Sunday, August 29, 2010

Good Shepherd Year Two Update!

We initially believed the level of engagement was due to the fact that the children were using something different – the ipads were a novelty. We have found that they are so engrossed in what they are doing, don’t care what else is going on around them in their Learning Space or what they could be “missing out on”!

We have noticed that different personality types will initially gravitate to particular applications, for example, the some of the more extroverted children immediately “fell in love” with Puppet Pals. Over the past couple of weeks, however, we have also observed that Puppet Pals has given a voice to those children who are naturally quieter. Tony, a generally softly spoken member of our group, was the star of the show in a recent Puppet Pals production. His confident voice boomed throughout the show and he loved every minute of it!

Children work independently with the ipads. They “figure it out” as they go along with very little teacher intervention needed. A number of the applications we are using are multi-levelled and free! These include:
• Ace kids maths games HD free lite
• ABC phonics animals writing HD free lite
• ABC phonics sight words HD free lite
The children are successfully choosing an appropriate level to work at and are self-monitoring.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Engaging the Material and Re-thinking the Message

Engaging the Material and Re-thinking the Message

How does the iPad meet different learning styles so that students are more engaged with the material?

Having spent the past few weeks putting our two humble iPads into the hands of as many teachers and students as possible, I nonetheless found Week 7’s question quite a taxing one. For one thing, it is interesting to think about what “the material” is from a number of viewpoints. Does the message change because of the medium? My Science coordinator seems to think so in her evaluation of The Elements for iPad, a compendium of touchable elements with an array of information on each:



Likewise, as an avid reader, I’m highly impressed with the iPad’s potential - much of it already realised - as an e-reader that will transform the nature of content. Having grappled with the proprietary format restrictions of Amazon’s Kindle and the lunacy of not being able to read Border’s ePub files without copious hacks and modifications, I’m pleased that the Borders and Amazon apps sit snuggly with Apple’s new iBooks on the iPad - everything converges nicely without too much fuss. The screen is a nice size too.

Will the iPad’s niftiness with periodic elements and electronic books engage students who would be otherwise largely uninterested in the composition of beryllium or the ruminations of a nineteenth century lady of leisure (sorry, Ms. Austin!)? Quite possibly. In terms of learning styles, there could be considerable potential for exploring how the touch interface transforms our relationship with the information we view and process, particularly for the so-called kinaesthetic learners. Ultimately, though, I think the iPad’s success as a device to transform learning will be dependent on how well it builds in the open architecture of web 2.0 and interactivity within the apps themselves.



My Stand-Out App for Web 2.0 Interactivity - MobileRSS


Long-since relegated to the halls of nerdy obscurity, RSS reading is a technology that many teachers - myself included - often throw well into the too-hard basket, just because of the complexities of identifying, tagging and subscribing to sites that support RSS functionality. Although I love Google Reader, I find it cumbersome to have a class of kids set up separate Google accounts and then show them at length how to navigate news sites like abc.net.au/news looking for relevant tags and locating RSS feeds. Kids all too easily forget passwords and unless there is substantial time and follow-up, this kind of technology doesn’t pay back the investment (and Google have yet to answer my plea to add Reader to the suite of Google Apps for Education).

All of that aside, I’m pleased to see that RSS is alive and kicking on the iPad. A search for RSS turns up a good twenty apps that nicely manage feeds and integrate with many of the Web 2.0 services available (including Google Reader!). My pick, MobileRSS syncs effortlessly with my Google account and even stores hundreds of RSS articles/posts on the iPad for reading without a wifi connection.

The way that the iPad just blends into the background when I read is really the selling point for me both as a technology consumer and as a teacher. Most importantly, apps like MobileRSS allow for a high degree of interactivity, integrating effortlessly with Web 2.0 services like Twitter, Facebook, Buzz, StumbleUpon and so on. If it works for me (and it does), I think there’s real potential for kids to get excited about reading news and blogs and to share their interpretations, reflections and opinions on the pieces they read. That makes the teacher investment in protocols like RSS and services like Google Reader worth my while.

