Tips 2012 Professional Learning #20:Which app is right for you?

When selecting apps my rule is “less is more”…In my experience it is better to have a few carefully selected apps that you can use in multiple ways than an app for every topic.

For many teachers at the start of a semester or the beginning of  a new school year you will be deciding which apps you will be using in your teaching. Selecting the right apps can be a challenge when there are so many applications on the app store. Always keep your educational objective clearly in focus, it is easy to be seduced by bright colours and cute animations. Think carefully about what the student will do… will this app allow the students to create, engage in higher order thinking and connect in new ways? There is some value in apps that allow students to consolidate their skills in an engaging manner. Apps that support the teaching  and can be used across the curriculum are good value per use as opposed to apps that will be used once or twice in a specific area.

A colleague Jan Clarke from AISWA has shared an extensive list of apps that she has complied. Classroom apps  Thanks for sharing all your hard work Jan. I look forward to hearing from you about the apps you find most useful in your teaching.

Tips 2012 Professional Learning #16:Creating and sharing learning online

One of the ways to create interactive online experiences is to use a learning management system (LMS). This is much easier than you think and is a great way to use mobile learning devices in daily classroom practice. These systems now incorporate social networking so students can create and share their learning as part of professional learning networks. There are a range of these, today I am discussing two free LMS systems designed for classroom use. Edmodo and Schoology.  I am seeing excellent use of  these systems in classrooms. Teachers can post tasks and assessments online in the password protected space they have created for their students. They can give parents access to sections of the site so parents can view the work. Students can access this work anywhere, anytime on a web enabled device. There are apps for Android and IOS devices like iphones and iPads. Students can post their responses to their teacher and work collaboratively with their peers. The facility to set up groups is very useful. The student work is all safely stored online, no need for complex server configurations.


This video link guides you through how to set up a site in Schoology. Schoology has advanced features to set up test and assessments with self marking features.


The Edmodo help site with very useful tips on everything you need to get this up and running in your classroom.

This post gives more details on how to use Edmodo in education

This post on edmodo gives lots of links to schools and blog sites with practical examples of edmodo in action
This video shows how a 5th grade student uses Edmodo

Please post a comment and share how you are using these tools in your teaching and learning

Edmodo touch app also available for android devices

Tips2013: Teachers’ Voices #4:Miss D & the Superstars

Add your own images to create personalised puppets

Add your own images to create personalised puppets

Miss D and her class the Superstars have been taking a journey back in time this term to celebrate the 75th anniversary of their school.


“The students worked in small groups using the Puppet Pals app on the iPads kindly lent to us by Dr Jenny Lane from Edith Cowan University. Our class has been lucky enough to take part in the TPACK Project, which is researching the integration of iPads into classrooms to help teachers successfully integrate this technology in the future.

Our class has loved using the iPads,  movies made with the Puppet Pals app show how our class has been reflecting on their learning in History this term and having lots of fun at the same time.”

Tamara Doig




Create your own animated puppet show

Create your own animated puppet show

Puppet Pals can be used for digital storytelling. Students develop a storyboard, create scripts with dialogue, design their puppets and select backdrops for the story.

This is a great tool for learning a second language because students have to narrate their story. The stories shared recorded and shared

Tips 2012 iPad App Guide #52: Sound Recorder Pro

Sound Recorder Pro is an easy-to-use voice-recorder for the iPad, useful for recording just about anything – meetings, memos, voice emails, reminders, …

It enables users to easily categorise and colour-code recordings, and will soon enable users to download recordings via their computer web browser. (It currently only supports email export).

You might also want to test the free alternatives – QuickVoice Recorder, iTalk Recorder, and Smart Recorder Lite, which we will review at a later date .

For: Teachers, Students, Administrators, Students with Diverse Needs

Cost: $0.99 (Download Link)

Requires WiFi?: Not for recording, but required to export files.

Educational Applications

  • Oral history interviews
  • Create short audio explanations of learning concepts (good for students with diverse learning needs)
  • Create audio content for presentations
  • Record responses to student assignments (anecdotal assessment)
  • Voice memos, records of meetings
  • Creating podcasts (in conjunction with the iPrompt teleprompter app) via @nathan_stevens


Tips2012: Teachers’ Voices #3: Phil`s i-Story

Using iPads to teach English as a second language

Phil Rice is a teacher of adult ESL learners in the state of Delaware, USA. He has taught English Composition and multiple levels of ESL classes. He enjoys using technology to teach and help students to teach themselves. Phil is an avid user of iPads in his ESL classes, and he has shared some of the activities he uses in his teaching
Show me

Show Me

 Phil sent in this i-Story in response to a posting we did on using the Show Me screen casting app to read that post Tips2012 App Guide: Show Me. The Show Me app was also used for ESL teaching  in Schools in India as mentioned in Jude`s i-Story.
With ShowMe, teachers can…

1) Create an online lesson for an in-class topic. Record the main ideas of your lesson and give students a link or post your creation to an online social media site.

