Experimenting with Popplet in Year 3 Science

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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 🙂
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Teaching, Learning, and Publishing with the @BookCreatorApp!

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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.

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Book Creator – it is an integral part of my new iPad Creative Challenge workshop, which I took to ISTE 2015. I am also lucky enough to be a Book Creator Ambassador, helping to inform its future development.

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.

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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!

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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.

 Knights VS Dragons Abe m

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The unlucky penny Maggie

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Looking Ahead

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!

If you’d like to learn more about how to use Book Creator, please see The iPad Creative Challenge wikispace.

Mashing up @HaikuDeck & @ExplainEverything: Year 2 iPad Information Reports

downloadLast 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.

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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.

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!

“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 🙂

#WLPSict – Weeks 2 & 3


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Saad Faruque

While the past two weeks have passed by in a blur, I can honestly say that I look forward to my #WLPSict teaching days. I’m starting to build meaningful relationships with the teachers I’m working with, and my students eagerly anticipate my arrival in their classes.

It’s been tough knowing that my initial four weeks are nearly over, yet I’m starting to see some of the rewards of my paced, collaborative approach.

When I walk into my classes, I’m starting to see classroom teachers taking the initiative … actively preparing their students for their ICT time. For example, our Year 3 teachers have encouraged their students to develop story plans for their PuppetPals animations; and have been excitedly brainstorming ways to integrate the app into their Jungle theme.

I’ve learnt a few technical & management lessons the hard way (particularly in the Year 4 class), and have struggled somewhat working with the Year 1 students … but I feel that I’m getting there, slowly.

 

Weeks 2 & 3 looked something like this …

Years 1-3

I’ve introduced an ICT rotations scheme to ease management issues, and ensure easier access to mobile devices. I now take a cart of laptops, and as many iPad 1 & 2s as I can get my hands on (they are in hot demand!). Half the class does Mathletics / Reading Eggs, while I work with the students using the iPads. This has had the side benefit of allowing teachers to ask questions about how to manage their students’ tasks, and monitor their performance.

The Year 1 students in particular will benefit from this long term, for as indicated by one of the teachers, a number of ESL students were unable to keep up with the whole-class activities.


cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Ευτυχία (Jim is Nice)

Two of the Year 2 classes are researching old fashioned toys and games, with a view to creating iMovies and an assembly item. One of the Year 2 teachers is an early adopter of iPads and ICT, and she basically plans the lessons, with my input as needed.

The Year 3s, and the other Year 2 class are continuing to work on PuppetPals. This past week, I introduced these students to the Character and Background import options in the Puppet Pals Directors’ Pass.

I have also showed them how to import / export photos via Dropbox, as we are using iPad 1s (without cameras) and iPad 2s. I have been warned that the use of Dropbox can put pressure on the school’s internet upload/download limits, but I think these skills are too important to ignore. I’ll see how we go 🙂

Next week, the Year 3s will be creating Jungle poetry / information reports using PuppetPals; importing custom backgrounds and characters that they have created in Art. This will be the culmination of several weeks work, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the final results. It seems that taking things slowly has paid dividends … 

Year 4

The technical problems I was having with a whole class Google Doc continued in Week 2 … I won’t be doing that again anytime soon. It seems too many users accessing a document from the same network is a big no-no. I did actually fix the problem last week, but the class had moved on to other things. Fair enough.

In Week 3, we introduced students to WordFoto, and dropboxed their creations – with the intention of printing them off next week. I am hoping to introduce this class to Aurasma, an augmented reality app, next week … not sure yet! I don’t want to overload the teacher…

Years 4/5

Sadly, I’ve only had two opportunities to work with the Year 4/5 class  … due to the Swimming Carnival, and their upcoming class excursion next week. We spent our second session completing their “Sculptures by the Sea” presentations, and exploring options for a future animation project.

These students deserve a special #WLPSict mention for being on the receiving end of Mr Graffin’s rant on effective presentation design in Week 1 … fluorescent colours and overblown animations were NOT on my wish list! lol.