Friday, August 27, 2010

iPads in Year 6 : Girraween

We have been using the iPads in our Year 6 classroom. The students were very excited at the prospect of using iPads in our day-to-day learning. Our aim with the iPad was to use them for as many hours in the school day as we could. We have found the iPads beneficial in English groups and Maths groups. I have downloaded many applications for the students to use. I have noticed that new apps are added each day so regularly checking the app store has been beneficial.

The iPad has been great for our English as a second language learners who find the work in Year 6 challenging. We have used Balloon Pop challenge to revise odd and even numbers, multiplication and division. They have also revised times tables through various apps. In the last week, Story Builder has been good for those who struggle with communicating their ideas. They record their story of the picture and listen to themselves afterwards.

For our more able students we have been using an app to show percentages.

We have also used the iPads for surfing the net for information to complete the tasks we have been working on in the classroom. The students have found that the iPads take up less room on their desks and are quicker to use if they are looking up words or information to complete an activity in their workbooks.

Sacred Heart Primary Mt Druitt

Our use of the ipads has been with small groups of special needs children. They have demonstrated a very good knowledge and application of the ipad because of their familiarity with iphones. Some of our children have ipads at home. They find the games easy to play and access. However, we have not challenged them yet with things like voice over in stories. Once they are comfortable with the ipad the harder applications can be attempted.
The application in lessons is limited, as one of our two ipads has had great difficulty accessing wireless for internet connection. We will monitor this closely- but it does intermittently drop out from the network.
The teaching perspective of the program has found that most of the applications available are not Australian. Phonics and some stories are all American. Another potential problem is that the ipad needs to be used at school restricting teachers from home preparation if they do not have wireless internet at home. Due to restriction of not accessing this at home, our knowledge of applications is limited and therefore not realising its full potential. This will come in time as the pilot continues.
At Delany we have been using the Music Apps. So far the students have been really engaged and excited to work with them.

We have started using the following music Apps:

IAm Symphony: This has really nice musical sounds where you can move instruments around the music and here different parts of the orchestra. You can add in Timpani when you want. You can create new sections. In terms of educational value it helps you to hear the Symphony and it's music and arrange it at a very basic level.

Glee App the students really liked this app, but in some ways its like a glorified karaoke machine. It records your singing with the Glee choir and you are the lead vocalist. There's many different variations and songs you can download to add to it. It records you while you sing and the saves it for you to listen to (and improve on). Then you can send it off around the world and people rate it! It corrects your pitch and is very much like guitar hero as the notes come through and you can see the pitch levels of high, medium and low. It has a clear sound and you can choose if you have backing singers. The words come up and are highlighted. The app works well and depends what your looking for in a singing app. (It also has a tutorial to show you how to use it)

We have also used Orchestra II which is a beautiful app and interactively shows the student the lay out of the orchestra, it gives a detailed history and fact sheet (beautifully presented) on each instrument as well as plays the instrument for you. You can here each section play, to learn the unique tone of each instrument and family. However despite it being great for learning about the instruments and their sounds there is nothing further to this app like tests or educational games. So once you have read about each instrument and listened to it there is nothing more to do. It does have some really beautiful music on it.

More to come!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

E-textbooks for the iPad

The CK-12 Foundation has e-textbooks for iPads called Flexbooks. They are Creative Commons Licensed making them free for use by educational bodies as long as you attribute them.


At OER Commons find Free-to-Use Teaching and Learning Content from around the World. Organize K-12 Lessons, College courses and more. Search by subject area, grade level and material type.

Priced ebooks for the iPad
The list of titles available at KeyBookshop.com covers a wonderful array of topics including core subjects such as reading, writing, math, science, literature social studies and language as well as more specialized topics such as computers, technology, arts, crafts, and many others. Teacher resources including activity guides, reproducible worksheets, lesson planning guides, and holiday ideas are also available. they are available in a pdf format which could be read by apps like Goodreader.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Using VoiceOver with the iPad

The iPad has built in accessibility features to make it easier to use for people who have a vision impairment, are deaf or hard of hearing, or have a physical or learning disability. These accessibility features include monoaudio, zoom, closed captioning and white on black. For more about these features see Apple's iPad Accessibility webpage.

