Geometry toolbox

geometry tools This is a basic online geometry toolbox for IWB and tablet use. I am not a maths teacher so I don’t know how useful it would be. It is recommended on the Teaching Ideas Facebook page and has hundreds of likes and shares so it probably fills a gap which teachers need. If you haven’t yet visited the Teaching Ideas site, then I encourage you to do so because it has so many practical ideas for the classroom. The Mr. Reddy site says this geometry toolbox might not work on mobile devices but if you read the comments on the Teaching Ideas site you can see this has not been as issue. This is the advantage of online sharing. You immediately get feedback about the merits or weaknesses of any pedagogical tools and sites. Mr. Reddy is a site which is designed to bring teaching resources to maths teachers.

Focus on your classroom space

Mr. Jai Gun transforms his classroom for younger students into a colourful and vibrant learning space. He has also put some good thought into how he made this video for us all to see. You can’t help thinking that this man is thinking about his lessons and performance standards as he is renovating his classroom space. It’s based on a creative use of paper and colour but the technology he has available can be seen. In a technology based classroom the whiteboard is usually the centre of attention at least for a good part of the lesson and then the students are using their own technology. You have to make that classroom real estate go to work and use the IWB in different ways for different purposes. There is a good post here from an IWB trainer to show you some basic concepts in rethinking how you use the space on your screen. We could do with more sharing of information as to how teachers use their technology and real spaces. The ways we interact with students using space is an interesting one to explore and would have better pedagogical benefits if we could share and grow ideas about productive uses of screens and rooms.

How to upload a picture onto Facebook

It is always easy when you know how. It is not always obvious when you don’t know how. I put any photos I want to load up onto Facebook onto my desktop first. This way I can just click on the desktop icon when I am in browse and then double click on the image. I don’t have to go hunting through folders. Phones and tablets are easier because you just use the share symbol and it will offer Facebook as an option.

Augmented reality cards

So, what do you offer a techie, a geek or a nerd as their birthday card? An augmented reality card! If you watch the video you can see how the future is going to develop in the classroom and at home. Augmented reality is going to play a greater role and we are going to have a lot of fun with what are now our print artefacts. We’ll have augmented reality cards, books, business cards, menus…You can see how science, art and literacy are bonding to create our new world. Is there at app for it? Yes! Try the birthday card AR.

Get onto Tackk

I haven’t used Tackk yet because I have just found out about it. The power of Twitter to bring me new ideas! I am certainly going to investigate this site. It would suit iPads perfectly. It would assist visual and written literacy and it would create some interesting marking! You can make the Tackk boards private or public, you can create boards through tagging to create a class board. Tackk is familiar ground. It is like Instagram, like Facebook, like Pinterest. It is very easy to create content which is both visual and written and then share that content. You can log in with various social media accounts and if you browse the Explore Tackks option you can see the sorts of content users are currently creating. Students who have an Edmodo account can log in with that otherwise it is probably better to get them to create an account with a school email and use that. Until more people use the site the educational potential won’t be tested . As the site grows and people use the site to publish content the possibilities will open up. At the moment it looks to be a very good site for creating shorter texts with pictures and I can see students loving this. You can also create stripped down blogs and I am certainly interested in exploring that option in an educational context since blogs are a powerful tool for demonstrating progress in learning. The tool bar at the top of the site handily and helpfully puts the Tackk content into convenient categories so while you are like me and working out exactly what you can do with Tackk you can investigate the content currently provided by other uses.

My iPad is having a spaz attack!

iPads in the classroom

iPads in the classroom

Well, that was fun. Friday double lesson is 2 hours of 31 year 8s and 31 iPads. We were week 1 , Term 4 and it was iPads behaving badly. Did I want to bring back the books and pens? No way ,but it was an interesting test of my skills to keep 31 students and their iPads on track no matter what. Unless things go wrong , you have no idea what you are capable of. I am capable of producing a lot of wires, talk and trouble shooting while I simultaneously keep my lesson going. To think I had given up multitasking. In crisis management mode you have to multitask and run the calm universe in parallel to the chaotic one. We were working. We were supposed to be creating a photo montage which we were labelling in French to load up onto the LMS . I had created the task that morning but the task showed Saturday’s date and one student spotted that. Well spotted and then it was on…

“Mrs. Woods, my iPad apps are jumping shut. Look! “ He appeared at my desk to demonstrate the offending iPad behaviour. “So, what do you think the problem is?” I asked. “My iPad is having a spaz attack.”

“Okay , so shut it down and start again and we’ll see. “ He did that but it was still misbehaving. It had 142 games apps updates to install and 15 other apps updates. He had numerous apps open. We closed those, cleared the cache and I got him to download a different document reader and all was fine for 5 minutes. “My iPad is flat.” I plugged in the charger and he sat on the other side of my desk.

My iPad has an exhausted stream. Look!” came the voice of another student. “Oh, now the battery has run out.” He borrowed my spare iPad and got on with the work. ” I can’t upload my file. Look, I’ll show you. “ This was another student. So we connected the iPad to my laptop, transferred the file and I logged into his LMS profile and he uploaded it in 2 seconds. That done, another student had exactly the same problem. Repeat process. In the meantime there was a student moaning and groaning because his iPad was so slow. “Close all your open applications, shut it down and start again.” Smiles this time. I thought that might have been it but this just kept going on all lesson and I had to keep swapping leads, connections, getting them to shut down and restart their iPads or use my laptop to transfer files and access things they couldn’t. The one student with a laptop couldn’t get on the Net so he had to see the technicians. Technology behaving badly. First week of term and it can only get better. It was a funny lesson , though. Year 8s will just adapt very quickly to any given situation and so you can manage these sorts of technology – based classroom chaos lessons quite well…if you just breathe deeply, smile lots and stay zen.

