Monday, February 18, 2013

Share, interact and assess with NearPod

NearPod is a free App where teachers can deliver a lesson to the class direct to their iPads and interact with them in a synchronized way.

Teachers login to their account via the Nearpod App and select their lesson presentation.  Students access the presentation via a unique pin number generated from the teachers presentation.

The features of NearPod:
  • Access to an already established library of lessons from educators across the world
  • Ability to create your own lesson to upload to NearPod
  • Ability to include polls, questions for students to answer
  • Teachers direct the presentation screens that the students see
  • Students can feedback their understanding of the lesson via the App
  • Teachers can obtain a report of the student answers, feedback or interaction.
At the moment creation of lessons need to be done via the NearPod website.  With the free subscription teachers can upload maximum of 10 presentations and share with 30 students.
Teachers can easily use their existing powerpoints or keynotes to create their NearPod lesson.  They can insert polls and questions. 
A really great feature is the 'Draw it' option, where students can draw on a shared slide to visually explain a concept to their teacher.

Billie Rengo from Grantsburg Elementary School has put together a very useful step by step PDF of how to create your NearPod presentations from an existing Powerpoint or Keynote Presentation:  Creating a NearPod presentation from her post 'Take your Presentations to the next level with NearPod'.

Brian Miller from Pine Crest School discusses at Edudemic how NearPod is being utilized in their school :  How the NearPod App changed an entire school.

Teacher Matt Britland talks about how he uses NearPod in his classroom.  NearPod for iPad: revolutionise presentations and AFL in the classroom.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Brainstorming in the iPad classroom

While there is nothing new about utilising technology to brainstorm, using the iPad has added benefits. 

The touch interface, excellent visuals and portability of the iPad can make it easier and simpler to encourage students to generate new ideas, organize their known knowledge about a topic and make connections with ideas and the written word.

There are lots of great brainstorming/mindmapping Apps available, but one that we have found useful at all school levels is Popplet.

Popplet has an easy to use interface, intuitive for users,  is visually appealing and allows you to embed images, and links.  You can save your brainstorm as a jpeg or pdf and email it out.

Popplet lite is free, with a limitation of one brainstorm at a time.  But you can save it to your camera roll or email it out, then delete it in Popplet and create another.   Or you can go to the paid App that allows you to also collaborate with others, along with other added features.

Students at St Agnes, Rooty Hill use the Popplet App in many of their classes to help comprehend new information and generate ideas. 

In one example, the teacher gets each student to create a Popplet on the topic/question at hand and then asks the students to get up from their seats and to move to another students Popplet and add an extra idea/answer.   This not only gets a good sharing of ideas but also contributes to the groups understanding of the topic. Additionally all that movement keeps the students alert and focused on the task.  In these classes at St Agnes there is no chance to sit back and not contribute or not learn.

An excellent post on Popplet and writing is 'iPads can't improve learning without good teaching, Pt 2 writing' by Mr G online talks about using Popplet to plan your writing.  The post then continues discussing some great ways of using a variety of Apps in writing.

A great list of resources and links for Brainstorming with Popplet and the iPad are at:
Tips 2012 App Guide #16 Popplet. 

But if you want to go beyond Popplet there are lots of other Apps you can try, many of them free. The TechChef4U website has a whole page dedicated to great teaching and learning ideas with a range of brainstorming and mindmapping Apps at Hot Apps 4 Brainstorming: Episode 5.  Another review  of brainstorming Apps can be found at Macworld's iOS brainstorming Apps.

A useful youtube tutorial from explains how to use Popplet lite.

An action research project by Bradley Christmas (Centre for English Teaching University of Sydney) explored the effects of brainstorming techniques on students perceptions of their writing performance  The role of brainstorming in improving student writing performance in the EFL classroom. Brainstorming says Christmas gives the opportunity to think "about a question from different perspectives, as well as exploring the perspectives of their classmates, students can develop the skills to help them access and develop a broader range of ideas in a writing situation."

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Writing and publishing with Creative Book Builder

Creative Book Builder (CBB) was one of the first Apps I worked with in schools to demonstrate how students and teachers could create and publish on their iPad. 
It has so many applications for students:
  • Project based learning or collaborative work
  • Writing, publishing and presenting
  • Summative assessment of a topic being studied 
  • Making written work accessible to students with diverse needs
See how one school district in Vermont is using CBB for collaborative writing in their Years 5-8, ePub collaborative writing.

Revisiting it for a workshop recently I was pleased to see that it has continued to be updated making it even more useful for schools.
Some of the features that you should know about:
  • Ability to embed pdfs, word documents and other files, including from Dropbox and Google Drive
  • Incorporate tables, questions, audio, video, images, equations etc.

  •  Students can share their created iBook with fellow students or the teachers via a link or QR code (you need to be on the same Wifi network)
  • Ability to upload your completed iBook to DropBox, Google Drive, WebDav and more.

Creative Book Builder also has a blog that provides support and information on using the App including links to videos like this one from Finham Park School.

Appsinclass website have put together a great post about how CBB can be used to help students complete tasks that align with every level of the revised Bloom's Taxonomy.  See Using Creative Book Builder at Every Level of Blooms.

Creative Book Builder could be used by teachers to create books with audio, video for students with diverse learning needs.  Students have the additional benefit that once opened as an iBook they can access VoiceOver and any of the other accessibility features they need.  See Spectronics review of the App for this use.
This is one App I would recommend for all schools to have in their top 5 Apps.  It costs $A4.49.  But if primary schools have class sets and buy mroe than 20 with Volume purchasing this would reduce the price by half.

Get wild with Animals and the environment on the iPad

There are lots of great options to study the global environment and its animals via the iPad.   There are many Australian Apps which can support a range of K-6 HSIE topics such as Global Environments -  Rainforests, State and National Parks, and Wet and Dry environments

WilderQuest  is an interactive educational game created by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.  Using an augmented feature, students are taken inside a subtropical rainforest or a coastal environment where they have to move the iPad around to scan for certain animals.  As they find the animals they unlock information about them.  The information includes facts about the animal, where they can be found, their home,food, videos and audio .  This App gets the kids active, so give them plenty of space.

Taronga Zoo's 'Rainforest Heroes' App is great for student collaborative work.  Students have to work together as a team to complete a field report, incorporating photos, videos and observations.  An additional benefit is that you can incorporate your own photos and/or use the App while on a real  field trip to the Zoo.

The World Wildlife Fund has put together a fantastic interactive App 'WWF together' about some of the worlds most fascinating animals.  Students can chop bamboo for the Pandas to reveal information, check out tiger vision, access lots of great information and photos in a visually stunning and inspiring App.  Highly recommended and free.

After students explore the Apps and then perhaps go on their own field trip, you could use a number of Apps to create a video or book of  their knowledge of local ecosystems or fauna.  A school in Florida did just that and created a collaborative iBook which they published to the iBook store called Creatures Plants and More.
If you don't want to publish to the iBook store use the App Creative Book Builder to create a collaborative iBook and share it with the class.

Other useful Australian Apps about animals
Field Guide to Victorian Fauna (free)
My Environment:  See the heritage places, wetlands, protected species, protected areas, weeds and invasive species near you. (free)
Please touch the Exhibit: interactive App that includes information about animals exhibited in the Melbourne Museum. (free)
Frogs Field Guide ($1.99)
DangerOz:  information on 40 dangerous Australian creatures from the Australian Museum ($2.99)
Or use Flipboard to grab photos and tweeted information from organisations like the Australian Museum to foster discussion about the topics.  See the slideshare on Flipboard for more information.