Counting down to #ISTE2015!

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Late last year, I took a risk … applying to present at two poster presentations and a workshop at the International Society for Technology Education Conference in Philadelphia, USA.

To my utter astonishment and delight, I was accepted for all three! As an Australian teacher, and global educator, the opportunity to present at #ISTE15 is a rare opportunity to meet many of my international colleagues in person for the very first time, and a chance so share my story and students’ learning with a global audience.

As the conference draws nearer, the reality of this trip is starting to sink in … for the first time in my life, I will be travelling halfway around the world … visiting Philadelphia, Washington DC, and New York City. A trip of nearly 30 hours and 18 600 km (11 600 miles) …

If you’re coming to ISTE, I’d love to see you at our #globalclassroom and blogging poster sessions. If you need an added incentive, we managed to convince @TheHeadsOffice (Julia Skinner), creator of the 100 Word Challenge, to fly in from the United Kingdom to join us for ISTE :)

If you’re interested in learning how to integrate iPads into your teaching, I will be running my iPad Creative Challenge Workshop (Literacy) on the Tuesday evening of the conference – which gives teachers a chance to explore some of the best iPad activities I’ve discovered in my #ionapsict adventures. This won’t be a talkfest – it’s most definitely a hands-on session! All welcome!

After the conference, I will be heading to Washington DC (July 3-10), and New York City (July 10-16). If you live there, I’d greatly appreciate any advice you could give to someone visiting these cities for the first time. If you’re up for a coffee and a chat, feel free to get in touch :) And for the keen photographers out there, any local knowledge you might be able to provide would be appreciated! I can’t help myself – I’m already planning my trip around the photographs I want to try and take!

 

ISTE Presentation Details

Stories From the Global Classroom Project

Sunday, June 28, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
PCC Broad Street Atrium, Table 17

The Creative iPad Challenge: Integrating iPads into Literacy and the Language Arts

Tuesday, June 30, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Marriott Franklin 1

Global Connections Through Blogging
Wednesday, July 1, 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
PCC Broad Street Atrium, Table 1

 

Sharing Stories and Learning with the @BookCreatorApp (#ionapsict)

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Last year, I had the opportunity to (finally) use Book Creator with Iona PS students, working with the Year 2 teachers to help their students plan and publish their first eBooks.

Students were learning about Australian Indigenous Dreamtime stories, and had the opportunity to create and illustrate their own – e.g. “How the Goanna got its’ tail”. Students started out by drafting and editing their story on paper, before typing out and illustrating their story in Book Creator. We asked students to hand draw their illustrations, which they photographed and imported into their books; however, some soon discovered that it was easier to use the pen tools  to create their pictures.

Work Samples (2014) – ePub format

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How the Goanna got its’ tail

Maggie 2B

 

Staying Safe Online – Book Creator in Year 1 (2015)

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Moving into an integration role in 2015, I had the opportunity to experiment with the use of Book Creator with Grade 1 students, who were just learning how to write. Working with their classroom teachers, the Year 1 students learnt how to record their voices / short movies of themselves using the app, as they shared their learning from our ‘online safety’ activity.

Book Creator proved to be the perfect choice, as students found the tools easy to learn and use, and took great delight in creating their books. We taught them how to add their name and class to the title of their completed books, and showed them how to export their completed creations to their class Dropbox folder. We will need to keep practising this workflow; however, it should help save us an extraordinary amount of time later on!

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What did we learn?

  • Book Creator is a powerful, yet intuitive eBook creation app which can be easily integrated into Early Childhood learning activities.
  • Older students would benefit from learning how to source and attribute Creative Commons / Public Domain images for their eBook projects; however, early childhood students love to draw their own images.
  • Photographing and importing students’ work could potentially make Book Creator useful for digital portfolios or for keeping a record of a learning experience.
  • The option to export books as a .mpeg movie is fantastic when students have recorded their voices in the book, but not so useful if the book is primarily text and images.
  • We will need to keep refining and practising our eBook workflow, especially for saving to Dropbox. As with many iPad activities, saving and sharing students’ work can be time-consuming, although very worthwhile.
  • I am hoping to create an Apple iBooks publisher account – I would dearly love for our students’ work to be published for a global audience, but this is something I will look at later in the year.