Use You Tube as a search engine

YouTube infographicIf YouTube were a country it would be the third largest in the world after India and China. It has a billion unique visitors a month and that probably explains why your YouTube clips are taking longer to upload. YouTube has to grow into its new self as second largest search engine on the planet. Some don’t think of using YouTube as a search engine. If I am looking for information I will look it up on Google and then YouTube. Doesn’t matter whether it’s information for my classroom or something to do with dog diseases and conditions. It could be recipes or a query about the benefits of magnesium. If I can’t do something I look it up on YouTube. I use YouTube all the time. It brings me knowledge, information, help and insight. It is often easier to look at a video clip of how to repair something than read pages of instructions. I am ever grateful to the thousands of people who make a video about how they solved a problem or the professionals who bring me information about knee exercises, the benefits of rebounding or how to draw a coffee cup. The infographic comes from mushroomwork networks and you can see a large copy of it on their site.

Google Tour Builder

David Lee explains simply and clearly how to use Google Tour Builder. My year 9s are doing presentations on Quebec and I asked them to try and use Tour Builder to create their assignment and then to talk us through the tour. They had to do it mainly in English but with some French. Tour Builder worked really well on the IWB and this is something which really kept the attention of those watching. Well worth trying out when you have an assignment which Tour Builder can facilitate. It has the sorts of visuals students like and is animated in a way they are used to.

Compare two countries


Australia is 14 times bigger than France.

This site,, allows you to compare the sizes of two countries and then gives you a little bit of information about both countries. Very handy for clearing up perceptions. A lot of people do not realise how huge Australia is and then many Australians don’t understand how small and densely populated other countries are. I got the link from the Teaching Ideas Facebook page, a site well worth subscribing to. It always has some really practical and relevant ideas for the classroom.

Got my Hallowe’en show on the road

Hallowe'en desktop I set up my desktop with suitable Hallowe’en images with text. It became a teaching resource today. Bottom right is the vocabulary image of the words we learnt. When I enlarged it there were two blank sections where I could write with the electronic pen. On one side I had details of the little task I wanted them to accomplish on their iPad. On the other side I had some other Hallowe’en vocabulary like how to say trick or treat in French (farce ou friandises). It meant the whole screen real estate was being used to good purpose. We looked and listened to a couple of little Hallowe’en French songs which had captions and a lot of vocabulary my Year 8s now know. They could follow along. We talked about Hallowe’en traditions in France and other countries and so , as we went along, they were becoming more interested and more absorbed. They just started learning and knowing the words. I shall be able to put these vocabulary words on our language learning site which will increase their anytime, anywhere learning based on what we have done in class. We are now making and labelling a little Hallowe’en montage which was helping them learn  to spell the words but which interested them because they liked all the Hallowe’en things we were doing. I structure a lesson to include images, my teaching from the front, videos, vocabulary and then some written work. With technology you can cover a lot of ground that way and supply extra learning which students can follow up out of class.

Are you ready for Hallowe’en?

halloween jar

Are you ready for Hallowe’en?

So , are you ready? Doesn’t matter if you are not because I’ll point you to some quick resources. I got the image from Room Mom 101. You’ll find a wealth of good ideas there and not just for Hallowe’en. Teacher Vision has spoiled you for choice with classroom printables, also suitable for whiteboard use ,and the site has kindly divided them into topics and subject related lists. I have then included the video because origami bats in black paper would be surely what everyone would want for Hallowe’en. The video goes slowly enough for you to follow as the presenter makes it.

Use Powerpoint as a Learning Tool

aitsl In Australia teachers have the Professional Teacher Standards which are available on the aitsl site along with a great number of other documents which you can download to support you with working with the standards. On the site there is also plenty of material to engage with which will help you understand what the standards look like in the real world with real teachers and students. There are also the iPhone and Android My Standards apps which you can download so that you have the standards handy on your phone or tablet. I have done all of that and downloaded the Demonstrating Impact pdf from the aitsl site and Demonstrating a Professional Mindset pdf. Both of these are interactive workbooks for teachers to work with the standards. First, I need to get this all clear in my head and even though I have been looking at the standards for quite some time now, if I want to seriously engage with them and make a solid effort to reflect on what I am doing I need to organise the material very clearly in my head. Just looking at documents and reading it all isn’t how I learn to put standards into practice and know my content. I have started a Powerpoint about the standards because it is the best way I know of learning complex material using technology. As I play with the layout and animations on each slide I am thinking about the content I am displaying. As I choose colours, backdrops, order of presentation I am forced to think about what the content means. This image is my first slide . In real life it is animated and as the information comes up the content is revealed in a way that I am neither swamped nor intimidated by it. When my Powerpoint is finished and you can see what I am doing I’ll share it with you. I get students to present information I want them to learn. Sometimes they can just take a photo from the board but if I want them to involve themselves with the material I get them to create a presentation. I then start to get very particular questions about what something means or whether they have it right. Powerpoint presentations encourage you to consider each and every aspect of what you are presenting as you compose the material on each slide. It naturally forces you to break learning down into bitesize pieces. KeyNote on the MacBook does exactly the same thing. By using Powerpoint as a learning tool I become immersed in my learning. It is not a clockwork exercise where I can tune out because I am creating visual learning. My next step is to look at individual indicators in the seven areas of Professional Standards:

1. Know students and how they learn

2. Know the  content and  how to teach it

3. Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning

4. Create and maintain supportive and safe learning

5. Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning

6. Engage in professional learning

7. Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community


tony robbinsAnthony Robbins is a life coach and a motivational speaker and this quote really meant something to me when I read it. This is a follow up to yesterday’s post on mastering your classroom because if it takes 10, 000 hours of practice to master something then with 30 students and 30 devices we have to be careful how we implement and organise everything. No time for faffing! So I started thinking and, as it turned out I think THINK is a good way to keep your technological classroom under control and vibrant:







T  Time your information, presentations, activities.
H  Hone your skills and theirs. Be good at what you do.
I   Innovate and inspire. Don’t fear change.
N  Nudge them along and nudge yourself to do something different..
K  Know what you are doing and what you want to achieve.

