Monday, 11 May 2015

Digital Citizenship. How Can We Say 'Thank You'?



I am keen to act upon a recent recommendation to further develop digital citizenship practices at PIE. I must admit I have been focusing on the iPad roll out this year so this dropped off my radar.

Looking to next academic year, I would like to put some good practice into place. One of the biggest challenges is not only developing understandings about good Digital Citizenship practices but to sustain those good practices.

I have always believed in authentic experiences last the longest so I need an approach that would reflect this. Ongoing discussion is key.
Living in Indonesia it can be difficult to maintain the right perspective. You can readily buy pirated CDs at most shopping centres. Our students have difficulty in learning that just because you can access media, doesn't mean that you should take it and use it. Just because you bought a pirate CD or grabbed a resource online, doesn't mean that you can ethically use the contents. Some kids think that because they 'paid' for it (paid = spent $1 for the pirated copy) or found it themselves online - it's OK to use.

My message to students is citing information and media is like saying thank you to the one who made it. When someone does something for you, it's good manners to say thank you. Here is a way to say 'thank you'.

I am mostly working with the younger grades so I need some visuals to help bring the message and to give the class teacher a resource that they can refer to often. I have started working on some Info Graphic posters to be copied and put up in the classrooms. It is helping me that the current theme in Grade 4 is one of Digital Citizenship. I have been involved in talks with classes and from that I have a better perspective of the current situation.

I have made a start with posters for the younger grades. Take a look. I hope to build on this and level it up for older students. My first 3 are Recording Resources, Safe Information Searches and Safe Picture searches. I am looking for easy to follow accessible information. These posters will help classroom teachers get the message across and help them to remember what to do.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Virtual Reality in Learning - a Possible Makerspace Activity

I have been having some fun recently trying my hand at making a VR viewer. This came about from a request from a student. In one of the classes in iTime, some students were investigating about Buchanan Castle in Scotland. This came about because one of the students is a Buchanan and was curious about her family's castle.

My first thoughts went to that immersive experience that you can have when using Google Maps Street view. As I had been researching VR Google Cardboard, I thought - 'Why not put the two together?'

I did some research about it and found out that you can order Google Cardboard here. Only problem with that is I am in Indonesia and the postal service is not only slow but often you can be charged a huge tax on delivered items. And I needed that thing now - not in a month's time.

So, then I searched some more and discovered that you can make your own using some lenses from cheap binoculars. I found a video all about it on You Tube below.



And here is a great resource here on Instructables.

I have an iPhone 6+ so the online templates didn't really fit my phone. You can get the idea from looking at the parts so it was easy to make my own. I found this great black plastic cardboard in the local stationary shop which makes the whole experience more immersive.

Here is my attempt. It would work better if the lenses were actually 45mm focal point. The toy binoculars were not as good as I had hoped. It does work a little bit though but you still get split panels either side of the image.

So you're probably wondering what apps go with this. The best one is 360Cities. You can view ones that other people have made just by going to the page via Safari. Look here below. You need to tap the view symbol (looks like glasses) to see it in double screen.















Here are all the apps that I like to use with VR Googles for Education:

Google Maps https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/google-maps/id585027354?mt=8
JurassicVirtual Reality https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/jurassic-virtual-reality-vr/id958174054?mt=8
360Cities https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/panorama-360-cities/id581473726?mt=8

Or for those who are curious - create your own VR experience here.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Mini Documentaries in Grade 2

I have been wondering for some time if it was possible to teach documentary movie making skills to young students. With an iPad app such as iMovie it has been made very easy to create and edit a video. The focus here is not to just make a movie but to have students communicate specific content and to document their individual learning.

Up until this point the students have used the movie camera with Book Creator to create a movie and all students are very familiar with the story writing process.

My question here is:
Can you teach specific movie making skills without it becoming too complex for the age level of the learner?
To start the lesson I talked about how a movie is just like a story. It has a beginning - middle and an ending.

The beginning part will introduce the movie. It can be a question or a statement.
The middle part will show the process. You may wish to include photos that show plans as well.
The ending will show what was learned. It may also include any feedback from peers or the teacher.
On your iPad you can use the camera inside the iMovie app to capture the question and your comments regarding what you learned. The plans and process can be shown either as photos or small clips.

