In March 2015, I wrote about an iPad digital storytelling app that was beginning to have a transformational impact on my teaching practice. At the time of writing, I wasn’t aware just how big an impact it was going to have on my Early Childhood colleagues’ practice as well. Over the course of the year, our teachers and students in PP, Year 2, and Year 3 used Adobe Voice extensively, across a range of learning areas.
I love Adobe Voice for its simplicity, and especially how it makes it so easy to find Creative Commons / Public Domain images and backing soundtracks. Our students love it because of its ease of use, especially in pairs (they take it in turns to record a slide). I wrote extensively about our pedagogical approach and suggested teaching strategies in March, and on The iPad Creative Challenge wiki, so I won’t rehash those comments here.
Here are some of our Adobe Voice highlights of 2015:
Celebrations – Year 2 (Student Blogging Challenge)
Keep Australia Beautiful – Year 3, Persuasive Writing
Time – Year 3 Maths
“Thank You Mr Faulkner” – Year 3 English (Narrative Retell)
One of the highlights of 2015 was watching one of my colleagues starting to take big risks with her integration of ICT. In Term 3, I was taken aback by her suggestion that we should teach her students how to use iMovie in Maths, creating movies documenting students’ learning about time.
We worked together to teach students how to storyboard and script their presentations, and gave them some basic instruction in the use of iMovie. The students spent several weeks filming and editing their projects, and some were actively experimenting with the more advanced features of iMovie. We were so impressed with the results that we invited our Acting Principal in for a special screening, and shared the videos with parents on Open Night.
There are times where a chance remark can lead to amazing learning outcomes. The use of Google Maps and Skitch in Year 2 and 3 Geography was one of those occasions …
A conversation about mapping skills led to a suggestion that we take a risk, and see if we could integrate Google Maps (which I know and love) and Skitch (which I’d never used with students) into my colleagues’ Geography unit. We soon had four excited teachers, and some incredibly excited students, learning about “bird’s eye view”, “street view”, voice navigation, and labelling maps with Skitch.
We gave a brief demonstration of how to use Google Maps (looking up our school), and then let students play – looking for their homes and local neighbourhoods. They loved the Voice Search feature, although some soon realised they didn’t actually know their home address … ! Others were a little frustrated that Google apparently didn’t understand them! We also encouraged them to explore Google Street View, and the photos that people upload to Google Maps and Earth.
We then asked students to take screenshots of the map, and gave them a basic introduction to the Skitch annotation tools. In Year 2, students annotated maps of their homes and neighbourhoods. In Year 3, students explored, and annotated photos of the natural and built environments in Papua New Guinea. These are some of the results! (Note: some slight edits / cropping to remove street names).
Exploring Papua New Guinea
We were blown away by how quickly our young students learned how to use Google Maps and Skitch, and just how powerful a tool it can be for teaching Geography concepts. We will definitely use it more extensively in the coming school year, possibly in Maths (directions), Science, and Geography.
Please share how you use Google Maps and Skitch in your classes in the comments below!
For those who have never heard of Popplet, it is a nifty brainstorming / concept mapping iPad app. While covering a Year 3 science class last year, I asked my students to have a go at using it to describe characteristics of living and non living things. These are some screenshots of the results.
I know this is barely scratching the surface of Popplet’s potential, and it is on my list for exploring further this year. If you use Popplet, or know of some great Early Childhood examples, would you mind leaving a link in the comments? I’d love to show my colleagues. Thanks 🙂
Last year, working in a new ICT coaching role, I was determined to introduce our Early Childhood teachers to just a handful of creative iPad apps which they could use across a range of learning areas. We started with Adobe Voice, moving on to Pic Collage, Skitch (in Year 3), and Book Creator.
Over the course of the year, we experimented with the different features of the Book Creator app at a variety of year levels. In Year 1, we used it at the start of the year for Online Safety activities, where students drew pictures of safe online behaviours, and made audio recordings of their learning. I blogged about this in April 2015. As the year progressed, our students and teachers learned how to import photos and videos, how to draw their own illustrations, and make use of the brand new comic book formats!
In Year 1 (Term 4), students worked in pairs to create a Book Creator page showcasing their favourite season, typing a sentence about why they liked it. They uploaded their creations as PDFs to Dropbox, renaming the files with their names for easy identification (and adding their first name to the page). Their teachers then printed them off for classroom display.
In Year 2, students used the latest (comic strip) version of Book Creator to share their learning with BeeBots. They imported photos, videos, and made (some rather entertaining) audio recordings. I am planning to write another post on this, so I’ll only share a few pictures and one video here!
In Year 3, one of our best, although somewhat time consuming activities, was a writing project, where students retold a fable and drew the illustrations in Book Creator. It took a little longer than we’d expected, and not everyone finished; however, I think the results are well worth sharing! Click on the links to download as PDF.
2015 was very much an experimental year for our Early Childhood teachers and students. Now that most of our students are familiar with the use of Book Creator, I am confident that they will continue to surprise us with their creative works and book publishing in the coming year!
At #slide2learn 2014 in Sydney, an early childhood educator pulled me aside and said that my early childhood teachers would just “love” PicCollage. Unfortunately, I can’t remember who you were; however, I am truly indebted to you. …
Without question, PicCollage was the ‘breakthrough’ app for our early years educators. It was the first app they felt confident using independently, and it featured prominently on many classroom blogs over the course of the year!
In Year 1 Geography, the students were tasked with identifying features in their natural and built environment around the school, using PicCollage to record their findings.
