Thursday, April 11, 2013

So much work, so little time to blog

Feeling guilty for abandoning my blog . . . it takes time to put together a halfway decent post, and too many other things have been demanding my time. I did actually get around to updating a couple of my reviews in the last couple of weeks. I've still been trying out apps, thinking about writing reviews, and reading other blogs about using iPads in class. I read a great article this morning on "How to be a terrible iPad teacher" that is well worth a read. Steve is an itinerant French teacher who's put together a great series of articles on using the iPad in any classroom. Even if you've got some experience already using iPads in your classroom, he has some great suggestions.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Rainbow Sentences

Rainbow Sentences, $7.99 from Mobile Education Tools, is designed "to help students improve their ability to construct grammatically correct sentences by using color coded visual cues. The who, what, where, and why parts of sentences are color coded to help students recognize and understand how combinations of these parts create basic sentence structure."

The intention is that students will learn how to recognize the parts of sentences such as nouns, verbs, and prepositions, improve their understanding of how combinations of these parts create basic sentence structure. In practice, I have found that it is tempting for students to use other strategies to complete the sentences. They will start by putting the word with an uppercase letter first, and the word with a period after it at the end of the sentence, and then start placing the rest of the words based on their length, as the spaces they are to be dragged to give an indication as to the length of the missing word. This is not an app I would have a student use alone, even though the recordkeeping in the app would allow them to do so. As my students use this app, I sit with them and ask them questions so that in answering my questions they can complete the sentence. Students have the opportunity to record their sentences in their own voice to improve their receptive and expressive language skills. I have found this app useful with young English language learners with language delays.

-168 images to create sentence from - plenty of variety
-Intuitive drag and drop to create sentences - easy for students to get the hang of
-Words are spoken as they are being dragged for non readers - very helpful, so the focus of the activity can be on the sentence structure rather than reading individual words
-Words can be color coded for added visual support
-Word groups can be selected to simplify sentence construction
-6 levels of sentence complexity
-Pictograph lessons to help students learn proper sentence construction
-Record feature allows students to record sentences in their own voice
-Save and email recorded sentences
-Students earn puzzle pieces during play to encourage continued play. Initially I was skeptical as to how motivating this would be - but when I had a student who was used to this app try another app from the same company that did not have the puzzle reward, she was disappointed that the puzzle was not there!
-Puzzles come to life once level is complete

Friday, April 5, 2013

iPad Ideas

Thanks to Tony Vincent for pointing me in the direction of the iPad Ideas website. It's a great website put together by educators in Singapore for educators interested in using iPads in schools.

There is a list of recommended apps with some basic information about each app and some suggested uses. You can browse through the list or search the database by subject, grade level and/or price. There are some lesson ideas and case studies to inspire you, and links to other people's websites with even more info on using iPads in school. Well worth a look!