Tools for Teaching

Hatırlarsanız 5 Aralık`da Ankara`da FatihETZ konferansında yapmış olduğum sunumda İngıltere´de her okulda bir teknoloji koordinatörü olduğunu söylemiştim. Tabiki hem vakit yetersizliğinden, hem de heyecandan bunun sebepleri hakkında detaylı bilgi verme fırsatım olmadı. Öncelikle tekrar vurgulayalımki teknoloji koordinatörlerinin teknisyenlerle bir alakası yoktur. Zaman zaman diğer öğretmenlere teknik konularda yardımcı olduğumuz doğrudur, ancak bu sadece vaktimiz olduğu zaman mümkün. Büyük okullarda zaten tam zamanlı bir teknisyen vardır, küçük okullarda özel firmalardan haftada genellikle 2 gün görev yapacak elemanlara iş verirler.

Peki, eğitim teknolojileri koordinatörlerinin görevi nedir?

Ben sizlerle ilkokullarda çalışırken iş sözleşmemde yazılı olan listeyi paylaşmak isterim. Bu listeye gore ICT koordinatörünün görevleri:

  • Teknolojinin eğitimdeki rolünün ilköğretim müfredatına uygun olarak geliştirilmesi
  • Diğer branş derslerinin yöneticileri ile birlikte çalışarak uzun zamanlı Eğitim Teknolojisi Müfredatı yazmak
  • Eğitim teknolojisine iliskin SMART hedeflerin, eğitim planının ve bütçenin hazırlanması
  • 1 yıllık kısa sureli ve 3 yıl uzun dönemli teknik araç ve gereç ihtiyaç raporunun yazılması
  • Teknisyen ve diğer teknik bilgiye sahip kişilerle beraber okulun teknoloji altyapısının geliştirilmesi
  • Öğretmen ve öğretmen yardımcılarının en son teknolojik yeniliklerden faydalanmaları için ihtiyaçları doğrultusunda, hizmet içi eğitim programı hazırlamak
  • Öğretmen ve ögretmen yardımcılarını teknolojiyi derslerinde kullanmaları konusunda desteklemek
  • Ögrencilerin teknoloji alanındaki düzey ve bilgilerini okul çapında bilimsel yöntemlerle değerlendirmek
  • Teknoloji eğitimi standardlarını düzenli olarak analiz etmek ve sonuçları okul yoneticileri ve velilerle paylaşmak.
  • Teknolojinin uluslarası okullarla ortaklaşa yürütülen projelerde kullanılmasına öncülük etmek
  • Özel eğitime ihtiyacı olan çocuklarin daha başarılı olmaları için, Özel eğitim müdürü ile birlikte teknolojinin ne şekilde kullanalıcağına dair program hazırlamak
  • Teknolojinin bütün ders alanlarında kullanılmasına imkan verecek projeler hazırlamak
  • Teknoloji program ve gereçlerinin en verimli şekilde kullanılmasını sağlamak
  • Sanal eğitim programlarının bütün ögretmen ve öğrenciler tarafından düzenli olarak kullanılmasına destek olmak

Ben Wilbury İlköğretim okulunda ilk işe başladığım zaman, okul müdüremiz ve iş yöneticimiz beni toplantıya davet ettiler. Bana ilk sordukları soru vizyonumun ne olduğu idi. Ben okulda biraz vakit harcamadan ve okulun eğitime olan bakış açısını anlamadan bu soruya cevap veremiyeceğimi söyledim. Okul müdüremiz benimle aynı fikirde idi. Bana araştırma yapıp, okul yönetim kuruluna sunmak üzere 4 hafta içerisinde bir rapor hazırlamamı tavsiye ettiler.

Önce teknisyenle okuldaki teknolojik altyapı, araç ve gereçler üzerine sohbet ettik. Daha sonra derslere katılıp öğretmen ve öğrencileri gözlemleyip, görüşlerini sordum. Son olarak da her branş ders yöneticisi ile teknoloji müfredatı ile kendi alanları arasındaki bağlantıyı nasıl algıladıkları üzerine konuştuk. Bütün bu bilgiler benim okulun 1 ve 3 yıllık planlarını hazırlamam için yeterli idi, ancak vizyonumuzu belirlemek için okul yönetileri tarafından öğrencilerin ihtiyaçlarına göre karar verilen hedefleri bilmem şarttı. Bu bilgileri topladıkdan sonra raporumu yazdım. Bu raporda:

  • Öğrencilerin yüzde 62´sinin ilkokulu beklenen düzeyin altında teknolojik bilgilerle bitirdiği
  • Okulda 1000 öğrenci olmasına ragmen sadece bir bilgisayar labının olması sonucu, öğrencilerin haftada sadece 40 dakika okulda teknoloji kullanmaları ve bilgisayarlar çok eski olduğu için, açmanın 15 dakikayı bulduğu
  • Öğrencilerin yüzde 53‘ünün evde kendilerine ait bir bilgisayarı olmadığı, aile bilgisayarının da genelde yaşı daha büyük olan kardeşlerce kullanıldığı
  • Tablet teknoloji, kamera vs. araçların okulda bulunmaması
  • Öğretmenlerin büyük çoğunluğunun teknolojik bilgilerinin yetersizligi
  • Wi-Fi ağının olmayışının okuldaki 30 laptopun kullanılmayıp, kenara atılmasına sebep olduğu konularına değindim.

Ben bu bilgileri kullanarak hem okul için vizyon raporumu hem de altyapı planımı hazırladım. 2014 yılında üniversiteye geçtigimde okul hem ulusal ve uluslar arası yarışmalarda teknoloji alanında bir çok ödül kazanmıştı hem de İngiltere parlementosu ve eğitim bakanlığı tarafından bu alanda örnek okul olarak seçilmişti. Bu başarının sebebi, sadece aldığımız araç ve gereçler değildi tabiki. Kendi okulumuzun ihtiyacına uygun olarak geliştirdiğimiz disiplinler arası müfredatımız, sürekli öğretmen eğitimi, ailelere bu vizyonda yer vermemiz ve öğrencilere karar verirken danışmamız da bu başarıya katkıda bulunmuştur.

Yıllarca bu görevi yaptıkdan sonra daha iyi anladım ki, bir okulun en etkili eğitim aracı teknoloji değil, öğretmenleridir ve onlara ihtiyaçlarına ve okulun eğitim hedeflerine uygun bir şekilde sürekli eğitimden yararlanma imkanı verilmeli. Ancak bu şekilde okullar bilgi çağının gerektirdiği bilgi ve becerileri öğrencilerine kazandırabilecek bir eğitim programı oluşturabilirier. Teknolojik araç ve gereçlere milyonlar harcanabilir, hatta binlerce içerik de geliştirilebilir. Ancak artık kabul etmeliyiz ki, herkese uyan bir elbise tasarlanamaz, yani eğitimin kişiselleştirilmesi gereklidir . Londra´daki bir çocukla, Londra dışındaki bir çocuğun eğitim ihtiyaçları aynı değildir, dolayısıyla kullanılan aktiveteler ve araçlar da farklı olmalıdır. Verimli sonuç alınması için teknolojik araç ve gereçleri her okulun vizyonu doğrultusunda, etkili bir şekilde kullanılmasını planlayıp, gözlemleyecek bu alanda yetişmiş bilgili eğitimcilere ihtiyaç vardır.

