Well, that was a lot of fun. We were discussing ideas for revamping our classroom areas and corridors to breathe some fresh , 21st century life into them…the great corridor makeover. We settled on the idea we’d get some manga images going which the students could create and we would get them to be reformatted and utilised in different ways . Manga images are bright, cheerful, massively popular and can be used to teach so much vocabulary and expression as we make them. This will largely be a Japanese initiative but the dolldivine site is something we can use in French too. We found some good sites and apps for generating and producing manga characters so I’ll share them with you:
Alfred is bigger than Spotlight on a MacBook in more ways than one. He is clear, direct, self confident and a marvellous help. Read all about him in the MacStore where is he available for free!
Yesterday’s post about blocking ads has generated interest and discussion and so today there is a useful video to show you how to use Adblocker in different browsers. It is not that I am against advertisements or advertising. When you use online sites in class then you have to have a level of safety and security about what is going to appear on your screen. Random ads can really come up with some tricky moments in class because the advertisers are totally unaware, as yet, that we show YouTube clips and use online sites in class. Some ads are just not right and , for that matter, neither is advertising. I really don’t like using my classroom as an advertising venue. It is something we need to work out and confront globally. Whenever I can , I check sites before I use them in class, but the Adblocker extension has just made it that bit easier. Dottech gives a written version of how to manage ad blocking along with instructions and images. If you want a bit more of a discussion of ad blocking then this article on Tucows has a reasonable look at it.
Advertising makes the world go around but it can be somewhat inappropriate or uncalled for in a classroom. We are encouraged to use online resources and sites but the web has not got it into its head that it cannot bombard a classroom when it wants , how it wants and because it feels like it. What looks okay on your computer at home can seem quite out of place when you are working in class. My best fix is to just keep talking. Find a way of fixing the ad issue as you just keep on talking. Super Ad blocker has made my life a lot easier in the classroom and at home for that matter. I don’t mind ads because it makes the internet go round but there are times where I want to limit what becomes invasive, poorly timed interruptions by advertisers. Super ad blocker works slightly differently across OSs. On my Mac OS it is an extension of Firefox. You can download it from and read the reviews on CNET. The Firefox extension is here at Mozilla. Dottech gives details with images as to how to use adblock on various browsers.
Duolingo is free and a very popular site with my students:
I like this website because it teaches you French in lots of different ways, like it teaches us with a mixture of pictures, listening, sentences, pronouncing and writing and I like how they’re kind of like games which makes it more fun!
I really liked Duolingo because of its variety. It’s not just asking you to translate words, it makes you translate words along with sentences, phrases, speak given sentences, listen and write down what they’ve said. So I like how every question they ask you to do something different
I like Duolingo because it is fun and you get points for completing activities.
I do not like Duolingo. I find it hard to use and I don’t like the heart system it uses where if you get it wrong enough times you have to start over. I also don’t like how picky it is and the way it doesn’t give you a chance if you get something wrong.
Duolingo is a very good website because it helps you learn a variety of words and is fun at the same time. It also is good for learning sentences because you can write them down after they have been said in French.
The student who doesn’t like it has a very specific approach to learning and so prefers other sites for learning languages and has responded particularly well to one in particular. He prefers a fluid, positive approach and I can’t say I blame him. I have used Duolingo myself at the higher level and can say there are some dubious translations and then you seem to get held up a bit and it’s true, you have to start over. There are opportunities in some sections to have another go. At this point in time no language MOOC is going to be perfect. We are still in the learning phases of how to create those sorts of massive and dynamic crowd sourced learning sites. Users both adolescent and adult love the site and are free with their praise. I sometimes find my students sneaking off to learn another language. I love it when I see that kind of naughtiness in class! Students are motivated to become multilingual when they use a site like this because it just makes it easy and rewarding. It practises detail. it pronounces and translates everything. It really is comprehensive. The adults I know using it have already learnt a language and are using it to learn another. They love it because they can progress quickly and then gain some sound competence. It still needs a teacher to straighten things out a bit. It’s the reason my students love using it in class for a little while. They can ask me things, they can clarify things quickly , they can show off to their friends and encourage their friends. it is all very positive. It forces them to remember too because they are going over material a number of times in different ways. For confidence building and self-sufficiency in learning it is very good. There is an app for it but I find it works better on a computer. The app will improve as they work out how to best set it up. Duolingo is working on getting the Asian languages on board.
