‘App Smashing’ with Keynote and Seesaw

Seesaw is such a versatile app for student journals and formative and summative  assessment. Keynote works perfectly with Seesaw with its choice of themes and its easy-to-use interface.

The following is an assessment for students to show their understanding of bar graphs, by dragging labels to their correct position, but it could also be used as a task for students to create their own bar charts from collected data.

Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 8.50.34 pm.png


Click here to view in Seesaw.

  1. Create Presentation and choose a theme, I chose Standard. as this is the perfect size for iPad screens. In this example I chose Chalkboard. Give your Keynote a title by tapping on the title at the top (optional).
  2. Add a slide (+ at bottom left of page) and choose Blank (or delete the text holders) so you have a blank chalkboard.
  3. To add the Table, tap on the + in the toolbar and select the first table option and choose your style. You can format the table to any desired size, and choose font options, cell colour etc. using the paintbrush icon. Drag the finished table to the top right.Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 4.32.08 pm.png
  4. To add the Chart, tap on the + and select the bar charts (there are of course many table and graph options to choose from, but I chose top left). You can format the chart to any desired size, and choose font options, colours, style etc. using the paintbrush icon.
  5. As the default chart has 2 regions, an extra step is required to look like my example. Tap on the newly inserted table, tap Edit Data and tap on the blue tab to the left of Region 2, to highlight the entire region. Tap again and select Delete. Tap on the cog and tick Plot Columns as Series. Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 5.07.46 pm.png
  6. Input the chart data to the cells. Tap Done.
  7. I chose to have no axis labels (as it was an assessment), by tapping on the paintbrush icon and turning off Category Labels for each axis. However, if students are creating their own, you could add axis labels etc. Drag the finished chart to the desired position (leaving some room for the labels to be added).
  8. When complete, take a screenshot of the page.
  9. In Seesaw, add this with the green + and add from Camera Roll. Tap the green tick.
  10. Create labels in Seesaw for the graph labels and numbers by tapping the T and choosing Add Label. Type your label and then tap on the label to edit or change style. Drag them to the bottom. Doing it this way allows the students to move the labels around.Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 8.00.33 pm.png
  11. Tap the tick when finished with the labels.
  12. To add any instructions, tap the T again and choose Add Caption to add instructions.
  13. Tap the tick to add to your desired class.
  14. Instruct students to Copy and Edit from the 3 dot menu so they can make their own copy to submit.Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 7.18.21 pm.png

There are so many other ways to use Keynote and Seesaw together. Here are just a few:Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 7.50.59 pm.png

I put Seesaw and Keynote in my Top 10 Best Cross-Curricular apps in the classroom.

To learn more about the capabilities of Keynote, consider earning your Keynote badge in the Apple Teacher Program. I have used Keynote for many years and still learned a lot doing the program!


Seesaw – so many applications

Seesaw is a fantastic cross-curricular app that has so many uses in the classroom. The ability to use QR code logins for younger students, with no need for passwords, makes it easy to use in the classroom, but you also have the log in and password option for older students.

The ability to record your voice while you draw or move items on the screen enables you to explain your learning and understanding verbally (beneficial for some students with challenges in written literacy), provide samples of reading aloud and evidence of learning, and all from within a FREE app!

Students can take photos of their work to submit to receive feedback, collaborate with others and show evidence of development.

It can also be used for students to complete digital worksheets by drawing, adding text and labels etc to images. The additional of labels is particularly useful, as if you create your own with labels, when the students copy and edit, they can then move these labels to their correct positions.




From a teacher perspective, it reduces the need for hard copies of work, as you have student samples and can comment with feedback from within the app. Seesaw Plus also allows you to keep private notes, track skills etc.

I rate Seesaw in my TOP 10 Best Cross-Curricular Apps!


Apple Teacher

Having just earned this badge, I can say what a great program this is with excellent multimedia resources all relating to how to get the most out of iPads in the classroom for quality teaching and learning, using Apple’s core apps to ‘app smash’ with great results.

More information to come but great to see this is now available to teachers in Australia.


Keeping iPads up to date

I have had many conversations with schools about their iPad 2s and what to do with them as technology advances. It is a fact of life that with the rate that technology is being improved and upgraded, that devices of all types reach a ‘best before date’, and the iPad 2 has had a great run but is showing its age. The following are some of the reasons I recommend having newer iPads in education:

iOS 10 – iPad 2s are not compatible with iOS 10 which means that iPad 2s do not have:

  • Playgrounds – this excellent free app from Apple is great for engaging students in learning coding and learning the syntax code of Swift.
  • Accessibility – new features such as magnifier, colour filters, more options for highlighting content in Speak Selection and more
  • iOS 10.2 will have a fix for the DEC Proxy issue
  • Many apps are no longer updating for older operating systems and fewer will be available over time

Apple Classroom – allowing teachers to guide learning, easily share webpages and iBooks and control students iPads where necessary.  Shared Feature will require 32Gb minimum and is not supported for iPad 2.

