Posted in iPads, Learning, Technology

But HOW do I make iPads about learning, not games?

At the start of my career, I was a self-confessed worksheet girl. I photocopied every morning and every afternoon, had folders for each day with all the worksheets I would need, complete with binders of resources that I’d collected from multiple teaching placements. I probably killed a few million trees…sorry trees.

Since I was introduced to iPads in the classroom, or for that matter any digital technology, my printing and photocopying has decreased.


But how do I teach maths now? What do I get my students to do instead of worksheets? If we don’t glue a worksheet in their book, or upload it onto a digital portfolio, how will parents know they’ve learned anything and how will we as teachers, assess them?

It’s simple:

  • teach them how to use the technology using simple instructions.
  • focus on creation apps, rather than consumption apps – make the students think!
  • give them time to explore (not ‘play’, explore) what the app can do.

To get you started, I’ve created 4 different task cards which can be used for whole class or small group work in maths. They are based around students creating and applying their knowledge, with a focus on sharing their work with their class and teacher, through taking screenshots, sharing on the big screen, or adding to a collaborative Google Slide. You can download them for free here.

Posted in iPads, Technology, Web 2.0

What could make QR codes even easier?

I absolutely LOVE using QR codes in the classroom. There are times when I don’t do a trial run myself and the website or video is blocked or unresponsive, but overall they have saved me so much time and effort.
I’ve downloaded some from other sites, but usually just make my own – I’ve found that is the easiest website to use: copy link you want, paste into the blank box, click generate and voila! Then it downloads and you either print it directly, or copy and paste into a document.

What if I told you that you could make that process even easier? At the recent #EdTechSA conference I went to, I learnt about a new extension for my Google Chrome browser – url shortener.
To find it, I simply typed the name of it into my browser, followed by ‘Chrome extension’ and it was as simple as that.

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 5.11.53 pm
Once it appears in your browser, you simply click on it when you want to shorten the URL of a website.

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 5.12.36 pm

But, by clicking on the lowest option ‘QR Code’ – it automatically generates a QR code for you! No copying and pasting website details, no opening up a second tab to create a QR, no saving the QR code somewhere in order to download it…it is seriously so quick!

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 5.12.42 pm

If you’re absolutely amazed (like I was)…share it with your friends! Save them all some time!

Posted in iPads, Learning, Technology

This weeks absolute gems!

This last week I attended 2 seminars at my local TAFE – one on Dyslexia and another about supporting readers through the use of phonics.
Both sessions were filled with scary data, thought-provoking questions, numerous definitions and last but not least, lists of apps and websites.
Yes, like always, there are a few different aspects to consider when given a list of resources to use with students:

A) Is it free?

B) If it costs, is there a free trial where I can access EVERYTHING?

C) Does it suit the technology I have available to me?

D) Is it actually going to benefit the student?

There are 2 (so far – I’ve barely had time to check any out!) that I rate quite highly.

  • Oxford Owl is a website that provides free eBooks for students, at various age levels and genres. Yes, they have provided audio (with expression!) and the books are actually interesting! I discovered this site through the Spelfabet website, under a list of decodable book resources.
  • ReadTheory is a website that I also heard about at the seminar (from the girl sitting next to me, rather than the presenter!) – free, online, engaging comprehension texts, with questions to match, based on the Lexile Reading Scale. It does refer to Common Core, but Aussie teachers can still benefit! The girl next to me said her students in Year 4 were loving it, as it strikes up a bit of friendly in-class competition while still being matched to each child’s ability. I did a little bit of extra reading about ReadTheory here.

Double bonus, both of these resources are iPad-compatible! Yay! I’ve linked QR codes to both of these sites, printed them (along with student log-in details for ReadTheory) and popped them up in the classroom I worked in today.

Can’t wait to hear the feedback from the students!



Posted in iPads, Learning, Technology, Web 2.0

EdTechSA presentation

For all those who were at the @EdTechSA conference in Adelaide and were in my workshop, you’ll know we had some technical difficulties – ha, yes – at a technology conference.

EdTechSA 1

As we all know, flexibility is the key, so after 15 minutes of me talking with a blank screen, various cord changes, menu options, adapter swaps…we had lift off!

If you’d like the links to the resources I talked about in the presentation (ipad resources, apps and websites, please feel free to download the PDF version. You’ll notice that I’ve removed the videos and photos which had identifiable students in them – sorry, I don’t have permission to share them further than the conference.

P.S. The lovely @JessOttewell actually filmed 11 minutes of my presentation – so if you want to experience some of it…you guessed it, jump on to Twitter, search for (and follow) Jess and you can see for yourself!

