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.

Are you tech savvy?

tech savvy Are you tech savvy? Does it matter? Is a child better than you? Is that true? You can try the test here. I got it form an article about 6 year olds being more competent technologically than adults. It is a British study which is being reported on and the article is worth a read because it discusses digital trends in the young and how they use technology. As a teacher that kind of information is invaluable. I knew my Year 8s were trying to get on SnapChat in lesson time. I only had to have them at my desk looking at their iPad work when a little message came up. I then had to show them how to log out of SnapChat so it would not disturb their attention during lesson time. Has not been an issue since. The test itself is very vague and general and I would have expected to score above average on it. Digital awareness and understanding are umbrellas for so many skills and capabilities these days. People do tend to group around certain aspects of technology according to their age. The backbone of Twitter is mainly older people. Pinterest is largely driven by women. Will your lessons collapse because you don’t know about SnapChat or Instagram? No, they won’t, but you might fall foul of the negatives of technology if you don’t have some awareness of what software is popular with the young and how they are using it. The research seems to promote the notion you are more digitally competent if you can use cognitive interaction really well. YouTube, Spotify, Chatting, knowing apps are all consumer activities. Knowing where these things might fit in to something else you are doing is good. Knowing you can use them might help you make a more productive use of your devices. In a classroom we should always be aiming for explicit interaction. One of the first things I noticed when I had year 8s this year with their iPads was that they knew a lot of apps, were using the iPads as toys, thought if they had an iPad it was more important than anything or anyone around them, thought the iPad would run the lesson, they could use their iPad to annoy and undermine others, they loved their iPads. The journey began. We know now that the iPads can be put away and down when someone is speaking. We know we can crowd source help and information  impressively across a class using our iPads. We know our knowledge of apps can help us get a really good list of resources to work on an assignment. We know there are other apps like QR code readers, voice synthesisers, word reference, audio editors, image editors , animators, sites for uploading work, LMS messaging which can enhance our knowledge and skills. My year 8s now understand it is a team effort. A child has a way of doing things but an adult has life experience and a brain which has developed fully. Add that to performance standards, teaching experience, life experience, teaching guidelines, curriculum guidelines and technology is used far better. It is a team effort based on knowledge sharing.

DIY robot

Robots are becoming more prominent. They are here. A number of jobs have been replaced by robotic machines. At the moment , there is a real passion for building robots and some of them are now becoming quite sophisticated. In the real world there are people who enjoy making little robots and fortunately they share their ideas online so that others can see and learn. This is how robotics will grow. Mr. Moo is an Indonesian who has a very popular little robot which everyone wants to make. I have used Jaidyn Edwards’ YouTube clip and his site offers tutorials and further information.

The getting of wisdom

Knowledge wisdom information Image: Nelio A/B testing

I love the internet. I found the first picture and looked at it for a while and wondered whether it depicted wisdom properly. I then discovered we have diagrams and explanations for the Intelligence Hierarchy and they seem to apply to financial management. I was so impressed with Barry Ritholtz’ blog I subscribed. Here was someone who had a real clarity in explaining things and the comments which came under the post only opened up that discussion and explanation further.Intelligence Hierarchy As a teacher I am thinking this has to apply to education. Where do we place data, data collection and what do we do with it? As teachers we have to be creating the information trail memes so students always access good quality information and can see why some information is not worthy of serious attention. We are trying to give our students knowledge and a capacity to manipulate all this data and information into a life where they can contribute and thrive. So where do we stand on wisdom? Do we know what it is? Do we want to achieve it ourselves and encourage our students to achieve it? How do you do that in a world driven by big data and swamped by information good and bad? One of the people who commented said it was insight. We ought to be looking at insight as a significant component of wisdom. That is why I like the first picture. It says it clearly. You can be launched into the vast array of data and information but you can sort it out into components which can be used or discarded and you have the capacity to drive through all of that and have good outcomes. The first picture spells out clarity of thought and focus. What do you think?

