iPads in English

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by Katie and Ayisha

‘The iPads have been a benefit because they are so easy to carry around and instead of wasting paper by printing 24 sheets out each lesson, we use the iPads to open worksheets and edit them. Another useful app is ‘Pages’ as most of our English sheets and homework are found on ‘Pages’ and if we want to share them or show them to our teacher we drop them into ‘Webdav’ – a file app- and the teacher can get it and can mark it from there!

Movies have been simple to make because you just film your scenes using the iPad video camera, and then edit them in the ‘iMovie’ app, cropping and editing your takes and even adding music and sound effects. It is easy to export the finished video too, you can either upload it to something like Dropbox, or save it to your camera roll and drop it into ‘WebDav’ for classmates or teachers to see. Students now have a Vimeo account to make sharing even easier. We just recently made an iMovie about ‘A Christmas Carol’. We used iMovie to take videos, edit it and in the end we made quite a good short clip of a scene in the book, with our own comments.’

iPad Pilot successful

Am delighted that my school has comprehensively reviewed our 6 month pilot and announced to the community today a further rollout for next academic year. A lot of people have made this happen: leaders, teachers, tech and library staff, students and, of course, parents. Now just have to train 50 more staff, on top of the 80 already done, before the end of June!! Very pleased that Apple in Singapore is supporting us so well..

QR codes for learning


Two weeks ago I set myself the task of discovering whether qr codes can be more than a great means to create ‘treasure hunt’ type activities, (as much fun as that undoubtedly is!), to be genuinely used to enhance or transform how my students learn. I decided to make a mindmap that would try to sum up a variety of areas: a rationale for QR code use, some ideas of how to use in lessons, the easiest way to make and share qr codes, concrete ways to use codes to link to text, websites, audio, images, videos, and other online materials. Here is the mindmap..I am refining it with each new discovery. http://popplet.com/app/#/803240

In running a number of training sessions with staff this week, what has come through as a justification for QR codes is not just that they add an element of discovery to a learning activity, but that the bridging of a static paper resource like a poster or worksheet to some digital content can -with some thought- genuinely redefine the task at hand in a unique way. Our school uses edmodo as a VLE so the obvious question was ‘ why not just post weblinks there’? The answer seems to lie in the fact that once you post a weblink to a class on the VLE then it is available to all immediately, and the ability to have students move from one activity to another, either individually or in groups, is lost. The existence of the physical worksheet or of printed codes ensures that the teacher can make these appear by simply handing them out or by having sheets on separate stations in the classroom.

My mind is racing now with the possibilities for differentiation and personalized learning because having the paper resource link to further help/support/challenge without the need for the student to approach me leaves me to work more closely with targeted students or groups face-to-face.

I started my own qr journey in class this week with two very simple examples. When my students enter my class they know to come in, open their exercise books and copy the Learning objectives from the flipchart projected on the IWB. Underneath that there is always a small challenge for them to solve, like an anagram or a jumbled sentence or a translation to attempt based on recent tense structures or vocabulary. They will usually collaborate on discussing this challenge and I have frequently used Socrative this year for them to post their answer and the compare with everyone else’s. This week, instead of the challenge sentence written out, I just had a QR code on the screen. I said nothing but they quickly worked out what to do, scanned the code and attempted the challenge. Agreed, the use of the code in this example did not alter the original task, but it did augment it in a couple of ways. Firstly, only students who were ready could scan the code so there was a definite incentive for the objectives to be written swiftly as the students were more curious than usual to see what the puzzle was! Secondly, by having the challenge now visible on their iPad screen rather than on the whiteboards made it easier for them to refer to rather than have to keep looking to the front of the classroom for the information. The second use for the code was to have a weblink to student.infuselearning.com appear on the next slide as I planned to use it next. It took the whole class only 10 seconds to scan the code and get to the exact website I needed them to go to without having to open the VLE or try to copy a web address from the whiteboard. A real timesaver.
I am being observed with this class next week so am planning to to take a few risks and see what I can come up with..my students have just done some reflection on their strengths and targets so I know some of them want to go over the perfect tense again whilst others are ready to move on to the next topic..am going to see if QR codes will help me divide and conquer!

iPads in Science

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Mealworms Practical:

‘What we had to do was state what we had to investigate. We had to show our method using a number of pictures describing what we did. We had to type and video a hypothesis which we then imported into Pages. Just below we had to type our results beside a chart showing the amount of worms in different environments. Below that chart we had to do a table showing the results which you got and the class average and beside that we had to do a conclusion saying what happened and how your result were different to what you predicted.