2) Have students create a narrated visual presentation on a topic using your/their iPad and show it in class as opposed to a “stand in front of the class” type presentation.

3) Create a Vocab Map using Skitch / DoodleBuddy and ShowMe together. Pick a picture that is related to a topic you are teaching and annotate it with Skitch showing the vocabulary for the picture. Then, upload the photo and use it on ShowMe to narrate and pronounce the vocab.

4) Download the presentation and upload it to YouTube so students have instant access to your ShowMes!

These are just a few uses for ShowMe. I use it all the time, and I’m sure that you will too once you get used to it.

Thanks Phil for sharing your i-Story.

You can visit Phil`s blog, ESL Commando, to find more ideas for using ICT in ESL classes.

Tips2012 iPad App Guide #44: SOSH

Sōsh is an iPhone app (works on iTouch & iPad) designed to help teenagers and young adults with special needs, particularly Asperger’s Syndrome, develop their social skills.

It focuses on five essential abilities for social skills development: Relate, Relax, Reason, Regulate, and Recognize. These “5R’s” serve as a road map for individuals who want to be social, but may have faced obstacles in the past; and also serve as a guide for parents, teachers, and therapists hoping to encourage and assist individuals with their social goals.

You start by answering a questionnaire to determine which tools within the app are going to be most useful. You can download the free Lite Version to explore the app with a free 7 day trial, and the full version costs around $40.

For more information, please visit

For: Students with Special Needs

Requires WiFi?: No

Cost: Free 7 Day Trial (Download)version, Full Version: $41.99 AUD (Download)

Tips2012: i-Kids make a difference:#1:Jude`s i-Story


Jude the “Living Statue”:  A boy who makes a difference…. 


This inspiring i-Story started with some emails in response to the TIPS2012 blog. Jude and his mum Tania asked questions about using iPads in schools in India and how to cope in settings with no WiFi network.

I directed them to the resources on the blog, and a while later received this email…

Dear Jenny, …

Thank you all so much for supporting Jude “The Living Statue” in raising money for an iPad for an Indian school. He raised a total £220 – which is quite amazing and inspiring, especially as it was all his own idea to do this.

The iPad caused huge amount of excitement and the children kept looking at their fingers  when they were drawing/writing on the iPad, as they couldn’t understand why there wasn’t ink on them!  

Here are some photos of Jude showing the kids at the school how an iPad works.

Jude showing the children in India how to use the iPad

We spent hours at a rather nice hotel in the local town, using their free wifi to download some educational apps.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, and Australian Dr Jenny Lane of iPad project in schools, we found some fantastic apps that can be used without wifi.  Especially good were the animations and puppet shows with self recorded narration, which are great for story telling, imagination and those not confident in speaking English – plus they are lots of fun.

Thank you all again for your support…

Tania & Jude

Tania, Jude`s mother comments “I am amazed he had so much courage to stand on Ledbury Road, which is quite a busy street in Notting Hill.  I am very proud of him and very happy for you to include on your blog – which was so helpful for us.”

Living Statutes

“Living Statues” are people who dress up like a statue and stand motionless on the street, usually on a pedestal.  They are usually painted from head to toe – white, bronze or gold, etc. and will only move, or shake your hand etc when you give them some money.
Jude (Millais) is the great-great-great grandson of the painter John Everett Millais (


Tips2012:iPad App Guide #37: Pinnion

Check the students’ understanding before, during and after a lesson.

Pinnion is an online polling and an audience response app. There are versions for iPads, iPhones and Andriod devices. You can create surveys and quizzes, and share a link via email or Twitter. There is even a WordPress plug-in for your blog.

For: Teachers, Students (Primary to Secondary)

Cost: free for launch

Requires WiFi?: Yes

Management Tip
How to use Pinnion

Educational Applications

  • Develop quizzes and surveys
  • Allow all students to respond to questions and see how others have responded
  • Quiz students on a topic then present an argument, or explanation then repoll them see if their understanding of the topic shifts or develops
  • Enable all students,even the shy ones, who do not usually respond to questions in class to demonstrate their learning, comprehension skills, and understanding of topics across a wide range of learning areas.

Recommended Reading

Please help us to build these resources for teachers by supporting the research. Click on the link to complete a short survey and enter the draw to win an I-tunes voucher.

Tips2012: Hearing devices linking to iPads

Please can anyone help us? We are looking for hearing devices, for example FM systems linked to hearing aids that can connect directly to iPads.

We want to assist children to record the teachers voice in a class on their iPads, so that the iPad can function as a note taking device.

We need to record the teachers voice via an FM system over a distance. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Tips2012:The New iPad -New features for education

The new iPad is being released in 11 more countries today Click here to watch the video of the “New iPad” launch.

