I have always been keen that our iPads do more than just work as laptop replacements. I saw many examples in other schools of the iPad as a research tool or a reward. The phrase “we got the iPads out” didn’t always fill me with excitement as often this was about digital babysitting.

With this in mind I came to Padlet – a web-based collaborative word wall that reminds me of Etherpad or Primarywall. Padlet can be accessed from a tablet or a computer via a browser. It can be entirely open or password protected, it can be exported as CSV, PDF, embedded in a blog, shared through social networks or emailed to a colleague. Crucially it provide another way for using iPads and a range of possibilities and contexts for using them other than just a spelling task described below.

Today I explored how it might be used in a lesson as part of our whole school INSET on Guided Spelling. One of the most important elements of learning new “spelling” words is seeing them in context. With the help of the app children can find definitions and exemplar sentences before using them in their own phrases and sentences.  Of course, you could ask your class to write these in the back of their literacy book or on ephemeral dry wipe boards. But Padlet allows groups to create and compile a shared list of sentences which can be accessed beyond the lesson.

For this to really work, I’d recommend a small group working together on a Padlet, with the teacher having the same Padlet screen on the interactive whiteboard. This means that during the lesson activity children can feel th excitement of seeing their ideas appear on-screen. It puts a bit of pressure on the group to come up with a substantial list too as everyone can see their efforts. It also means the teacher has a visible record of the learning, which can the be exported or shared for further contributions.

To illustrate the idea of using Padlet for sentence writing in spelling, I asked colleagues and friends to contribute to a Pad with a focus on “ou” words. Take a look at their efforts on the link below – thanks to all who helped:


Time Lapse Video

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.

Here is a list of some Time Lapse videos that could be used in Science or Literacy.

The National Geographic website describes Time – Lapse as –

Time-lapse photography makes it possible to see spectacles of life too slow for our eyes

A page on their site has further information and examples see:

App of the Day: Name Dice

name dice

I had been looking for a random name generator in order to help with my questioning and pupil section  Though I did find a reasonably good app to do the job I found something else along the way. Name Dice is a handy utility for composition in Literacy. Basically it generates names, which your pupils could use in their story writing. As the app generates so many possibilities it will go some way to helping with original and unique writing in my class, as at least all of the characters will be different.


Try it – it is free and I think a handy utility for either full on story writing or as a starter activity.

Guided Reading Independent Activity with IPads

Just thought I’d share something that worked well today during guided reading this week.

I had been thinking about how I could make more of the Ipads during Literacy and Guided Reading, but I did not really want to spend anymore cash on elaborate ebooks or do something for the sake of it.

I came up with an authentic context using the World Book Day App and a google form. The app contains extracts from books and some specially written full texts too. The authors featured have already proved popular with some of my class and certainly texts like Charlie Higson’s Zombie series look  very appealing to my year six boys!

The task could have been look at the books in the app that i have downloaded for you and keep out of my hair while i read with my focus group, but to give it authenticity and focus I included the survey and recommendation aspects too.

Once children had skimmed through or even lost themselves in one  the ebooks, they could then take the opportunity to fill out the details on a google form. As they entered their details into the form they  their preferences appeared live on the whiteboard at front of the class in spreadsheet form, I made the form and the accompanying data accessible to other members of staff too!

In this way I could keep an eye on who had completed the task and who needed to add more to their entry. What’s more – and this is where the authenticity comes in – the Literacy coordinator now had an idea as to what texts to order for upper key stage 2, or at least my class.

An example of one of the responses :

After reading through some Anthony Horowitz, one boy submitted this via the google form:

We should have this book in our school because it is an action packed adventure book that I’m sure all of the boys would love! I would recommend this book from age 9 to 14. There are a series of these books which are all particularly exciting , we could make a decision on either getting this book or getting a different one from the series.

A note about google forms

These are very easy to create, but the url they generate is very long. I would suggest using a service like to shorten the web address. You could also use add to home screen on the Ipad, which will create an icon on your ipad pointing to the google form.

Doing it this way also makes the children believe it is another app. There is a helpful video on creating a google form here.