Storybird- a change of mindset

I recently was preparing a workshop for teachers around Universal Design for Learning and student engagement and was doing some research. An article on TKI mentioned Storybird as a vehicle to engage reluctant learners in writing.

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I never like to recommend something without giving it a trial for myself. Fortunately I teach at a local school as well as being a LwDT Facilitator so had some willing learners to help me trial the tool.

I registered myself with a Storybird account and to keep things simple I manually entered the students names into Storybird and then set about changing the passwords that Storybird had assigned students and aligned them with the students’ Google Accounts.

This took a bit of time but paid off with fewer students having to be reminded of what their passwords were.

All of the writing activities we try need to be accessible on a variety of devices as I have Chromebooks, Mac Books and iPads to use and not enough of each to be exclusive. Storybird works well on all of these devices. To access the Storybird website on the iPad I made it into a shortcut on the home screen and on the laptops it was linked from our Moturoa blog.

Once all that was set up I made a practice picture book myself so that I would be one step ahead when we used it in class. In introducing the concept to my boys we said we will trial it for a few weeks and they can give their verdict on it.

We cracked into it. On first reflection I was underwhelmed. The idea is that you get a selection of images to use, select one and then use the images produced by that particular artist. You can search for images from a topic to get you started but my boys wanted to write of motorbikes and rugby and there were no images related to those sorts of topics to choose from. You cannot pick and mix the artist. Once you select one artist you can only use other images that that person has created.

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We pushed on as it was a trial. Although the illustrations were stunning some of the boys were reluctant to pick anything as none appealed. In the end they picked something and used that although it wasn’t a choice that initially engaged them. Few of the images lent themselves easily to building a narrative sequence so some of the boys just wrote  captions for the random images that engaged them.

Some however really engaged with the Storybird concept and managed to relate the images together to do quite a good semblance of a narrative.

After the writing and editing was done the boys pushed SAVE and PUBLISH and I was able to easily publish it with the provided embed code.

 

To spice things up a bit we also had a competition with voting via the blog to decide which stories we like best.

Please add your vote to the blog side bar to encourage the boys in their writing.

Our verdict

  • Stunning illustrations
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to embed
  • Intuitive interface
  • Works well across all devices
  • Limited mix of images- you have to use one artists’ images and cannot pick and mix
  • Limited range of images related to some of the things the boys wanted to write about
  • Once engaged some boys really involved with the process and showed an interest in working on it at home.
  • You can invite others to work on the stories collaboratively but we never really went down that track.
  • The teacher can leave notes on children’s writing as feedback on the process
  • You can read and reflect on other people’s writing by leaving comments which can be moderated.

As a final reflection I was thrilled when a parent joined in and made another book at home with her child and invited me to collaborate on it with her and she left a comment on the blog post.

 

Wonderful work and writing. This has opened up a whole new world of e-learning to me and I’m loving it I’ll be back for more!

 

ULearn14 Mobile Day: Dice Activity

This year at ULearn Mobile Day Barbara Reid and I shared our learning around ‘Transforming Learning with an iPad’. We wanted to make the event as engaging and useful as we can, modelling self directed learning and collaboration amongst participants.

One of the ideas we had was to lead participants in combining apps on their iPads to create and share new learning artifacts. I had used the same idea at Newmarket School Teacher Only Day earlier in the year and it worked really well.

I thought I would share the share the process and resources here so that others could take that same idea and run with it themselves.

Firstly we chose six apps that were more about the collection of information: the camera, Safari web browser, taking screen grabs, Drawing Pad, AR Dinopark and Pattern Shapes. These apps also could pretty much be used for a variety of purposes, not limited to one curriculum area or level. We also tried to pick apps that had light versions so people would not feel obliged to buy apps before seeing their potential.

Then we chose six great creative apps: Book Creator, Pic Collage, Popplet, Puppet Pals, Show Me and Write About This NZ.

I took screen grabs of all the app icons and used the app Foldify to make a dice with all the apps on them. If you would like to use the nets yourself to replicate the  activity here are the links to PDFs for Dice Set One and Dice Set Two.

Foldify

 

I photocopied the PDFs from Foldify onto good quality photocopying card. Cutting and gluing the nets took quite some time but it is something you can do while multi-tasking.

All the dice

The idea then was that people rolled the two dice. You use what ever two apps roll together to create and share the artifact.

To support and encourage independence and discovery I had made short tutorial cards to support individuals who may not have been familiar with the app design and use. Copies of these are able to be downloaded here.

