Sketching – Paper 53

January 19, 2014

This week I have been trying out some sketching apps to see if I could find one almost as easy as just using paper and pencil. I tried out Autodesk Sketchbook Express, which I found quite fiddly to use, and Paper 53 which I am going to talk more about here.

Paper 53 is a very simple to use app. It has been designed to be a close to a paper experience as possible. Before you ask ‘why not just stick with paper and pencil’, I wanted to find some alternatives for those pupils who want to produce their controlled assessment completely electronically. Currently we have to scan in all the pupil’s designs, which is surprising time consuming.

Paper 53’s interface is very clean and simple, although you can have as many notebooks as you want.

Each notebook has several easy to rearrange pages. I also liked the fact that you can zoom in on the page to put more details in.

I felt that the best way to show how easy it was to use was to make a video. So here is a quick demonstration of Paper 53.

I’m going to keep sketching designs on Paper 53. If you are interested in seeing the designs I come up with then you can follow my tumblr.

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Workflow (IFTTT)

January 11, 2014

I haven’t posted for a while for two reasons, first I haven’t been trying anything new (mainly because my use of my iPad seems to have reached an equilibrium in that everything I am using is working and I don’t feel the need to look for an improvement yet), secondly it has been unbelievably busy!

But this week I did try something new, and I think it is quite useful (and not just for teachers). I often find that I am repeating tasks on different social media sites, or saving information in a variety of different places (for example bookmarking websites, favouriting tweets).

One of my pupils told me about IFTTT (IF This Then That). This website enables you to create recipes so that is something happens on one website you belong to (for example I favourite a tweet) then it is automatically added to Evernote (thereby consolidating some of the information I collect).

There is also an app for IFTTT, which is remarkably easy to use. You can only create ‘recipes’ with ‘channels’ they have already got – but there is quite a lot.

You activate ‘channels’ through the app (so far I have activated Twitter, Evernote and Instagram). You can then either create your own ‘recipes’,

or you can use one that someone else has created.

You can view all the ‘recipes’ you have created and see how often they have been used.

You can see that I have already created two and they worked very well.

I am hoping that by automating some of the things I either do, or wished I was doing, then it will reduce the amount of time I spending on these things. Now if only I could find something to mark homework for me!


ThingLink

November 9, 2013

I've been seeing 'ThingLink' talked about a lot on my Twitter feed, but hadn't really seen how I could use it in my teaching. For those who don't know, ThingLink allows you to create pictures with interactive tags on them.

This week I needed to set up two new classes on Edmodo, as my year 9 classes had rotated round to new teachers. Last time the pupils had difficulty remembering how to submit their prep after they had gone home, so I made a ThingLink using a screen shot of the turn in page to help them. I was surprised, not only by how quick and easy it was to make a ThingLink, but by how much my pupils enjoyed using it.

So here is a quick tour or ThingLink, there is a very good website and also an app (which doesn't quite have the same functionality but still works fine)

They have an educator account, and you can choose if you want your ThingLinks to be publicly available, or private (you can still embed or share with a link if it's private).

Website
App
All of your created ThingLinks are easily available on both the website and the app. You can easily edit them whenever you want.
To create a ThingLink, all you need to do is:

Choose an image (from camera roll in the app, or by uploading an image in the website).

Tap wherever you want a tag to appear. On the website you have more choice of tag icons, but in the app you can easily add pictures as tags. There are a huge range of tags you can use, but I tended to use video and websites (as well as old fashioned text).

When you've finished save your ThingLink (it uploads to the website) or choose your sharing options, you can also access these again through the website but I couldn't seem to find them again in the app.

You can then open your new ThingLink and see if the tags worked as you want them too, you can always go back and edit if you need too.

I was really impressed to find that one of the automatic embed options in a ThingLink was Edmodo, but you are also given an embed code so it can be out wherever you want. I embedded a ThingLink about the Bauhaus on my school intranet.


This is the finished Bauhaus ThingLink. Although it is very difficult to embed things on a WordPress blog, so currently it seems to not be working. I will keep investigating how to do it (it took me ages to work embedding Prezis!)

 


An App to Avoid

October 26, 2013

It is not often I review something negatively. However in my recent browse of the App Store for new teacher apps, I came across another grade book app which has annoyed me so much in testing it that I feel I should notify you about it so you can avoid it.

As you may know, I collect a lot of planning and grade book apps (especially when they are on sale or have free 'lite' test versions).

So when I came across 'Lazy Teacher' (which had a free lite version) I thought I would see what it was like – even though I found the name slightly offensive.

When I opened the app to experiment with setting up some test classes, I was surprised to find that it was almost identical to Teacher Kit, an app I use all the time.

