Monday, 4 November 2013

Kidblog Anchor Chart

Here are the kidblog anchor charts we created today:


You can visit our class blogs by clicking on the links below! We will add more as our classes come online. We'd love to hear from you! :)

Grade 2
Grade 3
Grade 6

(Typing this on an iPad and can't seem to find how to make these hyperlinks. Hmmm...)

Back in the Blogosphere!

Finally carving out time to contribute (hopefully regularly) to this blog to share the interesting things students, teachers and I at Parkview are learning and doing with technology. I am hopeful we will soon be exploring Skype in the Classroom and participating in the Oceans month lessons this November. We are also getting useful apps installed by IT (soon, I hope) on all the iPads as opposed to just the few we have App Store access to so as many teachers and students as possible can continue to explore their learning on the iPads.

So far we have classes becoming proficient with Explain Everything. Grade 5 is using EE to create advertisements to sell the products they created posters for after reading George's Marvellous Medicine. Grade 6 have created science projects all about invertebrates, and almost every other grade has started using EE to show what they know for each Math Problem of the Week from our principal., Mr. Huggard. We are now proficient exporting and importing projects using DropBox so we can edit them later from any iPad.

Today in tech time, Gr.6 learned how to export their finished invertebrate projects as a movie file (mp4). We found out that although we can export this file to DB, we cannot import that movie to a player we can share online, like YouTube or posting to our Kidblog. So today we exported files to the camera roll and then opened kidblog to upload it as a post directly. It worked! See my next post for the anchor chart we created. :)

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Look What I Found: Geography September 2012 to June 2013

So this year I've been learning so much and, like every teacher knows, there is more enthusiasm and potential than there is actual time to make it all happen. One thing that I absolutely LOVED the idea of but did not make the time to implement, sadly, was the use of Skype in the classroom. Today I found this video that reaffirmed my belief that Skype is one of the best ideas for increasing authentic learning in a classroom that I've ever heard of!  Next year, this will be us! #fingerscrossed

Monday, 17 June 2013

Creating Movies from Snippets Filmed on the iPad

We are exploring how to create a video presentation about the trait of Trustworthiness. The Grade 8s are in charge of the character assembly in June and the chances of them actually being present are slim since it's after grad, so video is the way to go! They filmed a variety of scenes using iMovie on our iPads and now we are figuring out how to put it all to together to view. So here's what I've learned so far:

  1. You can export iMovie content to a desktop computer to be saved in a folder and possibly used in Windows Movie Maker or whatever by doing this:
  • with iMovie open to the appropriate project, from the menu screen choose the out arrow export button
  • select "camera roll"
  • plug a cord from the iPad into the usb port of the desktop
  • when the "choose your option" box pops up, choose Microsoft Scanner and Camera Wizard and follow the prompts:
    • select the appropariate movie
    • select the desired folder on desktop to save
    • name the video
Now I'm thinking - why don't I just bring all the pieces BACK into iMovie for another project and see if I can use this process to burn to DVD and upload to YouTube? Hmmm...

Thursday, 13 June 2013

End of the Year Reflections

Three more weeks, give or take, and we are currently reorganizing our library shelves and space, wrapping up report cards, and preparing to say goodbye to our 10 iPads. I don't want to let them go but at least we get to keep five of them. We'll have a few more when they replace the netbooks but I'm not sure how much a chance everyone will get to use them now that they'll be shared between all the teachers in the school.  I'm hoping some fundraising opportunities and school funds will be available to add what technology we need so that everyone can enjoy it with their students as much as possible.

