Friday, March 30, 2012

Maths learning with the iPad

For primary students a great free App to use as the basis for exploring maths concepts like money, quantities and budgeting is the Scan2list App. With this Australian App students can:
  • Create a shopping list by searching for grocery items or by scanning in barcodes
  • Choose the quantity to purchase
  • Choose the items unit of measurement (grams, litres, cans, bottles etc)
  • Input prices against grocery items
  • Add the items to a cart
  • Total the items
Unlike other shopping Apps you do not need to register for this App and it is not linked to just one store making it very accessible for students. It is an iPhone App but with the 2x feature the App still views well on the iPad.

You could extend this activity by getting students to use the Popplet App to brainstorm about things to consider when making a shopping list, such as essential items, costs, specials, seasonal food etc. The teacher could create a shopping situation where students have a budget to spend at the shops and need to purchase certain items. Students could use grocery shop websites via the iPad or printed brochures to get prices for items.

For Primary to Secondary students a great free App is Sketchpad Explorer.
"Drag, manipulate and animate visual mathematical representations to develop your understanding of fundamental concepts across elementary mathematics, geometry, algebra, trigonometry, calculus, and beyond. Based on the award-winning software The Geometer's Sketchpad®, the Sketchpad Explorer app allows you to interact with, and investigate, any mathematical document created in Sketchpad. With a simple, powerful, multitouch interface, Sketchpad Explorer puts mathematics comprehension literally at your fingertips."

With access to already created resources for this App via the Sketchpad Explorer website on the 'Sketch Exchange' page this is a really useful App for our students. Additionally many of the Sketch Exchange resources are licensed under Creative Commons attribution license meaning that teachers can freely share the resources across class sets of iPads as long as they attribute the resource author. When you access any of the Sketch Exchange resources via the iPad you can easily download the files straight into the Sketchpad Explorer App. I've been using the Ten Frames activity by Daniel Scher to use the virtual counters to explore understanding of number patterns.

Another Maths App being recommended by our educators is 1 2 3 sheep *($2.99). Students can use this App to explore counting concepts in a variety of ways.

This App has been developed by App-titude Learning who are also offering reasonable cost licence plans for schools to use this and other Apps developed by them for all the students in your school.

Our maths educators at their Numeracy Now Ning recommend a range of Maths Apps. One in particular is the series of Hands-on Math Apps ($1.99 each) saying they would complement others hands on resources in the classroom 'especially good for students ready to move from concrete towards pictorial.'

The Hands-On Math Apps you can buy are:

  • Colour Tiles
  • Hundreds Chart
  • Number Sense
  • Bean Sticks
  • Base Ten Blocks
Where to find other Apps for Maths

Mark Gleeson has a great blog Mr G online which has a section on iPads and Maths activities. Read 'The iPad and Maths - are we there yet? Pt 2 (non maths Apps do the job?)" for a range of great non Math Apps and ideas to use them in Maths activities.

Other simple Maths ideas with the iPad

Use the camera feature to get students to see the Maths shapes and concepts in the world around them, they can take the photos using the iPad camera and then use other Apps to make labels, take measurements, include in a video or an online tutorial creation App like Educreations.

Monday, March 26, 2012

iPads in learning journal articles

When we started investigating the use of iPads in schools here at Catholic Education Parramatta there was little in the way of journal articles published about their use in learning and teaching. We utilised what range of resources we could find on blogs and websites and via networks.

Recently SCAN journal published an article I wrote around our schools' experience in using iPads in learning and thought it would be timely to look at what was available for schools from educational journals to supplement material they find elsewhere on the web and to assist further in their decision making on whether to go with iPads as a learning tool and/or to get teaching and learning ideas.

Exploring iPads in learn
Nash, Lisa, Scan, Volume 31, February 2012

This article discusses how iPad are being used in learning in Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta to personalise and enhance learning. Includes an extensive list of Apps used across our schools. An excerpt from the article is provided at the SCAN webpage or see your school library or Learning Exchange for access to the SCAN journal.

Also included in this issue of SCAN another article regarding the use of iPads in learning.
Kellyville High iPad trial, Ingrid Simpson, Scan vol 31, no 1, Feb pp30-32.
You can subscribe to SCAN for $100 a year, with an online option being available for the next issue.

Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta iPad trial 2010 report findings

iPads in Schools: Use Testing 
iPads in Schools: Use Testing - Executive Summary
For access to the above reports see our Research page in the 2011 year section.

from p2 of the executive summary:
".......the pilot found that the iPad is a significant tool to support and enhance student learning. The iPad showed extensive affordances as a learning tool (due in part to its portability and fit-for-task suitability) especially in relation to the development of Critical Thinking, Problem Solving

From Education Today:
An Apple dilemma: MacBooks or iPads for my school?
Doug Loader Education today 11 October 2011 [viewed 23 March 2012]
This article provides some useful points to consider when looking at the pros and cons of iPads v laptops in a school.

Reading with iPads – the difference makes a difference
Dale Sheppard, Education today 11 August 2011, [viewed 23 March 2012]
In comparison to a recent study that found iPads increased Kindergarten literacy scores in Auburn Maine, this study of two Australian Yr 6 classes totalling 43 students last year found that although the students participating in the study reported an increase in engagement when using the iPad, there was not a corresponding rise in achievement. In fact, among young “low” readers, their comprehension scores actually decreased.

The following articles are available to our teachers via our Ebschost database via Staffnet. If you have trouble accessing the article please contact Learning Exchange.

Learning Together: The Evolution of a 1:1 iPad Program,
Internet@Schools, 19, 1, pp. 14-18, Computer Source, EBSCOhost, [viewed 23 March 2012].
Discusses Westlake High School's iPad pilot Will the iPad's portability, ability to be personalized, and functionality impact its effectiveness in a school setting? In answering this question, so much depends on the purposes for which it is intended; the pedagogy accompanying its use; training afforded to teachers; the methods for implementing the new technology; and the tech support provided. By conducting 1:1 implementation in a pilot format, we are focused on these issues while we move through the process, keeping a close eye on what is working and what the impacts of the project are.

Palser, B 2011, The Ins and Outs of iPad Apps, American Journalism Review, 33, 1, pp. 46-51, Literary Reference Center, EBSCOhost, [viewed 23 March 2012].
Looking at developing an App with your students or yourself, this is an excellent article on how to present your content in an App. The article looks at emerging best practices of news organisation apps.

Smith, V 2012, What Makes a Great App, Kirkus Reviews, 80, 2, p. 189, Literary Reference Center, EBSCOhost, [viewed 23 March 2012].
This article explores the features of a good book app that enhances reading and connects with its target group.

If any of our readers can suggest any other useful articles please post a comment with the article information.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Digital Textbooks

Digital Textbooks
With the iBooks Author App and iTunes U App, schools have even more on offer to utilise existing textbook content or to create their own.

iBooks2 offers students and teachers an enhanced interactive experience with not just video but ability to insert Keynote presentations, Q&A, Youtube videos, etc. A much improved way of authoring an iBook with a more interactive book than the other alternatives via Pages or specific Apps. See our previous post on ways to create iBooks.

A few caveats for iBooks Author:
  • Requires Lion OS on your Mac
  • The published file is in a format you can only open in iBooks (not ePub)
  • Produces very large files.

In saying the above, having just created my first iBook using the App it is a very intuitive application, easy to use and publishes stunning interactive books in a very short time. It comes with lots of built in widgets to create activities, galleries etc. However, if you can't find the widget you need, for example, you need to embed a Youtube video or an interactive timeline, you can use Class Widgets to provide you with a widget that can be embedded in your iBook template.

See my simple example created via the iBooks Author, which you can download via your iPad and open in iBooks. (click on the image to download the file):

Not up to creating your own iBooks yet, but want quality educational material in a more interactive format for your students. A search of the catalog of the iTunes U App provides a a wealth of interactive books on a range of curriculum materials. You would need to consider the copyright of each resource but students would be able to download these resources for their personal non-commercial use.

For example the Open University has a very useful textbook "Introducing the environment: ecology and ecosystems" with activities embedded in the book.

Apple's recent announcement that it will provide textbooks via partnership with leading educational publishers via iTunes U will be another resource for students and teachers. However these books would require students to purchase them individually. Schools will need to balance the costs of this for their students.

Open content for Textbooks
With concerns around possible costs around using Apple delivered iBook textbooks it may be that a better option for schools is to create their own digital textbooks for their students using iBooks Author App.

Alternatively schools could look for open sources of material that they can access via their iPad. Organisations like CK-12 make available open content material that can be opened in iBooks as is (pdf format) or adapted as long as you give proper attribution to CK-12.