Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Apps I use.

Since beginning to use my iPad nearly 10 months ago I have added loads of Apps to it, some I have bought, others have been free. I thought I should share the ones I use a lot and share how I use them too.

Evernote: The App I use for notetaking, link keeping, article archiving and paper based note storage is Evernote. It can be downloaded onto phone, tablet, kindle and PC or Mac and it allows you to share things on one account between each device. I’m not the best at keeping bits of paper, so now I take a photo graph of them and Evernote them. By carefully tabbing them I can easily find stuff.

Hootsuite: This is my chosen twitter device, again available across multi-formats and once you have created your account your setup follows wherever you login. Hootsuite allows you to create lists for your twitter account and separate them into columns on a page and different pages too (I have a page for education, one for leisure).

Zite: Zite brings you content it thinks you will find interesting based on your twitter feed, google reader feed and articles you ‘like’ in Zite. Most of my reading for education is now done through Zite and the articles you read are easily shared via twitter and facebook. Zite also allows you to copy article directly across to Evernote (and allows you to tag then in Evernote)

IThoughts: I never really used mind map style planning before getting the iPad, but using this app allows you to change what’s in bubbles, move them around and delete the bubble altogether very easily. I find it’s a good way for me to put down ideas for topic planning, presentation planning etc.

Haiku Deck: Can’t get enough powerpoint!! Haiku Deck is presentational software which gives a full picture slide background (you choose the picture or they suggest) and then you put a limited amount of text on the page. I feel the end results are visually great, and move you away from a powerpoint comfort zone of putting too much text on each slide.

IMG_0567

Questions?

I really like the idea of using open ended questions as a starter for lessons and often use the Thunks website from Independent Thinking. I found a new site which I called Thought Questions  which has questions in a similar vein although the questions on there are often a bit deeper. They could certainly lead to good ‘citizenship’ and PSHE discussions. There are also some lovely images which go with each question.

I am going to use the images from the site to create an interactive thinking display in my room. The questions will be in the middle of the display and the children will  add their answers/ideas on post-it notes around the display.

Have a look at the site and see what you think.

Apple Smoking In The Darkness

Teachmeet TV

I came across Teachmeet TV yesterday via the Pedagoo.org site (which is awesome, so check it out if you haven’t before).

Teachmeet TV sets out to ‘help anyone find and see interesting education videos and everyone can recommend a video for inclusion on the site.’

It looks like a great resource, bringing together the ideas of a range of great people in one place.

Have a look and see what you think.

 

Make Things Do Stuff

NESTA, Nominet Trust and Mozilla have create the website Make Things Do Stuff, with the following aim.

Make Things Do Stuff aims to mobilise the next generation of digital makers.

I’ve just had a quick look around their site but it looks great. There are a lot of projects on their which Digital Leaders will love, but which could also be developed in the classroom too. Have a look and see what you think.

http://www.makethingsdostuff.co.uk

Cranes In The Sky.

 

It’s not about the tool?

It’s not about the tool is a phrase which seems to crop up a lot in education currently. It’s usually connected to ICT with someone telling us it’s not about a piece of software, hardware, operating system etc. It’s about how it’s used and the learning that takes place.

I’m not convinced.

Tools which don’t work as well as they should.

It seems this is new thinking for education authorities, and it could be argued this is an attempt to hide their incorrect decisions of the past. An example – Interactive White Boards – Why buy so many of them, at such a huge cost? Where was the debate about the most effective use of the money? And why not make them at the correct height for pupils in the classroom?

If your school has elderly laptops/PC’s then the chances are that some fabulous pieces of free, Web 2.0 type software won’t run on them due to a missing upgrade.

Many schools don’t have free choice of web browser, they’re tied to IE (which can’t always upgrade to the newest version) which means that many tools are not on the ‘menu’ to be chosen from.

High Quality Tools

Moving away from ICT and education, when I take my bike out I love the fact that it’s responsive, comfortable and it enhances the pleasure I get from being out, making me more likely to go out on it.

The creatives in our house enjoy using the best art tools they can, and they help to expand their creativity. They don’t produce a lot of art on slates – I’m sure they could but they’d soon become disillusioned as they see other artists using finer, more appropriate, more enhancing tools.

Aspiration.

If we want to develop our children’s learning, if we want to provide aspiration, if we want to develop self-esteem, if we’re really serious about it then we need to have the BEST tools available for the job. Of course we need to debate what they are, of course we need to ensure that teachers are using them as best they can (they usually are by the way).

‘Wow’ factor.

Benjamin Franklin wrote when he was 16 about Temples of Learning. For me part a Temple conjures up images of beauty, craftsmanship and inspires feelings of awe – or as my P4/5 class might put it ‘wow’.

Schools need to, and can, provide the ‘wow’ factor in so many young lives and a large part of that is in the materials available in school. Schools are already providing the ‘wow’ factor in many young lives through the quality of staff they employ, their attitudes and their commitment to the children they teach. It’s time to provide some of the tools to match.

It’s not JUST about the tool, but Government and Local Authorities, the tool is a large part of it. Do you do all that you can?

 

Weeknotes…what happened?

I did think when I began my weeknotes that it could be an ambitious thing to try and write something once a week, and sure enough as term progressed and I got more tired, I got less productive and weeknotes weren’t written.

 

So, what did I do in the last 3 to 4 weeks.

  • P4/5 and P5 had their Dr Who showcase which brought the Dr Who topic to a conclusion. The work the children put into that (which was fantastic) can be seen on our pages on the school blog. There are still a few more scratch games to post up on there too. The topic inspired 2 children to create this wonderful drama at home!
  • The digital leaders never quite completed their podcast – I think a combination of Audacity and windows XP proved insurmountable for them. We will try again using the ‘Voice record’ app on the iOS systems. This looks to be a great app and much more friendly that Audacity, although not as high-end.
  • Ukulele news… The Girl has a electro-acoustic tenor. (Envy, jealousy etc) Looks great and sounds fantastic! I’m still playing away on my Uke and am trying to finger pick a bit.
  • Cooking – I made Easter Sunday dinner for the family. Lamb Shanks from the Ruhlman’s Twenty book (which is wonderful, never made anything bad from this book) and a Quorn alternative for The Girl and me. I also made a poppy seed torte from the Guardian cook which was dreadful.
  • Comic relief day in school was very successful – well done to Pupil Council, your ideas were brilliant. Again the school blog is the place to see photos of the day.
  • I used Mailstrom to re-organise my gmail account and have achieved Inbox zero, and not gone beyond 10 e-mails in my inbox since! Great program.
  • I made it to the Easter holidays, it was a tiring term and I’m not really feeling human yet, but I made it which I am really pleased about.

 

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