Share your practice

we are teachersI keep telling you, the internet has a tried and tested way of promoting growth and development of ideas :

Create content
Share content
Get feedback
Grow content

It is a self perpetuating method of resourcing our world with ideas. We can now readily share experience. We can readily find authentic help when we need it. The We are Teachers blog is one of those places where teachers can constantly find a wealth of ideas and experience. Our own professional standards site ,aitsl, in Australia is getting very good at sharing real and valuable ways of encouraging us to work with the performance standards and then share those experiences. It is connecting us but it is up to us. We need to share our practice as teachers no matter what we are doing and at what stage of our career we are. That authenticity rings clearly through cyberspace and generates invaluable content for those seeking it. For an isolated teacher it is crucial. Not all teachers are a part of a big ,dynamic school. When we share, we reach out to others and offer them our experiences and knowledge. It can only  broaden everyone’s practice. It will put us all on a stronger footing and we will make natural and reliable connections with each other. This week We are Teachers put up a post by a new teacher. It will help other new teachers. It will turn a year’s work into something which will go into cyberspace and add to our common knowledge and improved professional practice. Social media is now a place where new teachers can quickly get help and support from more experienced teachers no matter where they are teaching. It is also a place where you can quickly crowd source ideas for projects you have in mind. Technology has added something we have never had before and that is an opportunity to have a wide, positive impact for the benefit of all.

Digital citizenship

Digizen Digizen is a UK site with information on good digital citizenship and ways and means of developing those skills. It has resources for educators specifically and then resources and information for the general public. The New South Wales education site also has some good information on digital citizenship.

Getting the best from Google

Atari BreakoutIf you are into retro gaming , you can play Atari Breakout on Google. You can get more information about it here from Gizmodo. There are also some really good Google Map tricks shred here at LifeHack. LifeHack also has a number of helpful Google tips to keep you well up with Google developments. It is far more than a search engine. You might like to know the interesting facts about Google.

Free software for Mac

Mac FreewareMac Freeware is a good site to look at if you are trying to find apps/software which will suit your needs at purposes at work or home but you want to try something out first. I have just downloaded iBooks because you can use it to publish e-books and read them too so it is handy to have an e-book reader on my MacBook and , later, I might just want that capacity to publish e-books too. Students can use e-books to advantage because iBooks, like other e-readers, will quickly bring up dictionary definitions of words. It takes the pain out of reading and understanding. It is particularly helpful when you are trying to master a language. Having the e-book provide such comprehensive definitions just by hovering is such a literacy breakthrough. There are plenty of other apps/software on the Mac Freeware site which might be helpful to you.

How to build a computer animation

This is not a proper computer. The focus was on creating an animation which simulated putting together a computer. 1500 hours of work , it says in the comments, and the use of software taught at his school. fenderlove01 has created something remarkable. For a start he has mastered some very complex software and there is a wow factor to his animation. He has taken something he loved and pushed it into a new arena to drive his learning objectives. Explicit learning at its best.He has now published something which has connected with a lot of other people and they have come in with suggestions. He is creating a better version of the animation, he says , but it’s 3 years and it hasn’t happened. He has moved on to other things ,most likely. He has also demonstrated with this video, that were it to replicate exactly how to put together a computer , it would be a very effective teaching tool. His use of design, software, knowledge and music has created the blueprint for how you could teach skills like this in a virtual world and thereby save real lesson time and real life time. Animation has the potential to be a powerful skills teaching platform.

Tellagami for visual voice recordings

Tellagami Tellagami is like Puppet Pals and Toontastic. You can build little videos and make voice recordings. Telligami allows you to add emotions and backgrounds and there’s a good opportunity for students to customise it , which is what they like. Great app for oral language development in any language. This is an app that students enjoy using.

The Ergonomic Times

The Ergonomic Times

The Ergonomic Times is a designed to bring you up to date and good information about technology and ergonomics. There are plenty of things to read, consult and consider so that we look after ourselves better and more easily as we use technology. There is even a link which takes you to a video on classroom ergonomics. It’s not just about occupational , health and safety . It is also about making good decisions and choices and developing good habits so we don’t create an unnecessary burden on our bodies as we use technology.

iHurt – iPad ergonomics

This is the only video I could find about the ergonomics of iPad use. We have had training and information about how to set up an ergonomically sound desktop computing arrangement, but we haven’t addressed new devices very well. It only takes a look at this video to know we can do better. We can pay attention to how we position an iPad or tablet and help our bodies avoid stress and strain. It has implications for classroom use. If we are unaware of how things can create problems then we won’t make the right recommendations to our students. It takes an expert, like this physical therapist, to tell us what we can improve on and all of Steve Meagher’s suggestions are practical and easy to implement, at home at least. In a classroom we don’t have cushions but we can recommend that students get the cases with built in stands and I am pleased to say most of my students do that anyway.

