Adventures with @PicCollage in Early Childhood

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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.

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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!

Jack

Poppy

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.

Using my image without attribution is NOT ok!

As an ICT integrator and teacher, I place a strong emphasis on teaching my students and colleagues about why and how we attribute online images and creative works. I also take the time to teach them how to find Creative Commons and Public Domain works we have permission to use in our projects, so long as we provide the relevant attribution.

As a professional educator and presenter, I endeavour to model best practice with image attribution in my teaching and presentations, sometimes with surprising results – see a post on this topic from 2013. I’m trying to set an example, but I know I’m not perfect. I didn’t always attribute images properly, especially in my early years.

Today; however, I discovered why image attribution is so important. 

This picture, taken off Twitter, and cropped to avoid publicly identifying the presenter, contains two unattributed images, of which I happen to know the creators.

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The first image, featuring a quote by Sarah Breathnach happens to be mine.

I can’t claim one of the most deeply meaningful quotes I’ve ever found, but I can claim the image. Made in Canva, it was uploaded and prominently featured on my organisation’s website from October 2014 – around July 2015.

This happens to be the original, which was not published under a Creative Commons license. .

The second image, of children holding up the globe, is by a Global Classroom Project guest blogger, published on our blog here in January 2013. Looking at the copyright statement on the creator’s professional blog, this image is technically copyright.

Neither of these images can be sourced through Google Advanced Image Search (usage rights), or through Creative Commons search engines. In fact, there are better CC/PD alternatives that could have been used instead.

Why is this an issue?

I have two major issues with the use of these images.

Firstly, my image was used (and modified) without permission, either implied or requested. Under normal circumstances, if asked, I would have agreed for this image to be reproduced under a Creative Commons – Attribution – Non Commercial license.

Secondly, the image was used in what can be technically described as a commercial presentation held in Australia, organised by an overseas presenter, and requiring payment from attendees. Whether the presenter was paid for this event is not the point. I am not comfortable with other people using my work for these kinds of events, particularly when they use it without permission.

Using my images without permission or attribution is NOT ok. 

I’m sharing this post in the hope that other people will learn from my experience. Perhaps the presenter in question might read it, and reconsider how he selects and attributes images in future presentations.

No hard feelings mate, but if you’d like to use my images in future, please ask. Or at the very least, give them a meaningful attribution.

Thank you. 

Powerful Learning with iPads – iMovie Book Trailers in Grade 3

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.

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.

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!

Thoughts on the #ipsict iPad Rollout

One of my many jobs this year has been the rollout of my school’s iPad program. Working in close collaboration with my colleague, who works as a part-time IT technician, and the school administration, I’ve learnt some valuable lessons about iPad VPP management, and explored effective pedagogical strategies for integrating iPads into K-3 classrooms.

Dot Day

1) Technical iPad management has come a LONG way since 2012.

While many people know of my work as a Research Assistant on the TIPS2012 iPad Project (Edith Cowan University, 2012), not many are aware of my other role – as the poor guy tasked with the technical setup and management of 120 iPads for the School of Education. These were the days before the introduction of the Volume Purchasing Program for Australia, and before the development of Apple Configurator … and to put it mildly, it was an incredibly time-consuming and tedious process.

Fast forward to 2014, and the discovery that my school uses the Meraki Mobile Deployment Solution from CISCO. Now, I rarely promote products on my blog, but I can honestly say that Meraki is a true time-saver – and well worth whatever it costs to use! While it takes at least 20 minutes / device to install the Meraki profile on the iPads (if all goes well), the time savings lie in the ability to remotely purchase and push new apps onto selected devices over WiFi. This is the one caveat of using Meraki – you must have excellent WiFi bandwidth for it to be effective. As I discovered, it also pays not to try and remotely deploy apps to 60 iPads off the one router (for first time setup). Downloading 10GB+ of new apps / device is not a good idea. Placing the iPads around the school, and checking that apps are downloading properly is the way to go.

2) Your choice of iPad case and charging solution matter.

Our school went down the road of centralising iPad charging in one easily accessible (secure) room in the school, rather than charging small numbers of iPads in each classroom. Some people I have talked to (outside the school) are not keen on this approach; however, it seems to be workable for our school context. While classroom use is currently limited to ICT lessons & Integration sessions, this is primarily an indicator of teachers’ confidence – which is something we will be working to develop next year.

On the issue of iPad cases, my personal preference is the STM Skinny case, which is durable, protective, and most importantly – light. Our new school iPads came with the STM Dux case, which has a high drop protection rating and an (admittedly useful) clear back. Unfortunately, I am not joking when I say that these cases took, on average, 3 minutes to install per device, and the ends of my fingers hurt for days afterwards. They are also extremely heavy, especially for small children, as well as the teachers trying to carry a box of five. I am hoping that we take this into consideration when we expand the iPad program in future years.

