iPad Tools for School

I love seeing so many school starting to adopt technology and recognising that the use of technology can be motivating and engaging, especially in light of the “More ladders,fewer  snakes” report from the independent think tank the New Zealand institute - http://www.nzinstitute.org/

What is critical is that the presence of technology by itself is not a panacea  or the ills of engagement or more accurately student disengagement. Rather the technology is a tool or perhaps a medium for motivating and focusing our students learning. Our use of technology in the classroom must be DELIBERATE and PURPOSEFUL. Then and only then will the improvement make meaningful impact on teaching and learning.

If I was to recommend a list of products for use on ipads in Junior or middle school I would recommend the following:

  • iWorks pages, numbers and keynote – while these are reduced versions of the core applications for the mac, they tools will suit the average needs of the average user for word processing and simple desktop publishing, data processing and as a presentation medium.
  • iThoughts HD – this is a simple to use yet powerful mind mapping tool
  • Garageband – a nice and flexible music creation tool
  • imovie – video production tool – this is great as the back camera of the ipad 2 gives nice clean footage.
  • Adobe Photoshop express – simple image editor and free. You already have Photo Booth as a standard tool on the ipad 2
  • Mathboard and Spellboard – great easy to use learning tools for mathematics and spelling
  • Comic Life – this is the ipad version of Plasq’s winning tool. An absolute must from my perspective
  • PuppetPals HD – this is a great animation tool, its well worth purchasing the master pack of resources which makes the product come to life. The kids love this and it will produce great videos that can be exported.
  • eClicker Host and eclicker client – this is a student response system that will cost you a tiny amount. Also accessible from the web interface, this is great and so cost efficient. (well once you have purchased your idevices to run the clickers on)
  • Google earth – while not as powerful as the PC or mac based Google Earth Client, this is still a useful and powerful learning tool. the students enjoy using this and can easily and intuitively manipulate the tool.
  • Puffin web browser – this browser supports FLASH (YAY!!!), so mathletics is easily accessible from the ipad (you need to use the menu to access the keyboard to type in numeral/text answers).
  • BrainPOP  – my kids love this, its quirky slightly off beat, but it has great resources and they enjoy it. Video and interactive media resources.
  • Dictionary.com – this is a great dictionary tool. Useful, I wished more of my students used a dictionary.
  • Sentence Builder – this is a useful tool for english and language arts. recommended by an amazing classroom practitioner – thanks Harry.
  • Play2Learn – this is a language vocabulary tool. Its fun, visual and covers a range of languages. Well worth considering for schools that have a foreign language program. I have to put in my personal bias here ALL primary schools should be teaching ATLEAST 2 languages to their students and the younger the better.

There are more but this is just a start.

What would you add to this list and why?

On the wire – Cartoons

This on the wire upadte looks at cartoons, there is something here for pretty much everyone – even physics

1. Physics.org Marvin and Mills cartoons – http://www.physics.org/marvinandmilo.asp As well as being a useful resource site for Physics, Physics.org also has a great set of Marvin and Milo cartoons that explain in a fun way Physics

Source: http://www.physics.org/UploadDocs/Feature/images/70-musical-tea-700.jpg

Source: http://www.physics.org/UploadDocs/Feature/images/70-musical-tea-700.jpg

2. Plasq.com Comic Life – Plasq is the company that produces comic life. This is without a doubt the best comic creation tools on the market. I love this and make regular use of it in my classes. It is available for windows and mac with versions for the ipad and ipod touch (comic touch). The site liciences are very good value for money and well worth considering.

source: http://plasq.com/images/product-comiclife2-fp.jpg

source: http://plasq.com/images/product-comiclife2-fp.jpg

3. Comicstrip CS – yourcomicstrip.com This is another excellent comic creation tool developed for the ipad, iphone and ipod touch. An excellent portable comic creation tool. This allows you to create single page comics with 7 different styles of layouts using images from the pictures on your i-device.

4. Comic Creator - http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/interactives/comic/ This is a web 2.0 tool hosted on the read, write, think website – simple and useful a good online tool.