Video and audio magic with Handbrake

Elly Awesome introduces you to video shrinking on a Mac using Handbrake. This is the reason most people use Handbrake or come to know Handbrake. You can get older versions here because the new version doesn’t have the Target Size option which is easier to use. The new version has the Constant Quality slider which you have to fiddle with to get the results you want. Slide to the left for poorer quality and to the right for superior quality. The presets in the right sidebar allow you to automatically arrange settings for different devices. Handbrake can do a lot of things with audio and visual files. You can create DVD chapters, change file formats, optimise files for specific devices, add subtitles and , of course shrink files.


Syncing audio and video

I have used it to correct a syncing problem between audio and video in my video editing programme. I was importing the file and then the sound and video were slightly out of sync. You open Handbrake, select the file in source, select the folder to put it in when it is finished by using browse,check CONSTANT frame rate and then start the conversion. Handbrake is software you need to get to know and there are tutorials on YouTube and the site has help as well.

Sound recording template for class

sound recording template Strictly speaking this is a sound pre recording template but that is an uncomfortable mouthful for class so I’ll be calling it the sound template. I want students to put more thought into how they put their sound assignments and tasks together. I want them to think about the equipment, location and the things they will need to make an effective recording. They will probably prefer to do it without this kind of disciplined thinking but it is not getting the best quality sound. We need to play a bit more with sound effects, style of presentation and clarity of sound. This first template is to help guide them through the process. I say first template. I’ll probably change it as I work with students and get their feedback. Look upon it as a work in progress and you are welcome to a copy of the doc file by clicking on sound recording template.

Serious audio recording on an iPad

Epic tutorials takes audio on an iPad/iPhone very seriously and this 16 minute video gives you a lot of information about how to manage more professional quality audio on an iPad. The tutorial is clear, straight forward and easy to follow. If you look at the comments below the tutorial then you can see that the willingness to help others is there. He speaks about the Rode Rec  which is $7.49 from the app store. There are free audio recording apps like the ones I mentioned yesterday and there are other paid ones like bossjock studio which I have and posted about previously.

Sound recording apps

Voice recorder pro There are three free, decent apps you can use for voice recordings on your iPad/iPhone and it will come down to personal preference in the end. My voice recording app of choice is Wave Pad so that I will be able to use it with the Wave Pad software on my computer. The truth is, if you want good quality sound it needs to be processed on a computer. The Audacity Fan Site explains why Audacity is not available as an app and the reasons why the best sound quality comes from using a computer. You can read it there because it is explained well and so I won’t repeat it here. So, the three good sound apps for the iPad are:

Wave Pad

Recorder Plus HD

Voice Recorder Pro

Sound files can be saved to the cloud and then processed elsewhere. The files can be saved as mp3 files so they can be listened to on any mobile device easily as well as computers. Recorder Plus HD has some good editing features so you can smooth out the sound recording before you forward it anywhere. iPads and iPhones may not be as good on the sound quality as a computer but they are mobile. It may be all you have, all you want or a good option under particular circumstances. You could, for instance, be recording a podcast on an iPhone while you are trying to kill some time somewhere. You can then bring that to your computer and give it some polish.

Sound improvement

I didn’t have it  quite right with the connections from my mixer to my computer. What an improvement! This video demonstrates a very similar mixer to my own. The instructions are simple and you understand how to connect this device properly. There are more complicated mixers and I might be interested in one of those down the track, but for now, my little mixer is sufficient for me and what I want to do. It has made a vast improvement to my voice recordings. I still have to thank Travis Townsend and his excellent video for getting me on the right track in the first place. You Tube is where I always end up if I am trying to do something since I am a visual learner and I am always better if I can see what needs to be done and if I can hear someone explaining the reasons why. If I put that together with my own knowledge I am then able to take big steps forward. There are some easy things you can do to improve sound quality. One of my best investments was the dynamic microphone. I can get a pretty good sound with my headset and microphone but it nowhere near compares with the clarity and quality of a dynamic microphone. The are some sound tips on Top Ten Reviews for improving audio quality in voice recordings. One of the things I have learnt about myself is that I cannot just talk into a microphone. I talk easily in face to face or   phone contexts but when I have to talk into the faceless, voiceless void I find it hard. I shall improve the more I do it. At the moment I put a little list together so I sequence my ideas properly. I have then learnt the important skill of how to delete silences and unnecessary bits in a voice recording. That in itself makes for a better recording. I have noticed my students are very thorough when it comes to voice recording. They prepare carefully and they will rerecord things to get a better version of their task. The repetition helps them to retain content.With the information I have learnt I can shortcut some of that for them and one of the things I’ll be looking for or making is a checklist/running sheet for voice recordings. It would be the equivalent of a story board but needs to be simpler or it would interrupt the speech flow.

