What’s your Favourite iPad App?

Do you get asked this at all? Every digital trainer who works with iPads gets this a lot and the answer is usually, “It depends what you want to do.” It’s like asking someone about their favourite device. You couldn’t get by with just one of them. It’s the ‘right tool for the right job’ right?

screenshot-2016-10-21-at-10-27-32-amWell – if you asking me about my favourite iPad app to encourage teachers to do more than CONSUME and move to a CREATIVE use, then you can’t beat Book Creator! It wins hands down for me on multiple levels.

Here’s a post I’ve written for Usingtechnologybetter.com that explains my 5 reasons why it’s my favourite app in the classroom. You can see me explain it’s

  • versatility,
  • simplicity,
  • accessibility
  • development and
  • smashability.


I’m also about to experiment with the Playstore version so I can access the app on my new touch screen Chromebook. It could get even better!





Student Engagement Poster

This is a great poster I’ve seen thanks to Educatorstechnology.com and it’s doing the rounds on twitter at the moment. I’d probably say that I’m great at using 2, 3 and 5 in my teaching practice at the moment and I’m definitely going to utitlise the “3-2-1” method of reflection in number 6. Lately I’ve been asking, ‘What’s one thing you’ve learnt or gotten better at today?’ and this would take that to another level, I think.

I also remember a teacher using number 7 a lot when I was in Primary School. We would try to beat each other to finish her sentence. Funny. What’s something you’re already using and also, what would you like to use in your class a little more?


The Power of Video

Screen Shot 2014-08-09 at 3.13.34 pmThis week I facilitated 2 sessions at the Mediamash Workshop day in Winton. This was a teacher/student day for everyone to learn alongside each other – a powerful theme for the day in itself!

My sessions were looking at the potential for videos as a powerful tool in the learning process. In our class we recognise 3 things:

1. Today’s learners are incredible visual in the way they like to learn.
2. Outside the school environment, we often use video to learn things – from gaming walk throughs, to instructional videos for building and fixing things. So why not at school?
3. Videos can be used at lots of different stages in the learning process.

In the slides below you’ll see some examples for how we use videos before, during and after which are just ways to describe the steps our students take in our learning pathways.

The before part of the process is where flipped learning emerges. Many times this year we have had students come to a learning workshop having watched a video we provided in the pathway with a much deeper understanding of the concept or skill we are looking at. This allows us to practise, or fill in the gaps they have.
During in this sense indicates the workshops that happen with a teacher and after is where the student goes away to consolidate, clarify or create their own videos.

Make sure you click on the images and links to access the movies and sites.

**Above image sourced from http://www.visual-learners.com/image-files/models.gif


Popplet Criteria

One of the principles of quality learning we push with our students is knowing what success looks like. We do this in quite a few ways but having a success criteria is pretty up there.

This week our classes are publishing their short stories on Comiclife, one of the student’s favourite ways to publish and share their work. This criteria below was created using Popplet. I love this tool for the following reasons.

1. You can create visually stunning posters in less time than it takes to shake a stick.

2. You can import images, links and video as well as text.

3. It is interactive but also adaptable to be static – you can export or take a screenshot and print this into a great poster for the wall.

This embeded version lets the user move it around, zoom in and out and, if there are videos they can be played within the window, too.

So far this term we have created two different posters of criteria that students can refer back to; this one and one for creating a great instructional video on Doodle Cast Pro (a great video making app). My hope is that we will create a wall of criteria that will help guide the student to success for a whole range of publishing / sharing tools they can choose.

Maths Symposium Presentation

Tomorrow I’m presenting a breakout at the Southland Math’s Symposium. The workshop brief I wrote was;

ICTs and Maths – understanding the potential for the tools to take your math’s programme to another level!
Today’s ICTs are making a big impact on the way we teach and learn. This workshop will explore some ideas for making the maximum influence with your student’s and their achievement. We will look at different tools through the lenses of the SAMR model of technology integration and see how they have the potential to revolutionise our teaching practice.
That’s a pretty lofty goal, I know! But why not aim for the stars. Here’s the presentation.