In particular it has VoiceOver, a gesture-based screen reader for the blind. Instead of memorizing keyboard commands you touch the screen to hear a description of the item under your finger.

VoiceOver is activated via Settings - General - Accessibility on the iPad or you can also activate it via iTunes when the iPad is connected via Configure - Universal Access.

Note if VoiceOver is activated you cannot use the Zoom function.

Also when Voiceover is activated it changes the gestures you use to control the iPad. some VoiceOver gestures use two three or four fingers to tap or flick.

Further below is a list of VoiceOver gestures for navigating and reading.

The following video shows how iBooks on the iPad will read a book to you using the accessibility feature VoiceOver. Note that this will not work on books that have specifically disabled this feature.




Summary of VoiceOver gestures used to navigate and read.


* Tap: Speak item.
* Flick right or left: Select the next or previous item.
* Flick up or down: The effect varies depending on the Rotor Control setting.
See “Using VoiceOver” on page 110 of the iPad User Guide.
* Two-finger tap: Stop speaking the current item.
* Two-finger flick up: Read all, from the top of the screen.
* Two-finger flick down: Read all, from the current position.
* Three-finger flick up or down: Scroll one page at a time.
* Three-finger flick right or left: Go to the next or previous page (such as the Home screen or Safari).
* Three-finger tap: Speak the scroll status (which page or rows are visible).
* Four-finger flick up or down: Go to the first or last element on a page.
* Four-finger flick right or left: Go to the next or previous section (for example, on a webpage).
* Double-tap: Activate selected item.
* Touch an item with one finger, tap the screen with another finger (“split-tapping”): Activate item.
* Double-tap and hold (1 second) + standard gesture: Use a standard gesture.
The double-tap and hold gesture tells iPad to interpret the subsequent gesture as standard. For example, you can double-tap and hold, and then without lifting your finger, drag your finger to slide a switch. You can use standard gestures when VoiceOver is turned on, by double-tapping and holding your finger on the screen. A series of tones indicates that normal gestures are in force. They remain in effect until you lift your finger, then VoiceOver gestures resume.
* Two-finger double tap: Play or pause in iPod, YouTube, Voice Memos, or Photos. Start or pause recording in Voice Memos. Start or stop the stopwatch.
* Three-finger double tap: Mute or unmute VoiceOver.
* Three-finger triple tap: Turn the display on or off.


For more information see the iPad User Guide at Apple - Spport - Manuals - iPad User Guide. To view the guide on the iPad, tap the iPad User Guide bookmark in Safari.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Meeting Different Learning Styles

We've had the ipads for six weeks now and the majority of our kindergartens have had an opportunity to use them in some way. We know from observations, that the majority of our boys tend to be less interested in the more structured reading and writing parts of our day. So too, are our students who for whatever reason, have just not 'clicked' yet with the whole reading/ writing concept. Being conscious of these students, we are aware that a slower improvement rate in literacy can lead to lower self esteem and so cycle begins.
Kinesthetic learners are able to physically hold and change the orientation of the ipad, interact with parts of the screen and use their hands to manipulate objects and characters.
The visual learner is presented with vibrant coloured pictures, signs and symbols. These images provide visual stimulation and assist in recalling facts and concepts for visual learners. Visual discrimination skills are improved when games included visual cues rather than text on its own.
The auditory learner not only discusses the activity but also learns from others responses. The use of music and speech enhances their experience and assists auditory learners in recalling information.
With the availability of the ipads we have been able to ensure we are maintaining an interest in learning regardless of the childs preferred learning style. As a result, the learning becomes more personalised and meaningful.

Learning With Ipads, St Finbar's Glenbrook article today

Hi everyone,

Here is the online version of the Sydney Morning Herald article today.

http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/they-heard-the-news-today-20100822-13atc.html

Kind Regards,

Tim

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Marian College

At Marian College the past few weeks have been absorbed with migration to the new Windows Environment. So we are really looking forward to the next weeks with the iPads in our Year 8 English classes. We ran a session for staff on Thursday morning so they could get some hands on experience with the iPads and the response was extremely positive. Many thought they were just a large iPhone so were very pleasantly surprised to see their flexibility.