Sound progress

recording Progress! I have my own little sound studio which packs up under my arm to put away and then I have the lite version with just a headset and microphone. The learning journey has been worth it already:

1. I can make MP4 videos with clear sound
2. I can make very clear voice recordings
3. I can do clever things like play with peak and clearing pops and clicks
4. I did not have to spend a fortune to achieve this
5. My learning path is now very clear

From all of this I am now in a better position to help students with sound recordings. I am a French teacher. It is important we can get clear sound on our audio tracks, particularly if they are for external assessment. I have to say I have found Wave Pad has accelerated my learning because as software it is just so helpful. It is software I shall be able to grow into and learn more with. The free version is more than adequate but the added extras with the paid version are worth it when you have a better understanding of what you need. With the free version I’ll be able to get students to improve the quality of their recordings which are often too soft or muffled. I have progressed to putting voice recordings into little videos with other sound effects and music because that will be the creative side of all this learning. I have proven you do not actually have to learn much, as it turns out, in order to improve what you are doing with sound. What has taken me so long is learning what I needed and why and then how to put it all together. Even at this early stage I feel confident enough to use my sound knowledge in class and put it to good use. Can only get better from here.

Audio editing software

I have just found Wave Pad. Normally I use Audacity because it is cross platform, my students can use it easily and know the software and it is basically fuss free and effective. In class I use Audacity and Garage Band because we have MacBooks and iPads. Wave Pad is now an other option.Once you show students how to add the effects in Garage Band then their recordings really come up a level because they like using sound effects and it spurs them on to doing better. Audacity is handy in class for straight out  voice recording. Remember, I am no sound technician and I am teaching French. I am looking for things to help me improve the quality of what I can produce and thereby increase my options as a teacher but I am also looking at how anyone can make better quality sound files. Wave Pad is for Windows , Mac , Android , iOS but not Linux .I have found already that it has improved what I am doing even though I am currently just using a microphone with speaker attached. I could record something, enhance the voice, clean up the track and get a better sound…all in 10 minutes. If I can use this software, then anyone can. It does make a difference. There is a paid version and choices. That is good marketing. For a start I can have a really good look at this software without feeling it will disappear off my computer, be so limited I would not really have a clue and have no chance of really understanding how the software will benefit me and those I share sound files and sound file making with. Wave Pad comes with tutorials, helpful hints, ideas, clear explanations, You Tube support and an opportunity to grow as I learn without feeling like I have to push myself when I am not ready to. This is the crux of learning new technology. You need time to explore and gain confidence, you need help if you want it, you need a vision. I have the cables now for my mixer and so I am looking forward to using Wave Pad. I’ll still use Audacity because I am cross platform but my desktop and netbook are what I use at home and my NetBook made a really nice sound file last night just after I had downloaded Wave Pad. If nothing else, others who produce software should take some tips from Wave Pad as to how to introduce new clients to a platform.