Master your classroom

mastery Image: EnhanceTV

In his  sociological studies book the Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell states we have to do something for 10 000 hours before we master it. For arguments sake, if you teach 30 1 hour lessons a week that will be1230 hours of lessons in a 41 week year. It would take you 8.13 years to clock up the 10 000 hours. Do teachers who have taught for less than ten years feel as though they have mastered their classroom? Depends on the school, depends on the classes and depends on what you are teaching. What about 30 students with 30 laptops or 30 iPads? Would you master that in 8.13 years? Distractions are then everywhere and part of mastering the technology classroom is mastering the art of harnessing the students AND their distractions. That is really complex. It becomes a matter of teaching them how to be selective about the media they consume so that it doesn’t swamp them and take over their cognition and time. The same applies to them: 10 000 hours of doing before they can master something. According to the findings  :

“The psychologists found a direct statistical relationship between hours of practice and achievement. No shortcuts. No naturals.”

It’s a matter of falling in love with practice. Being there and doing whatever it is you want to master. This is where the skills and knowledge of a teacher come into play. You have to know  clearly what you want to achieve and you have to have the time to do it. You have to know how to co ordinate 30 students and 30  devices for an hour or more at a time. You cannot do that without a plan nor without a mapped out curriculum and standards. If you want to be good at something it really is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.


1,500 times a day?

What is the matter with people? Why would you want to pick up your smartphone more that 1500 times a day? Apparently that is what the average smartphone user does. Read the article. If this is you, you really need this smartphone ergonomics video which I got via The Ergonomic Times. Good luck.

Read my post!

I didn’t want you to read my blog post anyway! Had I not been blogging for so long I’d maybe get worried that there seems to be a lot of comment about people have such an appalling attention span, they cannot even read a blog post. You get the impression that people are skating across the Net like lizards race across tall grass. lizard Not in my back garden. They just hang about in the sun. That’s the point. Make your blog worthwhile and then people will read it. Make your posts about what people need and want and they will read them. More importantly, blog for yourself. My blogs are there not only to help others, they are there to help me. They are my classroom back up, my knowledge back up, my interests back up. When people talk to me about something, I can invariably point them to a blog post these days or I can write one specifically for them and then email the link. It is about sharing what you know with whom you know and it comes back to you in followers, likes, comments and feedback. Farhad Manjoo has written a very funny and readable post at Slate about what happens to your posts when people are reading it. He backs it up with current information about reader patterns. I didn’t read it because I needed the information. I read it because ,as he wrote , he could show you how your readership was reacting according to the data he had. There is an article here on reviewzntips about why people don’t finish articles. As a classroom teacher one of the first things I teach my year 8 and 9 students is not to slide, pull , push, bang, flick, tap, click at a hundred km an hour and just fly around the screen of an iPad or laptop. Students often behave like this ,as do lizards ,just skating around everywhere. My job is to slow students down so they actually take in information and then use their lightning keyboard and screen skills in  planned research or activity challenges which are timed. They love the adrenalin rush of that and they love being on a mission but to really learn they need to slow down and take in information. Often they will do things too fast because that way they stay awake. Too many of them are too tired during the day and they have their coping skills for that. read my postThe video gives some really good tips for creating readable posts. Matt is very easy to follow and very positive in his approach. SocialMediaMonitors also has some good tips about how to write killer blog posts. Don’t focus on who is reading how much. Focus on connecting with others. Talk to them and then share your information wherever you can. You will build up followers and they will read your posts. Not everyone because your post isn’t what they are looking for. Plenty will stop by your blog and read. They will!

Pick your teacher quote

confucius It was an interesting exercise to look at the teacher quotes and decide which one represented me. In the end, I decided on this one from Confucius because I have never thought that as a teacher I am telling my students all there is to know. I am sharing what I know with them so that they can add to what I have offered them and make it grow from their own perspective. BestTeacherQuotes has a selection of printable quotes which you can use for your own purposes. Which one is you?

Upload a YouTube video

Uploading a YouTube video will depend on internet traffic, file size and the format of your video. YouTube gives information about slow uploading here. On the whole mp4 format, with mp3 sound and a resolution of 640×480 is fairly efficient unless you have picked the wrong time of day. So many more people are on YouTube. It has had an explosion of viewers, subscribers and uploaders. Eventually it will grow into its new, very popular size but that takes time. There is some good information here about how to upload a YouTube video. Watch the video. Derryl Eves walks you through the process quite well.

