Safer Internet Day 2015 App Session!


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!


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.


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.



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.


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.


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!


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.


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…


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.


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

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.


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’.


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


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.


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!!

Class Dojo – Behaviour management tool

class dojo

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:


Augmented Reality Christmas Cards

After using Aurasma to great effect this year, I decided to get the WOW factor into our christmas cards!

Aurasma is an App and website that allows you to create videos and attach them to any trigger image. There are some great guides to using Augmented reality in education in the iBook store:

Augmented Reality in PE – Mathew Pullen (@mat6453)

Augmented Reality in Education – Mark Anderson (@ICTEvangelist)

Augmented Reality In Education – Paul Hamilton (@Paulhamilton8)

I also read a few posts by iPadWells around the subject!

The children started off by creating a christmas card design, as in years gone by. We then used YakItKids App (iPhone App, so change your setting when searching!) to create a short video, animating the christmas card design by adding eyes, mouths and the children’s voices. These videos were then exported to Photos for the next step.

The next part of the process involved using Aurasma, we created a new account and channel before hand and allowed the children in the class to follow the process. This involves adding a video (YakItKids video) to a trigger image (our christmas card. then saving it in a public channel so that parents could access the videos on their iOS or Android device. A video explaining the process can be found below:

I placed a small flyer explaining, simply, how to access the videos on the rear of the card, we also told the children to get their parents to access Aurasma and find the channel. With a little practice this is a fun way of making things a little more exciting. Have a go, don’t be scared!

The children loved this process and we all hope that the parents get to see their videos. Happy Christmas!

Here are some images of the card and the video playing when triggered in Aurasma.

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Christmas Santa AR scene!

As its the final week of term and christmas is fast approaching, we are always looking for exciting new ideas for classroom activities.

Last night I had seen a post from @ICT_MrP, about using some Santa based Augmented Reality (AR). My class are ‘hooked’ with the use of AR, having used Aurasma for a variety of activities, including our class Christmas Cards (post coming!).

Second Sight, an app and website based on AR, have created an animated Santa and have asked classes to produce a winter scene and add the AR Santa to this.

I decided to go ahead today and make a winter scene, in the time before the final Christmas performance, the children produced trees, snowmen, penguins, houses and all things Christmasy! I then downloaded the activity sheet, here, printed it and added the codes to our scene. Now, Santa magically joins our scene, dances, jumps and says ‘Happy Christmas’, when scanned using the iPad app.

The children loved it (the adults in school too!), a great Christmas activity for Primary and SEN children alike!

Here’s some images of the scene, with and without Santa!

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The ‘magic’ had some of the children attempting to grab Santa!