When I first started blogging in 2003 , nobody really took much notice. Later they thought it was a bit peculiar, then it filled them full of mirth, then they had no idea what to think and now people think it must take hours of my life but they seem to like what I do. I certainly get plenty of feedback to tell me that my blogs are helpful to others and that is one of my main reasons for blogging. Once you get the hang of it, it is like anything else, you become adept and efficient. It doesn’t take much time for me to put out a post because I have chosen things which offer me plenty to blog about and practice has only improved what I do. Experience is a great teacher and should never be overlooked.
1. From my blogs I have a spectacular view over cyberspace and the internet.
2. Blogging has helped me learn so I remember things better and I retain that information in a usable form
3. Blogging helps me to solve problems. I often blog about what I’d like, my wishes , hopes , problems and magically it all falls into place.
4. Blogging helps me to understand classroom practice far better than I ever have. I blog about what I do so the implementation is considered, the follow up is thought about and the theory is worked upon in a more methodical way.
5. I am constantly under global peer review. It encourages me. It supports me. It puts me in a global context.
6. As a netizen I can see where I fit , I can add to others and they can contribute to my development.
7. Everything is shared so I am adding to ideas and ways of doing things and in turn I am getting feedback which helps move me forward.
8. I am always enthusiastic and that is sustained because blogging allows me to know. I never reach a dead end or a brick wall .
9. I am constantly learning. To run blogs for as long as I have you have to change and adapt and you have to constantly update your skills and capabilities.
10. It keeps me up to date. I can’t stagnate and I cannot get into a rut.
Where do you think the world is headed in 2015? Seems to be a key year which keeps coming up. Everything by 2015. This video was made in 2011 and so the person who made it had a vision and it’s pretty impressive. How far have we come? What have we yet to achieve and what will the world really look like in 2015? The world won’t be flat, not if Tactus technology has its way. They are working on screens with dynamic touch where there is more tactile feedback and texture. Great improvement for assistive technology and may well free us from the scourge of misspelt texts and documents. People need that digital fingertip feedback for the hand – eye co ordination. Others are working on flexible screens so that things can be rolled and twisted . The planet is also determined to connect and so languages , MOOCs for languages, translators and anything which facilitates understanding is making headway right now. The language barriers are coming down so we can improve learning and communication. It’s why I particularly like the beginning of this video where the children are communicating across the screens with tools to help them understand each other.
Explain Everything is not free but it comes at a very modest price. It is a cut above the free Educreations which is an app I really like for its flexibility. Explain Everything is iDevice compatible and works best with Apple devices. I have the app on my Macbook and my iPad. It is something which can be used for presentations, for teaching and recording that as you go along. You can use a stylus/finger or typed next. I made a montage in Fotor, imported it and then added what I wanted. you can save the work as video, image and to various places like Dropbox (my preference) or you can email the work to yourself or someone else. It really is very flexible and worth investigating for you and your students. Excuse my appalling drawing skills.
This app is fun and free. You can select your own background and decorate your tree. I am not certain there is great educational value in the Christmas Tree app but it is about being creative, using resources, finding good purposes for devices, concentrating and manipulating a touch screen. I need to see it in a classroom. As a language teacher I could get students to build their tree and we could learn the vocabulary and then it would be an oral exercise to describe their tree. I also like to find things which will give students something useful and productive to do while I have to set something up or to make good use of any dead time. My theory is if we give them good activities on their devices they are less likely to use them for non educational purposes and will be less limited in their capacity to use a device. Have fun with the app!
