Using Maps and Vidra To Learn About Contrasting Localities

Last half-term, I discovered an exciting aspect of the Maps app that comes with all iPads (‘exciting’ may be stretching it for some but I am, at heart, a Geographer). For many major cities around the world, you can do a flyover tour of the major landmarks of that city. The app helpfully labels them on the screen for you as well.


Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 19.09.49

On of our Year 6 teachers has recently returned from visiting a partner school in Australia. Therefore, she has decided to work on comparing the localities of Australia  and Antarctica as part of the geography work her class will be doing this year. When I found this out, I saw it as a great opportunity to use the flyover tour of Sydney so that the children could become familiar with its major landmarks and locate it in the world. Recently, I also found out about an app called Vidra from the excellent Mark Anderson I figured I could combine the two apps.

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 19.10.57

The children located Sydney on the world map, started the flyover tour and took screenshots of the famous landmarks. Then they did some research to find out a little more about each landmark with the brief of creating a short presentation about the city of Sydney for someone who had never been there.

Once this was done, the children imported their images into the Vidra app which is essentially an app for creating explanation videos. You can add text, voice recordings, symbols, a soundtrack. The children did all this to produce some excellent presentations. I will be posting examples soon on the school website

This lesson was a good way of covering the “select, use and combine a variety of software (including internet services)” aspect of the computing curriculum.


Teaching E-Safety Using Vidra App

In my opinion, E-Safety is the most important aspect of the computing curriculum. Educating children about how to operate online safely is important as they spend so much time online out of our control. Also, the internet is a wonderful resource which when used safely can be very useful for children.

Last half term, I decided to do some work with the children about effective searching online. We began the session with a ‘Call My Bluff’ type quiz based around computing terms such as algorithm. I first asked the children to think about which of three definitions of the term was correct on their own. I then asked them to discuss it with a partner. Finally, I let them ask me for the answer if they were still not sure. This was to emphasise the point that when searching online, it is important to check more than one source.

After that, we discussed other ways that you could check the validity of information found on the internet such as comparing it to information in a book or asking an adult that you trust.

Screenshot 2015-02-19 22.03.56 Screenshot 2015-02-19 22.04.36

Next, I demonstrated the Vidra app to the children which is very easy to use. This lead to them creating explanation videos about how to search effectively online. Some of the children extended their videos to include other e-safety advice.

You can see some of the finished videos here:

Using Minecraft To Learn About The Pyramids

I was first introduced to the idea of using Minecraft in the classroom by Lee Parkinson. There are some fantastic ideas on his blog for using Minecraft in the classroom.

The Year 5 teachers at my school asked me to teach the children about the Ancient Egyptian Pyramids during my time with them. I scratched my head to think of how I could do this in different way. I wanted to avoid the standard – research then make a powerpoint- type lesson. I found a couple of websites that offered virtual tours of the inside and outside of the Great Pyramids. In fact, you can walk around the pyramid site using Google Streetview. Having looked at these websites with the children and discussed the answers to some key questions, the children were armed with some knowledge about how the pyramids were built and what was contained inside them.

We then moved into Minecraft where the children designed and built their own pyramids following a similar process to that of the Ancient Egyptians. Next, they considered what should go inside and added burial chambers etc. The children were totally immersed in their task and worked well in pairs to iron out any difficulties in the construction process. The results were stunning.

Photo 16-09-2014 10 38 06Photo 16-09-2014 10 43 53Photo 16-09-2014 10 49 45

We didn’t leave it there. The children took screenshots of the exterior of their pyramids and imported these into the Thinglink app. Finally, added labels which consisted of information they had learnt about the pyramids and further images of their own pyramids.

Photo 23-09-2014 10 40 59

I have used a similar approach to learn about Stone Henge with Year 3 and Anne Frank’s house with Year 6.

Combining Tellagami and iMovie to Learn About Flooding in Geography

This term, our Year 5 classes are learning about rivers. An aspect of this topic involved them learning about why rivers flood and the consequences of this. I decided to use the Boscastle flood of 2004 as a stimulus for teaching the children about flooding.

To begin with, we watched some short Youtube clips that talked about the causes of the flood and showed the problems the flood created. The children made notes on whiteboards of key information framed by some questions I provided for them.

Armed with this information, they opened the Tellagami app. I was first introduced to this excellent app by Lee Parkinson (@IctMrP). With the app, you can create characters that you can add voice recordings to as well as selecting a background they are ‘talking’ in front of. The children saved ‘flood’ images  from Google Images searches. They then imported these as backgrounds into Tellagami. Next, they recorded the characters talking about the causes and consequences of the Boscastle floods.

Screenshot 2015-02-17 19.03.10

As we only have the free version of Tellagami, it is only possible to record up to 30 seconds of voice. Therefore, the children recorded a series of Tellagamis , saved them to Camera Roll and imported them into iMovie. The final step was to edit the iMovie by adding titles, soundtracks etc.

Screenshot 2015-02-17 19.07.47

See some of the finished results here :