Monday, May 18, 2015

Academy App Additions

We've added a few new Apps to our Grades 1-5 iPads recently. Hopefully, the middle school teachers will see the value and introduce the ones they find appropriate to their students as well. Four of these apps were featured in our Professional Learning Maker's Fair Day back in April. They also follow up coding skills taught in the computer lab. We start them young here at GPA. Our first graders started learning how to code with Tynker's free online options in the Hour of Code. They moved on to the basics of Scratch programming. Each year students develop greater and great proficiency coding in Scratch which they later apply to programing Lego Robotics and EVO3's.  Now they can practice these skills on their iPads by programming Daisy the Dinosaur, Tynker, CargoBot, or HopScotch. 

Daisy the Dinosaur
This app is suitable for very young programmers. It guides students through various steps that tell Daisy what to do. It is utterly adorkable and a great first step in learning to code. 

If you want your students to receive step by step guidance learning to code, Tynker has a subscription service. We are not going that route here at GPA. Nonetheless, I installed the Tynker App on the iPads in Grades 3-5 because it includes a canvas to create with code blocks similar to Scratch. This will give students a great way to practice their coding kung fu when they do not have access to a computer. 

Another option to develop ninja-like code is Hopscotch . In fact, this is the most appealing to me personally because it is character driven and coders can create and tell stories. They can also make games. That said, the tutorial is limited and some kids may find that frustrating. If they are willing to work through frustration and like creating stories and games, this is a fantastic app.

This is the last of the new coding apps added. It also develops programming skill but does so in a puzzle-like format. What is nice about Cargo-Bot is that while a solution to a problem might work, it isn't always the best option. (The same can be said for code. This is why I wait to update programs.) Often times, things need to be tested over and over again in many situations before time tells if it was best solution. Cargo-Bot assigns points based on the simplest, yet most rigorous solution. 

Masterpiece for OSMO
I cannot say enough good things about OSMO. Even our fifth graders love the hands on learning and applications of this device. All of the OSMO games build a natural bridge from our Early School Montessori base to effective technology integration. Masterpiece uses the iPad and OSMO gadget to help students recreate artistic masterpieces on paper with the real world media of their choosing. 

Ignite Teaching
Ignite Teaching is an app that promotes collaboration and project based learning. teachers can create and assign groups through the App. Students can then use the app to create multimedia projects on a canvas using images from their iPad or Google Drive. They can add text, graphics, and import videos. It is yet another tool that fits our philosophy that technology is best utilized to create rather than consume. In other words, Ignite Teaching Redefines learning. 

Sushi Monster
We also added one Substitution/Augmentation app called Sushi Monster. Teachers were looking for a more engaging way for students to practice their math computation skills. Sushi Monster by Scholastic was a crowd pleaser at all grade levels. An even bigger bonus is that this app and all of the above are free! 

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