Deal with the trolls

The best way of dealing with trolls is – don’t. Avoid them, ignore them, block them, mute them and report them , if necessary. Recognising and dealing with trolls is dealt with very well here at TeamTechnology. It goes into detail and explains various types of trolls well. Lately there has been an upsurge of domination trolls. They may or may not be paid and their main purpose is to stop someone from just happily being on the internet doing what they are doing. It’s about frightening people away. I like the video clip I have put on here because Jason Urgo has a really nice manner and he talks to you as a normal person. He is talking specifically about YouTube but much of what he says has application to social media sites and forums as well. Some people just like to be nasty and vindictive. Others are really harsh and cruel. Some will use images. It is about control. It’s emotional abuse and if you do not have that clear in your head then take a look at a post I wrote about emotional abuse on one of my other blogs. That gives a very clear picture and some links. Not reacting is the key and not bothering is important and then, when you feel confident, you can do what Jason does and respond with pleasant politeness. I often say I am sorry they are having a bad day and not feeling too good. The number of really human reactions to that comment has been heartening. Not all trolls are vile people. They are just lashing out. trolls I have used my trolls picture . I have said, look, I have plenty of trolls , I don’t really need anymore. That has worked and you are welcome to use my troll picture too. Mostly I take no notice and delete and block . Every site has a different way of doing it so know your settings. Really vicious trolling can occasionally really get to you. It is important to talk about it straight away and say something on the social media site and name the troll. Their names are often a give away. If you find you are still not happy, then put your device or computer away and go outside into the real world. Talk to real people. Ring someone up. Go to the shops. Take the dog for a walk. Get the support of real life and the real world until you feel calm again. Guy Kawasaki also has some sound advice about dealing with trolls which is worth a look. Confidence is everything and then having a good anti troll toolkit.

Understanding internet culture

social media There is a reason John Atkinson at WrongHands has so many followers and his cartoons do the rounds. He has a really good understanding of internet culture and can encapsulate it very easily. With a few words and images he can portray our internet thinking. We are teaching post 2000 students now and a lot of their perceptions are coloured by the internet. We need ways and means of connecting with them and understanding how they make their own connections. The not Newton cartoon is a classic of how to describe something in a social media way. How we portray and perceive things on the internet can be quite different and it provides a layer of comprehension and linguistic complexity which can augment and complement real life as reading books and viewing films do. Enjoy his cartoons. Make sure you link back to his site and acknowledge him if you use the cartoons. That is all asks. Very generous.

Have you used Google Scholar?

expertvillage has prepared this little clip so you know how to find and use Google Scholar. What it does is search in journals, periodicals, academic resources to bring different and more particular information than if you were to use just Google. It will also teach students to broaden their searches and not just race each other to Wikipedia. I always try to move students to other search avenues so Google Scholar works because they  love Google as much as they love Wikipedia. Google Scholar can also provide legal information. If students use both Google, Google Scholar and other search engines you recommend, then your chances of seeing and hearing the same thing 20 times is minimised. I encourage wider research for my own sanity as much as anything.

iCloud eBook library

“Our mission is to serve and aid the public, students, and educators, by providing the world’s most complete collection of electronic books, documents, and articles online, as well as offer a variety of ebooksservices and resources that support and strengthen the instructional programs of education, elementary through post-baccalaureate studies.”

The World Public Library Association is the biggest eBook aggregation online and you can join for US 8.95 a year. You do not have to join. You can still listen to the audio books. The payment is for downloading pdf versions some of which might be free elsewhere. The advantage with this site is they have so much in one spot. The collections they have are impressive because they have a commitment to online literacy and social justice. There are mp3 audio books and pdf versions of print books. You need to browse the site for yourself since it is so huge. There are books available in different languages. It means you can read or listen to a book on any device. 21st century at last. To register, go here.

Free Public Domain Audio Books

sherlock holmesBooks Should Be Free has a huge selection of audio books in European and Asian languages. They are downloaded as mp3 or mp4 files so you can save them onto any device to listen to them. It’s nice to read a book but there are times where listening to a book is what you want. It means you can use them in class and play a part of the story to fill in those few spare minutes in a helpful way. Listening to books is often a way to help readers improve their reading skills as well. As these books are in the public domain then print copies will be available to download as well. Project Gutenberg would be a good place to start. One thing I’ll do with my choices is save them onto a USB and use them as an option to fill driving time along with the podcasts I regularly listen to.

Free 3D Modelling Software

This is pretty impressive. When you see how quickly and effectively Andrew Smith can work, then you know he knows his software and has put in hours and hours of training. Really high level learning in technology occurs when you have the software and the dedication to learn to use it properly. It then becomes a mix of skills, talent and imagination. 3D modelling is increasingly important as we shift to video as a major means of communication and entertainment. There is an ever increasing uptake of video skills and to create something original then the 3D modelling skills are essential since animation can play a significant role in any video project. This 3D modelling project is using 3D Studio Max by Autodesk. Autodesk works with educational institutions and offers a free version as well as the paid versions. The Apple version is Maya and you can see that in practice in the Minion Rigging tutorials. Autodesk has a significant user base which shares tutorials and tips. Autodesk itself offers really good support. You can’t just do 3D modelling. It requires application and mastering and then the explicit learning and subsequent creativity will follow. My students like to use the 123D Sculpt app on their iPads. It doesn’t have the complexity of the computer versions but it is handy in my classroom and has a wow factor for students. It is a good way to introduce them to 3D modelling but they’d have to follow up learning it in depth elsewhere. That is not what I am teaching. If you are going to use 3D software you need to be able to trial it properly. A month will not be enough. Autodesk offers free school versions which allow students to work on it properly and for you to know whether it is worth further outlay. There is plenty of other free 3D modelling software out there and sometimes it is a matter of finding the software which suits you. There are 7 seven to choose from here and 25 choices here.

Amuse yourself as you work

no writing errors were found

Error-free at last!

Working with technology can be intense so I have three little games I play with myself just to keep myself amused as I work. I wonder if others do? Most seem to slide off into games or other sites but I can work and keep my focus because I use the work as a means of distracting myself. It is surprisingly hard to get a message on a WordPress blog that the writing in your post is error free ! It’s a challenge to get this little message and it took quite some time before I even knew it existed. Some of it has to do with spelling conventions, some of it with names and acronyms, some of it with typos. When I get a message like this I feel I have won! Beat the coding for the site. Another little game I like to play is breaking Google. Not deliberately. That’s cheating. I love it when I put in a search and Google can find nothing. Absolutely nothing. With all the information on the planet Google cannot find one scrap of information to push my way. At that stage I have to lift my game and try to find another avenue of research or a connected piece of information which will lead me to what I want. My third little game is to be utterly amused by how some spellcheckers will find alternatives for my word and come up with the most preposterous suggestions. I wonder what we do do to challenge software and coders just to see what we can come up with. Coders can play the same game back by putting Easter Eggs in databases. You can get them in DVDs and games too.