Bluetooth 4.0 or Bluetooth Smart – many peripheral devices such as the new SPRK+ Spheros and Dash and Dot robots do not work with iPad 2s and need the newer technologies. (I have seen schools who have purchased robotics only to find out they do not work with their iPad 2s!).

AirDrop – this handy file sharing feature is not available on iPad 2s.

As students use iPads more and more to document their learning with digital portfolios and creating multimedia presentations using movies and photos, iPads fill quickly, and the older iPad 2s, many of which are 16Gb are no longer sufficient, especially in a shared iPad environment.

Split-screen – great for multi-tasking (although I would recommend that with iPad Minis it can make the readable screen size too small for some).

NAP – NAPLAN testing will be going online with strict requirements. Currently, iOS 9.3.2 and an iPad 2 are supported, however there has been mention of iOS 10 requirement, and an older iPad 2 that is slower will not be ideal for students. Also note that iPad Minis are currently not supported due to the screen size. Click here for NAPLAN technical requirements. NAP uses a locked-down browser application which locks the iPad to NAP.

Of course, the above does not even touch on improved Retina screen display, more powerful processors, improved battery life, lightning connector adapters, Touch ID (advantageous when you have an iPad projected on a screen to students or an audience, so they do not see you type in the passcode), improved camera quality and more.

Many schools have opted to use iPad 2s with Stage 1 and younger students, where many of the features above are not used and saving the newer iPads for older students, so they can continue using their favourite apps and using iPads for photos and surfing the internet. This can work, but teachers also need to be aware that over time, some apps will no longer be updated, and others will not be available on iPad 2s, which can cause frustration when they can only be used for some things and not all.

There is currently an Apple Retail iPad Trade-Up Program, where you can get money back on working iPad 2s when trading up to newer models. This, I imagine, will not always be available and is a way of saving some money on buying new technology. Contact Apple Business for enquiries, which require you to send in serial numbers etc.

Also important to consider before buying new iPads for your school is how you will manage them. This will become more and more important as schools move from Configurator to MDM models. If you want to be able to use Apple School Manager or an MDM such as Zulu Desk as part of your Deployment solution, you need to have purchased your iPads direct through Apple or an authorised Apple Education Reseller to be enrolled in the Device Enrolment Program (DEP).


Lastly, when buying technology, the newer the technology, the longer the life span as far as compatibility. So consider getting the latest iPad models to give you a longer life.

Book Creator new read aloud feature

I am fortunate to have been able to trial the new Book Creator app update, that includes “read aloud” mode, where Siri reads the text from the book and highlights each word.

This is all done from within the app, with no need to export to iBooks. Each word is highlighted as it goes, and the page is automatically turned.

This will be great for younger students and for those with learning and reading difficulties,  not only for students with their own creations, but for teachers to create resources for students so they can use the read aloud mode to access the text.

A great feature making an excellent app even better!


Providing PD to regional teachers

I am proud to say that in 2016 I have provided Professional Development to many teachers and schools around NSW. In the last two months alone, I have worked in Ballina, Coffs Harbour, Broken Hill, Sydney, Wollongong and Tamworth, travelling over 4000km in the car in addition to flights. The appreciation from teachers in regional and remote areas has been overwhelming and I have enjoyed meeting teachers from all of these areas.

This map shows the names of the town/cities that I have presented courses in or provided in-school consultancy, and the red dots show where the teachers have come from. They have come from far and wide! One teacher even traveling 4 hours on a dirt road, knowing that she would be flooded in and not be able to return home for 2 weeks! Such dedication!


Just some of the overwhelmingly positive feedback I have received:

“Bev’s exciting hands-on training day, ‘Coding  with iPads  K – 6’, has given me both the skills and confidence to work on Coding with my students. Teaching through a Distance Education environment has its own unique challenges but Bev was able to help find ways around these and my students are now enjoying learning to code.”   

“Hi Bev, So…my enthusiasm after attending your PL day has led my school into jumping in whole hog. We have ordered more iPads, multiple Bee-bots, Dash & Dots and Sphero’s with some accessories etc. all the apps are being blueprinted onto the iPads ready for the classes to start using next week … it looks like next year we are jumping into full swing coding mode and I’m sure I will need to pick your brain, we would also love to work on getting you out here again to work with us and the students. Just thought I’d tell you the exciting news!!”  

“I can’t fault anything about this session. The host was amazing and kept us all engaged and wasn’t trying to sell us a product but show and evaluate all the educational benefits of all the apps and technology.”

