The final app in the advent calendar of educational iPad apps is definitely the one which has had the most positive impact on my teaching on the last year.
For anyone who has ever experienced difficulty sharing work from iPads, Seesaw could be the solution. I have often experienced this issue, particularly as our school has shared iPads. I have tried various ways to share, from email to apps like Showbie. Whilst they are good solutions, they require students to sign in to share. Whilst this should in theory be simple, the reality is forgotten usernames and password, lost learning time and lots of frustration. Seesaw solves this problem by using QR code scanning to log on – it’s simple fast and very effective.
Once logged in children can share work from a huge range of applications through a couple of taps. As a teacher you can view, approve and assess work very quickly. You can also allow children to peer assess and comment on each other’s work. There’s loads more you can do, such as allow parent access and comments, post directly to blogs and more options around assessment.
This will drive you mad. Cargo-Bot is a very simple concept – using a limited set of commands you have to move a set of crates using a crane and a grabber. It’s an app which tests computational thinking and problem solving skills. It does this using programming skills, especially loops and repeats. In terms of skills progression, I find it a natural next step from lightbot.
To give you an understanding of the difficulty you just need to see the names of the levels – tutorial, easy, medium, hard, crazy and impossible. The tutorial level is accessible to most upper KS2 children, and some higher attainers will move beyond it. However, you shouldn’t measure progress in this game by the number of levels completed. It’s about how children overcome obstacles and learn from their mistakes. To add another dimension, when you complete a level you are awarded one, two or three stars according to how close you are to the optimum solution.
There’s an interesting back story to Cargo-Bot – it was the first game to be developed entirely on iPads for iPads. This is worth sharing with students. For most of them, their primary access to computers at home will be through tablets.
Maybe not an obvious choice, but this is an app which can facilitate a lot of learning. Qrafter is a QR code reader which, with a quick scan will direct you to a particular web page. There is a lot of scope to use this in education. Here are some ideas:
– Use QR codes to quickly direct children to particular web pages – great for differentiation
– Link QR codes in books to evidence on class blogs or school websites
– Create a QR code treasure hunt where one clue will lead to the next
– Give your displays an extra dimension by including QR codes to linked pages
It’s very easy to use, and with the right plugin you can automatically create QR codes for each and every page of your blog or website.
When it comes to creating content on iPads, Book Creator is right up there with Explain Everything (day 6) as a must have app. It’s another one of those apps where the beauty of it is that it’s simple and powerful in equal measure. I use it to introduce year 1 children to combining text with pictures and to enable year 6 children to present detailed research – it really is that powerful and flexible.
Completed projects can be shared as pdfs, or published to iBooks store in just a couple of clicks.
This is the app which gives many children their first experience of coding. In a world where there is a digital skills gap and where an ever increasing number of jobs will be reliant on technical skills, this makes it important. It is very likely that the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg will have cut their coding teeth on this app.
Scratch Jr is a simplified version of Scratch, a block based programming language. In Scratch Jr, children can code movement, sounds, and conversations for multiple characters using multiple backgrounds. It also includes core concepts of coding and programming such as repeats, loops and if/then events. There is a great bank of resources and lesson plans on the Scratch Jr website, so it’s really easy to get started. Within a couple of lessons even beginners will be comfortable going in their own direction.
It shares a similar look and feel to the full version, so when you are ready to move children on to the full version of Scratch they will be familiar with many of the basic concepts.
Here are some examples of year 2 children coding their own version of The Three Little Pigs in Scratch Jr.
This is easy to overlook as an educational app as so many of us use it on a day-to-day basis for mundane ta
sks, however Google Maps (and other mapping apps) offer you a window on the world, which as an educator you’d be foolish to overlook. Here are a few ideas which have worked well for me:
– Transport children straight to topics you’re covering, such as the Nile for Ancient Egypt, the Indus Valley or Sutton Hoo.
– Use satellite images to contrast different locations, e.g. rural vs urban.
– Can children find their own house, or any other given locations?
– How can you search effectively for a feature or location?
– Using directions, how far is it from one location to another, there’s lots of scope for problem solving around questions like this.
This is a similar app to Lightbot, but with a twist. Like Lightbot, the main aim is to guide a robot around a grid using a limited set of available instructions. There are a number of free levels, before you pay to unlock more challenges. However, unlike Lightbot, A.L.E.X. also offers you the opportunity to create your own levels. I’ve found that this is something which children really enjoy doing and it makes it a great app to encourage collaborate – one child designs whilst the other solves.
For such a great app, the strange thing about A.L.E.X. is that there doesn’t seem to be much behind it. The websites for the developers (Awesome Apps) is no longer there and there doesn’t seem to be a path forwards for it. This is a shame for such an engaging and fun app.