Thinking outside the box – App smashing with Thing Link

6250513028_b874eef6f1 Before I begin I must state that this is by no means my idea, I have to thank @ipadwells for this and  you can see his explanation of various apps smashes here.  It was whilst watching this fabulous presentation that I began to think that I could apply some of the ideas to my own classroom.

We have had 19 iPads since September in the department and my Y8 class have become quite proficient at using them and I thought they would be up for an app smash challenge.  We have been studying vocabulary and phrases in Spanish about places around town and directions.  Although this is a year 8 class they have only had about 8 months of Spanish teaching in this time as we rota around with French lessons every half term.  We had got to a stage where we were saying what there was and wasn’t in a town as well as giving some basic descriptions.

In order to make this unit a little more Spanish in feel we have been studying the town of Granada.  Our first app smash got the students to give directions around Granada details of which can be seen here, so it was natural to use Granada as our “base” again.

To begin with students had to use the comics head lite app to create a comic stating what there was and wasn’t in Granada.  They chose pictures of the places they were describing from the internet and set them as the back ground on the comic, they then had a character staying what was in Granada e.g. En mi ciudad hay un palacio.  Once they had finished their comic they took a screen shot and saved it in their camera roll.

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The next step was to use the tellagami app to create short videos for each section of cartoon that they had previously made, they made the background on their tellagami to be the same as the background of the appropriate bit of cartoon that they were talking about. All of their tellagamis where saved into their camera roll.

The final step was to put it all together into the Thing link app.  They used their screenshot of their cartoon as the main picture in thing link.  The cool thing about this app is that it allows you to create “hotspots” on the picture which link to either text or video which makes it perfect for using in app smashing. My students imported their videos onto the relevant bit of their cartoon picture and then added some text to describe the places in Granada. The results were great and the students were very proud of their work.  The next thing for them to do is to present their work and do some peer marking using 2 stars and a wish.

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The students really enjoyed this task and were very focused an involved when creating it, they are really beginning to see the creative possibilities of the iPads now and I know for this class in particular when it comes to using mobile tech in the classroom the sky’s the limit. If you would like to see some of their interactive images please scan the QR codes below.

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AR you ready for AR?

I posted this tweet at the end of my Y7 lesson today and it has to be said I was a pretty proud teacher, we had finally conquered AR – augmented reality.  I first came across the concept at the #ililc3 conference in 2013 and have always wanted to try it with a class since then but have never been brave enough.  This year though we have been lucky enough to have been given 19 iPads for use in or languages department so there really was no excuse.

Putting together your “magic picture” as we called them, isn’t really that tricky but the results are incredible.  My Y7 class are pretty switched on but I needed to be sure that they were reasonably proficient in the use of the iPads before we took on AR.  I think one of the mistakes we make as teachers is that we think that our students can effectively use mobile technology without us teaching them how to, this in my experience is a big mistake. Our students do use mobile tech but often at it’s most superficial level and often only for playing games, listening to music or using Facebook, so my advice would be get you class up to speed with the basics of iPaddery before you try something like this.

My students have just been studying personal descriptions in Spanish and we normally end this section by making a wanted poster, this seemed like the perfect project to get them working with Augmented Reality.  I used the app Aurasma which once you get going, is pretty straight forward to use.


Firstly you need to set up an account, I set up a class account and all my students logged into it.

Secondly you need to create a  channel so that others can view the work of your students. Once that is all done it’s time to get creative 🙂

I began my lesson by giving my students a demonstration of how the Aurasma app worked   they were instantly transfixed, once I had their attention it was down to work.  We used the app Pic collage to help us create our “target image” (more of which later) which essentially was a wanted poster in Spanish.

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I like pic collage – it hits my 2 app requirements; intuitive to use and it gives great results or as I have been heard to say I like my apps to be simple and sexy!  Once they had completed their work they emailed their posters to me and I made hard copies on our lovely colour printer 🙂  It took the students about 20 mins to get to the stage.  I asked them to keep their work clear and unfussy  as I am lead to believe this helps the Aurasma app recognise the image more easily.

This gave the students a poster something like this..

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Students then recorded a video of themselves describing what they looked like in Spanish.  Once they had these 2 pieces of information they could then start to use the  Aurasma app.

The first thing students need to do is log into the app using the login details that you have previously set up. They access this by tapping the little A at the bottom of the screen then the far right icon on the next screen which looks a bit like a sun over 2 mountains.

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Once logged in students need to tap the + sign at the bottom of the screen so that they can add their video to the class channel.

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On this screen they need to tap device and the + in the top right hand corner they should then choose photo album and then select their video.  This is called the overlay and they should name it with their name and then hit finish.  They will go back to the create/choose overlay screen and here they should now select their video from the ones that appear on the screen. They should get a screen like this… from here they should tap select.