I thoroughly enjoyed today and I could learn as much as you had time to teach. I would definitely attend any future courses you may offer in my region in the future. Thankyou.  

It was brilliant and we are jumping into the deep end thanks to my confidence from this session – very keen to have you come and work with our students and teachers in the future.



While Coding and Robotics are particularly popular at the moment, teachers have also appreciated Music-specific courses and the Create Your Own iBooks course has had rave reviews. And the in-school consultancy allows me to target specific school needs.

Please contact me if you would like me to visit your school or area, as planning is underway for 2017.


Swift Playgrounds

Swift Playgrounds is a great new app that bridges the gap between visual block-based coding and syntax code while maintaining interest for students, as it is fun and engaging. There has been a gap in the market between block-based code such as Scratch, Tickle and Hopscotch and the more complex syntax code, particularly with teaching students in the middle school years. It bridges the gap by introducing blocks of code, but the blocks are the actual syntax code – like choosing ingredients in a recipe while teaching the syntax language.


The game-style lessons and challenges with cute characters (tap on Byte to find two more characters to choose from),  will appeal to students and is engaging, while teaching concepts and terminology such as commandsloops, conditional code and boolean. Terminology is introduced and you can tap on red text for definitions. You choose your character and guide the character through the goals and challenges with Swift, collecting gems, toggling switches and navigating portals. You can zoom in and spin the 3D world around when the path becomes more complex. You can also record a video of your solution to hand in or add to a digital learning journal.

The playground is just one way to use Swift Playgrounds, and encourages computational thinking with problem-solving by breaking down the problem into manageable parts, recognising and identifying patterns and looking for loops for more efficient code. The keyboard is also clever – coders have found typing code on an iPad can be difficult with the iPad keyboard, but the keyboard in Swift Playgrounds allows you to easily access numbers and symbols by dragging the keys down or across to select other options.

Swift is a coding language that is said to be easier to learn, as common English language words are used in the syntax, it is a little less reliant on complex punctuation and the power of the language requires less lines of codes than some languages. While it is mostly used to create Apple apps, it  can be now used for cloud-based web projects and Android apps.

There are excellent teacher resources with the Teacher Guide which help guide teachers through the process of teaching with Swift Playgrounds and encourage student reflection. There is also an excellent Learn to Code iTunes U course, that is also FREE.  Swift Playgrounds is FREE and only available with iOS10, which means it does not work on iPad 2s and earlier. While it is suggested to start Swift Playgrounds with Grade 6, I would certainly think Grade 4 students would cope with at least the first few modules. Learn to Code 1 teaches the fundamentals and will keep students going beyond Primary School age, and Learn to Code 2 goes beyond the basics into building your own worlds.

Book Creator Ambassador

I am pleased to say I have recently been recognised as a Book Creator Ambassador.

Book Creator Ambassador badge

I love sharing the potential of this app in the classroom both for students to create their own work and show evidence of their learning, and also for teachers to create iBooks and learning resources to sue in he classroom.

One great idea, that I have done with Kindergarten, is having students make an Alphabet Sounds book, using text, pencil, sound and adding images and/or videos. They can work on this over some time and record themselves saying the sounds and words.


The comic style is also excellent to add some fun and can be great for students demonstrating orders and processes, such as recipes. Combine with other apps for some ‘App Smashing’ to get really creative!


Book Creator is a versatile app that can be used with all ages.

Bloxels – design thinking

I was excited to receive my package with Bloxels so I could get started playing designing. Bloxels is another resource to add to teaching digital skills with students, and while not so much technically ‘coding’, it still involves many of the same principles and has an emphasis on creation and design. It is the mix of the tactile use of blocks with the iPad app that I find particularly interesting and students will love.



It requires logic, creative thinking and strategic planning and encourages students to design their own games not just play them. The ability to test their own designs immediately and to also see how other users interact with their games, allows students to gain a deeper understanding of game design and design thinking.

There are sample games and beginner challenges, and for teachers there are lesson plans and resources on the Bloxels Edu website.

Is Bloxels coding? It is not technically ‘code’ in the sense of creating algorithms, but the colour-coded blocks essentially are a block of code that commands the app to create the element to match the block, so in a way it is ‘block coding’ in design. In addition, it develops skills that are important in coding if you are designing games or any user interface, as it encourages you to think about design and how users interact with your product. The addition of the Codeboard feature allows you to create behaviour for certain blocks, which also adds more complexity and is more like ‘coding’.

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 1.34.55 PMYou can also design straight from the app without the blocks, or make corrections, but the hands-on interface with the blocks appeals to students. The first task I gave was to create a character. The feature I love here is the ability to see the animation of the character in the bottom left when you create different character poses.

This is another great tool to add to ICT resources for teaching coding and programming design in schools, with some great educational resources for teachers and an emphasis on creation and design.