App Smashing: Making an Idea a Reality

So often I get asked “What’s your favourite app for #PhysEd?” or “What one app do you use all the time with you students?”

A few years ago when I started iPhys-Ed.com as a place to talk about technology in physical education I probably would have responded with Ubersense or Coach’s Eye, however through my professional journey I have come to see that there is no ONE app that I use all the time or ONE favourite app that serves my students the best. Most of the time when I use any app it is to serve a very particular purpose and to make it easier for my students to achieve the knowledge, skills or understanding that they require.

Recently during our health related fitness unit, as some of my Grade 4 students were working on developing fitness circuits workouts I realised that actually quite a lot of the time we actually use more than one app to achieve our purpose. One of my colleagues calls it “App Smashing.”

App Smashing is the process of using multiple apps to create projects or complete tasks. Below I will attempt to give you an example of how I used App Smashing in my #PhysEd class.

The Background

My Grade 4 students are taking part in a unit of inquiry about The Human Body and how it’s systems are interrelated. At the beginning of the unit during my physical education time with the students I asked them “What do you want to know about what happens to your body when you exercise?”
The questions came rolling in; “Where does sweat come from when we are hot?" "Why do we get tired after we exercise?" "What happens when you don't stretch before you exercise?" "Why do we burn energy?"We agreed as a group to start inquiring together into the answers to these questions. As we did, further questions began to emerge; “How many calories does the average person burn?" "Do you need energy to sleep?" "What happens to my heart rate when I exercise?" "If you sweat too much will you get dehydrated?"As we began to inquire further into how exercise can affect our body some of the students decided that they would like to create their own fitness circuit workouts.

The Process

The first step of the process was to give the students a template to assist them in developing their fitness workout. As part of their circuit design process I wanted to also assess their knowledge of how different exercises affect different components of fitness so I added icons underneath each workout for them to circle and identify which component of fitness it was benefitting.

Students actually filled this template in and designed their circuits workouts with a sub teacher as I was having wisdom tooth surgery and was out of school for a week. Upon my return I took a look at the work they had done on their circuits and thought that although they had done a great job on the paper template that we could take it even further. Our Grade 3 health related fitness unit is coming up in February and I thought it would be really cool if rather than using other fitness workout videos/apps the Grade 3’s could do the workouts that the Grade 4’s had created.

I had recently had the chance to catch up with my buddy Adam Llevo at APPEC in Hong Kong and we were chatting about how he had used GIFs to design activities for cover teachers.  I had also been using the wonderful Sworkit Kids app with my students. Suddenly I had an idea! How cool would it be if my students workouts were sort of like a mini Sworkit Kids workout and we used GIFs instead of video. That way the movements would constantly repeat without needing to push play at the end of the video.

Smashing it Up!

As a Google Apps school our students had experience using Google Slides and they had used it previously during #PhysEd in Grade 3 when they used it to create a Yoga Sequence using images. Google Slides for iOS will allow you to take a photograph within the app however you can’t currently take or import video to the slide shows. Knowing that I wanted a looping video I experimented and found that I could use another app GIFO to create short looping GIFs. Once I had done this all I needed to do was copy the created GIFs into the Google Slides app. Simple right? I’ll break it down for you.

Step 1: Record The GIF

Step 2: Copy the GIF

Step 3: Open Google Slides

Step 4: Paste the GIF

The Product

Below you can see an example of one of the GIF Workouts that the Grade 4's put together during on of the their physical education lessons. The plan is to use their Google Slide workouts with students in other classes as part of their fitness units, essentially creating a bank of student created workouts that are easily accessible to students on their iPads.

So that's how I smashed two apps together to help me and my students to turn an idea into a reality. I would love to hear in the comments below if you have every used "app smashing" in your classes to turn your ideas into reality.
Nathan Horne is a Physical Educator based in Singapore and founder of iPhys-Ed.com. Be sure to never miss out on any of iPhys-Ed.com's future posts by connecting with us via TwitterFacebook or subscribing to our RSS Feed

Nathan can be contacted on Twitter @PENathan or via email at nathan@iphys-ed.com

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