@icttalk

Using ICT In Primary School Mathematics

Posted in Uncategorized by icttalk on January 21, 2014

Any views expressed here are my own but based on my experience. However I’ve seen enough good practice to know that success is often a product of the teacher’s personality as well as sound pedagogy. In short, there is no single right way. Good practice is dynamic and varied.

In the UK we seem to be expected to teach mathematics like we speak to foreigners when we’re on holiday. If it doesn’t work at first say it slower and more loudly. Rather than pressing on with new and innovative ways of working we look back to imagined golden ages. Was it the 1980s? We had the Cockcroft Report examining the problems of learning and teaching in maths.

Further back? “… a large proportion of entrants (to trade courses) have forgotten how to deal with simple vulgar and decimal fractions, have very hazy ideas on some easy arithmetical processes, and retain no trace of knowledge of algebra, graphs or geometry, if, in fact, they ever did possess any.” A Mathematical Association Report of 1954

Further still? “…accuracy in the manipulation of figures does not reach the same standard which was reached twenty years ago. Some employers express surprise and concern at the inability of young persons to perform simple numerical operations involved in business. … It is sometimes alleged … that the teacher no longer prosecutes his attack on this subject with the energy or purposefulness for which his predecessors are given credit.” A Board of Education Report of 1925.

Even further? “In arithmetic, I regret to say worse results than ever before have been obtained – this is partly attributable, no doubt, to my having so framed my sums as to require rather more intelligence than before: the failures are almost invariably traceable to radically imperfect teaching.” From reports by HM Inspectors 1876. So, dumbing down in the 19th century!

So it’s time for something new and we have a brand new age in terms of technology to help us.

The new National Curriculum for England tells us, “In both primary and secondary schools, teachers should use their judgement about when ICT tools should be used.” A strange statement. Are we to imagine that no judgement is called for when choosing other resources or that teachers will otherwise make random choices?

Ofsted make their own actually quite exciting statements about what outstanding practice looks like: “Problem solving and investigative approaches are central to learning for all pupils.” They also talk about independence, perseverance and learning from mistakes. So have we got the wrong message about an emphasis on content?

So why embrace technology? First I ought to say that technology is not a magic bullet. It is a teacher that makes the difference; the technology is the tool that, if used well, makes the good teacher even more effective.

Technology, in those circumstances:

  • enhances learning;
  • allows you to do something that can’t be done any other way;
  • makes life easier (without damaging standards);
  • connects with children’s lives outside school.

These bullet points are generic rather than relating solely to mathematics. It must also be remembered that technology needs to be planned and targeted rather than being a token use.

I also want my tech to help me use different strategies in my lessons. Paragraph 243 of the Cockcroft Report was good in 1981 and is still good today.

Mathematics teaching at all levels should include opportunities for:

  • exposition by the teacher
  • discussion between teacher and pupils and between pupils themselves
  • appropriate practical work
  • consolidation and practice of fundamental skills and routines
  • problem solving, including the application of mathematics to everyday situations
  • investigational work

My decisions on what technology to use will be informed by the above and my own personal beliefs based on experience.

  • Learning on tiptoe (the learner is the best (s)he can be)
  • Learn regularity not tricks
  • Learn by heart and not by rote
  • All activities must be connected to other learning and activities
  • There should be a variety of approaches
  • No one is completely unable to do every part of something (When a learner says “I can’t do…” there is often one facet that needs addressing that is blocking progress)
  • There are some hidden basics in maths. These are items not covered in curricula but vital from an early stage to many areas that are. Examples:

–      Inverses

–      Area as covering surfaces

–      The meaning of =

Lastly I’d think about how technology can help learners climb Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy.

Calculators

Let’s look first at calculators, that most reviled of resources. First of all no sensible person would use a calculator to perform a calculation they could do more quickly another way. Children should be as good as they can at mental calculations, as good as they can at written calculations and able to estimate and approximate to be able to use a calculator effectively. Then they should know exactly when to use one of these alternatives.

1.6 x 10

3.8 x 10

7.2 x 10

23.5 x 10

and

2.45 x 10

8.32 x 10

9.01 x 10

17.74 x 10

The learner must answer each in turn, check it on the calculator and use the result to inform their answer to the next question. Sets of four are usually sufficient.

