Blog 27: iThink Therefore iPad 2014

Today I had the privilege of presenting, along with two of our fantastic pupils, at iThink Therefore iPad 2014, hosted by MMU at Manchester Central.

All in all it was a fantastic day, coming away with loads of new ideas and making a few new contacts to boots.

I will blog in more depth about the day. As promised, here is my Prezi presentation from today.

Thanks ��


Blog 26: Sharing Weblinks on Tablets Using Symbaloo

Symbaloo.com is a free web service that I discovered at a Teach Meet in Bolton two years ago.  I've been using it as a personal 'Internet favourites' tool since.

This year we've been using it in school and have found it to be an excellent tool for sharing weblinks across a range of devices at once.  This means that pupils aren't wasting time locating websites or misspelling URLs, resulting in increased learning time (although pupils still have opportunities elsewhere to practise these skills.)

Here's a brief overview of how to set up and use it.  (Note- we use the iPad version, but it is available on other platforms).

To set up your weblinks, go to Symbaloo.com and login using you account details (these will be the account details you will be using for all devices)

Either set up or select your year group's tab:

Then click on an empty tile to add a new link: 

Then complete the box on the left of the screen:
It is now created! 

Accessing on tablets (iPads used for this example)

 Set up the iPads so that they are already logged into the school account.

The app icon looks like this:

When you tap it this menu should appear:
Select the class you want and the menu should appear:
This icon ^ gives you
the option to open the link in Web Browser, otherwise it opens 'in-app'

Try it and see how it goes!  You can also add links to tiles to class webpages and blogs.


Blog 25: Using Google Maps to map learning across the school year.

I have long been a fan of Google Maps ever since I set up the primary blog map (http://goo.gl/maps/GnGtN).  For those unfamiliar with Google Maps, it is part of the Google package, so if you have a GMail account or a Google Apps for edu account you will have access. To access it, use the services tabs along the top of the Google homepage.

You can create your own personal maps, on which you can pin destinations with notes, HTML code and links. You can keep the map private, or share it by making it public and sharing the map's URL or embedding the map on a blog or webpage (see below).
(Primary Blog Map)

What we have done on our class webpage is create a Class Learning Map.  As the year progresses we will add destinations that we have 'visited' in our learning. By the end of the year we should have a well populated map.
I really like the way it allows the pupils the opportunity to explore the destinations discussed using satellite views.

You can see our current learning map by visiting this url: https://mapsengine.google.com/map/viewer?mid=zY0HfQkd_QCw.kJmGh7SiuTl0

If your pupils have their own blogs and Google accounts, why not let them create their own maps, writing about the places that they have visited?

It's a simple, straightforward idea that is easy to maintain- get the pupils to do it all!

Like this idea? There's loads more at www.chrismcwilliam.blogspot.co.uk


Blog 24: Spacecraft 3D

If you use iPads in school and are teaching about Space then I recommend that you give your class some time to explore Nasa's Spacecraft 3D application for iPad (free).

It is an augmented reality app allowing pupils to bring many of NASA's spacecraft and satellites in the classroom. Point the camera at the trigger image and, hey presto, the craft appears.  Some of the images can be manipulated, allowing you to turn them, extend aerials, etc.

The kids loved it. It also makes a fantastic interactive writing prompt. Try it. You'll be amazed.

App link: 



Blog 23: Using ICT to show progression within a lesson

How do you know your pupils have made progress within one lesson? As a teacher you know, but it is not always possible to prove or evidence it (for APP etc.), however there are one or two things you can try that will help. Below is one way I use ICT, namely Google forms, to evidence progression.

What is Google Forms?
To quote Google themselves, 'Google Forms is a useful tool to help you plan events, send a survey, give students a quiz, or collect other information in an easy, streamlined way.'

Essentially, you can create a survey, questionnaire or quiz, which users then complete.
Responses are then automatically collated into a spreadsheet, allowing you to see all at a glance.

You can also view numerical responses in graphs and charts.

How have I used it in English?

I set up a form titled 'Similes and Metaphors- BEFORE'.  As the pupils entered the room they were asked to complete the form. Responses on the spreadsheet automatically showed me who required work on this and who didn't, allowing more effective differentiation.  (Pink column above)

At the end of the lesson/ day I asked the pupils to complete the same form (this time titled 'Similes and Metaphors- AFTER').  I was then able to glance over the spreadsheet to identify who has achieved the objective or not (green column above).  Obviously it will need further assessment in writing contexts, but as far as the lesson was concerned I had immediate and accurate feedback information and evidence of progress.

