Australian Geographic’s Top 50 apps

National Geographic Atlas

Image: 7 Great iPad apps for Learning Geography

 

Australian Geographic’s Top 50 apps are a mix of paid and free apps and the links to the apps are on the website. They cover a variety of nature based, weather based and astronomy based apps but also those to do with high quality travel and photography. Certainly worth a look.

Cram app

cram appCram has been an instant success with my year 9s and my year 10s. It has also endeared itself to me because it is so easy to use. I put the Cram app on my iPad last night and could quickly and easily make up a set of flashcards which supported what I was teaching in class today. There is also an app for android so I can use it on my phone to create sets of useful cards. The two games are very effective because the students have to know the work before they can play the games. They cannot just play those games. It was interesting to see some of them try to play the games before they had studied the lists but it was all in a day’s work and good fun. The students go to the lists and memorise them easily and they love the games which really reinforce their knowledge. For me, it is a great site because I can access it from any device now and can put together a set of effective learning cards in 10 minutes. It really has been a helpful site. My lists are shared publicly so anyone can use them and I have yet to look for the lists I could use. Great way to share resources. I  put the link up on the LMS and then the students then access it on their iPads or their MacBooks. The site works just as effectively on both.

Winning!

stephen king book quoteYou know you’re winning when you catch students out for sneakily reading their ebooks in class. It was NAPLAN testing this week in Australia and by Thursday afternoon the Year 9s were all naplanned out. I had organised a simple, practical lesson for them where they could just do things that were easy but would add to where we needed to be by next week. As a bonus one of my students had offered up their phone to me before it got confiscated as usual because it was flat and of no use to them. I offered to charge it off my laptop as I had that on and the response was so worth it. Every week we go through locking the phone in my filing cabinet because it is a constant source of distraction. Responding in a kind way might see a difference. We’ll see. The lesson was underway and the year 9s settled into their work quite well. I wandered around to see what they were doing and one student was so engrossed in their ebook they didn’t even notice me next to them . So the ebook had to go away and then I noticed there was a print book on the desk. We had a little chat about books and then we moved on to doing the right thing in lesson. I wandered up the back…another secret ebook reader! No games, no nonsense just escaping into the wonderful world of fiction to soothe the naplan overload. That is the first time since we have had the one-to-one programme that I have caught students trying to sneakily eread. Love it. At the right time and in the right place ereading is the very thing. The devices are easily portable and quality dictionaries are available at the tap on a word. In celebration of reading I offer two free ebook sites:

Open Culture which has 700 free ebooks in print, audio and  in different languages.

The Literature Project

Add new !

mindset shiftLiz Watts (@fizwiz) put this up on Twitter last night and it’s a great graphic to stop you in your tracks and make you think about changing your mindset. When you carry a big workload, when you have done something for a while, you get into a routine and that can become a rut where you dig yourself deeper. The same old thinking gets the same old results. If you always do what you always did then you will always get what you always got. You know how that thinking goes. With classroom technology you have to be prepared to “add new”. You do it all the time with apps, software and sites. It’s the way technology works. It adds updates, a new interface, a new version, an upgrade, a new device. It is not going to be standing still so you have to develop a fluid mindset. It is what you also need to teach your students. They have to be encouraged to try something new, a different approach, a new platform. Offer choices. It is no longer one size fits all. Half way through my year 9 lesson yesterday we went into choose your own technology mode. Some went on the language learning site. Some used a variety of ways for recording their conversation. Some wanted to work on their Paris presentation. Two students had got themselves well ahead and so I offered them a chance to use the Elevator App to make their dialogue into an animated presentation like the one I had done at the beginning of term. It meant they had to learn to use the app. They were very excited when I said once they had done that they could import it into the fancy video app on my iPad and make something really cool. We negotiated that they would come and tell me when they had spare bits of time to do this because they were doing it as an extra. While I was helping other students and listening to dialogues I could see those two students were completely lost in their new learning. They were having to find a different way of doing things and it had invigorated them. It invigorated me too. I was learning if you know your software and hardware , you can personalise quite significant portions of learning for students without giving it over to making yourself redundant or superfluous to requirements. You are, in fact, critical to it all succeeding in a positive way.

Brushes 3 app

Even I could make a picture look better with Brushes 3. Better in the sense it was then a bit more artistic and original. If you have real drawing skills you could do a lot with Brushes 3 as the video shows you. There is also a gallery of images and then YouTube has more clips of what people have achieved with Brushes 3. I have noticed a lot of students love playing with the paint apps where you swirl and play with colour and shape. Brushes 3This would be the perfect app for them. I have also found that as someone who is not confident with art tools at all that I got going really quickly and achieved something I didn’t have to hide. The eternal question in teaching is whether you develop strengths or weaknesses and just what the balance is. I let students work to their strengths but I always encourage them to try something different and have a go. More often than not it becomes yet another strength they can utilise in life.Not all paint apps lend themselves to being instant successes but Brushes 3 creates a confidence which I know students will appreciate. Many really like to take their time in creating imaginative images to complement their work and this type of brushwork has become the new generation doodling.

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