3) Establish clear guidelines for selection and purchasing of iPad apps

One of the challenges of establishing a school iPad program is planning and communicating what kinds of apps will be purchased, and whether the school or classroom teachers pay for them. From the outset, I argued for a focus on creative rather than skill and drill apps, a position supported by my administration. Drawing upon international best practice, implementing this approach was not without its challenges, and I did make a few mistakes along the way.

Drawing upon teacher feedback, and my own experimentation with a play-based approach to iPad integration in K-3,  I have realised that there is a need for a few phonics/literacy game / skill development apps in the early years – provided those apps are limited in number, sourced from high-quality educational providers, and support the classroom literacy approach. While I have had considerable success in ICT classes with developing students’ skills with more creative iPad apps, such as Book Creator, Play School Art Maker, DoodleBuddy. Strip Design, and Puppet Pals Directors’ Pass (which I will introduce next week), the classroom integration of these tools will be a focus for 2015.

One key lesson I learnt from this rollout is that pushing out the same set of apps onto Kindergarten to Year 3 iPads is not particularly helpful. There is a need to adjust the apps provided for various year levels, as well as a need to remove unnecessary duplication. For example, DoodleBuddy is a fantastic drawing tool for EC, while renders the more complicated SketchBook Lite unnecessary. Similarly, while I would happily use HaikuDeck from Year 1 upwards, there is no point in having it on Kindy and PP devices. In addition, it pays to check that the Lite versions of apps (such as Puppet Pals HD, Spelling City, Reading Eggs) are actually useful prior to putting them onto all the devices. Sometimes, as we discovered with Puppet Pals, it genuinely pays to purchase the full version, while the others require a paid subscription.

One other important issue that we confronted during our rollout was negotiating and communicating procedures for classroom teachers to request and purchase iPad apps. Both my administration and I take the view that app selection and purchasing needs to be carefully managed to ensure that selected apps are of educational value – beyond skill and drill games. As the procedures currently stand, classroom teachers are able to request apps for their classes / year level on a Term by Term basis, and purchases of paid apps are charged to classroom budgets. While we’ve had a few hurdles, the system seems to be working well, and will be refined in 2015.

4) Teach students (and staff) how to use Cloud workflows for sharing work

I have been pleasantly surprised with how my Pre-Primary and Year 1 students have learnt how to save their work, and download photos (with guidance) from their class Dropbox account. As part of the iPad rollout, I set up Gmail addresses and Dropbox accounts for each year level, using the Carousel app to get an additional 3GB space. While I had to individually input these accounts on every device, teaching students about the cloud has been invaluable.We may switch to Google Drive next year, but for now at least, Dropbox is my preferred, simple solution for sharing classroom photos for student use, and collecting work from devices.

Whatever cloud storage solution you choose to use, it is important to explicitly teach students and staff how to use it to store and retrieve documents, images, and other files. The development of these skills in my school is a work in progress 🙂

5) It is important to balance explicit teaching and play-based / discovery learning with iPads

When I first started in this role, I strongly emphasised a play-based / discovery approach to teaching students how to use creative iPad apps. Drawing upon collegial advice and feedback, and my own observations, I am realising that there is a need to balance the play-based approach with explicit teaching and guided demonstrations, especially for the more complicated app workflows, such as Dropbox and Explain Evrything.

One very valuable suggestion, which I will work on next year, is providing students with simple instructions (either screenshots / video) which they can refer to as they work on iPad projects. My initial thinking is we could put these in Google Docs, and teach students how to access them via QR code … and if at all possible, I’d like to employ some Year 6 students to create them … We will see.

6) Classroom iPad integration requires ongoing professional support, beyond one off workshops.

I am lucky enough to be in a school which can  employ me as a part-time ICT integrator, currently for half a day a week. With this extra time, I have been able to work alongside four teachers to support their integration of ICT, in addition to those who have regularly given up their DOTT time to join my ICT lessons.

Over the past few months, I’ve learnt a great deal about collaboration and coaching; learning from my mistakes, and celebrating some huge milestone achievements – such as running a book trailer project & introducing Mystery Skype  in Year 3, and supporting teachers’ involvement in the Travelling Teddy Project. These sessions have been invaluable in that they have allowed me to help build teachers’ confidence and understanding of how to integrate iPads into their classroom teaching, while helping me develop my collaborative teaching skills & own professional learning.

The greatest lesson I’ve drawn from this experience; however, is that while traditional workshop / professional development days are fantastic for introducing teachers to ICT and iPad integration, it takes time and ongoing support for teachers to build their confidence and skills. Developing teachers’ ICT skills is not a straightforward process, and there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. If you’re preparing or planning to implement an iPad program, it is vital that you build in some form of professional support – through Techie Brekkies, or providing time for teachers to join the ICT teacher for a Term’s ICT lessons. I am extremely grateful that my school has appreciated the value of this approach, and I’ve certainly enjoyed the challenge.