There are some pretty exciting features – the quality of the video you can create is close to professional level standard. My research uses video diaries and live classroom videos as part of data analysis. So I can use the iPad to shoot my high resolution videos needed for the project. Plus there is an updated iMovie app for quick editing.

Another favourite new feature is that you can use the “New iPad” (iPad3) to create your own wireless hot spot in your classroom and connect five WiFi devices, which is very useful for teachers who don’t have a robust wifi network at school.

There is no Siri (voice activation), but according to the launch video the new iPad has voice dictation. This will be great for students with special needs. In other news, the iPad 2 prices have dropped, making then more affordable for schools.

We are using iPad2s in the Tips2012 research, and the teachers and students are doing so many fabulous things to engage students and promote deep learning and creativity. we are currently encouraging teachers to contribute to our iPad research survey, where you can also enter our draw to win a $50 iTunes voucher!


Tips2012:iPad App Guide #29: HD

The HD app brings a trusted (ad-free) dictionary and thesaurus, containing nearly 2 million words, definitions, synonyms, and antonymns, to the iPad. This invaluable reference resource is available offline, with some additional features, such as voice-to-text search and audio pronunciation, available with a Wi-Fi connection.

This paid version of the app is ad-free, and is highly recommended for educational use. There are separate versions for iTouch and iPhone.

For: Administrators. Teachers, Students, Students with Special Needs

Cost: $4.99 (Download Link).

Requires WiFi: Only for additional features.

  • Support students in literacy activities, particularly for finding the spelling and meaning of words
  • Learn the pronunciation of words – valuable for special needs students

Tips2012 iPad App Guide #22: “Toddler Sandbox”

Toddler Sandbox, formerly  known as “Wipe and Learn”, is an early-learning iPad app for K-2 children, which is also highly recommended for children with special needs.

“Sandbox” involves children swiping their finger across the screen to reveal a hidden picture. The word for the background picture is then spoken aloud. It requires close attention, accuracy and fine motor skills to complete successfully, making it a useful app for developing fine motor skills and word recognition.

For: Early Childhood Students, Students with Special Needs

Cost: $0.99 (Download)

Requires WiFi?: No.

Further Reading

Tips2012 iPad apps to help modify behaviour

In my many years of teaching in schools, and in Teacher Education at University, the biggest challenge faced by many teachers is moderating the behaviour of students in their classes. There are a range of strategies that can be used, but keeping a clear record of the behaviours is a good starting point.

The specialist app, Behaviour Lens ($32),  for teachers and therapists was recommended by my colleague Priscilla, who is is a Consultant – Intensive Support Needs. Designed by school psychologists, it records timed intervals of behaviours and generates professional standard reports.

Another useful (free app), called Autism Apps gives a comprehensive overview of apps that can be used to modify behaviour, support social interactions and promote communication with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder & Down Syndrome.

If you are working with students with behaviour and communication difficulties please share the apps that you find useful in the comments below!

Tips2012: Using iPads to support students with diverse learning needs

iPads are an excellent way to provide individualized learning materials and re-inforcement for students with a wide range of learning abilities.

Differentiating Instruction

  • The iPads provide a way for teachers to provide each learner with activities suited to their learning needs.Teachers can use Dropbox to send documents and links to individual students’ folders, which contain their individualized learning materials.
  • They can also be used to provide extension activities for students who need higher-order thinking challenges. These can take the form of webquests, quizzes and polling (Socrative), treasure hunts with QR Codes (QRafter), and geocaching.
Scaffolding Learning
  • iPads can be used to scaffold learning for students who need additional support. The screen-casting apps (ShowMe, Explain Everything, Educreations) and video creation apps (iMovie, Reel Director, Camera) allow teachers and students to produce screencasts and short instructional videos to provide “just in time” support for students.
  • The use of instructional video for learning provides support that is emotionally neutral, and can be viewed repeatedly until the student feels the concepts have been clearly demonstrated and understood.
Sensory Learning
  • The use of the iPad touch surface reinforces learning using the sense of touch, which is a very powerful way of learning for many students (Toddler SandboxSkitch)
  • The audio feedback included in many apps is another way to support learning. Many eBooks and iBooks include an audio track which reads the print while highlighting the words. This multi-sensory mode uses the senses to provide stimulus and feedback for the learner.
Supporting Learning
  • Students who need support taking notes will find “AudioNote” useful. AudioNote will record the speaker while the student types notes, creating an audio recording of the lesson to review learning.

Supporting Communication

  • There are a wide selection of apps, eg. SOSH, to support students who have difficulty communicating. The Special Needs links in the TIPS 2012 sidebar contain lots of excellent examples of apps designed to support learners with diverse needs.
Do you have a favourite app for supporting students with diverse learning needs? We’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below!