Choosing the right app

I love using Explain Everything for my teaching as it gives rich interactive-whiteboard-like functionality using an iPad instead of a clunky and often unaligned ‘smart’board.

However, today I discovered it’s not always the best tool to use with kids. In my music lesson we were listening to different sounds, and I wanted an app that could just be written on, much like a drywipe mini whiteboard. You can do that with Explain Everything, but it’s just a bit too complex for using with Year 2 kids as you can easily have the pen unselected and then end up moving all the items on the screen around instead.

As an alternative, I quickly downloaded Educreations (which is free!). This app offers a stripped down set of features and allows you to just use your finger to draw with on the screen. This worked much better.

I also had a go at using Socrative to do a class quiz. You have to set up a teacher account (which you can do online) and then you just give your room number for children to log onto your quiz. Children then answer the questions and get immediate feedback.

I’m realising more the power of the App Store in education. It can take a bit of thinking to discover the best app, or combinations of apps for a job, but once you do it leads you to all sorts of interesting places.

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Thoughts on iPad

Now that the first full week of school has finished, here are some observations on how the iPad experiment is going.

  • Reception children love the iPads! Each class only got 3 each, but already the teachers are asking when we’re getting some more. The GripCase cases also seem to be doing the job, protecting the iPads but also giving handy handles for the kids to grasp.
  • The upper KS2 iPads seem to be getting some use, although only for some Internet research at the moment. But I’ve been told that teachers have planned in more iPad activities for next week, so I’m excited about that.
  • iFiles + WebDAV = joy! One of the features of iFiles is that you can easily browse the files on a WebDAV share, which is what we’ve done with our shared ‘school’ drive. I think it might need a step-by-step guide for the teachers though.
  • One of the Assistant Heads wanted to showcase some of the children’s maths learning in an assembly and asked me how it could be done using an iPad mirrored onto the hall’s big screen. I found the Educreations app, which lets you type, write and manipulate objects on a blank ‘whiteboard’ area. Apparently it went down a treat!
  • We had to do an ICT audit today to make sure all the new equipment had been included in our inventory, and using an iPad to assist us was invaluable. We did use a paper copy to highlight off what was there, but used a copy of the spreadsheet in Numbers to search for serial numbers for items that had moved or we could t find. An enormous time-saver!

I’m sure there will be more, but I’m really pleased with how iPads are already being used across the school.