Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Some useful apps

Technology is nothing. What's important is that you have a faith in people, that they're basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they'll do wonderful things with them.
Steve Jobs

I want to emphasise the importance of the teacher in the process of getting the best out of any app they might use. There is no "killer app" that is a panacea for every classroom. Each individual teacher will need to go and look and decide whether these particular apps are any use to them. By all means be guided by others but be critical and make certain it will suit you and your students. What I hope for is that teachers will go and look and if these apps don't quite fit their requirements, they will go and find a more suitable one for them. I have been trying to decide what to include in this blog for a while and it is getting delayed over and over so I am going to do it in instalments instead. Publish and be damned!

So, now the caveat is stated, here are some apps I think have real potential

Math Duel

This is a great little app, It splits the screen and two students compete against each other to identify the correct answer. Winner is the first to 10. There are different levels and you can decide which operators to include in each level. The highest level is really challenging so there is a very wide range of maths problems available. You can customise how many operators to have appear in each game and select the level. Your students will get addicted!

MyScript Calculator

This is handwriting recognition app for the maths lesson. It recognises a wide range of maths symbols. You can set the app to calculate the answer straight away but it is much more valuable when you set the app to delay the

Socrative (Student and Teacher)

At those moments when you feel you want to refocus your class with a well targeted question. Socrative is there. Yes you can simply ask the question but the there are times when you might want to engage with the class through the tablets they have in front of them. Here's an example of how it might be used. You are doing an exercise on connectives and you have a very large paragraph on the board which is a long single sentence that only uses and as a connective. You want to explore alternative connectives. So you read to the first connective and ask the class to go to the Socrative app and suggest an alternative connective. Once they have submitted their suggestions, the class can vote on all the suggestions and you can even make all suggestions anonymous so they don't vote for their friends and you can collect the information in a csv file if you want the evidence. You can also prepare quizzes ahead of time. All this and you can have the app on any device means I am certain there is lots of potential in this app.

PitchLab Guitar Tuner (LITE)

This is a fantastic tuner.  You have a large number of preset instruments you can use so those schools who have started using ukuleles will be able to set up the tuner to ukulele and let the students tune them. This is a really important and one that is often left until students are older because it is difficult to tune properly when you are first learning. So, using an electronic that gives you the strings to the instrument you are using and no other strings is really useful.

Lightbot Hour of Code

Your students will love this. They learn how to write simple programs by dragging and dropping the instructions into the main procedure. The free version gets as far as two sub-procedures. It makes suggestions about optimum number of moves so the students can start to think about efficiency. All in all a great set of apps. The title is a link to the free version and there are paid version that take you even further. This is definitely a good place to start.

CanonClock - Learn the Clock

Your early years students will really enjoy this activity. They shot cannonballs at the correct answer as they slowly glide across the screen. You can do hours, quarter hours or minutes so it gives scope for differentiated activities. This is a paid for app and there amy well be some free apps that do the same thing but for 89p per license, I though this was definitely worth it