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5 Spelling Apps for Early Years Learners

Pocket Phonics [$2.99]

This is a great app for our Prep students. It follows a similar phonic approach to our Read Write Inc program that we use at Hillcrest. Students are introduced to the sound, then they write the sound and finally they learn to blend the sounds together.


Spelling City

This very popular website has been transformed recently. Their most popular website games and spelling lists are now available for iPads. Students love playing hang mouse and unscramble the word. Parents can sign in for free and add their own spelling list which perfectly suit their child’s spelling lists.


Word Wizard [$2.99]

Another awesome spelling app! All the letters are tiles and you can choose either sound or letter name which is then spoken when the child moves the tiles to make the word. Parents can add their child’s spelling list making it a lot more fun to learn their weekly spelling lists.


The Electric Company Wordball

The Electric Company provide fun and catchy videos that explain some of the tricker spelling rules e.g silent e. Children watch the video and collect word balls and then they play a game using the Wordball. Earn points by playing to unlock more videos and games. This is an iPhone game but you can still play it on the iPad.


A+ Spelling

This app isn’t as colourful as the others but it does do something the other apps don’t. You can create your child’s personalised spelling list but you can then record the word in a voice that your child is used to hearing. Children can then practise their spelling before the app tests them on their words.


Don’t forget if you would like more app ideas for Early Years or Elementary Students to follow us on Pinterest – HCC ICT


Thinking outside the box with professional development at your school

Recently, as a college we ran a series of iPads in Education CPD’s.  Teachers were not required to attend, but they could come if they thought they might be useful.  We covered a range of topics including:

  • Pages
  • Keynote
  • Padlet
  • Documents by Reedle
  • Notability
  • Pinterest

To our amazement we consistently had about 30% of our very large staff turn up to these CPD’s.  Staff who genuinely wanted to learn about how they can better use tech. in their classes.  What this does is as follows:

  • Provides relevant training to staff
  • Respects teachers’ busy schedules
  • Allows all teachers to have access to CPD if they need it.

I am interested to hear form other schools and how they approach CPD.  One thing is clear though.  While I think this has worked very well for our school, I am wondering what other “outside the box” ideas others may have tried.  Thoughts?


What to do when technology/the Internet fails in the classroom

It is so frustrating that the tech. in Ed. World is so full of what to dos and not a lot of how to dos (if this makes sense).  This post is a start.  A start at providing teachers with some ideas on what to do when technology fails in the classroom.

1. Know the content you were going to cover before the lesson: If technology fails, you can revert to using a white/black board and the old fashined whiteboard marker (did I just call that old-fashioned?).

2. Have a back up iPad/Android App. to use.  At the start of your term, find an iPad or otherwise App. that the students could use to help them understand the topic better.

3.  Have students work in teams and  have a debate or quiz on a related topic.  They have to come up with a quiz questions about the unit being studied.  The goal is for one team to score as many points as is possible.  Both groups create quiz questions to ask of the other group.  You keep going until there is a clear 2 point winner.

Turn failure into a positive:  This can be done a number of ways:

Begin to develop a repetoire of skills of what to do that doesn’t involve sending a student to a photocopier machine and asking them to photocopy the worksheet that you had placed on the LMS.  This might include:

Make sure you have a copy of the worksheet on your hard drive, USB or other hard disk (if it is the LMS or the Internet) has failed.  This way, you can post the worksheet up onto a data projector.

Do a think/pair/share activity based on the current learning topic.

If you were planning on showing a YouTube video, look for alternative videos, DVD’s or just explain to students that the Internet or LMS or Youtube is down, so we’ll need to learn this material from the old fashioned text book.  If it is just the LMS that is down, then re-find the video on YouTube and just play that.

