Up in Pieces

image    Last week I trialled using the free app Up in Pieces with my Year 9 Indonesian class. Students really enjoyed the app and actually asked for more puzzles. Any app that can generate that sort of enthusiasm in a languages classroom full of 14 year old teenagers definitely needs to be considered.

Basically, Up in Pieces turns photos into playable jigsaw puzzles. You can import any image from your Photo Library into the app. This means your puzzles could come from photos taken with the iPad camera, images saved from webpages, screenshots taken in any app, collages made with a collage app like Pic Collage, etc.

Creating a puzzle is quite simple, click on the word Create and select the image you wish to use. At this point you may be required to crop a little from each side of your image, so you do need to be careful that no important parts of your puzzle will be removed. Next select the number of pieces you would like your puzzle to have, and by turning on rotate, pieces will be randomly rotated therefore making the puzzle a bit more difficult to complete. Your puzzle is then created and saved.

Once saved your Up in Pieces puzzle can be shared via emailing the link. Students must have the Up in Pieces app installed in order to use the link. When you choose to share a puzzle, it is uploaded to Up in Piece’s server and is available via a hyperlink. To get the hyperlink, your options are to share it by Twitter, Facebook, or Email. As I cannot use Twitter or Facebook at my school,  I chose to email the link to my students. Firstly by emailing the link to myself, and then using the bulk email function forward it to my class. I did run into difficulties as students were unable to open the link, though this could be due to permissions on my school’s network. So to make the link work I did have to manually email each student. A tedious process. Next time I might embed a QR code with the link. Though not sure this will be successful.

Whilst I did have a minor technical hitch, I am planning on using this app across all year levels that I teach as my students really enjoyed using the app and it is another way that encourages students’ communication skills.


image    Where shall we go next? What country can we explore? 360cities allows you to virtually visit many places of interest and view their spectacular panoramic photos. The photos are a full interactive shot of the scenery so you do get to see everything.  You are also able to create your own panoramic shots and upload your pictures.

The 360Cities panoramic pictures provide a vivid visual experience to enhance a languages lesson. Students can search and view the panoramic setting and bring a country to them. Images could be used to visit famous landmarks or interesting sites. As a teacher:

  • you could provide students an image and challenge them to create a virtual tour.
  • By using other apps you could get students to create travel brochures for the panoramic pictures, or
  • Record the tours as a screencast.
  • Use the “how-to” section to have your students create their own panoramic pictures.

At a cost of $1.99, this is an excellent app.


untitled  Tellagami is an app that allows uers to create video content on their ipad.  It allows for the the combination of voice and photo backgrounds to create customised 3D avatars.  It is another fun way of encouraging digital storytelling, as well as speaking, reading and writing in the languages classroom.  Last week I gave this app a go in my Year 7 class. Students were to write a script about our current topic “Kamu melakukan apa?”  “What are you doing?”, and then get their script proofread and corrected by me.

Once the script was completed, students were to create their 3D avatar Tellagami, complete with their voice recording.

This is a sample of my student’s work.

I really liked using Tellagami in my classroom as it is a very simple app to use, and the process of actually creating a movie similar to my student sample is quite fast and very easy. Users have the option of picking the gender of their avatar, and then have the option of changing their avatar’s facial attributes, emotions, clothing and background image. For the background you can use an image from your camera roll or select one of the apps pre-loaded options. There is a limitation in that you can only audio record scenes for 30 seconds. However, if you wanted to make a longer movie, you can save your 30 second scenes into your camera roll and then use them in another app like iMovie.

This is a really fun app and my students were very excited in the prospect of creating their own talking avatar. It is an excellent app that really engaged my students and assisted them in learning a language.

Too Noisy

image   My language class is often loud, and ordinarily I do not have a problem with this as learning a language obviously involves students speaking and communicating with each other. In fact, it is an absolute joy to see my students actively participating in speaking and language games and associated activities, however there are times when I do need to manage the noise level to a more comfortable level. This is where the Too Noisy app becomes a very useful addition to the teacher’s toolkit.

This cute iPad app has been designed to assist teachers keep the noise levels in the classroom under control in a fun and engaging way. It does take the negative focus away the teacher, which I quite appreciate, because as the noise levels increase in a classroom and reach an unacceptable level the background graphics change to reflect this and this gives a visual indication to the students that the classroom has become too noisy without teacher intervention. The background picture changes as the noise level lowers or rises. As some activities in a classroom can have a higher level of acceptable noise, the sensitivity of the app can be adjusted to suit. This app is free, however if you buy the paid version called Too Noisy Pro it has the same background but when the noise gets too loud it looks like the screen cracks and has a loud noise to get the attention of the children.

Cartoon Camera


image  Cartoon Camera Pro app is a really cool app that creates sketch like images from any image stored in your camera roll or from images taken with your iPad camera. Very simple to use: you upload an image, and once uploaded you can then resize, rescale, or crop. You then can select if you want your image to appear in black and white, coloured, or distorted and also add filters.

Your image will appear like a sketched cartoon. I created this cartoon image with no fuss at all.

Images can be shared via social network tools or saved to your camera roll.


Students and Teachers could use the images when creating

Comic books
Or absolutely anything

Whilst this app is not entirely “educational” it does allow the creative, and not so creative, to produce a document in a fun way. I haven’t yet used this app in my classroom, but I am thinking it might be quite hilarious for students to take a photo of themselves, turn that into a comic sketch and then use that image to create a poster that describes them. Definitely think that my year 8s will enjoy that activity and also sharing their creation, And while it might seem a bit frivolous students will still be talking, reading, listening and writing in the target language. Who said teaching and learning a language can’t be fun!








