Home School Partnership- iPad Night

One of our Link Learning cluster goals is to better inform parents/whānau about what we are doing in school.

Many parents/whānau have bought iPads because they have heard they are useful for children’s learning but are unsure of how to manage them and don’t know what apps to put on them.

I made this page on my iPad site


with a view to sharing apps that people might like on their iPhone and or iPad. By having the web link they were also gaining access to the other pages of links I had assembled over the past year.

It was sort of like the hook to get parents along to a night time meeting- to show them what apps they might like as adults on their iPads. When people arrived at the meeting they were actually more interested in how to manage their iPads and what apps to put on them to help their children learn and to see some of the apps demonstrated to them before they bought them.

Some of the parents had already bought iPads but a couple were thinking of buying them for Christmas presents and were wondering whether their purchases were warranted.

I had asked schools to put a notice in their newsletters informing them that the meeting was going to be held in centrally situated restaurant/cafe. I had sussed the cafe out beforehand and knew that it had wifi and they agreed to open up at night time for us. We just took a painting off the wall and shone the data projector on to the wall.

The idea of a cafe was that it was neutral territory, not aligned with any school. And being in a cafe meant they could have a coffee and make it a bit of a social activity.

I gave the parents a handout with my contact details at the top and blank at the bottom and a pile of borrowed pens from #ulearn12 so they could make notes for later.


I limited the evening to forty parents as I didn’t want to overload the venue. Here, one of the parents, Sarah, offered to share how she used guided access with her pre-schooler to limit his access to all of the apps at once. This was great- parents teaching parents in the same way as we encourage children teaching children.

It also meant that I was able to take a breath and take a photo!

It was a great night out and successfully worked towards achieving one of our cluster goals.

Above standard!

How are you informing your parent/whānau about what you are doing around eLearning?

IPad Evening

Pinterest Sharing and Curating

I have been learning how Pinterest works lately and I like it.

It appeals to me for its ease of use, its reliability and its social nature.

You log in and set up some pin boards of things that you are interested in. Add a Pin It button to your bookmarks bar by dragging it, just like you do for your RSS or Diigo or Delicious or VLN bookmarlet.

Anything you like on the web with an image in it somewhere you just click on the ‘Pin It’ bookmarket, decide which image prompt you want to go with it and what board to put it on and you’re away.

If it’s a site without an image you can save and upload your own so it still works.

You can put a ‘Follow me on Pinterest’ widget on your blog as well like I have done here on my blog side bar so that people know that you are pinning on Pinterst and follow along.

Here is what my boards look like after a couple of weeks of pinning.

These are just my boards but you find some other people that are pinning and you can follow their stuff too so we all end up share and re-pinning their stuff onto your boards.


Give it a go. It’s fun and a useful way to store and find your stuff.

Oh and it’s a free iPad app too!!!

And Android.

Modern Learning Environment

I have the privilege to be asked to share some of my thinking around Modern Learning Environments in Auckland this week. The day was hosted by TTS and held at Sorento. Here is my presentation so participants can click on the links and easily find the resources that I am sharing. As always I think of other things I need to add after I have published something but as my mate, Kevin Honeycutt says, ‘Don’t wait to be good at something before you do it’. Here is my something!

All of my favourite apps that I use in my classroom or see the potential of are on my initial iPad set up site for people new to iPads who want to know where to start.


I add to it all the time as I come across new things and occasionally ditch things as something better comes along. My most used apps are those where we get to create things, to make things and learn things.

All of the links in the presentation below should work too to take you straight to the app link in iTunes.

There were some strange participants at the conference!


I am really looking forward to the Google Summit and ULearn this year. One of my presentations is ‘Transforming Learning with an iPad’. A little presumptuous maybe but I do believe that putting an iPad in children and teachers’ hands can really transform the way we do things in school.

I have stripped the embedded media from my Keynote presentation, converted it to Powerpoint and uploaded it to Slideshare in the hope that more people than the 30 in my workshop will get the benefit of seeing what I am sharing. Some of the formatting is a bit off but you can get the idea!!