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They now need to capture the image by holding the iPad over their wanted poster.  They must make sure that the slider at the bottom turns green and then tap the purple camera button.  Their video will now appear over their picture on the iPad screen.  They should resize the video so that it covers their face and then hit the purple arrow on the bottom right hand corner of the screen.

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They are nearly done all that remains now is to name their aura make it public or private, tap the button so that it says  yes in response to add to a channel and then select the channel.

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Hit finish and they are done.

In order for other students or staff to be able to scan the pictures they need to download the Aurasma app search for your channel – like or follow it and then they should be able to see the  creations.

What did the students get out of this activity?

Firstly they greatly improved their iPad skills but that was not the main aim of this lesson. This lesson hits all the buttons.  Students got creative when using the pic collage which I think is really important in this very prescriptive world of education that we live in.  They also developed their written skills as I made my class write down their descriptions of themselves before they recorded.  They developed their speaking skills when making their videos.  They had to work collaboratively as there are not enough iPads in my classroom for one each but they also needed each others help to take photos and make their films.  Their work had a purpose as they know that it is going to be displayed for all to see in school and with the use of one simple app everyone will be able to see and hear their work too.  This activity was really successful and I’m glad I persevered when trying to figure out the app.

If you want to see how the app works search scan the QR code below using a QR code scanner app like i-Nigma.

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Further Adventures With iPads


“Why do we have to do this miss? What’s the point?” We have all heard it and this time it was coming from my lovely GCSE French class who already are unsure about the real purpose or value of controlled assessments.  So, how do we make our controlled assessments more valuable more worthwhile?  I had struggled with this concept since the advent of controlled assessments but it was not until I was at the #ililc4 conference this year and one of the delegates said ” we can effectively do what we like with controlled assessment” that the penny finally dropped.  This together with @ChrisFullerisms incredibly thought provoking presentation at the same conference made me go away and have a rethink and here’s what I came up with.

Topic: school

Controlled assessment: Speaking including a 1 minute presentation

School is one of the most relevant themes at GCSE I think in that, all the students have experienced it and all have an opinion on it which always helps.  However, normally when we teach this topic we ask our students to create a presentation on my ideal school which is fine but in my opinion really false.  I wanted my students to have something to get their teeth into something with real meaning so I devised a mini scheme of work on Haiti.  The premise being that we would discuss the devastating earthquake in Haiti and the consequences of and then students would be encouraged to use the information and vocabulary to write a presentation on an ideal school for Haiti.  Personally I thought that this would be easier to do as have no school at all, it would be easier to say what they would put in it and why.

We began with a pretty hard hitting video on the immediate aftermath of the earthquake in Port au Prince.  This really got my student’s attention and we were then ready to tackle a  dual language text, again I got this idea from Chris Fuller and if you have never tried using it before I can highly recommend it as it give students access to much tougher vocabulary and structures which they then eventually incorporate into their own work – it’s fab!

My students are now becoming reasonably proficient when using the iPads but I always want to push the boundaries and show them the capabilities of the technology that we have available to us, thus the next 3 lessons were taken up trying some more app smashing. During this time students were to create a mini newsreel using the tellagami, quipio, photo collage and capture apps.  Students created a very basic news studio backdrop using quipio and photo collage like this;

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They then used this as their background image in the tellagami app onto which they also recorded their news article.  They worked in pairs in order to complete this part of the activity.  One of the pair was to create a tellagami as the anchor in the studio their partner was to be the journalist on the ground reporting on the devastation in Port Au Prince. As seen here;

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The other student was encouraged to choose a photo from the internet showing the devastation in Haiti after the earthquake as their backdrop.

Once the students had recorded their work, using the vocabulary from the dual language text to help them and the app natural reader to help them with their pronunciation they then “stitched” the two videos together using the capture app.  The finished product was then shared with me.  The results were pretty amazing with students using some complex language and at the same time providing themselves with a great resource from which to base their presentation for their controlled assessment as can be seen in this example clip.

Haiti Newsreel

As I have always said an iPad is just a classroom tool and nowhere is this highlighted more than in this series of lessons.  The students really enjoyed the “reality” aspect of this mini topic.   It exposed them to some fairly complex grammar and vocabulary.  It gave them independence; the work that they produced was all their own, created with help from their dual language text and vocabulary gleaned from videos on the subject of Haiti that we had watched in class.  Most importantly, their controlled assessment presentations are great, they have to describe their ideal school for Haiti.  Most students have begun their presentation with the work they created in the newsreel activity, they have then gone on to explain what their Haitian school would look like using other materials that were presented to them in class like this UNICEF video and this PDF booklet.  If you have never tried something like this before with your class I would urge you to give it a go, you don’t have to stick to what is in the text book you know!