My Top 5 iPad Apps For 2015

(#Bloggermore2015 2/26)

To Australian readers … I hope you are enjoying our national holiday; even though, in most parts of the nation, tomorrow will see students returning to school for the first day of the new school year. I thought this might be an opportune time to share five of my favourite iPad apps; apps that will have a big role to play in my year. One is new (at least to me) while the rest are returning for another year of great service.

1. ThingLink continues to introduce new features at regular intervals. The ability to take an image or video and add a variety of links (such as further images, information, video or questions) has countless possibilities in the classroom. I have found ThingLink particularly useful for teaching visual literacy and interpretation in Senior History. If you’ve never seen a ThingLink, this link will take you to one of mine

https://www.thinglink.com/scene/311319169452736514

2. Socrative provides teachers with the opportunity to quickly create quizzes or polls. Students can easily respond either from the companion app or from any Web browser. Socrative will even email you the results with valuable analysis. Great too for exit tickets and for younger students there’s the Space Race game … which I’ve been known to play with very enthusiastic Year 12s!

3. Trading Cards quickly became one of my favourites. As the name would imply, teachers and students can make trading cards for a range of uses. The cards are especially useful for student revision but are also a novel way to deliver otherwise “dry” content. A great app from ReadWriteThink; the partially completed example below shows you the possibilities …

Trading Cards; great for History but suitable for all subjects and ages.

Trading Cards; great for History but suitable for all subjects and ages.

4. Weebly will undoubtedly be familiar to many of you and it continues to be my “go to” app for building websites. You will also find that students quickly adapt to the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) design method. Once published, the site can be accessed from any device. The available features in Weebly are too numerous to list here but the link below will take you to one of my sites as an example. (*You should consider, as I have done, buying a PRO subscription for even more features.)

http://elsinoreinashmore.weebly.com

5. Workflow is the new kid on my block. I’m certainly not an experienced user of this app but I’m excited about the possibilities for time impoverished teachers. Workflow allows you to “connect apps and actions together to automate things you do on your device. To build a workflow, just drag and drop.” You can add any workflow to your home screen as an “app” and then launch it with a tap. Check it out; I’m sure you’ll be as impressed and excited (or is that relieved?) as I am.

Well, that’s it for #Bloggermore2015 2/26 … I’ll be back within two weeks for another exciting instalment.

The Arrival of the iPadEd Evangelist

This will be the very quickest of updates; I’m busily working on two upcoming conference presentations … and tomorrow I’m delivering a guest lecture at the McAuley Campus of the Australian Catholic University. That particular assault on the sensitivities of Pre-Service teachers is called “Smashing Your Classroom.” (Check back later in the week to see what that is all about!)

July, much like June, was a BIG month! I’m a huge fan of the iAnnotate app created by Branchfire; a great option for annotating PDF files and especially assessing student drafts. Their interview questions gave me an opportunity to write about a number of aspects; not just my use of the app. But, I do like being labelled as a “power user” and an “iPadEd Evangelist.” Let’s not talk about how shallow I am … that could take days.

If you haven’t discovered the delights of iAnnotate then now is most certainly a good time to do so. In the meantime, the following link will take you to my profile on the iAnnotate Blog:

http://www.branchfire.com/simon-mckenzie

Distressingly, this could actually be me as a 7 year old

Distressingly, this could actually be me as a 7 year old

Tuesday, August 5 … well my guest gig at the Brisbane of campus of ACU is “done and dusted.” As in the past, I found the large audience of pre-service teachers to be thoroughly engaged, enthusiastic and receptive to my cabaret. But then, I did read somewhere recently that “Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths pure theatre.” (Gail Godwin)

As much as I revel in presenting to any audience (and the high rates of university pay) I would do it for nothing (don’t try to hold me to this!) simply in return for the feedback from those who attended. It’s great to feel genuinely appreciated.

Thanks for the great review Anna!

 

Thanks for the Feedback ACU

Thanks ACU

For the students themselves, or indeed anyone who may be interested, here (via Scribd) is my lecture on “Smashing Your Classroom.” Please, as always, feel free to make use of this presentation in anyway … and I’d welcome your feedback and questions.

 

Smashing Your Classroom

Student Directed Innovation and Cool Creation Tools

This year, at my own request (!), I am teaching Year 8 for the first time in perhaps two decades. I have the same group of 29 students for both English and History. This gives me seven lessons per week, ranging in length from 45 to 65 minutes. Of course, I realised early on that having the same group allowed for all sorts of possibilities; not least of all the opportunity to operate a “timetable within a timetable.”

My first decision was to give the students themselves some measure of control over what and how they learn. Of course, I remain a slave to the curriculum and the need to compile (largely useless?) reports. Still, I realised I could easily cede one lesson per week to the students in order that they might pursue their “passion.” I have read a great deal recently about how the Internet is now passion-based rather than content focused. Given that I am working with class group 8.1, I decided to call the project Innova8.1 (I know it’s hardly original!) The idea was first introduced to the students via my favourite iPad app, Haiku Deck. I’ve embedded the presentation below … please feel free to adapt and use it for your own purposes.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

The early signs are great … not surprisingly the students look forward to this weekly “release” from the usual constraints of the classroom. Their interests are as varied as you might expect; animation, digital music, photography, anime, mash-ups just to name a few. My only expectations are that the students must both create and share content.

In reality, I have had to make the greatest adjustments; to allow students  to move freely around the room, to sit on the floor, to listen to music, to seek the advice of their peers … to engage in noisy, laugh-filled student directed learning. Once or twice I’ve come close to snapping and demanding silence until I remember I’ve given them permission! Each Innova8.1 lesson begins with some sharing of either student created content or with me introducing a new Web 2.0 tool or an iPad app. (Oops; probably should have mentioned that we are 1:1 Apple Macbook whilst I make regular use of my iPad. Hell, I even started lending it to students despite the separation anxiety.) Now, finally I have also included here via Scribd a list that I’ve called “15 Cool Tools and Apps for Student Creation.” I have begun to introduce and demonstrate these to my class. They, much like me, seem to like nothing better than trying and mastering a new tool.

As always, I would welcome your comments, suggestions or questions; I’m already convinced that “Student Directed Learning” must become a part of what we ALL do.

15 Cool Creation Tools by Simon McKenzie

A Crowdsourced List: Web Tools, Websites and Apps

When I first joined the Twitter-verse earlier this year I had no idea of the benefits that doing so would bring. I learned early on that it is not a matter of numbers; Justin Bieber can have his 30,428,926 followers (as of 11 am November 20, 2012) and I’ll settle for quality. One of the first things I discovered was how to crowd source, to learn from the collective expertise of those with whom I connected.

Before long I had “favourited” a large number of suggestions about effective Web 2.0 tools, websites and apps. Over the last few days I have spent (too many) hours working through these. The end result is a PDF file which I have given the descriptive if rather unwieldy title of A Crowdsourced List of 55 Websites, Web Tools and Apps: Categorised by Subject Department (With two random Pin Boards, one case of doubling up and even a song) Told you it was unwieldy!

 

The list includes hyperlinks (or directions as to where to find an app) along with my overview and recommendations. I’m pleased to say that I have used many of the 55 and therefore know them to be effective for classroom or wider use. Though principally created for the teaching staff at my own school, I’m hoping the list will gain a wider audience. Just click on the link to access the PDF.

Image Credit: blonde20.com

Crowdsourced List of Web Tools, Websites and Apps

Please leave comments, questions or even suggestions for additions to the list.