İşte bu noktada bilişim öğretmenlerine çok, hem de çok ihtiyacımız var! Eğitimin bilgi çağını yakalaması için gerekli olan vizyonu her okulda tasarlayıp okulları geleceğe taşıyacak eğitim teknolojisi liderlerine çok, hem de çok ihtiyacımız var!

Türkiye´mizin her köşesindeki her okulda bir eğitim teknolojisi koordinatörü görmek dileğiyle…

Not: Umarım Türkçem anlaşılır, eğer yanlış görürseniz lütfen benimle iletişime geçin.

DaleCoanDale Coan Currently a specialist teacher of computing covering all years groups from Y1 to Y6 at Hexthorpe Primary School, Doncaster, South Yorkshire. I have been a specialist teacher of primary computing for 10 years and have also been a schools curriculum ICT technician for 10 years so I have seen both sides of the fence, but can’t say which side of the fence the grass is greener! I have also had other roles outside of education in engineering, software support and development as well as systems and network management/installation etc. so you could say a wide and varied career.”

Driving test using Scratch

Small challenge looking at sensing, but rather than expecting the children to pluck a solution out of the air, I have provided ‘a solution’ in the form of the required blocks to act as a scaffold. Now they have to concentrate on working out how it works together rather than having the added task of working out what blocks they need in the first place. That part is left as an extension for them to provide their own solution.

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 10.13.11

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 10.08.40

 

Playing with Alice! by Dale Coan

Here is my attempt at creating a kind of ‘walk through’ tutorial you could give out. Would require some previous basic experience of using Alice 2.4 but the methods are quite simple and screenshots are provided with each step. I have show how to animate a character and demonstrated how to link that to and event driven scenario i.e. Zombie (everyone likes a zombie game!) walks forward and turns when the relevant arrow keys are pressed, The example Alice world also includes sounds and a puddle that causes the Zombie to growl if he steps in it. This events driven style forms the basis for all games and could be used as a starting point for pupils to think about creating their own game. The hardest point is actually manipulating the characters legs to rotate in the correct way, something Alice leaves a lot to be desired for. Would probably use this with HA Y5/6.

alice

Link for downloading the PDF file of the Alice project : http://www.ictinpractice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Animation-and-Event-basedprogramming. pdf

Link for downloading Alice 2.4:

http://www.alice.org/index.php?page=downloads/download_alice2.4

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 10.34.36

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 10.35.05

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 10.35.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.bilisimgarajakademisi.com

The “God Particle” needed to transform a Download community into an Upload Community:

Bilisim Garaj Akademisi (IT Garage Academy) is an online portal supplying coding, web design, 3D design and robotic/electronic design curriculum for children from the ages 7-8, 9-12 and 13-16. On the portal, Turkish youths, starting from 7 years old, learn:

* coding using Scratch or MS Small Basic,

* web design using Notepad,

* 3D design using Sketchup

* robotic / electronic design using various safe electronic materials,

* and entrepreneurship through IT.

Why?

The slogan of the platform is “From a Download Society to an Upload Society.” This motto aims to attract Turkish people’s attention to an important problem. Turkey is one of the top countries using social media and mobile internet. For example, Turkish people are among the top Facebook users. On the other hand, Turkish people produce ICT technology much less than they consume. To illustrate, applications produced for mobile devices such as smart phones and tablet PCs have the market volume of 65 billion US$ around the world. Turkey’s contribution to this market volume is smaller than 0.5%! Another example is that Turkey’s annual ICT market volume is 36 billion US$. In this volume, high technology production including hardware, software or embedded technology is smaller than 1%. The volume of the ICT market in Turkey is formed by mostly communication technologies such as GSM operators and internet service suppliers.

a view from web portal The youth is devoid of the skills required to produce with IT, because the education system doesn’t equip the new generations with the skills such as coding, web design or robotic design especially at primary and secondary levels. Gaining productive IT skills is postponed until university years. In the country, the general perception is that computer literacy is equal to computer use. However, computer use is a much broader concept covering computer literacy. In this information age, proper use of IT in education helps students to gain 21st century skills such as critical thinking, creative thinking, scientific thinking, collaboration with others especially in a problem based learning environment.

 

What?

To change this perception and increase the awareness of the concept of computational thinking, Dr. Selçuk Özdemir started the BilisimGarajAkademisi.com portal 18 months ago in Turkey. Now, more than 40 training centres and more than 10 primary/secondary private schools use his curriculum.

The curriculum used in BilisimGarajAkademisi.com has two dimensions. The first dimension (called Package 1) aims to present kids with their first threshold experience. With the modules in the Package 1, the kids realise that they can program computers, design web sites, 3d models and robots/electronic devices. In the first year in Package 1, the kids learn all of the four subjects separately. The priority in the first year is to show the kids who is the boss, because the students realise that they can tell computers what to do.

the kid boss

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the second year, the whole curriculum runs around an entrepreneurship problem. In Package 2, the students develop solutions for a given main and sub-problems using coding, web design, 3d design and robotic design and programming. The entrepreneurship problem helps students utilize all technologies to produce many related solutions for a real life problem. Utilising this holistic approach, in addition to advanced IT skills, the students have the opportunity to gain entrepreneurial competences defined by European Union. These entrepreneurial competences are classified as knowledge, skills and attitude. The students learn about “being initiative user”, “self-confidence”, “thinking on what new things can be developed”, “being optimistic”, “leadership”, “marketing”, “collaboration”, “the importance of being critical and creative”, “the concept of supply and demand”, “concept of cost-benefit” and “the importance of patents”.

Starting from this October, the students will gain more than 50 entrepreneurial competences whilst they develop a solution for the problem of energy. The students will be informed that energy resources come to an end and the world needs new and clean energy resources for especially transportation. In four modules of the Package 2, a student’s task is to:

* design a 3d model of an electric car which consumes solar energy (3D design module of the curriculum),

* calculate the cost of the production process of the solar energy car and protecting the confidential information (Coding module of the curriculum),

* produce and program a solar energy robotic car using real electronic circuit components (Robotic design module of the curriculum),

* promote and market the solar energy robotic car (Web design module of the curriculum).

How?

Bilişim Garaj Akademisi has a very simple and running methodology:

Screen shot 2014-07-12 at 07.54.30

 

 

Screen shot 2014-07-12 at 07.57.33

Curiosity is core to the Bilişim Garaj Akademisi curriculum. Edgar Morin emphasizes that without curiosity, learning doesn’t take place. In each module, the students are presented a concrete task to complete. The students create a new production in each hour of each module. Being able to create new things helps children to develop their self-esteem. Finally, children love demonstrating to others what they can perform or produce. In accordance with our motto “from a download society to an upload society”, the students can upload their own works to the “Project Gallery” module of the portal so that others can download and examine.

Finally:

Coding, in general producing with IT, is the “lingua franca” of the new age. In the future, all professions will need to do something which cannot be done by computerised machines. The new generations have to be equipped with productive IT skills before their university years. Thus, they will be aware what computers can do or cannot do. This awareness will help them to see the innovation opportunities in their professional field.

Bilişim Garaj Akademisi aims to be an international portal. The entire curriculum is being translated into English and the English content will be published via an English domain name.

