Lesson idea – World War 2 QR Code hunt

I’ve blogged about QR code hunts before but thought I would share a resource I’ve made which uses QR code hunts to link to a group work activity for Year 6 to go with their World War 2 topic. The idea of the lesson is that children take on the role of code breakers, discovering pieces of information from allied and enemy planes to help them find 6 secret WW2 locations. They need to put this information together to crack the codes to help them find the locations in a TerraClues map hunt. (I didn’t make the TerraClues Hunt which the first QR code links to. Many thanks to ’Fibreman’ who did!).

You can find the QR codes and lesson outline here.

I have also made a little introductory video, using the fabulous Tellagami app, which you can find here.

This hunt uses codes generated by visualead which is free to use for up to 15 codes, if you sign up for an account.

Lesson idea – 100 Word Challenge

This week, I discovered the fabulous 100 Word Challenge!

Run by Julia Skinner, the site offers a weekly writing prompt (photo, phrase etc) and encourages children under 16 to write a response in 100 words. These can then be uploaded to a class blog and linked to the 100WC site, whereupon one of their volunteers will respond with a comment. There us also a request that participants visit other entries and leave a comment for them.

This gives children the chance to write for a real audience. In our school, we have decided to use it as a way for children to show what they have learned in terms of SPaG (Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar). We are also using the examples of other children’s work as WAGOLLs (What A Good One Looks Like) and as opportunities for children to ‘up level’ writing. The beauty of the 100 WC is that you can use it in whatever way suits you and your children. A Five Sentence Challenge is also available for emerging writers.

In addition to children writing entries for the challenge, we plan to:

- shared-write responses which children can then change in their own way.
– provide pieces of writing in which children can identify incorrect spellings and correct these.
– provide pieces of writing in which children can identify different word types and up-level these.
– provide pieces of writing which children need to correctly punctuate.

It would be great to hear from other people using the 100 WC, and find out how they are using it to good effect in their classrooms!

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KS2 App Starter Kit

It’s now a year since we began to use iPads in our school, and I’ve tried so many different apps! Here is my list of must-have, free apps; tried and tested in our school – a useful ‘starter-kit’ if you are introducing iPads in your school. The focus here is on content creation, rather than consumption.

1. Showbie
We know how important feedback and marking is in developing children’s learning. Showbie is the ideal app for collecting, storing and reviewing children’s work created on the iPad. You can also share content with them here, which they can then download to their device to work with.

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2. PicCollage
A simple and effective way of presenting photographs and combining these with text/stickers.

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3. Popplet
An easy-to-use mindmapping tool.

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4. I-nigma
The best QR reader I have found! It works very easily and cold be used by very young children with their wobbly hands! I also recommend the QRstuff website for creating your QRcodes in the first place.

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5. Skitch
Children can easily annotate text and pictures etc using the text/arrows available on Skitch. Use for annotating the key features of text types, or spotting different types of angles around the school building.

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6. Educreations
A high-tech version of a mini-whiteboard. Children can use this for similar tasks as they might use a mini-whiteboard, but with the added ability to share their work with the whole class using Apple TV or similar. They can also use photographs, different coloured backgrounds/text etc. Educreations also allows the user to create video presentations by adding audio over the top of the slides. This is great for creating videos demonstrating Maths concepts etc. I have used it to make simple demonstrations then linked the presentations to QR codes stuck on my working wall.

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7. Funny Movie Maker
Children love this app, and so do I! Add any image from the camera roll and make it talk using your own mouth and voice! (Think ‘Annoying Orange’ videos, if you’ve seen them!). This app is great for children working in role as different characters.

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8. Tellagami
Similarly to Funny Movie Maker, this app allows the user to speak in role as a character. Only this time, you create your own moving character and can add any background you like. A news report from the scene of The Great Fire of London? A virtual tour of your school? All can be made effectively then shared as videos to your camera roll, using this app.

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9. 30Hands
Using this app, children can create simple presentations combining text, images (from photographs or self-drawn) and audio. These can then be shared to the camera roll.

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10. TinyTap
TinyTap allows children to make their own simple games. Using photos, drawing tools and text options, children can create a variety of games linked to any conceivable concept which require the player to ‘tap’ on the correct part of the screen to find the correct answer. I have used it to make learning grammar concepts a little more interesting.

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11. Socrative
Using the Socrative teacher app, teachers can create an account and then use this to create and share simple quizzes in the classroom with children using the Socrative student app. A fantastic way to assess children’s knowledge and understanding; the app can email children’s responses to the teacher in spreadsheet form after the quiz is complete.

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App Review – 30Hands (a simple multimedia presentation tool)

When I discovered 30 hands via Twitter this week, I felt like Christmas had arrived!

I had planned for children to show their understanding of the first chapter of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by creating a virtual tour of Charlie’s home from his point of view. So far, we have created things such as this using Educreations. However, it wasn’t ideal as there was no way to undo audio if you weren’t happy with it, and saving your work/sharing it with the teacher was very complicated – we lost a few pieces of work along the way! Of course, this isn’t really the purpose for which Educreations was designed.

30 hands provides a simple (I would say that children in Foundation Stage could probably get to grips with it) way to create a combination of images, text and audio and turn them into video.

Images can be added to create ‘slides’, either direct from camera, from the camera roll, or there is a basic drawing tool.

Text can be inputted, again in a basic way, in the form of a caption.

Audio can be recorded on each slide, and deleted if you’re not happy with it.

Finished presentations can then be published to the camera roll (and for us, as always, shared with the teacher on Showbie – although not directly from the app), or there is an option of creating an account and sharing your work with the world!