Other ideas for use in English are:

  • Multiple choice spelling and grammar quizzes
  • Comprehension answer forms
  • Word type quizzes
  • Up levelling games (suggest a word that would improve this sentence)
How have I used them in Maths?

In Maths I have used them regularly to enable me to intervene more appropriately when needed.
Here's one example.  We were doing problem solving, so each ability group had a form consisting of 2 boxes per problem. These were 'calculation' and 'answer' boxes.  Pupils had a 'working out' sheet for their working, entering the function and answer for each problem on their device.  On my iPad I had the response spreadsheet open, and as it was updated in real time I was able to see who was getting it and who wasn't, therefore I could support those finding it difficult and push those who needed more challenging. 
For those who got answers wrong, I was able to see how they got them by looking at their working out sheets.

Other ideas for use in Maths are:

  • Calcualtion answers
  • Mental maths testing
  • Shape identification
  • Vocabulary definition
  • Success criteria construction

There are 100s of uses and applications for Google forms other than as an assessment tool, and it works on pretty much any device.

When sharing this with a colleague a response I got was 'Yeah but it takes ages to set this up.'  Not at all!

Creating a form is a 5 minute job. Creating a shortcut to the form or emailing to pupils is a 30 second job.  Done. The automated 'at a glance' response spreadsheets drastically cut down the marking process and make assessment more efficient. When you compare the set up time to the length of time it takes to thoroughly scrutinise each pupil's book, the difference is big.

Another response was 'How do you feedback to the child?' Verbally or a quick note in their target books. The difference being that I am able to make that comment more immediately in that lesson, making feedback more relevant.

Have you used Google Forms? How?

For more information watch:


Blog 22: Using iPads and Übersense for Assessment in PE

I have recently come across a fabulous free app called Übersense. It is a video capturing app that enables you to slow the video down, adding annotations and explanations. It is perfect for use in PE, as you can tag videos to specific users and save them in categories.

We used them this week to analyse push passes, control and dribbling our in hockey. The pupils had the videos of themselves on iPads and were able to assess and improve their own performances.

I am sure this very effective app will have many applications across the curriculum.


Blog 21: What we've done with video this year

Here are a few of the things my class (Y5) have done with video this year.  

Earlier this year my class were rather taken with Felix Baumgartner's free fall from the edge of space (see earlier blog).  We use 2Animate to create cartoon animations of the free fall, which were then imported into movie maker, with the pupils recording descriptions of the fall as if they were Felix.

We used the 'I Can Animate' app to recreate the attempted invasion of the Spanish Armada as part of our Topic work.  The pupils were given a 2 minute demo of the app and then had to work it out for themselves, a method I find increasingly useful.  The pupils had card for a backdrop, materials for a boat and other props.  In 2 afternoons they were complete and a great success.
Green Screening
This is a particular favourite of most of the pupils in my class, and a popular choice when pupils have free choice of presentation.  Initially we bought 'I Can Present' software (£149), complete with a green screen (£99).  This worked fairly well, although we had a lot of trouble finding a compatible camera and PC.  Since then we have purchased a great app called 'Green Screen Movie FX Studio'.  Probably the best feature of this app is that you can use any solid coloured background as the 'green screen'.  We've used this to create news reports (Tudor news, Fair Trade reports), music videos and superhero trailers.  It is a fun, creative way of presenting work.

Using iMovie
This is my personal favourite. Again I gave a 2 minute demo then challenged the class to produce movie trailers for the Secret Garden, linking together our work on older literature and our work on persuasion.  If you are unfamiliar with iMovie, it is a video capturing and editing app for iPad, allowing you to add effects and soundtracks to your videos. It also has a set of template movie trailers.  This is what we used and here is my favourite.

Video presentations using Video Scribe
This is a great app that allows you to create simple and effective presentations, such as the one we used to open our class assembly.

Generally having a bit of fun
There are other video apps that we have used, although we have only had a play with them.  This first is 'Funny Movie Maker' (or 'The Annoying Orange app'). Basically you choose or upload an image, position the camera so your mouth replaces the mouth in the image, and film. Another fun way to present your work.
'Video Star' allows you to film yourself or others over a music soundtrack, adding effects in real time. Simple and fun.

The software and apps we've used this year have allowed the pupils to realise their visions and think in a more creative way in a variety of situations.
Do you create and use video? What have you done? How do you store the work?