Never too old for Dr Seuss!

I don’t know how I missed it, but I was introduced to this book this week, and it should be given to all new Primary teachers! “Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!” was a book started by Dr Seuss, and finished in his style based on his drawings and notes.

It is all about celebrating individuality and creativity and teaching kids to THINK for themselves rather than go to boring Flobbertown school, where everyone is the same.

I don’t want to be a spoiler, but it is announced that every student at every school must sit the same test, to check what they’ve learned and see which school teaches best. What happens when Diffendoofer students have to sit the same test as everyone else at every other ‘normal’ school?

You will have to read the book to find out, but you can probably guess, given the story celebrates individuality and those special teachers we all remember.

Let’s all remember to celebrate creativity and individuality and encourage students to think for themselves.

Creativity & Problem-Solving

After seeing an Instagram post, I was inspired to try something similar, and also thought it would be a great idea to show the new functionality in iMovie’s green screen capability. This was my end result, but there were many hurdles along the way that required me to trouble-shoot and problem-solve.

Hurdle #1

iMovie reformats portrait videos and cuts off top and bottom.

SOLUTION: Rerecord in landscape

Hurdle #2

iMovie only layers green screen videos over another video, so would have to make the photo a video for this to work.

SOLUTION: Make a video of the photo for a few seconds in iMovie, export as video file and then insert photo as a video.

Hurdle #3

With all those trees it was a Green Screen FAIL! Clearly not working in this instance.

SOLUTION: I tried Green Screen by Doink and masking, but really the amount of green was problematic in this instance. Why not try Keynote?

Hurdle #4

Cannot crop the video in Keynote. Could get it to work in landscape format, which was fine, but (being a perfectionist) I really wanted the look of the insta photo.

SOLUTION: Try videoing in Clips for the square format

Hurdle #5

This did work, and if I reshot the footage with a different sized piece of cardboard, would have been fine, but I was still sure there must be a way to achieve my goal.

SOLUTION: Try masking shapes in Keynote for Mac

Hurdle #6

Can only combine shapes to exclude overlap, not photos.

SOLUTION: Create a shape and fill it with the image of the photo. Then select both, and choose the exclude overlap option in Arrange – Combine Shapes.

Hurdle #7

I really wanted to show how this could be done on Keynote for iOS on iPad for use in the classroom, not on Mac.

SOLUTION: Try it on Keynote, see if it now works on iPad. It does! Then it was easy to add the video, layered behind the combined shape.

Hurdle #8

So the video wasn’t too long, I sped it up in iMovie, but this distorted the sound (and you could hear my thongs clicking). I wanted to add a soundscape.

SOLUTION: Use Voice Memos to record the sound of birds and the ocean, then add that as an audio track in iMovie after detaching audio from the movie. This also allowed me to have it fade in as the ocean grew closer.

Summary

So, while it wasn’t quite the Green Screen activity I was planning, I was very pleased with the end result, and learned a few things along the way. One of which, is that Keynote never ceases to impress me with its versatility and functionality, and another is that problem-solving IS a part of creativity and the creative process. App Smashing is a great way to get students creating and thinking about how best to combine app features into a final product. It is also important to share these ‘fail forwards’, so they understand it is all part of the process.

In the end this activity uses the Camera, Camera Roll, iMovie, Voice Memos (optional) and Keynote. All free apps!

#everyonecancreate

Sphero Hero

Proud to be able to add another certification to my tool kit – that of official Sphero Hero!

Sphero is a fantastic robot for teaching coding to students of all ages. I have been using and promoting Sphero for many years with teachers and students and am very pleased to be recognised for spreading the word.

As I look at my other certifications, I am proud to be associated with such quality products in education technology!