Tomorrow I get half a day of release time to connect with some interested teachers in their classes to help them become more familiar with what their students have been using the iPads with me for, and also what some of the apps I've been collecting can do to get the juices flowing for how they can utilize this technology in their own classrooms next year. I hope they find it worthwhile!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Some Student Work Samples

So much to write about, hopefully once report cards are handled I'll find time to debrief everything we've been doing and what I've learned about it! As for right now, part of our requirements is to share some of the student work that was created with the iPads, so here's a few things for everyone so that I can provide the link to the gracious powers-that-be! ;)

In Science we have been creating nonfiction books about animals. One of the requirements is that the students produce their own labelled diagram. We used Skitch to create a sample together and then they created their own. Here's an example:

Another thing we did was a text features search of non-fiction books. Students learned about various text features and then worked in partners with an iPad on a text features photo hunt. They needed to find an example from a book of their choice of their assigned feature, take a picture of it and list their names and the title of the book. We chose to use Explain Everything to create this.

Students also created drawings to be used later in BookCreator. They used an app called Colorific to make good copies of the pencil sketches they had planned.

In Drama, students recorded radio plays as a supplement to the Health unit they were covering in their homeroom using AudioBoo2. One of the young students in this group traditionally struggles with working in groups or completing assignments. However, the chance to record on AudioBoo and share with a wider audience seems to have inspired her to push past her challenges and participate.

An older group used AudioBoo to record a rap about the character trait their class was assigned to teach during a monthly assembly. I shared it in a early post which you can find here.

That's just a few of the things we've been working on. Thanks for tuning in! :)

Monday, 6 May 2013

Movement on the Learning Curves

So much has been going on there's hardly been time to document but I am so pumped after attending EdCamp Detroit this past Saturday that I just had to share. Wow. What an amazing event. Once again I am amazed that I have never heard about this movement until now. Rest assured I will be watching and waiting enthusiastically from now on!

 Living in a border city has its perks, and driving for twenty minutes to attend a free American education seminar is one of them. I was pleasantly surprised to connect with other like-minded educators from my city also in attendance. The open forum is the best style of PD for teachers that I have experienced yet. Kudos to the TLs in my Board for already giving me experience with it. Differentiated Instruction in action.

In sessions I attended, I learned about Minecraft, lots of amazing apps, blogging, various technology conversations, and networked with many people from all over. We had many great discussions and generated lots of excellent ideas.  It was exciting to meet people face to face that I only knew through Twitter. Lots of new connections were made and I look forward to seeing familiar faces again next year and hopefully when they attend the second(?) annual EdCamp SouthWestern Ontario on October 12, 2013!

The enthusiasm and creativity of the attendees was contagious and I came back from a full day energized and ready to rush in to work and continue with integrating technology to authenticate great learning more than ever.

We had a great day sharing what we knew in various primary science classes and grade 5 drama.

  • Grade 5s used AudioBoo to record their skits based on the folk tale The Fisherman & His Wife showing different outcomes obtained by smarter conflict resolution choices.
  • Grade 2&3 used Explain Everything to complete a photo search for nonfiction text features we will be creating for our animal inquiry books. 
  • Grade 1&2 used Fotobabble to share about body parts of animals versus humans. We tweeted out what sort of creature our chosen animal was and how we knew that. 
  • All our primary students became familiar with DropBox so we could access our creations from any device in the school. 
The best part for me was how quickly and efficiently things seemed to go. Even though we didn't complete everyone's projects in this period, I feel like the students are more comfortable and proficient with the technology and better able to get into the content side of their creations rather than focusing on the "how to" for the apps or devices themselves.

Looking forward to what tomorrow brings!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Exploring 'Explain Everything'

Recently we purchased the app Explain Everything for our set of iPads. Previously, students had been familiar with Show Me and really enjoyed it. However, the thing I liked about Explain Everything is that they can embed videos as well as images and drawings for screen capture. It's not as simple to use as Show Me, and that has provided some challenges, especially when we don't (currently) have Apple TV to allow sharing via the SmartBoard for tutorials, but I am muddling along! Here's a video I found for teachers that begins explaining the basics of using this screen capture tool... As I've been exploring various uses for Explain Everything, I like the versatility of the app and the range of age and education levels that find it useful and accessible. One thing I haven't discovered yet is how to get the project to automatically play multiple slides or how to play a video as part of the overall slide playback (without having to click 'play' for it). Perhaps this isn't possible, but since viewing the above tutorial, I suspect the thing that must be done is to import the video and then hit record for the entire piece, manually moving from slide to slide and choosing play on the video and then stop the screen capture recording at the very end. Playing THIS back SHOULD, if my theory is correct, allow for seamless playback of all elements... Stay tuned while I try is out a little later. I also need to discover how to upload these projects to my students' blogs so they become the most useful learning outcomes possible because of the authentic audience. More on that later...