Wacom Bamboo Pen & Touch CTH-470

bamboo tabletYear 8s and Year 9s are drawn by pen tablets. They just are. For them it is highly desirable to use one and probably explains why they have really come back into fashion in a big way. They are popular in their own right with designers, digital artists, animators but students like them because they are a combination of pen, tablet and gesturing.  They are a specific device with specific purposes and so you cannot get diverted or side tracked. Students born in 2000 and beyond  have a new set of skills and skills combination. I have blogged about the pen tablets before. I was trying out one of the newer ones today and within 10 minutes there were students who wanted to know what it could do, what advantages it had, how much they cost, where they could get one and could it do this and could it do that. As a class we have looked at animation this term so we looked at the animation app and the students could see how you did it far better than I but I could see the possibilities and how we could use it for learning. They liked the thought they could write with this tablet in a very effective way and it is clear you could use this pen tablet to improve writing skills. Classic example of how to share technology experiences to drive the possibilities of the classroom! It really is sensitive to touch. I can use it to write with my normal handwriting but I need a bit more practice to get it up to normal speed. I don’t like the way the stylus is stored. It seems cosy and efficient but I couldn’t get it out. Too hard. Took me too long and hurt my hands. The other tablet I blogged about had a loose stylus. Having attached is a good idea but it needs to be done differently. The size of this tablet is better for portability , storage and the fact it just easy fits in a plastic folder bag or display folder. The connection wire detaches too which makes it better for portability and storage. I noticed this  tablet had wifi capability. You have to get the kit but it is not overly expensive. In a corporate network setting you would want to know if that kit worked or not. Large networks rightly have to be very security conscious. It would be handy in a classroom to have the wifi capability. It is about presenting in different ways and using different tools to bring out different skills. This tablet can work with a stylus or fingers. Students thought that was great. I loaded the Bamboo Paper app onto my iPad and then discovered that my fingers would work in producing quite fine writing with it. My stylus was better. So now I can mix and match devices and I think that is worth aiming for. It is important to have some consistency and familiarity with apps and software and then have a chance to branch out and vary because technology is always changing and we just need to flow with it.

Art is everywhere

Everybody loves this. They instinctively find it cool, expert and great to watch. They are learning. It may only have 87 views on YouTube but this video by Balkar Tamuçay has had close to a million likes on Facebook and well over 800,000 shares. It is teaching and learning of epic proportions because Balkar Tamuçay dared to share. He is well represented on social media in a visual way. He can take ingredients and his mind and blend them together with his skills to produce something which holds everyone in thrall. I love the internet. Without it I would not even know this man exists and I would be denied his talent ,skill and inspiration. I would be stopped from being able to share this with others and have the conversations I have had about how this video is affecting me and others in a profound way. I’d love to see what Balkar Tamuçay could do with the iPad and tablet art and paint apps. I am wondering if a touch screen would make his talent grow , stay the same or diminish. It’s a question of whether you have the right tools and avenues to shine. It’s about our professional standards too. Do we know our students and how they learn? Do we know if they have skills like Balkar Tamuçay? Are we able to inspire them to have skills like him? It’s also about differentiating the curriculum and providing students with the tools and opportunities they need to excel. It’s about using our technology to communicate effectively, selecting our resources and knowing how to create opportunities for effective feedback. Balkar Tamuçay is Turkish so it also revolves around sharing across cultures and looking at how different cultures engage with different mediums and how different people might need a different way of learning and engaging. What stands out strongly for me amongst all the other striking features of this video is that Facebook has been the right environment to create an opportunity for engagement and feedback. It has happened spontaneously and well. As a teacher, I really need to think about what I can do to create that sort of atmosphere for my students.

International Day of Peace

In the southern hemisphere, yesterday was the international day of peace which was established in 1981. The UN uses the blue dove as its symbol for this even. 21st September is the day :

The United Nations invites all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.”

Fortunately, with technology, we can connect to share and broaden our ideas.

Learn a language

You learn a language by talking. The more you talk , the better you get. You also have to listen carefully. With technology and , in particular mobile technology, we can learn a language when we want and however we want. We are not stuck with THE method. We can find a method which suits us and then we can connect to the internet and learn. Anywhere, anytime learning. These video clips for Japanese promote yet another good way of learning a language. As a language teacher, you cannot wander around the classroom when you are in the process of teaching the language. Students need to see your face and mouth. When you go to another country and try to understand and speak the language, you find yourself fixated on people’s mouths. They help you understand and they help you say things properly yourself. So, these YouTube clips present a good way of being able to focus on how you actually say something. You can see how the mouth is moved and you can hear the sounds. They are said at normal speed, in broken down sounds and then at normal speed. It is not the only way to learn but it’s a good way. It is good to see it as you say it too. Captioning is important. There is another sound file for this expression here. 良い一日を。Yoi ichinichi o

Best apps

best app This site has a list of the best apps for iOS and Android. It is divided into categories and then the site shows the  best app followed by the next best apps, so there is a pretty good selection of apps and some good recommendations if you are looking.

Why use a stylus?

