Yesterday was International Dot Day. I love Dot Days. Our last effort was using the iPads. I love the concept of schools all over the world being joined together through sharing children’s art work.
As we were learning how to use Google Drawings better I thought I would have my boys draw their dots in Drawings. I wanted to show them our effort from previous years but to my horror I found out Photopeach is now blocked at school because we have recently moved to using N4L (Network for Learning). I don’t know how to get the fabulous Photopeach Slideshow Maker unblocked so I could use it to show previous dots and share this year’s dots.
And with a bit of help from N4L Photopeach is now unblocked at school. I rang them on 0800LEARNING http://www.n4l.co.nz/contact/ and it was sorted lickety split.
So I had to find another way and You Tube isn’t blocked. You Tube Slideshow Creator! To get there just go to your YouTube Upload Page.
You upload your photos en masse, select a sound track and Boom. Job done. Slideshow on blog!
Today we were learning how to make Google Drawings and layering them with transparent png images. We were going to ‘TOOLS- Research- Images- Free to use’ to find our images.
We used ‘taniwha png’ as the search term so we would get images with transparent backgrounds.
We found our background image and layered it and went to ARRANGE – send to back, to made sure it was at the back. Then we went and got the taniwha image and put it over top. The Taniwha of the Mawhera caves lives on!
Then we took it a step further. We made an animation in Google Slides of the taniwha swimming up the river. The original image I used for the taniwha was black and it didn’t show up very well against the dark background so when I got home I imported it to Pixlr Editor (Chrome Web App) and changed the colour to white so it would show up.
To make the animation we made our first slide with the Taniwha on it, duplicated the slide and moved the taniwha image slightly, duplicated (Command + D or CTRL +D) and ever so slightly moved the taniwha again, repeating it. Then we just scrolled through the slides really fast and the taniwha swum up the river. Try it it’s lots of fun.
Kids will have a ball!!
You can also take it a step further by embedding the presentation into a blog or Google Site. All you have to do is publish it to the web and change the timings a little…..
Go to FILE- PUBLISH TO WEB and change the size to small and tick the box that says ‘Start slideshow as soon as the player loads’.
Take the embed code and copy it to where you want the presentation to load and change the timing. For where it says 3000 change it to something like 300. And publish.
So this way the animation will play without having to tap away to progress the slides.
I have been busy lately learning and studying for the Google Educator Exams. The deal is that you have 90 days to sit four compulsory exams: Gmail, Google Calendar, Sites & Drive and a choice of either Chrome or Chromebooks. I chose Chrome.
Last Friday night I felt inspired and took the last exam and got a Google Educator Certificate to add to the portfolio!
As Google is still rolling out the new Google Drive and the exams are more aimed at the old Drive I decided to not to move to the new interface until I had passed them all and got the certificate so I have only been playing around in the new Drive for a week.
I must say I am loving it but you get used to old ways of doing things and some things are in different places and they take a bit of getting used to.
Alice Keeler has been tweeting some good little tutorials that help with the new interface and I have listed some on my Google Site.
I was asked this week how to copy files in to multiple folders in the new Drive and it was a bit tricky to explain with screen grabs so I made a couple of screen recordings to show what Jon Keelty and Monika Kern were trying to tell me to do. Or at least this is what I thought they were trying to share with me!
I can’t recall how I first came across the Write About This app but liked it immensely from the very start. The concepts behind this app grabbed me straight away and I could see the potential. How it works is this…
Children select a photo prompt that engages them from a good selection of categories or they could potentially take their own photo.
They are then prompted with a choice of three levels of questions of increasing complexity with an audio overlay in case reading independently is an issue.
They then write their stories and if they want to they can then read their stories aloud and export them as movies for publishing on the web. How motivating for learners!
The only problem with the app as it was when I first saw it was that many of the images were distinctly American- aircraft carriers, men in uniform, yellow school buses, grid iron football- and the voice over was in an American accent. And the spelling- all those favorites and colors!
I got in touch with Brad Wilson, the app developer, and asked about the possibility of making a kiwi version. He was keen so I enlisted the assistance of the Learning with Digital Technologies team for support. Monika Kern took me up on the offer and together we worked on identifying images that we needed to change and sourcing new ones with a distinctive kiwi flavour.
