Making iPad music using Garageband

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During the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute that I was lucky enough to attend last summer we attended a workshop that went into some great ideas for iMovie, Final Cut, Garageband and Logic. We saw how using these we could create, firstly great films, but also great soundtracks to accompany our slick visuals.

I am pretty poor when attempting to create music, always leaving it to musician friends in my personal life and music professionals inside the classroom. Although I do love music and see myself as a ‘musical snob’ this is always pre-recorded and on my favourite ‘hipster’ format of vinyl.

Having been inspired by what I saw in Amsterdam I decided at some point I would attempt to get my class to make some, as they put it, ‘sick beats’ (this may need a z!)

At the start of the term I introduced them to Garageband and showed them how to add instruments and layer sounds. We built this up to them adding any sounds they wanted to ‘just make noise’. The class loved this activity, although it sent both my teaching assistant and myself home with headaches that evening!

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The following week, I showed the class how to access Apple Loops within Garageband, something I didn’t know existed until shown in Amsterdam. Apple Loops contains hundreds (if not thousands) of professionally recorded loops (short bars of music) on a variety of instruments. Layering these together was the activity, again with mixed results, the learning intention was to expose the children to the idea of Apple Loops and the process around using them.

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Today, we took this a stage further asking the children to open Garageband and again, use Apple Loops, to create a piece of music that they were proud of, I reminded them that less was often more (and demonstrated this myself; I don’t think they liked what they heard!). After a little time, and silence in the class, the first few children came over to me, excitedly, iPad in hand, grin on face. I was concerned that they would have layered up as many sounds as possible, in no coherent fashion, BUT to my amazement the work they had created was great. I, obviously, you d the most appropriate way to send their work to SeeSaw straight away.

I realise that I should never be surprised by what the children in my setting can create, especially when using iPad as a tool.

Give it a go, you might inspire some future hip-hop superstar, or the next John Williams! Here are some of the pieces created:

 

Piece 1

Piece 2

Piece 3

Differentiation by App

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When I launched our Apple Regional Training Centre (RTC), whilst presenting (for the first time) a phrase just fell out of my mouth that I thought must have been mentioned by someone before me. I guessed that I must have heard this phrase via my Personal Learning Network (PLN), taken it in and then blurted it out. After a few months of looking around and ‘Googling’ the phrase, I was amazed to see that I couldn’t find any evidence of it being used before (please let me know if you know of someone else referring to it!)

The phrase in question is:

‘Differentiation by App’

Differentiation standardly happens in my class by me creating different avenues for the children in my class to follow to enable them to succeed with their learning.

Recently I have began to differentiate my work not by the actual activity, but by the means to achieve the same outcome by using a variety of apps. These apps have a similar outcome BUT the beauty is, that each app needs a different level of input by the student to achieve the outcome.

Here are a couple of examples of a variety of apps that give a similar output but utilises different levels of input ability.

  • Creating talking characters/faces/avatars.

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For me one of the simplest apps to create a talking character is ChatterPix Kids, a little more input is needed with Tellagami, more still with YakIt Kids and then finally a lot of input needed for Morfo 3D Face Booth. thus, differentiation by app.

  • Coding and programming.

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When teaching coding to the children in my class (and indeed my school at large) the outcome is essentially the same, get the desired outcome (complete the puzzle in most cases!) I have started off with a variety of apps that help teach the basics of coding but require a variety of input abilities, these are (in ease of use order) Kodable, Bee Bot, Cargo Bot and Fix the Factory. Once these simple(ish) apps have been completed I would then move onto coding proper using apps such as Daisy the Dinosaur and Scratch Jr.

Feel free to let me if you decide to use Differentiation by App in your classroom, and what apps you differentiate by, I would love to know!

Inspiring Adjective Use with iPads

Today my class had (yet another!) lesson observation, so as with teachers across the land, I tried to do something new and exciting with lots of WOW factor! An area of the literacy curriculum that my class find hard, but have made progress with this year, is using adjectives in their writing to make it more interesting. Sometimes the children struggle to be creative with their ideas for describing words and the age old issue of everything being ‘nice’ rears its ugly head!

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Firstly, I introduced my children to a new app (to the class) WeeMee Avatar Creator, I ran through the app (adding in some words on e-safety regarding the ‘pop up’ adverts) and then gave the children five minutes to create an avatar and export the character to the camera roll on their iPads.

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The children were then brought back to the circle and shown ‘Dave’, an avatar that I had created earlier. Each child was asked to describe a part of ‘Dave’ or his background. I recorded these words and phrases using WordClouds on my iPad, then displayed them onto the whiteboard using AirServer. The discussion around this then involved identifying the adjectives amongst the other words.

