PingPong – SPOT networking

I, along with many colleagues up and down the land, regularly use small A4 size whitebaord’s for children to express answers to questions and show their learning in the classroom, especially during the time introducing a subject in the ‘circle’. This is a brilliant tool, but sometimes it can be a pain to manage the use of them, messing with the lids, dropping bits of equipment, giving out the equipment etc I then found PingPong, a great, simple app that allows a question to be posed by the teacher and gives the children the correct tool to answer it, be that a blank whiteboard to write their answer on, a poll of true or false or a multiple choice response. When the children respond this is sent to the teachers iPad and displayed, this allows the teacher to realise a childs misconceptions quickly and address them.

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Getting children to join the class that you are running PingPong in is really easy, inputting a short code and their name. When you start a question type, the screen on the children’s iPad automatically selects the correct tool for them to answer. The information is fed back as either images or as a graph, the information that is displayed can also be presented in other graphical ways.

All in all, a great app that I shall be recommending others in my school to test. Again, another free app (I like those!!) with huge potential not just in the SEN classroom.

Orbit & SeeSaw Apps – Children’s learning journals

The nature of a lot of the class assessment within our school is photograph and video based observations. Historically we used to take photographs, print them out and attach a post-it note observation to this, a very labour intensive task. Since we have invested in our 1-1 iPad scheme we needed to find a suitable solution to this issue, especially as we could record lots of observations as videos (and you can’t print them out!)

As a school, we first looked at a solution for our EYFS team, we came across two possible solutions: firstly we trialed ‘2simple 2build a profile’, secondly we used ‘Orbit early years app’.

During trialing them both we found them to both be very user friendly and very little to call between the two. We ended up opting for Orbit as it was free and did everything we wanted! We have been using Orbit as our main recording system in our EYFS and year 1 for the past 18 months, and staff and parents, alike, have enjoyed it!

During this 18 months period we have been looking for a solution to  recording observations for the rest of the school. We looked at using Orbit and not attaching the EYFS curriculum statements, but this wasn’t a really sufficient solution.

The search continued.

Late last week, I came across SeeSaw, from the team behind ShadowPuppet, an essential school app, with a proven pedigree, so I instantly sat up and took note!

Seesaw – The Learning Journal

I set it up over the weekend, and was pleased that it took no longer than the thirty seconds the website states!

I have been using it with my class since Monday and the children have got to grips with it really well (after a quick 5 minutes setting it up and tutorial). We have been saving content that we have created including Book Creator e-pubs (exported as videos), animations, pictures etc. Most of these have worked from within the apps, using the open in another app feature. The children are taking ownership of their work and making sure that it is ‘filed’ correctly, a huge step for them.

The other staff that also started to use it, to record their video observations, have been happy, with both the ease and the time saving abilities of this app!

You can easily moderate the work being placed there by the children and can add comments to it. You can even ‘like’ the work, in a very social media stylee!

I advise everyone to try this app, as a great way to record observations and to store created content. So simple, and above all a freebie too!

(We haven’t used the parent feature yet, as a school we are finding the correct solution to keeping parents informed of the children’s progress and work in this digital age!)

 

Tiggly Numbers

I recently purchased and posted about Tiggly Shapes, here.

I took this set to school and showed the EYFS team and the teams in the SLD classes, they were as excited as me. It was decided to raid the coffers and purchase some sets, one for each of the four classes. We also looked at Tiggly Numbers on the Tiggly website. We decided to get four sets of these too. Thursday saw them all arrive.

A set of the Tiggly Numbers stayed with me, so that I could have a look, think and play! The Numbers are built in a similar way to the Shapes. With the addition of a magnetic system at the end of each piece, allowing them to join together and stayed joined. The pieces teach children addition facts to 5 as a stand alone activity, owing to the fact that placing  the 2 and 3 pieces together makes them the exact same size as the 5, for example.

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Like Tiggly Shapes, Tiggly Numbers has three Apps available on the AppStore. These three free Apps, allow the Tiggly Number pieces to interact with the games.

Tiggly Cardtoons – this game introduces the children to the numbers to five by story telling, counting and moving as well as using the pieces, reinforcing the numbers name and value.

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Tiggly Chef – this game introduces adding two numbers. You do this by helping the slightly wacky chef (with an ace moustache!) to add the ingredients to create the bizarre recepies of his dishes. As you place the pieces on the screen an number sentence is constructed on the screen. This is a really fun way to start addition!

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Tiggly Addventure – a step on from the Chef game. Addventure gives the children the opportunity to add numbers to build bridges and ladders to help the characters continue on their journey. This extends to counting in twos.

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Tiggly Numbers, just like Shapes, will be a great teaching aid in our setting. I can highly recommend this to anyone looking for a fun way to work with numbers, and I for one can’t wait to see the children using them in class. I also hope that Tiggly make some more high quality toys and Apps that I can take into the classroom.

Protecting your school iPads in an SEN classroom…

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During the last week I have dealt with the first damage to an iPad in the school, and also witnessed a child hit an iPad on a table from quite a height. This led me to reflect on the lack of damage to our iPad’s in our 1:1 iPad scheme so far and the reasons behind this.

Firstly the damage to the first iPad (bizarre green screen flash, then nothing) wasn’t from an obvious reason, no damage to the case, screen etc This may have been down to a faulty component internally or possibly someone had hit the screen or stood on it! Lucky our Apple Solution Partner, Academia, have been great at helping fix this issue, with a very small cost to the school!