This is a third revision from earlier in the year.

The hyperlinks work so if you click on them it will take you to the apps directly.

Continue reading

Any Answers, Many Answers

This week I attended an AnyQuestions after school workshop. It tied in nicely with our tour of innovative Wellington libraries earlier in the week.

I remember giving AnyQuestions a whirl when I first heard of it ages ago and at that stage it was a bit lame but now it is much improved and I was impressed.

The idea is that from 1-6pm NZ time you can ask, via on line chat, a real life librarian in real time to assist you in finding out answers to questions on line.

While Robert Baigent from AnyQuestions was talking I decided to see how the app was working by asking a live question while working on my iPad. You learn by doing!

On first clicking on the ONLINE icon you need to answer some quick questions to ascertain your location and  fluency. With seconds a helpful assistant is there to guide you to answering your questions yourself. They don’t just give you the answers and you learn about website navigation and digital literacies as you go.

I took a screen grab of the chat transcript to give you an idea of how the conversation may well go.

Complimentary to AnyAnswers is ManyAnswers where popular question responses are curated with full answers to questions often asked during study time.

Robert said that all the librarian helpdesk people are well trained and vetted to help children find out answers to all sorts of questions they want to know the answers to but if you Google the questions you could end up in very dark places on the internet.

It looks to be a great service, often used by informed upper primary school children, to find out answers to deeper questions that Google is not so good at providing.

Worth a second look!

Pic Collage and Blogger

I have been thinking more about combining iPad apps to create content that can be shared on line.

To that end I am creating some tutorials around combining apps.

Today I am sharing creating a photo collage with Pic Collage and sharing it with Blogger.

Pic Collage http://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/pic-collage/id448639966?mt=8

Blogger http://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/blogger/id459407288?mt=8

With Pic Collage you can either take your own photos, get them from the Camera Roll or the web. You can also add text, stickers and a variety of different backgrounds.

Pic Collage

  • I had previously saved some photos to my iPad photos folder using Advanced Image Search and using free to use photos. To save a photo from the web just press and hold it.
  • You can multiple select photos for your collage. Move them to where you want them.

  •  To set a photo as a background double tap it. Tap on an empty space to select one of their backgrounds. 

  • To delete a photo drag or flick the photos into the bin that appears at the top right hand side of the screen.
  • Use the two finger pinch and spread and rotate to manipulate the photos to how and where you want them.
  • To trim a photo double tap it and trace around the outside with your finger. Press DONE when you’re done. 

  •  Tap anywhere in the background to add text.

  • Look at the top left of the text box to edit font etc.
  • Look to the bottom right hand corner arrow to export the finished collage to the Camera Roll.


Now you are ready to share your collages. Go to your Blogger app and log in.

  • Blogger will ask you permission to access your photos. It will need to do that to access your Camera Roll.

  •  Click on the pencil at the bottom left corner to write your post. Add a title and some text and close the keyboard by clicking on the orange keyboard.

  •  Select your image by clicking on the photo icon on the bottom left of your screen.

  •  If you have labels on your blog remember to add it. Then click Publish. Go to Safari to see how the blog post looks!

Here is a paper version of this tutorial to download if you find it easier to work from that.

ADE Camp

Over the weekend I had the privilege of attending the Apple Distinguished Educators first ever New Zealand official get together in Auckland. Apart from getting to know one another better the main thrust for the event was to make a video potentially for iTunes U. We were put in to three groups of five with a Final Cut Pro expert on hand for when we got stuck and got on with it. It was a little like Masterchef with a final countdown for 4pm on Saturday afternoon. Almost two solid days of work for a 90 second video! The end result was pretty good though.

I am happy to say I have a couple of things in iTunes U already owing to my involvement in the K12 OnLine Conference over the last couple of years.

While we were there we were privileged to also hear from Rhonda Kite, the CEO of Kiwa Media. I was impressed, very impressed with her vision, passion and skills. We have such talented New Zealanders here.