Best regards,

Assoc.Prof.Dr. Selçuk Özdemir

The Founder of Bilişim Garaj Akademisi

selcukozdemir@gmail.com

@drselcukozdemir

Bilisimgarajakademisi.com

http://w3.gazi.edu.tr/~sozdemir/index_eng.htm

 

Using the educational Platform Moodle for e-learning 

by Boris Vidovic and Sandra Vetma

Listen up, children! I will ask you a question now: Is it more enjoyable, easier, and better to learn with or without the help of a computer? Yes, with the help of the computer. Do all of you like working with the computers? Yeah. Yeah.

The students in the lower grades of Pujanke Elementary School in Split are in high spirits, full of energy and natural interest in the unknown which surrounds them. They like school breaks and playing very much in the same way as their peers do in other Croatian schools. The pupils of the third grade group A, guided by their teacher and mentor Sandra Vetma, appear more mature and more motivated for learning than their peers in other groups. They are fond of discussing many issues with their peers, teachers and adults. It is obvious that they are more informed than their peers, and occasionally more than some of the adults. What make this group of pupils so special in comparison with the peers?  We asked the school principal Mr. Boris Vidovic.

These kids have been using the educational Platform Moodle for e-learning for more than a year. Upon the introduction of the Croatian National Educational Standards (CNES) in all Croatian schools in the school academic year 2006/07, the teachers were given great freedom for introducing modern theories of learning and teaching. The goal of the CNES is to transform the old, traditional way of teaching which was characterized by the dominant role of an omniscient teacher, and passive students accustomed to listen to the teacher into a new modern way of teaching. In the old methodology the students were asked to memorise lots of facts for a good grade. In the new, modern, decentralized school the teacher is a mentor and coordinator of many types of instruction, and the pupil becomes the most important active link in the chain of learning and comprehension. The frontal style teaching is no longer the only method of school work, but rather a collaborative construction of knowledge by all members of the group or team on an assigned project prevails. Through this style of teaching, learning is not limited to classroom instruction, but also outdoors: in real life. 

The introduction of e-learning for the young students is the goal of the Croatian National Education Standard par excellence.

We use Moodle in order to work in an efficient way, to get quality assurance, and to realise some principals of the CNES which are being discussed widely both in education circles and in public. Currently, the kids learn how to cooperate by working collaboratively on a project. They think it is fun to play and work at home in this way. In reality, they learn a lot through work. They do not take it as an obligatory assignment. They work with joy, even at weekends. They have online action plans knowing in advance what subjects and contents they are supposed to do data research. They have really surprised me because they often bring a lot of material to class which we discuss before we start a new lesson.

It should be noted that the CNES originated from the European strategy and vision of education on how to create a knowledge based society: the engine of the economic growth of Europe, in which every individual has to master core and creative competencies which are decisive for a successful life in the New Europe. They signify more than knowledge and skills. They are characterized by flexibility, entrepreneurship and taking one`s own responsibility. Not only is flexibility expected by individuals, but innovation, creativity, self-regulation and internal motivation. Social maturity is also expected: it helps in preventing social pressure, taking different attitudes, making independent judgments and taking responsibility for one`s own behaviour. However, it is of the utmost importance to know how to develop reflection, using meta-cognitive skills, creative skills, and taking a critical stand. It is also important for an individual to know how he or she formulates their experiences, including thinking, feelings and social relationships.

I enjoy making PowerPoint presentations on the computer.

The life of an eight year old student nowadays is in striking contrast with that of an eight year old that lived twenty years ago due to the great influence of digital technology in everyday life, including education.  In the past students learned alone absorbing one bit of information after another, clearly distinguishing a boundary between learning and play.  The students of modern times have developed their abilities tremendously to receive more information by doing many things simultaneously. When they do their  homework on their computers, they simultaneously listen to music with an iPod, watch video clips and chat via Skype.

I practice maths with the help of the computer at home. I find interesting interactive games searching on Google. I give a ring to my friends with my mobile phone and we start playing games online. There is a website where we can practice addition, division and multiplication over and over again until we master them.

The modern student learns intuitively, jumping backwards and forwards, in a nonlinear way. He likes collaborative learning and takes an active lead in the group or team in solving problem based projects or doing research. He finds the Old School boring because he receives information only from the teacher or from a textbook. He attends school as he is forced to. He cannot imagine the New School without the use of a computer which motivates him and empowers him. The computer allows for a high dynamic and interactive multiple communication, different ways of searching for information and constructing knowledge in a collaborative way by a group or team. The help of a teacher mentor is, of course, at the tip of his finger.

I exchange emails with my friends and the teacher. I`ve chatted with all my friends.

The new epistemology of e-learning in the New School is more versatile and of superior quality, than that of the Old School in which uniformed behaviorist patterns prevailed and creativity was prevented.

For these reasons we have introduced e-learning in our school for the youngest students. This type of learning suits the character traits of the young who, without prejudice, accept new digital technologies, in contrast with the mature people who are afraid – according to their words – of these perishable novelties. E-learning contributes in a concrete way by creating a new culture of learning in schools.

These schools become community centres of learning, not only for pupils, but also for teachers, parents and other citizens interested in lifelong learning. E-learning enhances quality assurance through obtaining learning outputs by sharpening various core competences described as quality indicators which have recently been systematically measured by external and internal evaluation to assess the overall performance of schools.

The very act of introducing e-learning was creative and enterprising. The school principal Boris Vidovic and teacher mentor Sandra Vetma procured 10,000 Euros from Croatian Telecom for buying the schools professional equipment. They also designed the strategy and vision for the development of e-learning in our school, provided support to pupils, teachers and parents, and started creating objects of learning. The technical information science assistance was provided from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture and the University of Split. The only problem they face is the lack of the new methodologies for using certain resources and activities which Moodle offers for effective e-learning.

E-learning makes the instruction preparation for teachers, pupils and parents markedly easy. Whilst the Old School action plans were known only to the teachers who kept them in some drawers outside of the scope of public attention, today the actions plans are being prepared every month, collaboratively by all of the teachers. They trace correlation and integration connectedness in all contents and activities with the purpose that the students can better understand the different subjects from all angles and points of view in order to improve thinking, analyzing, synthesizing and making conclusions. The integrated days and outdoor instruction are also planned in this way too. Plans are also expected to be done by drawing mind maps. This kind of planning is easily done electronically in Moodle so that the students and parents can see them and give comments and recommendations. This aids in the refinement of learning by opinion exchanging in the `Forum for the parents`. Moreover, Moodle has a resource called the Calendar where all important upcoming events and activities are announced on a monthly basis.

Even the daily preparation for the classroom becomes more simple and easy. The teacher is able to do the work on a computer and then show daily tasks to the students using an LCD projector, thus reducing the use of chalk and paper.

To develop the lateral thinking the students can easily draw mind maps on the computer.

The students have computers in their classroom which they use every day for e-learning their various school subjects. They do not have a special subject called Information Science or ICT. They do not need to go to the computer lab, either. They practice ICT skills intuitively in their everyday work at school and at home. The immediate feedback which the pupils obtain, strongly motivates them since they know if they have answered the questions correctly or they are in need of additional practice.

The parents can monitor their child`s work and progress either from home or from work if they are online. They can see how long their child has spent in learning and how many times they have tried to solve certain tasks.

