I’ve been inspired today, by a conversation on Twitter, to look at a number of resources and how they have influenced my practice this year so far. So here goes with my top ten edu apps and sites of 2016
- Seesaw – This has to be one of the best edu-apps there is at the moment. The ability to build student profiles and add evidence to them via a range of different apps is incredible. I’ve recommended this app across my school and it is being used well. Our next stage is to use the blog feature and link to work in books using the built-in QR code generator.
- Book Creator – Book Creator is brilliant, right across the primary curriculum. We have used it from Reception to Year 4 and find it amazing. The app is accessible to most children with very little instruction. The controls are simple and intuitive and it is very easy to produce professional results. The next update is to make publishing ebooks easier – this is the only issue I’ve had this year in a school without a Mac.
- Interactive Resources – I think that IR make some of the best primary maths resources out there. Whether you use on the IWB or use the app versions they are all excellent. I use Wipeout Wall at least once a week for time tables work in my classroom. Well worth investing in a subscription for your school or looking at their apps. If only Apple would let them make a link between site subscribers and downloading the app versions…
- #PrimaryRocks – Simply the best edu-twitter chat for primary. Monday nights, 8-9 UK time. Most of my classroom ideas come from here, either directly or through a thread sparking an idea in my head. Some of the finest primary educators in the country take part in what has become a must-see phenomenon. Shortly to be hosting their second “real world” event in Manchester, 200 tickets sold out in 10 minutes. I think they’re on to something…
- Green Screen by DoInk – My class don’t believe much that I show them on video now because of this app. I’ve used it to film lesson hooks, make films as part of writing outcomes and to make still images for comics. I’ve put children in space, made news reports and various other things with it. It’s my goto app when I need something inspiring for my class. Recently I’ve been using it with other apps on the list to app smash – the results can be incredible and it really is the best £2.29 you can spend on an app. Well worth paying for in any school.
- iMovie – The mac daddy of iPad video editing. What began life as quite a complicated, niche app is now a classroom staple. We’ve used it a lot recently in school to make films for our website. I made a trailer for next term’s literacy work to hook the children already – they went home on Friday talking about our Star Wars themed work we will be doing. It gives professional looking results, particularly if you do a little app smashing with Green Screen and the camera app. I know some will have to pay for iMovie and this will put some off but I think that it’s worth the cost for the ease of use.
- Adobe Spark – I cannot believe this is still free! Want to make a quick poster? Spark Post can do that. Want to make a really professional looking website, with images that are royalty free and easy to search? Spark Page can do that. An amazing suite of apps that are equally at home on tablet or PC. My class made websites in an afternoon – showing them that content really is king but a good looking site will get the traffic. All you need to get started is an Adobe ID (use your google account if you have one) and the world is your lobster. Some examples of sites we produced are on my school website.
- Exciting Sentences – This fits with the Alan Peat Exciting Sentences books and give pupils some real life examples of all the dry GPS stuff we’re supposed to teach. The idea being that we can make writing better by applying a series of structured sentence types to improve readability. I first found this idea through @FarrowMr on Twitter – he uses it to great effect in his classroom – and tried it out. Concentrate on the sentences that fit the genre of writing you are doing at the time. This doesn’t really need the app but it is a handy reminder for the children.
- A Tale Unfolds – It would have been easy to plump for The Literacy Shed here as the most complete repository of film based work but A Tale Unfolds has taken the concept to a new level. The pricing structure makes it truly accessible to every classroom across the land and the way that the concepts build mean that your children can take the story in any direction they want to. A rich variety of writing genres is covered in each unit, allowing time for practice, editing and improvement. Anyone who thinks film reduces written work is mistaken as nothing is committed to film here unless the writing is good. Using that as an incentive for a class works really well, only the “best” gets filmed (although in reality it meant 1 group filmed each scene in my class.) and, if you do it to the conclusions, you can have an “opening night” of your feature. I ran out of time to do El Dorado justice in my classroom but my children constantly enquire about when we will go back to it.
- Schoolwell – Doing their level best to help remove the stress that most of us feel as teachers. An absolute gem of practical advice, blogs and ideas that help you be you, but better. They have 3 simple aims:
- Everyone in a school has the right to feel well.
- Supporting the wellbeing of staff in school improves outcomes for the pupils.
- Staff should be empowered to take charge of their own wellbeing
Now they don’t seem like bad ideas…