It is Kiwa Media that have developed the Hairy Maclary and Wonky Donkey apps that I already had. Previously I had just had the apps auto play but now realise there is more to it than that. On my return to school on Monday we had a look at the Hairy Maclary book being signed as it was read. My class were impressed as they could sort of see what was being read at the same time as listening and reading. Then we had a go at adding our own narration. Fortunately the I had a parent willing to help and an empty classroom next door because I left my iRig noise cancelling microphone at home.

When I got home I used Reflectionapp to mirror my iPad onto my laptop and used Quicktime to record the screen and Vimeo to post to the web.

I put it on the Moturoa class blog via the iPad Blogger app. Take a look and have a go yourself.

Making and Posting Video from your iPad

This post was totally conceived, constructed, edited and posted entirely without the aid of a laptop or desktop computer in any way.

For me it has been a bit of a learning curve with its inspiration coming from my attendance at the Slide2Learn conference and the acquisition of my very own white 64GB iPad that I shouted my self because I had been a good little worker!

One of the workshops at the conference presented by Jenny Jongste was on using iMovie on the iPad. I had never really gone in to making movies on the iPad before and now think I have enough skills to share my learning with others.

On the plane on the way home I started a movie trailer but, although fun, was a bit limiting in the way of timing so I decided to make a longer 2 minute movie instead.


Once you have uploaded the video to Vimeo scroll down a little to get the menu bar pretend to email the video to yourself to get the URL then copy it to your web browser.

From there you can easily see the embed code to put into your blog.

Note the clever things I used in this post…..

* Edublogs app for blogging
* The Vimeo app for uploading the finished video to the web.
* The Skitch app for making the screen grab of how to get the Vimeo URL.
* Inserting hyperlinks
* Uploading an image to Edublogs and inserting it where it needed to go.
* Grabbing the URL from the App Store on an iPad- you have to go to the app page, click on Tell a Friend and email the link to yourself using your iPad email account. When it arrives click and hold on View Item and you will be able to copy the URL. I bet you didn’t know that trick before. Hat tip to Rick Connors.


Daniel Edwards suggested that you search for the app using the Chrome browser for iPad and copying the URL that way but sometimes just searching on the web for an app can be time consuming.

Of course I have never done this before so we will have to see what happens when I click publish.

Continue reading

Petals and Flower Centres

Today with maths with the New Entrants we were learning one to one counting from the Addition and Subtraction Numeracy Book.

At first we did the activity with numbers and counters putting the correct number of petals around the number.

The more eagle-eyed of you might notice that the photo I quickly took on my iPad has actually nine petals around the flower!!!!! Part of the problem was that we didn’t know where we started to count from! The issue was over come when we did it on the iPad because we knew where to start counting from.

After we had mastered it with actual things we extended the activity by drawing in SketchTime ($2:59NZ) on the iPad. I recently bought ReflectionApp for $14.99US so that I can wirelessly mirror my iPad onto my laptop. I then used Quicktime to record the laptop screen the give you a short tutorial on how we did it.

Best Dozen iPad Apps

Next week I have been asked to share some of my iPad learning with teachers from the Greater Christchurch School Network.

They wanted an interesting concept. Say I could only get a dozen apps for my iPad apart from the ones they came with out of the box.

What would they be?

A hard decision. I am not a big fan of teachers buying ten different apps that do the same thing so am trying to rise to the challenge to pick my dozen must haves.

I teach Year Four a lot so am looking at it from a Year Four teacher’s perspective but these apps go well across a whole primary school.

So here is the  link to what I think are the apps that I consider to be indispensable.

I couldn’t decide on the twelfth app so made it a link to a Google Doc for you to write what YOU think should be included.

Draw Something and Reflection.app

Over the last few weeks I have been playing multiple games of Draw Something with people in Hamilton, Sydney, London and Norway. I think the free app has some possibilities for classroom use as well.

The idea is that you get a choice of three words to draw for your playing buddy. You pick one to draw and your buddy has to guess what it is that you were trying to draw. They will have twelve letter tiles to construct the word from.

You can then make a comment to encourage your playing buddy.

