I’ve been interested in space for as long as I can remember and I was trying to wrack my brains to figure out exactly what it was that got me into it. In a dark corner of my brain, a book appeared: The Arthur Mee’s Children’s Encyclopaedia. I remember having the abridged version as a kid and the space chapter fascinated me. If you are of a certain age you will remember the carefully sketched, cross section diagrams of US and Soviet rockets, and the occasional picture of Neil Armstrong on the Moon, or Yuri Gagarin floating around in space. The problem with the traditional encyclopaedia is that it is out of date as soon as it is printed, which was as true in the 1920s, when my mate Arthur started writing, as it is now. Thankfully for us, iPad apps change all of this with regular updates to apps and iBooks, and today’s children can have up to date information at their fingertips.
Here is a round up of some apps which will help introduce, or further your child’s knowledge of space. This article will list them in age appropriate order, youngest first. [click to continue reading…]
When I first started teaching, I marvelled at my colleague’s neatly tended mark books. The amazing array of handwritten marks, numbers and codes in different coloured pens were almost like a work of art. Unfortunately for me two of my greatest weaknesses are record keeping on paper, and filing paper. I also thought I didn’t want to hang on to physical mark books for years on the off chance the inspector came knocking. As a result I started my quest for a digital solution. Nothing really fit the bill – Excel was not portable around the classroom, Google Sheets didn’t have the flexibility. I even bought my ancient PDA out of retirement for a term. In desperation I started looking into writing my own app. Luckily for me, this is when I stumbled across iDoceo. [click to continue reading…]
Back in the days of my GCSE and A-Level revision there always seemed to be an unofficial contest as to who had the most revision cards. Firstly, there was the annual race to Tescos to snap up their supply of index cards and then late evenings spent filling out a word, then an explanation of that word on the back. It was a sort of geeky version of the ‘business card’ scene in American Psycho the next day in school, with people standing around comparing revision cards. Me, I always lost out on the contest, mainly because I’d be too busy playing Sensible Soccer on my Amiga to do anything as thorough as revision. Times have changed now though, and the boot is on the other foot. I’m the person trying to get teenage kids to revise. As we all know, revision is a completely personal thing and there is no silver bullet to it, but there are quite a few apps which try to streamline the process. One of these is the newly released Synopsis. In a nutshell, Synopsis is a PDF e-reader with the ability to make revision, or flash cards from any text you highlight. [click to continue reading…]
Apps like Brainfeed frustrate me somewhat. It’s a great looking app, but it has some content issues. The idea behind Brainfeed is that it serves up educational videos in a variety of topics, some of which are free to view, but most of the videos require an in-app purchase in a variety of tiers, the cheapest being $15 for a yearly subscription. However, (you can probably guess where this is going) a 20 second check of YouTube revealed that the videos were easily available here. Fair enough, I thought, the free videos on Brainfeed are available on YouTube. What would be interesting though is are any of the paid videos available? The short answer is yes. The app doesn’t give you the titles for the locked videos, only screenshots, but it is easy to find the locked videos on YouTube with a quick search of videos from the video creator’s channels. To give an example, one of the locked videos was by ‘Stuff of Genius’. I dialed up their YouTube channel and the locked video was there to watch for free. [click to continue reading…]
Stick Around – Nothing to do with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator….
When teaching, one of the great practical ways to inspire discussion, debate and higher order thinking skills is by categorisation/card sort exercises, ideally where a student can decide to put things in a certain order, and change their mind by moving their idea about depending on the discussion. Back in the ‘good old days’ (pre-iPad), I would spend ages making a card sort exercise – writing it out in Word, printing it, maybe laminating it (or if I was feeling lazy not bothering), cutting out all the cards and placing them in envelopes with paper clips on so they didn’t get lost. I’d then repeat this for however many sets I needed for the class. I’d feel my life force drain away in front of my eyes as I repeated this tortuous process for each of my classes, with the realisation that I still had a ton of stuff to mark and plan, but knowing that it would generate a good lesson of discussion, argument and discovery. [click to continue reading…]