As we continue to try and push forward the use and integration of ICT in school, our teachers are now becoming more familiar with the variety of apps and online programs that can be used in class on a regular basis. Here are the main ways that we are moving forward:
A beautifully simple and effective way of organising ideas. Several teachers have used Popplet with the whole class in order to give order and structure to ideas using a colour coding system. You can add words, sentences, photos and self-drawn pictures in as much or as little detail as you like. A couple of teachers have had the chance to set children away with their own accounts – this has worked brilliantly when planning stories, as children have created characters and settings with ease.
Again, a really easy tool for teachers to use, particularly if they are less confident. Once an account is set-up, simply upload photos, add music if desired, then edit to your heart’s content – add captions to slides, speed up or slow down the slideshow, and choose whether or not you want comments. Dead easy!
We are using Box to share children’s work – for example typed stories, or shared presentations – but also for parents. As with most schools, we have several meetings throughout the year for a variety of reasons, whether they be for a specific purpose such as reading targets, or general information evenings. We have found Box to be really useful as we can embed the slides or notes onto our website for parents who are unable to attend. Box also allows collaboration of documents through the cloud.
This has been a bit of a favourite amongst our teaching staff. It is simple to use either through a standard piece of recording equipment, such as Easispeaks; by using a microphone and recording directly onto the website, or through the use of the free app. It allows users to record children singing, reciting, explaining, acting – whatever you want! The free account limits recordings to 3 minutes.
5) Class Dojo
Class Dojo has been trialled by two or three teachers in school and has had rave reviews. I started it with my year 5 class with slight trepidation. The premise is that each child has their own monster avatar which you press in order to add awards for positive behaviours and remove them for negatives. I wasn’t sure my class would take to it, but whenever the screen is up, they are glued to it. You can change the awards to suit you, and children can log in as well to personalise their avatars, therefore giving them a bit more ownership. We’ve only used it for 3 weeks but it is a keeper at the moment. Apple users can use the app – Android users are waiting patiently…
6) Manga High
This website is a fantastic resource for teachers, and I have found it works particularly well with the more competitive students, regardless of maths ability. It is very simple to set up a whole class account and then print off individual log-ins for the children. They are then able to play maths-based games freely, or accept teacher challenges tailored to the classes learning. We now have 4 teachers using this regularly for homework as you can set the ‘completed by’ date, as well as keeping an eye on who has and hasn’t logged in. Children win virtual medals for their achievements, which has created a healthy buzz of competition among the children.
The only downside to this site (since I have joined) is that you can no longer set individual challenges – once you set a challenge, it is for the whole class. There are other features which have also been removed, and can only be accessed by signing up to the A+ Quest. I have been quoted for this and will not be asking our head to purchase.
Trialled only by one class, this app was found through the Google Store. It has all of the features along the lines of Windows Movie Maker, but its user-friendly set-up meant the children needed little time before they were creating projects with confidence. One issue was that it was a little trickier to edit the length of sound files. If this were addressed, it would be a winner.
I realise that few, if any, of these apps are ground-breaking. But for our school, they are just right. Our teachers are now becoming more confident in using them, and our website is starting to look like a school website should. Teachers are embedding into their own pages, meaning that when we begin blogging, they will already be halfway there.
If there are any other similar apps or programs which you think would be of use, please let me know!
Our next mini-venture is trialling Twitter during a residential. Watch this space…