Then they get to draw something and you have to guess what it was. In a classroom I can see it as a language, collaborative opportunity to come up with ideas for how to represent words and then draw them.

I wanted to show you how it works so I used the ten minute free trial of Reflection.app to mirror my iPad onto my MacBook Air running Lion. I then used Quicktime to do a screen recording of it in full screen. I trimmed the ends of the screen-recording and added a track from Freeplay Music.

I then uploaded it to Vimeo to share and embed on my blog. Play it full screen to see how clever we are. Thank you Barbara Reid for being my unwitting guinea pig.

iPad Presentation on Transforming Learning

I am presenting a workshop for teachers in my area on how an iPad can transform learning. I made a good chunk of the presentation on the iPad using Keynote. I decided to activate iCloud for Keynote so I have it on my phone and Mac Book Air as well.

I put it here as I spent a lot of time making it and its good to share 🙂

My featured apps are hyperlinked so you can delve more deeply should you wish.

My inquiry around this topic can be found on my iPad Google site.

Interesting to note that my presentation has had 540 views in the two days since I posted it!

Transforming proof reading with an iPad

As you may know the Link Learning ICT Cluster has loaned me an iPad to use with my teaching, to download apps that may be useful for learning and to recommend to teachers the apps that prove themselves to be powerful learning tools.

There is only the one iPad in the school and it is only there on the one day a week that I teach so, as you can imagine, it’s a pretty scarce commodity that’s much used when it is at school. I try to have it in children’s hands as much as possible by pairing children up, allowing the children to use my iPhone and iPod Touch and trying to make sure each child gets some iPad time each day when I am teaching.

Yesterday children were finishing off and proof reading a ‘beginning of the school year’ story.

Here’s a little original idea I had – I don’t get many of those so I thought I had better share it pretty quick.

I will call the child in this story Smilie cos he didn’t want to be named! Smilie told me that he written his story and that he had finished proof reading it. I loved the story- it made me laugh out loud and with Smilie’s permission I read it to the class. I took a photo of a Smilie’s draft writing with the iPad 2 camera and put it up on the ordinary whiteboard with the data projector. I called the class together and together we looked at what we might do to edit the text.

Then I switched the data projector off, leaving just the editing. We then looked at patterns with the things we edited and saw that Smilie need to work on identifying spelling errors in words that he really does know, to make sure the full stops are in the right place and put capitals after all the full stops.

I could have probably done this activity without the iPad just using a digital camera and a heap of cords but the joy of using the iPad is that it can happen in the wink of an eye, as the need arises.

As a corollary to this activity I am preparing an after school workshop tomorrow on creative iPad apps so set to work turning Smilie’s story into a book with the Scribblepress app on the iPad.

As Kevin Honeycutt did at Learning at School I decided to buy a hard cover copy of the illustrated test run of the app. The Scribblepress people were very helpful via Twitter when I got stuck at one stage and to clarify things they sent me a pdf of the story. Here it is with the story by Smilie and the drawings and photos by me!

The hardcover book should arrive in 5-7 days- I can’t wait! Click on the book cover  or this link to see how it looks a real book!

My New Teacher

K12 OnLine QR Code Presentation

Over the last couple of weeks the K12 OnLine Conference has been churning out free, online video and audio workshops. Some time ago I was invited to prepare a presentation in the Sandbox Play chapter of the conference.

All of the presentations are available for download in iTunesU which is a good way to view them.

I feel I have a pretty good handle on QR Codes now and the concept is new to many so I thought sharing with others about what I have learnt along the way would make an interesting presentation. My presentation was a audio-visual recap of the QR Code blog posts of last term.

The video is 9 minutes long. You can download the original from Dropbox if you wish.

I made it as an enhanced podcast in Garageband because I can make Garageband hum way better than iMovie. It played perfectly on my computer but in one of life’s little mysteries it refused to upload properly and the audio and graphics were out of synch. I tried exporting it in a heap of ways and uploading to Zamzar, YouTube, and Vimeo but all I achieved was an email from Telecom telling me I was exceeding my monthly broadband allowance. I whined about it on Twitter and Julia came through with the idea of trying to convert the video using http://www.online-convert.com/. The conversion and re-upload to Vimeo worked so here it is in all its glory.