The students especially like communicating via the Chat room.  They can, not only talk amongst themselves, but are also able to talk with their teacher and principal on Saturdays and Sundays from 7 to 8 pm. The teacher or principal can take this opportunity to ask the pupils what was good and bad in the previous week as far as the learning is concerned. They usually give them an assignment. For instance: who is Ivan Mestrovic? The kids should search for information about his life and work using the Internet. Their teacher Sandra Vetma also sets tasks within the resource Tasks, which should be completed within a set time limit. The finished work are then graded.

I chatted with the teacher, my friend Filip, Marko and with the principal.

When the kids do mini research projects using the search engines and children`s data bases, they in fact get to know the first elements of research work which seems to them as if it is play. They spend hours online searching for some information which they use to lead a discussion amongst them by using the Forum feature. They discuss who has found certain facts and whose information is more accurate. Reflecting about the findings stimulates their mental processes.

I’m Tina. I’ve written a story on the computer. I found images on the Internet. I opened the PowerPoint and inserted the story and images, bound them together and then printed it.

The kids are fond of doing their homework using the PowerPoint format. Some of them insert dynamic images which they have downloaded from certain web sites to embellish their tasks.

I downloaded many animations. It took us at least 4 hours. I downloaded them. I navigated to other sites.

A wish for aesthetic embellishment of their e-works, shows that the brains of the young digital Homo Sapiens function using both hemispheres simultaneously: from the one in charge for abstract-scientific to the other in charge for language-artistic processes. This is the way that opens creativity: combining science and arts into one creative whole which has been recently named cross-pollination or cross-fertilization on which creative cultural industries are based. This shows that the kids are all heading in a good direction which leads them to science and the arts applied in the new environment.

E-learning greatly involves the parents as the crucial educational factors in the process of education. While the parents used to come to the Old School only a few times a year, nowadays they can monitor daily what their kids do because they are given privileges by the Moodle administrator to watch all their activities, including grades of their respective children. The parents frequently discuss among themselves using the Forum, and with the teacher and the principal.

This is my room where I learn using the computer, doing maths, write stories and search various other things.

Last year he started using this electronic platform. I`ve noticed he has tremendously improved himself. Before, his only contact with the computer was playing the games, but now he can do serious tasks. He is interested in many things, he learns via the Chat which allows communication with the teacher, and with his friends from his class. They exchange various addresses as to where they may find different data which is needed for in and out of school activities.

Here`s the mom. What will she say? Is the use of the computer a complete waste of time? What do you say?

Definitely not! When the kids are online and connected to the electronic platform Moodle, the kids and the parents can see the classroom action plan for the upcoming month, for all the subjects and activities which are announced so the kids can be prepared in advance. We know when the integrated days are planned, learning, field instruction. This means that every one can be informed: the kids and their parents. A communication is also possible between the teacher and the parents. You do not need to wait for the regular consultation time once a week. If a parent has an urgent question, he can easily ask the teacher for advice, and be informed about school and instruction or about his own child.

We still remember when everyone was watching TV; the computers started to be widely used not a long time ago; nowadays mobile phones are in use. This is all inevitable. It will be used more and more, but I think that there is no going back. The sooner the children start using it, then their communication over the Internet will help them to learn faster and better, and this is the goal, isn`t it? This is a different kind of communication. We see that the kids accept it much faster than us, the older people, and they need less time to master it.

The partnership of the school with the parents and the local community creates a positive atmosphere for cooperative work. It promotes lifelong learning and galvanizes creative forces in the students. It establishes the school as a community of learners. In the broader global context it is the place of free flow of information, where different forms of collaboration exist, and where the sharing of knowledge and work – in real time – without regard to geography, distance and language take place.  This is in addition to the asynchronous learning and professional development.

E-learning is only a project in Croatia for the time being. There is no doubt that it will become part of learning at school and at home very soon.

If someone took these computers, it would be very difficult and ugly for all of us. We will be working without any sense. It would be much harder to learn without the computers.  It would be much harder to work without the computer. I always visit the children`s site Pujanke and spend a lot of in chatting with my friends.

I`m Irena. I think that the computer helps me a lot in learning.

For me it is better to learn with the computer than only with the book because it is more fun.

I`m Ela. It is more easier to learn with computer than from the book. From the computer we find more than in the book. It is enjoyable: It is nice to learn with the computer.

If today’s students enter the labour market in 15 years without developed ICT competencies and remain unused to e-learning, they will be lost individuals, deprived of the tremendous educational potential which e-learning offers. The people who want to stop the wave of technological progress solely based on the grounds of their own complacency, will mutilate the kids not to be full-fledged and respected citizen of the New Europe and the New World with the high degree of education and required competencies. They must be aware that all their attempts of retaining the petrified vertical structures of the Old World will be swept away with the unstoppable horizontal digital processes such as: open-sourcing, out-sourcing, in-sourcing, off-shoring, supply-chaining, in-forming mobile and work flow software which gains the power of a typhoon on account of converging and collaborating of these processes. This force crushes all traditional organizations – including schools and universities, firms, consortiums and the national boundaries enabling users to have a great efficiency and high quality.

Schools should be thoroughly designed and a new organization conceived based on e-learning.

It is beyond any doubt that in tomorrow`s digital world, every work, learning, amusement and play will be conducted with the aid of a computer, especially with the  advent of quantum computers.

We believe that our project of e-learning will not remain a dry twig and dry flower on the Croatian education tree, but rather that our labor will bear a thousand flowers on the tree of Croatian e-learning, which symbolize New Schools.

I`m Ivan, I`ve done a PowerPoint presentation with the story named: The Brook.

We must glue some images. I downloaded the images from the Internet at home.

The advantages of using Moodle are for both the students and parents because every month the parents and the students can see the action plan for the current month. They can see all the subjects which will be taught, the integration days, and out-field instruction.

It is a typical after-school day when Silver__Heart (with two underlines between Silver and Heart) checks her account for comments, the Theme of the Day or status updates. She is an artist and a creator. An experienced ©Bitstrips Inc. (www.bitstrips.com) member since 2009, she was first introduced to Bitstrips for Schools in computer class. Building on her school experience outside of her classroom, she is engaging in literacy in this 21st century through an online community.

The meaning of the term literacy long ago expanded from the pre-1970s focus on the fundamental skills of reading, though many experts and reading specialists continue to focus on reading and writing skills, particularly those related to print texts (Lankshear & Knovel, 2006). Scholars have attempted to clarify the definition of literacy as social (involving social practices) and situated (Barton & Hamilton, Gee). New literacy theorists are attempting to define and examine concepts around new literacies. Central to this examination is the observation that “literacy practices pervade daily life” (Coiro, Knobel, Lankshear & Leu, 2008, p. 9). This digital age view looks beyond the reading and writing foundation skills to include “the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that enable complex ways of getting and making meaning from multiple textual and symbolic sources” (Warschauer & Ware, 2008, p. 215). Literacy pervades Silver__Heart’s Bitstrips experiences.

In school, Silver__Heart’s Bitstrips’ use was guided by the teacher who directed the content and pre-approved published materials. These early experiences were designed to meet the curriculum and learning expectations of the appropriate grade. Motivated by creating and publishing in an authentic community of students, Silver__Heart created her own personal account with permission from her parents, and began participating in an online community of creators.

