23rd June 2013 – The Piano Alternatives, Geography App, Videos 2 iPads & Mr Mood idea

Each week my Flipboard app, Twitter responses, my kids, my Kindle Fire and my Google reader deliver a collection of new web tools, apps, books, crazy experiences, random rants  and must read articles or books.

An Alternative to the Piano

Don’t you just love the National Literacy Strategy Unit on the Piano. I never tire of the Aidan Gibbons film and all the great talk and writing you can inspire from it. But it is down as both a Year 5 and a Year 6 Unit. It can happen that both Year Groups want to cover this unit, so is there anything else that could be used.

I had given this some thought and was reminded on Twitter of a very powerful film that throws up a lot of questions and has no conventional beginning, middle or happy end. Last year, I showed my Year 6 class Replay and their writing was amazing. It may not be a flashback narrative, but it does lend itself to voice overs, explorations of emotions and a wealth of unanswered questions to discuss and back stories to fill in. Thank you to @Tomsale on Twitter for reminding me of this one.

And then – thanks to another very kind Twitter pal, @garethk007, I was alerted to these two fantastic animations. He claims that that this one made his TA cry and the kids loved it. Well see what you think:

Gareth must have been on a bit of a role as he gave me this one from Vimeo too. Though Vimeo is blocked in my school, so I will need to download it first. This film, Ruin by Wes Ball, is a post-apocalyptic vision of a world that has been overrun by nature. It feels like an action movie and there is not a hint of old men tinkling the ivories anywhere. But, there are lots of unanswered questions and an engaging if albeit brief chase narrative to stimulate some amazing writing,


RUIN from Wes Ball on Vimeo.

An App that Gamifies Geography Knowledge

I have been playing with Geo Brain 2. An app that quizzes you on Geography and by that I mean locations and facts about countries and cities, not oxbow lakes and cliff erosion. What I like about this app is that it not only corrects you, it also gives you direct links to Wikipedia pages about the place you are being asked about. It feels like the ICT lesson we have all done, where you ask a child to do some research about a place except with this app you have more direction and frankly more fun.

I made a short video / screen grab below to give you a flavour of just part of it.

BTW it is free.

Mr Mood

mrmood2Got an iPad, maybe just one for your whole class… then I think this idea just might work. Mr Mood is an addictive mood measuring tool that I am using to track how I feel each day. It is just a bit of fun really, but over time it builds into a sort of pictogram/ bar chart of my feelings over time. You show how you feel each day by swiping through a selection of simple faces. The best bit though is that you can add an explanation of your feelings with a simple status or explanatory sentence. After a few days, a week, a month a term even, you will have an interactive diary graph for you and your class to look back on. Even better of course if use an app which lest you display this on your whiteboard. The app also gives you a happiness score, which you could try to beat month on month.

Just an idea…


How to bring Videos to iPads

I saw a fantastic lesson last week where children were using a video like the one above as a springboard for writing. I couldn’t help thinking that it would have been fantastic to get the class to mash-up the video and add some of their own voiceovers. Well by sheer coincidence I came across a great blog post by Barbara Ainscough on how to do just that. In her post she outlines how to download a youtube video to your mac and iPad and how to transfer these to the camera roll. Of course when this is done you can then edit things in iMovie. I am so keen to give this a go.

In her article, she talks about using a Mac download which allows you to grab Youtube videos. There is a Windows alternative, which runs in a browser called Keepvid.com, which has served me well for many years already.

I have pasted Barbara’s article here, but you need to really visit her blog as it has a wealth of iPad and MAC workflows:

Downloading YouTube videos to mac/ iPad

Since Apple have put a stop to downloading YouTube videos to iPad using the iCab Mobile app Ive started to use this workaround. In my lessons we use YouTube videos as much as possible for making the news, voice-overs for adverts, weather forecasting, exploration, science transcripts and much more. Great for speaking & listening, working on script writing and performance.

I now use MacTubes on my Mac to download the video as an mp4. Just click download on the web page and the app is downloaded to your downloads folder. Double click to open the app.
A window something like this will appear.

In the YouTube search box enter the URL of the video you want to download.
The video icon will appear in the MacTubes window- as above.
Simply right-click this and choose Download mp4 from the options. The downloaded video, for some reason, dropped onto my desktop, not into my downloads folder – easy to locate though.

My next step is to send this to my iPad/s. I now use Photo Transfer for this purpose – so easy. Click here to read a previous blog entry on how to do this.
Now I can access the video in my Photos on the iPad and this makes it automatically available in the iMovie app to edit and record voiceovers.



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