FEATURE: Chemistry of Combos - The Next Generation
December 17, 2014
In this new addition to his acclaimed Chemistry of Combos series, site founder Steve Bambury is back with ten new app combos for you to try out in the classroom featuring some newer apps in the mix.
I recently presented my Chemistry of Combos series at the Doha College Annual Conference in Qatar and it went over really well. (Shout out to 9ine Consulting for bringing me in for this excellent event!) Putting the old articles into Keynote got my mind whirring on the theme once again and since several people had asked if I would ever continue the series, now seemed an appropriate time.
So what I have for you here is dubbed The Next Generation for a reason. So many events I'm attending on iPad use keep rocking the same few apps, stuff like Explain Everything, Aurasma, Book Creator etc. These are still core apps but they are also apps I've been using for almost four years now. A lot has changed in the educational app field and there are some new kids on the block vying for your attention. As such this piece will spotlight some newer, perhaps lesser known but equally awesome apps and how I might combo them together with some familiar faces in the mix too!
As before, I'll be using the same three labels for the app types:
A - absorption apps
C - creation apps
P - presentation apps
I know that, especially this year, the more common terms being used are Consumption, Creation and Collation but that gives me three C's which doesn't really work for the way I'm trying to classify.
Let's start with a few "2 hit combos" -
TEDDY BEAR HD (A) + TOP TRUMP IT (C)
At our school we have an excellent peer learning programme wherein the FS and KS1 classes are paired up with the older kids in KS2. This simple combo would be a great option for such a pairing to work on together! I was recently asked by a FS1 teacher if I knew any good Teddy Bear apps and Teddy Bear HD is actually quite excellent as rather than just dressing a bear, you first have to choose the material then use the touch screen to cut it and stuff it. It's like a digital version of Build-A-Bear (whose own app is quite disappointing in truth) and gives the little ones a better grasp on how toys are made. The older kids could then help them create Top Trump cards from their images of bears and guide them through a simple scoring system for the categories (perhaps limiting the variable between 1-10) and then playing the game with them too! I must admit that the first version of this combo used the recently launched Top Trump It app but as I have found my self unable to log in to this app lately, I looked for something else. Deck:Trump Card Maker is one of those apps that you'll only find if you search the App store under "iPhone only" but it's worth looking for. Perhaps not quite as pretty as the official Top Trump app but you don't have to sign up for an account and you can select four rather than 3 criteria for your cards.
EDIT: The bug in the Top Trumps app has now been fixed.
RWT VENN DIAGRAM (C) + TELLAGAMI EDU (C)
The Read Write Think apps, with their export to camera roll functionality, make for natural born combos. Their Venn Diagram app is so quick and easy to use and creates a nicely polished looking diagram in no time at all. Naturally this could be used for Maths but equally it could be used to compare genre features in English, countries in Geography and a whole host of other subject areas. Tellagami made their infamous switch to a paid format over the summer and as such the best choice in schools is now the new Tellagami Edu app which avoids in app purchase. The good news is you can now record for 90 seconds, tripling the time slot and meaning that editing in iMovie is not always going to be needed. Have your Tellagami background as your Venn diagram and get your avatar explaining the choices made or even how this type of sorting diagram actually works!
SCRATCH JR (C) + ADOBE VOICE (P)
Adobe Voice is a brilliantly simple yet slick multimedia presentation tool with some great educational templates to choose from that can help guide students. A good choice here is the Explain Something template. You can import screen grabs from the streamlined Scratch Jr visual coding app and have kids break down an algorithm step by step, narrating their choice of code blocks along the way. Since sequencing is crucial to algorithmic understanding, this is a natural way to ensure that students identify each step and can order them appropriately. It could also prove a useful AfL tool as you can use their presentations to identify and help correct misconceptions.
It should be noted that Adobe Voice projects cannot be exported to the device itself, only uploaded to Adobe's servers. They can be set to private though which is fortunate. The link to view my sample combo project is here: http://voice.adobe.com/v/2weG9gt_qr5
DRAWING PAD (C) + CANVA (C)
Drawing Pad has become my go to art app recently, having been shown it by a Year 6 student last term. It includes all the element that you could want for young digital artists and even allows for extending the more able through the inclusion of blending and more subtle shading. I've actually used it with students as young as 4. Canva finally evolved from web-app to actual app last month and retained its core ability to design professional looking posters, infographics and more with ease. You can't draw in it though and thus the combos takes form. Artwork created in Drawing Pad can be imported and incorporated into your Canva design to create something more unique and personal to the student.