Mashing up @HaikuDeck & @ExplainEverything: Year 2 iPad Information Reports (#ionapsict)

downloadLast year, my Year 2 colleagues and I embarked on what turned out to be one of the most (over) ambitious #ionapsict projects to date, creating Information Report videos about Australian animals using a mashup of HaikuDeck and Explain Everything. Now we’ve discovered Adobe Voice, I now know that there is a far simpler way to do this, but at the time this appeared to be a good idea!

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Firstly, our students researched their animals, using a teacher-created scaffold to answer questions about where their animal lived, what it ate, what it looked like, and so on. Students then created a HaikuDeck presentation, choosing Public Domain/ Creative Commons images to match their questions. This part was relatively simple, although time consuming.

Using a shared class HaikuDeck account, students’ presentations synced across the iPads, so we made sure that students’ put their first name and class in the titles. We did try to ensure that students were allocated a numbered iPad for each lesson; however, the constant syncing of all the presentations was a nuisance. Until HaikuDeck brings out management tools for educators, this is something we are likely to have to put up with when using a class account.

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After completing their HaikuDeck presentations, we taught our students to screenshot their slides, and import them into Explain Everything. Here, we worked out how to add and edit our voice narrations, and how to export our completed products to Dropbox. The beauty of Explain Everything is its ability to export screencasts  / videos to cloud services for sharing beyond the app and the company’s website. That said, we barely scratched the surface of what EE can do in this activity, and I hope to experiment further later in the year – with a MUCH simpler activity!

Work Samples

What did we learn? 

  • We won’t run this style of mashup in Early Childhood again. It was far too complicated and time-consuming for our young students to complete within a reasonable amount of time. For this style of “information report” activity, Adobe Voice is a much more suitable app.
  • That said, I believe HaikuDeck has enormous potential for use in education, perhaps from Year 3 up. Our Iona PS ICT Scope and Sequence requires us to start introducing students to slideshows in Year 3, and I think HaikuDeck has great potential in class.
  • We barely scratched the surface of what Explain Everything can do. There are so many tools and options – you need to know (and teach) which options and tools students need to use to complete your activity, rather than do what we did, and try to work it out as we went along!
  • Ultimately, your choice of iPad tools / apps comes down to your teaching and learning purpose, and what is best suited to the age and level of expertise of your students – an important lesson I learned the hard way.

Meeting the World via Mystery Skype (#ionapsict)

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Mystery Skyping with Nepal

 

One of my personal highlights of 2014 was the collaborative introduction of Mystery Skype with Mrs R. in Year 3. Integrating our Skype sessions into Geography, we made some memorable connections with Hello Little World Skypers and Global Classroom teachers from Argentina, India, Nepal, and the United States. We also were able to connect with ‘Flat Addy’, a little girl in Iowa, USA, who had sent us a Flat Stanley earlier in the year.

Mystery Skype proved to be a fantastic introduction for our students, who learnt how to communicate and share with authentic global audiences. As the 2015 school year progresses, I am hoping to introduce videoconferencing and Mystery Skype into more classes, as we work to build our students’ awareness of the world beyond their classroom walls.

Objectives

  • Students will use map skills to find the location of the mystery classroom
  • Students will use communication and critical thinking skills to ask questions to help them find the mystery location.
  • Classes communicate with other classrooms via Skype or Google+ Hangouts.
  • Students will learn to respect and appreciate the cultures and customs of others.
  • Students will be able to see the differences and similarities between themselves and others around the world.

Demystifying Coding and Programming – Just Scratchin’ Around (#ionapsict)

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Jenny Ashby @jjash may not know it, but her Sydney #slide2learn session on Beebots and coding gave me the push I needed to take a risk, and experiment with Scratch programming in Years 4 and 5 in late 2014.

Openly acknowledging in class that I had next to no idea of how Scratch worked, and what it could do, I set my students a challenge to create a game, or tell a story. With the help of YouTube tutorials, older siblings, and coding enthusiasts amongst their classmates, the girls merrily set to work planning, problem solving, and coding their projects; and they were only too happy to teach me in the process!

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The Task

Challenge 1:

Use Scratch to tell a simple story which includes at least one talking character (sprite), and at least two settings or backgrounds.

