Apps in Education Badge

I’ve had a look at multiple free apps that could be used in classrooms and I am going to briefly run through the uses of these apps here.

GarageBand

I love this app and I love the possibilities that it can give children to be creative. You can use it to easily create pieces of music by layering tracks. There are lots of options, you can use LiveLoops and be like a DJ, actually play a keyboard/guitar and layer these tracks, or use presets to layer chords. You can then export these pieces of music to iMovie to be used alongside videos. I think this could be used across the curriculum, linking music to other subjects, for example writing historical music, writing music to accompany written poetry, or looking at art and composing based on that.

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Maths, age 4-6

This imaginatively entitled app contains a wealth of simple and activities and games to stimulate interest in maths and develop maths knowledge. They start with some spoken knowledge and then instructions in the activity. For example the activity below started with a woman describing a heart shape as symetrical and explaining why that is. Then the user would have to click the shape that was symmetrical. This app would be good to set up on iPads during discovery time/free flow time in KS1.

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Pic Collage

This app is good for presenting ideas. It would be best used in KS2 to present work and arrange images and labels, however it could be used in a much simpler capacity with KS1. It would be a good way to present research for more fact based subjects or create a mood board for subjects like art and D&T. Below is an example of a usage for the app in maths, showing different forms of creating one number. Because the app is on the iPad images can be taken using the device and put straight into the app, making observations in science or evaluations of artwork/group work very easy.

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ScratchJr

This app is a simplified version of Scratch to be used for KS1. This app version is very simple, with less commands and al the commands being displayed in symbol form. The options are mainly in terms of animating the sprite to move around the screen, change size and speak. There are also elements of inserting timings, e.g. waiting for 2 seconds. This would be a good way to introduce visual computing before getting into the complex nature of Scratch, however I feel that there could be some more actions so that more could be done.

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Bee-Bot

This app is a great substitute for physical BeeBots, with the programming buttons in the corner. The bee doesn’t move as you press the buttons which is really good, as it works in the same way as the physical Bots. There are challenges to follow, for example getting the bee to the flower. This makes the process seem more like a game and less like a task.

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Socrative

Apologies that I don’t have images of this app, but it’s not a very exciting looking interface and I need a quiz code to get on there! The app is a quiz app, the teacher sets up a set of questions and the app generates a code. This code is given to students who log in, the questions are done one at a time on an IWb/screen, and the children answer. Class statistics are put up at the end of each question. I really like this app because it incentivises a form of assessment, almost making it a competition. The only downside is the lack of communication so it might be worth pairing children up ocassionally. This app can be used with any curriculum subject.

Thanks for reading,

Jack

Apps in Education Badge

This badge encourages us to look at educational apps that we may or may not use in our own teaching practice.

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Scratch Jr.

This app would be used in ICT when encouraging the children to look at coding. It would require the children to enter in different controls in a sequence so that their character does things. For example you could get the character to walk to another one and have a conversation with it.

  • One advantage of this is that as iPads are becoming a regular feature of a classroom, it doesn’t mean you need to book out the computer room.
  • Another positive is that the app is very easy to navigate yourself around and very child friendly.
  • A negative aspect of this app is that it does limit how far children could get with the app, for more advanced coding sequences you would need to get the appropriate software for the computers

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Duolingo.

This app would be appropriate for Key Stage 2 as it helps children to develop their language skills for other languages. It has gradual steps to build them up to saying a whole sentence. With prompts and different sections such as animal and clothing and food, the children could gain a lot of expertise and help with key words during and in between lessons.

  • A positive aspect of this app is as I’ve said before, the difficulty levels is gradual so it builds upon previous knowledge
  • Another positive aspect is that once you’ve finished a section on the app then you can have little tests and refresher input so you don’t forget it
  • A positive aspect can also be the fact that you can track your progress and your strong sections with the bar along the bottom of the app
  • A negative aspect of this app is that there is no way for their to be individual pages on the app so there is no way for a teacher to track individual progress

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First Step Country. 

This app will help develop children’s knowledge of the outside world including (as you can see in the picture to the right) different flags, currencies, where places are on the map and famous monuments around the world. This will be an invaluable app for teachers in the classroom because it will add extra information to what the children will be learning in the classroom.