We did try to record the audio prompts ourselves but it was taking too long and we were unsure of the consistency so Brad organised a Kiwi voice over artist. And here we are now with the app being launched in the iTunes store. How awesome is that.
I am chuffed that they used a photo I took on the way home from working in Blenheim earlier this year as a cover photo. The youngest member of the fire brigade team proudly stood by the truck to have his photo taken while the rest of the team were giving him cheek.
Here is a quick recording I made to show you a finished story. I would love to see what you and your students come up with.
You can also purchase Tell About This from the same team which focusses more on oral retelling.
Here is on we made with the Kiwi version of the app…..
If you were anywhere near Twitter over the weekend you would have seen the tweets in a tsunami like wave pouring from the #edchatnz conference held at Hobsonville Point in Auckland. I kept an eye on the Twitter #edchatnz hashtag stream while I was working and the learning session that particularly interested me was that by Craig Wilson sharing the features of Booktrack.
I have had Booktrack Classroom Reader as an iPad app for ages after seeing an interview on the television some years ago when the app first got publicity!
In a nutshell Booktrack layers an ambient soundtrack over a text so that you listen to it as you read and the soundtrack keeps track with the pace of your reading. I remember back to the first book I read – the Selfish Giant. In the book a door opens and I heard that sound of a door opening in the text at exactly the right moment. I was impressed that the sound track matched the reading experience.
I asked participants at the conference via Twitter if someone could Skype me into Craig’s session but no one was able to. Craig, however, picked up on my tweet and offered to show me more via Skype in the following week. This was a perfect solution to finding out more about Booktrack and fill in the gaps of my knowledge of its uses and features- from the expert and just in time for an advanced Google Apps workshop I am leading in a couple of weeks.
The first point to be aware of is the difference between Booktrack Classroom and Book Track Studio and the Booktrack mobile apps.
Booktrack Classroom is for education with a school sign up and the books are for general consumption and safe for students to read and view. A teacher creates an account- adds students who can log in with a password which the teacher can change. This is a fabulous feature as you can make your own version of Single Sign On and have fewer passwords to remember. Craig also suggested making a parent account so parents can log in to read the works that children in the class have made. Books created in Booktrack Classroom cannot be linked to or generally shared without a log in- a walled garden. You don’t have to have made a Booktrack account to read the bookshelf books.
With Booktrack Studio books can be shared via a URL and the content could potentially contain more open content. There is the ability to flag inappropriate material which is a another great feature.
The Booktrack Android and iPad apps are both readers only. If you want to create your own soundtrack you need to do so on a laptop or Chromebook.
As well as the web app I like that it is also a Chrome app linked to your Google Account. Here are the links to all the different ways you can access Booktrack. You can’t say they are limiting access!!
When you first open the app you can read books that others have written as exemplars and just plain engaging books to read. But the creative side of me loves that I can write my own text and create my own soundtrack and publish it to the bookshelf for others to read.
Here is a sample book, The Farmer, the Rooster and the Jewel, that I put together. The workflow that I used was to have a student write a narrative in Google Docs- proof read, get feedback and improve it. I then copied the text into Booktrack and highlighted the text where I want the sounds to be placed. I can then layer from a zillion music, ambient or sound affects to add to the text. When done I publish.
I like this process for students as you have to read, re-read and make knowledgeable choices about which sound track or effect best fits with the text. I like also that readers can rate the book and see how many reads they have had.
Booktrack were also able to supply some research that shows how reading with Booktrack promotes reading and improves readability of texts.
“We are just starting with some Chromebooks and wondered which one is the most popular/reliable in schools. We would appreciate any advice. Thanks.”
This led to a conversation around whether you would want more than one device in your classroom.
This got me wanting to further explain my mantra of late- “Use the right tool for the job”.
I liken it to using my kitchen knives. Would you want to limit the use of your kitchen cutlery to only using one kind of knife? And if you were only allowed one knife in your kitchen what kind would you choose to have to do every thing?
Imagine you were trying to cut a loaf of bread with vegetable knife! It would turn out badly with nothing close to the desired result.