If you have a clever smartphone, iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad give QR codes a whirl. My class love them and they are really easy to create and share.

I would love to know how you get on. How are you using QR codes?

iPad Sharing #4 Apps to support children with very special needs

Yesterday I had the privilege to meet a group of people, mainly mothers of young children with neuro-developmental delays who were helping their children communicate with iPads. I was inspired by their interest and by the innovative ways they were using their iPads.

The session was lead by Bianca and her young son, Kaiden, made an appearance via video. This video shows the progress that Kaiden has made in three months since he got his iPad. Awesome.

Kaiden has had his iPad for 3 months. Here is how far he has come! I had been trying for nearly a year to teach him to use his pointing finger and it took about 6 weeks with the iPad – AMAZING! The apps he is using are…. Peekaboo Barn, Peekaboo Ocean, Baby Touch, Sparkabilities 2, Choiceboard Maker (now upgraded and called Choiceboard Creator).

For those new to my blog all of my posts that share my learning with iPads can be found under the iOS tab by clicking here.

Also take a moment to watch this inspirational video of how Bianca, Kaiden and his physiotherapist work together using the iPad as a motivator. Well done Kaiden.

Bianca listed the apps she uses with Kaiden on a piece of paper. To make it easier for people to find those apps I am basically re-creating them here with hyperlinks to make the accessing of them easier.

In most browsers when you click on the link it will ask you if want to open iTunes- you say yes and it takes you directly to iTunes where you can download the app.

There is a great Facebook page called Babies with iPads which has a thriving community of people sharing apps and posting videos of their progress using apps to support learning. And this one Apps for Children with Special Needs has lots of apps demos which are great to look at to see if an app is right for your child before deciding whether to spend money on buying it.

Apps for Communicating between Home and School

Each child has an iPad that is theirs. We can capitalise on the communication between parents, whanau, school, teacher aides, teachers but writing (and emailing) quick Notes from the Notes app telling of progress.

Use the camera for stills or video to capture those wonderful moments when breakthroughs are made- share with parents who aren’t able to be there.

Simple Touch- Cause and Effect Apps

To teach swiping, pointing, anticipating movement, press and hold.

Peekaboo Barn ($2.59) but there is a lite free versionhttp://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/peekaboo-barn/id300590611?mt=8
Peekaboo Wild ($2.59) this is an iPhone version- it can be annoying if your child keeps accidentally making the app small size but you can cover the (x1) with a post it notehttp://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/peekaboo-wild/id335736484?mt=8
Peekabo Vehicles (free)http://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/peekaboo-vehicles-hd/id452966023?mt=8
Alphababy- $1.29) add your own photos (there is a free version too)http://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/alphababy/id321916100?mt=8
Baby Touch- (4.19) this is the link to the paid version but there is a free lite version as well.http://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/sound-touch/id348094440?mt=8
Look Baby- free- there is a paid version as wellhttp://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/look-baby!/id325952583?mt=8
Baby Finger- freehttp://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/baby-finger-hd/id407552495?mt=8 
Talk Tom- free- there’s a whole series of these talking apps- good to pay for it so that the ads don’t keep on getting in the wayhttp://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/talking-tom-cat/id377194688?mt=8

Here is a video of young Alexander meeting with The Talking Dinosaur

Peekaboo HD (free)http://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/peekaboo-hd/id418475159?mt=8
Baby Play Face (free)http://itunes.apple.com/nz/app//id430847304?mt=8
Christmas Baby Rattle ($2.59) there is a free version toohttp://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/christmas-baby-rattle/id408766341?mt=8

Slightly more complex apps but not too tricky

Peekaboo Ocean- (2.59) there is a lite versionhttp://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/peekaboo-ocean/id432050885?mt=8 
Polly Poodle’s Noisy Book ($1.29)http://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/polly-poodles-noisy-book/id422587929?mt=8
Wheels on the bushttp://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/wheels-on-the-bus/id303076295?mt=8
Sparkabilities ($6.49)http://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/sparkabilities-babies-2-for/id372882805?mt=8

Telling Stories

These can be powerful to record stories around what you did together and to remember and play back and share special moments.