We have downloaded a number of great apps for teachers to use, one in particular MissSpell has been very popular and also Rory's Story Cube. For the staff PD we tried to connect to the data projector with no success, will try again this week, but if anyone has been successful please let us know.

We love the fact that they are so quick to connect and the battery life is so long. Looking forward to using them as an eReader and podcast creator. Disappointing that iBooks only has older out of copyright books to download, as we would have liked to have a library of Young Adult titles to purchase. Can you imagine the Cherbub Series books by Robert Muchamore on the iPad? Great way to get Year 8 switched on to reading again. Hope this is rectified in the near future.

Joan and Jody

Thursday, August 19, 2010

St Finbar's Primary Glenbrook - Visit from Sydney Morning Herald



Hi Everyone,

Just one hour ago, we had a visit from Sydney Morning Herald Photographer, Nick Moir who took some pictures of us using the ipads for an education article on their use in schools. Beforehand, Nick spoke to the children about his job as a photographer and the students had many insightful questions about his job. Co-incidently, we have Herald subscriptions on the ipads and the children were scanning the Herald. While we were looking at them, one of Nick's photos came up! I will post the story and his pictures once it is published.

I explained to the journalist how we use media for our shared reading. Twice a week I have been sharing an interesting child centered article and the children absolutely love the stories and photographs. The SMH apps are free but I can access the papers via a very good teacher subscription discount.

I have attached some photos and the students used the opportunity today to write about the ipads.

"The ipad is good for my learning because it's awesome. It is like a computer without using a keyboard or mouse. There are cool apps like toy story and alice in wonderland. I like how some of the things move and how you can record your voice. It is like an electric book which you can slide the page". - Phoebe Yr 3

"It is fun and encourages you to do better. It is better than a computer in a way!" - Madeline Yr 3

"We can read, play games, create music and play Maths games." - Cameron Yr 4

"The ipad is great because it has many educational apps. I love learning on the ipad because it is enjoyable and fun" - Isabel Yr 4

"You can download Mathletics and other fun apps" - Katie Yr 4

"You can learn in different ways." - Annaliese Yr 3

"I like puppet pals because we can record voices. Thankyou Mr Brown for the opportunity" - Gabrielle - Year 3

"Everyday Stage 2 is wishing, wanting and hoping that it will be their day to use the ipads," - Emily - Year 3

"It is a good gadget" - Anaru Yr 3

"The ipad has many games like hangman and puppet pals. I like the stories!" - Nathan

"The stories are different because if you don't know a word they can read it to you!" - Olivia Yr 4

"I feel very lucky but want other students not as fortunate as us to use them". - Emma Yr4

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

St Agnes ipad Update


So far the ipad has been successfully used to support the integrated learning of students and staff at St Agnes. Students within a number of KLAs have used the ipad to assist them during classroom activities. For example, some students have used the ipad Chalkboard app during their math classes to expand on the mathematical formulas provided by their teacher. The students were then able to share their working out and final answer with their work buddies.


In Design and Technology Year 7 students have used the ipad (mainly the iFile application) to actively investigate and create their own Digital Media. Students have used the voice recording function of the iFile app to record each other singing their favourite songs. Their saved sound files were then able to be downloaded via a specific IP address to be used with their video editing work. This ease of wireless file exchange assists the teacher in providing instructions, examples and work to multiple recipients at the same time.

Students have also used the various ipad Reader apps during our silent reading program. The students that have used the ipad during this time have all said they found it easy to read from the screen and the added animation and sounds encouraged them to read on.





We are still having trouble with connecting our ipads to each other and to other devices via Bluetooth. This is still the case when using a Bluetooth file transfer app. Does anybody have any ideas?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ipads with kindy at J23