I think the iPad came in very useful as when we had to record data it was very easy and accessible. I also think the iPads were useful as we could easily take a good quality photo and import the photo into Pages. Videos on the iPad have a good quality microphone which captures your voice very well as well as having loud, clear speakers that produces voices very clearly. The camera is very good because it captures quite a lot and it can easily focus on one specific face or object. The camera is very useful as there are on two sides of your iPad which is very handy because we needed to video ourselves saying a hypothesis and pictures of the mealworms; it is also useful as the camera can control the lighting to a suitable standard. The keyboard is very easy and accessible as it will come up with a single touch of where you need to type and the keyboard is very clearly laid out with a good size, so when we are in a hurry we can type fast and accurately.’

Shaylan, Year 7

iPads in Art


This term Year 7 students have been learning about a range of artists and cultures in Art, and the iPad continues to be an exciting and creative part of the curriculum. Here is what one student had to say:

“In the last couple of weeks, my Art class and I have been working with clay, using different techniques to mold, shape and mark. We used iMovie to produce our own tutorials, instructing others how to incise, roll and appliqué. In my opinion, this was a lot more fun than just teacher instruction and to be able to explain these skills added to our understanding. Using the iPads in this fun and exciting way enabled us to utilize the technology we have at our fingertips.”

In other classes students have been learning about how a journey is expressed in Aboriginal Art and in the work of British artist Richard Long. Students have recorded a personal journey of their own- their journey to school or a walk as a basis for their artwork. Google Maps or Skitch were used to record their route map, time weather and things passed along the way. Students have also made use of their iPad cameras to make a ‘photo essay’ documenting their journey visually through a set of photographs. In the words of one student:

“In art this term we have used a diverse amount of materials to create our work and the iPads have been a major device and improvement to our work.”



Kirstie W, Technology rep for Arts

iPads in Music

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Our school has a long tradition of teaching students to perform on the Gamelan and it is an excellent way for students to demonstrate their teamwork and communication skills. There was an on-going issue of how the students could practise these skills between lessons without access to the Gamelan instruments and how they could gain a deep understanding of the relationships between the different instruments within the group. A new free app ‘Virtual Javanese Gamelan’ was given to the students before starting the project and students were able to practise the piece ‘Lancaran Baitok Kandhas’ using all of the different Gamelan instruments before performing the piece as a class and to practise any parts they found challenging between lessons to allow us to spend more of the lesson concentrating on the group performance rather than individual practice.

The performance level and engagement from the students was noticeably better than in previous years thanks to the use of technology and the subsequent filming of the performances with the iPads has allowed students to evaluate their performances in much more detail and given them the opportunity to show their work to friends and family
Will H.

‘Living with the iPad’ parent workshop

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This past Tuesday evening, nearly 40 Year 7 parents and 9 teachers participated in a presentation and discussion event that we hosted in the library about the role of technology at school and its impact on family life, with particular reference to the current iPad pilot.
I started by recapping the journey so far, giving examples of how use of the device is meeting our stated aims of ‘preparing students for a society permeated with Technology’ and of ‘extending and enriching learning across the curriculum.’ I also explained the rules in place at school and highlighted evolving teaching approaches that reflect the key 21st Century skills we aim to develop in students.

My colleague, Jacqui, Director of Teaching and Learning Resources, then addressed issues around the challenge shared by all parents of teenagers in achieving a comfortable balance of independence, self-regulation and responsibility, and how technology access is different yet similar to other areas that require parent mediation of teen life.

After each of the two presentations, parents split into small discussion groups ‘manned’ by my tech reps as well as the Head and Assistant Head of Year 7, to share openly and frankly what is working as well as strategising areas for development.
Finally, I explained how the Parental Controls settings of the iPad could be a starter for discussion with children at home.