I am with IrixGuy. I use a stylus because I don’t like messing up my screen! He is also right – if you use a stylus then you will enjoy it a whole lot more than you thought you would. IrixGuy covers the benefits of using a stylus well. He also allows you to understand that expensive is not necessarily better. I have found some cheap ones to be as good as ,and sometimes more effective than, my expensive one. One of my cheaper ones is a pen as well so that can be handy at times. I need to use a stylus, actually, and this is one of the things IrixGuy doesn’t cover. I have arthritis. On a bad day everyone is going to get rubbish text messages from me on my phone or ridiculous emails. On a bad day it is too much bother to fix the errors. Pressing and swiping can hurt. A stylus will help and I can use my phone and tablet far more effectively and more comfortably. I am using my hand eye co ordination. Some days my fingers just don’t really respond properly to direct surface work. The opposite is true on my computer. A keyboard is mightier than the pen for me because I can write faster and more effectively. With a stylus I can be faster, more accurate and get better detail where I need to. I am a classic klutz when I have to try and press on links with my fingers. I can’t do what students do and type with my thumbs because they would become inflamed. Students laugh when they see me trying to type on a flat screen but they are suitably impressed with my iPad set up which has a really nice keyboard and stylus. To them a stylus is the ultimate in poshness! I was able to try a stylus before I actually bought one. I think that is important. You have to be able to play around with one and see if it suits you and your needs. You also need a range. Android tablets and phones allow a broader range of styluses. iPads can be a bit picky but that is what you need to know. I always carry one with my phone incase I need it. Styluses keep the surface cleaner too and so they help protect you from all the germs I have blogged about which gather on glass surfaces when you use your fingers. IrixGuy also reminds you that sometimes you need to check your fingers and your stylus to make sure you have not picked up anything with which you can scratch a screen if you are in an area which might have “bits”. I am waiting for the day where fineline styluses will be the go. That will really increase tablet and smartphone options.

Epson 1400Wi whiteboard projector

Epson Tools I have had a good chance now to use the new Epson board in my classroom. I really like it. I like how you can use the whiteboard function without having to have the laptop connected. I like how it is quick and efficient to connect to the Apple TV and so I have a reliable wifi option for board connection. The tools/utilities are basic but are what most teachers would want and use. I downloaded another set of Epson Tools from the website and they run on my computer. I can run them in French. I think they look a bit classier than the ones supplied and the layout is better. It means I can preprepare material if I want to. I find the downloaded tools are better displayed and have some good options. The pen is effective but the writing is a bit too big for my liking. Students don’t seem to mind a bit. It forces me to think out my classroom delivery better and know very clearly how I shall present the material in steps. All of this can be saved to a USB or my laptop. I can connect a tablet or phone via USB connection to access files so that offers me more options. One of the best features is that I can split the board. I can run a video, my laptop desktop, a doc, an image or a slide presentation on one side and write on the other. This creates a very effective and optimum teaching /learning experience. I can put materials on one side of the board which will help the “live” thinking on the other half of the board. Scaffolding lessons this way has been really appreciated by students and it also means I can teach materials more effectively. Switching from desktop to whiteboard is also very easy whether I am at the board or at my desk. The Epson board has been good at supporting interactive learning. The sound quality is excellent no matter if I run a wired or Apple TV connection and students have valued that. Students also like presenting on the board. The images from their iPads or laptops are very clear, it has encouraged them to use sound more because they can hear how good the sound is and connecting them is easy. I run a VGA lead with adaptors for iPad 2 or 5 and then an HDMI connection to my laptop. Students can then choose iPad or laptop for their presentations. That makes them happy because they like choices and they can prepare presentations according to the devices and options they feel most comfortable with. What I also like about Epson is there is plenty of YouTube and on site support. Not as much as with the Promethean board but Epson is well represented online and that is important. What I now want is a very cool , cutting edge electronic pointer stick for the board – there is a lot of screen real estate there. A hand held electronic pointer would be good but not as fun.

Clean permanent marker from a whiteboard

I have blogged before about how to clean and restore a whiteboard. What if it’s permanent marker? And your electronic whiteboard? You walk into your classroom and your beautiful electronic board is covered in irremovable wisdom? A quick fix is to use a normal marker and go over the permanent marker and then wipe off. I find hand sanitizer wipes the absolutely best thing for cleaning any whiteboard. The man in this video explains how desperate you will get trying to clean a whiteboard and the lengths you will go to to get rid of permanent marker. The little white magic sponges with a bit of water work but the baking soda on a cloth is cheap and easy. We are creatures of habit. For years we have grabbed the marker and written on a whiteboard. We can’t always find a marker these days and will pick one up and maybe not check whether it is permanent or not. One of the real advantages of electronic whiteboards is that you have no situations like this. You can write with your electronic marker to your heart’s content and it all vanishes with the click of a button. You may also want to restore an old whiteboard. The baking soda followed by hand sanitizer wipes make an old, disgusting whiteboard come up like new. This way older boards can still see could service and help create more sustainable practices.

Bilingual brains are better

There is so much research to support language learning because it improves brain function. particularly the development of the hippocampus which encourages higher level thinking. I shared a video on how music engages all parts of the brain and that was in the form of an informative cartoon. This video on languages is someone talking. Since we use technology , we have a way of supplying content in different ways to encourage learning. There are quite a few videos on language learning and brain development. There are so many videos to choose from . Some use cartoons, some use graphical images of the brain and how it works, some use text and images. Think of your lesson as a meal. A short video or set of images can be the entrée and prepare the brain for learning. Know your audience. Some students respond better to cartoons, others like things which are upbeat with music and then others like a cheerful person talking them through the information. The video needs to be short and  look at key issues you want to tackle in your teaching. It needs to have things which students can think about and follow up with their own research. The video also needs to have audience appeal or it won’t work as a hook into your lesson and content. In a short space of time DNews provides a lot of information and things to think about language learning. You then think about how you will supply your information and then how you will finish it so you are creating a learning story and journey. We have a wealth of resources now we can access and we also have the means to make our own so we can tailor and customise according to our immediate needs. End your lesson on dessert…a little video , image or song which will create a good feeling about what they have learnt.