Kindy have been having a great time at Stanhope exploring the new ipads. We were really excited to introduce them to the children and they have had a ball exploring a variety of apps. One concern we had was the care of the ipads, but the kids have been fantastic. Sharing was a biggest issue as there are 116chn to 2 ipads- though this then led to the children creating their own roster, so all is peaceful again!
Puppet pals is by far our most popular app - we have upgraded on one ipad to include the full range of characters and backgrounds (well worth it). Does anyone know if we have to upgrade each ipad separately? When we sync them, the upgrade does not sync as it's bought within the app. This can be quite expensive if it's the case. Has anyone else who has been using puppet pals had any success with this? Some apps we have been playing around with are:
Brain Pop- lots of info, quizzes, animated movies etc. Too hard for kindy but would be great for stage 2+
Draw Free- writing sight words, sentences, handwriting, letter formation
Pocket Phonics- great for sounds and letter recognition as many readers use this font. Not fantastic when you are teaching letter formation as it isn't in foundation print.
Farm Flip- a fun memory game (we are learning about the farm this term.
My First Tangrams- four different activities that use tangrams- chn really like this one.
K-3 sight words- we play this in partners to challenge each other. Lots of levels, so a good range of words.
Chalkboard- empty board for writing - this one is good as it picks up the curve of each letter.
Draw it- freestyle, graph paper, notepaper. We tried this one in maths - was a little difficult. Will try this one again when we get a whiteboard connector to see if it's any easier.
We have found the enthusiasm to be amazing and shouldn't have been surprised at the children's ability to work out how each app works.
If anyone has any apps suitable for kindy, we would love to hear from you. We would like to use them more for reading, so are looking forward to finding more suitable apps.



Greetings from Sacred Heart Mt. Druitt

We are using the Ipads with our stage 2 and stage 3 Special Needs students in our literacy blocks. They have been greatly received by all students. The apps our students have enjoyed using are Puppet Pals, IQuestion and ISentence. We are still searching for additional apps that would be suitable for our student's needs. The ease of use is evident with the Ipad as most of the students are familiar with the Iphones. They have no problems with manipulation of the devise. At the moment our students are also using a Belkin five point attachment jack for multiple users. Students are excited about the application in their literacy block and are frequently using safari in their lessons.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

10 iPad apps for educators

This video discusses consuming and creating content on your iPad.
Creating content with:
*Popplet - mindmapping
*Audionote - notepad/voicerecorder
*Caster - record multiple audio tracks
*Real director - create video/podcasts
*Mover+ move your video files from iphone to ipad
*Typedrawing
*2screens - use VGA out to present files/photos etc.
*Paperdesk - like a projected whiteboard that you can type on

Hello to everyone from Good Shepherd Primary School!

Our ipads are being used in our Year 2 Learning Space. In what was a highly anticipated, long awaited move, the children and teachers finally made it last week. The Year 2 teachers have had a great time looking at different apps that would work in the Literacy Groups. Quite a few of the apps they have been able to download have been free, so there still lots of "money in the bank" to purchase more.

In the meantime, every child in Year 2 (about 110 children) has been given the opportunity to play with and explore the ipads. The most popular app by far has been Puppet Pals - they LOVE hearing their voices in the final product!

Looking forward to sharing our learning experiences with you.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ipads during music class

Hi again from St Finbars. I trialed an app called DAW Multitrack. It was great for recording live music, though sond levels get a bit patchy when your band is loud. A bit of trial and error. Probably better for recording a demo an instrument at a time. The children enjoyed recording and I was amazed at how they sounded better when they knew it was being recorded. This app does not contain any garage band style sounds. It is purely multitrack. (I will blog next week about a new app that can do your garage band style music.) I put together a quick vid today about the ipad in the class. All the best Tim
video

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

St Finbar's Primary Glenbrook

Hi everyone,



We have been working with the ipads in literacy blocks. We synched them no problems. I will post some photos and video over the next few weeks. We use them with small groups and all of the grade 3-4 students have used them. They are an absolute pleasure Ito work with.
The main apps used so far have been the full version of Alice, Aesops Fables,
Beatrix Potter collection, and puppet pals.

While they are excellent for reading and engaging children with puzzles and games, our focus for the next fortnight will be using the iPad as a creative device. I want to see if we can record music for our class videos, use them to write scripts and create power points.

We have a class tv station oztv and we want to use them in production of our tv station. Check it out at...
http://www.stfinbarsceparra.catholic.edu.au/home/tbutt/oztv.html

Regards,

Tim

Blog from Delany!