Bitstrips was launched at South by Southwest in 2008 by Jacob Blackstock, an animator tired of repeatedly drawing the same things, and a group of his computer-talented friends (TIFF, 2012). Blackstock claims that within two years, over 600,000 registered users had made 3 million comics and the site had registered 100 million page views with 400,000 unique visitors a month (TIFF, 2012; crossmediaevents, 2012).  He describes his early school experience as a motivator for creating such a tool. Blackstock observes that the comics he drew by hand making fun of his teachers would often get him into trouble, but the projects that he completed using hand-drawn comics usually received high grades (TIFF, 2012). His program features the ability to design characters (self, friends and others) and easily build comics using a drag-and-drop interface combined with a whole host of templates, props and artifacts. The character design process allows for extensive positioning and expression options. Text bubbles are available for dialogue. Commenting on published comics is frequent, with corresponding facial expressions of the avatar to support the tone of the post.

Such a tool opens the world of comic creation to those who are unable to draw and animate by hand. A published comic can be shared with anyone online. Once BitstripsforSchools.com became available for teachers to use in practice, comics were created and published in all subjects (TIFF, 2012). It was licensed by the Ontario Ministry of Education for all schools in Ontario (TIFF, 2012). According to Blackstock, some 87% of Ontario schools had taken up this tool (crossmediaevents, 2012). Blackstock points out that this product allows students to express themselves through a fun and familiar medium as an active participant while exploring their own identity in a plethora of situations (TIFF, 2012).

To date, Silver__Heart has published over 650 comics and almost 80 series. Her unpublished repertoire contains more than 1000 other creations. Her account lists almost 60,000 views, with around 1500 kudos and laughs and more than 1000 users have favourited a comic of hers. She encounters similar creators from countries all over the world including the U.K., Australia and the U.S. Primarily, her connections are from Ontario where the program originated. Her impression is that most of these friends range from middle school to high school age, though she has also met a retired grandmother and entire families (parents and children) online. Together, many are lobbying for a BitCon – a conference similar to a Comic Con or VidCon.  Bitstrips has also recently launched a Facebook application, which has opened the world of avatar creation to millions of users (Kurwa, 2013). Those in the 18-24 year range are adopting it quickly, attracted by its flexibility (LeFavor, 2013).

Silver__Heart creates in many genres. Her artwork is extensive. Most recently featured as one of Buddy’s (Jacob Blackstock’s character) favourites, The Most Beautiful Creature.. (Figure 1) has appeared as a suggested comic to view (http://bitstrips.com/r/cLK69). Self-taught, she spent about two hours creating this. When Silver__Heart needs help, she turns to www.wikihow.com/draw. She cannot draw free-hand with a mouse in this program. Rather, she must create using a finite set of props and must shade using shapes which she sizes and turns. Silver__Heart has mastered the colour codes and keeps track of her favourites.

In the Experimental Genre, Silver__Heart has been featured as a top author. Last month she began a Chez Silver Makeup © series where she chooses a random friend that is online, and creates a custom background for their avatar, dressing them in an interesting outfit and applying complementary make-up. Silver__Heart has created more than 30 of these and they are well received. She spends anywhere from 30 minutes to hours designing these. Her backgrounds have been copied and used in other comics. For Syd has received over 700 views http://bitstrips.com/r/S66T9 (Figure 2).

Of her series, MistClan is her favourite (http://bitstrips.com/series/rdvjp). Many series’ authors create remixes of the popular Warrior series written by Erin Hunter. Silver__Heart has a number of series in the works and will only publish them after creating at least 6 comics. Many are well followed.  Daisy, a remix of popular story or perhaps an urban legend, is her most recent (http://bitstrips.com/series/29h1c).

What Silver__Heart likes best is producing (and the creative process involved) and the camaraderie of the community. There is chat bar for posting updates. In September, for example, there were many excited and supportive comments about the first days of school. This comic community supports good causes and each other as they dress in pink for Cerebral Palsy or green for Lyme disease.

Not all middle schools carry on the tradition of the school she attended. In fact, in Silver__Heart‘s school board, access to programs like Bitstrips is entirely up to the teacher.

Last year, she created a how-to video about Literacy and Bitstrips related to the Ontario grade 7 Language Arts curriculum http://youtu.be/N2BD9P-OwZ8. For more information on how teachers are using Bitstrips in their classrooms, see http://blog.bitstripsforschools.com/.

Silver__Heart is thankful that she was introduced to this Bitstrips in school. For her, it has become more than just a learning tool. While she continues to learn through her online experiences, she has also developed a community of similar-minded inventors, designers and producers. Through this supportive community, her identity is evolving and her artistic skills are expanding. Silver__Heart epitomizes a 21st century learner engaged in literacy in everyday life both outside of school and, as tools such as these become available to students, in school.

References

2x Sky (2013, March 29). Elearning: Teaching with Bitstrips: Grade 7 Language Arts – a How To. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/N2BD9P-OwZ8

Barton, D., & Hamilton, M. (2000). Literacy practices. In D. Barton, M. Hamilton & R. Ivaniĉ (Eds.), Situated literacies: reading and writing in context, (pp. 7-15). New York, NY: Routledge.

© Bitstrips Inc. (n/d). Bitstrips. Retrieved from www.bitstrips.com

Bitstrips Blog. (2013) Bitstrips for Schools: Comics in the Classroom. Retrieved from http://blog.bitstripsforschools.com/

Coiro, J., Knobel, M., Lankshear, C., & Leu, D. J. (2008a). Central issues in new literacies and new literacies research. In J. Coiro, M. Knobel, C. Lankshear & D. J. Leu (Eds.), Handbook of research on new literacies, (pp. 1-22). New York, NY: Erlbaum.

crossmediaevents (2012, Nov 5). CMTO10 – Demo #2 – BitStrips – Jacob Blackstock. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/RRYjZKiFO_g

Davies, J., & Merchant, G. (2009). Web 2.0 for schools: Learning and social participation. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Gee, J. P. (2004). Situated language and learning: a critique of traditional schooling. New York, NY: Routledge.

Kurwa, N. (2013, May 11). Make your own comics: Storytelling with friends, in all tech considered: Tech, culture and connection. npr. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/05/11/182925867/make-your-own-comics-storytelling-with-friends

Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2006). New literacies: everyday practices & classroom learning (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Open University.

LeFavor, L. (2013, April 29). Bitstrips comics explode onto Facebook: The new app has more than 7 million users. The Baltimore Sun.  Retrieved from http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2013-04-29/entertainment/bs-ae-bitstrips-20130426_1_app-comics-facebook

Silver__Heart. (n/d). Daisy. Retrieved from http://bitstrips.com/series/29h1c

Silver__Heart. (n/d). For Syd. Retrieved from http://bitstrips.com/r/S66T9

Silver__Heart. (n/d). Mist Clan. Retrieved from http://bitstrips.com/series/rdvjp

Silver__Heart. (n/d). The Most Beautiful Creature.. Retrieved from http://bitstrips.com/r/cLK69.

TIFF (2012, July 4). Jacob Blackstock: TIFF Nexus: New Media Literacies. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/8-QdAlXgDaQ

Warschauer, M., & Ware, P. (2008). Learning, change and power: Competing frames of technology and literacy. In J. Coiro, M. Knobel, C. Lankshear and D.J. Leu (Eds), Handbook of research on new literacies, (pp. 215-240). New York, NY: Erlbaum.

wikiHow (n/d). wikiHow: the how to manual that you can edit. Retrieved from www.wikihow.com/draw.