If you wanted to carve a roast you wouldn’t choose a bread knife.
Even having something like a Swiss Army Knife with lots of knives built in doesn’t really do the cutting job you want done done properly.
Liken this scenario to your classroom devices. As you are probably aware I am a big fan of using iPads and Google Apps in the classroom but I avoid using ‘the Google’ for anything apart from searching on my iPad ‘cos it is all a bit too fiddly and you loose a lot of the functionality that you get when you are using Chrome on a laptop. I have the choice of devices and I know which one is the best for which task because I have had experience in using them all.
I really need a mixture of devices so I can learn what is the right tool according to our needs. I want Chromebooks for Google, iPads for portability and diversity, Mac Book Airs for power, iPod Touches for portability on the move.
I also want a rich mixture of traditional classroom resources- pens, felts, chalk, pencils, paint, paper, cardboard etc……
To find out what was best for my classroom I would heed more the advice of other teachers and practitioners about their experiences with devices rather than being swayed by the preferences of well meaning tech people who might be good with technology but have little idea of the complexity and challenges of classroom teaching. I get cross when I hear of tech support companies and commercial sellers advising schools of what they think would be the best solution for them. I would rather listen to the advice of someone without a vested interested in selling me something than a door-to-door snake knife salesperson.
I would visit other schools and learn of their experiences. I would join Twitter, attend Educamps and conferences like ULearn and learn from and with people who are on the same journey as me.
After much deliberation and collaboration I am delighted to be able to share a research paper exploring learning with iPads written by Karen Melhuish, Tania Coutts, Tara Fagan and me!
The paper was published as a special iPad focussed edition by Otago University Centre for Distance Learning
The paper’s abstract follows…
In New Zealand, there are growing numbers of schools which are investing in iPad
deployment, ranging from schools who have made a strong commitment to iPads
through to those who have purchased a small number for student groups to use. Recent
studies have comprehensively reflected the kinds of affordances that iPads offer, such as
mobility, flexibility, ease of use, and range of applications. It is timely to begin to
consider the type of education that might be afforded by such technologies. Using three
future-focused themes—diversity, connectedness and coherence (Bolstad, Gilbert,
McDowall, Bull, Boyd, & Hipkins, 2012)—as lenses for analysis, this paper presents
three vignettes from junior classes that reflect the way iPads might afford deep,
personalised approaches to learning to support young people effectively as they move
through their school years. The analysis suggests that, where educators adopt a
learner-centred pedagogy as part of a whole school systematic vision for learning,
iPads can offer a powerful tool for engagement.
I regularly start conversations with people about how important digital literacy, cyber safety and understanding the nature of the web is for them to understand but I learnt a couple of good lessons myself this week.
They revolved around asking permission to use other people’s images and work and the other was about the length of time things stay on line.
I was sharing some of my learning around using iPads and numeracy at a school this week. I thought things had gone well and everyone was leaving when one of the teachers came to me as I was packing up and we got into a conversation around other resources of mine she had used and one in particular on taking good photos.
She astounded me really as I have not shared that stuff in ages and it was of the first things that I shared in any sort of public way quite a number of years ago.
Back in the days when digital cameras were new I had made a Powerpoint for my class on how to take good photos using the Rule of Thirds. I had used all my own family photos apart from a couple that I had ‘borrowed’ from the ICT facilitator of the time, Jocelyn MacKay. I don’t recall asking Jocelyn if I could use her images and I had no idea where she had got them from- I assumed from some anonymous internet source.
I hadn’t asked my family members either if I could use their photos cos I reckoned they were my family and wouldn’t mind but on reflection I should have asked them too! It was in the days before I worried about whose images I was using and whether I should ask first.
Anyway this teacher said she was surprised to be viewing a the Rule of Thirds Powerpoint I had shared and see a photo of her nephew at the age of about six. Her nephew is now twenty-five and living overseas. She was OK with it and didn’t mind but I was still embarrassed that it was there.
Everyone’s image on the internet is their own and I should always ask first before assuming it is OK to use other people’s stuff.
It is a lot harder to retrace your steps once the image has left the privacy of your camera.
