App Review – Zooburst Augmented Reality Pop Up Books

Zooburst is a free app which allows users to to view augmented reality popup books created on PCs through scanning a Zooburst code (similar to a QR code).

As this fits very nicely alongside our current DT popup books project (see previous post for how we are using iPads within this unit), I signed up for a teacher’s account on the website at a cost of $9.99 – other plans are available, but I was really only wanting a trial run to begin with. It is also possible for students to create their own free account if they are over 13, but for ease of use/assessment etc, I’d really recommend the well-priced teacher account, which allows you to manage up to 250 users.

Children are able to log in with usernames/passwords I have created and create/edit their books easily, using pictures from a stock of clip art, from the Internet, a class photo folder you have set up or pictures that they have drawn themselves.

Sound can be added to each character/other pop up element using a microphone, which plays when the character is tapped in ‘AR mode’ in the iPad app.

I couldn’t work out how to create the Zooburst codes for children’s books (although it was very easy to do so for my own ‘test’ book); however the Zooburst ‘zookeeper’ came back to me with instructions immediately via email. A teacher is the only one who can create the codes for children, so that they have control over which images etc can be viewed publicly. In this respect, the site has a number of settings options, over which the teacher has total control. I like the fact that the children can easily view each other’s books and leave comments (I also receive an email each time this happens so that I can moderate the comments).

What’s great about it

– it uses technology that has been around a few years in an accessible format
– it’s easy to use
– content created is easily shared; including the ability to share easily with parents
– it’s secure
– the pay-per-month option is very affordable and useful if, like me, you plan to only use the site for a couple of months as part of a project
– the customer support is excellent

What could be better
– controls could be a bit more ‘modern-looking’
– the ability to build books on the iPad (currently flash-based, but the website promises the ability to build books within the app as a future development)

Try downloading the Zooburst app and using it to scan the code below to see my (quickly-cobbled-together!) pop up book!



App Review – Socrative Student Response System

A few years ago I remember being very jealous of the handheld voting system (think ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ ask the audience) a teacher from the local high school brought in to run a quiz with my Year 6 class. With a price tag of thousands of pounds, it was sadly out of our Primary price range.

Fast forward a few years, and in walks Socrative. A free app which does a very similar job to those voting systems, and more.

To get going you’ll need the Socrative Teacher app on the device you are going to use (phone or ipad) and the Socrative Student app on any of the children’s devices. Great news – it’s free!

From the teacher app, you can create quizzes or ‘exit tickets’ (eg mini self assessment questionnaires for the end of a lesson). These can take a multiple choice format or be more open-ended.

Students then need to open their app and join your ‘room’ using the code given at the top of your screen. Once your students have all joined (I’ve found this very quick, even with the poor wifi we have in school currently), you can set the quiz going (these can be saved prior to the lesson, and shared with others if you wish).

Children can work at their own pace, individually or you can set a fun, rocket race going, where each team is set a different coloured rocket and can see their progress against other teams if you mirror your device to the board.

Once finished, you can email the results of the quiz to yourself in the form of a spreadsheet.

What’s great about it
– it’s free
– it’s versatile
– it’s easy for children to use (although I think children younger than Year 3 would struggle in a large group)
– it collects data into a manageable format
– it’s an engaging assessment tool

What could be better
– it can be hard to navigate your way round at first
– it doesn’t look very child-friendly, apart from the rockets
– my children got confused when it asked them to put their surname before their first name

All in all, I feel it’s a must-have addition to your school iPads/training plan for staff.


Lesson Idea – Using Creative Book Builder to produce video instructions

I posted a couple of weeks ago about a fantastic idea I’d seen for using iPads in a Design Technology unit for Year 6. Inspired by this, and keen to promote our current whole school focus on independent learning, I wanted to try out something similar.

Link to article

The plan was to use Creative Book Builder to create a guide to our DT pop up books unit for Year 4. Through the unit, the children learn how to create a number of mechanisms and then put these together to create their own book. The idea with my video guide, was that they could work at their own pace, and have access to instructional videos which they could pause, rewind and watch again if they needed to.

The first part of book creation was easy – including adding in audio instructions for children who struggle with reading. I made a cover using PicCollage and took screenshots of Showbie to show children how to access the evaluation document I had made using Pages.

Adding video was also simple and I had the whole thing done in under an hour. Then I hit a problem. The finished file was over 250mb. I couldn’t email it to myself, couldn’t upload it to Dropbox and couldn’t get the app’s inbuilt QR code maker to work. I had a look around the Internet and discovered this great little Video Compressor app. For the book I’ve compressed the videos to the lowest quality available (making them around 2mb per video), but it is also possible to have better quality output.