More to do with AudioBoo!

I discovered today, upon viewing a youtube tutorial @audioboo posted on Twitter, that boos can be recorded using laptops as well as mobile devices and iPads. I further discovered that they could be embedded within blogs, etc.! This is exciting because it opens the door to our students doing more with AudioBoo. Fluency Station participants can now post their read alouds to their own blogs, and students are not limited to the availability of the iPads. I created a test boo, and posted it on several of our class blogs to be used later. Here's the tweet I read...

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Responsibility Rap

Audioboo for iPhone

Here's an example of a rap created by our Grade 7 class around the Character Education Trait: Responsibility. Each class prepares for an assembly around a different trait and the Sevens decided to create a short movie and rap. This was before we had purchased iMovie unfortunately, so technical difficulties limited the quality during final presentation somewhat. :(

They recorded the rap on the iPad but using an iPhone app called "Audioboo" (not to be confused with the iPad app of exactly the same name that does NOT allow for recording audio but only listening). It has an option to post directly to this blog, apparently, because I was surprised to see it posted here! LOL

This is what the iPad version app icon looks like (less the title)
We have yet to discover how to pull the "boo" off the program for an offline copy. However, it appear Audioboo has released a version 2 which supports downloading. The new iPhone version's icon is IDENTICAL which is annoying when I have iPads with both apps installed. It also appears that the user account with the boos from version 1 does not grandfather in to version 2 (although it accepts the same Twitter login, which is convenient, no record of the recorded boos are listed that I can see, at least).

Record screen from Version 1

Record screen from Version 2
I discovered this app when I observed Mrs.Wideen using it to improve oral reading fluency during Literacy stations with her Grade 1/2s. We are in the process of incorporating it into Library Literacy stations as well. I'm finding I need to train one or two "Station Masters" who can then train others when it is their turn to visit the station for the first time. Finding leveled books in the Library for an independent reading "just right" fit seems to be a bigger challenge for the primaries than first expected, so we are working with the homeroom teacher to solve this issue as well.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Learning to Share with ShowMe

Our Grade 3 science class is learning about forces. With the arrival of our iPads they are more excited than ever to share what they know (and suddenly realize what they don't know). I introduced them to the app called ShowMe (follow @showmeapp) or visit online.

ShowMe is one among a host of interactive whiteboard apps that I'm really excited to explore. I have heard Explain Everything is the leader in this field and when we are able to download it our Grade 3s will compare and report back! But for now, they love ShowMe. ShowMe records whatever is drawn on the screen, provides a variety of colours, and allows images to be imported and annotated in real or paused time. It allows voice recording at the same time as drawing and can pause voice recording to update drawing pages as needed. It is extremely simple to use and easy to share creations. The students' imaginations were sparked about how many things they could create to share with and teach others using a ShowMe.

As a demo, I created a sample ShowMe with them about a force we'd already talked about.

We started this before our school's iPads arrived with only the single iPad we'd received for the exceptional work by our EcoTeam (Go, Panthers!). I let two pairs of students have a turn creating a ShowMe about a mini-experiment we had just completed for either magnetic force or static electric force. Next class, we viewed their ShowMe's and talked about what made them effective and what we should avoid next time. We created an anchor chart to help us.