Posted in Technology, Web 2.0

Technology Tuesdays – QR Codes

Today’s Technology Tuesday’s topic is ‘QR Codes’.

The resource I developed for this session for staff assumes that staff already have i-Nigma (or another QR code scanning app) downloaded onto their iPad and that they know how to scan a QR code.

Staff will follow a step by step guide to create a QR code that links to a Storybird story. This is an activity that I use with my students when we have used Storybird to write narratives.  There is also the option for participants to scan a variety of other QR codes in order to see how QR codes are used in other classrooms and where to find free, ready made QR codes.

I also created a Thinglink for participants to use to gain even more information about QR codes. (Thinglink is an upcoming Technology Tuesday session, so stay tuned for more information!)

Click here to view the Thinglink.

Click here for the QR Code Step by Step Guide.


Posted in iPads, Learning, Technology

Technology Tuesdays

During Term One I attempted to run “Technology Tuesdays” at school to help assist staff to integrate technology, in particular iPads into their planning, teaching and learning. Other schools have “Techie Brekkies” which I feel is a great idea, except the part that means I would have to get up early. After school works better for me!

I had grand plans and ideas. But as the term wore on, there was very little interest in the after school sessions. 

Following a staff survey about iPad use at school, I decided to give Technology Tuesdays another go for Term Three – with a few adaptations.

A term schedule – These sessions will only be held on Tuesdays that we do not have a full staff meeting. Our meeting nights are Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but there isn’t a meeting scheduled for every staff member each Tuesday. I’m also going to add the schedule to the school calendar and invite staff to attend. To see what my plan is (so far) for Term 3, have a look here: Technology Tuesdays

Options – I’ll be uploading the content for each session here, onto this blog. That way, if staff can’t make it – there’s always the option to catch up later! Which leads me to the third adaptation…take-aways.

Take-Aways – Although I’m trying to reduce my paper usage, I’ve learnt that staff love to have a piece of paper with instructions on it to take home and look at later. Yes, I know they can take a photo of it, or just take notes on their iPad, but it can also work this way too! Because I’m aiming to create independent staff members my handouts will be more like step-by-step guide so staff will hopefully be able to teach themselves. The handouts will be uploaded here in the blog post here each week.


The first Technology Tuesday’s topic is ‘Twitter‘. I’ve designed a 3-Level Challenge for staff, ranging from beginner, to novice, to expert. These Challenges were based around @mrrobbo‘s 14 Day Twitter Challenge, but adapted to suit my school and the staff who work there.

Feel free to use or adapt! Perfect for anybody new to Twitter as a PLN (Professional Learning Network).

Twitter 101: Twitter Level 1

Twitter Know-How: Twitter Level 2

Twitter Extra: Twitter Level 3

BONUS – Twitter + AITSL


I’d love to hear about your success stories about staff PD for ICT use at your school!
Posted in iPads, Technology

Being challenged is a good thing!

At the end of Term 3 last year, all of our staff got their own iPads. When I type ‘got’, I mean that they were required to purchase an iPad, most through a salary sacrifice option. Some, like myself, already had their own. There was some whinging and complaining, but it fell on deaf ears. Our school was progressing, and this was a required step in the process.

One of my roles and challenges was up-skilling the staff to befriend this brand new device that they now owned. There was a wide variety in the interest, current skills and dedication to learning about their iPad. Some staff took their two weeks’ holiday as a learning opportunity and familiarised themselves with the iPad and it’s capabilities. Others left it in the box and hoped that they would be given PD in Term 4. It was the plan, however some self-directed learning was also required!

We presented our staff with their own iPad Handbook (which I don’t actually have a soft copy of – sorry!) and I provided them with a crash-course in iBooks and iTunes with a take home list of QR code links to various iBooks which I thought they may find helpful. I provided them with the resources and basic skills – whether they used it or not was up to them.

It was only a few weeks later that I realised that there were staff asking me really simple questions, like “How do I type using capitals?” and “Can I email a photo to someone?”. I used the Bingo Baker website to create 2 different iPad Bingo Challenge Cards – Level 1, and Level 2. I used the web address of each Challenge Card to create a QR to place on our IT wall in the staffroom and asked staff to scan (and take a screenshot of) both of them during a full staff meeting. 

Level 1 was for staff who needed the basic skills – the capital letters, screenshots, searching the iPad, forcing apps to quit, etc.

Level 2 was for staff who had basic knowledge of their iPad and needed some motivation to create resources for their classes, edit files in their Dropbox, or utilise Guided Access.

Feel free to download the links above and use them at your own school!

There was no extra PD provided about any of the challenges – no extra ‘how to’ or ‘what does that mean?’ – I told the staff to do what I would do – ‘Google it’.