This is your brain on music

Research , combined with technology, can now teach us how to improve ourselves and our lives. This little video is all science and research and yet it is absorbing, informative, clear and well researched. Videos now make it possible to ingest complex information which can then be followed up more deeply by other resources. It is interesting to know there is a difference in brain activity when you listen to music which is more enhanced when you actually play music. With technology and research we can now literally see which activities engage the brain and how. Playing music is one of the activities which engages the whole brain. We all used to learn the recorder and do percussion at school. We all used to sing and be part of a choir. There was a reason for that which educators at the time would have known intuitively. It is literally about a holistic education. Technology can now explain that to us so we understand.

Lessons in technology with Lenny Kravitz

Film by Mathieu BItton / @candytman

Who would have thought this cool music clip from New Orleans would have anything to do with teaching technology? I just thought I was going to be watching a choir. Not so. Watch Lenny Kravitz. He looks, he engages and he looks some more. He is taking in what is there and how he can connect with it. He then takes over the drums and all of a sudden they have a stronger beat, the choir lifts and the guitarist can rise up to the level of talent and confidence he has. Lenny Kravitz then starts singing. The drummer comes back and is drumming so much more confidently and ,as Lenny Kravitz sings, the choir finds a strong, clear voice and can really show who they are and what they are capable of. The guitarist takes heart from all of this and his talent just shines. Lenny Kravitz is a teacher. He doesn’t have to stand there and teach. He can absorb what the learning gaps are, lead by example and drive the lessons home by being interactive. The fact that Matthew Bitton filmed it and shared it on YouTube means we all get to share this. No one has set up a lesson, performance standards, lessons objectives. This is an intuitive lesson. With technology , you can do just that. You can lead by example. You can observe your class and see where their learning gaps are and show them as you use and suggest different technology options how to grow and become more confident with their technology use. Students pick up very quickly things  you are just doing or using. The clip is four years old and yet it is now doing the rounds of FaceBook. It has meaning and for a lot of people it just lifts their day. That’s what teaching does. It  means something and frees others to explore their interests and talents.

Everything about sharing photos with your iPad

This is 20 minutes well spent if you are a bit self conscious about shifting photos to and from and iPad. It carefully explains so many options and the 20 minutes you spend with this video should make you feel very confident.

Build yourself a bookloo

booksImage: Niume

Niume is an industrial design site and there are some fascinating designs featured. Much of it relies on recycling or repurposing and it is truly inspirational. So what are we going to do with all those books? I am very attached to mine. I was brought up on books and I revere and respect them, but even so, I can see we need to let paper go. Its production is now degrading the planet, it takes up space ,contributes to clutter and harbours dust and nasties. Technology will help us reinvent and clear our spaces. I hate seeing books put in bins because no one is using them or no one has read them. Archiving for the future will be important but we have mass produced so many books for a whole densely populated planet. I like the notion of this bookloo. “Home” is a sculptural installation by Colombian artist Miler Lagos. It is a modern look at books and how they could be repurposed ,conserved and fit into a modern landscape. The installation is totally self supporting. It would make a great little spot for reading and for hiding out with a laptop or tablet. We need to consider how we shall recycle and reinvent .Artists are showing us the way.

Finder and Spotlight on MacBook

There are a couple of typos on this video but they do not in any way impede the content. The content is clear and the person doing the clip has an effective way of presenting information in an efficient and helpful way. People struggle sometimes when they are shifting from Windows to a MacBook but a MacBook is very easy if you use Finder and Spotlight. There are other videos on YouTube which follow both of these options more fully but this video gives you a quick overview. Finder also has options on the toolbar right at the top of your desktop screen. One of the most useful things here is Go which will take you to your home folder, applications or a flash or pocket drive if you can’t easily find them. If you master Finder and Spotlight, a lot of the baffling nature of a MacBook is taken away and you feel more in control. You can also change the view, as you do in windows, so you can see lists or icons in Finder. Spotlight will find anything you type in the search box and has extra features like the dictionary too which can be handy.


chromojiChromoji is an extension to the Chrome web browser. When you are using your desktop and laptop it means you can have access to the little symbols as you do on your iPad or iPhone by installing the Emoji keyboard from the settings under Keyboard. Most people use them for chat and comment but you can use those little symbols on the board or in worksheets in the classroom, especially when you are teaching languages!


Make a folder on your MacBook desktop

There are people who can’t make a desktop folder on a MacBook because they are using the trackpad and are used to a mouse. Shift-Command-N is easy and makes the folder appear right there on your desktop. This way you can slide files into your folder and most people can do that easily with a track pad. The less you have on the desktop the better your MacBook will load and run. This video explains 3 different ways of making desktop folders and how to name them.

How to insert and remove USB device from MacBook

The beauty of a YouTube clip is that it can show you EXACTLY what to do. You can see what to do. You can copy it. The beauty of Arif’s YouTube clip is that it is clear, it is supported by text to assist learning and comprehension and it explains why you should do things a particular way. It explains everything you need to know if you have no idea what you are doing . If you use this clip you will learn and your knowledge will be rock solid. Arif ensures your success because of his methodology. If I show somebody something, I always ask them to show someone else so that they can be sure and confident in their knowledge. Arif does this by default. He makes the instructions so clear you will feel like you can show someone else how to insert and remove a USB device or flash drive on a MacBook.

ICT posters and visuals

Looking for something to brighten up your desktop, whiteboard and/or lesson presentations? ICT Magicict magic has some great electronic visuals and posters  which are usefully categorised. Go and have a look! Something for everyone.

Do it! Clean those screens!

