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.

New App Maker Templates – make, share, remix, download & upload apps

faster, smoother starts
Say goodbye to a blank app project starting point!  New features to support faster, smoother and easier lesson starts, assessment and collaborative working are now live for all schools.
Here’s what you can now do
  1. Save a great project starter app as a project template and share it out directly within Blippit to target year groups/classes or individuals for any subject or colleague to use.
  2. Save time year on year with planning and preparation
    • save, store and re-cycle templates
    • make templates to support different abilities and share to targeted students with differing levels of scaffolding in place within the app template
  3. All users can now download an app at any stage of development.  This is useful for assessment purposes in that you can have different versions of the app saved to show how it has developed over time
  4. Download an app from Planet Blippit (see how in this video) and upload it to your own account for re-mixing before you share it out to targeted class groups
  5. Teams of students working collaboratively can plan and develop an app project together then download the basic app and share an exact copy to each member of the team to develop different versions based on that design.  This is done with the new app template upload/ download feature available to all users.

Here’s one video about how the teacher can now really easily share their own project in the app maker as a template for other children to work with and learn from.  More videos on this topic are in the Blippit Knowledge Base.

 

Planet Blippit

As you can see every app made by a student or teacher user now has an extra link so that others can download and remix the app if they want to using their own Blippit App Maker account.  No other tool can open a Blippit App to remix and develop it further.  All apps are teacher approved and all apps carry an audit trail in their About section to show the origins of the app project.

Planet Blippit Downloadable Apps

 

Fully Revised Yr 6 Unit for Summer 2016

Written to go hand in glove with Blippit’s App Maker over a half-term including video links and more for use in class.

Also included is a bonus mini-unit that we suggest you use as a ‘warm up’ lesson to heighten awareness of and increase ‘code curiosity’ in the children.

It’s all step-by-step with ready-to-go plans and videos built in so depending on your confidence level you can use it as is or do a bit of computing jazz and give it your own flavour.

Just click below to download the free PDF

Year 6 Plans

 

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.

Student & Teacher Made Revision Apps

A quick search of the new Planet Blippit for ‘revision’ brought up an interesting selection of apps made by students & teachers.  Here they are & hats off to the publishers!

Sneaky Mission on a Train

Yesterday I was on a train journey that seemed so dull it could have been in black and white.  And that’s when I had an idea.

blippit image editing

I took a sneaky quick snap in the reflection of the train window, being sure not to arouse attention with a loud shutter sound effect or auto flash that would give the game away.

I sent the photo up to the Cloud via 4G which then synced to my laptop. Once there I loaded up my beta version of the new app maker which is currently in closed testing with peeps from schools.

One of the new features in the BETA comes under the heading of ‘funky’.  It was never requested by any user ever but what the heck we built it anyway because we believe it’ll have a big impact for the better.

Essentially we’ve taken the app maker and turned the Image Widget bit of it into a full blown image editor capable of quite magical things. Well, in the right hands anyway; not necessarily mine as you can see.

We can’t wait to see what our users do with this 🙂 Choo choo!

 

New Units of Work for App Making at Year 6

App Maker Plans for Year 6

Coming out this month is a ready-to-go curriculum planning resource designed to save you time  dealing with the demands of the new Computing Curriculum particularly at Year 6.

What’s in them?

10 units of work mapped to the Computing and wider curriculum programmes of study plus. We fully expect and encourage people to tweak these units up and down to suit different year groups.

Each unit

  • assumes one lesson a week over a 6-7 week period
  • provides ‘must’ ‘could’ ‘should’ outcomes
  • gives a step-by-step walk through of exactly what to do
How do you get them?

We’re still working that bit out but all being well there’ll be a few different formats to suit however you like to digest this sort of resource.

Follow @justblippit for updates

 

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.