I am a teacher.app

50 fab apps for teachers

Image: 50 fab apps for teachers

I have now made the transition to app. I am not just a teacher. Not just someone who gets up , goes to school , delivers the curriculum and assesses. I don’t just address content, well being and performance standards and criteria. I am an app as well. I set tasks, the parameters for tasks,select the tools,  challenges, to do lists, missions to accomplish, goals to attain. I offer hints and tips, cheats even. I set reminders, alerts, pop up information. I perform routine tasks as we develop the backdrop for the learning environment. I am a help desk. I offer ticks for accomplishments and create lists of learning gaps. I perform routine tasks to keep the stability of the environment but create learning missions. None of this overloads me or makes me work 24/7. I am available outside of school hours but not in any big or demanding way. Like an app, I am there to progress activity and learning and problem solving. In many respects we need to redefine what a teacher’s job is and what their availability is. Being available electronically is not an imposition nor an energy drainer. It creates a seamless connection with key participants. I’d love to see the performance standards turned into challenges and missions so they can be completed in some real way rather than just part of a student or teacher tick the box assessment sheet. Something which is developed and worked towards. I don’t mind being an app. It means the world has changed and I have changed with it.

Gamifying the classroom

HayDaySome see it as trendy twaddle. Some see it as beneath them. Others think is is vapid nonsense and then there are those who have embraced gamifying the classroom. Teachers embraced books, pens and paper, film, video, internet, Microsoft Office…time to really look at how gaming principles can enhance and improve learning. They are the new learning currency. TeachThought has one of the best articles I have seen explaining some of the principles behind implementing and succeeding with a gamification approach. 6 Factors of Classroom Gamification explores some of the concepts and then practical ways of using these gaming ideas to create the impact of good learning. I have to confess I used to think computer games were silly twaddle. I didn’t think they were serious learning. You don’t want to be so open minded your brains fall out nor do you want to be so closed minded you block knowledge and learning. I have to say MyPlayCity was a site which helped get me going. I was horrified with the choices and couldn’t find anything I liked and that was just reinforcing my prejudices about games. The site worked with me and nurtured me so I could find things I liked. As it turns out I like games where you build cities, farms etc, hidden object games, puzzle and word games. I have now been playing games for a few years and have found I can be successful at it. You have to play games to understand how they are teaching you to learn very effectively. They start you off small and simply, they let you lean, they lead you by the nose, they then teach you how not to be conned, ripped off and ,basically, stupid. They encourage and reward you. You then get to the stage where you can take control of the game and play it your way. Helsinki based Supercell is the current king of mobile gaming, with its 8.5 million players a day generating at least $2.4 million  just about every day. Two games – Clash of Clans and HayDay are responsible for this. The Forbes site has a good run down on the company and the article explains why the games are so successful . At the core of it is the Australian National Curriculum Personal and Social Capability and that in itself is a good reason to be looking at a gaming approach in class to help current students learn in a way which is so familiar to them. HayDay has been a really different game for me to play and I have learned a lot. I had to battle the first 14 levels so I didn’t run out of storage, get bullied into buying diamonds to bail me out or get swamped by too much to do. I am now up to level 33 and am in control of the game. I have learned the tips, tricks and intricacies. I can grow the game in my own way and it’s a game I can pick up and put down. The cognitive flow is there, the inpiration is there and the challenges are there. It is a complex game which requires thinking and flexibility. It is also a game where you get community support whether you belong to a network or not so there is a really good social aspect to the game. Games are a way of life now as were books, TV and film. We need to use them to our asvantage.


CreatubblesCreatubbles is a safe online site for students/children to share their creative and artistic skills. There is teacher support on the site too. That is all I can say. You need to take a look and see if it suits your purposes.

Layer the learning

edmettle I am starting to get the benefit of using Edmettle. It has taken a while because I could not start it at the beginning of the year with my year 9s for various reasons, not the least of which being they were very attached to Twiducate, the older version of Edmettle. This week we have gained some good value out of Edmettle. I have used it to practise little bits of French we have been working on. I have used it to get feedback about the assignments we have been doing. I have used it to endorse my students and they have used it to endorse each other. I have also used it to canvas ideas about what they would like to do for their Term 4 project so it is not just about me and what I want them to do. Their ideas were good and I have now packaged a recommendation to take back to them which they can then comment on. This is the class which refined and worked with me on creating the best group assessment protocol and rubrics ever. The advantage of a site like Edmettle is that every student has a voice. No one is left out of any discussion and everyone has a say. The heartening thing about when I asked them to endorse the 3 others in their group for the assessments we have been doing is the students were very succinct and direct about the other student’s strengths. They were also very mindful of constructive comment. All my students now are starting to get validation for their learning both from me and their peers. I could add another layer with the parents but am not sure that we are ready for that just yet. In my experience from blogging, parents are extremely helpful and positive online with learning activities and ideas. We now have what we have in class and then the students have a genuine connection with each other and an image of themselves as learners. I like what Edmettle is doing to layer the learning and my students seem to be very happy with it now.  It is a really good way to promote and support personalised learning.

Communicate learning in multiple modes

Year 8 iPad lesson Not every lesson falls into place like this one but more and more of them are because I have worked on this over 3 years. You can really use technology to build on student understanding and the iPads make it quick and easy to access files and information. When you are dealing with TeFL 4.4 you need to be able to communicate learning in multiple modes. I was looking at my board this morning and I didn’t think of TeFL, I thought – this looks so different from how I have taught before. As you personalise and connect learning for TeFL Domain 4 and you are using technology, it can look quite astounding. I had my timer out because I have to keep my year 8s focussed. They are millennials and with iPads they will drift off into play mode – “I think I’ll just do this for a minute.” They are unhurried students with no sense of urgency and a device will tune them out completely from what is going on around them unless you focus them. My timer does that. So does my voice. While I was connecting my MacBook to the whiteboard at the beginning of the lesson I had them chanting the verb Venir – to come. I was still connecting so we started conjugating Je viens de manger une pomme – I have just eaten an apple. Tu viens de manger une pomme – you have just eaten an apple. They were saying it quite well even though they were not totally sure of what they were saying. Great effort from year 8s with a term of French. I went to my slide presentation after I had called the roll. Bottom left of the picture you can see it. We were practising the verb now as we looked at it. Last week we had gone through it. Today we were going to master it. I got out the work sheet, right, we had used last week to produce pictures and sentences like other image featured aimer We practised everything on that sheet. They could say it all and they knew what it meant. So then we went back to the verb venir I taught them how to construct the sentences – Je viens de manger une pomme. I gave them 10 minutes to make 5 sentences using what we had learnt last week on the worksheet. If they finished early they could use the time on our vocabulary learning site and they love that. Two students headed straight for a translator. Why? They couldn’t make the connection what we were learning was what we were now practising. The translator came up with rubbish. It’s why I practise sentence construction like this. I know the translator will let them down. Once more I could tell them not to use a translator because it would only write nonsense for them. By teaching them in different ways myself and getting them to make good use of their iPads and previous work, I actually had a really good lesson. They will remember it. We’ll then make some more picture sentences because they love doing that. It is how they learn…listening, looking and doing.

Josefine Grimm-Blenk

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