Sharing the finished book to my Dropbox all happened via the Creative Book Builder app. Hopefully you can access it via this link if you want to have a look at the book (then open in iBooks). I’ve now opened it on our school iPads and synced it to the rest of the devices, ready to start work on the unit next week.


Coming next: we’ll be using Zooburst to create Augmented Reality pop-up books, alongside our paper ones.

App review – Educreations vs Doceri

One of the first things I looked into installing on our ipads was a whiteboard app. The ones available are like turbocharged mini-whiteboards. Fantastic for ongoing assessment throughout the lesson, planning, practising and collaboration. Whiteboard apps have the added advantage of being able to be projected onto the Interactive whiteboard (given the right technology), add audio, photos and the ability to screenshot children’s work for evidence (saving the wrath of the assistant head for leaving mucky marker pen marks on the photocopier!)

Look around and you’ll find a plethora of available apps to do the job, each with different features. (ShowMe, Explain Everything, Educreations, ScreenChomp, Doceri). Back in October, I came down to a choice of 2 freebies – Screenchomp or Educreations. I went with the latter, just because I found the sharing of work pretty difficult on Screenchomp.


With Educreations you can:
– write with a pen (and choose from a range of colours)
– write with the keyboard
– import pictures from camera, camera roll or from a direct web search
– add more slides
– add audio
– change to a squared paper background
– save the presentation ‘privately’ and without an account
– email the presentation to yourself/the teacher

Educreations has served us really well, and is still many children’s ‘go-to’ app for sharing ideas. But getting the slides off the devices was not possible, as I still haven’t got round to setting up email accounts on the iPads.

This is where Doceri comes in. Doceri does the above, and more….
– a variety of pens
– a variety of shapes and lines, and the ability to change their thickness
– a wider range of colours
– a huge range of backgrounds (grids of varying sizes, isometric dots, maps etc)
– the ability to project to an interactive whiteboard via a desktop program run from a PC or laptop
– and most importantly, the ability to save slides and presentations directly to the camera roll on the iPad.


This final feature is crucial for me, as we begin to use Showbie more and more for storing work. Add this to its fancy pens and backgrounds and I’m expecting this app to be an instant hit with the children when we go back to school after Easter!

Lesson idea – a few ideas for using iPads to develop HOTs

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” title=”Lesson idea – a few ideas for using iPads to develop HOTs”>Lesson idea – a few ideas for using iPads to develop HOTs

I have prepared a slideshow using Keynote to deliver to our staff in a few weeks’ time. I want us to move beyond using mainly subject specific apps and begin to focus on how we can integrate the iPads into our teaching so that they really improve the quality of our provision, and lead to better outcomes for children. The presentation is shared on Slideshare and I hope you are able to see it on here!

Tip of the day – become an expert

I’ve had lots of questions this week from schools about to start using their iPads. My number one piece of advice for any ICT coordinator/iPad leader in this position is BE SELFISH! (At the start at least!). People may not like it, but if you explain your reasons they’ll hopefully understand. If you are taking the lead with iPads in your school, you need to become an expert in how best to use them, so that you can share your good practice with others. For that reason, I really do recommend having the devices in your classroom full-time for the first half term or so. You’ll be amazed at what you and your children will come up with and I guarantee that if you share your practice effectively, doing this will lead to better use of the iPads for your whole school.


Tip of the day – Classroom Management

It makes sense that any classroom routine should have its expectations made clear and that children should know exactly what the procedures are and what the consequences for not meeting the expectations are. However, I have read numerous posts on the Internet where people describe their fear of children breaking the iPad or playing on games they shouldn’t. Of course, as children do, they will test your boundaries, but here are my top tips for managing iPads in your classroom:

– have clear expectations of how you want the iPads to be handled; including getting them out and putting them away.
– be explicit about what you want to see when you ask children to give you their attention (ie do you just want them to put the iPad down, close the cover or close down all open apps?).
– have clear consequences for when children don’t meet your expectations and try to link these to the behaviour (in my classroom the children get a personal reminder to put their iPad down, then a warning/choice then they must put their iPad away if they persist.).
– display a poster or other visual prompt to refer to if you need to. There’s a nice one here at Teachers Pet or you could use an app like Strip Designer or Pic Collage to make your own.

Does anyone else have any tips or resources they think I should include on my blog? Suggestions are always welcome!

Lesson idea – using Titan Pad for collaborative writing

Collaborative writing has been easy to do using Google Docs for a while now, but here’s an alternative! TitanPad allows a teacher to create their own working space, where new documents can be set up and password protected easily. Giving children a QR code or link will take them directly to the pad, where they can add/edit information and see others’ contributions in real time. Each user’s contributions show up in a different colour and there is the option to ‘chat’ alongside the work. The beauty of using iPads to work in this way as opposed to PCs, is that children can more easily work alongside one another to work.

Here is an example of a piece of writing children in my class began to create: