Part 2: Learning with Year 2 about the Vikings, non-chronological reports and app making

The last literacy-focused app publishing lesson with Year 2 happened last week. Both during and after the lesson we learned a lot about how the writing process was affected, even in more reluctant writers, by the addition of app publishing.

Though the focus was so clearly writing improvement, when the children were asked, the prospect of Mummy or Daddy having the app on their phones was also featuring large in their minds.

You can get the Viking App Template from Blippit Academy and get The Year 2 Project app from Planet Blippit.

Listen now to part 2 with Assistant Head & Literacy Leader Mrs Emma Smallshaw, from Salesbury Primary in Lancashire, in action with her Year 2 class and reflecting afterwards with John Bidder from Blippit about the process as a whole and next steps.

You can also read and listen to Part 1 of this project and if you prefer YouTube you can catch the project playlist here.

Part 1: Learning with Year 2 about the Vikings, non-chronological reports and app making

We’ve been focusing on how the process of improving non-chronological report writing could combine with publishing a mobile app using Blippit’s App Maker.

One of the most striking factors was the effect of telling the children that their app would be seen by the world; this would include mum & dad on their mobile phones too.  We’ve always believed in the positive effect of having an authentic audience and what was clear was that these children, at such a young age, were highly motivated at the thought.

What you’ll get a sense of in the video is the absolute focus on literacy and writing improvement.  What was less easy to capture was the willingness of the children to ‘fix’ their writing to make it better.  This is the ‘norm’ for these children it seems and dealing with being told that there’s ‘a problem with’ some part of their writing was not a problem for them.  You can get the Viking App Template from Blippit Academy.

Listen to Assistant Head & Literacy Leader Mrs Emma Smallshaw, from Salesbury Primary in Lancashire, in action with her class and reflecting afterwards about the process so far.

You can also read and listen to Part 2 of this project and if you prefer YouTube you can catch the project playlist here.

Byte at the Museum

Yesterday I took Blippit to the National Museum of Computing – immediate neighbour of Bletchley Park.  To be invited as part of their Bytes Festival and work directly with their visiting families surrounded by such history was not half-bad.

Out of school you get such an insight into how parents relate to their children and learning as a whole.  They share insights with you quite openly and comment on your limitless patience with their child who frankly drives them nuts most of the time.

There’s noone marking, setting targets or observing when it’s just you and a family which makes for some very natural and easy steps forwards.  One young man (Year 3) made an app and learned what HTML 5 markup language was as he worked with me on the side and his mum making encouraging comments as he progressed. To say he was ‘off his seat’ with excitement when he saw his app on mum’s phone (she downloaded a QR code reader to get it) is an understatement.

Another young man’s Dad regaled me with stories of his son’s disengagement at school contrasting with his persistence, resilience and immersion in his favoured world of technology.  It’s not an unusual story and we all know children like this but seeing how he learned was interesting.  Essentially it was broadly like this

  • “listen to the expert”
  • “grab the basics”
  • “build and try out”
  • “go over bits as needed with expert again”
  • “build towards a result”
  • “publish”
  • “improve on published app”
  • “re-publish”

I’ve been lucky (no doubt about that) to teach in many different schools and environments over the years sometimes as a ‘regular’ teacher, sometimes as an ‘advisory’ teacher and more recently as the ‘Blippit Man’.

blippitio manThe ‘Blippit Man’ tag does generate extra attention and effort from children no doubt at all so my reflections are mindful of how children respond to people they view as ‘experts’ from the ‘real’ world.

This bit of shine from an external expert isn’t sustainable and so it makes what teachers and children achieve together, day in day out, all the more remarkable.

The National Museum of Computing is an awe inspiring place for anyone with the slightest interest in technology and they’re pretty rammed with school visits and tours but if you’ve not been yet, do yourself a favour and go!

Colossus
Colossus

Yr 7 Planning Resource & Primary Examples

open-folder-with-fileHave you taken a look at blippit.academy yet? Try our self-paced teacher CPD course for app making.

Holgate Academy’s Year 7 Scheme for Blippit’s App Maker was in today’s collection of Google results!  It’s a very thoroughly prepared few weeks of work that’d we recommend you take a look at if you’re looking for ideas certainly.

  • Here’s the Year 7 Scheme of work on App making with Blippit

maths appsWe also like to read blogs where an educator as taken time to reflect or share on their work.  Here’s one that came from Woodmansterne in Lambeth where you’ll get a great overview of the apps they’ve been making with the original Blippit App Maker not Blippit IO

viking appsWe’re waiting to see what Valence Primary school has been up to in more detail but try to

  • visit Valence Primary School talking about viking apps made with Blippit

Lastly we’ve updated our Year 6 planning units too so do take up our invitation to download, adapt & adopt as you see fit. They have links to videos and real examples now included that weren’t in before

If you’re involved in a project using any of our tools just email support@blippit.co.uk and we’ll feature you on the blog.

Welcome from Blippit Australia

If you’ve just landed on the blog via Blippit Australia we’d like to say “Hi!” and  say “thanks” for looking at what Blippit is all about.

We’re on the Gold Coast and if you’d like to get in touch or learn much more our website is at blippit.com.au   We’re looking forward to seeing how you get on but don’t be stuck, do email us at support@blippit.com.au for help.

 

Primary & Secondary App Maker Plans by Schools (Updated: 09/16)

Blippit Plans
Blippit App Maker Plans
St Catherine’s CE Primary

These app maker plans were written by Mr Rigby in Year 6

Holgate Academy

Year 7 with a seven week app making unit plus assessments

Year 7 6 week planning Unit
The Fernwood School – Year 9

These app making plans were originally written and shared by Alex Young.

We invite you to comment below or ping @justblippit on Twitter with a link to more resources.  Thanks!

Guest Post: Porchester Junior School

Guest Post from Simon Widdowson. Follow @Xannov
See all of Porchester’s Apps on Planet Blippit including from this year…

  • British Trees – A branching tree database app to identify trees by leaf type
  • Helpful Maths – A student-voice app containing student made videos to teach maths

At Porchester Junior we tried out Blippit in late 2012, and used it initially to create a new version of the school app (we had created an iOS version, and an Android version previously), but the Blippit approach had clear benefits;

  • Creation – designing the app is, quite literally, child’s play. Simple Drag & Drop elements make adding pages a breeze.
  • Editing – in our previous iOS / Android apps a change to one part of the app required a rebuild and (for iOS) a resubmission before those changes could go out to parents. With Blippit, we can change as frequently as we want, and those changes are instant, the moment we hit the ‘publish’ button the updated app is available for all to see.
  • Ownership – the school owns the app, the school can edit the app, the school can take the app offline if needed. We are not at the mercy of any design company or app store.
  • Universal appeal – Creating a single app with Blippit works on a range of mobile and tablet devices. It means with the least effort we can reach the maximum number of users.

Webpage for our new school app can be found here; School App information on School Website

QR Code for the Porchester app
QR Code for the Porchester app

Our ICT / Digital Learning coordinator has been testing Blippit to destruction, and seeing just what can be achieved with it. We’ve looked at including video (from Vimeo), audio (from AudioBoo), as well as embedding HTML5 image slideshows, and have now incorporated these aspects into our school app.

We’re also looking at how to link app to app – making a seamless transition between the two. This will be used on a large scale project with our upper school children – where we are looking at linking all of their created apps into a single ‘master app’. More on this after the Easter break…


Project One: Monarchs and their Royal Houses

One of our Upper School classes of Yr5/6 pupils are currently learning about databases in their ICT lessons, and are building a database of the Kings and Queens of Britain since 1066. Once they have completed this, if we have time, they will be asked to create their own app for the King(s) or Queen(s) they entered into the database. We will try and link them all together.

This project is now live. You can download the app to your phone/device here;

 PJS Monarchs
Link to our Monarchs app

To enable this project to be completed quickly, I made a few changes to the idea of how it would work;helpsheet

  1. I prepared several of the linking apps beforehand (the “front page”, as well as all the ‘Royal Houses” apps)
  2. I tried out a single Monarch app, and once I was happy with the look and feel of it, I created a 2 sided pamphlet for the children to work through with a simple guide to completing their app
  3. For some of the sections within their app they would be presenting the same information (the link to ‘credits’ for example), and so for this I provided them with an RTF file on the school network with the code in. They simply needed to copy and paste it into the right area of their app.
  4. Along with RTF of the code, I also placed all the images that would be needed in a specific folder. This meant that the pupils knew where to go to find the image for their app, and avoided the timeless void of searching the internet for an image they thought would look good!

Screenshot

By specifying a theme to use, the children’s apps blended seamlessly into the apps prepared beforehand, and when you use the finished app you actually do not realise that you are jumping between 52 separate apps. A useful tip for anyone wanting to create a large project with many members, all working at separate times, or in different locations.

The children worked really well on their task, and although I had a group of only 9 children working with me, they completed all 41 apps within a single morning at the school. They did feedback that the guide pamphlet was really helpful – especially the screengrabs within it. It allowed them to follow a set, logical pattern and once completed once, they got the hang of it and were soon racing through subsequent apps with ease. Several of the children commented how easy it was to complete an app as a result.

The only issues we encountered were with one child who struggled to switch between rich text and HTML view in some of the widgets when entering code, and a few times where our network timed out the connection to the Blippit server. Fortunately when this did happen, the child was able to recover most of the work they had done as it saved work automatically.


Project Two: CYO adventures

Following on from the idea of linking separate apps together, I’m working with a small group of children on the old fashioned ‘Choose your Own’ stories. Remember those books you read that had a choice at the end of each page… “you come to a fork in the road, turn to page XX if you choose the left path, or page XX if you choose the right path…”

We’re looking at children creating apps for each “page” of the story, submitting it, publishing it, and then using its unique reference code to revise their apps and link the choices you can make at the end to the next app.

For example…

  • App 001 Walk along a path, choose to go left (App 002) or go right (App 003)
  • App 002 Turn left and come to a bridge. Cross it (App 004) or go past it (App 005)
  • App 003 Turn right and come face to face with a wolf. Run away (App 006) or stand still (App 007)

The only problem we can see is that all the ‘pages’ (the apps) would be viewable in Planet Blippit, and so we’ve made a request to be able to “hide” apps from discovery by others.

More information as we start to piece this idea together…

Oh, and as before with the Monarchs project above, I’ll prepare a piece of text to place in the footer of each app that the children can just copy and paste, and suggest the same theme is used throughout to give the impression of a single app being viewed. In addition, we’ll have a default icon image that the children will be able to load into their app too.

Here’s a test idea for how it could work. You’ll notice that the front page has the potential to act as a library for many different CYOA tales that are created.

 CYOA_QR
CYOA QR Code

I’ve approved each app – and in doing so that has issued each one with a URL. The end of each URL has a unique ID, and they were noted and recorded for each chapter, allowing the student to return to each app and add the ‘Click here’ link that allows the story to work.

I selected three “guinea pigs” to work on their own CYOA tales to test out this idea. One of them went on holiday, and has been off school for the past fortnight. One of them keeps forgetting his planning sheet and hasn’t finished all his chapters! But my third guinea pig has been a star, and worked really hard on his story. He’s completed his plan, and end of chapter options, created an app for each one, added a credits page and a thumbnail image that points out that each app is part of something bigger, and published them all.

After a little bit of checking, correcting wrong ID’s, and looking for grammatical errors (capital letters always look good at the start of sentences!) each app was re-published and re-approved.

The final step was to create a link from the CYOA app index page so that all could read it. Why not give it a go – use the QR code above and then read ‘The Planet of Choice’. It’s a voyage into the weird and wonderful imagination of one of our pupils!

…and a final idea.

Why keep to creating a CYOA tale with text on each app when you can imagine a different approach?

  • Using an app like Hokusai for the iPad a range of sounds could be recorded and mixed together to create a realistic ambient background for each chapter. The audio itself could be placed on top of the background sound, and then the whole file uploaded to a service like AudioBoo where each ‘chapter’ could then be embedded into an app quickly and easily.
  • Using iMovie on an iPad, pupils could quickly and easily record short video clips (in different locations maybe) that could be uploaded to a site like Vimeo and then embedded into an app to create a visual CYOA story.

These are just a few ways that we have been trying out Blippit within the school, and there are plans in place to ensure that it is used in the new school year to enhance work carried out across a range of subjects. We hope that sharing our experiments has been useful to others.

The Apprentice Meets Blippit

apprentice

On Monday 3rd March Blippit was a central tool supporting Task 4 for Apprentice hopefuls from years 5 & 6 at Abbey Community Primary School in Leicester.

(YouTube version is here if the one below is too slow)

[wpvideo xVthQzP8]

In half a day the teams were well underway with creating apps to support families with learning at home. Huge ideas as you’d expect.

Interestingly, the teams were very adept I thought at moving across platforms in creating their apps.  For example:

  1. They used the Makewav.es app to record video, sound and other things
  2. Then then brought the content straight in to Blippit via our Blippit Makewav.es Widget
  3. Next was a little impromptu HTML coding via the fabulous www.w3schools.com – no sweat.

Currently the apps they made, still evolving, are on the school’s website and the teams are seeking the votes of their peers – the equivalent of Nick & Anne!  Good luck to whoever makes it through to the next round!

note:
there’s a missing question mark in the video – it’ll get fixed.

Wigan Schools' App Competition

Always a real treat to hear about how young people get inspired to come up with their app ideas and sometimes a competition is as good a motivator as any – oh and some press coverage of course for those great headlines and much deserved school promotion.

Here’s one such example that came to pass via Lesley Simm @SmithillsICT in Wigan around summer time this year that caught our eye.

Smash App!

appscomp