  • Find how many different numbers less that, say, 30 you can make with four 4s and any symbols (This is the father of the 3+3×3-3+3 question that was on Facebook a while back)

Which of the reasons to use technology listed above did you spot in these ideas?

Spreadsheets

I’ve used them for modelling situations where doing it by hand takes far too long and detracts from the mathematics and the ability to experiment. Creating a chart and watching the effect as the data changes is fantastic. We all have a blind spot (I hope) and mine was cumulative frequency. I could never get my head round it until I created a chart and manipulated the data.

  • Maximising area problem (see area and perimeter can be different in NC)
  • Using graphs

Of the apps, programs and environments listed here others are available which are equally as good. The examples, while good, are meant to be generic rather than a claim to be the best.

Environments

Here are three very different environments.

The Khan Academy has had a bad rap in some quarters. It’s not designed to replace teachers but brings something else to the table. Students can practice, extend and watch the videos again and again and again and … It might have its place in a flipped classroom but this begs the question as to whether watching a video is necessarily always best as a solitary activity.

Geogebra is best described as a dynamic geometry environment but is rather more. It has a cut down version for younger users and works on just about every platform known to mankind. I confess to using it in a rather trivial fashion to model vertically opposite angles and what happens as one changes. It beats holding two slippery rulers across your chest!

Beluga Learning is an environment where users have to solve challenges as they move through it so it is neither a learn and practice activity nor a model.

I’ll tag on to this the sort of virtual tool that is available online, in IWB software and on tablets for example a protractor, base 10 materials and a virtual pinboard. I’m happy to debate the inclusion of the latter, apparently somewhat trivial resource.

Programming

Daunting for non-programmers but as Conrad Wolfram said, “If you really want to check you understand math then write a program to do it.” Scratch will bring computing and mathematics together as will the still free offering from EducationCity, Code Crunch. Go on, be subversive, make a calculator!

Expertise and collections

If it’s expertise and experience you’re looking for with excellent resources based firmly in good practice look no further than the Association of Teachers of Mathematics (ATM) and NRICH.

From the environment

There’s a lot of maths in the virtual world too. The recent freezing temperatures in the USA threw up lots of data in news feeds, real life maths features http://www.teachersmedia.co.uk/videos/interpret-and-construct-tables-food-scientist and my holiday pictures revealed a fantastic number square on the wall of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Short applications / programs / tools

I haven’t said a lot about practice here but there is a wealth of tablet apps that fill this space. The ICTMagic site has more than enough resources for even the most enthusiastic teacher and the Primary National Strategy programs are still alive and well. Try letting the children use them learning instead of using them for teaching.

Screencasting

Last but not least consider screencasting where learners make an electronic product to demonstrate an area of mathematics. You can build up a library for other learners to view over the years and the process can really enhance the learning process when the producer finds themselves having to explain something to another person.

And if you must teach Roman numerals…

Lastly, my own social bookmarking for mathematics.

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A Google Map is for Life not just for Geography

Posted in Uncategorized by icttalk on November 20, 2013

Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” which prompted me to do something I’d been meaning to do for ages, have a go at Google Maps and see if they could easily be used to demonstrate learning or tell a story. And then I found this! http://www.wetellstories.co.uk/stories/week1 Could something like this be made as easy as possible?

First of all I brainstormed a list of situations when maps might be useful in several curriculum areas. I came up with this:

All of these activities can be solo or collaborative.

  • Lit trips. If you are studying a book that relies heavily on location, make a map that describes what happens in those places. – English
  • Famous events. – History
  • Local / national / world interest. – History, Geography, RE
  • Story maps like the one from Penguin. Number your placemarks or join with a line. – English
  • A virtual field trip (e.g. Pompeii. Take holiday snaps and send a postcard) – All
  • Habitat maps – Science
  • A foreign language guidebook. (e.g. Different shops) – MFL
  • Build up information about another country – Geography, History

Sign in to a Google account and open Google Maps. Ironically this is the hardest part because there is now a new version and I wanted the older one because I could include images and movies. So you’ll see something like either

Slide04  or Slide05

You need to create with classic My Maps. Give it a title and a description if you want one and decide whether it will be public or unlisted.

If you want to work solo you can safely ignore the bit on the right of the image below but if you want to work with others you need to click on the ‘Collaborate’ link which will show you that screen.