Challenge 2:

Create a simple game where the user or player has to choose a key on their keyboard to make the sprite move or perform an action. This game could be a maze, a guessing game, or your own idea. It needs to include at least one Sprite (object/character), and a background.

Self Assessment Criteria

I have:

  • Storyboarded what my story / game will look like, and what will happen.
  • Created a simple story or game using Scratch
  • Included at least one Sprite and background
  • Used code blocks to require user/player action – e.g. IF the player clicks their mouse or presses the A key, THEN ….

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Some Results

Arcaine

Press ‘s’ to start, then use arrow keys as per in-game instructions.

Super Grandma!

Press the following keys to progress the dialogue: a, c, e, r, q.

Ask Katy Perry

Start by clicking on the green flag.

Fun Maze (Year 4)

Click on the green flag to start, then use your arrow keys to navigate.

What did we learn?

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Introducing Scratch programming to my students was a huge professional risk, as to the best of my knowledge, it had not been formally taught at the school before. It was also the first time I had ever attempted to run a coding/programming project, something which I wouldn’t have dreamed of trying before #slide2learn.

Through this project, I learnt a great deal about the power of play – allowing students to explore, experiment, tinker, and collaboratively solve problems as they pursued their coding projects. I was surprised by the level of student engagement – both in, and outside of class. Many went home to ask their older brothers and sisters for help and advice in coding their projects! I was also really impressed with the power of peer teaching and support in class, as we even brought some Year 4 students into a Year 5 class to explain how they used a particular Scratch tool !

Next time I run this, I intend to more formally stress the need the storyboard and planning aspect of the project, and include some higher level coding skills in the assessment criteria (drawing upon the Australian Digital Technologies Curriculum). I’d also like to try and provide better summative feedback to students, beyond the whole class discussion and reflection sessions we ran last year. The peer teaching and problem solving approach worked very well for most students, encouraging them to think and learn from eachother.

Later in 2015, I am hoping to introduce Beebots and coding apps into Early Childhood maths / procedural writing, and explore how to integrate Scratch programming into other learning areas in upper primary. We are at the very early stages of teaching coding / programming at our school, but I am very curious to see where this little experiment takes us over the next few years.

Educating for World Futures (#TEDxPerth 2014)

It is a rare occasion indeed to have one’s work mentioned on the TEDx stage, which is why I’d like to share this talk from TEDxPerth 2014, which focussed on the future of education.

From the TEDxPerth website:

“The 21st century presents the greatest challenges and opportunities ever faced by humankind. It will span massive transitions in technology, society, human well-being, values and our world ecosystem.

Neville Bruce discusses how he must prepare our youth to meet these challenges with awareness, understanding, engagement, empowerment and above all action. That is what Education for World Futures (EWF) is all about: but it needs enacting now! So what is the EWF idea, where is it now and how can we make it grow?”

Unleashing the Power of @AdobeVoice (#ionapsict)

Over the past few years, I have been privileged to attend two #Slide2learn events, in Perth (2013), and in Sydney (2014). Despite being terribly sick for most of the Sydney event, it made a deep and meaningful impact on my teaching practice.

At the 2014 event, Tony Vincent @tonyvincent introduced me to Adobe Voice, an extremely powerful tool for telling stories, narrating procedures, explaining a concept, and so much more. I have now successfully integrated this rich digital storytelling tool into Year 2 and Year 3 ICT and English classes, most recently in collaboration with our Early Childhood teachers.

Last year in ICT, I had a class of Year 3 students script and voice creative ‘newscasts’ and narratives. We had originally planned to create iMovies, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I had to find a more manageable alternative. I chose Adobe Voice, and was absolutely blown away by the results …

Staying Safe Online

Then, in Term 1, 2015, seeking a simpler alternative to Explain Evrything (which we used last year), I introduced my Year 2 and Year 3 colleagues to Adobe Voice. Working on an online safety unit, and keen to integrate ICT into literacy, we taught our students how to use the app to create “Online Safety” presentations, some of which you can watch here.

What have we learned?

