As we begin the Google Play for Education Pilot, I thought I would take a moment to draw your attention to some of the resources available to you in play.google.com/edu. If you are not part of the pilot, not to worry because these same resources are available in the ordinary Play Store.
Books are an enormously expensive resource for schools. Encouraging students to make best use of them inevitably means that they may not be in a fit state for passing onto the next year. So a good solution is to look at electronic books. There is a small selection in the edu store at the moment but a quick glance at the literacy exam specs for the main exam boards, tells me that Romeo and Juliet and Great Expectations are on the set lists for Edexcel and AQA.
It may be that students have both hard copy and electronic but I know from my own experience that my youngest son will read an electronic version of a book that he would not get out of the school library.
There are some apps I have been playing with for quite some time. I will mention two in particular:
This is a fantastic app for teachers to use to re-focus the class during a lesson. It allows a teacher to pose a question and the students can respond by inputting an answer in the Socrative app. It allows students to remain anonymous but gives the teacher the tool to track that everyone has responded. I particularly like the short answer type question. Once the student has responded with a short answer, the teacher can enable voting and the class can vote on the best answers. This of itself is not the best bit - one you have everyone's vote, the discussion about why that choice was the best one and why others were not so good is a really valuable learning experience. Students love this little app because it is quick to use and can be anonymous.
Math Workout and Math Workout 2014
These apps are very similar. Both are free and both give the user the chance to practise some maths at their own pace and level. There time penalties and some children will love beating their own time. I particularly the Brain Cruncher in Math Workout.
WeVideo is a great little app. It allows editing together of images and videos. You can add background music or audio and customise it with their build in themes. It is easy to use and suitable for young children. The web based version does have more functionality but this is definitely a good one for you to install.
Finally, this app makes use of the accelerometer. Once it has your location, you can move it around and it will show you the constellations all around you; show all the planets and orbits of planets and so on. You can see the information panel for the Sun on the left. There are in app purchases for extra functionality. The satellites is one I purchsed because it is a fascination of mine.