Years 5/6

Last week was the first time my Year 5/6 class had their full allocation of ICT time, after missing out on most of the past two sessions due to catch up science lessons with the Year 6/7 class. We are making progress!

My students have all entered their questions into our Asia Inquiry Google Doc, and we’ve received responses from students and teachers in Cambodia, Nepal, India, Japan and Thailand! The challenge to connect with Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam is still ongoing! So if you happen to know someone in these countries, could you please send them a link? Thanks 🙂

The students are currently working on their project presentations, choosing to present their research using Pages, PowerPoint, or Comic Life.

While my students are very new to ‘learning with the world, not just about it’, I’m actually pretty happy with our attempt to connect with Asia. Yes, we’re barely scratching the surface, but its a positive start. And I’m working in a school environment which is open to these connections … and that’s more than I’d hoped for.

Year 6/7


cc licensed ( BY NC SA )  flickr photo shared by totallyradshow


While we missed last week’s session due to the Swimming Carnival, almost all our students are ready to film their green-screen movies. Did I mention that the green screen kit ARRIVED!!??? (Very excited!).

We’ve spent a total of two lessons on planning and experimentation, and students’ scripts and sound effects are practically ready to go. Unfortunately, it seems I’ve been dragged in as a character in one group’s movie … Not sure if I’ll be able to wiggle out of that one! We’ll be filming and editing over the coming week.

I am hoping to share students’ videos on the school blog / wiki, and invite warm and cool feedback from international viewers (via Google Docs). The idea is that students need to understand that they are creating work for an authentic, global audience – not just their teachers.

Notes – 

In Week 2, I had my first opportunity to meet the student ICT Angels, learning about their roles and responsibilities. They manage the charging of laptops & iPads (when they don’t forget!), and run the school blog. Having seen the blog, I’m looking forward to introducing the ICT Angels to some multimedia creation tools, such as Animoto, VoiceThread, PhotoPeach, etc. All in good time.

A key consideration, which I’ve noted for future reference, is the need to explicitly clarify when students are released for ICT Angel work, i.e. during silent reading time, and on Tuesday afternoons prior to Assembly. Also mentioned was the need for Angels to support teachers’ use of ICT, rather than doing the work for them.

The strict guidelines and rules for the ICT Angel program help to minimise the impact on students’ learning time; and the students’ know that they can be replaced if they don’t fulfill their responsibilities! The application process for these positions is EXTREMELY competitive at this school!

Other things on the agenda have included (finally) starting work on the #WLPSict Staff wiki, and starting to identify apps to remove from the school’s mobile devices. There are literally 120+ apps on the iPod Touches and iPads at the moment, and we need to sort out the mess before we start using Apple Configurator to manage our devices.

As far as I can tell, there’s one week to go. Here’s to a good one 🙂

#WLPSict – Week 1 Reflections

 

Last week was a big week, in more ways than one.

I completed my contribution to a major sideline project that I’ve been working on for months (details coming in a month or two), and I started work as a temporary ICT Support teacher at a school in Perth.

I’m working 3 days / week, for 4 weeks, and I’ve been given (mostly) free reign … in a school where the admin actively interested in the use of ICT to connect, communicate, and collaborate beyond classroom walls. This is the first opportunity I’ve had to apply my ICT knowledge and skills locally; and I am hopeful that I can make a positive difference with the teachers and students I’m working with.


cc licensed ( BY )  flickr photo shared by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

So Week 1 was spent something like this:

  • Meeting and getting to know staff (Yrs 1-7). I was relieved to see that this went rather well, and I’m looking forward to developing deeper relationships over the next few weeks
  • Creating and distributing an ICT survey – exploring staff skills, learning interests, and literacy priorities for the term
  • Deciding my ICT /literacy focus for each class
  • Working out school systems for ICT access, which includes iPod Touches, iPads, and MacBooks; and getting to know the ICT Angels (student ICT leaders).

Grades 1-3

As I hadn’t had a chance to talk to teachers prior to my first day, I decided to introduce teachers and students to Puppet Pals, a digital storytelling app. Teachers’ skills and confidence with ICT varies significantly;  however, I found virtually all of them to be very keen to learn and experiment. One of the Year 3 teachers is very skilled in the use of iPads, and gave me some great ideas for using PuppetPals – which I’ll take to my other classes this coming week.