Sound recording 101

Home Recording Studio has 6 easy to follow tutorials for making classier sound recordings than you normally do. It was going to be my project this year to get better sound recordings in class. I am half way through the year and I have done some sound recording work with students which they really enjoyed. I still haven’t set up my recording equipment at home , though, so I can improve my skills and knowledge. This video is where I am up to. I have all the equipment and as I was putting it all together today I realised I cannot connect the mixer to my computer to record. I don’t have a lead. I now need to work out which lead. When I put myself into learning something I am clueless about I do it one step at a time and make sure I know what I am doing before I go to the next step. I have all the other leads, some nice microphones, a sound mixing board, a microphone stand and I do have headphones with a mike as back up but the sound quality won’t be as good as when I finally get this all sorted! One more cable. When I learn this way I can see I have come a long way because I now have some idea of what I am talking about and realise I could have made some better decisions along the way. That doesn’t worry me. The fact I now know this has made it a worthwhile journey. I have some very good video software, a good computer and now some good sound equipment. It has not cost me a fortune. I have also had a good chance to look at “how to” videos. This guy is good because he is not too fast, not too slow, has pictures, information and best of all he explains why you should be doing something . He is even better he gives you a chance to choose. Hate the word empowering, but his videos have the added benefit of empowering you with some knowledge so you will choose one thing above something else. This means you are engaged in the process of learning. So, shopping trip for me to get my last cable and I am glad I have come this far. It has made me very aware when I am teaching not to take anything for granted and to support my content with sound, images and good explanations.

Ambient sounds

Soothing sounds and musicLeigh Haggerwood is a British composer and sound designer. Now there’s a clue as to how jobs and careers will change as we continue our journey into the age of technology. Would students know they could become a sound designer? Would we know so we could tell them? You can use the Calmsound site for free and play whatever you want. The videos with sound are really nice and very soothing. If you cannot get away or you are feeling like you need a break , then this site is worth bookmarking so you can take a short break. You could even use it to play calming background sounds in class. I can use it to teach weather and nature. Again, I have to thank my Facebook feed and Teaching Ideas for recommending this site.

123D Sculpt

123D Sculpt This app for the iPad comes highly recommended by my year 8s. Those using 123D Sculpt are achieving images quickly, effectively and with a great deal of enthusiasm and interest. I am teaching them French and am always looking for good apps which will create a visual aspect in their work or will be quick and easy to use to enhance their learning because my main focus is French. We are making comic strips at the moment and we came up with a list of recommended apps. My year 8s could not speak highly enough of this app and when I asked them to show me what they had done and then checked again to see what they had done I could see it was very effective for them and they could do what they wanted and get the French going . I have to avoid getting lost in apps which divert them into other things. In another world I could do it differently. It has been such an instant hit I have to recommend it highly to you! What I like about it is that it gets students away from cognitive learning very quickly and straight into the explicit learning phase so that they are creating original things of their own for their own use. One of the good things about using iPads in a classroom setting is you can teach students they are not just toys. They are not just for consuming: they can be used for productivity and creativity as well.

Epson interactive whiteboard

There is now a new Epson interactive whiteboard in my room and it caused quite a sensation on Monday. Why not? New technology, new look and it really is dressed to impress. The board area is bigger and that is a real advantage for students and staff when they are teaching. The sound and image are HD quality and it shows. It makes such a difference in a classroom like mine which is dark in winter and acoustically bonkers. There are fewer wires and the whole installation is tidy and neat. The best bit is the projector is closer to the board and so you don’t get blinded by the light as you teach. It runs very quickly from whiteboard to computer display and so you can interchange the mode of approach really quickly which is important in a lesson…. just sit there and watch my computer load, please. My students were very excited and pleased because it was so much better for them. Other staff who used the room were excited and one in particular, who has good art and mobile phone skills had a head full of ideas as soon as we got it going and he could see how easy it was. It has a USB connection to load images from a flash drive. This is good for me. I often use images and then will be able to write over the top of them myself. You can save screens from the board to the drive or computer. You can print if you want to . The whiteboard can work without the computer if you need that. There are lots of options and they are all easy. The video shows you how easy and there are other videos on YouTube to look at to show you the functions. I can still use the things from my other IWB and that is good. My next step is to connect the Apple TV and see how that goes. I stopped using it because the screen was too small on the other projector . This one ought to be better and the Apple TV ought to be able to benefit from the sound and visual capabilities of this projector. I have used it for one day and it has created a real chance to grow again. New technology can do that, especially if it fits our needs as teachers.

Meet Poppy

Every school should have a Poppy! Ultimate in robotic cuteness. She has to be created. How she is assembled is in a fast motion video on LeMonde site. Students need to have a good understanding of robotics and robots. It will be their world. The Poppy project is designed to build an open source humanoid platform but it is designed also to be accessible. Robotics can be extremely expensive. Building your own humanoid could be prohibitive in its costs. Poppy is built from things you can easily buy and uses 3D printing. The more who build a Poppy and contribute to the programme , the faster they will understand how this is done and what it means. Poppy will then grow and change as our knowledge is used in collaboration with others through the Poppy project.