I need to think more about these sorts of things and be more vigilant.
I bought myself a Samsung Chromebook for $450 inc GST in October because that’s what early adopters tend to do and I like trying and learning new things.
I wrote a Chromebook review on a borrowed device last year and I can thankfully say that the device is much improved- a different kettle of fish entirely from what I used last year.
Here are some of my thoughts around using Chromebooks and Google Apps- appreciating the fact that I am Google Certified Teacher as well as a Blended eLearning Facilitator. My perspective on teaching and learning is flavoured by teaching mainly from year four to six so I can’t discuss how they might look in a secondary school situation.
I think that they are a good, cheap device for doing the sorts of things that senior students often want to do- writing, collaborating, researching, connecting, recording, learning! You have to have a Google account or create one on startup and some internet to get the device working.
It is really easy to use as a shared device as you log in to your Google Account you get all your services at your fingertips- just log out and pass on to the next person if needed.
The battery seems to last a good while and I love the ‘instant on’ feature- you lift the lid and the thing is on.
I like the decent sized keyboard that my fingers know where they are supposed to go unlike silly little netbooks where I was forever typing the wrong letters- it was driving my crazy!
It is lightweight so easy to carry around, backwards and forwards to school if needed as a personal device.
I really like that anything you do on it is never lost- with things going to Drive which autosaves you can never lose your work.
I think it is robust enough to take the knocks but I look after mine cos I paid for it with my own money- not sure how it would handle the rigours of being bashed around all the time- only time and a trial could tell that I suppose.
I also like that there are never any updates to do or viruses to check for- all that sort of thing is done for you by launching Chrome which automatically checks for updates as it starts up.
Yes they are good at searching the web but so much more than that- with the use of Google Docs and potentially Hapara Teacher Dashboard to manage the use of docs, blogs, curriculum areas etc for teachers it can be a really powerful tool.
You can easily add other apps and extensions to Chrome to enhance and empower your experience. You get the basic tools like docs, presentations, spreadsheets, forms and drawings as standard but can add other powerful apps like We.video and Video.notes which can add even more functionality to the experience and if you add Chrome extensions as well you can do some quite amazing things.
I splashed out and bought a Chromecast as well. A Chromecast is a bit like an Apple TV in that you can wirelessly mirror your browser onto a data display. I had to order it through Amazon and YouPost and cost my $87NZ delivered to NZ. Here is a video that shows you how to set it up. I like that as well because as you mirror one tab you can do something else on a different tab! At the end of the year you could show your class a YouTube video in one tab and be writing your reports in another!!!!!
On first starting up the Chromebook I had to quickly learn to do some things in new ways…..
It is a different way of thinking though and it took me a bit of fiddling to do some of the things I do without thinking on my Mac Book Pro.
My first hurdle was to remember my really strong Google password. I use OnePassword to store my passwords and it is a download on my Mac so I had to copy it from my iPhone app when I first opened up my Chromebook. After a quick tweet to OnePassward I was able to access the rest of my passwords because I have them synching in Dropbox.
Talking of Dropbox you can’t of course have off line access but I was able to add the app and have it sitting on my bottom toolbar like in the photo collage above.
To take a screen grab I had to add an extension and then I had to figure out where the screengrab actually went when it was captured. I Googled it and found there actually was a FILES folder for things that you want to save for things like PDFs so I have that sitting on the bottom tool bar as well.
I couldn’t use Skype because that is a download so can use Google Hangouts instead. You just think to yourself how can I do this a different way!
My Chromebook is stand alone as it my own personal one but as a teacher I would want the management console so I could push out settings, websites and those sorts of things to the students but I am not sure that you would need to in a secondary setting- you would have to ask other Chromebook users for their opinions on that.
In saying all that I have only really used my Chromebook where I know there is good strong wifi or tethered it to my iPhone. I think that without that connectivity then it would be nothing more than a rather lightweight, funky looking brick!
There is a lot for me to learn yet as I explore and play but I’m underway.
I store my bookmarks in Diigo which is an on line social bookmarks curating website. If you find the site not working at school it is probably because your filters are blocking it because it is social and you may have to look at my bookmarks at home!!!