  • A positive aspect of this app is that it is very easy to navigate yourself around
  • Another positive aspect is that the app is based around games within the 4 different sections, so there is no pressure on the child. It is a fun way to gain new information
  • A negative aspect is that there are no good alternatives for Key Stage 2 aged children as this amazing app is focussed on Key Stage 1

 

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First News Newspaper.

This is an award winning, weekly British newspaper written for children and young people aged between 7-14. The newspaper covers lots of topics such as; UK and international news, sport reports, stories about animals, facts and puzzles and games.

  • A positive side to the newspaper is that it gets children interested in the events that are going on around the world which is something that as teachers we need to encourage
  • Another positive aspect is the fact that it has won awards! Obviously people in education and parents recognise the greatness of the app which can’t be ignored
  • A negative aspect is that you get to a point where you need to pay to download the different issues, but you can subscribe and the cost for subscribing is cheaper than buying other magazines once a week that don’t have the same educational input

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Cooking fun for Kids. 

This app offers up healthy recipes that children can easily follow. As many schools are healthy schools and offer dinners to children, its surely a good thing for teachers to offer opportunities to learn key skills for cooking as well as learning about eating healthily.

  • A positive aspect to this app is that the recipes are very clear with lots of lovely pictures for the children to look at and understand what they are aiming for in their cooking
  • The app also includes videos for the children to watch so that they can learn key skills for cooking
  • A negative aspect of this app is that it is very limited on the audience that it is appropriate for

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BrainPOP Jr.

This app offers up a weekly movie for children to watch and then there is an opportunity to  look at related quizzes and activities. There are two main characters who go through everything with the children, Annie and Moby.

  • One positive view on this app is that the app is engaging and colourful which makes the children interested in the different things that the app offers
  • There are different levels of difficulty for the apps so the child has more control over what they are being tested on, as can be seen in the picture below

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  • A negative aspect of this app is that it is aimed at KS1 and there isn’t a KS2 alternative

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Drawing Lessons 

This app is simply an app that will help children develop their drawing skills. The lessons take form in careful, simple steps that will help the child to build up a beautiful and complex picture. There are lots of key and helpful features that the child will need such as undo/redo, edit, modify and erase.

  • A positive aspect of this app is that because the drawings are on the iPad they can not only be saved but you can directly print from the iPad so that the child has a copy of their work
  • Another positive point to the app is jay there are 216 lessons available for the children that focus on different things from transport and robots to animals and dinosaurs
  • A negative aspect of this is that it is very time consuming so wouldn’t be something that you would offer in an art lesson or a quick 10 minutes before lunch time

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Little Story Creator. 

As the title explains, this app allows children to put together an app. It uses pictures and videos and you can add text, borders, audio and drawings to develop and make a story.

  • This is a great app as it allows children to be creative in a different way than the opportunities in the classroom perhaps offer
  • Its also good because it mixes different subjects together such as English, Art and ICT
  • A negative aspect of this is that because of the nature of the app, the stories, if left to be completed at a different point, can be opened and then edited by anyone. But the beauty of this is also that it can be an excellent opportunity to make group work such as writing stories interesting and exciting

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Weird but True!

This is a fantastic science app that holds lots, in fact 625, facts that are presented in a fun, colourful and interactive way that will grab children’s attention! It is put together by the National Geographic Society which makes it a more reliable source that teachers can trust.

  • A good aspect of this app is that you can bookmark or save the weird and wonderful facts, so if as a teacher you came across an interesting and relevant fact for a lesson you can easily access it and put it up on the interactive whiteboard for all the children to see
  • Another good thing about this app is that you can select which topic you want to hear facts on such as animals, weather, space, science
  • A negative aspect of this is that the free aspect of the app doesn’t last for long and to access more facts you have to buy the bundles

The beauty of having these apps and others like it on an iPad in a classroom is that the children can not only learn from them at school but also download the apps if they have iPads at home so that the learning can continue outside of the classroom.

Thanks for reading!

Miriam

 

Facebook Badge

I looked on the Facebook pages of four different schools to evaluate their usage of social media as a means of communicating with parents of their pupils and the local community.