I am listening to sound files all the time – in class, from the students, podcasts in the car, YouTube clips, news programmes… What I have noticed is we have reached a real high in some areas and with some people with regard to sound quality. Others are struggling to get the sound just right. Some people are naturals, some work really hard at it and others don’t get it quite right. I am in the don’t get it quite right group and some of my students are too. We all have mobile and other technology which readily records good quality sound but we don’t all get the best out of it. I have worked hard the last two years on getting the visual presentations right for my resources and for my students who are presenting their work. The next logical step for me is to work on sound. I need to get better quality sound on the materials I make, I need to explore podcasts more and I need to help my students to get better use of the sound software on their laptops and devices. As with visuals, it is not going to happen all at once. It will be a journey. Podcasts are something which you can listen to any time , any place. They are even more flexible than visual files. As a language teacher I can see some real benefits in working with sound files in class and improving the quality of them. As with anything else I want to learn and improve on I have started to gather resources and information. The video with this post is impressive because in 3 minutes from Tinkernut I learnt a lot about a software programme I already use and it puts all that information into a neat package so I can see the whole picture. This post is by way of note to self because I am going to add links to 5 sites which provide a solid grounding for getting better sound:
This way, when I am ready to start working on sound, I have a bank of helpful resources on my blog.
I have just decorated my home for Christmas. That includes my desktop computer as well! HD Wallpapers has some beautiful Christmas wallpapers and then a whole range of wallpapers for any other time of the year.
Image via netpage
Okay, so the free netpage app is designed for you the consumer rather than you , the educator, the learner, the anywhere, anytime, anyhow 21st century creative unit. However, the educational possibilities of this app are certainly there. What I didn’t know was the new copy of my gardening magazine would be netpage enabled. I have used my iPad a lot for digitally enhanced content in magazines but my Samsung phone I haven’t. I got my phone out and downloaded the free netpage app and opened the netpage enabled page, used the app and posted it to Twitter. Why not? I have a Twitter account and at that stage I didn’t think I’d want an email copy of it. Silly of me. It is called discovery learning and why I like technology so much. You can find things out which end up be fun and then cornerstone discoveries. When I clicked on my Twitter tweet link it took me to a web page and not only could I view the pages I had magically scanned on my phone, I could download them as a pdf. Lightbulb moment for my educator self. What if we had this in class? Students would love that little yellow bar doing the scanning. They’d love the blue circle to enable the app. They’d love scanning a page and then sharing it with friend on their phone, tablet or laptop. It looks so much cooler when you see it on an HD screen. It also means you don’t have to carry a whole magazine just to show somebody a really good article or read. You get your own chosen magazine quality material. One of the ways you engage people in learning is to provide them with a cool tool and netpage really has that possibility. If it were applied to books then it would be a great thing for libraries and for engaging with print texts in a different ways. It would be great for students who are trying to make course selections at secondary and tertiary level. They could gather course requirements and descriptions into DropBox or Evernote. I have all these ideas just from using this app once so I am going back to my magazine with my phone to see what else I can do and think.
Bill Atkinson is a well known photographer who works for Apple. He has developed an e-card app called PhotoCard which you can download for free. There is a good review of it here on The Luminous Landscape. Download it and impress all your friends with tailor made e-cards ! Great idea with Christmas coming up. It is also such a useful app for developing literacy skills in class.
