Best Coding Apps Primary School

coding_apps_digitechcoach

I often get asked what are the best apps for teaching students how to code in a 1:1 iPad environment. The following information is a guide to what I consider the best apps to teach students how to code in primary school.

YEARS F-2

FREE - App

FREE - App

BEE BOT

Bee Bots have been used by educators for quiet some time and they continue to be a great starting point for teaching students how to code. The Bee Bot app is no different I think it is a great beginner app and is suitable to be introduced at the jnr primary stages. Bee Bot is great for developing directional language and is supported with great resources. Bee Bot also have another app called Bee Bot Pyramid it has harder challenges and is a good progression from Bee Bot.


Free App

Free App

DAISY THE DINOSAUR

Daisy The Dinosaur is the next step from Beet Bot. The app has a free play mode and a challenged based game mode. Daisy The Dinosaur introduces students to sequencing and loops with drop and drag code blocks to animate Daisy. 


FREE APP

FREE APP

SCRATCH JNR

Scratch Jnr is one the great open ended coding apps available in the IOS market suitable for years F-2 however years 3-4 will also enjoy. Students learn to solve problems, design projects and express themselves creatively. Scratch Jnr is a great app to demonstrate students understating in literacy and numeracy through story telling.


YEARS 3-4

FREE - APP

FREE - APP

CODESPARK ACADEMY WITH - THE FOOS

The Foos crosses the boundary of being a really fun game that includes great computation thinking and problem solving. You can now create teacher, parent and student accounts to track progression and achievement. The Foos includes game based puzzles exploring the following fundamentals of coding; Sequencing, loops, events and conditionals. 


FREE - APP

FREE - APP

KODABLE

Kodable is a game based app to develop students knowledge of coding. Teachers can create classes and invite students to join via a unique code. Levels within Kodable provide experiences for students to learn about sequences, loops, functions, conditions, strings, instances. Students unlock levels of difficulty as they progress through the game. The Kodable website also has great teacher support materials and lesson ideas. I would suggest looking through online material before implementing this app in your classroom as it has some very good resources to introduce the app  and stimulate excitement around coding and the app itself. 


Free App

Free App

RUN MARCO

Run Marco is very similar to Kodable and covers a lot of the same principles of code. What separates this app from Kodable and Bee Bot  are that the challenges are slightly harder. Run Marco is also available in multiple languages making it a good choice for teachers with EAL (English as an Additional Language) Students. They will be able to participate in their native language.


$9.99

$9.99

TYNKER FOR SCHOOLS

Tynker For Schools is a flexible app for student to learn coding and suitable for all ages right up into secondary school age. Tynker For Schools has great coding games with walkthrough levels to build competence and difficulty. Once students are ready they can create and code their own projects including games, animations, art, music, story telling, physics games, apps, mod Minecraft, you can even program accessories such as Spheros and drones. In my opinion Tynker For Schools is an essential app for teachers wanting to implement coding into the curriculum. 

A free version of Tynker is also available however it doesn't have all the features and is limited. Tynker Free is a good starting point and you will be able to see the potential of this app and then invest in the school version at a later stage.

Tynker also has a free online browser supported version that is worth checking out if you don't have iPads. Teachers can create accounts and students sign up to join the teachers class. The free version is limited and a paid subscription is required to unlock all the course material and features. 


$14.99

$14.99

HOPSCOTCH FOR SCHOOLS

The next progression from Scratch Jnr when it comes to open ended coding apps. Let your students imagination and creativity go wild with  endless options and cross curricula possibilities. Hopscotch is one of the best apps available on IOS to demonstrate students computational thinking and coding skills. Students of any age will love this app.

There are two versions of Hopscotch a paid version called "Hopscotch For Schools" Which has all the features unlocked while "Hopscotch Free" has all the same coding features just not all the characters and objects available. 

Hopscotch For Schools also allows teachers to create a "crew" or classroom students can be invited to join via a unique code. Teachers will be able to view the projects of students who join their "crew". 


YEARS 5-6

Free App

Free App

TICKLE

Tickle is a great app for programming robots, drones and smart toys using a familiar drop and drag interface. I especially like to use the Tickle app for programming Spheros. Tickle is an app that would also be suitable for secondary age students.

However there is a feature not many use and that is the Orca. It is very similar to Hopscotch and provides great learning opportunities. It is definitely worth a look. 

The Tickle app also offers some online courses to assist teachers and students to learn how to program and how to get started. 


