is free, fun and easy to use. On your iPad simply save a portrait from Safari into your camera roll, it works best with forward facing portraits. Then follow simple online instructions to apply animation to the eyes, nose, mouth and face.
Finally record up to 30 seconds of audio and the face automatically lip-syncs to the audio you record. There are lots of extras too, such as make-up, mood, voice and 'rocking' options which really help you to add contextual value to your character.

I think this App has lots of potential and also fits neatly into the games-based learning arena too. Students can take part in researching a topic and learn at the same time by having fun. Use it to bring various projects alive in history (Boudicca, Henry VIII, Churchill), or animate a famous inventor or scientist (Darwin, Alexander Fleming). Use in RE to create a short story.

How about bringing your favourite Superhero to life? (Spiderman), or a famous author (Roald Dahl) or book character (Horrid Henry).
The ideas are limitless, and if you combine Morfo with iMovie, Keynote, Creative Book Builder or Puppet Pals you can really create something great!
Whatever you decide to do with Morfo, have fun! Get in touch and let me know how you've used it with your class....

For more information contact me:

2Simple - NEW EYFS app

2Simple have launched a NEW record keeping and assessment App for Early Years - a simple and powerful way to log children’s achievements against the EYFS profile in 4 simple steps.
Do you have access to an iPod, iPad, iPhone or Android device? If you email 2Simple with your school name and postcode, they will send you information on how to access a 30 day FREE trial of their new record keeping and assessment tool.

To download and start recording your children’s learning journey type EYFS in the ‘app store’ or ‘market store’.
For more information contact me:

100+ Interesting ways to use an iPad

100+ Interesting ways to use an iPad - this is a really useful collaborative Google presentation started and owned by @TomBarrett but with contributors from around the world.
How are you using iPads in your classroom?
Why not add your idea too! click the link above to get started.....

Sunday, April 15, 2012

iPads - The Basics

Many schools are just at that very exciting stage of introducing iPads for learning into their classrooms and for some teachers this poses an endless amount of questions such as, "Where do I start?", "Which Apps should I download?", "How do I get online?", "How do I find the degree symbol for temperature?", "Is there an App for that?", "How do I copy and save an image from Safari?" and so on.....

This blog entry aims to answer most of those familiar questions and point any beginners to additional 'how to' resources that may help you to find out more when you are ready.  Remember it is still relatively early days for introducing mobile technologies into the classroom to support learning, evidence suggests that this process is transforming the way students learn and even the currently available Apps are changing on a daily basis because many of them were not originally intended for education. It is your use and application within the curriculum that is helping App developers to refine and develop their ideas even further.  You might even recognise a gap in the App market and decide to have a go at creating your own.  Whatever your mission, embrace the journey and enjoy the experience!

Is there an App for that?
The next question tends to be "Which Apps should I download?"
My response to this is, there are so many so take it easy and dont go too mad.  Although many are free, remember if they do cost even a small amount, it soon adds up and before you know it you've overspent on the allocated budget.... my advice is "less is more."
Take it slowly and focus on an area of learning and think carefully about your workflow, what are your desired outcomes? Now search for an App to address that objective or requirement and gradually build your App store day by day or week by week.
There are literally thousands of Apps out there and it's ever increasing by the day. If youve not yet come across this Bloom's Taxonomy written by Diane Darrow I would recommend it as a great place to start.  It helps the practitioner to realise that there are more than just content-based Apps available. Infact, I find it's the tools-based Apps that bring real excitement to the learning possibilities.....

Check out other useful Apps and lesson ideas from the Links pop up menu on the right of the screen (Hover your mouse over the right side of the screen to reveal a black bar with more links).

