New Year New Apps

 

Christmas is now behind us and the new year is fast approaching. We have little over a week left before we are back in the classroom so today I decided to get a head start on my new year resolution which is to become more comfortable using technology and apps in the classroom. I have spent some time looking up apps for my two main subjects which are history and religion and have decided to share what I found with others who want to make lessons more interactive. All of the apps which I will explain in more detail below are free to download and are available on iPad/iPhone or android.

The first app I found today is an English GCSE study guide. It comes in different subjects but each subject needs to be downloaded separately. This series of apps is called Study Buddies. I tried the religious education one today to see how useful they would be in the classroom. When you first download you must create an account to sign in. There are two parts to the app one is a quiz like feature. You choose the part of the course and the app will generate ten questions and give you a short quiz. The second element is a section from past exam papers. Students can read the questions but they cannot edit to insert answers. One downside to this app is that in the free version only a number of sections from the syllabus are available. The rest must be purchased. While I was impressed with the initial idea and design of the app I was disappointed with the restrictions.

This next app is for the History classroom and will come in very handy in January or February depending how far along the second year history course you are. This app is an interactive timeline of the American Revolution. The name is easy to remember it is called American Revolution interactive timeline. The timeline starts at 1750 and continues up to 1950. The timeline allows students and teachers to move up and down throughout the time period, view images of artefacts and click items such as an image of the Boston Tea Party to find out some more information about the event or item. Personally this is one of my favourite apps from today’s short search. It is simple but brilliantly designed for easy use and quick access to important information.

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The third app I came across is called brainscape. This app is a flash card revision app. The main app allows a student or teacher pick a subject that they wish to study the app then creates flash cards to help you to study. The flags arc will show a question or a full in the blank the student decides when to reveal the answer. If they know the answer will then rate the question between 1 and 5. 1 means they know the information well so the app will not use this flash card frequently, 5 means they do not know the fact and the app will focus on this information more often. This app has also expended into individual subject apps for example History Brainscape which is purely for studying history. The free download has limited flash cards but for a small fee of 1.99 you can unlock all sections which in my opinion is very reasonable. I will definitely use this app in my classroom this year.

These three apps are only a small selection of the amazing things that are on offer for the classroom. I am looking forward to incorporating more and more apps and web technologies into my teaching in the new year. I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the holidays and good luck and happy teaching for the new year.

Homeless Ireland

Last week marked the one year anniversary since a homeless man was found dead on the steps of Dail Eireann in Dublin. According to the Peter McVerry Trust in October of this year over 150 people were sleeping rough in Dublin every night. The minimum number of people homeless at the end of September in the whole of Ireland was over 5,000. This year alone homelessness has risen by 76% in eight months. This includes 1500 homeless people who are under the age of 18, children. (RTE: Sept 15)

The reason I have included this topic in my education blog is because I believe Education is key to helping fight against social injustice and helping bring about positive social change. As teachers and students we may not be able to house 5,000 people but by awakening students attention to the problem and highlighting ways in which they can help we may have a chance at helping even one family find a safe place to sleep.

The internet is an amazing place to find resources on almost any topic. The resources made available on Homelessness are some of the best I have used in a classroom. There are a number of charities that are set up to tackle homelessness and help those affected including:

All of these websites are filled with information, events and resources that can be adapted for the classroom. Some, such as Focus Ireland, even have a section dedicated to school resources. There are people available to come to your school to talk to students. There are plenty of fundraising activities and links to other helpful websites and resources. Below are resources I have used in the classroom. Some are slightly adapted. All taken from TES.co.uk. TES is the place to go for topics such as homelessness. You never know what you will find.

The first resource I found interesting and useful is a list of 100 facts about homelessness. I out students into groups and ask them to choose the most and least surprising. 100factshomeless

This is a power-point of statistics regarding teenage homeless. These teenagers are close to age to some of our students. This will highlight the importance of trying to help but teacher should also be sensitive if a student may be in a similar position. Runaway Children

This is a six part documentary on homeless children in the UK. EVICTED

All of these resources are free to use and completely adaptable to suit age and ability. The number of homeless people in Ireland is rising daily. We need to do our part to highlight these issues and help the charities to tackle homelessness. Our aim should be together to decrease these figures by December 2016.