I like using comics and cartoon creation tools with my students as its a visual approach to learning, it provides variety and is engaging. I have used these tools to provide methods for science experiments, to summarise video clips and movies, to present how to documents or timelines and to storyboard videos. The uses are numerous.

For further resources link to my wiki – http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/Comic+Tools

on the wire – iPAD AWAY

This on the wire update is looking at the iPad. One of the project I am currently working on is a book about the use of the iPad and the iphone and touch in the classrooms.

There are an amazing number of applications available for the iPad with particular application to the classroom. So here are some of my favourites

1. Pages – http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id361309726?mt=8 this is a powerful and well featured word processor. Its not a fully featured word processor as many of the high end functions like indexing etc are not present. Having said that for the student user this is a great tool – an addition to this is “templates for Pages” which gives you 24 further templates to add to 16 that are already in pages.

2. Keynote – http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/keynote/id361285480?mt=8 This is another useful tool as it allows you to create and present from your iPad. you will need a dongle to connect to a projector. It like Pages has a number of templates (12) that you can use to develop the presentation. Its easy to useand has a large number of features, but just like pages this is a limited version and misses many of the higher end functions of keynote for mac.

3. Goodreader – http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/goodreader-for-ipad/id363448914?mt=8 the more I use this tool the more i like it, creating folders, renaming files, sending stuff, uploading stuff organising materials. Yes for me this is a stunning application.

4. iThoughts HD – http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ithoughtshd-mindmapping/id369020033?mt=8 Got to love it – its a great mind mapping tool that exports in so many flavours, is ease to use and yeah its a good product.

5. BBC News – http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bbc-news/id364147881?mt=8 There are so many news sites available to us, but the BBC site is a quality product and in a rare stand for news agencies is pretty much neutral in its reporting. Nice applications (particularly in landscape) easy to navigate and customise.

6. AudioNote – Notepad and voice recorder - http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/audionote-notepad-voice-recorder/id369820957?mt=8 this is my favourite tool in a meeting lecture or keynote. It allows you to take notes, draw diagrams and record the audio at the same time. The play back allows you to click on the notes and it jumps the audio to the same point.

7. Adobe Photoshop Express - http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/adobe-photoshop-express/id331975235?mt=8 This ia free image editing tool that is brilliant. Simple to use, a nice set of common features like crop, rotate, flip, straigthten and some nice effects for colour, filters borders.

8. Comic Strip – CS – http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/comicstrip-cs/id392197108?mt=8 Nice clean single page 1-5 pane comics. Good bubbles and captions, some nice stickers and saves as an image. Over all good product

9. Dictionary.Com- http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dictionary-com-dictionary/id308750436?mt=8 Good useful reference and resource.

On the wire – Science

In this update of on the wire I am looking at only one site (well almost) – The University of Utah – Genetics Learning Centre (http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/).

This is a brilliant aid to the science teacher and the senior biologist. So lets see what this site has for us…

1. Homepage (http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/) – this links through to a variety of pages, most with a genetics theme but also an interesting look at the ecology of salt lake.

2. Amazing cells (http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/begin/cells/) – this is the portal page for animations, interactive activities, videos and alike – a couple of stand out pages are: Cell size and scale http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/begin/cells/scale/(a brilliant interactive resources showing cell etc) and Inside a cell http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/begin/cells/insideacell/(this interactive allows you to select cell compenets and have these explained to you)

They also produce resources for teachers – http://teach.genetics.utah.edu/content/begin/cells/ for cell biology.

3. The Genetics section is also very well resourced with sections on:

Plus a great resource page which indexes their easily accessable materials and lesson plans – http://teach.genetics.utah.edu/content/

4.Tap into the world of comics - http://www.slideshare.net/shend5/tap-into-the-world-of-comics this is a slideshare presentation on 21 uses for comics in the classroom and contains some great resources

5. Finally a quick one from the read write web  – what will the internet look like in 5 years time – http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_web_in_five_years.php – This is from Google’s Eric Schmidt

On the wire

In this weeks catch from the net we have Mathematics and data sources, infographic maps, web 2.0 tools and more.

1. The Maths Apprentice - http://www.mathapprentice.com/Activity/explore.html – this is a fun primary and middle years site for mathematics. Directed at the younger audience. Worth considering using with an IWB.

