Saturday, 9 January 2016

The Up and Downs - Seesaw app review

Hey folks,

Sorry I haven't uploaded any new entries this week. New term equals more work urge :)

Image result for seesaw learning journalAnyway, this week I am going to review a fantastic app that has been probably my biggest pet project to date. I'm sure many other schools are using apps to connect learning, assessment and the general information technology age. But this has to be one of the best. After seeing edmodo, a great app for connecting the learning in the classroom with the home, I was determined to find something that would do the same. As I have a KS1 class of my own I felt that the edmodo platform was a little complicated and tricky to navigate for their little souls. But I came across this app called Seesaw: the learning journey...  Things have been changing rapidly since!!!

What does it do?

Simply put it is a learning journey digitised. You setup avatars and areas for children with their names. No email address required!!! When this is done you download the class app onto each of the iPads in your classroom. You can then produce a really easy qr class code so the children can point a camera and log on. The platform its has a rolling feed a little like Facebook (which is a bonus when teaching internet responsibility). Children can upload videos, pictures, links and drawings all made in app or from the rest of the iPad. Not sure that is very well explained but they can upload a range of multimedia. When they upload they will be asked to tag themselves in the photo. A comment or recording can be added as well. Great for those children that find writing really difficult. Children can comment and like others work. As the teacher you can give feedback in the form of likes and comments. Of course as the moderator you have to approve any uploads first.

I have found this a powerful class tool to share links quickly for really complicated subjects. Moreover, children can upload their work form other platforms. Getting work in on iPads can be tricky at the best of times but this really is a handy tool for getting the stuff in one place ready for me.

When you have sufficient data you give handouts the parents to upload the parent app onto their devices. They get live feedback of what the children are working on. More than this they can even comment back and like posts.

Draw backs?

Well so far I am in the beta testing stage for school. You get tremendous support online from the San Francisco based company. I haven't had any problems so far... knock on wood. But their are a few concerns I have. First of which is how will it react with multiple classes with shared iPads. Obviously iPads are difficult to get at the best of times with stretched school budgets. How will it work with multiple classes? Second, at the end of the year it says I have the option to archive the class. But where and who has the data? What happens if my data gets lost?

Why did I choose it?

Well after strenuous research this app just seemed the easiest to work for me as the teacher and the children. Moreover, graphically it seemed more child friendly and appealing. My children certainly love choosing those avatars. But most of all, it just seems like someone who teaches in education has thought this through. Down to the minor details of the left and right camera button on the screen. It's intuitive and everything that is good about modern technology. I don't find uploading a nuisance but a pleasure. I love seeing positive comments back from parents and involving people in my classroom.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Pray tell - app review tellagami

I've got a beautiful app to review today. I've recently come across this fantastic and daily useable app. 

So what does it do? 

This app allows you animate a preprogrammed avatar. The avatars are easily customisable in what they wear and look like in appearance. Once you have your avatar looking acceptable you can programme text that a computer will read out or you can record your own voice over. The app recognises text and tries it's best to match speech with inflections and related movements. You can choose expressions to match your text as well. What's best is the ability to drop in images into the background or choose from set template designs. 

Here's a little demonstration just for you folks here
Draw backs?

So what are they I hear you ask? Well the speech takes a little getting used to and never quite sounds right. There's a little bit of fiddling to make it sound correct. Another minor annoyance is you can't change the background during the talk. Man that would be useful. But hey these really aren't big enough considerations to put you off. It's a talking avatar and your disposable and that's powerful!

Sunday, 3 January 2016

New year, new attitude - making affirmations

It's a new year!!! A new beginning!!! A breath of fresh air!!! 

At this slightly surreal time and with every end of a holiday I can't help feeling perturbed. Often I feel like my friend down here and the result is my partner suffers with my erratic bipolar behaviour. Sort of I love you my darling juxtaposed with I need to plan... why don't you understand! 

NO MORE!  It's high time I made a change and if your not moving forwards you are inevitably drifting backwards. I suppose what I am alluding to is your well being as a person doing a difficult job. The physical strain is easily visable; glasses for strained eyes, back pain from stooping and fatty deposits around the middrifts from the seemingly endless supplies of cake in the staffroom. However, what isn't easily seen is the tremendous assault teaching has on a person's mental health. Unrelenting pressure to fit everything in, an everyday circus performance and the ever threatening possibility that your better half at home will disown you, if you spend another 14 hour day tending to others needs. I shall not be dragged into mentioning all the traditional teacher moans about testing, ofsted, curriculum, or government. Needless to say these pressures take a toll on teachers and the only person you can you rely on is yourself. 

 So how to do it? Well something that is new to me is affirmations although I'm sure they are common place to most people.

I decided to look into these because of my partner who regularly takes them onboard. I was somewhat sceptical as I am a simple soul who is highly mistrustful and pessimistic abut new age mind techniques. However, this year I want to give them a try...

So what is an affirmation let's start there... 

The act or an instance of affirmingstate of being affirmed. The assertion that something exists or is true. Something that is affirmeda statement or proposition that is declared to be true. A confirmation or ratification of the truth or validity of a prior judgment,decision, etc.

An affirming statement or affirmation is self designed to alter your pattern of thought.  Whether this works or not isn't for me to judge. But there certainly seems to be a massive following and some promising psychological research in favour. We've all heard the quote about being a radiator not a drain right? Well these just might help you become that radiator you all started out being when you entered the profession. Here is a great article to help you create yours: 

So here's mine

I have the best job in the world

Respect the ripples you can have on the future

You can handle anything that is presented to you there is no problem too big

Guide them to understand and learn from the children

 Love and accept the personalities

Learn yourself, everyday

Eat healthy as you possibly can

Sleep is a friend of productivity 

Children first, love of learning yes! curriculum and tests are only tools...

You are good at what you do

Make time for others and yourself