Marbotic Numbers – Number Games With Objects

One Sunday morning I was carrying out my normal Twitter feed check when I noticed some excitement around New York Toy Fair (toyfairny.com), an event I have never heard of (but would love to visit!!). I had seen a number of educational iPad toys spoken about that I was aware of Tiggly, Osmo and Sphero. There was also Marbotic, a company I had never heard of, although their product looked exciting to use with the children in our SEN classrooms. The lovely people at Marbotic, a company based in Bordeaux France, sent me a set to trial with my class.

Their product is grounded in the Montessori educational method, one which uses practical, play activities to encourage independent learning. They have created 10 wooden number toys, that have a very classic feel to them, on the base of these numbers, are three spongy rubber feet that allow interaction with the two iPad apps they have developed.

image

10 Fingers + –

In the 10 Fingers + app there are three modes:

Mode 1 – features recognition of the numbers and their names, alongside images of objects, it has a level adjust that allows object counting and matching to the correct number toy.

Mode 2 – the opposite of mode 1, a number given and match the number of objects to this. The level adjust in this mode allows to place the displayed number of fingers onto the screen.

Mode 3 – adding of numbers to 10, firstly allowing the children to place two toys on the screen and seeing the number sentence displayed, and then asked a question for them to calculate the answer to and offer the correct toy to complete the sentence.

image image image

Up to 100 –

Mode 1 – within this mode there are three seperate options. Chick option – place two toys on the screen in the tens and units columns to display the number in digits, words and spoken form. Chicken option – displays a number line and covers one of the numbers, the correct toys need to be selected to create this number on screen, again displaying  the number in digits, words and spoken form. Hen option – displays the number in words (with the option of an audio clue), the children then need to select the correct digits to make this number on screen.

Mode 2 – This mode is very similar to a hundred square and Cuisenaire rods of ten and units. Again three options are present within this mode. Chick option – this allows the child to place numbers in the tens and units ‘boxes’ and the app automatically places the correct number of ten rods and units onto the hundred square. Chicken option –  number is displayed, the child now drags the correct number of tens onto the share and also the number of units. Hen option – a number of ten rods and units are displayed, the children now has to select the correct toy and place into the correct tens and units column.

imageimage

 

 

The apps are available for free if you purchase the toys, but are available to purchase seperatly to use without toys.

I have used the Up to 100 app with my class and they really enjoyed using it, finding it extremely easy  to use and interact with the iPad. They wanted to continue to ‘play’ with the game during their break time (a testiment to any app!) and have asked a few times if they can use it again! I have also leant it to the SLD class next door, they used the 10 finger + app, and had a similarly positive outcome. When using these games the children are learning so much through play, Marbotic have nailed the Montessori educational method!

All in all, Marbotic numbers are incredibly easy and fun to use. They are great for early numeracy skills, basic addition and working to understand place value, something that children in my SEN classroom often struggle with, so any resource like this is highly valuable. I feel this would be an excellent resource for an EYFS and KS1 classroom too. I’m pretty sure when my new budget is available I shall be placing an order for some more for other classes! Well done Marbotic on mixing the old with the new to great effect!!

Interactive Communication (PECS) Books on iPads.

Lets start at the very beginning, for those that don’t know PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) or Picture Communication is a system used for children with additional needs, who find it difficult to articulate their needs. This tends to mean the child has a book full of a variety of phrases, items, objects etc all linked to an image, with a Velcro backing. The child is then encouraged to use these items and stick them onto their ‘sentence strip’, thus allowing them to communicate simple ideas, such as: I would like an apple. PECS is a very exact system that suits the needs of children on the Autistic Spectrum Disorder, working through a variety of levels to progress the children’s communication skills.

An example of a Picture communication book is pictured below:

image

There is an official PECS app which retails for £79.99, at our school we have numerous users and using VPP to buy these apps individually for each user would cost a lot of money. There are other alternative apps too, such as Iasku but the entry level version is £3.99 per user, quite a price. Using iPads in the school and making simple books for numbers with our training partner, Neil Emery from Trilby, got me to thinking of a better, more interactive and all round 21st century way of a child communicating their needs to an adult in the classroom (or outside), using the apps we already use and some free ones too!

As with most schools that are using iPads, Book Creator, is one of my favourite Apps and seldom does a day go by when I don’t get some use from it! Within Book Creator you can add audio files that are recorded inside the app. This got me excited about the possibility of creating communication books using book creator and adding a voice to each picture that the child requested. Giving the child an actual voice, and also allowing them the chance to hear their requests vocalised in real time, possibly helping them to say the word.

In this example I was working on the idea of creating a Communication book about fruit selection, as this is something that happens in all the schools classrooms on a daily basis, so I could easily share at a training session as a ready to go resource for the classrooms.

I started off by collecting images by taking photographs of the items, searching for images on Google (checking for Creative Commons) or using the FREE app FlickrStackr (allowing you to search for Creative Commons images).

image

We would need to add the images to Book Creator in a neat grid form, we could import each image into Book Creator and manipulate them all inside the app, but as there are loads of apps that do this exact thing, why not use one! Some of the apps that put photos into a grid form are: PicCollage, Moldiv, Photo Grid to name but a few…

I created my grid of photos using Moldiv, which is easy to use, but so are all the others! It’s a simple process of selecting the grid layout you desire to use, then selecting the images you want to add, resizing or editing as necessary and then exporting the finished grid of images back to the camera roll. This ended up looking like this:

image

From here I open a new book in Book Creator and opted for the square layout, as this would allow me to fit my previously made grid easily without any bother of resizing or editing! Once I have added this picture to my book, it’s then the simple task of recording new sounds to vocalise what each image is, an easy task by simply clicking the add icon and selecting ‘Add Sound’. Press the record button and say ‘an apple’ for example. Once recorded we resize these sounds to cover the individual images. After this step, highlight each sound, click on the ‘inspector’ icon and toggle the button for ‘Invisible in iBooks’.

image

Once completed for each small picture, we can export as an eBook to iBooks. This will give the children one simple space with all their communication books stored, all neatly on a virtual bookcase. They can select the one that suits the situation that they need to communicate.