Slide07

Zoom in on your first location and click the blue placemark at the top of the page, drag it into position and click to secure. A window opens and you can put a title and some text. Click ‘OK’ and you’re done!

Slide08

The first entry in your story. Click ‘Saved’ and ‘Done’. (Mine’s rather brief!) Not very exciting? Add an image.

Slide10

First, find your image online and copy the URL. Make sure your URL is that of the image rather than that of the page usually by right clicking on the image but don’t do it to the thumbnail in a Google search or you’ll end up with a hyperlink.

Click ‘Edit’ and choose the rich text option in the edit box. You will find an Office-like button to click and then paste the URL in the box that appears and click ‘OK’, ‘Save’ and ‘Done’.

Slide11 There’s the result when the placemark is clicked.

Now to video.

Slide12

Find your video online, YouTube is a good bet. Get the embed code as shown in the image above. prepare to edit your map again as you did for the still image but this time click on Edit HTML and paste the embed code. Bizarrely you will need to insert http: as shown for it to work.

Below is my map. It’s a rather humble one as it has just one place on it and with text, albeit rather brief, an image and a video it might be considered overkill but it shows what’s possible.

If you are not able to see the video your browser might be waiting for your permission to allow it.

Lastly you might want to save as a KML file to be able to open it in Google Earth.

Slide14

Buying Hardware

Posted in Uncategorized by icttalk on September 20, 2013

Simply buying because everyone else is or buying in isolation in the hope that you’ll be able to find a use won’t do but answering the question, “What do you want to do with it?” be it hardware or software is never easy.

Four very good reasons for using ICT:

  • Computing itself is vital for the 21st century and requires hardware.
  • Using ICT with a good teacher raises standards.
  • Using ICT brings school into line with children’s experience of the world outside.
  • Sometimes using ICT allows you to do things that are otherwise impossible.

Now comes the question, what to buy?

Computer hardware falls into three main categories: desktop, laptop and tablet. Each has its uses and there is a degree of overlap but these simple pros and cons should help you choose.

Hardware

Pros

Cons

Desktop
  • Better value for money
  • Processing power
  • Lightens the demand on a wireless network
  • Not mobile
  • Needs a dedicated room
Laptop
  • Mobile
  • Processing power
  • Saves on space
  • Does not need the transfer of the whole class to a specialist room if only a small group will be using ICT
  • Can shorten a lesson because of time for set up and putting away
  • Battery life
  • Price compared to desktop
  • A charging trolley (that won’t negotiate small steps)
Tablet
  • Very mobile
  • Genuinely personal
  • Lack of processing power
  • Not really for use as a class set

Once you’ve decided that you move on to the level of spec you require. In the case of tablets which operating system (OS), Android, iPad or Windows, needs to be decided first. With the variety of, particularly Android, devices about you need to ask questions about priorities. Is it the range of apps you want or simply a genuinely portable note and data collection machine? In any event these are not laptop replacements.

In general for any hardware the best spec you can afford is the way to go but ask, can you afford sufficient units to be effective?

Next move? Have a look at some kit and try it out. Don’t buy blind.

Has leasing recovered from the Panorama scandal?

Posted in Uncategorized by icttalk on July 16, 2013

by guest blogger Frank Clune (Director at Syndikos Ltd.)

We all remember the dreadful revelations in the Panorama programme. Schools paying vast sums of money for kit, hidden terms in agreements and unscrupulous suppliers promising something for nothing.

Has anything changed? We know that there have always been good and bad lease deals, the trick is to know the difference. If the Panorama programme made schools look more closely at the terms they are asked to sign up to then that seems fair enough. If, on the other hand, it made them swear off leasing for life then we think that it has closed off a very useful way of funding ICT purchases.

According to current DfE guidelines, local authorities, their schools and registered Academies can only enter into OPERATING LEASE agreements, i.e. no tax payer money should be used to pay loan, HP or finance lease debts.

Beyond the guidance how should schools proceed with lease arrangements? Too often schools have focused on headline pricing and have failed to read the small print.

Syndikos has come up with a guidance checklist for schools. Questions that any lease company, or company offering you a lease (not necessarily the same thing) should be able to answer.

It is important that schools should know not only the costs that they are committing to – the upfront commitment – but also what their options are at the end of the lease term.