One school uploaded a lot of statuses about what different classes were doing, especially the more exciting areas of the curriculum, for example basket weaving, bollywood dancing, school trips, visits etc. Any photos with children in were of the backs of heads etc, most likely to keep in line with any privacy policy. There were lots of images of teachers however in World Book Day costumes.

Another school’s FB page seemed to be more in usage to send reminders, for example reminders of own clothes day, parents evening, swimming costumes etc. Other posts were asking questions, for example “For World Book Day teachers will be reading extracts from some books, which would you choose?”. I liked that some of the posts from this school’s page were more community based, such as a notice saying that the local library is being closed for refurbishment, I feel that this makes the school feel like a hub for the community. Pictures of events are also uploaded and resources.

The third FB page I looked at was very aimed at parents, reminding them of events and thanking them for involvement. This one is much less active but lots of parents seem to comment on the posts.

The fourth FB page I looked at is very active, notifying parents of every event and happening. After school clubs and rehearsal schedules are all heavily publicised. The use of ICT is very good, with a live camera of eggs that are being kept in Early Years being linked to on the FB page. I think this is a very good idea and very exciting for children to keep an eye on at home and stimulate discussion. Multiple teachers have access to the page and sign off with things like ‘Year 6 Team’ – for example when Yr6 went on a residential there were regular updates. I am very impressed with the activity and many parents use it as a means of communication with the school.

I think FB can be a very good means of communication with the local community but I think you have to be very careful about what is uploaded, especially images of children. I think it is best used if all teachers have access and can post about individual classes, or even if each class had a page then more personalised messages can be sent.A negative of using social media is that anybody can put a public message on the wall that could present a negative view of the school, such as a complaint about a certain teacher or activity. Despite any negatives I feel the convenience of it as a medium to send reminders to parents is second to none, especially when paired with text alerts, newsletters, and other forms of social media.

 

Thanks for reading,

Jack

Pinterest Badge

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This is my Pinterest page (https://uk.pinterest.com/hodgen0583/).

This is the badge I enjoyed completing the most. It was fun to explore people’s different ideas to use in the classroom through pictures, blogs and DIY projects. I like the layout, especially the idea of your chosen pins placed in a particular board. This website opened my eyes to a wide range of fun and creative activities to bring into the classroom setting.

The four boards I created were:

  • Interesting Children’s Books
  • Story-telling Ideas
  • Music in the Classroom
  • Classroom Organisation

Researching ‘Story-telling Ideas’ inspired me to make my whole-class readings during school experience much more engaging and exciting by considering resources that will expand children’s learning.

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I shared my Pinterest page on Twitter:

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Neve

Key Stage 2 Computing

In our seminar this week we continued to look at computing in the national curriculum, this time focusing coding and programming in Key Stage 2.

We began by looking at a website called ‘purple mash’, which provides many different activities relating to different areas of the computing curriculum. One of these activities allowed children to program fish to move in the directions instructed.

purple_mashWe also explored ‘Logo’ on the ‘purple mash’ website, a software that allows children to practice their programming skills by typing commands to create shapes and patterns. This can have cross-curricular links with both maths, as it looks at shape and angle, and art, as the children can create images by programming.  We also learned how to conduct a ‘procedure’ where a series of commands can be activated with one command.

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We also looked at a computer programming software called ‘Scratch’, which allows children to be introduced to programming in a way that is both simple and fun. They begin by choosing a ‘sprite’ character to give commands to, and then are able to explore all the different functions that the software provides.

E-safety Awareness badge

For this badge we were asked to look up posters that help us and children to be “digital citizens”.

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E-safety is a growing concern as it is more readily available to children of young ages. The growing field of social media opportunities such as Facebook  Twitter are allowing children access to the outside world without leaving their room and exposing themselves to whatever is on the internet. The growing interest in another social media app is Yik Yak. This is an anonymous account where you can post anything and anyone in your local area can see it. This has the potential to be dangerous as there is no accountability to anything that you may post because of the anonymous nature of the app.

Some key ideas that come across in these posters are:

  1. Don’t share your personal information (such as your number, address) with anyone online
  2. If you see anything that makes you feel uncomfortable then tell an adult like your parent or teacher
  3. Don’t send a message that you wouldn’t say to the persons face
  4. Think carefully before you post anything, is it appropriate? Is it necessary to share that about yourself?