Back again for more ‘APP’-tastic apps – this time I’ve selected a few of the best Maths (or ‘Math’ for our American cousins) Apps on the market. I’ve been trying these out in class and again some are ideal for early morning work or to be fitted in as a starter or to be used as an investigative opportunity or a way to consolidate what they have already learnt. However you mean to use them they will totally engage the class and can add another exciting layer to lessons. We’re also looking for different opportunities for children to talk about maths too and I would always follow up any tablet work with a discussion of terms and what was achieved. With my Year 1 class I always get them to share their i-pads in pairs and they swap every few minutes. In this way they get to talk to each other about what they are doing and instinctively they narrate about the APP they are using to their partner. In my teacgher role I will descend upon them with quick consolidatory or next step questioning to get them thinking even more. I tend to target the observer as they are watching patiently (-sometimes, not so patiently but we’ll gloss over that for the purpose of this article.)

As the class are slip-sliding away across their tablets there is always an enthusiastic energy and it’s that energy you want your class to feel about maths and their learning as a whole.  So, calling all Primary Teachers – let’s App-reciate maths together with these maths Apps!

Graphs (Free – KS1/2)

Pie charts, Line graphs and bar charts are all part of this free APP. As well Q&A on data interpretation you can also learn about mean, mode and median. I actually made a pie chart detailing how much I thought you were going to like this App. An overwhelming 100% of you liked it

What time is it Mr Wolf? (0.69p – KS1/2)

This is another award winner for ‘Best App Ever’ 2013 for children under 9 and I agree (even as a teacher over 39!) As a player, you get to choose what times you want displayed and also whether you would like the time digitally shown or in words. Mr Wolf uses the full moon to display his times which he then spins to show different times.  As a generous wolf at heart, he gives the player up to 8 answers tochoose from (though you can select less in the menu.) It’s particularly good for revising those tricky ‘to’ times on an analogue display. It’s a howling success – Ha! Get it? It’s a HOWLING success!….never mind…!

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/what-time-is-it-mr.-wolf-by/id514350448?mt=8

What Time is it, Mr Wolf? (£1.49 – KS1/2)

This is a little bit cuter than our previous wolf and has features to demonstrate time which is particularly good to help students to bring them to an understanding of how time passes. There’s more teaching in this App, so there’s good points to discussThere’s even a screen shot which invites you to ‘Click to feel the time’. Darn clever, I say.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/what-time-is-it-mr.-wolf/id517204551?mt=8

Maths facts: number bond & fact families (0.69p – KS1)

Here’s a very useful App for KS1 classes getting to grips with addition and subtraction facts and the relationships with numbers in number sentences. Lots of fun and easy to play games incorporating missing numbers and inverse operations, and the like. It is simply set out and a great maths way to start a learning day.

Pizza Fractions (0.69p KS1/2)

Learning fractions is as simple as ordering pizza! The pizza chef ensures it’s not just mozzarella and pepperoni on your mind, but how to share your slices out too. You can compare, create and check your answers. This has simple graphics and an easy to play game format to build confidence in fractions. Guaranteed to make you feel quite hungry after all that maths! Your class will end up asking whether there could be a delivery after break time.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/pizza-fractions-comparing/id372978173?mt=8

Math Bingo (0.69p – KS1/2)

This has been a featured App in several noted publications.  Choose your player to answer and select your operation to answer questions to match on your bingo grid. Students can even have a mixture of questions to answer to get them thinking quickly between signs. An award winner, and a thoroughly decent app!

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/abc-pocketphonics-letter-sounds/id299342927?mt=8

KS2 SATs Maths (£2.99 – KS2)

As a revision tool this is something your students can be advised to upload on their devices at home.  There’s over 500 SATs questions given here and Year ^ students can take a test in each of the specified areas. It’s a great App for finding out the gaps in their knowledge in preparation for the BIG Test itself. After each series of questions, it gives you a summary and an approximate NC level too. This is an App you can advise for parents to invest in.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/ks2-sats-maths/id625887685?mt=8

Numeracy Nibbles (0.69p – KS1)

I just like the title of this one – hilarious!’Numeracy Nibbles’ – handy maths bites for hungry kids. Again, this App has a strong emphasis on KS1 SATs and national testing so is a great preparatory tool to try out. This has 300 questions and each test consists  ten randomly selected questions. It gives you a total score of the ones you got right giving the student an indication of their success rate. This type of App needs specific focus for each of the set of questions to get the students into the ‘test’ mindset.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/numeracy-nibbles-ks1/id502140638?mt=8

Splash Math Grades 1 & 2 & 3 (Free! Though it is a ‘lite’ version…- KS1/2)
Oh I do like a free App and this is ideal for Key Stage 1 and 2. It’s fun, friendly cartoon format has 13 chapters and covers over 185 maths skills. It covers a myriad of things from calculation, measures, place value, probability etc. Ideal for early morning work to get their maths brains into gear. (There are some American touches – like counting money – that the British children will have to skip. However overall, it is a thoroughly decent App!)

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/1st-grade-maths-splash-math/id463469532?mt=8

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/2nd-grade-math-splash-math/id463471155?mt=8

Bee Bot (Free–Bot! KS1)

A lot of you will have used the real BeeBots in class and this is the perfect short cut to allow a whole class the opportunity to investigate direction language.  Direct the inquisitive BeeBot around the garden by programming a safe path. As a follow up get the children to make pathways for each other. Then in pairs get them to demonstrate their directional vocabulary to instruct the other to find their destination.

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

3D shapes and Nets (0.69p – KS1/2)

This explores properties of 3D shape and looks at the relationship between them and their nets. There’s plenty of ‘Wow’ factor on offer here with its outer space theme and looks at not only the common 3D shapes but more complex constructs like seven sided pyramids! It’s out of this world!

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/3d-shapes-and-nets/id639476891?mt=8

King of Maths (Free! KS2)

Actually the title is a little misleading as you can just as easily become a ‘Queen’ of maths if you so prefer through this rather fast paced mathematics game. It delivers diverse problems in different areas and manages to challenge you throughout. It has a distinctly medieval theme and the aim is to progress from your lowly farmer peasant status to become a King (or Queen for that matter) of your own maths realm! It has ten levels and students can compare their score with each other. Prithee sire, tis a noble App indeed! Minstrels – play on!

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/king-of-maths/id473904402?mt=8

Number bonds: addition and subtraction to 99 / multiplication and division to 99 (£1.49 per App – KS1/2)

To sharpen up some mental maths then invest in these. They can race against the clock, or with each other or on their own and the beauty about it is they are developing their mathematical reasoning in a game format. There are plenty of these type of Apps and it’s worth getting a selection to test their developing skills. Also they are so easy to facilitate and they keep the class engaged. Super stuff!