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Some of the participants chose to work on the activity outside of the table space we were allocated. I think next time I would encourage more people to move outside and use their environment more.

Dice in action

 People came back with some great creations showing their combinations of apps. We attempted to Flick the artifacts to the iPad on the main screen with less success than I would have liked. I think the wifi was a bit pushed by the size of the movies etc being Flicked around.

Dice Combination

When we do this again we would make a third dice that would extend the activity to include curriculum learning areas, so you might have to combine screen grabs with Popplet and create an artifact that supports learning in Mathematics.

Let’s Booktrack

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 Googled it and found this segment from Seven Sharp more recently in March 2014.

Seven Sharp

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.

Booktrack Example

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.

Here are few video tutorials of the creation process

Very motivating.

I extend a big thank you to Booktrack and Craig who so willingly and passionately shared the process with me so I can on share it with others.

Here is an example recorded in class.

You can embed your Booktracks into a blog as well. How cool is that.

Connections, diversity, coherence: Three vignettes exploring learning with iPads in primary schools

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.

You can read the whole paper by clicking on this link.

There are quite a few other well researched papers in the edition that make them well worth a read. Click here to read more of the iPad research.

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Book Creator to Web

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.

Book Creator to Quicktime from Allanah King on Vimeo.

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.

Here is a little video of that happening.

Book Creator to Readium from Allanah King on Vimeo.

How I see the SAMR Model

Everyone is talking about the SAMR model for eLearning.

A principal emailed me this week wanting to know more about the concept so I emailed her with a reply but thought it may be useful to add my thoughts more publicly too.

The SAMR model is based on the thinkings of Ruben Puentedura.

In a nutshell here is how I see what the SAMR letters stand for.

SSubstitution– would be you just used an iPad as a flash sort of text book for the kids to read and copy from.

AAugmentation– you might have the text book read to you via Speech Selection so that is moving things up a notch.

MModification– You might make your own book using Book Creator that includes graphics, audio, video and hyperlinks etc

RRedefinition– 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 made this graphic using Explain Everything app to show the levels of SAMR.

SAMR Model

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.

SSubstitution– You make an avatar, take a screen grab to use as a prompt for writing in writing time.

Tellagami Avatar

AAugmentation- 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.

Launching Learning with an iPad from Allanah King on Vimeo.

MModification– 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.

 

RRedefinition– 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.

Four Quick iPad Writing Tips

Here are four quick iPad writing tips in video form…

1. How to write macrons for Māori words.

2. How to quickly add a full stop, a space and a capital letter.

3. How to easily write an apostrophe.

4. How to easily write a single digit.

And if you want to sit through the whole 2 minute video you can watch it here…

If you are interested in how I started the video at various points along the time line I wrote a blog post on how to do that here.

http://allanahk.edublogs.org/2011/02/13/you-tube-videos/

School Newsletters

A conversation with a teaching colleague today prompted me to think more deeply about school newletters and their uses as a means to connect home and school.

Pre-digital times they used to be typed up and photocopied off by someone and sent out to all families or one was given to the oldest/youngest child of a whānau to hopefully get out of the school bag and read by someone before getting lost in the melee of worksheets that often lie dying in the bottom of a school bag along with the apple cores, crusts and dribbling yoghurt containers.

Then people started adding photos which was lovely until they wanted to be in colour.

Then along came the internet and the newsletters are emailed out with the non-internet families still being given a hard copy.

I know of some school newsletters that are 4MB- imagine what that does to a dial up connection- yes there are still people who are on dial up!

Some schools just send out an email with a link to the newsletter- that wouldn’t take up bandwidth as such but I wonder how many do actually take the time to open the attachment or click on the link.

With the rise of social media I wonder where the school newsletter now sits? More and more schools are now using Facebook or Twitter to update what schools are doing and what is coming up for them.

Are emailed school newsletters are thing of the past?

This short Twitter conversation gives both side of the debate.

https://twitter.com/tonyandrewmeyer/status/337849044997140481

What do you think?

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Chalkboard Newsletter drawn by Allanah with Draw Board iPad app.

 

Almost as Good As Being There

Today I had the pleasure of reading to the children of Tua Marina School as part of their fabulous book week. Barbara Keane had organised guest readers to come in each day at 10:30 to read to the children.

Today was their wonderful dress up as a book character day and I got to read the first chapter of one of one of my favourites classics….. The Iron Man.

I had managed to source an on line version of the Iron Man as well so senior children could continue reading and finish off the story if they were inspired to do so.

