Saturday, 1 March 2014

Desert Island Apps - Apps I Couldn't Live Without

Desert Island Apps - Apps I Couldn't Live Without 

Push come to shove, what Apps would you take with you?

I am blessed with the technology at my school and combine that with a head teacher who believes completely in the use of technology to enhance learning and I am in a privileged position. We are an Apple primary school, complete with MacBooks, iPads, Mac Minis and we're currently consulting with companies around 1:1 iPads in school.  

Not only Apple technology takes centre stage in our school, we have flip cameras, digital cameras, digital visulisers, interactive whiteboards, an online library system and so much more.

What would happen if I moved schools?  - I'm not thinking about it, just in case my head teacher is reading this.

The use of technology has become such an essential way of learning for me and the children in my class that I do worry what would happen if that technology was taken away from us.

If I ever did move schools, my teaching would adapt I'm sure and learning would eventually become as effective as it is now, but I wonder how long it would take?

So what do I rely on heavily at the moment, what could I not do without anymore in my classroom. I mean I didn't have these applications ten years ago.  Radio 4 have their Desert Island Discs, so I've created my Desert Island Apps.

This list is not designed to be a definitive list of apps that should be in every classroom, just the ones I have found to have the most impact on learning.  You may agree, disagree and be completely dumbfounded at the apps that I have missed out.

I'm hoping this list will change, in fact I know it will over the next few years, but for now ladies and gentlemen here are my Desert Island Apps.

GarageBand for iPad and MacBook
GarageBand has been part of my classroom for the last five years and I wouldn't be without it. The ease of recording voice and music, being able to quickly export the files is essential for creating podcasts, and sound files to embed in, social media, and iBooks.

There are hundreds of ways to record sound, but I haven't found one with such ease of use for young children to produce something of quality that come with every MacBook.
iMovie for iPad and MacBook

There are plenty of video creating applications out there, but if you are using an iPad or MacBook you probably won't find anything better for young children to create quality movies quickly. Import, transitions, titles, edit, export and you're done.

The way the application seamlessly interacts with your other apple applications is very impressive.  You want to add a still, your iPhoto library is there, add a sound or song, GarageBand and iTunes is there. Seamless.

Not a week goes by without me editing some sort of movie file using iMovie.

YouTube and Vimeo
YouTube and Vimeo
Two really simple, but incredibly effective video hosting services. The children use them and are used to the look and feel; controls are simple and you can upload videos with ease.

Keeping videos online allows you to access them anywhere you have an internet signal; it saves space on your Mac/PC and crucially it allows you to share with the world.

FaceBook Pages and Twitter
Facebook, Twitter and Social Media
I've used social media in my classroom for a while now and am beginning to see its full potential. Sharing work with the world is a great way for children to interact with a world that is craving learning.  Edmodo needs adding to this list, but I haven't used it enough yet to justify its place on this list.

Twitter in particular has taught me so much through people sharing stories, skills, and learning.  Receiving feedback on something your children have created is priceless - World Wide Peer Assessment.  Follow me @chriswaterworth

DropBox and Google Drive
Dropbox and GoogleDrive
Cloud storage is crucial for today's learners and teachers.  The need for work to be available anywhere has become essential in my classroom.

Videos, documents, images, SmartBoard files, and the ability to collaborate has changed how I organise my workload.  These two apps have revolutionised my classroom, everything is available at any time.

SkyDrive and Outlook
SkyDrive and Outlook
Email for the children in my class has become essential.  They receive their weekly news letter via it and can share learning, links and homework with me.  I like the way I can email their marking to the children after viewing their learning.

Using SkyDrive the children have been able to start work in school, and take it home to finish or vice versa.   They've collaborated on writing, created presentations and emailed them to each other from iPads and MacBooks.
Vittle - Screen Casting
Vittle is a great FREE app for the iPad to record your screen movements.  I have used it to create videos for my children and parents to watch at home - See a few here.  

Explain Everything is another great app for this, but push come to shove, the simplicity over this app helps keep things effective without overcomplicating things.

Scratch - Hacking Games
With the computer programming revolution that is happening in schools all over the country, Scratch has really taken hold in many schools. I LOVE it.  It's simple, intuitive and the children love using the blocks to write code.

We've been having a great deal of fun hacking the current Scratch Projects available online. Hacking Games in my ClassroomThe children hacked them, made them better, and then emailed the code to each other try out on their own version of Scratch.  Try it; its quite addictive when you get into it, especially Paper Minecraft!

Air Server - Hardware free Airplay
Air Server -
If you are using iOS devices in school you really need a way of sharing screens in your classroom via airplay.  Beaming something up on the big screen really helps when analysing a piece of work.

I prefer using AirServer over Apple TV as I don't need to switch inputs on the projector to throw something onto the projected screen.  A really solid piece of software that is a must in every classroom.

Evernote - Keep me Organised
If you haven't yet used Evernote; start using it.  It has saved me so much time over the last year.  Gone are my notebooks, word documents and iOS notes and have been replaced with automatically syncing notes, sound files, and images.

Being able to make notes, take pictures and record sound bites during a meeting and not worry about losing that bit of paper, post it note or handout.

I really like the way I can quickly email out my notes to colleagues, children and parents without any need to attach files.  The syncing is seamless and I love that my notes are on my iPhone, iPad and MacBook without me doing anything.  

Book Creator
Book Creator
I've saved this one till last, as I really think this little app has massive potential in the classroom.  Not a week goes by that my children haven't added something to their digital learning journals.  

You can write text, embed video, record sounds and add in images.  It really does bring text books to life.  It gives children an interactive way to record their learning and share with the world.

You really need to have this app in your classroom. Get it now.

I was supposed to stick to ten apps, but I couldn't do it; I really couldn't. If you have anymore apps to add to my list, please let me know via Twitter. 

Follow me on Twitter @chriswaterworth

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