I felt it was important to let staff work through these at their own pace – there was no deadline to meet all of the challenges…until this term! They’ve had at least 6 months to familiarise themselves with these tasks and when we hold our next IT Professional Learning PD afternoon, there will be prizes for those who can prove their skills!

Posted in Uncategorized

App of the Week#8: i-nigma

What is it?

i-nigma is a free QR (Quick Response) scanner app.

Why should I download it?

i-nigma can scan QR codes, create an automatic history of your scanned codes and has the ability to save scanned codes as favourites.

What do I use it for?

Use i-nigma in the classroom in conjunction with the QRstuff website to create interactive activities and stations for your students. Turning a website into a QR code avoids students typing the web address incorrectly and points straight to the required website. 

For ideas of how to use it in the classroom, see my previous post: Making QR codes unique.

Another great post to look at is QR Codes in the classroom, by @misskyritsis.

How do I get it?

Click here to be directed to i-nigma in the App Store.

This post is the eighth (and final) in a series, highlighting apps which can be helpful in the education ‘game’.

Posted in iPads, Technology

Summarising doesn’t need to be boring!

Each week, both of the Year 4 classes sit down together and watch Behind The News (BTN).

Sometimes we reflect using the discussion questions and on other occasions I create Miss T’s BTN quiz where students work in teams. I integrate BTN into the ‘Listening and Speaking Interactions’ part of the Literacy curriculum. As my class use the Daily 5 and Literacy CAFE program I am always looking for ways to consolidate the new strategies we focus on.  This week’s strategy was ‘Summarise Text’ I thought that BTN would be the perfect platform to practice this skill.

I prepared 5 QR codes – one for each of the news reports in this week’s episode’ and placed them around the room. After watching BTN I asked the students to use an iPad to scan the QR code using i-nigma and re-watch the news report to refresh their memory. I asked them to summarise the report in 2 sentences; to tell the reader what each report was about, in a shorter version.

I have never seen my class so engaged. As my 24 students got to work, there was constant noise as our iPads don’t have headphones. Each student found a space to work at, some in groups on the floor, some by themselves and it was amazing to see their heads down, watching, listening, analysing and writing. There was barely any talking from my students; the noises coming from their classmates’ iPads were tuned out and I felt that every single student was ‘engaged’, or as I like to call it, ‘in the zone’. Some students were able to summarise all five BTN sections, while others focused on one or two.


What did this teach me? My students like independence. They like clear instructions. A combination of technology and traditional methods can work. Teaching literacy strategies towards the end of the school day can work. No matter how tired my students were, they all managed to produce work.  And last but not least, it taught me that we are not the best at summarising…just yet.

Posted in displays, iPads

From paper, to iPad

I’ll be the first to admit that I love using paper in my classroom. Not necessarily worksheets, but the tactile opportunities that paper provides. Sticky-notes are just one of my favourites, and cutting out shapes for posters or wall displays is so much fun!

This year is my second year with an iPad, having bought my first iPad last January. I now own two, but that’s another story. One of the many advantages of an iPad is that it can reduce paperflow in the classroom. I’m not necessarily keen on having my planner on my iPad, as I like to scribble all over my planner and see what changes I had to make from week to week, but I’m aiming to reduce my paper usage this year. Here’s one way I plan on doing this:

In 2013, I found this fabulous idea from Mrs Robinson’s Classroom Blog that I used for my Year 4 students.


It was amazing to see their goals and expectations for their entire year. I kept the posters up all year (once I glued the sticky-notes down when they lost their ‘stick’) and we reviewed them on the very last day of school, to see if we thought we’d achieved what we set out to do. It was very inspiring to hear their feedback.

This year I’ve turned the posters into a Socrative quiz for students to complete within the first week of school. If you have the Socrative Teacher app, you can import my quiz with the code SOC-3003573. When the student results are emailed to me as a grid or table, I’m thinking about turning them into a Tagxedo word cloud to display as a QR code in my classroom. I can fit 6 QR codes on one A4 piece of paper, which is a lot less paper than 6 big poster sheets, plus numerous sticky-notes on each one!

I love the simplicity of the iPad for it’s ability to take a screenshot of student work. The screenshot is so easily shared via Airdrop, Dropbox or email, making it so much easier to see what students achieved in each lesson. Easier to share their work on the class blog too – simple upload of the screenshot!

I would like to make every piece of paper that is displayed in my classroom have some sort of digital link or use, but I think that may be stretching the limits a little! However, my brain has drifted towards the possibilities of using our world map poster to create some sort of augmented reality feature with populations and locations…

Has anybody got some nifty ideas for shifting from paper to iPad?