As we’ve experimented (played) with the use of Adobe Voice in the early years, we’ve discovered a few useful tips worth sharing:

  • Younger students need some explicit modelling of how to use the app, especially for how to add their first names to the final credits (to make identifying the work easier), and saving the completed product to the Camera Roll and Dropbox.
    • It is important to balance ‘learning through play’, with some explicit teaching
    • I intend to create a poster explaining the ‘Save to Dropbox’ process which we can post in the classroom for student reference.
  • Have students write out their scripts prior to using the app. Scripting the presentation leads to a more polished result, and also encourages students to ‘think’ carefully about what they want to say, rather than making it up as they go along.
  • We found we needed to encourage students to say only one or two sentences per slide – some thought they had to present all their information on one slide!
  • Students need to be taught how to match images and music to the tone and content of the presentation. For example, a horror music soundtrack is probably not appropriate for an explanation about ‘Staying Safe Online’!
  • Having an authentic audience and purpose is powerful – students learnt that they needed to speak clearly and sensibly when presenting an explanation video which will be viewed by people outside their classroom.
  • Build in some time for reflection and discussion. We found sharing the final products with the class, and talking about what they did well, and where they could improve, was a very valuable part of the teaching and learning process.

Where to next?

Given that I am in a new integration / support / coaching role this year, I am taking a slightly different approach to integrating iPads in the early childhood classes. Based on collegial feedback and my personal observations, I’m focusing on helping teachers become confident, independent users of just one or two creative / digital storytelling apps per Semester. I’m also trying to develop my early childhood pedagogy and teaching techniques through observing and team-teaching with my colleagues, learning and refining my approach as we go.

I am looking forward to seeing how we can integrate Adobe Voice next Semester!

Powerful Learning with iPads – iMovie Book Trailers in Grade 3 (#ionapsict)

As I look back over the past six months, one teaching and learning experience stands out as a true highlight – the Year 3 iMovie Book Trailer Project, which was developed and brought to life by the amazing students of Year 3B, and their wonderful teacher. 

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The Process

This project was run in Term 3, 2014 as a team-teaching project over six weeks, with roughly 90 minutes (2 lessons) each week. Neither the classroom teacher or I had ever done anything quite like this before, so it was very much a collaborative learning experience – and not just for the students!

Students worked in small group “book clubs”, choosing their favourite book from the Australian Children’s Book Awards Shortlist for 2014. They worked to identify the main events of the story, holding detailed discussions about the book as they set about creating visual storyboards.

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When we started this project, we weren’t sure if we’d have students’ filming scenes from the books, or using Creative Commons/Public Domain images off the Internet. We eventually decided to go with the (somewhat) easier option – filming. Prior to formally filming book trailer scenes, we gave students time to simply play with the iPad camera, Photos, and iMovie app, discovering how they all worked. The stage was set for one of the most intense, but rewarding teaching experiences I’ve ever been a part of.

On filming day, I knew we were in ‘trouble’ when I discovered a group of students setting up with piles of cardboard boxes in the library – before school had even started! Students brought in costumes and props, and set to work filming their scenes. This proved to be a fascinating process for us as teachers, as we noticed some groups found it much easier to work with each-other than others. We tried to maintain a hands-off, over the shoulder approach, and let the students work through the creative process relatively independently; however, we did have to step in with one group on several occasions.  We weren’t overly sure how many lessons we’d need, and eventually spent about three (very intensive) hours in total.

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The Results

Our students blew us away with their passion, creativity, and sheer enthusiasm; and the videos they produced were of exceptionally high quality. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to ask for parental permission to share them on my personal blog, and I ran out of time to put them on the school website! Next year, that won’t be such an issue, as student publishing will be one of our major whole-school ICT focus areas.

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Reflections

As this was very much a collaborative ICT integration project, I asked my partner teacher to share her thoughts on our teaching and learning process –

It was a pleasure to work with Michael on this Book Trailer project. His excitement was shared by the children and myself. I came to the table with little experience so he was involving me in the learning process along with the children. With his guidance the main elements were discussed as a whole and then the children were encouraged to play and experiment. Other Book Trailers were critiqued by the children, the children became confident critics and through the process the children developed an eye and an understanding for what was required to produce a powerful and successful Trailer.