2. Kids online – me and mymaths - http://www.kidsolr.com/math/math.html – again for the yiounger middle years audience, but a useful amth site with potential for IWB use too.

3. Dan’s Maths - http://www.dansmath.com/ – this sit is directed at the more senior school audience but is still applicable to midle school students

4. Maths helpAtube - http://www.mathatube.com/ – Video tutorialsa dn resources for mathematics – this is a great site well worth a forage. While not directly associated but worth investigating is teachertube – http://www.teachertube.com

5. US Government Data - http://www.data.gov/ this is a great source of accurate information and statistics. Applicable to mathematics, humanities and many other subject areas. This is a great resource.

6. Infographic Mapshttp://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/10/30-superb-examples-of-infographic-maps/ Web designer depot is a blog I subscribe to and it provide a wide range of interesting sites and resources. This one has some excellent examples of inforgraphics that are well worth looking at.

7. Ofcom report on Children and Mediahttp://www.ofcom.org.uk/consumer/2009/10/more-children-have-broadband-in-the-bedroom/ OfCom is the Office of Communication in the UK. This offering is a report on Media and children. Here is one statistic worth considering “35 per cent of 12-15s and 16 per cent of 8-11s now have web access in their bedrooms“. Worth also visiting is the mashable post on net usage http://mashable.com/2009/10/14/net-usage-nielsen/

8. Online comic creation tool – Howtoons – http://www.howtoons.com/ – A nice online cartoon/comic tool which allows you to export as a PDF file. Free

9. How to give a lousy presentationhttp://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/aug2009/sb20090825_379576.htm This is one of those time to refelct articles. As you read through this post do you cringle a little?

As always these sites are also posted on my Delicious account - http://del.icio.us/achurches

Comic Generation Tools

Having just found another online comic generator, I feel its time to refresh the list.


These are brilliant tools for the visual and kinesthetic learner. Students across all the levels I teach enjoy creating comics, even the least motivated take care and apply their imagination.  They take pride and this pride is reflected in the focus and effort they apply. Anyway here is my selection (fresh of my wiki)

 Online Tools


external image pixton-logo.gif
This is a good online comic development tool. This is a site that uses simple sketch and text. Nice tool
external image y70410mg760ihdrq.jpg


external image comix_title_front.gif
This is a great and easy to use flash based resource. You can use this with students of any age.
The User Interface provides you with a set of charactors with different emotions


A simple toolbar of commands to manipulate your comic strip


and hay presto – you are an instant comic book author (of course quality is a different matter)



external image hc_mycbc_logo1.gif
external image hc_mycbc_logo1.gif

Hypercomic also has an online version of their comic creation tool.
Its a simple series of steps with drop down menus to help you create and publish your comic.



external image kerpoof_logo.png



Not brilliant and a little daunting to start as its in french, but toggle the language switch and you are away


They explain it all below…. In comic form!
external image login_toon1.gifexternal image login_toon2.gif

useful resource: http://cogdogroo.wikispaces.com/StoryTools

Historic Tale Construction Kit


This is a fun tool. This site allows you to create historic tale cartoons or comics. The images are set in medievil times, the text is archaic and the process simple


Its really neat and fun. Guaranteed to motivate and captivate students and to get the creative juices running as they write tales of high adventure, noble kings, dragons and wicked beasts.



external image bs_beta.png
This is a membership required comic creation tool. Like most of these tools its in perpetual Beta
external image p3.png

Mai’Nada – Comic Sketch
external image comics_logo_small.jpg
This is another web based tool for comic creation.

City Creator



The city creator comes in three flavours ranging from modern to snow land or medievil

  1. Blankton
  2. Snoland
  3. Medieville

Having selected your time or age you then set about constructing a city.

You construct Roads, buildings and add roofs. place people and objects


you can add backgrounds as well


Generally its good fun but could be very useful for creating comics or narrating stories using tools like comic life or photostory.



This is a fun tool that allows you to morph and transform images. Its a freebie, download it and install.

Then the fun begins, stretch and drag the peoples faces, add horns, reshape eye and the save your product. Great fun, simple and easy to use. Great for use with comic development or generator tools.