A week in a remote N.T. school

I have visited regional and remote schools before, but nothing as remote as Imanpa! 200km drive from Alice Springs, I pull up at Erldunda to call the Principal, Steve, as this is the last phone reception, and let him know that I am on my way, 70km to go. I drive 7km off the highway on a dirt road and meet him in the school bus at the football oval (red dirt, no grass) and after introductions, he says “interesting choice” of my bright red Commodore SV6 hire car, “they’re going to love it”. He immediately makes the decision that he will lock it away in his shed! Oh dear! A teacher, Lauren, from another remote school has come for the week PD also and Steve’s partner, Carolyn, is also a teacher at the school. I meet their 2 boys and have an afternoon hearing about the community and their lives as remote teachers. Some of the stories make me nervous. As there is no accomodation for 200km, Lauren and I share a 3 bedroom house in the community.

I watch the teachers go about their daily duties – opening up, checking the grounds, cleaning the toilets, blowing the dirt off the verandahs, cleaning, vacuuming, disinfecting, washing uniforms, checking for snakes, turning on air-conditioners, checking emails, doing paperwork, talking to the kids as they come in, the jobs are never-ending and teaching hasn’t started yet. As the students arrive, they go inside to their shelf and put on their uniform before playing outside. It is hot! 40 degrees on the first day with a strong, hot wind like it is coming off a furnace. Most of the kids prefer being outside in the heat rather than the air-conditioned classroom, but even they come inside for lunch. Last week they found snake tracks in the dirt, but they hope it was a python and not a brown. The water in the shower and taps smells strongly of sulphur and everything is covered in a thin film of red dust, Then the news that they have picked some lice off their kids’ heads – I am instantly scratching my head!

Day 1 we have 6 students, the teachers’ 2 kids and 4 indigenous students (one of whom announces “You got a red Commodore”!). I will admit I am a little disappointed, given the enrolment numbers are 16, but we have a fantastic day. For some students it is their first time ever on an iPad. Day 2, news has got out of the new iPads, and we have 11 students, and 13 on Day 3! Some students come who haven’t been for 3 weeks. They don’t even want to go home at the end of the day and ask at lunch when we are going back in. They learned so many new things, always asking me questions or for help (“Bev”, “Veb”, “Vev”, “Bronwyn”) and were willing to give everything a go with such a great attitude and much enthusiasm.

Over the 5 days, we go through iPad basics, set up some Accessibility settings for personalised learning (a shame we can’t use dictation or Siri or anything that requires adequate internet on the satellite setup). We set up learning journals for reading and Maths in Book Creator – the teachers love the evidence of learning with videos from Explain Everything! and all the multimedia that can be included. We took the learning outside for photos and videos, and AR (Augmented Reality) was a big hit, as was Green Screen and Stop Motion. For a Maths activity, we get them to organise themselves into height order and then we time lapse while they build a Lego Duplo tower to measure themselves with informal units. We then use Numbers to graph the heights and the older students experiment with which graphs best represents the data. They loved using Maths apps and particularly enjoyed drawing their own self portraits in Keynote. And on the last day I got out my Spheros  and they had so much fun – they were ecstatic when I said I was leaving them with them as a donation.

Time lapse of our height measurements 

For most of these kids, English isn’t even their second language, but their third or even fourth! Most speak Pitjantjatjara or Yankunytjatjara, and don’t speak English at home, but there are 4 or 5 languages spoken in the community, so their efforts in school are all the more impressive.

The challenges of a small remote school are many; one of which is internet and WiFi! The iPads were set up by Winthrop in WA https://www.winaust.com.au/education-solutions/ , understanding the unique needs of remote schools. For example, MDM to push out apps is just not an option with the limited bandwidth and even apps authenticating the first time they are used is an issue, so they have them all set up and authenticated before being sent to the school, so they were literally ready to go from the time we turned them on – brilliant! This school is lucky enough to now have a 1:1 iPad program.

Very remote teachers are a special breed! There are numerous challenges, isolated from family and friends, yet they work very long hours, and want to make the kids’ time at school the best learning experience it can possibly be, as they know how important education is.