At the end of the term you should be able to:

  • Hand back the equipment and walk away: or,
  • Enter into a new lease for the existing equipment at a 
lower rate, or even buy the equipment on very favourable 
terms; or,
  • Enter into a new lease for new equipment.

Schools will also want to know about the hand-back conditions. Some companies will have quite stringent conditions, which might include return with original packaging; others will specify that ‘fair wear and tear’ is acceptable. Whatever these conditions are it is important to be aware of them as they may have a significant impact on costs. 
Where schools are looking to promote 1:1 ratios and are considering schemes that involve parental contributions they may want to consider:

  • How will the school manage parental contributions?
  • What happens if parents don’t meet payment agreements?
  • Who is insuring equipment that is taken home? Is it cost- 
effective to insure this equipment?
  • How to avoid costly third-party arrangements which 
include someone else taking over the billing arrangements?

We believe that leasing is a very useful way of helping schools to manage declining ICT budgets whilst improving access for students and teachers. In spite of all the pitfalls we believe that good lease arrangements are excellent value for money and represent an opportunity not a threat to schools.

 

The new Computing Programme of Study

Posted in Uncategorized by icttalk on July 12, 2013

Key Phrases

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 14.05.23

Aims

The national curriculum for computing aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • can understand and apply the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science, including abstraction, logic, algorithms and data representation
  • can analyse problems in computational terms, and have repeated practical experience of writing computer programs in order to solve such problems
  • can evaluate and apply information technology, including new or unfamiliar technologies, analytically to solve problems
  • are responsible, competent, confident and creative users of information and communication technology.

Subject content

Key stage 1

Pupils should be taught to:

  • understand what algorithms are; how they are implemented as programs on digital devices; and that programs execute by following precise and unambiguous instructions
  • create and debug simple programs
  • use logical reasoning to predict the behaviour of simple programs
  • use technology purposefully to create, organise, store, manipulate and retrieve digital content
  • use technology safely and respectfully, keeping personal information private; know where to go for help and support when they have concerns about material on the internet
  • recognise common uses of information technology beyond school.

Key stage 2

Pupils should be taught to:

  • design, write and debug programs that accomplish specific goals, including controlling or simulating physical systems; solve problems by decomposing them into smaller parts
  • use sequence, selection, and repetition in programs; work with variables and various forms of input and output
  • use logical reasoning to explain how some simple algorithms work and to detect and correct errors in algorithms and programs
  • understand computer networks including the internet; how they can provide multiple services, such as the world-wide web; and the opportunities they offer for communication and collaboration
  • use search technologies effectively, appreciate how results are selected and ranked, and be discerning in evaluating digital content
  • use technology safely, respectfully and responsibly; know a range of ways to report concerns and inappropriate behaviour
  • select, use and combine a variety of software (including internet services) on a range of digital devices to accomplish given goals, including collecting, analysing, evaluating and presenting data and information.

 

Overall

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 15.33.52

Britannica School Trial Begins on the Isle of Wight

Posted in Uncategorized by icttalk on July 1, 2013

hard at work

An important trial of a new learning resource started at Summerfields Primary School in Newport, Isle of Wight recently. Backed by about 250 years of experience Britannica School has gone online and the school has been selected to take part in this project which will involve children, their families and school staff having access to the vast Britannica teaching and learning resource. It will run for six months, covering the second half of the Summer term and the whole of the Autumn term. This project coincides with the latest release of ‘Britannica School’ which has over 64 million words and is updated every 20 minutes.

As an e-learning specialist with a particular interest in information literacy in the 21st century @icttalk from Southern e-Learning Associates will be leading the project for Syndikos, an ICT brokerage company that has been working closely with Encyclopaedia Britannica. The aim of the project is to identify the benefits of using Britannica at school and at home for both pupils and teachers.

article

When a group of children used Britannica for the first time, finding their own way through it, they created information resources on the theme of sailing including interactive quizzes with hyperlinks. Frank Clune of Syndikos was impressed not only with the children’s work but also their behaviour and motivation. They had stayed behind after school to help with the launch and eventually Mrs. E. Wadmore, their ICT teacher, actually had to make them go home so keen were they to do more!

As well as the quality of the work produced one of the surprising features of the day was the amount of reading done and the volume of writing, often handwritten notes. It is hard to imagine that this quality or quantity would have occurred if the information source had been a volume of books. They also learnt an important lesson about the attribution of sources.