As part of the Student Blogging Challenge, as an introduction to PicCollage, our students were asked to photograph & share their favourite parts of their school. We had students visiting the Art Room, Chapel, Library, Oval, and more. We taught them how to take photos, and the bare basics of PicCollage – with an expectation that they work it out for themselves. They did so with gusto, discovering features of the app that I hadn’t realised existed.
Later in the year, the Year 2 teacher decided to integrate PicCollage into her poetry unit. We taught the students how to use Google Image Search by License to find Public Domain images, and they created amazing PicCollage Haikus for the Open Night displays. They looked fabulous!
Thoughts and Recommendations
PicCollage, or the ad-free version PicCollage for Kids, is a simple, yet powerful iPad app which can be integrated into almost any learning area. Students can use it to document their learning, and once you’ve taught them how to share their collages (via AirDrop / Dropbox / Google Drive), they can be very easily printed for classroom display, or posted to your classroom blog. I’d especially recommend PicCollage for teachers starting out with iPads / mobile devices.
After a journey of some 30 hours and over 18000km (11,603 miles), I arrived in the United States for my first ever ISTE conference. It proved to be an incredibly emotional, sometimes overwhelming week. Despite the very best advice I received in the lead up to the event, I soon discovered nothing can quite prepare you for a conference with 20 000 plus attendees, over 1000 vendors, and nearly a 1000 workshops and presentations.
In trying to tell the story of my ISTE2015 journey, I’m going to focus on some key themes and experiences which stood out for me.
The power of the Unconference
Arriving in Philadelphia on Saturday morning with my good friend @lparisi, the weather turned nasty – and very wet. Forced to scrap my planned photo walk and city orientation, I immersed myself in the Hack Ed Unconference. Joining halfway though the day, I started meeting people I knew online, some of whom I’d been following for years; and joined group conversations about topics which interested me. I was less thrilled with the after party (I am not your typical party person), but meeting @lynnrathburn and her colleagues there made it all worthwhile.
Global Connections and Collaboration
Judging by the responses to our poster sessions, and the Twitter feed for several big Ignite presentations, connecting and collaborating globally was of interest to many attendees. I thoroughly enjoyed the Global Educators Brunch, hosted by @globaledcon and @VIFLearn; and the Global Education Day event. The brunch was made all the more special as it was the first time nearly all the #globalclassroom project leaders and organisers, from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and all around the United States, were in the same room. Most of us were meeting for the first time after over four years of working online.
The Global Education Day was interesting, but its most important aspect was the people in the room. To sit alongside and converse with global educators who have inspired, guided, and helped make me the person I am today was an amazing, and very emotional experience.
Coding and Makerspaces
I must admit this is a particularly big interest of mine at the moment, as I am trying to advise my school on the future direction of our ICT program. I am quite keen to delve into robotics and Makerspaces, and I loved the chance to explore the Maker and Coding playground events at ISTE. I played with Cubelets, shared my experiences with the MakeyMakey, searched for information on LittleBits, Squishy Circuits, and collected as much information as possible about 3D printing. I have plenty of pics, and some big ideas which I’ll be taking back to school.
The opportunity to share my story & expertise in global education and iPad integration
When I applied to present at ISTE last year, I was well aware that the organisers accept less than half of all applications. I submitted proposals for the Global Classroom Project Poster session, an iPad Creative Challenge Workshop, and joined another poster session focussed on global blogging and the Student Blogging Challenge. To my surprise, I was accepted for all three – which was unusual to say the least!
The two poster sessions were incredible learning experiences, and I thoroughly enjoyed the informal, conversation based format – even though two hours proved utterly exhausting (and a little overwhelming). My workshop was a challenging experience. With just five registrations, four people turned up on the night. One left shortly after it started (I have no idea why), and one gentleman was deaf! Among the challenges was trying to run a group collaborative session with just four people, and working with American Sign Language interpreters to ensure my deaf colleague found the session valuable. I received positive informal feedback in the session, but I’ll admit it was probably the most challenging presentation I’ve ever given.
Thank you for the memories!
Perhaps the greatest, and most emotional element of this conference was meeting Twitter friends, new and old, from all over the world. I lost count of how many hugs I received, and I won’t get started on the selfies :P. I had my first, second, and … who knows how many selfies at ISTE!
While sadly not all of my #globalclassroom PLN could attend ISTE, I was deeply indebted to those who made the trek, especially those two dear friends who drove 25 hours (each way) to come and see me. I hope I was able to make that incredible roadtrip worthwhile for you.
Dear @LParisi, thank you for picking me up at the airport in NYC, and the lift to Philadelphia. Your kindness, hospitality, and relative calm in the NYC traffic were deeply appreciated. I still maintain you have a very beautiful home – all protestations to the contrary :). (Please pass on my regards to your husband – it was a pleasant surprise to find a fellow photographer after a 30 hour trip to the USA. )
To @MrsSchmidtB4 and family, thank you for your warm hospitality. I still can’t quite believe that I was helping a “local” navigate Philadelphia, but I couldn’t have managed to see the city without your help :).
To everyone I met, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You made this conference one I will remember for many, many years to come.
Last year, I had the opportunity to (finally) use Book Creator with our 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.
Staying Safe Online – Book Creator in Year 1 (2015)
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!
What did we learn?
Book Creator is a powerful, yet intuitive eBook creation app which can be easily integrated into Early Childhood learning activities.
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.
Last year, my Year 2 colleagues and I embarked on what turned out to be one of the most (over) ambitious #ipsict 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!
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.
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!
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.