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/number-bonds-addition-subtraction/id602002204?mt=8

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/number-bonds-multiplication/id602022694?mt=8

Achieve Level 4 Mathematics (£3.99 – KS2)

You are paying a bit more for this one so it had better be good – and thankfully it is too! Linked in with the series of Achieve books, this offers hundreds of examples to plough your maths mind through. Students can choose their specified area of maths and within that, select an objective to look at. So they may want to choose ‘Shape, space and measures’ in order to look at ‘Angles’. Simples! They can click and drag to their hearts content and as the title suggests it is aimed at trying to secure level 4 knowledge. Highly recommended.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/achieve-level-4-mathematics/id569898777?mt=8

 Math Dictionary (£1.99 – KS1/2)

For those of you that know me (and for the benefit of those that don’t) I do tend to expound upon how important language is in maths making sure children know what they are doing and can tell each other about it. This is a very ‘andy APP for all sorts of reasons – for language acquisition , for concise definitions and visual examples to back everything up too.  Perfect for KS2 and beyond

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/math-dictionary-for-kids/id454367958?mt=8

Speaking Times Tables (0.69p – KS1/2)

To be fair, I’m not too keen on the design of the monkey in this App. I feel I could do a better job there. However, students can listen and join in with the tables being chanted and it’s as good as any of the times table Apps out there, so I’m willing to forgive the rather cross-eyed monkey. You get a choice of voices too. Again, there are endless times tables Apps to be found. A lot of the free options do only cover only some of the times tables and then request that you upgrade (with a fee!) to unlock the rest. So you might as well pay get your school to pay small amount in the first place.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/speaking-times-tables/id379259894?mt=8

Capacity Word Problems/Reading Scales/Balancing Calculations (All £1.49 each – KS1/2)

These three Apps are gems! Simplicity holds the key once more with easy to decipher diagrams for ‘Capacity Word problems’ and ‘Reading Scales’ Apps. Students can answer questions against the clock. ‘Balancing Calculations’ helps to reinforce the role of the equals sign, balancing between different types of calculations. Worth a purchase!

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/capacity-word-problems/id584913823?mt=8

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/reading-scales/id584911275?mt=8

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/balancing-calculations/id584916927?mt=8

APPy Solving!

There are plenty opf opportunities to weave in these Apps to suit the needs of your class. They are a terrific way to stimulate a buzz about maths. Just make sure you get involved with your students as they access these programs. It’s a key opportunity for you to ask assessment questions. Use these Apps as discussion points and create a classroom culture of fun, wonder and discovery!

How  APP-solutley wonderful!

Des

(Des Hegarty is a teacher at Wilbury Primary School. You can follow his book blog ‘Storysplat’ by clicking here: www.storysplat.co.uk

Also you can watch Des in action telling stories on Youtube:

‘Gus You Are a Superstar’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePrPdDYaOQw

The Grizzlegrog’

Mr Gum and the Goblins – by Andy Stanton

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5oxVvuK0rQ

..and finally you can follow him on Twitter @The Grizzlegrog)

 

by Yasemin Allsop

ICT Coordinator, Wilbury Primary School

What is Web 2.0?

Web 2.0 simply means web-based tools of which many are available for free. If it is used as part of well-designed lessons following a project based learning approach, because of its motivational power, it can have a positive impact upon children’s learning. It would be useful for teachers to get familiar with these programs so that they can map how they would use these tools into their lesson plans. The clarity of what they aim to manifest by using Web 2 tools within teaching and learning, will help them to decide the strategies and pedagogy they need to adopt for their teaching. For example if the aim is to develop children’s collaborative work skills then using wikis would be appropriate, however, if the children’s literacy skills in writing fiction stories is the target, then a story creator would be a useful tool. Sometimes there are so many tools, it becomes a very difficult job to decide which one to use. My advice is always discuss the issue with your colleagues, but also involve the learners too. When the tool is more relevant to learners needs and interests as well as the lesson objectives, the learning manifested also becomes an enjoyable experience.

SO WHY USE WEB 2.0 TOOLS?

There is a growing emphasis on teaching children critical thinking skills, so that they will become successful learners. Thinking, as the main foundation of cognition can be seen as the process of making constant connections between what we know and what we understand of concepts to develop further meanings. If we are to teach children thinking skills we need to focus on developing their ‘inwards thinking’ which allows them to check what they know and make a link between what they know and the new knowledge in their minds and their ‘outwards thinking’ which allows them to apply what they know into real-life situations in a physical world.

Web 2.0 tools can be used for designing a learning content and environment, where the learners can learn at a pace, where they can use their cognitive resources. They can create / design a product or a solution which involves planning, investigating / exploring, decision making, designing / creating, communicating / sharing, collaborating and finally evaluating. However, having these skills doesn’t alone guarantee that the student will learn. Learning is extensively derived on how well students can transfer and apply these skills to different learning contexts. Using Web 2.0 in teaching and learning, gives the learners the opportunity to be the driver of their learning journey, where constant conversations with ‘self’ and ‘others’ takes place.

What we need to remember is Web 2 tools can only help learners to develop their core skills such as collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, if the lesson content and the learning space is designed and managed to accommodate the application of these skills. There is no point in expecting children to improve their collaboration skills when they are not allowed to work with others because the noise level in the classroom increases. Similarly, can we assume that they would be able to evaluate their peers work if they are not allowed to move around. What this tells us is that when using digital technologies in the classroom, how the classroom is designed and managed as a learning space, will define how learning manifests itself. Be flexible in both your approach to learning, the strategies you use in the classroom and don’t rush children. Let them have time to think and turn their ideas into a design. This is why I encourage people to use a Project Based Learning approach when teaching with technology as it allows learners have enough time to master their knowledge and skills. Finally, don’t assume that you need to know everything about technology, be ready to learn with your students. It is fun and changes the way they perceive you as a teacher in a positive way.

Tune in to learn with the learners!

Click here to download the ‘Web 2 tools by Subject’ PDF booklet.

 

 

In attempt to make this article both interesting and useful (!) I’ve been routing round the internet to recommend some literacy apps.

I am a tablet novice.  Tablets have seemingly passed me by, so when a friend suggested I borrow an iPad for the weekend I duly obliged with some hesitation. I had survived so far without one so I wasn’t expecting it to bring anything to the table. However, the draw of the screen and the graceful glide of my fingers, as they slid across the surface like Torvil and Dean, was far too tempting. Alright, so perhaps I am romanticising slightly but I came to the instant conclusion that they are so addictively good! There’s bags of learning opportunities to be had too with each month bringing a slew of educational apps ripe for discovery. My Year 1 class of 5 and 6 six year olds have been very enthusiastic test subjects. Their fingers have furiously flicked from app to app in an attempt to channel and challenge their creativity. (It’s at this point I would like to say that the whole class get a higher score than I do on ‘Temple Run’. Sigh!)

My advice when roaming around for the best education apps are:

  • Go by recommendation. Read the reviews – see what the public have to say.
  • Find out what you can get for free. Some of the more expensive apps are too distracting with unnecessary add-ons and showy graphics. Keep it simple to allow the learning to embed.

Handwriting and Phonics

Pocket Phonics (£1.99)

This has been designed and tested by teachers in the UK – so if it isn’t any good, then you’ve got them to blame! Having said that you shouldn’t have any real complaints as this is pretty perfect for letter sounds, handwriting and first words. Children are guided to write each letter with a ‘follow me’ arrow. An award winner, and a thoroughly decent app!

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/abc-pocketphonics-letter-sounds/id299342927?mt=8

Alphabet Tracing (Free)

For beginners this is a must have app. It is not a phonic app so don’t expect it to feature, but it does have the means to practise upper and lower case letters as well as numbers and words.  There’s also ABC Letter Tracing too which again doesn’t phonetically sound out the letters. It could use a starting arrow too for each letter but on the whole it’s not bad at all!