Step 1: Ask your students to prepare the photos, clips and other documents required to show the process.
Step 2: Create a poster that shows the hypothesis if your documentary is about an inquiry. This can be easily created in Pic Collage or another app and exported to the Camera Roll.
In iMovie on your iPad, choose New Project - Movie
Choose and simple theme that fits with your subject matter.
You can video record yourself asking the opening question and then again reflecting on the learning process at the end.


Friday, 6 February 2015

1 to 1 iPads - How is it going after 6 months

At my current school there are 1:1 iPads in grades 2-4. This program is a new one. The previous academic year only Grade 3 had iPads as a pilot project.

In Grade 1 there are shared iPads. The ratio is 3:1.

What I have learned so far ...

Make the focus a creation one. iPads can really help teachers to make the learning experience more personalized. In a busy classroom there is not always enough time for each student to take a turn to read aloud or to verbalize their learning. A well used iPad can give this opportunity. To start with the focus was all on documenting the learning. This meant that students were able to record their thoughts about their reading or their Math. This work was collated into a book using Book Creator. It was an easy way for teachers to use the iPads on a more independent level as the app itself is really intuitive.

As the Digital Literacy Coach, my role is to provide timely and ongoing support to class teachers as they use iPads in their classrooms.

Now that we have settled into the program, I am able to stop and reflect as to how it is going.

What Has Worked

The iPads make it very easy for the students to record their learning as it develops. I feel that through using apps such as Book Creator with the inbuilt camera, the students are easily able to record their reflections, their read-aloud and even their inquiries on the fly. The addition of headsets with a hands-free mic has been essential to help improve the quality of these recordings. I have found too as a coach that if I am located near the classrooms where I can be seen in plain sight, I get more buy-in from the teachers. Quite often teachers will simply see me sitting there and remember an issue or a need that they may have. It works well as this will often lead to a booked session where I can work in the classroom to help with the transfer of skills. It's a sure fire way to get a fully booked day.

Now that the corner has been turned, I have found that the projects produced on the iPad have become more varied. The students have a wider skill set so they are able to make suggestions as to how they might go about showing their learning. Students are started to suggest how they can show what they know. On the whole the students are far more independent to use the iPads.

I have also found that in some classes this development has pushed learning new skills that I previously thought would be too complicated for this age group. It's wonderful to watch new ways to communicate learning being constructed as the program grows. Initially it was all about just documenting, now the focus has become more about learning instructional design to improve the quality of that communication.

What has been difficult

In Grade 1 things have been moving a lot slower. I believe that this is a direct result of having to share the iPads between 3 students. I think that this ratio makes the timing very clumsy and quite difficult. On a given day, the students would need about 20 minutes to work on a project. With the current sharing of one between three, it makes that very hard to juggle as you can't continue to run an inquiry for too long just so each child can get enough time to create their work. This means that a simple project will run across several days which makes the whole management of it very difficult. If a child is absent, then that can add a whole new layer of frustration. I want to advocate for at least a 2:1 share as a minimum or you can't really expect too much.

In Kindergarten there is one set of iPads for everyone to share. This is probably enough as it is used as a centre but there needs to be a better way to push off the finished products. Airdrop takes time and can be very slow. There needs to be a way for better/faster transfer before this iPad program can really move forward.

Upper Grades

As the students become more familiar with their iPads, it becomes more and more like a window into their learning. In the upper grades the students have a website each which helps with transferring their work on a regular basis. This is a huge step up. Personally I think that it is very important that the work is pushed off frequently. I would like to see a similar solution in the younger grades that is somewhat like Blogger Jr. I am looking for a journal-type solution that shows growth.

What I can do to improve

I try hard to lead by example. I want to be able to continue doing this. I think that now students are needing more resources for their inquiries I need to create an online guide for this just for the younger grades. I know that there is a portal for the library but I think I could make it more accessible.
I also want to find some other options for sharing. I am quite happy with all the QR coding that is happening via Dragontales (school repository) and I want to continue to build upon that. I look forward to getting some iBeacons as I can see how these could be used for accessing resources more easily. I also wonder about better ways for instructional design. I have been doing some work with this but perhaps I need to create some workshops on it for the future.

I'm also looking forward to implementing Makerspaces to support current learning.




Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Character Study with Morfo and Drawing Pad on iPads

In Grade 2 all of the students have been writing character descriptions. This process has been teaching them to look beyond physical attributes and to learn about different aspects that influence a particular character.