At this time, I’m focussing on using iPads to support literacy – in particular storytelling, oral language, and writing. I’m also taking pains to encourage students to collaboratively problem solve how to use all the features of the app. My point is that there is no need for the teacher to be the expert in the app – so long as they know how to use it to support teaching and learning (i.e. focus on the pedagogy, not the tech).

The level of students’ excitement about Puppet Pals has to been seen to be believed – I was even stopped in the playground by a Year 2 student who’d downloaded the app on his iPod Touch, and was planning his story for next week 🙂

In one of the Year 2 classes, the classroom teacher was extremely surprised to see a little girl, who never talks in class, actively communicating with her partner, and contributing to the audio recording. And to top it off, we found two boys, who normally can’t work together in class, quietly problem-solving in the corner.

On a note for future, audio recording in class can be challenging – when there are lots of students working at once. I had expected this, but will plan for it more carefully when students practice recording more prepared stories later this week.

Grade 4

Students had been learning how to use Mac Pages to record their Science research; however, a string of technical problems led to an interesting experiment with a shared class Google Doc. It works, once students get over the shock at being able to watch each-other type (and deleting other people’s work – sigh). Normally, I’d have set up individual docs – but this was a last minute idea. We’ll see how we go.

Grade 5/6

Students are working on presentations about Asian countries. The teacher freely admits to not knowing much about ICT, but is happy to support my experimentation. After some discussion, the students and I decided that they would present their work using (their choice of) Pages (brochures), PowerPoint, or Comic Life.

We are also working on a Google Doc, where students are sharing 5 questions they’d like to ask someone in their focus Asian country. We should have that finished by next week, when I’ll tweet it out & request responses from my PLN throughout Asia. There are a few challenges (e.g. Laos, Myanmar), but we should (hopefully) be able to get answers for most countries.

Grade 6/7

Students are working on (movie) comic sketches about the Western Australian election, (reluctantly) learning how to write scripts, organise props and characters, etc. My chance remark that we might be able to experiment with green-screening in iMovie was so warmly received that the Deputy Principal (and ICT leader) ordered a green-screen kit off eBay later that afternoon!

After attending @paulfuller75’s presentation at the ECAWA conference in 2011, I can’t wait to get my hands on this kit! I’m going to have a LOT of fun 🙂  Next week, students will be exploring and experimenting with camera angles, and rehearsing their presentations.

 

Ongoing Projects

There are a few things which I’ll be working on – on and off during the next four weeks, and hopefully beyond –

  • Establishing a school ICT wiki for staff
  • Helping the student ICT Angels with the school blog, which I’d like to see become more iPad friendly & include more multimedia.
  • Working with three classroom teachers to help develop class blogs
  • Introduce as many teachers as I can to Google Docs and @edmodo, although more many this will be a long term goal.

We’ll see how we go.

 

Exploring iPads in Education – The #ECUTips2012 Project

 

One of the many reasons why I haven’t blogged here much this year is because I’ve been busy blogging elsewhere!

Since February this year, I have been assisting Dr Jenny Lane with her TIPS 2012 iPad project, an exciting research project happening right here in Western Australia.

For me, it is a wonderful opportunity to blog, visit iPad schools, and learn a great deal about integrating iPads across the curriculum. This is really exciting stuff!

 

Are you an iPad Educator?

If you’re interested in iPads in education, I highly recommend exploring the TIPS 2012 blog.

There are a wealth of resources, links, stories, and quality education app reviews to be found there, and if you complete the Tips2012 iPad Research Survey before June 6, you could WIN a $50 iTunes voucher!

We are particularly keen to feature teachers’ iPad stories with our significant & growing international audience. So if you use iPads in education, or have a story to share, Dr Lane would love to hear from you. You can contact her via Twitter (follow @EduJen), or email: TipsProject2012@gmail.com.

And don’t forget to keep an eye on the blog for some exciting announcements coming soon!