Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Bitsboard: a teacher's Swiss Army knife

How many nights have you spent preparing PPT games and vocabulary presentations wishing you were watching Netflix? And you really could not surrender to temptation because you knew you would hear that question. My fellow teacher, I have great news for you that might give you just enough time to catch up with the Walking Dead. There is an amazing app that turns one virtual board into over 20 different games. And it gets even better: it is free and available on CTJ’s IPads.

Bitsboard is very user friendly and does not require internet connection to work, although you will need it just to download or create new boards. This means that, once the gadget has the board, it can go offline. The boards can be downloaded from the huge free catalog it offers or created from scratch.  It has very interesting tools, such as selecting the flashcards you want to use in each game, allowing audio hints or not, adding new cards (called Bits) or deleting others and adjusting the level of difficulty for each game. It also gives students feedback on their results. It seems great, right? And if you are not familiar with this amazing app yet, here is a quick tutorial to help you get started.

How to download or create a board

To download a board, Go to Catalog/Shared/Search box and type key words related to the topic you are teaching. Click on the results to see the flashcards it contains and click on Download. Remember you are free to edit it, deleting unrelated words or adding others.

To create a board, go to Settings/Boards/Add Board. Add new cards by clicking on the add button. It opens a window that shows a slot for pictures and a type box. Type the word first if you want to see options of images that are already on Bitsboard. You can use any of them to make your card. It automatically gives you the recording to that word if available. If the play button does not go green, it means you might have to record it yourself by clicking on the red button. If you want to add images from your picture gallery, click on the picture icon.

Selecting the Bits you want to use

If you do not intend to use all the bits on a board, go to Settings/Board/Board name (e.g. Action Verbs)/Select and mark the pictures you want.

Game Settings

        To start playing, go to Home/Boards and select a board.  A window showing the games available opens automatically. Once you choose it, select the number of players. Click on More/Game Settings and adjust the level of difficulty to that game and if you want audio hints or not.

Sharing your boards and downloading to other devices

      Whenever you create a new board, the app opens a dialogue box asking if you intend to share it on the catalog. If you do, click on Share. I suggest that you name it very specifically so you can find it easily on the catalog. You can also upload it to Dropbox and Quizlet or share it via Airdrop by clicking on Share.

Skills to practice in each game

This app is really good for vocabulary practice at the word level. I divide the games into these categories according to the way they can be used in class and the skills they focus on:
  1.     Vocabulary presentation => flashcards (use the projector adaptor to turn it into a whole class presentation), explore, puzzles.
  2.     Vocabulary Practice =>

  •      Listening:  photo touch, memory cards, bingo, photo hunt, explore.
  •      Reading: reader, word search, side by side, pop quiz, match up.
  •      Spelling: spelling bee, word builder, unscramble, word chunks, missing letter( pre-writing stage), trace it (pre-writing stage).
  •      Critical thinking skills: Odd one out, sort it, sequences.
  •       Writing clues/review: story time, review game.

I hope you like Bitsboard as much as I do. Cheers!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this is fantastic, Ivna! Will check it out. There are so many cool apps in the iPads that we still haven´t explored...Thanks for the post.


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