Storykit- is free. Delete their example stories and build your ownhttp://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/storykit/id329374595?mt=8
Sonic Pics ($4.19) I have linked to the paid version but there is a free lite version that only lets you record three photos. Record a voiceover over your photos and make a little movie.http://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/sonicpics/id345295488?mt=8 
Book Creator for iPad ($9.99) In a future update they are going to add the ability to record your voice as well.http://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/book-creator-for-ipad/id442378070?mt=8
iBooks- like a digital bookshelf to put the books you have made in Book Creatorhttp://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/ibooks/id364709193?mt=8

Communication Apps

Choosing the right one for your child may be a bit of a mission but looking at previews and demos on the app developer’s website and YouTube maybe useful.

TapSpeak Choice ($199.99) This one is expensive but it’s what Bianca chose that seemed to be the best choice for Kaiden


Choiceboard Creator (free) make your own menu of choices from photos downloaded off the internet or take your won photoshttp://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/choiceboard-creator/id453988580?mt=8
iComm (free)http://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/icomm/id351726761?mt=8
Talkboard ($20.99)http://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/talkboard/id416436888?mt=8
Tap to Talkhttp://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/taptotalk/id367083194?mt=8
My Choice Board ($13.99) May suit some people but not the one that Bianca chose for Kaidenhttp://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/my-choice-board/id384435705?mt=8
Yes No (free)http://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/answers-yesno-free/id474384124?mt=8

Thank you Bianca for sharing a snapshot of your journey with Kaiden with us. I hope this post will be useful for others with pre-schoolers and children with special needs using their iPad to play and learn.

Sharing and Synching files on the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad

When I try to export from some applications on the iPad I have been emailing them to my laptop but it gives me share as WebDav (WEB based Distributed Authoring and Versioning) as an option. I didn’t know what WebDav was and how to get it.

This morning I sorted it.

Firstly I downloaded the app Box.Net which automatically gives me 50GB of on line storage if you sign up before the end of October- plenty of storage to be going on with.

I then logged in the Box.net on my laptop and created a folder to put my iOS files into. I called that folder iPadDocs.

Going back to my Pages document on my iPhone I clicked on the Spanner which took me to Share and Print.

Then I clicked on Copy to WebDav. I had to put in the Server address which was  https://www.box.net/dav//iPadDocs .  The iPadDocs part of the Server Address is the folder that I had made.

You can also put in the server address  https://www.box.net/dav// and it will let you chose which folder to put your files in which would make it easier to file things but maybe make it trickier for little folk to decide where to put their files!!!

I entered my Box.net username and password. It then asked me which format I want the upload to be, I clicked COPY  and away it went.

Once it uploaded you can download the files on other iOS devices and share folders with other users.

I hope you find this post useful in sorting a simple way to share docs between devices in your class.

I like that you don’t have to rely on aging school servers to share files and continue working on them.

Let me know how you get on.

The Mission!

People have been asking me recently, “What can’t an iPad do?” Today I found out. Or at least I found out how I would try it next time to make it work.

I decided I wanted to make this whole project on the iPad and not touch the laptop.

On Thursday I recorded the class I was working with choral speaking a poem. I didn’t have my iRig mike with me so quickly grabbed the audio with the free app QuickVoice Recoder cos there wasn’t a lot of time before PMP.

I wanted to basically create an enhanced podcast like I do on my laptop with Garageband. Easy I thought. No great timing or editing involved. Piece of cake.

Not so much!

The big hiccup was that Quickvoice only has email out of the .caf file. For all the apps that my Twitter network suggested might work, like Keynote, iMovie and Reel Director, all needed the audio to already be in iTunes.