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/alphabet-tracing/id374493089?mt=8

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/abc-letter-tracing-free-writing/id416326981?mt=8

Cursive practice (Free/£0.69 for Full Screen version)

This is very loopy indeed! It has famous quotes to copy and the full screen version will set you back £0.69.  Something I have discovered is that even the most stubborn pupils who don’t like to write are easily convinced when presented with an ipad and a splendid app like this.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/cursive-practice/id492625990?mt=8

Pop Words (Free)

This is challenging and awfully addictive. This is an interesting twist on ‘Boggle’. Some of my Year 6 children were puzzling over it for some time. There would be occasional shrieks of ‘I’ve got GLEAMING!’ and ‘I’m one letter off of FORTUNE!’. I would use this as a starter to a lesson or as early morning work to get their brains into gear.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/popwords!/id472853634?mt=8

Grammar and spellings

Squeebles spelling test (£1.49)

This comes with three test modes and there’s a mini-game with bonus rewards for high scores. It allows you to set up tests, enter words and then record audio versions of those words for the children to listen back to before they spell them. Stats are available too on each child so that you can see which words they are struggling with. I recently trialled this at school and it went down well with a group of Year 2 children. Thankfully their spolling spelling has got bitter better through the experience!

Grammar Up (Free)

Grammar Up provides 1800 multiple choice questions for English in over 20 grammar categories. I tried it and quickly discovered that my grammar ‘weren’t goodish’! So back to the drawing board for me! Also LearnEnglish Grammar by the British Council (Free) gives you a series of tests which you can improve on and build your score. The pupils can work up the levels to be a grammar master!

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/grammar-up-free-edition/id299024911?mt=8

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/learnenglish-grammar/id488099900?mt=8

Stories for Reading and Retelling in Key Stage 1 (Nosy Crow steal the show!)

Pip and Posy (£1.99)

This is one for nursery and Foundation stage but a great app to start off with. Axel Scheffler’s drawings are as delightful as ever. The games are spot on with ‘matching pairs’ and ‘making a face’. I found the ‘spot the difference’ quite tricky but observational skills have never been my strong point!

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/pip-and-posy-fun-and-games/id514916095?mt=8

The three Little Pigs (£3.99)

When it comes to story apps, Nosy Crow are the ones to beat for sheer excellence.  They are consistent award winners – but plaudits aside – children are fascinated by their apps. Their apps entertain and educate effortlessly and they have chosen a winning formula by updating the fairytale classics. There are loads of characters to discover and plenty of interactive surprises too. The best bit of course is when you get to be the wolf and blow the houses down through the microphone. Who hasn’t wanted to do that?

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/three-little-pigs-nosy-crow/id418543664?mt=8

Cinderella: a 3D Fairy Tale (£3.99)

Again, Nosy Crow have come up trumps. So often app animation can look so formulaic but this looks stunning thanks to the creative eye of Ed Bryan. Children can read along and interact with the story . Highlights include building the magical carriage with the Fairy Godmother, and selecting music for the Prince and Cinders to dance to. (Which would you choose – Bollywood or Disco?) With ‘Cinderella’ and ‘The Three Little Pigs’, children are guaranteed a different reading experience every single time. It’s magic! Seriously, I can’t wait for ‘Little red Riding Hood’ which should be downloadable sometime this month.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/cinderella-nosy-crow-animated/id457366947?mt=8

The Grunts: Beard of Bees (Free)

(Just as a little free extra, it’s worth downloading The Grunts: Beard of Bees. This is also produced by Nosy Crow taken from the enormously enjoyable books by Philip Ardagh . He also narrates this ‘bees’-tly game as you try and attach as many as you can to Mr Grunt’s face before the timer runs out.  Though please take care of stray butterflies and flowers as Mr Grunt will tell you off for trying to add them to his ghastly face. I should also like to point out that Philip has the most wonderful beard in real life but thankfully it is not made of bees.)

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/the-grunts-beard-of-bees/id548325168?mt=8

Sir Charlie Stink Socks and the really big adventure (£2.99)

You can download the lite version of this but don’t be put off buying the real deal as it is a lovely app. It is brilliantly written and illustrated by Kristina Stephenson. The children can interact by playing with the Wiggly Woos, or press the words to hear Michael Maloney’s narration;  or simply use the painting mode to colour their own pictures from the story. It helps with learning and literacy development and is a whole heap of fun to boot!

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/sir-charlie-stinky-socks-really/id408773184?mt=8 (lite version!)

Creative Writing Apps

Poetry Creator (Free)

I don’t know about you but my refrigerator is covered in magnetic words to make amusing little phrases as I burn dinner for my family. This app essentially does the same but it doesn’t come with a fridge!  This app has brought tears of laughter to a collection of Year 4 and 5 pupils as we were testing its mettle. It inspired the glorious poem that we called ‘Florist Robber’.  It is a pretty little ditty that goes like this:

‘The Florist Robber’ by Wilbury School

‘Everyone of you Freeze!’

Said the ‘balaclava wearing’ cheese.

‘Give me the money please!’

Raged the banana-wielding cheese.

‘Those flowers make me sneeze!’

Gasped the allergy ridden cheese!

‘Atchoo- Atchoo-Atchoo!’ – and he surrendered to his knees!

Surreal beauties like this can then be shared via email or saved to your devices’ photo album. A simple, effective app for any budding Shakespeare or would –be rapper.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/poetry-creator-verses-poetry/id371925480?mt=8

Writer’s Hat (£0.69)

This a great table top app to help generate ideas for stories. The word prompts help to stimulate creative thinking for writing, speaking, drama and art. Once your class has generated some words they can be plan and piece together a narrative independently or in a group. Again, simplicity is the key here. By listing words to accompany ‘Who’, ‘What’, ‘Where’ and ‘When’ the student is given the opportunity to play around with their imagination. It’s easily reset and there’s also a bank of words which can be added to.

Here’s a sample for you to try. Make a story from the following:

Who: Policeman

What: Spaceship

Where: City

When: 1970s

What are you waiting for? Go and create a masterpiece!

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/writers-hat/id449796394?mt=8

Mind Over Monsters (Free)

Those darn, pesky monsters! Perhaps I’m being unkind as while they are causing havoc in the stratosphere, they are enabling children to brush up on their literacy skills. Each level poses different problems to solve by bashing the critters that have the right answers.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/mind-over-monster-english/id399191336?mt=8

APPy Endings!

As an extension to all these apps is the teaching that accompanies them. The speech and language opportunities are plentiful and it’s just as important to ensure that time is taken to discuss collectively what you are setting out to achieve. They key is to not let apps take over but to use them selectively and purposefully to back up the pedagogy.

Happy APPing!

Des

(Des Hegarty is a teacher at Wilbury Primary School. You can follow his book blog ‘Storysplat’ by clicking here: www.storysplat.co.uk/

Also you can watch Des in action telling stories on Youtube:

‘Gus You Are a Superstar’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePrPdDYaOQw

The Grizzlegrog’

Mr Gum and the Goblins – by Andy Stanton

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5oxVvuK0rQ

..and finally you can follow him on Twitter @The Grizzlegrog)