NB. This is influenced by the PECS system and is NOT a direct replacement for this.

Safer Internet Day 2015 App Session!

image

Safer Internet Day 2015 (SID2015), has been and seen my annual e-safety assembly in school, something that is hard to ‘pitch’ at the right level, as the children differ in ability from low P levels upto (old) National Curriculum level 2. I spoke about the Internet and how the children used it, got scared by their use and their vulnerability and then the older children watched the CEOP video Lee and Kim, here.

When my class returned to our room, we discussed at length the four key points highlighted in this film, and how these may effect us when on the Internet, the adults included. We then spoke about how we could help others to understand these four points. The children (thankfully) came up with the idea of posters and videos (phew!, did they know the plan!?)

We started off by creating a simple poster with a SID2015 headline and an engaging picture of someone using the computer. While they were creating these, I distributed Aurasma logos to attach to the posters. The children knew what was coming later in the day at this point and they excitedly talked about their videos (that they were yet to create!), a buzz filled the classroom! Perfect!

image image

When most of the posters were nearing completion I quickly asked to be reminded of the four key points (my ‘old’ memory is getting bad) and the  explained that I wanted to create a movie explaining these four key points. The children were allowed to use any apps they wanted, with the proviso they were to use at least three different apps and put all their content together in iMovie.

The class quickly got down to work and created a variety of videos and animation using Apps including ChatterKids, YakIt Kids, DoInk Green Screen and Tellagami. They have been using all of these apps since September and have become quite skilled at using them, so it is a pleasure to observe them excitedly create content and come to you with a big grin whilst shoving their iPad screen in your face, for you to watch their creation.

Once they had created their content and they had saved it all into the photos on their iPad, it was a case of adding it into iMovie, they are less experienced with this process and the less confident and brave of them need some assisting with some of the editing process. I’m sure it’s only a mattter of time before they are fully independent with this task too!

For the final part of this task, we made the posters made earlier in the day come to life by adding their video content to them using Aurasma. I have posted before about using Aurasma to make interactive Christmas cards, here. This is quite a simple process and the children love the outcome. They have spent the subsequent days scanning each others posters to watch each other’s videos, giving some great feedback to each other! We also exported the final videos to their SeeSaw learning journals, as the work was so amazing and completed almost independently, in most cases!

image

A great days learning for the children and by the end of the day the children knew these four key points to staying safe in the internet! This model could work for virtually any learning, we used a very similar idea to show our learning at the end of our Healthy Me topic. A great example of pushing the boundaries by using iPads and technology in the classroom, not to mention extending the children’s learning.

 

Numeracy App Workflow

After reading an excellent post by ADE Marc Faulder(@MarcWithersey) about a workflow that he employs in his early years classroom for maths journals, here, it made me think about the workflows that have been working so well in my SEN classroom. We had a great Twitter discussion about this and exchanged some App ideas too, I love having lots of ADEs in my Personal Learning Network (PLN), as we get to bounce ideas off each other, and push classroom practice as a result!

I’m not for one second suggesting that this is a one size fits all approach, but I have found this to be successful (with some slight tweets) over the last couple of years!

image

The children in the class start a new ePub each week using the excellent Book Creator App (the bread and butter of my classroom suite of apps!). We are sure to title the book so that we can easily find it and put the week date on it (normally Monday’s, but things happen in schools!) I always print out an A4 copy of the WALT (substitute with other letters such as LI) and the success criteria for each group, each day, they use the camera and take a snapshot of this and add to their book. They then complete the work using whatever tools they decide to use, some of our current favourites are: ExplainEverything, camera, recording each other on video, the write tool in Book Creator. This is then marked in the Book Creator app against the WALT and SC, next steps added if needed and verbal feedback given to the children. The next day the same process takes place in the same book and so on, until we reach Friday.

When a week is complete, this normally coincides with a change of Numeracy topic, we then need to ‘move’ the work to a suitable location, for moderation and future assessment. We used to do this by exporting the ePub to FileBrowser Or WebDAV App, to get it onto the school network and then print off a copy for the child’s folder (a process that frustrated me and others!) This was so overly complicated that it was an adult led task.

image

Since the introduction/discovery of SeeSaw Lourning Journal (more here) we have handed the final step of the process over to the children too, they now create and export/file their work independently (I wonder if they’ll be able to mark their own work!?!)

The quality of the work the children are creating using this method is fantastic and I’m pretty sure they are making greater achievements compared to conventional maths book and pencil learning.

I feel I also need to mention the app, RNG (Random Number Generator) which has been used a lot in the last few months to give the children numbers to use in a variety of tasks!

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.

image

 

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.

image

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.

image

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!

image

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.

image

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…

ipad-cracked-screen-repair-nyc

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.

gb36307_survivor_ipadair_1

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