As part of the badge we were then encouraged to make out own internet safety poster, the image below is mine.

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Thanks for reading!

Miriam

Using Scratch

Scratch is  a free programmable toolkit that enables pupils to create animations, games, quizzes, etc. The eventual creations can be shared over the internet. The knowledge builds on the language used in Logo, but also uses new ideas and capabilities to make things easier for children to programme: it is much easier for children to move blocks of code than typing lines of code.

I started by choosing a sprite and background, then looking at using arrow keys to control a sprite, using controls to turn the sprite and move 10 steps, as shown below. This worked okay, however it looked strange with the rocket sprite because it registered turning left in relation to the side of the sprite not the top. This made the movement look strange and so I chose to start again and use a different sprite.

Scratch 1

Below is an image of my attempt to create a background. I was determined to make a simple maze that a sprite would have to go around without bumping into the walls. Below is the screen used when drawing the background and the image below is my coding to make the penguin move around the screen.

Scratch 2

Scratch 3

Below is the coding I created to ensure that the penguin would start in the middle when the start button was clicked. The image below that shows that the maze was just a background and the penguin sprite could actually just walk over it – defeating the object of the game!

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Above is my final game, the penguin can no longer hit a wall without being taken back to the start. In my next project I discovered that if you programmed the sprite  to go in the opposite direction when hitting a colour that does the same thing as having solid walls. For example if the sprite goes forward 10 and hits a coloured wall: if you programme the sprite to move back 10 when touching that colour the outline will stop the sprite from moving through, creating a ‘wall’. Below is my coding for sprites in a new maze game, however this one has an aim. I wanted to make the two fish sprites go around the square, circulating like guards and for the starfish to move around with the aim to collect treasure.

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I continued with this game when I got home so that I could share it on here, I altered the design of the ‘ball’ sprite so that it appeared like a gold coin. I programmed the starfish to do multiple things when hitting the fish, it will say ‘Oh no!’ and change appearance to a sad starfish before returning back to the start. It is quite challenging to move around the screen because the rocky maze is harder to get past due to the irregular edges. When the starfish hits a coin the coin has been programmed to move to a new spot. Below is the coding for the starfish and the coin.

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Feel free to have a go at my finished game. I didn’t spend too much time on it at home so there are some improvements that could be made! I feel like I really understand the basics of Scratch and could debug the processes easily (with only some confusion!).

Here is the game link: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/100605533/

Thanks for reading (and playing!)

Jack

Using Scratch

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 15.10.49In this weeks seminar we looked at the advantages of using the programme Scratch. This is a free kit that allows children to practice more complex coding skills like the ones I talked about in my last blog. It gives children the opportunity to create animations, games, quizzes and much more. These creations can then be shared on the internet.

One advantage that it has over other programmes that I explored last week such as Logo, is that it’s a lot easier for children to put together a sequence of code. This is because you drag different tiles together to create a sequence of coding rather than having to type the code in. It’s also in a language that the children will understand, this being English! As can be seen below.

Scratch 1

I remember using scratch when I was at primary school. But I had the priviledge when doing my pre-course experience of working with children when they were doing a scratch project. The project was a cross curricular one between maths and ICT. The project was for the children in pairs to produce a game where their character would ask the user mathematical questions such as “What is 12 x 5?” Then the children had to make it where the programme would ask the user what the answer was. Then the coding would bring up a box in which the user had to write the answer but under timed conditions. The outcomes would then be the following;

a) Correct answer would lead to a congratulations screen followed by the next question

b) If the question wasn’t answered in the time limits then they would be taken back to the beginning

c) If an incorrect answer was given then they would be told what the correct answer was and then taken back to the beginning

As an adult in that lesson I was asked a lot of lessons and I realised a key part of it was letting the children know that if they got the coding wrong then it didn’t matter! To actually work out where they went wrong and try again. Once this message had got around the class I noticed that the children enjoyed the project a lot more as they were experimenting with the different instructions without worrying about the outcome.

It was a challenging project but one that was immensely enjoyed by both teachers and students and I would recommend it to all who may be teaching or wanting to look into programming or coding. Simply because of its basic screens yet advanced coding opportunities, its east for children to navigate and teachers who may not be in touch with ICT or done coding before.

Thanks for reading!

Miriam