If you were in the workshop – my apologies for going overtime – mostly because we missed the last few slides! There I promote some amazing resources for more links and tools and mostly because I didn’t have time for my Twitter promotion – my best bit. If you’re not on twitter and connecting with other like minded, passionate educators then… you are seriously missing out.

(But that’s another workshop…)

This is the Hexagons brainstorm* (See Pam Hook’s site for more info on this great tool) we made before we started. We had a quick look at the kinds of tools we are using, and saw some of the barriers / frustrations. 
Slow connectivity was a major theme… interesting!
*I’ve uploaded the image into skitch and added the categories.

Planning and Assessment with Notability App

I replied to a question on twitter about how I use one ipad in the classroom. Last year we had 1 ipad (now we have 12 which is awesome!) and I decided to make the most of it as a teaching tool;

 – I achieved my goal of having a digital planning and assessment approach!

Here’s a video of how I use Notability for planning and assessment.

Bad Weather?

They say there’s no such thing as bad weather down this way! Only bad dressing.

Well – how’s we dress for a jog in a snow/sleet storm down south! If I was Irish I might say, ‘Diddle e dee, potato!’

Blogging with Zing

Last week I spent some time with some teachers from our school at our first ‘iTips’ workshop. We looked at how to create some extra Zing to our classroom blogs and I thought I’d share 3 things I do to personalise them and make them stand out a bit more.

1. Headers

– I use Comiclife, which is a mac and pc programme, to create a lot of graphics and visuals for my blogs. Pretty much all my classroom titles, labels and posters are made on this. By downloading and inserting some images from google, even the examples in this picture of some free icons I downloaded (by searching ‘free icon download png’) to put behind the text. Gives it a bit more bling , I reckon.
The best kinds of graphics to download and put on your header is the ‘png’ file. These graphics have the file with ONLY the image in them. It;s like they have the white background sort of cut away with scissors. These are great to put on top of other images or even the text as there isn’t a white box around the image. Try it. You’ll see what I mean. Use the ‘arrange / bring to the front or back’ feature in comiclife to change the orientation of the images.
Here’s a review video of comiclife as a taster. Search around and you’ll find LOTS of tutorial videos on youtube to get you more confident!

2. Pictures as links
The side bars on blogs are a great way to direct your readers, students to the sites you want them to visit. One obvious way is to use text as a link and there are a few different standard gad
gets to help you do this. I use these for lists of links but one of my favourite ways to link on the sidebar is using a picture as t
he link. I think this is far enticing for the reader and adds some visual effect to the look of your blog.
You can insert a gadget called PICTURE and use a screen shot of the site you want the link to go to. There’s a space to include the website link (URL) and away you go! Screen shots are one of the greatest things ever – hold down shift / command / 4 and ‘frame’ the image that you want to capture. (For PC users the keys are different. Try this link)
3. Installing a ‘third party’ blogger template.
This is one of the greatest tips for revolutionising your blog – and one that I’ve noticed is not readily used by many teachers. Third party refers to a source away from the original, in this case blogger. You can alter your blogger blog (or most other platforms*) inside the design feature which can look great. But for an even more custom, original look you can search through a massive range of templates by google searching ‘blogger templates download’ as an example.

Here’s a site I’ve used a few times – btemplates.com. It has some great search filters that help you find the template for you, such as searching by colour, structure or even key word tags. There are a lot of videos that show you how to complete this process and, with a little playing around (a few templates might have some gadgets that aren’t working or might not allow you to add you’re own zingy header at the top) you’ll find one that suites you.
Here’s a tutorial from a guy with a fascinating accent. There are plenty out there!
So, there’s just 3 little techniques that can create a great blog. One last thing to get you going even further is to look at lots of other blogs and see what they’re using. It’s a great source of inspiration to ‘borrow’ another person’s idea. Just click on the gadget or look for clues at the bottom for a website where it originated. There’s nothing like a little google search to satisfy that curiosity of ours.

Here are some links of some blogs to inspire you!
* This is my new ‘Bazinger‘ footnote – a word I’ve stolen from ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and my signal for a jargon word.
Platform – in this sense it’s a form of blogging programme that you can use. Examples could be blogger, wordpress, tumblr or posterous.