Guest blogger, former Head of Maths at Aldenham School, David Chorley, gives us his thoughts about using Apps for Education and iPads:
I’ve recently moved from a school where teachers simply had a choice between having a laptop or an iPad in the classroom to an establishment which calls itself an ‘iPad School’.
In my previous school I opted for the laptop as that was what I was used to and I felt proficient at using the various ICT teaching tools I had at my disposal: Autograph, Smart Notebook, Geometer’s Sketchpad and calculator emulators. As part of a pilot scheme introduced to allow departments to explore the usefulness of the iPad in their particular area I was able to sample a number of apps. I felt that none could do any of the things that I could already do on my laptop any better and I had not come across any apps that I found indispensable to my teaching.
Now that I am in an iPad school, however, I am obliged to use my iPad and I am beginning to appreciate its benefits. The big difference in this school is that all the students have to have an iPad. The iPad is therefore is not just a teaching tool, it is used for organising, communicating and facilitating the students’ learning. I am still very much in the early stages of coming to grips with my iPad but I simply wanted to review some of the apps which I am finding very useful in the classroom.
*****As a blanket disclaimer I would like to make it clear that I am sure that there are a number of other apps out there that can do the same things but these are the ones I have come across. See UKEdChat for further information about Education Apps *****
iBooks is very useful for students to have their textbooks on in PDF format. They no longer have to carry them around with them and there is less chance of them forgetting them. Students can also view past papers, mark schemes and model answers on iBooks which makes a huge difference to the department’s photocopying bill.
TeacherKit is an electronic mark-book. It allows you to register your classes and keep track of students’ performance in tests and home-works. You can record good and bad behaviour and all this information can then be presented in a variety of report formats. This is excellent for parents’ evenings and when it comes to write reports on your classes. I particularly like the way that you can allocate different weighting to different assessment types. This is something I will be exploring more in the future
Whiteboard does exactly what it says on the tin. It allows your students to turn their iPads into mini-whiteboards at the click of a button. Again this improves efficiency. No need to store whiteboards in the classroom any more. No risk of the pens running out.
Showbie is a great way of communicating with your classes. Each class is allocated a password and students can access their area. I use this mainly for allocating homework. Homework can take the form of a photograph of a page in a book but it could also be a worksheet in PDF format which students can write on in Notes Plus and post back to you in their class area. As Head of Department, I have also created a ‘classroom’ for the department and I post meeting agendas and minutes there.
ShowMe is a way of creating videos of yourself going through worked examples. The end product is very similar to the sort of thing created by the team at Maths Watch. This is great for encouraging independent learning. One teacher in my department is using it for ‘flipped classroom’. She sets viewing a video as a home-work and the students then practice what they have learned in the classroom.
Socrative allows you to create interactive tests. Similar to Showbie, each class has a code and you can set them an online test. These tests are either multiple choice or single word (or number) answers. The students complete the tests on their iPads and they get immediate feedback. I have used this as a starter but intend to develop a number of tests which could be used as part of our overall assessment.
As a maths teacher I am very excited about GeoGebra. I have only just scratched the surface of what it can do. To date I have only used its geometry package. I have created files to demonstrate the circle theorems and a file with the unitary circle to demonstrate the periodic properties of the trigonometric ratios. However it has uses in algebra and statistics.
These are just what the apps I have come across to date and I would welcome anybody else’s input, suggestions and feedback.
David Chorley is a Head of Mathematics in Paris, with 16 years’ experience of teaching Maths. Prior to that David worked for 14 years in oil exploration and civil engineering as a land surveyor, including work on the Channel Tunnel.