PIXEL PRESS FLOORS (C) + INAWORLD (C)
I love this combo! Pixel Press Floors is an awesome app that allows students to design their on game. Rather than focusing on coding, the design thinking process is spotlighted and the levels are actually drawn, either directly in-app or on their paper template and scanned in. You can make some really funky platform games that look pretty professional with relative ease. Now, if you really wanted to develop a game design project, ideally some entrepreneurial aspects would be woven in too. Enter InAWorld which lets you build teaser trailers, complete with professional voiceover, out of your images and videos. A few screengrabs from the game (or even screencasts if you used Reflector) and you can make a promotional trailer for the game based around its story.
EDIT: InAWorld is having some issues with ios8 and is currently unavailable. The developers hope to have it back online very soon!
SHAPE LAB (C) + PIC COLLAGE (P)
Shape Lab may be the best app available for teaching shapes to kids (thanks to Lee Parkinson for showing me it by the way.) You can do an awful lot with Shape Lab thanks to its ability to turn hand drawn polygons into crisp 2D shapes but one of the very best features is the ability to add a photo in the background. This is brilliant for letting kids explore shapes in the real world around them! Have them take some images around the class/school and then annotate the shapes over the top in Shape Lab. From here export the images into Pic Collage (or an equivalent) to collate a final presentation. One extra twist that I saw on Twitter recently - you can then use the collage as a stimulus for fractions/ratio work! For example, get them to identify how many of the images contain a circle and express this as a fraction of the whole.
UNIVERSAL ZOOM (A) + SLIDEIDEA (P)
Universal Zoom is a cool little app that lets you compare the sizes of things. Lots of things. Likes DNA strand to an egg or Mount Everest to the Moon or a man to a penguin. The variety on offer is excellent. Have students choose a focus object eg a penguin and use the Explore function to compare its height to other objects like an egg, a coin, a human etc. the comparison images can be exported to the camera roll. Take them into Slideidea to present their findings, complete with titles. The reason I've gone for Slideidea is two-fold: firstly, you can screencast a recording of a presentation and secondly, in the middle of a presentation, you can jump to a clean whiteboard screen. As such students could develop the mathematical data further with live examples eg the penguin is as tall as 22 eggs so if we divide 1 by 22 we can calculate the fraction.of the penguin each egg represents. Too hard for your students! Take it the other way - how many eggs would be equal to 3 penguins?
DRAWING TOGETHER (C) + CHATTERPIX KIDS (C)
Drawing Together is an app that should be more well known. It's a great little art app with the added bonus of being able to connect to another user via a PIN system to collaborate on the same piece. Even if two students are sitting right next to each other, this raises the stakes in terms of communication skills needed as they aim to co-produce on the same document. You get this with Google Apps, so why not with something artistic? Following on from this metacognitive exercise. Have them import the final image ( eg a character for a story) into Chatterpix to give a voice to their image, perhaps explaining the learning skills they have had to use. If their work isn't a character (perhaps it's a diagram of a science experiment) then get them to add a small smiley face in the corner of the image first then draw the mouth onto this in Chatterpix to act as a mini-narrator.
Ok let's finish with a couple of "3 hit combos" -
CLEOPATRA (A) + PHOTO MAPO (C) + TIMELINE 3D (P)
I've chosen the latest Quelle Histoire app for this example but any of their excellent range could work just as well to be honest. As students engage with the app and learn about the life of the famed Queen of Egypt, have them take screengrabs. These can then be brought into Photo Mapo which allows users to combine an image and a map to create a unique postcard-esque effect. A set could be produced and then fed into Timeline 3D to be sequenced. This is a great combination of geography and history skills as students not only sequence the events from apt he life of an historical figure but highlight the geographical locations that these events took place in.
EPIC ZEN GARDEN (A) + BAIBOARD (C) + SHADOW PUPPET EDU (P)
There's a definite lack of simulated environment apps like Epic Citadel. One that I was shown by Lee recently, also made by Epic Games, is Zen Garden. It should be noted that this app doesn't work on all iPads, only minis and airs. Have students in small groups or pairs take a virtual tour of this amazing garden and make sure they click on the final tree to zoom out and see the stunning wide angle shot of the whole island floating in the sky (very Avatar-esque.) As they move around have them take screenshots of their visit. Import these one at a time into Bai Board which allows multiple users to collaborate in the same whiteboard space. As a team, get them to annotate the images with creative descriptions of the scenery. Complete the combo by exporting the annotated images into Shadow Puppet Edu to create a narrated slideshow - perhaps a persuasive advert?
Ok that's your lot for now. Ten new combos to go and play around with. Of course many of them can be tweaked by switching out one of the apps for something similar that you prefer or have access to.