If children’s literacy is enhanced by reading more they will be helped to do so by a possible range of three reading levels in the resource, a feature that reads the text at level 1 (in a British accent) and a dictionary that appears when a word is clicked. Importantly, while it is possible for primary school children to use one of the higher reading levels as happened at Summerfields, it is impossible for a starter at a higher reading level to fall back to a simpler text.

Teachers, who were introduced to the resource earlier in the week, were very enthusiastic about its quality and ease of use according to Mrs. K. Wood the headteacher.

home page - primary

The home page of Britannica School encourages curiosity and browsing with an interesting fact, a poll and a news feed. The afternoon session saw the children exploring far and wide particularly with the interactive atlas and a comment by Jamie (Year 6) summed up the launch day. “I’m at the Colosseum. This is amazing!”

More than 30 ways to show learning

Posted in Uncategorized by icttalk on July 1, 2013

This was the title of my 7 minutes at a recent teachmeet. As you can imagine it was a tad superficial but there’s a serious point that I want to make here.

I’m not a fan of ‘list’ posts normally but this arose in response to two drivers. The first was a comment by a teacher that too many children were just copying and pasting and thinking that that constituted task completion. The other was that my own school days often boiled down to, “Write about it and draw me a picture (if you finish early).” A bit of an oversimplification but accurate enough for me to recognise.

I hope that these activities promote engagement but I’m certain that they inhibit plagiarism.

All of these involve creativity to some degree, the behaviour at the top of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, a reworking of the famous taxonomy for the 21st century by Anderson and Krathwohl. See http://www4.uwsp.edu/education/lwilson/curric/newtaxonomy.htm (Many other pages are available.)

Many of these products are available in appropriate forms to many age groups and abilities but my examples where I use them might seem a bit basic. I just didn’t feel disposed to produce 3+ pieces of coursework! All of them can be done for free or using software like MS Office, that is already in most schools.

So here we go.

#1

Draw a graph. This task involves demonstrating not only factual knowledge but also understanding of what format is appropriate for your data. I think that statistics tell us ‘what’ but comment has the ability to help us explain ‘why’ so why not add annotation?

#2

Upgrade your graph to an infographic.

infographic

#3 and #4

Use hyperlinks to make a branching database or interactive information system. This is where PowerPoint might be used innovatively, that is if the learners haven’t become sick of it. I still like PowerPoint, I just don’t like seeing children create endless slides.

#5

Twitter where, if you’re as risk averse as I am, the teacher holds the login details. In any case registration is not available for children. Either have a class account where the children tweet about what they’re learning, something I’ve seen done to encourage reluctant writers, or imagine what a famous figure from the past would have tweeted if Twitter had been available to them.

#6

Send a postcard. There’s an iPad app called PhotoCard that does this and allows you to choose your own image and then write a message. You can even email it. Great for scientific discoveries, WW2 evacuees…

#7

Animate. There are several free apps that allow you to manipulate characters and even add voice to create monologues etc.

#8

It might seem like the same thing as #7 but I’m including stop frame animation separately.

#9

Make a cartoon.

cartoon

#10 – #13

Program using Scratch and create stories, music, art and quizzes.

#14

Still programming but this time write a program (in the olden days I’d have used BASIC) to solve a problem or generate data.

#15

OK so you could always make a presentation… … but the maker must present!

#16

Supply a Facebook page template and ask your learners to complete it so that it looks like the page of, say, Winston Churchill might have looked like during the blitz. Friends, images, posts…

#17

Voki. A free online app. The dog will explain everything.


#18

Make an ebook. Youblisher.com publishes books with pages that turn online and all you need to make one is a pdf. Make your book in MS Word or PowerPoint and save as a pdf, upload and the website does the rest. Here are my slides as an example. Click on the image below to have a look.

teachmeet

#19

A class blog where the teacher holds the login details. I think it is important that as well as providing a platform for discussion of learning children should have a safe place where the teacher can moderate comments to show their work to a wider audience.

#20

A social poster. There are sites available where even an account is not needed but the content has a limited shelf life. It is important to take advantage of the opportunity to raise safety issues here not just regarding inappropriate contact but how to avoid giving inadvertent offence and the fact that once you press ‘send’ it’s out there for good.