A few of the controls were less ‘obvious’ than I would hope for in an app designed for younger children, but it didn’t take too long for my Year 3 and 4s to find their way around it.

Best of all, the app is completely free!

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iPad Maths Challenges from Transum

Transum have created a fantastic range of games, developed for use on the iPad. I am a huge fan of using puzzles as part of Maths lessons and the puzzles on the Transum site are varied enough to provide challenge for a huge range of abilities.

Many are variations on traditional puzzles, such as the magic square, with the advantage of allowing children to change numbers around easily, as well as being able to check answers for themselves. There are also a number of other problems and puzzles which I haven’t come across before.

Whether you want to use these as planned activities, or to add another dimension to your challenge area, printing QR codes to take children directly to your chosen puzzles is easy using a site such as QRstuff
.

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App Review – Logic Games

I downloaded the Logic Games app for my own use, as I love logic puzzles. However I can also see a lot of scope for using it within the maths classroom. I’ve already tried it with my Year 4 maths set and lots of them wanted to stay in during playtime to continue with the challenges.

Logic games and puzzles are a really important part of maths teaching and this app is full of ways in which children can apply their maths knowledge in ways other than the standard word problems. There are lots of puzzles linked to number – variations on Sudoku are aplenty. But there are also puzzles which would be great for getting children to apply their understanding of area and perimeter.

There are 84 different puzzle types – some of which would be too difficult for primary ages pupils – but all of which have a number of levels which increase in difficulty.

I would particularly recommend these puzzles:

Developing Logical and Systematic Working
Tents
Parks
Tenner grid

Applying number skills
Calcudoku
Square 100

Area and Perimeter
Box it
Box it around

Of course you can have a play around with the app yourself to see what would suit your pupils; but I think this app, being free and only 16mb, would be a great addition to your repertoire of challenges for more able pupils.

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App Review – Coding Apps: Kodable

With the new National Curriculum, complete with its new ‘Computing’ subject, looming closer, schools are thinking more and more about how they are going to deliver this aspect. With the arrival of some quality coding apps, I have no worries, as the apps available will complement our existing control resource beautifully, and Kodable is just such an app.

With the update released today, Kodable has, in my opinion, just moved itself into the category of ‘must-have’ apps for primary schools. The new version includes a parent/teacher portal which promises curriculum support materials coming in July 2013. It also has the ability to upgrade to having 2 new worlds via an in-app purchase. Better than that, there is now a ‘Pro-version‘ currently priced at £1.99 (£60 for a class set? Not bad as software goes).

So what’s included?
The free version is a beginner lesson, set in the world of Smeeborg.

-Children have 30 levels to work through (Angry Birds style).
– They must guide their ‘fuzz’ (further fuzzes are unlockable as the game progresses), through a series of mazes, collecting coins on the way, using positional arrows in a drag and drop linear command sequence.
– as the levels move on, children are faced with coloured blocks in the maze, which introduce an ‘if….then’ function (eg, if you reach the purple square, then move down).
– towards the end, the repeat or loop function is introduced, encouraging children to program ‘smarter’.

Within the Pro version (or via in-app purchase) 2 further worlds are unlocked.

Function Junction involves further experimentation with functions. Bugs Below is the real winning feature for me though, with children encouraged to de-bug, looking at problem codes and using critical thinking skills to work out how to fix them.

For me this app would lie perfectly between children using beebots and the beebot app, and moving on to word-based programming such as Hopscotch and Scratch. The excellent Cargo-bot could also be used as an extension for those who are successful using Kodable, as it contains many similar features but requires a lot more of that logical thinking!

What’s great about it?
– an engaging and familiar interface
– the ability to unlock new characters is very appealing
– the teacher portal allows you to lock/unlock levels for different users
– the curriculum support materials promised look useful for less confident teachers
– the opportunity to try it out with a ‘lite’ version
– the progression of skills involved and the links to real coding terms
– it’s very visual, no reading required

What could be better?
– the ‘fuzz’ moves quite slowly which can become a little tedious (although does make it clear to see which part of the program has been reached)

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Lesson idea – QR Code Tour of The Titanic

I’ve seen lots of blog posts and tweets about QR code hunts in schools, and have been itching to try one out. However, I was waiting until I had a real purpose for doing one; something which would enhance learning. Coming to our Year 4 Titanic topic this half term, I found the perfect opportunity. Our year group are split into 2 groups – first class and third class passengers – and each child is given a role as a Titanic survivor. We spend the first few weeks finding out as much as we can to help children to take on their role ready for writing. Part of this is to find out what the facilities and conditions for their class of passenger were. A QR code hunt seemed the ideal way for children to ‘explore’ the ship.

I’ve always thought about how I could take children to exactly the information I want them to find using a QR code, and realised the answer could be right under my nose – a blog! And so I set up another blog primarily for the purpose of posting information I want children to access. Within an hour, I had the 18 items/locations posted onto the blog and the QR codes made through the QR stuff website. My year group partner, using one of school’s iPads, also got the first class parts of the hunt ready to go within a short time. We used the WordPress App to set up the blog, then the Inigma QR code reader (the best one I’ve used) for the children to scan the codes.

There is a link to the codes for third class here in my Dropbox.

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Lesson idea – Google maps scavenger hunt

Terraclues is a lovely free site which teachers can use to create Google maps-based scavenger hunts. These can range from very simple searches (eg finding the 7 continents) to ones which involve searching another source to find the answer first (a Google search function is inbuilt). There are lots of possibilities for cross-curricular work using this site. Click here for my first attempt; a hunt based on the geographical locations associated with this term’s topic, The Titanic.

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