Image: Home Design 3D app
I walked into class with a pile of cartridge paper under my arm. This will be interesting, I thought. I was neither let down nor disappointed. My year 8 students know we cannot use a computer room because of the rebuilding program. We have had to be inventive and flexible. A pile of cartridge paper seemed like I had gone back into the dark ages before I knew I could do something to save the planet. I brought in the iPads. We were about to start learning house vocabulary in French. I normally use floorplanner.com and smallbluerpinter.com and it’s an assignment the students love and they learn their vocabulary quickly. I have taught these students all year and so they know that sometimes we have to be clever and pool our ideas to get the best learning out of the tools and situation we have. I started from my board. I put up a picture of a house and they had to match the words up there to the labels on the house. This was different. We hadn’t even learnt house vocabulary. I told them to use their brains and really think it out like a puzzle and that would pronounce it as we went along. There was silence. They were looking at me and then at the board. You can do it. Just look and think ! We got the first word, then the second, then the third. They muddled a couple and then we had all the labels done and we pronounced them all again and I gave them a quick oral test to see if they could remember. They could. I could then move on and say we were going to do paper dream houses and not the computer houses we could see pinned up from last year. The prize would be a lovely new school and we would just manage this bit. We got to work and some students still had their iPad conversations from last week to show me on the iPads. This is the next generation of students. They love working in pairs and they love showing me things on their phones and iPads. It makes them very enthusiastic and they are in their element. Two of them had a great conversation they had made with Puppet Pals but it had voice sythesisers. They had used iTranslate and so tomorrow they are going to show me just exactly what they did to make that conversation. They love showing me and I love learning something new. In the meantime other students had been busy and two more came out to show me apps they had found and would I please download them because they were free. They would be like the house planning sites I had written up on the board that we had used on the computer last year. Already the students were looking for the tools which would solve our problem. The apps were great and so now I have iPad versions of what I use on a computer with a class. We have choices! Two students in front of me had found a fantastic website on their iPad which would help with house language and wanted to show me. It really was fantastic. I put it up on the board so they could all find it if they wanted to. We have to find the vocabulary to be able to create our paper houses this year. The iPads have made it easy because they are more dynamic than a dictionary. They know I have plenty of resources to teach them about houses and that our lessons will be practising this vocabulary and creating our dream homes. What keeps them focussed is they know they can share the really good things they find and that I will share that with the class along with my own resources so we are a constant pool of content sharing and information passing. Create content, share and get feedback. We work as a team to keep that going. So now we have the work arounds. The younger students want to be part of the process and want to be able to use computers and devices to show and share. My job as a teacher is to lead the way and organise the information coming in. Love it!
I am not American but my Twitter feed put up a tweet by @bennettscience which was under the hashtag #eduthanks. Thursday the Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving and one of the things they do is express their gratitude. @bennettscience put up a little reminder tweet that they could be grateful for the technology they have access to and he is going to make a podcast about it. I hope he puts up the link. We are coming up to the end of the school year in Australia and I thought it appropriate to actually be grateful for the technology I am now using in class and pay tribute to it.
1. Mobile technology. Our school gave us new iPads. I have always had an iPad but it was really great to receive a brand new shiny iPad 5 and rediscover the fun. I also made a real effort at the beginning of this year to show each of my classes the good iPad and iPhone apps for French. My year 8s don’t have laptops and the students picked up my suggestions really quickly and ran with them. It has made a number of things easier in my year 8 class because I bothered and they cared.
2. I am grateful to have my blogs and that the knowledge I have gained through blogging is now being transferred to some of my students, my online network and gradually at school. Blogging is fundamental to developing skills and knowledge and it helps me understand my performance requirements, lesson content, devices and theory far better than anything else. It also is a back up to my skills and knowledge because everything I use and do is there online. It is easily accessed and shared.
3. I love that we all have laptops. I don’t know how many times a week a teacher or student will turn their laptop around and just show me something really great. I can do it too. It is the best way to share knowledge and the best way to stay enthusiastic and positive about education. It is constantly growing.
4. I am truly and ever grateful my rolls are done electronically. As a number challenged person I dreaded balancing my paper roll. I dreaded blotting my roll and I dreaded not having a neat roll. All that horror is gone and my computer and LMS take care of it all.
5. There are sites and software I cannot live without. They are my constant best friends and they make teaching so much easier: DropBox, Twiducate, Triptico, Fotor, BeFunky, ProVoc. There are developers out there coming up with some great ideas for education which work.
Getting student blogs started needs to be carefully planned. Are they going to have individual blogs? Group blogs? A class blog? How much time do you have to monitor the blog posts? What do you want them to put on their blogs? Which platform are you going to use?