First Lego League and Google Grants

What a privilege to be a judge at the first Coffs Harbour regional First Lego League  (FLL) competition this week. The buzz in the room was palpable! Such excitement and enthusiasm from all the teams. Some were experienced, some there for their first competition, but all walking away with huge smiles.

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The 2018 challenge was Into Orbit and challenged students to find solutions to real-world problems in space.

Students didn’t just learn about coding, maths, science, space and robotics, they also learned about:

  • co-operation
  • teamwork
  • problem-solving
  • creative thinking
  • design thinking
  • perseverance 
  • trial and error
  • dealing with disappointment
  • presentation skills

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In addition to FLL’s trademark coopertition:

Coopertition is displaying unqualified kindness and respect in the face of fierce competition. Coopertition is founded on the concept and a philosophy that teams can and should help and cooperate with each other even as they compete. (from https://firstaustralia.org/about-us/vision/)

the students are also marked on CORE VALUES:

  • Discovery
  • Innovation
  • Impact
  • Inclusion
  • Teamwork
  • Fun

As the emphasis is not just on the final challenge product, but the fun and learning along the way, students have a well-rounded experience, and all can achieve a level of success.

Google has grants for new teams from low SES, remote, rural and indigenous schools to supply a Lego EV3 Mindstorms kit and more to get involved int he competition, so consider applying for a grant for next year’s competition at https://firstaustralia.org/get-involved/grant-applications/

News coverage of the event from NBN News https://www.nbnnews.com.au/2018/11/20/coffs-qualifier-for-first-lego-league-hugely-popular-with-students/

 

 

ACCE 2018 Conference – ImpaCT

Screen Shot 2018-10-12 at 11.17.07 am.pngI spent a very productive 2 days of my school holidays at the ACCE (Australian Council for Computers in Education) 2018 Conference in Sydney. The theme of the conference was ImpaCT – how to ensure we are using technology to its maximum effect on student learning. (I also made an impact with my T shirt – very popular!)

 

As at any technology conference, one of the best takeaways is the people – networking, meeting some of those amazing innovators you’ve been following on Twitter and social media for years, catching up with friends and colleagues and meeting inspirational teachers, who just quietly do amazing things every day. Here are a few of my other standout takeaways from the 2 days:

We don’t write programs for computers, we write them for people – Programs are for people to use, the User Interface is important, and programs are written ON a computer but they are FOR the use of people.

 

Screen Shot 2018-10-12 at 10.49.09 am.pngDT vs ICT – Knowing the difference between Digital Technologies and ICT Capabilities. ACA (Australian Computing Academy) have these fantastic cards to get teachers thinking about which is which. The actual cards are awesome, but you can print your own here https://aca.edu.au/teacher-resources/

Be a master of the media not a slave to the screen – Kristy Goodwin – Inspirational speaker on Teaching the iGen, learning new terms such as infobesity, techno tantrums, moral panic, digital dementia. We adults/parents/teachers need to lead by example with technology use and digital distraction https://drkristygoodwin.com

Screen Shot 2018-10-12 at 11.17.16 am.pngMicro:bits – I have been waiting for the time to explore Micro:bits more and had the opportunity with 2 workshops. I have already ordered mine and am ready to tinker!

Creativity now is as important in education as literacy – Dr Ken Robinson. Creativity has gone from the 10th to 3rd in top 10 skills to thrive in 2020.  https://cvdl.ben.edu/blog/top-skill-2020-creativity/ This ties in beautifully with Apple’s new Every Can Create Curriculum #everycancreate

 

Screen Shot 2018-10-12 at 11.28.30 am.pngUnpacking the Digital Technologies curriculum – James Curran did a fabulous unpacking of the National Curriculum and showed the great resources available on the DigiHub https://aca.edu.au/curriculum (Wishlist: It would be fantastic if we could have something similar for the new NSW Science and Technology curriculum)

Now to start putting it all into practice in the classroom …

 

Kahoot! certification

You can now get recognition and be Kahoot! certified.

