Thursday, 19 December 2013

Digging Deeper

It's a quick one...

You see a Tweet about an app and you go and download it. You see an interesting blog post and go to read it. Do you ever click on the button for more apps by that developer or look at the blogger's other posts? 

While we're at it, when did you last go and look at someone's Twitter feed? Yes, look at your own streem of those you follow, but when you see something good, go see what else they've recently had to say.

Go on, dig a little deeper!

Friday, 13 December 2013

Apps for Your Classroom #6 - #BlappSnapp Puzzling

Our sixth post about apps. This time we're writing as part of @Ideas_Factory's Blapp Snapp

We have some apps we've used for developing thinking, perseverance and problem solving skills. They don't fit into any particular subject or key stage and these are probably just a few in an ocean of puzzle apps, but they're the ones we've used.

First of all, Flow. Available for both iOS and Android. The game requires the user to link coloured dots together whilst filling the squares on the screen. The game begins with easier levels and gets progressively more challenging. It can be quite addictive. I first saw it being played on a train by a three year old and have seen adults of all ages enjoy it. A search of either the iTunes Store or Google Play Store for 'flow' will also reveal a long list of similar apps that include bridges, numbers and various other takes on the original.

BlockPath is similar to Flow in that the screen needs to be filled. This time, you get a starting point and and end point. Join the two. Simple, right? The game begins with easier levels and gets progressively more challenging. 

Connect the Dots is again similar to the others. Join red dots to blue dots with horizontal and vertical lines. How hard can that be? 

Ending is again available on both Android and iOS. The object on screen needs to be moved step by step towards a goal. As the object moves there are 'enemy' objects that move towards yours and try to stop you escaping. There's one way out. Can you find it?

Next, Glow Puzzle. The user needs to draw lines again. This time, following a path and again not crossing lines over. Starts easier and becomes more challenging as levels are completed.

Our most recent addition is Dots, available for Android and iOS. Similar to many other games in that similar coloured dots need to be next to each other to clear them off the screen. In this app more points can be gained by selecting more dots at once (or see what happens when a rectangle is drawn). This app has a multi player mode for a competitive edge. 

Mega Dead Pixel makes you think. It's simple to use - tap the screen to move from side to side. Grow bigger and bigger to collect more pixels. Only available on iOS. 

Space is Key involves jumping a block over and through different obstacles. It keeps going. No time to stop and think. It's harder than it sounds and addictive! Just turn the sound off! Jumpy Block is also similar to this.

Use them during a registration session, brain break mid lesson, at lunch or break, as a challenge / reward. Just a little something to get brains (both adult and child) working. It might not improve the child's maths or revolutionise their ability to use a full stop - their brains will get a work out though.

UPDATE April 2015: We'll continue to add similar apps here.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Making the Writing Process Explicit

We've recently written about caring explicitly. Now it's the turn of making the children's writing process more obvious to both child and teacher (oh, and anyone who might visit your classroom and want to see books).

In our school, children write in black ink and adults mark in blue ink. Both different colours and obvious to see who's written what. The children do any editing / tweaking in green ink. Our most recent addition is responding to feedback in red pen. 

The reason for using red for responding was initially as a result of being told children weren't responding to feedback in books. The children were responding. It just wasn't easy to find.

So now we have this: Children write in black ink. They edit using green ink. Next, an adult will mark in blue and the child will complete the process by responding to / acting upon the feedback in red ink.

Although this was originally put in place to meet the needs of someone else looking at the books, it has proven very useful. The children can see from piece of work to piece of work what they're adding to their writing at different stages and the progress (hopefully) that they are making.