Where do I start? Getting to know the basics ...
  • Shut down and Restart
    There are two key buttons on the iPad, the Home button and the Power button.  If you need to do a hard Restart on the iPad then press and hold the Power button for a few seconds until the 'swipe to power off' screen appears and swipe to power off. Then press and 
    hold the Power button to Restart.  Restarting gives you the 'Apple' logo screen, this may take a short while so dont worry, all is as it should be!
  • To Restart the iPad press both the Home button and the Power button at the same time until the iPad restarts and the Apple logo appears.
  • Toggle between and close Apps This is an amazing feature, deliberately designed to allow the user to access key Apps faster and so improve efficiency.  However, many users believe that you should close down any open and not required Apps displayed in the timeline because they are still running in the background and in turn this can slow down the functionality of the iPad.  This is not always the case and this feature was no accident.  Because you can only have up to five Apps visible at the bottom of the iPad screen, I like to use the 'Toggle' feature to access my frequently used Apps, it saves me a lot of time when working. 
  • Have a go yourself - double tap the Home button and scroll across the 'Open Apps' menu at the bottom to find your App.  To remove an App from this area, simply press and hold on an App to start the 'Wobble' and click the 'red minus' symbol, the App will now close. Then press the Home button to stop the 'Wobble' and close the 'Open Apps' menu.
  • Create folders and organise desktop
    After youve been using your iPad for a while you may find that you have downloaded so many Apps its now occupying three or more screens. This can make finding the App you want less efficient.  However, you can categorise similar Apps and create and rename folders to store them.  For example I have a 'children's books' folder, a 'book creator' folder, a 'teacher tools' folder, a science, maths, English folder and so on.
  • Search for an App
    Swipe the screen left to right (iOS6) until you can swipe no more and a Search feature is revealed.  Start to type the name of the App you want to use and it will appear in a list. Tap it to launch and use the App.
  • Screen Capture
    You can take a picture of anything on the iPad screen, handy for when you're searching the web or Google maps. Load the image that you want to save and then press the Home and the Power button for a second, you will hear a camera noise as the image is taken. Next open the photos App and find your image on the camera roll. From here you can choose to email, copy, print or delete it.
  • Volume Control and Screen Rotation locking 
    The side switch can be found on the top right hand side of the iPad. Press the top of the switch to increase volume and the bottom to reduce volume. Slide the small button above the volume switch across to mute (nb. not all sounds will be muted!) Or find how to use this side switch to enable screen rotation lock here.
  • More keyboard symbols 
    If you teach languages, science or maths it is likely you will need additional special characters or symbols.  It's really easy to find the correct one, simply press and hold the relevant letter on the keyboard and a pop up menu appears with a range of special symbols/ characters to choose from. For example, to use the degree symbol press and hold the number 0 on the keyboard, or to use the Cidilla in French press and hold the letter C. Tap the symbol you want to use to enter it on screen.
  • If you need to write in CAPS then double tap the shift key to switch on Caps Lock.
  • Battery Saver Tips 
    There are a few things you can do to get the most from your battery life:
    - Try reducing the screen brightness
    - When youve finished using your iPad press the power button to make it sleep or use a Smart iPad cover to achieve the same
    - Try closing some of the Apps you have open and running in the background
    - Run the battery down to below 20% then fully recharge to maintain good battery health.
  • Airplay 
    Read a previous post on iPad projection using Apple TV and Airplay here.
For more information contact me:

Sunday, April 01, 2012

iPad Projection & Sharing Options

So you're lucky enough to have just introduced iPads into your class and now you're wondering what the best options are for linking to a projector to share what's on your iPad screen with the rest of the class, perfect for demonstration, just like you've been using your IWB for the last few years. As with most things there is always more than one way to do it, not to mention that this is changing on a daily basis as new Apps and devices are being launched and updated.
Enabling students to share their work to a main screen, or even collaborating on a project with an iPad that is passed from student to student is really slick.

The ability to mirror whatever is on the iPad is so powerful. You now have a true mobile document camera and recording device for example. With the additional capacity of Apple TV you have effectively turned computers into media centres and with the right vision you now have the ability to pull and push content around your school building.

The possibilities are endless, for example if you're exploring minibeasts in science, you could browse Safari for relevant facts and use an app like Popplet to collect and share them, then discuss. In a Design Tech. class, instead of just talking about it, try sharing an initial design concept via the iPad projection and encourage all to collaboratively annotate and improve it using an App like Skitch or GroupZap - watch their ideas grow in real-time.  Or when researching the Tudors in history, collect different facts in small groups about Henry VIII and his wives, use something like 'Primary Wall', then discuss. With an iPad this process is totally collaborative and transformative, and more importantly its cheap and so easy to do I can guarantee that you won't even need technical support to make it happen.

Im sure at least one of the following options is possible in your classroom and all at a fraction of the cost of an IWB.....

Apple TV
Apple TV HDMI to HDMI 
Apple TV is a little black box of magic and costs just £99. Purchase an HDMI to HDMI cable at the same time - anything up to £25 but you can also buy one for under £10 at your local supermarket, however the more expensive cables are better quality. 
Now simply connect your Apple TV to an HDMI projector or an HDTV to share digital video and audio over this single cable for stunning picture and sound. The final stage is to double tap the home-button on the iPad or iPhone and swipe right. The menu at the bottom of the screen will reveal  the AirPlay option. Click this, select Apple TV from the menu and turn mirroring on.
Ive connected my iPad to my Sony HDMI ready TV at home and it allows the entire family to join in with iPad activities.
Choose to read books together, browse Safari for facts, share maps, information and ideas, take part in App quizzes. One of my favourite family activities is using 'Doodle Buddy' to create our own version of 'Pictionary' or 'Charades' - draw an idea and the others have to guess what it is - hours of entertainment for everybody!

Apple TV HDMI to VGA Projector 
VGA Adapter
If your projector is relatively old and isn't HDMI ready then you can still connect the Apple TV using an HDMI to VGA Converter - then simply connect to the VGA projector and speakers and on the iPad select Airplay and turn mirroring on as above. This works very well for many teachers in the classroom.  The quality may not be quite as good as a straight VGA dongle, but the wireless aspect more than makes up for it because it gives the teacher the freedom to walk around the classroom and talk to students on a one-to-one basis.

iPad to Projector with a VGA Adapter 
VGA Adapter
Buy a VGA adapter for a really simple and cheap way to connect to your projector. At just £25 the Apple VGA Adapter mirrors exactly what you see on your screen so that everyone in the classroom can enjoy it.

Reflector App
The other option is to use the Reflector App.  For this you will need a macbook. Download Reflection on your macbook and launch, then on your iPad swipe right to reveal Airplay (as described above) and turn mirroring on from the menu. Your iPad screen will now be shared via a projector courtesy of your mac!  (see previous post for more detail)

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