Then our iPads arrived so the students were very excited not to have to wait several classes before their turn.  After we had reviewed and discussed our very important iPad Norms they went to work. We created and viewed a few more in that week and decided we needed to back up one step and make sure we had really thought about what we wanted to show the world. 

Here's what I've learned so far from using this app with our students:
  • Letting the ShowMe be a finished product motivates students to talk and write about their learning in order to plan what they will record. Create a plan first!
  • Creating a template for their planning allows all students to include good communication basics in their presentations. 
  • Viewing "examples in progress" is much more effective at transferring an understanding of what works in a ShowMe than trying to explain it any other way.
  • Students love that their creations are immediately uploaded to our class twitter feed!
  • The online site has an option for student accounts to be created within a teacher account but so far I haven't discovered how to actually access those accounts so the kids can put their personal ShowMe's in a separate spot than my main folder...? If you know how to do this on the iPad I'd love t hear from you!

In addition to finding out about the above question, I plan to discover what "creating a stack" means and also show the students how to embed their creations on their own blogs. We want more traffic! ;)

Disaster Strikes

So after two days of reviewing the iPad Norms with the primary classes our final class got to use them briefly today (we were exploring the @ShowMeApp). All went well and we shut things down and lined up to place them gently back in their cart...

Our school's having a cereal drive for the needy and the Learning Commons has become home to stacks on stacks on stacks of cereal boxes. They WERE in a neat fort but someone else decided towers o' cereal were preferred... meh. The cereal box stalagmites are on the carpet beside the iPad cart...

One little girl is found not in line with her iPad but standing distractedly amongst the cereal. I help her find her place in line and resume the returns. When she hands me her iPad I am confused. Is that a streak? Not a scratch, surely, they know not to touch it with anything other than their fingers. Look closer: OMG THE SCREEN IS CRACKED!!!!!

It's the SECOND DAY of dedicated iPad use! We have reviewed the iPad Norms, read them together, demonstrated and sternly warned over and over and over. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN??? Well, first it has much to do with the fact that there are no cases, yes yes, I know. But they are not ours (yet) they are on loan and came without any cases. It's not among the expectations that the school provide cases for 10 iPads. You'd think, like I did, that putting the fear of God into them about how expensive they are and how careful they must be would be enough. Not for this little angel, I guess.

Cereal is too distracting apparently. So she stepped out of line to examine the boxes and unseen by all, the iPad fell onto the carpet. Then she lies about it and I have to call in the cloud of witnesses to get to the bottom of things. GRRRRR!

I want to cry.

Photo Credit: Brufsup via Compfight cc

Introducing Popplet to Grade 1

I was introduced to a wonderful app called Popplet (follow @poppletny). It has an online version and an app for our iPads. I'm told if you start online you cannot transfer to iPad and vice versa. Right now, we are using the lite app until our administrator is prepared to purchase it (after March Break, I'm told) #fingerscrossed! We began using it in my Grade 1 and 1/2 Science classes in our Energy unit. We have been learning about the most important source of energy for the earth, our sun.

I adapted an excellent organizer I saw Mrs. Wideen using when I visited her school. She was using an ARE CAN HAS chart for her student's nonfiction books about animals.

She modeled everything using the SmartBoard for one animal with her students and they created each part of the nonfiction book together first. After creating the organizer together, they wrote onto their own sheet, selecting three items from each column. After that, they transferred their learning into a popplet. I thought this was a brilliant idea.

After all of THIS, students also selected their OWN animals and went through the process again on paper for that animal. Culminating task will be to take their paper book and use it to create a digital book using the Book Creator app (another one I hope we will be able to buy soon!).

I know great teaching when I see it, so of course I began making plans about how I could incorporate these ideas into my classes right away! ;) We introduced the organizer about the sun using the verbs IS CAN MAKES and generated a lot of discussion about it, creating a class chart. This became the springboard to introducing them to the popplet app. It's a work in progress, taking quite awhile, as it should because we first have to create and review iPad Norms and teach the basic working of an iPad. After that we can introduce Popplet, but without an Apple TV or VGA solution there are challenges at keeping attention around a small screen on the carpet.

