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Apps for Good – a novel way to deliver computational thinking and foster creativity

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Apps for Good is a charitable organisation aiming to allow students the opportunity to prepare for the real world by taking part in an app-designing challenge. They have created structured programmes where young people are challenged to come up with an app which provides a solution to a real-life problem. They then take their idea through the design process, working together as part of a team.

Apps for Good provide online training for teachers, teaching materials as well as course guidelines matched with CfE outcomes. The course structure is flexible, with a short and long versions, and is free for all non-fee-paying schools. Based in London, the company currently works with over 450 educational establishments and over 22,000 students from all parts of the UK. Some of their most successful app developing teams so far have come from a school in Wick.

The scheme is suitable to use all year round, although the deadline for competition entries is normally around Easter. This isn’t obligatory – schools can choose whether or not they’d like to take part in the competition, which is really a celebration of the hard work that has been happening throughout the year. The main aim of Apps for Good is to encourage entrepreneurial spirit in young people, allowing them access to a huge variety of industry experts who are giving back to the community by taking part in the scheme.

Several Edinburgh schools are already using Apps for good, including Boroughmuir and Craigmount High Schools. Here are some thoughts from teachers who have been delivering the programme:

“The materials are good and you can easily adapt them for your class. My pupils particularly enjoyed feedback from the Expert sessions. The Apps for Good team have been extremely supportive too.”
– Ms L. Dighton, Boroughmuir HS

“For anyone looking for a course that covers programming, app design, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and marketing you should really look into it.
The course has so many benefits:
Allows students to work together to create an app to solve an existing problem
Forces students to think about solutions to problems that they encounter
Forces students to work together from generation of ideas right through to implementation and marketing.” – Mr D. Sansom, Craigmount HS

For further information about Apps for Good or to sign up, please download their flyer here or view their website here.

Content Creation Apps@Towerbank PS

Teachers at Towerback spent some of their professional learning time investigating creative apps for iPad. The apps included Book Creator, Explain Everything, Adobe Voice and Aurasma. These apps are great for using in any curricular context and the pupils and staff found them very user friendly. Each class were given the opportunity to use the apps in a variety of contexts- take a look at some of the ways the classes used them.

Literacy and Health & Wellbeing using Adobe Voice

As part of Book Week each stage wrote and illustrated a chapter of ‘The Unlikely Friendship’ which will be published and go on sale in Portobello. Linking this to their topic on emotions, P5 evaluated the project and showcased the work for the community using the free presentation app, Adobe Voice.

Maths in P7 using Explain Everything

Pupils in P7 have been learning about fractions. In order to teach their peers they created a video in Explain Everything which helped reinforce learning, demonstrate understanding and build confidence.

Health & Wellbeing and Expressive Arts using Aurasma

Aurasma uses Augmented Reality technology to bring pupils’ work to life. As part of their transition project P7 pupils identified their worries about moving to high school. They created artwork in the style of Roy Lichtenstein to represent these emotions, which they had ‘unpacked’ using Emotion Works cogs.

The art work became a ‘trigger’ for dramas, which the groups filmed to represent their worries. Parents were invited to school and used Aurasma to load the ‘overlay’ and discover what the worries their children experience during this time of transition, and tips for overcoming them!

20150326_164541753_iOSFor tutorials and classroom ideas for these and other content creation apps try these creative app resources.

Raspberry Pi @ St Peter’s Primary

IMG_0722Last session P4 at St Peter’s Primary took part in the ‘Hour of Code’ and submitted the project to the Raspberry Pi Foundation. They were successful in winning five Raspberry Pis and, with the support of a parent, are exploring programming using Python during a lunchtime computer club.

What is Raspberry Pi and how might you use it?

When introduced to the Pi learners at St Peter’s started with the basics. This included how to assemble the Pi and as it is so small the pupils were able to see all the components that make a computer work. They then learned to connect and ‘boot’ the Pi and navigate the interface.

IMG_0725This  led to the use of the free Minecraft program, Minecraft Pi. Pupils were very excited and motivated by this environment. They were taught how to use Python to carry out building tasks. Once this was mastered the pupils learned to edit and run a Python script to build and customise the size and building materials of a castle. They then learned to control the Python execution using conditional statements. By using their knowledge of Python the children are now able to bypass creating new worlds each time and much prefer working together to create castles and then demolish them with explosives! You can find out more about Raspberry Pi here and use these lesson plans to get you started. If you are keen to get a code club started in your school and don’t have the expertise Code Club connects schools with volunteer programmers, who are keen to support schools for free.