Ask Before You Post

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.

Chromebook Update Review

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.PicCollage

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 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.

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  • Here are my Google resources that you may like to have a look where I remember and share all things Google.

As an on-going keeping abreast of what is happening with Chromebooks you may like to join the Chromebook group on the VLN to ask questions and learn through other’s experiences.

And here are my Chromebook on line bookmarks that I have saved as a resource.

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.

What questions do you want to ask?

Spell Write

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 found that doing these things meant that children could move at a pace and level that suited them- with some children making much accelerated progress.

Here are the links to the individual lists in Spelling City…

What do you do to differentiate the learning of the essential spelling words?

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