Nevertheless the children were excited to be able to use the technology. Some of them were confused and asked if they would get to touch it when they were in an older grade and were so pleased to discover that we were trusting them to learn with and care for them RIGHT NOW. They even seemed enthusiastic about the organizer. One student came to school today with a paper chart where she had recreated her own IS CAN MAKES organizer from memory with what she knew about the sun! When student's are choosing to do homework all on their own, I must have found something right! ;)

Doing homework just for fun!
PS - It's Hawaiian vacation day in Social Studies,
that explains the grass skirts and lays.

After a couple Science classes (plus a usurped Library period) here's what I've learned about Popplet Lite so far:

  1. There doesn't appear to be a way to open works in progress to edit, therefore children must complete the popplet within one sitting.
  2. Popplets can be exported in three formats - pdf, emailed jpeg, or saved jpeg. jpegs save to camera roll so they can be shared or annotated with available apps.
  3. Because of the time limits and the newness of the app I am tweaking the following things:
  • Students only need to create one sentence finisher for IS CAN and MAKES instead of three for each.
  • To help the students understand about breaking the sentence into its parts (The Sun) (verb) (sentence finisher), change the colour of the frames to highlight the different parts needed. Then I can say, "Ok, I see you have your orange sun, but I only see two red verb popples, what do you still need? This red popple is missing a yellow finish, can you use the chart to find something to type?")
  • Modeling how to navigate Popplet itself needs more time for some. Perhaps I will have students show me in a quick conference how they know how to do things and those that are good to go can begin independent work while I work with some Guided Tech groups to be ready to show their learning independently.
  • Some students need to refer directly to the class chart to help them type the proper letters into their popples.
  • They love being able to sit anywhere in the Learning Commons to do this and I have never seen them more engaged!

Wish List Reflections

A small, relatively uncluttered prep area.
Since I've embraced technology in my teaching, I have discovered one indisputable fact: I need a bigger desk. My prep time now consists of the standard supplies: My daybook, the various teacher guides and student books that we are accessing (sorted over two subjects and seven grades), the mentor texts or library books that we are modelling with. Now in addition to all that strewn about for easy access are: A netbook, an iPad (the school's) or two (the students'), and my phone (for those things that I know are worthwhile but the Board filter has failed to understand). ;)

Thank God for Google Drive so I can begin to save things in one easy-to-access space without having to remember the flash drive I carried around at the beginning of the year! I am finding a need to schedule my time to ensure I can keep up with all the things I want to learn and do: Check professional email, visit new school Team Site to check school-wide posts, pop by the Teacher-Librarian Team Site and email site, read new articles on worthwhile blogs and check in with the incredible community I've found on Twitter, research how particular apps work and create samples of what I hope students will do before letting them loose, record what I've learned so I don't forget it (ici!), plan how technology will be integrated into previous and new units, plus the standard stuff of daybook completion, unit planning, and assessment (working on bringing that into the digital age too). After I get a bigger desk, can I get a longer day???

But the best part of all this is that I don't feel overwhelmed or exhausted - I feel energized! Continually learning and challenging myself to be more and do more with our students is an excellent motivator.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

A Place for Everything...

My love of technology has been building, albeit slowly, over the past few years but recently an assignment change and new access opportunities have caused it to become a dedicated focus rather than just a passing interest.  

I am at that interesting place where I know just enough to be dangerous, I suppose; that place of "conscious incompetence" actively striving to become "conscious competent." A few very creative and techie people have crossed my path and their modelling of authentic technology integration has given me the courage to leap into the waters myself. Some of them even have amazing blogs and mine will be nothing like that for awhile I'm sure but what it WILL be is a place to chronicle the journey of one fairly ignorant educator entering the digital age.

Suggestions and comments are always welcome! Help me speed up the learning curve - my students will thank you!