We have started to use the Ipads at Delany. We are using the trial in the Music department. At first we had difficulty with one of the Ipads and it wouldn't sink to the Mac that we had downloaded the new apps to, so we had to re-install the original settings and then re-sync the apps, if this happens to you go into itunes and restore original settings.

Students who are working well in class get the first go on the Ipad. They have been working on a variety of musical apps.

So far they are really excited and are very focused on their class work so they can have a turn. The plan is to have 2-3 students on each Ipad and they explore one music app that I have downloaded for a number of lessons, to see if they can learn something of value in the areas of composing, performing or aural. Then students will go to the App Store and choose a musical app that they are interested and I will download it for them.

Music Apps tried so far:

Smule magic piano, like it, but I see no musical education value to this app.

Nota is excellent for music notation testing and has a quiz and marks students.

Note Goal is similar also recommended for testing music notation reading.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Syncing the iPads
We need some tips for syncing our 3 iPads (2 from the pilot and 1 of our own) to our school iTunes account on the one computer. It is probably something very simple but the computer seems not to be reading/registering the iPads when they are plugged in the way it does with our school iPod. We want to transfer the apps we have purchased on one iPad to the other two???

We have been using the "puppet pals" application and a word game called "scramble". The children have been using these to assist us in literacy time. We have found the aps have been beneficial to chn learning and has given chn a newfound interest and enthusiasm for learning. The children have been writing scripts using a variety of characters using "puppet pals" and they have enjoyed writing expositions in the form of debates and using these characters to present their debate.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

iPads at Marian


Hi from Joan and Jody and Marian College

Like eveybody else we are excited about having the opportunity to trial the ipad in the classroom. Jody and I are both iphone users and so this felt like it was just an extension of our phone. The keyboard is, by comparison, much larger and easy to type on.

The students love them and want to know when we will issue all students with one!!!

I am not sure if content creation is going to be part of using the ipad for us as we are looking at using them with our Year 8 wide reading classes. We are anticipating great interest in reading now instead of the usual comments of "its boring".

Monday, August 2, 2010

First impressions from Caroline Chisholm College

Greetings from Caroline Chisholm College!

The new (albeit temporary) additions to our beloved Technology Family here at the college have been doing the rounds of teachers and students with the customary "oohs!" and "aaahhs!" for a few days now. So I figured it was probably time to weigh in with a post or two on my own first impressions.

It's been really pleasing to read of teachers that have explored some of the conventional (and not-so-conventional) apps out there. It's particularly good to think laterally about the potential for app development and I'd certainly be interested to investigate potential apps (has someone already done a post on this?) I think now is the time to put a bit of consumer pressure on Apple to approve the Apps that we need. Of course, hinging app development on the approval of one company is always a dicey game and the real potential lies, in my view, with open source (jail-breaking, anyone?)

In any case, I thought I'd chime in with some comments about usability on standard HTML 5 websites and the touch keyboard interface. It's unfortunately in these two particular areas that I'm currently quite disappointed. Take the keyboard - standard symbols like apostrophes, question marks and so on are rather difficult to access via shift keys and having to switch between alphabetical and numeric can also be a royal pain. As someone who likes to type a lot, I found typing beyond the conventional quick brown fox that jumps over the lazy dog to be quite a chore, even after 2-3 hours of practice.

My second gripe comes with trying to type text into standard text areas - think the window for this blog post, a comments box on an article page or indeed Google Docs. In all three cases when I went to tap in the box to type text I was met with a blank white space that refused to yield a cursor. I kinda thought it would be cool to post this entry on the iPad but alas - I had to return to my trusty laptop with its clickety-clackety set of coffee-stained keys.

Am I missing something? I think that Apple are definitely riding on the App market coming to the fore and, in time, of course this will happen. But I have to say that there is a real limitation with locking down the user experience into the fixed parameters of a given application. In my view, Apple really need to get the HTML experience working properly and seamlessly to really empower users to use the device for new and exciting purposes.

As an English teacher who loves writing, I won't be rushing to recommend using the iPads with the touch keyboard interface alone. The idea of a bluetooth keyboard is another thing altogether though - and I recently bought one for our school to play around with. It'll be interesting to see if my favourite Web 2.0 sites work well - or at all - with it.