I used Call Recorder on my MacBook to record the reading, edited the length a bit with Quicktime and uploaded it to Vimeo for your viewing pleasure!!

We talk about working blended and flipping the classroom- well here is one way how that might happen. It certainly saves on travel and time. And I love reading to kids and seeing the light in their eyes.

And at the end I got thanked by a real princess Cinderella!!!

Iron Man from Allanah King on Vimeo.

One avid reader of this blog read the story to his children who set about on a wet Saturday to do a little creating. Very cool response to reading!!!!

 

Enhancing Workflow on an iPad

At the end of last term I was asked to lead a couple of presentations for the Learning at School Conference Roadshow run by CORE Education here in Nelson. It was the first time such an event had been held in the provinces and was really well supported by locals and from those further afield as well.

The presentation that I had not done before was Enhancing Workflow with an iPad- combining apps to share the learning. Here it is below.

 

I didn’t want to just spend the time just talking to the teachers at the workshop I wanted them to talk to each other- to share the learning that they already knew and become teachers themselves. And to have a base level of knowing how to work their iPad to do basic things before we went on to more advanced learning.

I went down to the local supermarket beforehand and bought a package of the now famous iPad cleaners as prizes and made up a bingo board for each person.

The deal was that people had to walk around the room and find someone who could show them how to do the tasks on the bingo board, that person showed them, then they had to do the task themselves. Then they could initial the bingo board. When they had five squares initialled in a row they yelled ‘Allanah’ and got a prize!

I was surprised the number of people who carried on just as eagerly after they had got a prize because they wanted to learn more. Eventually I felt I had to stop people so we could move on to the more advanced learning but I felt the whole session went really well because it was an energiser as well as a great learning opportunity.

iPad Bingo Chart- click on it to go to the Google Doc

To make it easy for you to personalise and make the resource your own I have made the bingo form into a Google Doc that you can copy and make your own with your own email address and the like.

The activity with all the links to the pdf tutorials and activities can be viewed and downloaded from the presentation above. It is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share Alike which means you are welcome to mash-up and repurpose the presentation but please acknowledge the source.

The activity was very well received with participants coming to me later saying how much they enjoyed the opportunity to move and talk and share rather than being talked to for the entire presentation.

You may like to try the same sort of thing when you next share your learning with others.

I later repeated the presentation at the BYOD Conference run by Learning NetworkNZ at Albany Senior High School in the holidays.

iPad Bingo at BYOD Conference at Albany Senior High School

eLearning in the Junior School

Today I share some of my eLearning journey with teachers from Witherlea School. I want my presentation to be rewindable so I uploaded it here so you can see it as well.

I am sharing some of things that can be seen in junior classrooms. Thanks also to Sherryn Lines at Brightwater School and Cherryl Eden at Richmond Primary for sharing their blogs with us.

 

New Beginnings

Here we start with a new beginning for the new year. 2013 heralds very much a new beginning for me for, after being at school for 50 years I have been offered a job with CORE Education. It was all a bit rushed as I resigned from Appleby School on the second to last day of 2012 school year. It was a big move for me to leave but I felt it was the right thing to do as these opportunities don’t come round often in life and when they do you have to make the most of them cos’ you might not get a second chance.

CORE Education is a non for profit organisation part of the Te Toi Tipu consortium of providers with a Ministry of Education contract to deliver professional development for teachers. They are the organisation that run the Learning at School and ULearn conferences and provide the structure behind the ICTPD clusters that have been running so successfully for the last decade or so. Here is what the consortium is all about….

  • We have considerable expertise all areas of education, and currently provide professional learning and development programmes for the Ministry of Education in the areas of literacy, leadership and assessment, e-learning and te reo Māori.
  • We have a strong focus on providing professional learning and development which gets results, and we have highly skilled facilitators, and a strong monitoring and evaluation programme to ensure this is the case.
  • We are committed to improving outcomes for students who have been under-served in the education system. This includes a strong focus on ensuring success for Māori students, Pasifika students and students with special education needs.

I have started working as a BeL (Blended eLearning Facilitator) at the end of the January school holidays. These long school holidays will be my last as CORE only have one month’s leave — just like real folk.

Working as a Blended eLearning Facilitator I will be able to work in depth with a small number of schools similarly to the goals of our cluster over the last three years.

I will still be able to support what was the Link Learning ICTPD cluster though with the BeL position being for four days a week, leaving one flexi day a week to work to keep the cluster and the network we have made over the last three years going strong.

It is the best of both worlds and an opportunity too good to miss.

The sky is the limit.