Trading Cards

image   Trading Cards is a fun, easy to use and a very useful free iPad app. My younger students love to collect trading cards, so rather than just collecting cards, this app encourages students to create their own.

Trading Cards app is very easy to use, as within each stage in creating a Trading Card you are given question prompts which are very useful as it helps students with their writing.

This is a card that I made. It took no time at all.


I love that my students now have another option and fun way to write in the target language.

Using the onscreen prompts students can create cards on almost any topic, and I really like that this app does encourage writing in the target language.  Some examples for use might be to create cards on topics such as

  • About me
  • My pets
  • Family members
  • Describing people

As you can see from my example images can be added to cards and once completed cards can be saved and shared via email and also saved to your camera roll.  Students then have the ability to share their cards with other students.


image   Bookpress is a free app that allows you to create digital ebooks. There are preset templates you can use to create storybooks, cookbooks, picture books, etc. However, you can also use the blank template to create any kind of book. Bookemon, the creator, provides bCloud for storage of your books or you can store your books locally onto your iPad. eBooks can be shared and then viewed on an iPad, provided that the iPad has the app, or you can view the books online through a web browser.

I quite like this app as it is intuitive to use, making creating a book a very easy process. I created this eBook in less than 5 minutes.

Sample eBook

While, unlike Book Creator you are unable to record the story, this app does have the advantage that it is free.

Bookemon also provides edCenter, a free, private, secure environment for teachers and students to create, collaborate, and share their books. Email addresses are not required for student accounts.

This app could be valuable in the languages classroom as it gives students another avenue to

  • Produce digital stories
  • Encourages writing and reading
  • Used in collaborative project work
  • Used to create a class book on an excursion
  • Create a ‘how to’ book
  • Create a class book on any topic, for example my Year 8 class will soon be doing the unit on food, this app could be used to create a class recipe/cookery book


image  Touchcast is an exciting new iPad app that is perfect for the flipped or traditional classroom as it provides teachers an opportunity to create interactive virtual lessons. More importantly it provides students an opportunity to present their work in a way that could not ever before be possible or conceivable. Touchcast sets itself apart from other iPad app video recorders because it has interactive features you can build onto your video. The possibilities are endless. You can record yourself with the front facing camera, record someone or something else with the rear camera, or use the whiteboard to record. Then you get to the real interactivity by adding vApps. vApps are like little widgets that you can add over the top of your recording. You can add things like a web browser, other videos, images, polls, and Google Maps (plus a heap more). When you publish the video, viewers can interact with the vApps by moving them around and using them. I don’t believe there is anything else that allows you to create a multimedia experience like this and unbelievably it is free.

Here is a presentation I created in less than 5 minutes, and while it is definitely amateurish in production you can see what can be created in a very short amount of time with minimal effort. My video includes images, a google map, a website, as well as my recording.


There are some negatives in using the app

  • Once you are done recording and hit save to view your recording, you cannot go back and edit or add more.
  • You are limited to only 5 minutes.
  • You do need to sign in, very simple, (Touchcast require a username and password), however you must be 13 years or older
  • I am not sure of student privacy issue implications, as to share the videos they must be uploaded to Touchcast cloud and made public.

However, as previously mentioned the possibilities of use in the language classroom are endless. Students could

  • Create interactive videos on any topic
  • Create a news report that includes videos and images
  • Be a sports commentator and have their commentary include YouTube videos
  • Be a weather presenter
  • Use for digital storytelling
  • Create an interactive travel guide

Balloon Stickies

image  Annotate an image with speech bubbles.  This is another free app that allows you to take an image with your camera or choose an existing image from your camera roll. Once you have selected an image you can then annotate using the pre-set speech bubbles.  Speech bubbles can be modified by changing the background colour, font size, font type, font colour, changing the direction of the bubble’s tail, adding shadow effects etc.

The finished product can be emailed or saved to your camera roll. If saved to your camera roll you can then use the image within other apps.

The app is simple for students to use, you only need to double tap to get speech bubbles, and then double tap the bubble to edit and add text.

There are a number of ways in how this app could be used in the languages classroom.  Students could

  • create revision cards
  • write about an image
  • use as a brainstorming activity
  • create a series of images and then use to record a story in an animation app such as 30Hands or create an ebook

The free version has advertisements, which I always find vaguely annoying, however given the simplicity of the app and the possible uses, this annoyance can be easily ignored.


image I must admit I have yet to use this app in my classroom, however I can see that it has great potential in getting my students to speak in the target language.

Fotobabble is a free iphone app, that nevertheless works quite well on your ipad. It allows you to turn a picture into an audio picture story. Using Fotoabble is easy, as all you need to do is follow the onscreen prompts. Firstly, you need to upload an image into your Fotobabble. This is quite simple if you allow Fotobabble to access your camera roll. Once you have chosen an image all you need to do is press record to start recording your voice. If you are not happy with your recording, it has the function to re-record.

Some ways you can use it in your languages classroom:

  • You can get your students to comment on the photo
  • explain what’s happening in the image photo, or
  • tell a story related to an image.

This app allows students to quickly create short audio stories about pictures that either they take or images that you supply. As I said earlier I have yet to use this app, but am very keen to trial it with one of my classes. It is certainly worth considering using this free app.