I would be interesting to hear how you are getting on with your Chromebooks.
What advice can you share about how you are using them.
I was visiting a school recently and as I was leaving I spoke with the office manager/teacher aide who was individually testing a child on his Spell Write spelling list.
She would say the word, say it again in context and say the word again
This was great as it showed me that the teacher was trying to differentiate the learning for individual students to find out what they knew individually rather than testing groups of learners when many of them were maybe not ready for it or had already moved on.
What has always concerned me though was the time it takes to individually test children in this sort of way.
When teaching, to overcome this issue I made a recordings of myself administering the test using Garageband or Audacity on a PC. I then put those tracks into an iTunes playlist and put it on my iPod Nano or iPad.
I also made a template like this for children to record their words so they would know where they were up to.
This worked really well as the children could play the track at a pace that suited them and rewind words if they wanted to for clarification or if I was going too fast.
With permission from NZCER, the publishers of Spell Write, I share with you the audio of me reading Essential List One to give you the idea. It would take no more time for you to record yourself doing this once for your whole class as it would to do it once for one child. And then you never have to do it again. I have the other audio tracks and list templates I am happy to share with you if you let me know.
I also linked to Spelling City website or iPad app on my the sidebar of our class blog so children could play games and test themselves on lists based on the Spell Write lists.
Here is the Spell Write List One words but I link to the rest as well so all children have access. You are welcome and encouraged to link to my other lists as well if you wish.
I also wanted the session to not only share what I think is on the horizon but to also engage and involve the principals so the presentation is mainly videos. This made the Keynote huge so for publication here and as a reference I just took screengrabs and linked to the videos.
To view the Keynote in large text format click here. The links don’t work in presentation view but if you download it as a pdf that will all work.
I then want the Keynote to lead to a discussion around the NZ Curriculum Update Issue 26 October 2012 and what the themes that underpin a future orientated learning system might mean for individual and groups of schools.
Rethinking Learning and Teaching Roles
A culture of continuous learning for teachers and educational leaders
New views of equity and diversity
A curriculum that uses knowledge to develop learning capacity
New kinds of partnerships and realationships
To download the presentation click on the picture and click on the download button as in this screengrab.
Today I was facilitating a couple of iPad workshops and I was asked about the workflow I would use to have books made with Book Creator on the iPad available on the web for adding to a blog or other online space.
Here are a couple of ways of doing it.
1. The first was is to use Reflector.app that you download onto your laptop to mirror your iPad onto your laptop screen. Reflector costs about $25NZ or $12.99US. Then I would use Quicktime on my Apple or Jing on a PC to record the screen as the book was playing.
And then I would upload that video that I had made to Vimeo to embed on my blog.
Here is a little video of that happening. I apologise that these tutorial videos are not fabulous but hopefully you will get the idea of what is happening in each one.
2. The second way costs no money at all. You send the book to your laptop via email if it is small or via something like Dropbox if it is larger. Then you move to your laptop and open up Chrome web browser. You use the Chrome extension Readium with your Chrome web browser. Open the Book Creator ePub in Readium and the audio and video will play.
This is great for adding another way to read/play your favourite books created with Book Creator.
I am told on good authority that the new Mavericks OS for Apple will be able to read ePub without needed the Chrome web extension. This will make it one step easier.
Then you can record the screen using Quicktime or Jing as before.
In a nutshell here is how I see what the SAMR letters stand for.
S- Substitution- would be you just used an iPad as a flash sort of text book for the kids to read and copy from.
A- Augmentation- you might have the text book read to you via Speech Selection so that is moving things up a notch.
M- Modification- You might make your own book using Book Creator that includes graphics, audio, video and hyperlinks etc
R- Redefinition- You might have students all collaborating making pages for a Book Creator including graphics, audio, video and hyperlinks etc and combining them in one book which you then publish it on iTunes.
I think that the iPad can be an excellent vehicle to raise our game around learning but I am concerned that some teachers think that if they had enough iPads, or Chromebooks, or laptops or whatever, then they would be better teachers and the children better learners. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen like that.
