Sunday, February 19, 2012

Apps for Beat Keeping Practice

I've recently discovered two apps through the Music K-8 Mailing List. Both of the apps are games that require the player to be able to keep a steady beat.

The first app is a free app called Talking Gina. Talking Gina features a giraffe who plays hand clapping games. I find the name of the app interesting because I've played five levels and I have yet to hear Gina talk. If you "clap" her hooves at the appropriate times, the area you hit turns green. If you are early or late, it turns red. Gina is very particular. If you miss, you don't pass the level. I can see that it may be frustrating for some students for that reason. The other aspect of the game is that you need to care for Gina. She needs to be fed, watered, and loved. Kids probably like that portion of the game, but it annoys me. I also don't like that there are in-app purchases available. Be sure you have disabled in-app purchases in your General Settings.

Pros: Practice keeping the beat, sharpens reflexes, kids will enjoy it
Cons: In-App purchases, having to care for Gina beyond playing the clapping games, some kids will get frustrated easily

The second app is called Beat Sneak Bandit. The app costs $2.99. All the clocks in town have been stolen and the Beat Sneak Bandit needs to retrieve them. The character will only move if you are tapping the screen to the beat of the game music. I've played a couple of levels and I think upper elementary students will really like this one. As you progress through the levels, there are various obstacles to avoid such as spotlights and security guards. If you get stuck on a level, you have the option to skip it and come back later. I like that option since there are some students who will get frustrated otherwise. My only complaint about the app is that the music I heard in the first few levels was pretty much the same. I would have loved to have some tempo changes periodically.

Pros: Practice keeping the beat, problem-solving skills, kids can skip levels if they are stuck
Cons: No tempo changes, cost

I don't plan to spend any real amount of time in the classroom with these apps. I will introduce the kids to them so they know about them. If they are interested, they can download them on their devices at home. I will also load them on to our iPad labs so that students who have free time in their classrooms can explore them.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Creating Apps for the iPad

I can never find exactly the right app to meet my needs. It seems like I am always looking for something that doesn't exist. Am I the only one? I'd really love to be able to create my own iPad apps, but I lack the coding know-how.

I've been researching this a bit and recently discovered an app called Codea. I've resisted buying it because it is $7.99 and I'm not sure if it will be useful to me or not. I bit the bullet and bought it yesterday. I haven't had a lot of time to delve into it, but I have discovered thy there are tutorials and examples within the app.

The app looks promising if I can figure out the Lua coding. There is one large drawback: You cannot submit an app made with Codea to the iTunes App Store...yet. Supposedly the ability to do so is coming. I really hope so.

Stay tuned for more info as I play with this app and figure it out a bit.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Apple TV

I recently acquired an Apple TV. The name is slightly misleading because it is not a TV at all. It's a little black box that allows you to stream content to your TV (like Netflix, iTunes videos, etc.). The cost of Apple TV is $99 and you need an HDMI capable projector in order to use it. My main reason for trying Apple TV is that you are supposed to be able to use it to wirelessly mirror your iPad2. I just got it hooked up. It does work, but I am noticing a significant lag. This must be due to some issue on my end because if everyone experienced this lag, there would be no way to watch a video or play a game. So...the trouble shooting begins. If anyone out there has experience with Apple TV and the iPad, I'd love to hear from you.