#21

Make a narrated slideshow with PhotoStory.

photostory

#22

Annotate an image. What’s happening in the picture? What are the objects shown, what do they do and how do they work? Better still what happened immediately before / after the image or what is going on out of shot?

#23

Make a time-lapse movie.

#24

Make a map. The scope here is enormous. I’m thinking initially of Google Maps and Google Earth but there are others like scribblemaps.com.

#25

Make a timeline. This example is of WW2 turning points and can be found at http://history10c.wikispaces.com/file/view/WWII_Turning_Points.jpg/123797739/604×268/WWII_Turning_Points.jpg

timeline

It’s also quite easy to make a timeline using MS Excel.

#26

Make a podcast. Perhaps a radio programme about the topic of the week or term.

podcast

#27 – #28

Website or wiki?

#29

Screencasts are fantastic for demonstrating understanding. Record a ‘how to’ using screen capture software to create a class revision resource. This can be built on by subsequent classes.

#30

If you make a movie using MovieMaker (or cheat using PowerPoint) try to integrate as many different media as possible e.g. your own footage, edited footage from, say, newsreels, still images, tables of results, text, audio files…

#31

Now here’s an exciting one. Make a database. Seriously. And then use it. Ofsted won’t thank you for letting your class spend hours keying in data only to produce a database with so few records that it can be searched and sorted by sight so use Google forms to collect data collaboratively. Don’t worry about the odd blank entry or the occasional error; these are the stuff of which real learning is made.

#32

Write a story. The variety of means for doing this is next door to infinite but have a think about Storyjumper or My StoryMaker. It’s possible for a fee to have the books become physical old technology books!

Whatever you choose publishing on the web gives the possibility of a global audience and not an imaginary one.

It’s not about the artefact it’s about the learning, the questions and the discussion.

And all this can be done for…

…NOTHING!

A Starter Pack of (FREE) iPad Apps for a Primary School

Posted in Uncategorized by icttalk on June 27, 2013

I’m doing another cull of apps as yet again I run out of space on my 32Gb iPad so I thought it’d be a good time to try to come up with some sort of ‘must have’ list. (March 2015. The apps market is now so vast that there must be many popular alternatives but these are still as good a place as any to start being creative.)

When choosing apps you first need to think about how any product will be shared. For young children processes like AUPs and safe behaviours need to be in place to ensure as far as possible that they are neither exposed to outside influences nor able to interfere with the work of others.

If I can I choose apps that can output to the iPad’s photo storage which I can then, rather laboriously, harvest but a group Dropbox (NB. Make sure that any group account like this that requires login information is registered by an adult and not someone under 13) and the ability to export via email without making inappropriate contacts need investigating.

So here are the apps. Note that there are relatively few about content but I’ve included some as examples. If you are looking for something for a particular curriculum area suffice to say, “There’s an app for that.”

Storytelling and demonstrating learning

An iPad is no place to create MS Office products, not least because of the processing power needed, but sometimes there might be a free moment to draft or continue something and for this CloudOn is excellent. Be sure to complete your work on a full size screen when back at base to ensure it looks and performs as it should. Also be aware that this app needs connectivity to function. (As of March 2015 this app has joined with Dropbox and is offline. Time will tell how this affects functionality. In the meantime Office 365 users can use the Office apps.)

StoryKit is really an iPhone app but is a neat way to create stories with text, images and sound. Book Creator (NB. Now a paid for app. 01/11/2013) is a little more complicated but nothing a tech savvy child can’t handle and allows output as an epub file (a digital book that can be read on iBooks). While on the subject of iBooks have a look at the array of free books available to download.

Educreations is excellent for creating ‘how tos’. Note that if you don’t want to record a commentary it will refuse to save so record a second of silence instead. The microphone on an iPad picks up a lot of background sound so make arrangements for a little privacy at this stage.

For the more visually inclined try Comics Head Lite.

Despite being at risk of overblowing this category I’m going to add Storyrobe, an app for creating narrated slideshows, because it encourages reluctant writers to script.

PhotoCard is an app for the creation of digital postcards that can be emailed or saved to photos. It’s great for showing learning after a (virtual) trip.

30hands lets you create voiced presentations with annotation and even stop motion animation.

Lastly in this category Tellagami, an app where you can edit an avatar, import your own background and then either record your voice or use text to speech (which needs connectivity).