In Grade 2 there is a new 1:1 iPad program this year. In the past these character descriptions would be written up and displayed on paper. By using iPads, students are able to make their characters come alive. To do this they combined two apps called Drawing Pad and Morfo.

Drawing Pad https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/drawing-pad/id358207332?mt=8 is one of my go-to apps on the iPad. It is easy to use and you can make beautiful artwork with just a little knowledge. To draw a character portrait all your need to do is follow these simple steps below:

Here is the actual character from Ruby's Wish.






















Step 1: Paint the basic shape for the character. This is the head, hair and shoulders. Add a black background using the paper backgrounds and outline the hair using a pencil. Keep it simple. There is no need to add eyes or a nose as the Morfo app will do that for you.

Step 2: Add the rosy cheeks

Step 3: Use the smudge tool to smudge the red spot.


Step 4: Add some pencil details in the ears and on the clothing. You may wish to add a pink mouth as well but Morfo will make a mouth. Save your work to the camera roll by tapping the share icon.


Open the Morfo app https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/morfo-3d-face-booth/id440560166?mt=8
Follow the instructions. Grab your script and breathe some life into your character. Take a look at the finished Ruby. This was created by a student from Grade 2.

video

3D Printing with Grade 4 at JIS

3D printing is rapidly evolving and becoming more affordable and easier to do. I have been reading up on the subject and I am very curious about how this can be applied in the Elementary classroom.

The book that I am reading is called 'Fabricated' by Hod Lipson & Melba Kurman. It covers many uses for 3D printing from household to medical to even printed food that can be eaten!

I was excited to learn that one of my favourite apps - Trimble Sketch Up has a template for 3D printing. This is a great free program that is easy to use.  I worked with a small group of students from Grade 4 for extension Math. 

To start the lesson I asked the students what they already knew about 3D printing. Some students knew a lot. They knew that you can print edible food, print a car and even print models created in Minecraft.

Next I asked them if they would be interested in making something to be printed. Well, the reaction was of high excitement!

So, onto SketchUp. In advance I had already downloaded and installed this free program on some laptops from the school cart. There is no version of SketchUp for iPad, so the students would need to use a laptop for this task.

Inside SketchUp, there is a special template for 3D printing.You must keep your object within the box as this is the printable size for most 3D printers. I gave the students a lesson on how to create a 3D object using the Push/Pull tool and then asked them to create the first letter in their name. Some students were really quick so I asked them to look at the symmetry and make sure that their letter was properly balanced.


















Here is a screenshot of an 'A' created by one of the students. The next job was to Airdrop it to me so that I could further prepare the file for printing.

























To prepare the file, I had to export it as an .STL file. This is the file type for 3D printing. It is a good idea to have that exported file checked for errors. In order for a 3D file to be printed, all the surfaces must close properly around the shape. If there are any holes, it will not print. After some research, I learned that there is a free cloud service that actually checks and repairs your file for you. That service is called NettFab. All you do is create an account, upload the .STL file and it will repair it for you. When the file is finished, you just download it ready to use.

Now that I had all the prepared files, I needed to book a time for the 3D printer which is located in the Design Technology classroom in our High School. The teacher there was very kind and helpful. He made a further conversion of our files as the printer requires each file to be put through a program first. This conversion essentially turns each model into layers ready for the printer to process. 

video
On Monday we all walked up to the High School to see the printer in action. Luckily when we arrived, one of the files - this letter A was already in the middle of being printed. It takes over an hour for a 7cm letter to be printed! The printer is already 2 years old and I have read that the new printers are much faster. Here is a film that I made of the printer in action.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Making Apps in Grade 2 with Tiny Tap

Today I worked with a student to create a simple app using Tiny Tap. This came about because one of the students showed an interest to make an app. He had tried using Tiny Tap before on his own iPad but had not made a game for learning before at school.

I too was new to Tiny Tap.

I made a time through the Homeroom teacher to sit with the student to explore Tiny Tap further. We looked at the example games on the site and play with a few of them to further understand what you could do. We then made an agreement to find out more ourselves and to meet again to create an app.

As with all technology use, I like to document the learning or to create something that furthers the learning. The class had been learning a lot about counting money so we decided to create a game about counting coins.