$4.49

$4.49

LIGHTBOT

Lightbot is a similar app to Run Marco & Kodable however the puzzles are more challenging. Lightbot includes all the same principals of coding including loops, procedures, sequencing and conditionals. There are over 50 levels and 20 challenges to complete. 

I also like that this app has the function to create multiple user accounts  on the same iPad. This makes is great for classrooms that share iPads.

Lightbot is also available in multiple languages making it a good choice for teachers with EAL (English as an Additional Language) Students. They will be able to participate in their native language.


Free App

Free App

CODE WARRIORS

Code Warriors has quickly become one of my favourite game based apps to learn coding. Students graduate through the ranks by completing challenges and demonstrating their capabilities. As students progress through the app so does the level of coding required.  Students learn gradually through playing the game with the final outcome being students writing code to execute their warriors battle plan.  This app is also suitable for students in secondary school years 7-9.


Free App

Free App

SWIFT PLAYGROUNDS

Swift Playgrounds was launched this year with Apples release of IOS 10. Swift is the language used to develop IOS apps and it at the core of how your iPad and iPhone operate. 

Swift playgrounds is the ultimate coding app available to students on their iPad. The Swift Playground community are providing excellent resources to support teachers and students learn how to code in Swift. I have been extremely impressed with this app and the endless possibilities it provides students, they will be creating engaging games and apps that will leave you awe struck!

Swift Playgrounds has a variety of tutorials from beginner to advanced which will assist your implementation of Swift coding into the digitech curriculum. Check out my blog post about the launch of Swift Playgrounds including the keynote of its world wide release. 

Please note Swift Playgrounds is only available on IOS 10 and iPad Air's and iPad mini 2 upwards. 

How to create your own Podcast on an iPad or iPhone.

podcasting_with_bossjock

Over the past 6+ years there has been a huge rise in people listening to podcasts as they commute to work, exercise in gyms or even multitasking at home.  Podcasting is rapidly increasing in popularity due to its accessibility and wide range of genres. What makes podcasting great is anyone can do it and they can achieve fantastic results on a very low budget. 

Podcasting is a fantastic way for students to practice and improve their speaking and listening skills through a fun and engaging multi modal format with an authentic audience. Podcasting involves students writing and planning a script on a predetermined topic so they are organised when it comes time to record. I believe podcasting is a digital literacy skill our teachers need to expose their students to. Podcasting is fun, engaging and a great way to include cross curricula content and digi tech skills.

Creating your own radio station or podcast on your iPad or iPhone has never been easier! Bossjock Studio provides everything you need to get started. Whether you're an expert or beginner there is something for everyone with its easy to use interface and professional features.  Look no further as there is no better way to get started podcasting on your IOS device than with Bossjock Studio or Bossjock Jnr. 

Developing a format for your podcast is a key to the success of your show. You need to consider a theme song or jingle you want to use at the beginning of your show. It creates drama and anticipation, it is also the first things your listeners hear so it can either instantly engage or disengage your listeners. Stingers or sound effects are important elements to any podcast they are used to fill the void or dead space between topics or a discussion. Garage Band for IOS and MAC are the "go to" apps to create theme songs and stingers.

Watch the brief walkthrough below;

boss_jock_sound_box

A great way to improve your audio recording in noisy classrooms is to use a DIY sound booth. The sound booth pictured below is a simple box construction made from plywood and eggshell foam used to help with any reverb. The booth blocks any sound waves from reaching the microphone from the rear. The eggshell foam can purchased from shops like Clark Rubber. This is an inexpensive way to improve your podcast audio. 

Audio Settings Explained

it is also advised that you switch your iPad or iPhone to a  eroplane   mode whilst recording any podcast as sounds from   pushed emails or notifications could interrupt your recording.

it is also advised that you switch your iPad or iPhone to aeroplane mode whilst recording any podcast as sounds from pushed emails or notifications could interrupt your recording.

Ducking is the amount that the volume of the carts is reduced when you trigger the mic. The cart audio “ducks” under the audio of the microphone.

Amount is the amount by percentage the audio is reduced.

Attack is the speed that the Cart audio is lowered when you hit the mic button. Release is how fast the Cart audio is again raised to its original volume.

Cart Fades: we put automatic fades on carts so there are smooth transitions when you stop playing Cart early.  The Cart Fades Time sets the amount of time for the fade out transition.