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The children then went to their tables where they all proceeded to make their own WordClouds, switching between apps to keep heir avatar in mind at all times. Once they had, exhausted their ideas for adjectives they were prompted to generate their ‘cloud’, again saving to the camera roll.

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The final stage of the lesson involved the children producing a document, containing their Avatar image and WordCloud, as well as a photo of the learning intention (for marking later) using the old favourite Book Creator. The children then began to create sentences using the word clouds as an idea bank.

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The children all created great sentences and were engaged in the whole activity, upon completion the children wanted to carry out the whole activity again (or so they said!). I think using WeeMee was a great success and opens up a lot of avenues for a variety of writing activities, as well as a whole host of speaking and listening ideas.

As an end of half term treat, we may drop their WeeMee avatar into YakIt Kids and get the children to describe them!

Autism specific wheel of iPad Apps

I first heard of Dr Sue Fletcher-Watson at an Apple Accessibility Summit I attended last year, she spoke of how using the iPad with people on the Autistic Spectrum could be really valuable and also introduced me to the excellent app (that she had a hand in designing!) FindMe. Sue does some amazing research into ‘exploring the uses of technology, and especially iPad apps, to support, educate and engage children with autism.

I added her to my Twitter Personal Learning Network and keenly follow the things she talks about and try to introduce the ideas mentioned to my colleagues at work. Yesterday, Sue unleashed a new updated wheel of apps aimed directly for those on the Autistic spectrum.

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The wheel separate’s apps into four main categories: Communication, Education, Life Skills and Fun. These are then sub divided into those apps for children and those for teenagers and adults.

Most of the apps are things that are already used commonly inside my classroom with the Autistic children that I teach, but I am pleased to say that there are some that are new to me!

You can download the high resolution PDF image, with clickable links here.

Thanks so much to Dr Sue Fletcher-Watson for kindly allowing me to reproduce the app wheel.

Follow Sue here.

Visit her web site: www.dart.ed.ac.uk

Apple Education Resources

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Apple have announced the launch of their ‘For Educators‘ page on the App Store. This page curates content from a variety of sources including Apps, iBooks and iTunes U courses. Having all this content in one easy to reach place is excellent for all educators beginning their iPad journey or those that are already along the road. There is some excellent content including the brilliant ‘One Best Thing’ series of iBooks created by Apple Distinguished Educators, click here and have a look!

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Also, a dedicated collection of Multi-touch books written and published by educators for FREE has been released. This hand picked selection of iBooks includes titles on Mathematics, History, Science and a lot more besides. The Free Books by Educators collection is available here.

Both are well worth looking at for ideas, inspiration and to see the possibilities that Apple technologies allow inside the classroom, in an SEN context or more mainstream!

 

Creating multimedia instructional work on iPads.

As part of a topic we are currently doing on The Mayans and The Rainforest, we have been looking at drawing different Rainforest animals (Toucan, Gorilla, frogs etc). We have some great worksheets that show a step by step guide to creating these animals, even an artistically challenged individual, such as myself, can mange to create good animals!

We started by using these sheets to create the animals using our favourite drawing app on the iPad, Drawing Pad. At each stage the children took a screen shot of their drawing and soon had amassed a great selection of images to use in their instructional video.

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To make this content exciting and engaging for the students we decided to create an instructional video, explaining the steps to draw their animal. The children were keen to use iMovie to create their video, as they have used this a lot, to great effect. But, the ‘Ken Burns’ effect that iMovie places on the images would have made the overall impact poor (this is removable, but is very fiddly for the children to master).

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So we chose to use Shadow Puppet, one of those core apps that is always a great go to classroom resource! We added our photos, made sure the order was correct, added a title and then began to record our instructions, flicking between the images as we went. Once happy we exported this to the camera roll!

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The next stage of our work, was to write instructions for drawing our animal. We dropped our excellent videos into Book Creator, photographed the learning objective for the lesson and began to write our instructions. Here is an example of one child’s instructions to draw a frog, with the Shadow Puppet video embedded inside the page.

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The children found having the video as a prompt for them a great help, it also made them focus on the precise details they were adding into their instructions.

Once marked we exported, as with all our work, into the fantastic SeeSaw learning journal, more about that here and (its use in another workflow with Book Creator) here.

From a simple cross curricular drawing and writing activity, we added in film making, speaking and listening skills and lots of fun! A great fun afternoon with great outcomes!

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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).

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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:

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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’.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!