Monthly Archives: June 2014

iPads for Assessment

Standard

As I am trying to cut back on my paper trail, I am always looking for ways to use my iPad.

Assessment is no different. I am using a range of apps to try and streamline my assessment records. Here are a few of my must-haves:

Calc (previously RR Calc)

Recording your student read aloud allows you to calculate their accuracy, words per minute and text level. The only way of keeping these records is via email. I email them to myself and then open them in Evernote.

IMG_1527

I have created a notebook stack with a notebook for each student in Evernote, so once the reading recording has been opened in Evernote, I just move it to the student’s individual notebook. (Please note, creating a notebook stack can only be achieved when using Evernote on a computer, not an iPad! I have a notebook stack called ‘Students 2014’, with 26 notebooks within that stack). Having that audio file of the student reading is perfect evidence for parent teacher interviews!

IMG_1530

Evernote

Evernote is my next must-have, for the reasons above, plus much more! The ability to tag your notes with a category makes it easy to see all of the notes that you have written about ‘Meetings 2014’, or finding the web address that you typed down to access the school interview site!

Numbers

The iPad version of Microsoft Excel, this app offers all of the same spreadsheet functions. I never knew how valuable a spreadsheet was until last year. I store ALL of my assessment results in Excel – scores, dates, stanine, percentages etc, while all of my anecdotal notes are for Evernote. I have a page for each different type of assessment/record keeping – South Australian Spelling Test, PAT testing, Weekly Spelling Test scores, On Demand Testing, Assembly Awards, Reading Levels and Reciprocal Reading Groups…you name it, I’ve recorded it!

TeacherKit

Many of my colleagues use this in the secondary department as they have various subjects and classes. This app allows you to take the roll, assess student work, track student behaviour, create seating plans and add notes to lesson plans. Read more about this app here.

Technology & ASD

Standard

Referring to teaching students with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), I was inspired to write this post by a question asked during #pstchat tonight on Twitter.

Q7. Does technology provide tools that help students with ASD? #PSTchat
17/06/2014 8:28 pm

Yes, it does. But it’s not the be all and end all.

One of my students ‘hates’ writing. I suggested that he could use the iPad to record his thoughts, plan, draft etc. No, he didn’t want to because “Nobody else is.”

Some children with ASD like to be the centre of attention, or don’t realise that they are being treated any differently. Others are very switched on and are agitated by the fact that they are ‘different’. When using technology with ASD students, there needs to be a clear purpose. 

I have used iPads as a reward for a student who could do 20 minutes of solid work. It had a clear purpose – to motivate the student to achieve as well as give his brain a break and clear his head in the 10 minutes of iPad time.  Clearing his head was a positive strategy in order for him to consume the next set of instructions.

For non-verbal ASD students, the app “Tap To Talk” can be helpful for constructing a line of communication. Other communication tools like voice recorders can provide relief for those hard-to-handle moments when things are hard to understand!

I have used apps like ‘Strip Design‘ and ‘Comics Head‘ for ASD students to help construct social stories, using speech marks and photos of themselves. The power of having a photo of themselves is fantastic and gives a lot more meaning to the activity.

In instances where ASD students may ‘need’ to do some writing, or produce literacy content, apps like Educreations, Explain Everything or 30 Hands can offer them the opportunity to record their voice, annotate photos and complete the task successfully.

Even a the simple timer or stopwatch in the ‘Clock’ app on your iPad can prove to be a useful device for students with ASD. It shows elapsed time for a set timeframe, so it is visual for them to see, but can also emit a sound to signal the end of the activity.

Sitting an ASD student in the corner with an iPad while you teach everybody else an entirely different concept is rarely productive and isn’t a feature of an inclusive classroom. ASD students need to be interacted with, listened to and appreciated within a classroom. Celebrate their successes!

Many of these suggestions are suitable for all students, not just those with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Recent ‘gems’ from the App Store

Standard

I thought I’d share with you a few of my most recent valuable iPad downloads from the App Store. Some of them I found through apps like AppOfTheDay and AppsGoneFree, whereas others were in the featured section of iTunes.

ABC Spy HD – free

A fantastic introduction to the alphabet for students which integrates with the world around them. Students are to scroll through the alphabet and take a photo of something beginning with each letter. They can choose a frame for their photo, add the word using text if they like and email and print the book when they are finished. Taking photos of classmates who have names starting with letters is a good way to start the letter-sound relationship and the fact that it can be made into a concrete material is fabulous!

Curious Ruler – free for a limited time

This app would be a fantastic resource for the maths classroom, especially when measuring using formal and informal units. By taking a photo of an object in the classroom, students can choose an informal unit to measure it with – compare the object’s length to the Australian $1 coin, a soccer ball, or a DVD. Changing the units means that you can view the results in centimetres or inches and encourage students to check that it’s correct using hands-on materials!

Dreamtime – free

This iBook-style app features a variety of Dreamtime stories written, illustrated and animated by students at Healesville High School. It offers an audio feature, so the story can be read aloud, or students can read it themselves. By touching individual words, they are read aloud for a full, authentic reading experience. For anybody who is teaching Indigenous culture and would like to focus on the history of story-telling, this app is a great find! 

K12 Timed Reading Practice Lite – free (Full version – $2.49)

If fluency and comprehension are a focus in your class, this app offers an easy assessment method. By entering a student’s name, you are able to ask students to read a passage as the app times how long it takes and calculates a words per minute score. At the end of each passage there are 3 comprehension questions for the reader to answer, highlighting correct and incorrect answers. While this version is free, it offers a range of passages to choose from without limiting you too much.

K12 Equivalence Tiles – free

Another app by K12 Inc., this app allows you to manipulate values in fraction, decimal and percentage format, to show the comparison between them and highlight the equivalence. With each different value colour-coded, it makes it easy to see the similarities and differences between the 3 types of figures. While there isn’t any option to export the chart, taking a screenshot of it and importing it into another app like Explain Everything or Educreations would allow students to explain and rationalise their mathematical thinking.

 

Although this is just a snapshot of what I’ve recently downloaded, I hope they’ve been helpful!