The children were supported with their learning at all times by Michael as he moved with ease from one group’s individual need to another. Michael allowed the children to be creative and encouraged them to solve problem themselves learning from each other. The parents were impressed with their children’s enthusiasm for the Book Trailer project. Some children asked to have a permission note for their parents, to allow them to come to school early so they could get started on their filming. The project was then able to be viewed by all parents during Open Night. It was a huge success where we got to how learning became fun and effortless for all involved.

The children came into this project with no experience with this type of technology or using iPads in a collaborative project. The children chose to be in a group that they had a common interest, the interest was their favourite book from the Book Week nominations. As a result group sizes were varied along with a variation in literacy ability. This could have been very challenging for most teachers but through this project I believe we got the most from all our children. They are looking forward to the next project with Michael.

My Thoughts

As I look back at this project, I am immensely proud of what we achieved in a relatively short space of time. I was blessed to work with a gifted, enthusiastic classroom teacher who was prepared to take risks, letting the students take the lead in their learning. We were able to forge a close working relationship, building on our respective strengths and expertise to enable our students to create something special. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what we can do together next year!

2014: “As one door closes, another opens” …

CC-BY-NC Michael Graffin

CC-BY-NC Michael Graffin

 

The 2014 school year did not start particularly well.

As a result of State Government funding cuts to education, and other unrelated factors, I experienced my worst start to the relief teaching year since I graduated six years ago. In addition, I’d returned to postgraduate study, and was struggling to cope with my overly ambitious academic workload. Suffice to say the first half of 2014 was not a pleasant time.

It is ironic then, that I am now glad that my relief phone stopped ringing … as it led to my applying for, and winning an ICT teaching position at a top private girls school in June. I had no idea that I would find myself working for an administration who share my philosophy and vision for the use of ICT to support students’ learning, and who genuinely model pastoral care for their staff. After many years working in an often uncaring, indifferent Government education system (there was a lot I couldn’t share in this post), I have no desire to go back.

2014 was the year:

  • I keynoted the inaugural #OZeLive online conference, which will return in February 2015
  • I returned to postgraduate study at Notre Dame University, with excellent academic results (despite an overwhelming start).
  • I travelled to Sydney, Australia for two amazing conferences – Flat Connections and #Slide2Learn 2014, meeting many wonderful Twitter friends for the first time.
  • My global education work was featured in Neville Bruce’s TEDx Perth presentation on ‘Education for World Futures’.
  • I started working at my new school, one which I am proud to call home for another year.
  • I received the incredible news that I will be presenting two group poster sessions, and an iPad workshop at the #ISTE15 conference in Philadelphia, USA.

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As one door closes, another opens …

In 2014, I’ve finally started my transition out of relief teaching, after five and half years on the road. It has been a mostly positive journey, but the time has come to leave it behind. While I probably stayed in that role for too long (it took a high emotional toll), I am grateful for the opportunity which now presents itself. I’m about to start my first ‘long term’ part-time contract in a Catholic school; a school where I finally feel free to learn, grow, innovate, and push the boundaries of what is possible with ICT.  

Challenging Students to Respect Copyright (#ionapsict)

Many students, and many teachers, are unaware of, or not completely informed about how copyright law works online, and most have never heard of Creative Commons or Public Domain media. Yet, these concepts are critical to developing understandings of digital citizenship, and form part of the ICT General Capabilities in the Australian Curriculum.

As part of my classroom program, I designed this presentation to clarify some of the key issues, and developed a reference list for PD/CC sites suitable for use in middle to upper primary. Creative Commons and copyright awareness is one of my ICT priorities for 2015.


Copyright is Messy: An Introduction to Creative Commons – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Other Teaching Resources

These infographics are quite handy for explaining the difference, and I have personally used the Creative Commons one in upper primary classes.

Source – http://www.gcflearnfree.org/blogbasics/6.2

 

Infographic: "Creative Commons - What does it mean?" (by Martin Missfeldt / Bildersuche.org).

Infographic: “Creative Commons – What does it mean?” (by Martin Missfeldt / Bildersuche.org).

 

Examples of Student Solutions to Copyright Challenges

Faced with the challenge of respecting copyright in their work, two groups of Year 4 students excelled themselves in thinking outside the box, creating their own images for their iMovie book trailers. For some other excellent copyright friendly iMovie examples, please see my recent post “Lessons learn working with iMovie in Upper Primary“.