Teachers get together for appy hour

Teachers Michal Hazell and Derryn Willis try and break the lock on the break-out edubox presented by Parklands college teacher, Anthony Peters.

Forget about remembering an apple for teacher; these days, teachers want apps.

That was clear at a talk last week, where teachers from all over Cape Town met to talk about how apps are helping them do their jobs.

During the meeting at Grove Primary School, on Wednesday November 15, Megan Sivewright, from the International School of Cape Town in Tokai, introduced teachers to Easy Blog which has been piloted at the school and allows pupils and teachers to create a digital portfolio of book reviews, orals and assignments.

The content is available for viewing by other classrooms so pupils and their peers can interact with the content they load on the app.

The app is available on iPad, and pupils now saw assignments more like games than school work, Ms Sivewright said.

And because the assignments are reviewed by their peers, pupils are encouraged to turn in quality work.

Grove Primary teacher Tania Halls spoke about the Class Dojo app, which helps teachers create a digital class, with an avatar for each child.

The teacher can send images or messages to the entire class or to individual children or parents, so no one can say they didn’t know they had homework.

Teachers can also post directions for a task on the app so they don’t have to repeat themselves.

Another tool helps teachers randomly select a pupil for tasks, and a noise meter shows pupils when they’re being too noisy.

“You can do attendance and mark pupils present and give feedback on assignments or homework to pupils,” said Ms Halls. “It makes an unpleasant noise when you give a child a demerit. Kids can also be awarded points. When they’re distracted or chatty, you can customise a value for it and give them points.

“Parents get notifications when a point is added or deducted. Each parent can only see their own child. There are also little videos on the app that teach kids about mindfulness and empathy, things they should know but may not be taught at home.”

Grade 1 Grove teacher Michal Hazell uses Book Creator, which allows kids to create their own book and write their own virtual story.

Teachers can also create an interactive book or test in book form which kids can use.

“They love it. They get excited because they think it’s a game. I created a book where I get to assess what they know about money. You can use it in private or in a group. It took about 20 minutes to put together,” said Ms Hazel.

Parklands College teacher Anthony Peters spoke about Pages, which creates eye-catching reports, resumes, and documents; Explain Everything, which works like an interactive whiteboard;
and I-Nigma which reads QR
codes.

He said he used apps so that lessons could be enjoyed and not merely endured. He is also able to condense work in the syllabus so that pupils can learn more in a shorter time.

“We never have enough time to get through content. The idea is to help pupils get through it faster. We play a game called breakout edubox. There is a lock on the box and you need to answer questions to open the lock on the box. QR Stuff imbeds anything into QR codes, which is fun for treasure hunts.

“Explain Everything allows you to write a sentence and it records your voice while you’re doing it. You can collaborate with other teachers too. It’s how we share our exams now,” said Mr Peters.

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