The second incident that caused reflection, was witnessing a child hit the iPad (screen side up) onto a table, I feared the worse, expecting another iPad needing to be boxed for repair. To my surprise though no damage was caused!

I thought about how the second iPad wasn’t damaged, with the force used and also how as a school, how low the damage count to the 150+ iPad’s we have in use at school.

We use a combination of Griffin products for all the school iPad’s, both student and staff. We have been using the Griffin AirStrap for the teacher iPads,  these are light and user friendly and come highly recommended by us (although they seem not to be manufacturing them for iPad Air 2, a real shame!).

The student iPad’s are all protected by Griffin Survivor cases, these come at quite a cost per unit (around £40), but have proved great value, due to the low breakage level thus far, and also the protection from those outbursts I witnessed earlier this week.

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These Griffin cases have been a great insurance policy for us to protect the schools iPad investment. I would guess that if it were not for these cases the breakage level would have been much higher than this.

I have also used the Vibe SlickGrip  and have been really impressed with them, especially their ability to ‘amplify’ the sound from the iPad speaker. Vibe’s product is very easy and comfortable to hold and much lighter than the Survivor.  Although, I would have probably witnessed some damage to the iPad bounced off a table (!) if we had used the SlickGrip throughout the school.

Just a few of my thoughts, obviously it depends on the children in the classes and budgets, as the SlickGrip retails at around half the price!

There are also, hundreds of other cases on the market, most of which I have not seen or tried in a school context!

Birmingham SEN Apple RTC

We are pleased to announce the launch event for the Birmingham SEN RTC is now available to book on via this link.

At this event, put on in partnership with our Apple Solution Expert partners, Academia, we will be:

Introducing you to the Birmingham SEN Regional Training Centre (RTC), what to expect from us, why use iPads and Apple in SEN schools, explaining our story with iPads, what you want from us, get hands on with iPads, an opportunity to network with our RTC team, others teachers and sessions from Apple Distinguished Educators and our RTC trainers.

We are lucky to have secured the services of two highly in-demand Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) to run hour long training sessions, allowing you the opportunity to get hands on and see the potential of these devices inside the classroom. Our own skilled RTC trainers will also be presenting a session.

Lunch is provided. Displays from SEN focussed iPad product resellers.

Held on Friday 27th February 2015 at the MAC, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham, this is a must attend event!

RTC Trainers session

Children in the SEN classroom have a variety of ability levels and need to have their imagination captured to produce work they are proud of. In this session we look at using a variety of animation Apps, giving hands on experiences for delegates, focussing on giving students great outcomes with varied ability levels. Attendees will leave with some simple cross curricular ideas that can be easily taken back to their classroom.

Neil Emery and Chris Smith joint sessions

The success of any technology is through exploration and having time to play, a message Apple Education Trainers Neil Emery and Chris Smith are keen to promote. During the afternoon sessions attendees will get hands on to create their own PECs symbols before being part of a media showcase containing image, video and music. Sessions will contain ideas using apps, workflows and processes giving attendees confidence to try out what they have seen back in their own schools and classrooms. 

Flyer for event: RTC opener

Flyer for all future events :RTC full course flyer

iBook – Family Time With Apps

The use of technology with children with SEN is increasing, they find it accessible and it can capture their imagination. Although, a lot of their parents are very worried about the level of screen time their child has per day, this great iBook, written by The Joan Ganz Cooney Center (Seasame Street!), discusses how to turn this round into using apps (games, books, creation tools etc) for spending quality time with children, it gives a selection of apps and ideas of how to use them in a family context. A great read for any teacher or parent, I will most certainly be sharing this with parents of our children.

iBook – Family Time With Apps

Example page

Example page

Tiggly Shapes

After looking on the Apple Store one evening whilst bored, looking for Christmas presents for myself, I stumbled across two products that looked exciting, Tiggly Shapes and Tiggly Numbers (not for me strictly, but I have played with them!) They struck me as being great for the SEN classroom and for my home!

Tiggly Shapes (£24.99) was the product I went for first, for the simple reason I have a two year old son and the shapes are targeted for 18months upwards , whereas the Numbers are for three up.

The shapes are four brightly coloured rubber coated objects that have small ‘feet’ that the iPad can sense. They are very comfortable to hold and are large enough for those with motor issues to find holding easy.

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There are three free apps that are available for the Tiggly Shapes to interact with, these are:

Tiggly Safari – teaches shape names by playing shape ‘snap’.

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Tiggly Draw – stamping the Tiggly Shapes on the screen creates animated characters, that are named and can be moved around on screen.

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Tiggly Stamp – uses the Tiggly Shapes to stamp a shape on the screen, then use the inbuilt tools to add features to these shapes, creating fun faces, that are animated, creating a larger picture.

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Also available is Tiggly Christmas for £1.49, I am yet to try this for the obvious reason of it no longer being Christmas and its price!

The three free apps are great fun and would be an ideal way of teaching shapes, fine and gross motor skills, colours as well as being creative and entertaining.

I can’t wait to get some of these for school (or borrow my sons set!) and try them with those children working in lower P levels and the EYFS. I’m sure the children (and staff) will love them too! It won’t be long before I get a set of the numbers too! Great work Tiggly, on combining the old with the new!!