Team effort on the iPad lesson salvage

IYanMy year 8 double lesson was going really well until we hit a pothole. I have been so pleased the Year 9s were making such good progress with GoAnimate and like it. WITHOUT CHECKING FIRST I assumed it would work on the iPads. My mistake. I plead end of term brain fatigue. Always prepare properly with technology. GoAnimate does not work on the iPads because it needs flash. I had the class all ready to use and explore it for our next assignment and then we fell in a hole. The beauty of technology is you can dig yourself out pretty quickly with a team effort on the problem solving. We put our iPads away and had a 5 minute think tank. The best solution seemed  to be to go to the app store to see what free alternatives there were. They had another 5 minutes and had to tell me when they had something good so I could make a list on a PowerPoint slide as we discovered suitable apps. They were so impressed with themselves and so serious about problem solving. I asked them to find free apps because we would be trying them out and  they could be comic strip or animation apps. These are the apps they valued:

Comic Puppets Lite
Comic Maker HD
Animation Maker HD
Caption Distraction Lite

Some took a photo of the list because they were going to try them all. We all got started on an app to see what we could do and how well we could practice the French we had learnt this semester. We included ComicLife (paid )on our list because a number of students had it and wanted to use it. Once we have done our assignment we shall do a review of these apps because I am pretty sure we are now trialling them all. GoAnimate is going down really well with the year 9s but they have MacBooks. It will be great if we can find something as well thought out for the iPads.


GoAnimateAny paid application worth its salt needs to have a decent trial/lite/free version. You cannot simply buy software, walk into class,  and then find out it will do what it wants and not what you need. Most teachers have the brakes on when it comes to texts ,software or new materials. Rightly so. Plumbers wouldn’t just use anything to fix your taps and a surgeon wouldn’t trial a new technique on you. We need safe options to have a chance to look and see. This year I am looking and GoAnimate .I have only just started using it with students and I like what I see. We have been labouring through the perfect tense in French. It is complicated, it requires lots of practice and my students have done well. I thought by way of reward we’d make an animation of “le weekend dernier” (last weekend). I found a ready made one on GoAnimate which the students loved and so they were keen to find out about this site. We spent a lesson just looking and learning. They loved it. They went sooooo quiet. I looked and watched. Some were naturals at animation. All were involved and enjoying it because it has plenty of tools and options. Some wanted to look at other people’s animations on the site and explained that would help them learn. It did. They were learning all sorts of content as they watched animations and then their own mock ones became good very quickly. It got the big thumbs up so we are pursuing it. I don’t let students progress into animations and comic strips without doing a storyboard first. You can search my blog and get some or look on a search engine and  storyboarding templates come up quickly. I took 3 into class to see which one they wanted. They wanted them all! They wanted to see. They are not quite sure how to use them so that is today’s lesson because it will come back to the French. They need to know what their screens will be , how their story will progress and what French they need. It is easy for them to get lost in things like this and if time were limitless I’d let them follow that path. It is natural learning. I put the storyboard in to accelerate the learning and task completion. It keeps them focussed on the French. GoAnimate has a paid version and a school version with support. I do not yet know if it would be worth it, but I can see they have given me the opportunity to trial it in the wild and find out whether it is worth financial investment or not. That I appreciate.

Clean and restore a whiteboard

whiteboard cleaning It took a teacher, didn’t it? At last, an intelligent and sensible use of those animated gifs which have been plaguing the net recently – because they can. They are rarely inserted with  thought and purpose and the whole visual loop thing is hardly ever used to add to and enhance content. This is a wiki about how to clean your whiteboard. It is not only helpful and practical, it shows you clearly how to do it by using gif files. How did I come across this information? On my Facebook feed. One of the good uses of Facebook is you can sign up to pages which will add interesting information to the feed. I’ve signed up to the Teaching Ideas Facebook page and it always has something practical. I had chosen that particular whiteboard cleaning post because it used animated gifs  well but also because it used WD40. I use WD40 for everything but had not thought to use it to clean and restore a whiteboard. There are  5 other whiteboard cleaning options here.