  • In English, History/Geography: Having an open discussion/debate on the topic; have students do a re-enactment of that part of the book or part of history.
  • In Mathematics lessons:  Send a child to the library to borrow out some dice and do a probability/statistics lesson.  Go outside and estimate and measure real perimeter, area and composite volumes of shapes and irregular shapes.  Challenge the students to find real life examples of calculus, algebra, etc. and then create their own problem.
  • In tech. subjects, turn the programming lesson into a design lesson.  Usually the Internet, website or LMS is only down for a few minutes.  While it is down, get the students to plan out their next steps of the program on paper.  Do a non-internet based demonstration in front of the class.

We can no longer continue to throw our hands up in the air and give up on technology.  If Education is going to be relevent to the generation we are working with, then technology is going to be an essential component of your classroom.  I revert to a quote I often use.  Teachers who fail to use technology won’t be replaced by technology.  They will be replaced by teachers who do use technology.

Connected Learning

The future of teaching and learning needs to be re-imaged, re-imagined and re-shaped.  Connected learning is all about enabling students to connect to the knowledge, people and skills that they need to succeed in their chosen career path.  Below are some videos that I have come across which share the answers to the why questions.  i.e. Why do we need to re-think, re-image and re-imagine the future of learning?


Useful Apps for General Teaching

There has been a lot written about the usefulness of iPads in Education.  To start…the iPad is not the magic bullet solution to engage students.  It is a tool that can be used well, if you equip yourself with the right tools.  What will be listed in this blog entry, is some iPad apps., that I actually use in my teaching.  These are not apps. that I have read about or have heard were great.  Apps that I actually use and how I use them.  If this is useful to you, please give them a try yourself.  If you have some others that you actually use on a regular basis, please add by responding to this post.

Explain Everything: This is a neat screen casting app.  I use it to record little tutorials for my students to access.  There are a lot of other alternatives out there, but this one is one of the best that I have used.  One of the big advantages of this app. is that it only took me about 2 minutes to learn.  Very simple and intuitive.

iAnnotate:  Great app. for note taking.  Sure, I mainly use it in my research, but the great thing about this app. from a teaching perspective, is that it allows you to get your students to highlight text and then they can email the highlighted text to their email accounts.  It arrives in their email not as a PDF, but as actual notes that they can edit and use.

JotNot Scanner Pro:  This is a great app. for scanning students’ documents. It is pretty awesome as it has an in-built OCR which has worked very well for me to this point.

Voice Dream Reader – Text to Speech –  I use this app. when I want to read something but am running short on time.  I will open whatever the file is in voice dream and it will read it to me.  Awesome tool for students to use when proof-reading their drafts.  It’s so good to hear something read back to you.  There are many apps. like this one out there, and I have tried 3 others.  This is the best by far.  Has too many advantages to list in this post.

MyScript Calculator –  Great app. for maths teachers.  Calculates real eqations as you write them into the screen.

Too Noisy – Great app. if you can screen cast what is on your iPad to the data projector.  Gives students a visual reminder when their noise is too excessive.

Pocket – This one requires a lot of explanation. I use this one for when I find an article that I want to read, but don’t have the time to read it then and there.  Read about it online.  It’s a great app.

TuneIn Radio – Found some great channels here that I use in my classroom to play while students are working.  Creates a great atmosphere.

This is a short list of apps. that I mostly use.  There are others that are widely used in Education like Evernote, One Note, Keynote, Dropbox, YouTube, Google Maps, and so on.  I use some of these a lot, but they are mostly already known about, so I haven’t shared about them on this blog post.

Some effective uses of technology in the classroom.

Are you using the following in your classroom?  If not, maybe give them a try (if relevant):

Wordle – Great tool for students to use to check that their essay’s central idea has been expressed, and an overuse of other words are not there.

iPads, iPods & iPhones to record videos– Great devices when used as tools for reviewing what students are doing and engage in meta-cognition.