Where to in 2015?

In comparison to many other schools, our iPad program is relatively small, and most definitely in its’ infancy. We’ve made significant strides in the first few months, and I am looking forward to continue our iPad journey in 2015.

World Water Day International LinoIt Project 2014

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This coming weekend marks  World Water Day 2014, held on March 22 each year, and it promises to be a rather ‘wet’ weekend.

World Water Day International LinoIt Project 2014

For the past three years, the WWD LinoIt Project has given students around the world the opportunity to share their thoughts, photos, and experiences of water conservation with the wider world.

This year’s project will run from March 19-25, and will be jointly hosted by Class 5, from School 1302 in Moscow, Russia and Robyn Thiessen’s Grade 4/5 class in Canada. We are also looking forward to working with Project Purus, who are fundraising to provide clean water for school children in Nepal.

Please bookmark the 2014 LinoIt and share with your class using this link – http://bit.ly/worldwaterday2014.

I’m hoping to smash the country participation and audience count this year, so please feel free to share this with your networks!

Get Involved with Ed Tech Down Under! (#OZeLive 2014)


I am delighted to be involved with the brand new OzELive online conference, presented by the Australia e-Series and The Learning Revolution Project.

#OZeLive is a new virtual conference will run on February 22-23, 2014 at Australia friendly time-zones. It will feature Australian and New Zealand educators sharing their stories, perspectives, and expertise in the fields of:

  • Web 3.0 / social media
  • Educator 3.0* eLearning/ Blended learning/ LMS* Networking
  • Collaborative learning / learning theory / pedagogy
  • Use of technology in the classroom/learning environment
  • PLEs / PLNs/PLCs

Call for Presenters

If you are an Australian or New Zealand educator, with a story to share, you are warmly invited to submit a presentation proposal here. I’d suggest doing it soon, as the schedule will be finalized in early February 🙂

Attend

The conference will run on February 22-23, with presentations held in Blackboard Collaborate virtual classrooms. The 45 minute sessions will be recorded and converted to MP4 format, then made available in our OZeLive You Tube channel. More details, and schedule, to follow.

Connect

Follow @ozelivecon and the #ozelive hashtag on Twitter, and join the Facebook group here. The official website is here – http://australianeducators.ning.com/.

Three Years. A Relief Teacher’s Blogging Journey

Well, what can I say?

Three years ago today, I was a recovering first year teacher struggling to find my voice and calling in my profession. Today, I’m in Doha, Qatar, on the eve of the 20th iEARN International Conference.

For me, blogging has been an outlet, a way to share my experiences, thoughts, and learning with others. I used to feel isolated and alone, but no more.

I used to be obsessed with statistics … could anyone actually be interested in reading about my experiences? Now, the statistics don’t matter so much … because I know.

The past three years have been a roller-coaster journey. There have been stories of heartbreak, triumph, elation, and heartfelt thanks … but I stand here today with no regrets, secure in the knowledge that I have a voice on the world stage, secure in the knowledge that I’ve giving back to this wonderful global community which has given me so much, and more.

Here’s to another three years … God knows where I’ll be, but I’m looking forward to finding out 🙂

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Being part of something BIG – The Scootle Community

A few months ago, I was selected as an Australian Teacher Champion for the new Scootle Community, run by Education Services Australia.

And as the community goes live this week, I can’t help but feel that I’m part of something BIG …

Introducing … the Community

The Scootle Community is a social network designed exclusively for Australian teachers, helping teachers connect, learn, share, and collaborate with their peers around Australia, and access high quality teaching resources.

I see the Community as a bridge between traditional professional development and social media, making it ideal for teachers who are unfamiliar with social networking to explore, learn, and develop their skills in a supportive learning environment. It’s worth exploring, and sharing with your colleagues …

So what’s it all about?

As members of the Scootle Community social network, educators can:

  • Set up a profile as they would on a social network and join discussion groups, read and write blogs, ask questions and share expertise.
  • Connect with teachers from all over the country, bringing together rich experiences from diverse communities.
  • Find classroom resources from the Scootle website, relevant sections of the Australian Curriculum, and teacher conversations on a topic of interest with a single search.
  • Create a teacher network on the topic of their choice. Users can choose to create a private, invitation-only network, or one that is open to all interested educators on the site.
  • Join teacher networks, enter discussions, create wikis and blog on the things they wonder about or want to share.
  • Interact through live chats and blogs with special guest bloggers on subjects of interest.

How can you get involved?

If you already use the scootle.edu.au resources website, you can use your Scootle login to access the site at community.scootle.edu.au. You can access, the site on your tablet, desktop, or laptop computer, and there are iOS and Android apps in the works.