In my mind I mentally went through the steps that would be necessary to create the app. I purposefully wanted to use real items so that the students would be having to count coins to create their different answers.
To make it simple I asked the student to create 4 piles of coins on some colored paper. He then grabbed some scrap paper to write down the total amount for each group of coins. This required counting and checking - good we are practicing the actual skill even whilst creating the app!
Next we had to take a good clear photo of the coins and crop it to tidy it up. Then we opened the app Tiny Tap and started to build it. You simply add the photo and make it the background and add the title using the Text feature.

Finally we added some voice recorded instructions such as 'Tap on the pile of coins that make 43 cents'. When all the instructions had been added the app was saved and uploaded to the Tiny Tap server by the teacher and made private which means that it can't be accessed unless you have the URL. The URL was copied and a QR code created so that it can be scanned at school by other students wanting to try out the app.

Here are some screenshots from the finished app!



Friday, 31 October 2014

Dictate a Story in Book Creator

When working with young students, typing can be quite a difficult thing for them to do. In Book Creator, you can easily make a voice recording of the child telling the story but often having the written text there can make that story even more powerful.

Just recently, I was training some assistant teachers on how to use Book Creator. I run a lot of workshops, and Book Creator is one of my most used apps on my iPad.

I love it when I learn something new. So I just had to share this with you.

During the workshop, I was doing my usual explanation of how to create a book, add a photo and then add some text. The participants were asking about the predictive text feature that is now available at the top of the keyboard. I explained that this can be very helpful for students as it can support their spelling. I also explained about the globe icon and how that can change the keyboard when you enable different keyboards in your settings. This allows users to type in other languages that require special characters like Chinese or Arabic.

Next I told the participants about the microphone icon and how that is used for dictation. You tap on it and speak, and the iPad will type whatever you say. I showed it in the moment and was very impressed with how accurate it was. If you say 'full stop' it will also type a full stop. If you say 'new paragraph' it will also skip a line. This is a wonderful way to help students understand about the function of punctuation. Honestly, even I was blown away!

So I am now thinking of how this tool can be used with Kindergarten students. Our young students can now type their own stories. Amazing. Our students in Grade 1 and 2 can dictate their stories with words such as 'full stop' which will help them to make that important connection to the function of punctuation. I am so excited about this and can't wait to see how it can be used. I made a short tutorial video for you to watch with the help of my son who was very excited to dictate his first book.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Documenting the Learning Visually

For some time now I have been working with children in authoring and publishing books. I am myself an artist so I have a lot of theory running around in my head in regards to design. I wanted to use this blog post to communicate a few techniques that I use when documenting learning.

I am really inspired by books created by Dorling Kindersley. These books have a clear 'artefact' approach in their layout. The books are full of photos of real objects that really allow the reader to make strong connections to the content. Here is an example page layout from a Dorling Kindersley book.
 
Taking inspiration from this approach, I have tried to apply it to how a student may document their learning. By using an iPad, with the built in camera, students can easily capture the real objects that they are using in their learning and place them on the page along with written descriptions. 

A couple of design pointers:

1. The page is read from left to right and top to bottom. Therefore to help the reader, we should follow that pattern. 

2. Contrast helps us to access the content. Light on dark and dark on light. Make sure that your text colour and background have sufficient contrast so that the words can be easily read. 

3. Use open and easy to read fonts. Curly, handwritten fonts can be harder to read which means that our audience/readers can't access the content. 

4. Make sure that there is space around  the words. The readers need space so that they can easily distinguish the text from the pictures. 

5. Include the real objects and the method. Ask the students to teach the lesson or skills learned back to the teacher. This will help them to be able to think about their content. 

For this example, I used the Pic Collage app. After all parts have been completed ask your students to add a reflection so that they can think about what they could do better or do differently next time. 

Friday, 3 October 2014

My Top Apps for this Week

My top 3 apps for this week have been:

Book Creator - to create Learning Stories

We have started making these. The students all created their own covers and first section which was titled 'About Me'. 

Explain Everything - to create Math Stories

The students learned to create talking, animated Math stories. This was a follow up to their learning in class. It was a very exciting session. The students used the hands-free headphones and mics to record their voice.

Merriam Webster - dictionary with voice recognition


Things I like:

It allows the student to search for words by speaking.

It gives you examples of how the word can be used in a sentence.

The definitions are simple.

It also gives you synonyms and antonyms.