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There are 3 tiers – Bronze, Silver and Gold – and when you’re ready to take the quiz, it is a Kahoot! (of course!). You need to pass one level before going onto the next and can learn more about Kahoot! in the process. It’s a great way to keep up to date with the latest updates and features.

You can then tweet your badge or print your certificate with your name. Use for your teacher identified PD hours.

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Go to  https://kahoot.com/blog/2018/08/29/kahoot-announces-free-certification-program/   for more information.

iPad Learning Experience

I have had the pleasure in the last few weeks of running two iPad Learning Experiences (ILEs) with Boambee PS and Kororo PS.  The ILE is designed to introduce schools to 1:1 learning with iPad and is a two week immersive experience, providing technical guidance and in-class teaching and learning support, assisting schools in exploring the potential of iPads in a 1:1 environment.

The programs were a huge success! As both teachers noted, 1:1 is the ‘game-changer’! Each student has their own iPad, so can edit and add to work easily. With every student with the same device, you know that every student has the required app, and are all able to work at the same time.

The overwhelming observation was the increase in student engagement. Students were more enthusiastic about their learning and were engaged in their schoolwork. Some of the tasks and activities included Numeracy work with arrays, Literacy work with spelling and reading fluency, movies with Green Screen and iMovie, iPad art work and interactive lessons with Nearpod. Teachers noted that the pedagogy remains the same, but teaching and learning with iPad adds another dimension.

Using the Apple Classroom app to monitor students and simplify workflow made classroom management easier – navigate the whole class of iPads to an app or web page instantly, lock the iPads when required, or my favourite – see what app every student is on to check they are on task, and if desired, view their screen in real time. The teacher is free to move around the classroom while still seeing what every students is doing.

Nearpod was also a game changer – the ability to see every students’ response in real time, and to share with the class or support and correct them immediately had instant impact, with some students recording improved results within a week.

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Teachers also realised that it is not necessarily a large amount of apps that is needed, but a few core apps that can be used in many and varied ways. Book Creator and Seesaw were two such apps, which allowed for varying tasks and activities.

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IMG_0046 2.PNGIt was a pleasure working with such enthusiastic teachers and students and to watch the transformation of learning in the classroom.

Working with IDX (Indigenous Digital Excellence)

IMG_3965Last week I had the pleasure of working with the staff of Indigenous Digital Excellence (IDX) for 3 days, training them in the effective use of iPads in education and how to teach Coding and Robotics to younger students. IDX is part of the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) in Redfern,  and aims to increase digital skills amongst Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, to strengthen Indigenous participation in our digital economy. The staff are inspirational leaders and mentors and travel around Australia, to remote and regional areas, to engage Indigenous students in using digital technologies.

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Our 3 days included intensive training in apps following the Apple Teacher curriculum, concentrating on Accessibility features of the iPad, Keynote, iMovie and GarageBand – apps that are particularly useful for story-telling and communicating with rich, multimodal texts and making use of the engagement of multimedia.

We also had a day on Coding and Robotics – how to teach students from Kindergarten how to think computationally, showing how to gradually increase and scaffold the learning to develop from block-based code through to syntax code. This included Swift Playgrounds – a fun app teaching Swift syntax language that smooths the transition from block-based code to syntax code – and the Everyone Can Code curriculum resources. All staff embraced the challenge and were coding in no time!

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We also had a lot of fun coding with Sphero SPRK+. Sphero is so versatile and mobile, particularly important when IDX are going out on country and visiting regional areas, as it is easy to transport and very robust.

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IMG_4022I really enjoyed my 3 days with IDX, they were enthusiastic and willing to have a go at new strategies and ideas, and I think their work is inspirational. I particular like the premise that IDX do not want to merely increase Indigenous digital skills, but are aiming for Indigenous Digital Excellence!