I tried emailing the .caf file to myself on the iPad from Quickvoice hoping that it would give me options like when you email and ePub- it asks, “Would you like to open this in iBooks.” I was hoping I would get a, “Would you like to open this in iTunes.” No such luck.

The iRig mike app has an iTunes File Sharing export function but I set myself to try and do the project without the laptop. I tried recording the Quickvoice recording with the iRig mike but of course as soon as I put the mike in the iPad jack it muted the sound out so it wouldn’t go through the speakers.

I had taken the photos of the kids’ monsters with my iPhone and used the Photo Transfer App to get the photos on to the laptop so at least I didn’t have to use any cords.

I would hope that there would be a great app for doing this but I couldn’t work it out. Not at least with a pre-recorded audio track. So I gave up and went back to the laptop and had the job done in five minutes. I uploaded it to Vimeo at least which gave me easy playback on the iPad without having to use Puffin that plays Blogger flash based videos.

The finished thing is here on the class blog.

Any advice on how I could have done this better would be greatly appreciated.


Is all this interactivity and engagement really a good thing?

Selena Woodward from Australia left a comment on my literacy apps blog post which prompted me to think more deeply about the wonderful interactivity of some of the iPad apps I have been sharing lately.

As I was working with the very young children (6 year olds) on this week I was thinking that all this iPad interactivity, on its own, may not actually be such a good thing.

My favourite literacy app at the moment is The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore that I posted about recently.

Did I tell you that I now have an iPad2 that will project through a data projector?? Great when you only have access to one iPad. Way cool except that the VGA cable keeps falling out if you jiggle the iPad too much. But I digress….


When we had the book ‘Morris Lessmore’ projected from the iPad onto the classroom ordinary whiteboard we could stop at the various places and discuss what was happening in the story and draw deeper understanding from the text and nothing particularly interactive happened in the story unless the user wanted it too which is something I really liked about the app.

Some other stories progress automatically from page to page which doesn’t give the teacher much of an opportunity to help children make connections with the text. When I use these texts I put myself in my happy place and wake up ten minutes later- just like watching an animated cartoon on TV really- except that it’s on an iPad.

Then when we had finished the shared reading the children were naturally keen to read the book on their own. They were much more intent on doing the interactive bits than listening/reading the story.

I wondered then if all the interactivity of the app was actually lessening the children’s desire to actually read the text for themselves.

I told them that the interactive bits wouldn’t work until at least they actually waited and listened to the text. I lied and they soon found out and exposed me as a fraud and shared how they could get the interactive bits going without having to wait for the text to be read. Clever them!

Although they loved the app, did they equally love the reading experience??

I am not so sure?

What do you think?

iPad Sharing #3 Apps To Support Literacy

This week I was asked to give a presentation to the Nelson Library Network Meeting focussing on iPad Apps to Support Literacy so we combined our usual after school Thursday workshop with the Library meeting.

I managed to borrow/commandeer an iPad 2 because I wanted to display the iPad screen onto the data projector big screen as we were expecting quite a big turnout. I had to wipe the iPad’s apps that were already there to over-write it with my own own apps. This went very smoothly as when I went to synch the iPad it led me to the option to RESTORE TO ORIGINAL SETTINGS on the opening screen. Once I had done that I re-synched it and everything, plus Facetime and Photobooth, were there where they should be.

I divided the presentation into two parts – Consumption- looking at Literacy Apps that someone else has made and Creativity- looking at ways to create your own content on the iPad.

Here are my hyperlinked notes of my apps that I shared. All prices are in Kiwi dollars…..


  •  Next on the list was iBooks. We had quick skim through with what you can do with a couple of free books like Winnie the Pooh that you get through the iBook store. To get to the iBooks Store you open the app and click on STORE. From there you may like to look for FEATURED and get some free books. I have bought ‘Are You My Mother’ by PD Eastman, one of my favourites from when I first started teaching that I can’t find in paper version any more. A nice find!
  • While we were in iBooks we looked at how we might add our own pdfs to the resource. To do that open iTunes. Go FILE- ADD TO LIBRARY in iTUNES- navigate to the file and voila! The next time you synch the iPad your pdf will be waiting for you.
  • To navigate between the pdfs and books click on the word COLLECTIONS (BOOKS on the iPod Touch version) and you will see the options.
  • As an example of an eBook you can buy through iTunes Our Choice ($6.49) by Al Gore is pretty impressive too.

