Some time ago a colleague and I were discussing some “what if apps”. By that, I mean we had a wish list of some apps that would make our job easier. We had been doing our round of observations of ITT students and class teachers and between us we used a mix of paper and pen or “typing it up in best”, along with various sheets listing Ofsted Criteria and Teaching Standards. My personal set up has been iPad with PDFs of Teaching Standards and the standard school observation form. Oh and a pen.
All this can get a bit fiddly and hence our “what ifs”, which ended with ” there was an app which let you just click on the Teaching Standards”. By which I think she meant something that allowed you to have everything you needed to do an observation in the same place/app.
This is why I Observed is such a useful app for a busy middle or senior leader. You have your observation form, which is adjustable and beats typing everything in notes or fiddling around trying to recreate the darn thing in Pages. You also get the Teaching Standards and OFSTED criteria to consult within the app itself.
I gave it a go, over the last two weeks and it is far from “requires improvement”. I also played with some other apps that have similar names or purport to do the same job. There are not many and all seem to require you to register with something or some one else first. Here is why I have begun to use I Observed in the style of lesson feedback:
Great to see:
Unlike other apps that do this job, you do not need to subscribe to an online service it is all in the app
Observations are exported as PDFs – most of my pen and paper reports, though great are hard to copy and paste into final reports.
Having the guidance at hand from OFSTED and the DFE Teaching Standards means you do not have to leave the app or ruffle through paper – it is all there for you.
The interface is simple and there is no learning curve with this app
The developer has also really listened to my feedback/suggestions and responded with updates and improvements. This attention to detail and attentive approach is rare and shows the team behind the app are about more than just the small charge at download stage.
Time Lapse videos regularly appear on video sharing sites like Vimeo and they are often stunning and inspiring.
The best of these , demand that you pull down the blinds, shush the class and create a bit of awe and wonder. The children can imagine they are there in the midst of the action. Such films really help ignite imaginations and spark metaphor, simile, and personification. They help children to think like poets.
And then once they have watched, discussed and written, why not have the children create their own time-lapse videos? An app like IstopMotion will allow you to create a days movie on a full charge of your iPad or iPod.
Though you might want to consider a day in the life of your class as an alternative to shooting a sunset. Do be aware though that from experience children will get in shot with comic faces during the shoot, unless you make expectations clear. Such videos could be part of a wider project for the school website or blog . Links here of course with Switched On ICT:
Unit 5.1 We are Photographers
Unit 6.5 We are Web Developers.
A further good use of time-lapse is to show how shadows change during the day.
This was Leo’s homework just a few minutes go. We used the Clicker Sentences app to look at the difference between their, they’re and there. We created a number of model sentences together using the articles and people around us. The settings allowed us to have the sentence read aloud, before Leo recreated it using the word grid.
Just a digital worksheet? No I don’t think so. We co created these exercise and the task/ app still allows Leo to continue freely writing. I am loving Clicker Sentences more and more.
Hurriedly doing Leo’s (Y3 and SEN) homework this evening, after a busy weekend. Looking down at his sheet it involved him focussing on number bonds and subtraction upto ten. Due to his learning difficulty we could only really look at subtracting within the range 1-5. And this would need supporting with apparatus, thankfully with five boys you can always find random Duplo on the floor. But to record subtractions on a sheet would take him too long and we needed something that would remove the need for this difficult pencil work and allow him to focus on the Maths.
In comes Subtraction Pro, one of the brilliant Maths apps from Frogmeleon. These apps allow you to really tailor the work to the child you are working with. For Leo we set the numbers down quite low, though when I use this app with members of my class the range is far more challenging and the missing number would not be the answer but part of the sum. What I also like from an SEN point of view is the ability to use multiple choice or just the keypad. Clearly for Leo it was appropriate to give him multiple choice, but again you can turn this off for more able learners. Leo is a great fan of the whizzy robot that appears in these apps, though we do turn him off sometimes to avoid distraction from subtraction!
Note – when you download this app – take a look in your settings and see just how many things you can configure!
Once he went through the flash cards we’d set and taken a test he was able to look at his score/ stars and use the review tool to work on sums he got wrong. This is a well designed app which is part of my tool kit for teaching Maths, helping my boys for homework and for supporting children with SEN.
Here is a video of Leo and I doing Maths homework tonight.
Today’s app is now sitting on my Maths apps screen as an alternative and a fitting complement to all those great Times TableApps we have been bashing away at. Upon first glance Early Birds looks like something you might use with younger learners, but once you have a bit of a play you realise that this app could be used right up to Year Four ( and some children would still need it in Five and Six).
Help Ernie find the eggs with his brothers and sisters in by recognising multiples of the table sets from the twos to the twelves. Race against the clock and collect Egglets (colourful eggs laid at midnight) by beating time targets. Up to 7 player profiles on one device.
Most of the apps I love and use for memorising and practising tines tables are about working through the facts/ sums. This app takes an alternative and slightly challenging approach and one that will really get your class learning their tables thoroughly. Instead of giving them answers to sums, children need to spot multiples of a particular table. This is given a competitive edge by trying to beat the clock.
The graphics are bright in this app and it lacks silly noises, or any hint of “Well Done” or “Try Again” cheesiness. Another great advantage of this game for this with a school set of iPads is that it allows for seven profiles. This function should make it easier for multiple pupils to use one iPad. This and the developers other apps reflect an ethos of both simplicity and safety. With this in mind there are no ads or links here and the learning curve to use is minimal. Your reward for beating the time challenge are egglets, little trophies each with their own unique fact card. This is a nice touch, which is easily missed unless you click on the info for each prize.
I am not sure I can offer much in the way of suggestions for improvements, though I did look for and miss a settings button. Other apps have these to set the level of challenge and numbers to focus on. However this still a very good addition to your collection of Maths apps and good value too.
I have been working with my Year 6 children now for about four weeks. They have access to an ICT suite with networked PCS, but for cross curricular work we use IPADS. That is when we can get hold of them.
I just wanted to throw down a few thoughts and observations of my early experiences with these devices.