Update: The new Make Beliefs Comix app allows a user to make quite complex comic strips and save to the iPad. This is a step up on the online version. It is best used when the iPads are personal rather than a class set so that work in progress can be accessed.

Animation

There are some great apps out there that also support the storytelling idea and I’d start with the free versions of PuppetPals HD and Puppet Pals 2 but beware you might find yourself buying upgrades because children love them. For younger children (or adults who haven’t grown up) get Sock Puppets which allows you to disguise your voice by speeding it up or slowing it down. You can make a great 30 second monologue, duologue or song with this.

For something with more detail try Toontastic. The parent and teacher guide has lots of information but particularly useful is the Story Arc, similar to the story mountain used to plan writing in many schools.

All this is really a subset of the storytelling category above.

If you want to make the characters and animation yourself look no further than iMotion HD, a fantastic stop motion app that will also do time-lapse.

Images

When out and about taking pictures edit them and apply effects and annotation with Pixlr Express+.

Art

Even my kindest friends wouldn’t say I can draw but Sketching Pad is easy to use. (There is now a small charge for this.) For more sophistication try Brushes 3 but I find painting on an iPad is very democratic; unless you’re David Hockney we all paint like four year olds.

Pic Collage is good for, as the name suggests, creating collages of your images but also by using the text tool for making posters.

Doodle Buddy does the job for young children and includes a range of stamps.

Information

The Google app.

Mathematics

Times Tables Quiz! Does exactly what the name suggests. There are a good many of these around. There are a lot of practice apps about too, all of them pretty tedious but look at 5 Dice which requires the user to give mental calculations a bit more thought.

Sorting Numbers – Venn Diagram is a useful app to learn about things like multiples and primes but is also a little starter to sets. It has a partner app that uses a Carroll diagram if you prefer.

Beluga Maths is an app with a lot of activities and covers a wide range of content. It also has a motivating interface. Expect to spend some time becoming familiar with it and what it can do for you but it’ll be worth it.

Try Geoboard to model a pinboard or Number Pieces to simulate base 10 blocks.

English (No, I’m not going to call it Literacy!)

Treasure Hunt is a nice word making game. I’m always careful when I suggest language apps what with all the debate about phonics and the correct way to form letters but pocketphonicslite might prove useful. Writing Letters Lite does much the same thing but allows you to choose between British and American English. It’s important to check apps in this category because spelling and pronunciation vary when you cross the Atlantic.

Programming

I’ve written about programming apps elsewhere but I’d get Bee-Bot, Cargo-Bot, Daisy The Dinosaur and Kodable to offer variety across the age range.

Miscellaneous

There are many recorders but WavePad offers some basic editing tools too.

Kids Puzzles – African Plains is a sort of jigsaw puzzle with several levels of difficulty. Just beware the occasional American pronunciation.

For a good problem solving activity have a look at Cargo Bridge Lite.

Advice to teachers (Ofsted please read no further): Load the iPads with the apps, give to a group of children with the instruction, “Try this out” and go and have a cup of tea.

Btw you won’t cover the curriculum by using these apps but you’ll certainly extend learning!

We Have To Teach Programming? Where Are We Going To Get The Resources For That? Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized by icttalk on June 9, 2013

Using iPads

I thought I’d have a look to see if there were any good apps that encouraged or involved programming. Those who know me will know that I never pay for anything and most of these are free!

Pyonkee

A Scratch derivative for the iPad.

https://itunes.apple.com/en/app/pyonki/id905012686

ScratchJr

At last, the 5 -7 version of the popular coding environment from MIT!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/scratchjr/id895485086?ls=1&mt=8

Codeanywhere

“Codeanywhere for iOS brings all the features from Codeanywhere.net to the palm of your hand.” Now also available in Android.

https://itunes.apple.com/hr/app/codeanywhere/id436736239?mt=8

Bee-Bot

Based on the programmable Bee-Bot floor turtle. “The app makes use of Bee-Bot’s keypad functionality and enables children to improve their skills in directional language and programming through sequences of forwards, backwards, left and right 90 degree turns.”

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/bee-bot/id500131639?mt=8

Cargo-Bot

“Cargo-Bot is a puzzle game where you teach a robot how to move crates. Sounds simple, right? Try it out!”