Some of my favourite eBooks for young children are:

  • The Kindle App– (Free) The Kindle App lets you read ebooks that you buy cheap from Amazon on your iPad as though you were reading them on you Kindle. Not sure what to buy I asked Kerre Woodham and her Paper Plus Book Choices. A book that I might have bought in hard copy for $40 cost me $13 on the Kindle.

  • In a teachery sort of way I like Running Recs ($2:59) by our very own Matt Thomas from Tauranga for doing away with the need to grab a calculator to work out whether a running record is easy, instructional or hard.

  • And lastly as an RSS reader I like the look of Flipboard (free) for browsing through photos, news and blogs that I like to peruse.

Creativity–  looking at ways to create your own content on the iPad.

  • Here we went back to iBooks how I made our own class eBook. To do that I made a document with the children’s text and drawings with Pages then went FILE – EXPORT and exported it as an ePub. To create and import your own ePub you can download a tutorial pdf here.
  • Next we looked at Handwriting with I Can Write ($1.29) being my favourite because it shows you where to start and how to write. When you are finished a set of letters it gives you a screen of how you wrote all of the letters in the set. You could then take a screen grab of those and track your improvements and progress.
  • My favourite Spelling app at the moment is Cimo Spelling. I like it because you learn to spell real words that actually exist. I have gone off a lot of other spelling apps that accept words that no one has ever heard of.
  • Of course we can’t go past Pages ($13.99) and Keynote ($13.99) for creating working documents on the iPad. Children are already familiar with them and know what to expect.

  • I also recently bought Comic Life ($10.99) which can be used in all sorts of engaging ways across the curriculum.

  • For editing photos my go to app is Photogene (4:19). It is simple, easy to use and has lots of features that I often use.

  • For mind mapping I really like how easy to use Popplet ($6.49) is. I have blogged earlier this year about the web application but it is even easier on an iPad. There is a lite free version as well if you would like to try it out.

  • For recording audio I think people often forget the iPod feature of having an iPad. Schools could load the music from CDs and use the iPad for archiving things like Learning Media CDs, Jump Jam, Assembly music, dance, etc. You could then use the iPad as a listening post or plug it into a sound system and always know where you audio is located.
  • I have recently bought myself an iRig microphone which is a uni-directional microphone designed specifically for using with iOS devices. It provides quality recording and cuts out the background chatter in the classroom or social setting.
  • My favourite digital storytelling app is Sonic Pics. ($4.19) It is so easy to use and share. Here Wes Fryer shares a how to of digital storytelling apps.

  • You can’t go past the basic Talking Tom (free) for fun audio recording and sharing.
  • I am quite fond of Show Me (free) for making screen and audio recordings. It doesn’t export as a movie but they Show Me team assure me it will come through further updates.
  • Puppet Pals (free) is a fabulous storytelling app. You can purchase more characters from within the app or add your own characters and backgrounds from your iPad photo album. This Matariki production was made by children at Waihi East Primary School using Puppet Pals.

  • The last of the audio apps would be Sock Puppets (free) which lip synchs when you speak. Fun!

And last of all we had fun with some QR codes in the Waimea Intermediate School Library. Phew!

QR Codes #4 Text to World Connections

A while ago I was helping a young lad new to New Zealand learn to read. He was really keen to learn but found a lot of new vocabulary challenging.

We were reading ‘Mum at the Fair’ by Jill Eggleton. Central to the plot was Mum’s adventures on a ferris wheel.

Now- describing a ferris wheel to someone who has never seen one before is not nearly as informative as showing someone about it.

Next time I would put a QR code on the book that leads to a YouTube video of someone’s experiences on a ferris wheel.

Before reading the book the child would then have more of an idea of what the book is going to be about and what happens in it.