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!

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!

 

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!

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.

Class Dojo – Behaviour management tool

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As a SEN teacher I am always looking for something to ‘hook’ the children into behaving in and out of classroom. Around a year ago I did some work with Trilby, our training partner, Ben and Neil happened to mention the website and App, ClassDojo. During the following weeks I looked at ClassDojo and was immediately struck by the fact that it was visually appealing to me and looked easy to use. Over the coming months I tested it out with my class, to find the best way to integrate ClassDojo into the behaviour reward systems for the children.

This year I hit the ground running with my new class and began using ClassDojo in conjunction with a marble reward system. This works something like this:

We set up ClassDojo with class agreed positive and negative behaviours, we give points at the end of each lesson. At the end of the day we look at the Class Reports generated for each child, a great visual idea of how they have got on for the day, green = good and red = bad, to this end we give a varying quantity of marbles, 3 for 100%, 2 for 90% etc

The children then save their marbles in jars and when full, get a reward, certificate and a sticker for their chart. Upon filling 5 jars they get a super prize!

We gave the children the ownership of the positive and negative behaviours, they were given a login (on a one off) and designed their own avatar for their monster!

The children love using this system, and the behaviour has been exceptional this year thus far (have I just jinxed it!) We have ‘rolled’ ClassDojo out across the school and with bit of work we have managed to get most classes linked with each other, enabling us to give points for those good things you see as your walking the corridors! I can recommend ClassDojo to any SEN or primary teacher, i’m sure you will have as much joy with it as I am having.

Our ClassDojo behaviour reward board:

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