I am looking forward to reading the notes from the discussion groups…my initial impression of the evening was that, whatever reservations/fears parents may have, they welcome our efforts in advancing their children’s learning through technology, and that they appreciate our willingness to raise uncomfortable issues, as well as giving parents the opportunity to share with other parents strategies they can take away….

iPads in French

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So, yesterday we used the free Make Dice Lite to practise making sentences about eating/drinking stuff in the Perfect tense using a time frame, a subject pronoun and a past participle. First, I projected my iPad on the IWB and had students make a 6 sided dice in French for each of the 3 sentence elements. They then quickly copied these in English. Ahhh, you say, what about the auxiliary verb? All will be revealed! This was the sequence of activities:
– roll the French dice, help each other translate then move to trying to beat your partner to say the English, first person to 10 points
– same activity, but with the English dice..of course this is a lot harder because they have to provide the correct auxiliary…they could have the verb paradigm in their exercise book to begin with, then withdrawn during the competitive bit
– Extension: students will add various components to the sentence ie what they ate, their opinion, and a justification

Advantage of using tech for this activity: students really engaged, massive random and repeated exposure to the full range of subject pronouns and auxiliaries, lots of French being spoken, fun. Plus, they can practise at home! The dice can be reused and cannot fall off the table!

iPads in Humanities

Over the past week in Year 7, Humanities students have been using the app ‘Sock Puppets’ in a variety of ways to support their understanding and learning. In History, students have used this app to reenact key points in history. Their focus at the moment has been the Battle of Hastings. Questions like “Why I should be King?” have lead to some interesting debates. In Geography, students have been explaining Fair Trade and its issues with this app.

Max, Yasmin and Ayisha were very keen to give some comments: “Speaking through the puppets was interesting and fun”; “I liked the voices and characters it made it a fun way to explain what I knew at the end of the lesson”; and “A great way to finish a lesson and to let my teacher and myself know what I had learnt.”

There has also been further development of the use of ‘iMovie’ for an assessment task in Geography on Fair Trade. The students have been developing their independent research skills on this topic and using creativity to develop their understanding. The teachers are looking forward to watching the completed movies.

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Students as digital leaders

Had a great meeting this afternoon with my subject-specific technology reps…one of them fed back from a three-day iPad workshop he attended. Highlights for development for us out of this opportunity are:
– Enabling students to be authors, using BookCreator for example to have audio, text, video and photos and then having students publish their work as a regular iBook. Also, the creative use of templates in Pages and Keynote to make static worksheets become living multimedia documents
– QR codes as a simple way of reassuring observers and managers that students’ otherwise less visible, but extremely valuable, digital creations are linked to in good old-fashioned exercise books, on walls etc!
– iMovie: the need to set clearer guidelines for departments who use this, both in terms of task rigour and achievement criteria, of which we can share good examples, and in terms of how the work is submitted to the teacher. We think we should get parent permission for students to use Vimeo, as it is free, is not blocked in school, kids can upload direct from iMovie and this will free a lot of memory on the iPad.

In addition, we made some decisions on how to recruit for our planned student ‘tech ninja’ team. We will have 2 students for each of the Faculties, they will work with the adult tech reps to identify opportunities for tech integration in the curriculum, run student help clinics, make app videotutorials etc. Applicants will need to make a 1 minute online presentation of some sort..we also want to think about how to reward them in some way..maybe Tech Ninja t-shirts, lunch passes?

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Source: http://www.theverge.com

iPads in French

Today was about introducing my Year 7s to the joy of Perfect Tense verbs conjugated with être as the auxiliary! First we recapped last lesson by using Socrative for them to discuss and post in pairs a definition of the Perfect tense with an example sentence using avoir. After the allotted 5 minutes I had them vote on the most effective definition, which handily proved to be the one that did actually include all the key concepts and terminology from last lesson.
Then, to introduce verbs that take être, instead of the usual ‘here are the most common verbs, you can learn them as DR MRS VANDERTRAMP’, I took a different tack.
I found this video on YouTube, downloaded it using KeepVid as YouTube is blocked in my school, and posted it to the class edmodo page. Students had to plug in headphones, watch and try to sing along at their own pace, noting down the verbs then using the internet in table groups to find both the English meaning and the correct Past Participle. This was preceded by a useful discussion about the most effective way to search for things like French grammar points. It always pleasantly surprises me by how much kids like to sing and although the song is quite fast, many were able to sing this by the end of the activity.