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/cargo-bot/id519690804?mt=8

Logo Draw

“Logo Draw uses aspects of the Logo Programming Language to introduce users to the fundamental concepts of software programming, computer graphics, geometry, and logical thinking.”

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/logo-draw/id409456996?mt=8

iProgram

“So you want to be an iPhone programmer? You want to make your iPhone dance to your own tune. iProgram is the road that you want to travel.”

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/iprogram/id320797514?mt=8

Move The Turtle (£1.99)

“Move The Turtle is an educational application for iPhone and iPad that teaches children the basics of creating computer programs, using intuitive graphic commands.”

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/move-turtle.-programming-for/id509013878?mt=8

Daisy The Dinosaur

“Learn the basics of computer programming with Daisy the Dinosaur! This free, fun app has an easy drag and drop interface that kids of all ages can use to animate Daisy to dance across the screen.”

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/daisy-the-dinosaur/id490514278?mt=8

Kodable

“**Programming fundamentals and logic lessons for kids!** The fuzz family crash landed on Smeeborg and they need your help navigating the Technomazes!”

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/kodable/id577673067?mt=8

Hopscotch HD

“Hopscotch allows kids to create their own games and animations. Kids unleash their creativity with this beautiful, easy-to-use visual programming language.”

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hopscotch-hd/id617098629?mt=8

Hakitzu: Code of the Warrior

“Hakitzu is a strategy game like no other; build your ultimate robot warriors, learn JavaScript coding skills and fight your friends in battle arenas.”

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/hakitzu-code-of-the-warrior/id599976903?mt=8

A.L.E.X.

“A.L.E.X. is a fun puzzle game and a great way to train your brain. A.L.E.X. helps you think and plan logically as you program your robot A.L.E.X. with a sequence of commands to get through each level from start to finish.”

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/a.l.e.x./id597040772?mt=8

Sketch Nation Studio

Make and play simple games.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/sketch-nation-studio/id506337826?mt=8

Cato’s Hike Lite

“Even though this is the Lite version, it includes the tutorial world and the *FULL* map editor and sandbox so you can create your own little worlds and puzzles…”

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/catos-hike-lite-programming/id580699267?mt=8

Pettson’s Inventions Lite

“Help Pettson build his tricky inventions! … There are 27 different inventions to solve, some easy and some pretty hard.”

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/pettsons-inventions-lite/id524685685?mt=8

Pettson’s Inventions 2 Lite

“This is the free version of Pettson’s Inventions 2, the sequel to the praised Pettson’s Inventions. Bigger, better and more fun than ever! The free version includes six new exciting inventions to solve!”

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/pettsons-inventions-2-lite/id571992519?mt=8

 Light-bot Lite

A programming puzzle for the very young.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/light-bot-lite/id659285751?mt=8

Tynker

Visual coding with blocks

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/tynker-learn-programming-visual/id805869467

What we lose when maths is just a list of content.

Posted in Uncategorized by icttalk on June 3, 2013

With the demand from the powers that be that school mathematics is set to become even more a list of ‘stuff’ to be learned gaining pace, if indeed it ever stopped being that, we’ll lose more than simply the ability to behave mathematically. Here are 10 ideas I fear are going to be submerged under the content.

1.    Y6 SATs success starts at reception and continues on a rocky path until Y6. 

2.    No topic is just for one year group. (Area is a good example) Year groupings are artificial. So are standard lesson lengths.

3.    In maths everything is connected to everything else. Some items get scant attention as content but are pervasive. (The concept of ‘inverse’ is a good example)

4.    Most practice activities are best done when a teacher is not available. This helps to maximise teaching time.

5.    No one is completely unable to do something. (Fractions are a good example) There’s usually one, or more, sticking point.

6.    It’s not a number out of 10 that tells you something it’s the questions you ask orally. (See #5)

7.    There is no ‘right’ way, just some ways that can help later understanding (Grid multiplication is a good example) and sometimes not. (To multiply by 10 just add a ‘0’ is a good example)

8.    The more you understand the less you have to remember. (Calculation ‘tricks’ are a good example)

9.    Calculators are:
– A learning tool
– For when paper methods are out of range which in turn are for when mental methods are out of range. These thresholds are when a learner is on mental tiptoe not when they’re fed up.

10.    No one ever became good at something they don’t like.