This is the first time I have come across a grade book app that is practically identical to another. If this was a piece of homework I was marking then I would be speaking to the pupils involved about plagiarism!

By now another (very irritating) thing had been happening. Every time I tapped on something; to start a new class, add a pupil to the class, change a setting; a pop up would appear.

I am assuming that this doesn't happen in the real app, but it doesn't make me want to spend money on this as it was extremely annoying.

After trying out 'Lazy Teacher' for a bit I concluded that 'Teacher Kit' was much better (and offered the app for free, with an in-app purchase if you wanted the reporting tools).

 


Edmodo Quizzes

October 12, 2013

I like to use quizzes as a way of assessing how much theory work my pupils have remembered during our FPT projects (that stands for Focussed Practical Tasks and is a project in which there is no designing, just making something so you can learn how materials and machines work). We have now been working on a metal folder for the last few weeks, so it was time for a metal theory quiz. Normally I would have used my school intranet, which has a quiz function, but this was the ideal opportunity to try the quiz function in Edmodo.

Writing the quiz was very easy, they have a variety of question you can use. Most of them are self marking.

I liked the idea of the fill in the gaps question, but the pupil don’t get a word bank (which in my case was ok).

Written answer question have to be marked by you, but it doesn’t take very long.

I have a test pupil account, so I could take the test as a pupil. I found it very easy. The only question I found slightly difficult was the matching question as it was quite hard to drag the boxes around.

You can set a time limit on the quiz which is helpful is reducing ‘internet cheating’ (when a pupil taking an unsupervised online quiz searches for the answer).

The only disadvantage I found was that you couldn’t include picture in the quiz itself, you can upload files but then pupils have to view the file before answering the question. I wanted to use picture in the matching game (so pupils could match the picture of the tool to the correct name).

The pupils who have taken the quiz so far have told me that they liked it, and they found it easier than the intranet quiz (which they have taken with other teachers).

Now I need to find a reason to try out the ‘poll’ function!


Edmodo UK Group

September 28, 2013

Firstly apologies for a very short post. I have been horribly ill this week with a delightful head cold that has decided to take my voice. It is not fun trying to teach when you can barely speak – fortunately my pupils have been lovely about it.

This week on Edmodo Mr Ashton started up a UK Edmodo group as somewhere UK teachers can discuss ideas (mainly because a lot of the ideas being discussed on Edmodo are very American and tend to revolve around the 'common core' which we don't use).

So if you are on Edmodo and would like to join the group then the group code is t2mesx.

I have also set up a training group called (appropriately) 'Test Zone'. Not only do you get a badge for joining an Edmodo training group (although not if you're the one running it) but I thought it would be a good place to try out some of the features of Edmodo before unleashing them on pupils. If you would be interested in joining then please tweet me.

So now I will go and take more Lemsip and crawl back into bed…….

 


Edmodo – Marking Work

September 14, 2013

Now that my pupils are on Edmodo, I have had the first round of preps handed in through it. Almost all of my pupils successfully 'turned in' their prep via Edmodo (some got a bit confused and emailed it to me instead). I thought you might like to see how the marking process works. In order to protect my pupils I have blurred out their names and avatars.

In the notification centre at the top of the screen, I can see how many assignments have been turned in for me to mark. I can click on this link and will take me to the list of assignments, but I prefer to do it by class.

In the assignment I can see who has turned in their work (they are blue). When I click on each pupil I can preview their work (by clicking on the annotate button – shown with the red arrow) or download their work. Then I give it a mark (I did mine out of 10), rate it with a smiley face (which I find very annoying) and include a comment if I wish. The mark I allocate is automatically added to my grade book.

In the grade book as well as seeing all the grades I've given, I can also award badges. These appear on the pupils profile page and it's really easy to create custom made ones.

Here you can see that Harry has received a badge for an excellent mood board. You can also see that pupils can set up limited things on their profile. They can choose a favourite quote, add in how they like to learn and a career goal.

Edmodo gives you a series of badges you can award, but it's quick and easy to start building up a bank of custom badges specific to the way you mark.

Something else I quite liked was being able to see how many pupils had turned in their assignments on the assignment itself.

Plus all your assignments appear in your Edmodo planner (pupils will find it appears in their planner as well, which is useful if they have more than one teacher using Edmodo).

I thought that my older pupils would find the badges 'childish', but they got quite excited when I awarded the first batch. Some asked me (quite indignantly) why they hadn't been given a badge, I explained that they are given for going above and beyond the work set. So it will be interesting to see if what happens when the next set of prep is 'turned in'!