Blogs To keep a diary of student learning.  Research comprehensively shows that students who participate in note taking, summarising and concept mapping are engaged in deeper thinking.  These can be used across every KLA including music, dance, PE and Mathematics.  Set it as part of their homework and give parents the addresses.  A great way for parents to stay in touch with what students are learning about in your classes.  AND it can be used for revision purposes (as long as the teacher monitors the blogs and corrects misconceptions and misunderstandings).  If you are serious about using Blogs in your classroom, see your ICT coordinator and they will HELP set your classes blogs up for you.

Mind-mapping tools  – This site has some great mind mapping tools.  The benefits of using them are that they are saved and don’t get thrown away or lost.  The disadvantages of using online mind-mapping tools is they can be time-consuming.  I have found that I only use them for assessment tasks.  Remember: Use technology smartly, not just for tech’s sake.

Sky-Drive for collaborative engagement – Talk to your ICT coordinator about how students can work on a single document collaboratively, while not even being in the same room together at the time.  Awesome collaborative tool.

Assignment dropbox for homework tasks What a great way to ensure all your students are doing their homework and, and it keeps the records for you of who submitted what and when.  Great for when it comes time for parent-teacher interviews.

You-tube videos for revision tasks There is a youtube tutorial for nearly everything at the moment and they are so easy to put on the Ed. Portal.

Conference Room – Another great Ed. Portal tool that enables your students to engage in collaboration from different places at the same time.  It is live, so when you write something, anyone else in that conference room can see what you are writing.  Talk to your ICT coordinator about how this great tool can be used in homework tasks.

MathTV.com – Did you know that students can watch Mathematics tutorials at school from this site?  It is great for reviewing content and can be used almost as like having another teacher in your room to teach skills and content.

Why use technology in the classroom?

It is well documented and well known that the integration of technology in schools and classrooms is a sign of the times.  We use calculators in Mathematics, stopwatches in PE and now even iPads, iPods, ultra-books and the like in our modern classroms.  So what?  Who cares, if they don’t improve student interest, engagement, passion for learning and assessment results?

To take from another source for a second….

“I love technology and more specifically integrating it into my curriculum.  So my students blog to create writing portfolios, learn how to write for a specific audience, and document their learning.  We also journal every day in a notebook using that great tool; pencils.  My students create wordle’s on our computers to watch for main ideas or overused words.  We videotape science experiments so we can post them for parents to ask us questions.  We use computers to do our research.  We participate in the Global Read Aloud so that we can share a book with classrooms around the world.  We project videos that boost our understanding, and yes, we even have a SmartBoard.  But the thing is, this doesn’t mean anything if I don’t know how to properly use the technology and then pass that on to your students” (Mrs. Ripp, n.d.).

We attend technology seminars, conferences and participate in global forums the world over and we know one thing.  It is impossible to keep up with technological change.  No teacher can.  What is imperitive is sticking with what works.  Not what works for just you, the teacher, but what is working with your students.  Are students “engaged” (a horrible mis-represented word), interested or are you needing to bribe, threaten and give detentions to keep students engaged.  If so, how is this any different from the 1950’s behaviourist classroom?  Is this really what education is about?  

The challenge is to work collaboratively.  The challenge is to care for your students, your teachers around you and our amazing administrators, and may God help them who work tirelessly to set things in place as we see them.  This blog, the twitter feed that is connected to it and the ICT workers that facilitate it, are here to help us work smarter.  In this sense, we pray and hope that it charts the development of a school’s journey into “SMART” ICT usage.  Let’s not just use technology as a token gesture, but let’s share ideas, collaborate and together we can be great.  Tell us about a technology tool that you are using.  Share with us, that great web 2.0 tool, or that amazing iPad app. so that we can share it with everyone else.  Take photos, get students’ testimonies and record what you can so that this process of using technology creatively and cleverly can continue.


Ripp, M.  (n.d.) Technology does not make the classroom successful – the teacher does.  Taken from: http://www.pernilleripp.com/2011/09/technology-does-not-make-classroom.html