ACCESSORIES

One of the great things about Bossjock Studio is that it supports a wide variety of accessories. I will discuss below some products from audio industry pioneers RODE as they are cost effective and sound amazing. I have added links to Amazon if you wish to proceed and purchase any of this equipment. How you want to roll this out in your classroom or school will obviously depend on your budget and purpose. I have two options below for you to consider. Each option will create one podcasting studio per two students with one iPad to share. 

Option 1

Option 1 is good if you want the flexibility to use the Video MicGo as a podcasting mic and a shotgun mic for film making or creating green screen movies. 

  • 1x Rode SC6 TRRS break out box
  • 1x Rode Video MicGo microphone
  • 1x Rode PG1 pistol grip
  • 1x Rode SC7 TRS to TRRS patch cable
  • 1x Audio splitter
  • 2x Headphones

Option 2

Option 2 is good if you want to create a podcast studio with the ability to do audio interviews on your iPad or iPhone.

  • 2x 1k Multimedia iRig microphones
  • 1x Rode SC6 TRRS break out box
  • 1x Audio splitter
  • 2x Headphones

The first accessory to consider if you are going to use Bossjock Studio or any sound recording app on IOS for that matter is the RODE SC6 breakout box. The SC6 allow you to connect two microphones for simultaneous recording and a headphone jack to monitor your recording on the fly. You can also use the headphone jack as an audio out option. Connect to a PA system or mixer to one of the mic inputs using a 3.5mm stereo jack and perform a live radio show using the features of Bossjock Studio.

The RODE VideoMic Go is a fantastic directional shotgun microphone with excellent sound quality. the VideoMic Go is compatible with iPad's, iPhone's, DLSR, GoPro's or any device with a 3.5mm stereo jack.  The VideoMic Go is also relatively inexpensive. The addition of the PG1 Pistol grip provides a mount for the VideoMic Go. Allowing the mic to be handheld or fixed to a tripod, mic stand or boom pole using the 3/8" thread. You now have an awesome podcasting and video mic to improve the audio in movies shot on your IOS devices. The directional shotgun feature of the Video MicGo mic means that two students can comfortably sit around one mic to record their podcast. The Video MicGo is a really versatile mic and my preferred option because of it's dual purpose both podcast and video. 

rode_video_mic_go_pistol_grip.jpg

The Rode SC7 is also a very handy patch cable when doing any audio recording on an IOS device. The SC7 allows any mic including the VideoMic Go to connect to any TRRS compatible device such as iPads and iPhones.  The SC7 needs to be purchased in addition to the cable supplied with the Rode VideoMic Go as it is not TRRS compatible. 

Audio splitters are a great way to allow more than one person to monitor the volume during a podcast using headphones. This is particularly important when working in groups. You will need to use the SC7 Breakout box if you want to use a headphone splitter with Bossjock Studio. They are cheap and keeps everyone in the action. 

audio_splitters

A good set of headphones is essential for the production of a podcast. I recommend the Sony MDRZX110 as they are a cheap yet durable set of headphone suitable for use in a school. I have had a class set of these for the past 3 years and they can handle any rough treatment your students want to dish out. I also like the smaller cable length on these headphones, the less cord the less mess and tangles. 

Other Accessories To Consider

The Apogee Mic is also a brilliant mic to use with any iPad or IOS device. It will provide a crisp sound to any recording. It is a bit more expensive but the results will be worth the extra money. Choosing this mic also frees up the headphone jack so you won't need the RODE SC7 break out box.

The iRig mic is also a fantastic and inexpensive mic to use with your iPhone or iPad. It is great mic for doing interviews or podcasting however you will need one mic per person when recoding as it is not a directional mic. You also loose the ability to use this as a microphone when creating films on your device. Where the Rod Mic Go can be used for both podcasting and video production as it is a directional mic with a wider audio range. 

If you don't have the budget for all these extra accessories the Apple earbuds that come free with all iPhones are a good alternative as they have TRRS capabilities. You can tell if a microphone has TRRS functionality by counting the three black rings on the stereo jack. Traditional headphones or stereo jacks will only have two black rings. The rings seen on the end of a TRRS compatible device mean the following stereo left, stereo right and mic output.

The Rode Smart Lav+ is another option to consider for anyone looking to get broadcast quality sound out of their iPad or iPhone. This is also the perfect option for use in a noisy classroom. As these are a lapel mic you would need to supply one for each person speaking. The Smart Lav+ can be used for doing video interviews however you would need to purchase the SC1 TRRS extension cable.