How many germs live on your screen?Go on, get out the microfibre cloth, the sanitiser, the cleaner and clean those glass screens. Fingers and glass are a bad mix until we invent self-cleaning screens. I have blogged about it before. We wash ourselves, our dishes, clean our clothes and our toilets but we don’t think about our screens. It needs to become routine. Which? has done some interesting studies to show that screens harbour more bacteria than toilet seats. The article offers a sensible way to keep your screens clean. There is another informative article here about what lurks on your screens. When you have read both of those, take the test at The Oatmeal!!

The screen protector challenge

One of life’s grand challenges these days is to put a screen protector on your device without it turning into a bubble landscape. My year 8s and I decided it was a really tough challenge but that screen protectors were really worthwhile on devices because they protected the screen and could be replaced to help assist cleanliness. Some had decided it was so hard , it was not worth having a screen protector. Some were like me and had found a shop where you could get screen protectors put onto your devices at a reasonable price. All my devices have cases which protect the screen when they are in transit. This video shows you some tips which might help you become more adept at installing screen protectors. Used to be the great book covering challenge, now it’s screen protectors. Life has some interesting ways of making you feel inadequate.

Load Windows on Linux laptop

I needed to change my laptop back to a Windows 7 laptop from Linux Mint because I am swapping laptops with my daughter. Not Windows 8. She is very clear about the fact she does not want Windows 8. Each to their own.  I’ll then be loading her laptop with Linux Mint. Loading Linux onto a Windows laptop is easy. You get the iso for the Linux Mint version you want and away you go. Doing the reverse is easy too but only if you know how. If you do a search for loading Windows onto a Linux laptop then you get way too much information about fdisking and this code and that code and dos boxes. All this is possible if you like doing it. Most people want easy. The video here shows the easiest way of doing it by using the Windows installation disk and using the custom set up. Works like a charm and makes it all very straightforward. The video can be back tracked if you didn’t quite catch the set of instructions because he does go quickly. Prefer that over someone who goes far too slowly with instructions. I then use Advanced System Care to get the drivers. Otherwise you have to wait for Windows to bring them to your machine or go out looking for them yourself. I don’t dual boot. I prefer to have just one operating system on each computer I have. Windows 8 doesn’t like to dual boot at all and other versions of Windows will dual boot  far better if Windows is loaded first.

Transfer a file from one device to another

file transfer Yesterday, I had a student chasing me down the corridor. “Mrs. Woods, Mrs. Woods, can you pleeeeeeeeeeze get my file off my USB onto my iPad. I have tried syncing it and it won’t work. I tried emailing it and the file was too big. I need it for our talk.” I was impressed with how organised he had been to be ready this early and also impressed he had tried to solve the problem himself. Shifting files to a device or one device to another is something which seems to block people on a regular basis. I generally use bluetooth and cloud storage as my preferred options. Direct connection is easy from computer to computer but devices can often thwart a file transfer and what works at home may not necessarily work on a network. Basically, there are these options:

1.Wired connection
2.Syncing device
4.Airdrop (iDevices)
5.Cloud storage

Yesterday it took me a minute to load his file on my MacBook and then share it with him on OwnCloud. He was so relieved because, like anyone else , he had spent a lot of time trying to transfer the file and it is both frustrating and annoying. It is why I impress upon students using technology to share and help. Share and help. If you don’t know, ask. Someone will know. We use devices differently and so our pool of common knowledge is very rich and productive. I have been pleased my classes have naturally moved into using the best device for the purpose and then learning how to file share. Some of my year 9s took photos on their phones of the little characters they made and couldn’t transfer the file to their MacBook. A couple came to ask me for wires because they could manage the file that way. Others could email because it was a small image. I am a great believer if you show students how to make good use of their devices, they will not use them for the wrong purpose at school. The discussion about wrong purpose is so much easier because there are so many good purposes they know and use.

Create the teaching memes

real woman This image came up on my Facebook feed this morning and made me laugh. It made me think too.There is so much that  this meme teaches – gender equity, humour, gender assignment, gender stereo types, predigested thinking, generalisations, change, role assignment , language use and all the other things you can think of. It is so important in the age of social media to use its strength to create an intelligent classroom. Memes can be videos, images, quotes. They can go far and wide and impact on the thinking of those who participate in social media . Those people in turn will allow those memes to percolate through real life. I put up a post with a video about how teachers need to create trail memes in their classroom. With content it is important to get the message across to a group of students who have been exposed to the internet since birth. They view the world often in terms of apps, memes, videos and sharing. You take critical and key components of what you want to teach and try to find the images, videos, quotes which will promote the learning and will want to make your students share. You can even create your own content along those lines. It is about attention grabbing, but when people react and share the memes they are then doing the time-honoured thing of circulating and promoting culture and learning. There is so much information and misinformation. There is so much content and poor content. The job of  a teacher is to shine the light and create the good trails through the information and spotlight the best information. Memes are a way of doing  this.

Digital Citizenship

digital citizenshipSociety sets out rules of conduct and behaviour through the law. It can then layer other behavioural expectations through its rituals, customs and social mores. What do we do on the internet? Some of it is governed by law. We shall eventually get to a stage where there are an international set of agreed behaviours for digital citizenship. One of the interesting things is the internet can be very successful as a self regulating social entity. Other times it is epic fail on model cyber-citizenship. Schools and education departments tend to spell out their expectations as a matter of course these days and that is good because it promotes clarity and an explicit expectation of those who engage with education networks. It helps ,though, to have these things discussed and clarified on a regular basis as new software and tools come into use fairly frequently and different groups of students have a different approach to devices and their use. Te@chthought has a very good graphic to help promote clarity and understanding of what digital citizenship can and might mean. You can download it as a pdf from the site and then the site further explores what digital citizenship might look like in real terms.