The Scootle Community is currently available for Government and private school teachers (and pre-service educators) around Australia.

There is, sadly, a catch – NSW and QLD public school teachers can’t YET access Scootle or the Scootle Community. There are discussions going on behind the scenes, but it could be a few months before they can join 🙁

Spreading the Word

Please help spread the word about the #scootlecommunity with your colleagues and PLN. You can download the Scootle Community Posters, and tweet about the network using the #scootlecommunity hashtag.

As Scootle Community Teacher Champions, we are looking forward to working with you as we develop and grow the Scootle Community into a valuable, in-time professional learning and networking resource for Australian teachers.

We hope you will join us.

Building a Western Australian PLN (#WApln)

Halfway through last year, a Twitter conversation with @suewaters raised the prospect of building the Western Australian online teacher community, with the goal of running our own professional development through unconferences led by educators, for educators. (There is a BIG event in the works, more details coming here soon).

One of the key issues raised out of our early discussions was our difficulty in finding local Twitter teachers,and the need for a specific Western Australian education Twitter hashtag. At the time we only knew of around 10 people, but with the recent efforts of @LouCimetta in the Catholic Education school system, there are now more than a 100 Twitter teachers here in the West.

In what we believe is the first step of a long journey, we are launching the #WApln Twitter hashtag. This is intended to be a universal Western Australian education hashtag – we welcome contributors from primary, secondary, and adult education – across the government AND private sectors, and in metropolitan AND rural areas.

Get Involved

1) Tag your tweets with the #WApln hashtag, and add it to your Twitter client (Hootsuite, Twitterific, Tweetdeck).

2) Subscribe to @mgraffin’s WA Educator’s Twitter list – instantly follow 100+ local educators!

3) Please help spread the word – through your blogs, school communities, and Twitter networks!

Learn More

What the heck is a PLN?

 

Introduction to Twitter (via @KerryMuste)

“The View Over the Hill” (#Slide2Learn Reflections)

Slide via @learnexchange

Last week, the #Slide2Learn Conference hit Western Australia for the first time. Normally, teacher-run ICT / mobile learning conferences such as these pass us by, but I’m really grateful that this one didn’t!

Sometimes you get a quote which just defines a conference, and this one from Ben Beaton (@learnexchange), sums it up nicely:

#slide2learn was an opportunity for early adopters,  ICT leaders, and keen life-long learners to help each-other stand on top of the hill, looking towards and planning for a future where concepts of ‘mobile learning’ and ’21st century skills” are obsolete, and just called “learning”.

Like many others at the conference, we believe that ICT and mobile devices are tools which can, and should be invisibly integrated into the teaching and learning process. We’re not interested in promoting the “next great revolutionary device” … we’re interested in promoting and supporting LEARNING through technology.

We came together with different skills, perspectives, and philosophies – but #slide2learn gave us the chance to connect, and make our voices heard – as we move towards the top of the hill … together.

Skype Keynote by @achurches

Through #slide2learn, I was able to:

  • Build & develop my professional networks through meetings and conversations with so many wonderful teachers, including many online collaborators I was meeting f2f for the very first time.
  • Meet the amazing @TonyVincent (thank you for being so welcoming)
  • Discover the language and resources to define my philosophy of teaching and learning … I learnt a great deal about “Challenge Based Learning” from the Apple rep. and @janeinjava.
  • Develop my skills and professional knowledge in relation to iPad VPP management, Augmented Reality, and use of iPads in Early Childhood.
  • Learn some valuable presentation skills from the Keynote presenters – most of whom I’d already met on Twitter 🙂
  • Launch the #WApln twitter hashtag (more info coming), and commence discussions with @JASONDARGENT and others about a TEDx ED Perth event in 2014.
  • Fit into a community of teachers who share my ideas, goals, and dreams for the seamless, and ultimately invisible integration of iOS devices into teaching and learning.
On a personal note, I am extremely grateful for @LouCimetta, who gave me the push I needed to come to #slide2learn. Lou, your support and advice is always greatly appreciated, and I hope to work more closely with you over the years to come.

 

Augmented Reality with @kmacc1 and @deanscanlon

 

Congratulations go to the AMAZING #slide2learn team, who pulled off an incredibly rich, diverse, and valuable learning experience.

You did such a great job that I will seriously consider flying over East for the next conference 🙂

via @KerryMuste

 

Congratulations also go to @KerryMuste and @AmieMeyer4, two amazing fellow West Australian teachers who presented at #slide2learn. 

@KerryMuste, #globalclassroom teacher presenting @ #slide2learn

 

And thanks to all those wonderful people that I was able to meet f2f for the first time … there are too many to list, but you know who you are.

Thank you for the conversations … I’ll see you online 🙂