I have seen some people place different iPad apps on a dimension of the SAMR model as though there they sit, fixed, but I would beg to differ.
Take for example the free app Tellagami for iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone. At its most basic level it is an avatar maker- you can change the look and features of a male or female avatar and take a screen grab! Easy enough but let’s put it on the SAMR model.
S- Substitution- You make an avatar, take a screen grab to use as a prompt for writing in writing time.
A- Augmentation- You could create an avatar, upload a background image then write or record a script for it to describe a classroom happening, a visual mihi, or whatever as in this intro I made for an upcoming iPad workshop. Or a learner could take a photo of their artwork and their avatar could talk about how it was made and a self reflection on the process.
M- Modification- You could combine the learners’ short projects into one segmented movie using iMovie. This example by Greg Swanson, ADE from Australia, shows this idea really well. His students each produced a segment for the instructional video to show evidence of learning.
R- Redefinition- You might invite others, not from your school, or region or country to each make their own segment, then collaborate to make and share their Tellagami projects. The end result being a collaborative video like Paul Hamilton, another Australian ADE has done with this project.
So what I am saying here is try to think of and use apps that allow learners to create, engage,connect and collaborate. Aim for the Redefinition end of the SAMR model- don’t limit yourself to the mere Substitution dimension.
I would love to hear your thoughts and examples and thoughts on using the SAMR model in your classroom with your students.
You can make simple video trim edits from within the iPad camera roll itself. With Vimeo you can upload your videos to Vimeo and embed them on your blog.
For this tutorial I used the iPad video camera to take a movie. This workflow works with any video in the Camera Roll. In this project we are only going to trim the ends of the video. To do more complex editing I would recommend iMovie.
To take a movie open the camera app slide the camera icon to the right.
Once you have made the movie it will be in your Photos Camera Roll. You can trim the beginning and end by touching the timeline at the top until it turns yellow & drag the ends toward the middle and then click TRIM.
Open the Vimeo app and log in or join. Click on upload.
Choose the video that you want to upload. Give it a Title and select its quality. It will upload. This might take a while.
The video will render for a while and then you will be able to see it in the timeline.
Click on the video to play it and scroll down the screen to see a menu bar.
Click on the CC to select the appropriate Creative Commons licence.
Click on the Up/Down arrows to pretend to email the link to the video so you can get the URL for the video.
Press and hold the URL address, select and copy it. Post the the URL into the Safari address bar. Look for the SHARE icon.
Look for the embed code. Press and hold the embed code. Select all of it and copy it.
Now you are ready to share your video. Go to your Blogger in Safari and log in.
Click on the pencil to write a new blog post.
Paste the copied embed code into the body of the blog post.
If you have labels on your blog remember to add it. Then click Publish.
With Show Me you can record your own audio while drawing or import photos and give a commentary. In this tutorial I wanted to share a Running Record.
Firstly I used the iPad camera to take photos of the pages of the book. Open up Show Me- if you haven’t already done so make you self an account. I would suggest making a separate log in email rather than signing up with Facebook or Twitter.
Click on Create new Show Me.
To just record while you draw click the red recording button at the centre top but to record voice over photos click on the photo icon.
If the photo needs rotating then rotate it.
To record press the red button.
Push it again to pause the audio recording.
Tap Clear All to clear the screen ready for the next screen of recording.
Repeat until you’re done then click the blue Save Show Me icon. Chose a category and the Show Me will render and play.
Now open the Show Me in Safari.
Click where it says embed, make sure it is highlighted and press Copy to copy the embed code.
Now you are ready to share your Show Me. Go to your Blog in Safari and log in.
Click on the HTML tab to write a new blog post, inserting the embed code.
If you have labels on your blog remember to add it. Then click Publish.
I was thinking how each day a couple of children could go outside and use the app to record a daily weather photo. The app knows where it was taken, records the temperature, says the time, day and date, sunrise and sunset. All good information for data gathering over time.
The image could then be shared on the class blog with children recording in their own voice how the weather is and what their aspirations are for the day!
Thinking of what level this would be in the SAMR model I would probably go for Modification- the use of technology allows us to do more – significantly redesigning the learning task.
What do you think? How could I take it up one notch more??