Blogger, WordPress, Edublogs and Tumblr all have platforms which you can use in class. Edublogs is specifically set up for schools. The free version has ads and is limited but there is a strong edublogs community and the paid version supports class blogs. Blogger is good for beginners, is easy to manipulate and modify , has good support and you can sign in with your Google ID. Tumblr operates differently and a lot of students are already familiar with it but it has its limitations. WordPress is very comprehensive and offers good support and the blogs look very professional. I currently use Blogger and WordPress myself and have used Tumblr and Edublogs. For my senior students I chose WordPress. It has taken time and patience to set them up but because my year 11s carry their blogs into year 12 it is well worth the effort. For me, it would be a good use of the end of the year to set student blogs up when you know you will be teaching them the following year or you know students will be using blogs the following year . They need time to get used to the platform and you really do have to work one on one with some of them to make sure they understand what they are doing. I have even worked across languages because it has been easier for the international students to operate their dashboard in German while they are setting up their blogs. Know your platform and know what you will teach them each lesson. Then be sure to monitor once a week at least. Partly because you will love what you see, partly because you can assess the work and partly to keep them safe. With safety in mind, we do not identify ourselves or exactly where we come from, nor do we put up pictures of ourselves and people we know. It is all third party preferred. Done properly, blogging provides a natural setting for having sensible conversations about online safety.
I plan to write more posts about student blogging since it is something which needs to be carefully considered and implemented. No teacher should feel like they have to do it when they do not feel sure. I strongly believe teachers should blog for at least a year themselves before they consider introducing it in class. I have been blogging for 10 years have learnt a lot in that time which means I am on very safe ground when it comes to looking at the educational benefits of blogging. Even so, I have only introduced it into class in the last two years and with a great deal of prudence. I am happy with what I have now achieved ,though, and so are my students. They can look at their blogs as the place they will go to produce good quality pieces. They like seeing each others’ blogs and are very encouraging of each other. So, in a nutshell, what are the benefits?
1.They can watch themselves grow over a year. So can I.
2.It gives them a sense of purpose and puts our classwork into the big picture context.
3.They can be appreciated outside the classroom and see what they are doing has global value.
4.They learn skills for lifelong learning.
5.They become more creative and independent in their work.
We have never talked about stationery based learning, pen driven teaching, paper enhanced classrooms. Why is our rhetoric around technology in a classroom so diverse and specific? Technology can mean so many things and it can create such a variety of classrooms and approaches. That is one reason, perhaps, why we have changed our language with regard to technology driven education. It has created a language and culture of its own with regard to education and it was interesting when I changed some of this rhetoric to apply to stationery based classrooms:
Will paper be a better barometer for tertiary readiness?
Fun ways to organise students’ brainstorming ideas with pencils.
Teaching with Maths books.
Rethinking Teacher Roles in a new stationery based world.
6 ways rulers have changed the education landscape.
I thank Twitter for offering me these quotes and I have just changed them to make a point. We didn’t ever talk about stationery based learning like this. Why are we doing it with technology?
Image 10 Best Writing apps
Devices offer a diverse array for writing practice in all its varied forms. You can painfully type your way on a mini touch screen and embarrass yourself publicly in quite a spectacular way like I do if you wish or you can nimbly glide across a touch screen and insert images and sound as quick as lightning. Writing doesn’t have to just stare back at you. You can make it move, talk, connect to a website, a clip. You can add animation and annotations. One of the great experiences I discovered on my iPad was iPad magazines. I still read paper ones from time to time but an iPad magazine might include video clips, text reading, QR codes to go elsewhere on the Net, interviews. The whole thing just jumps into life. It means there are also a variety of tool where students can practise the art of writing, planning writing, publishing, multifaceted writing and a number of literacy skills. When there is a smorgasbord of how you can write and develop your writing then the chances of your writing well and being creative are probably quite high. Some of the “cooler” apps are paid for. It is important to research them well to see if they meet your needs or the needs of your classroom. Any app I plan to use in class I research first and then test it out with a couple of students if I plan to use it. They value participating in reviews. TeachThought has 15 e-book writing apps which seem to be paid but which do come tested, so to speak, and so you can look at them to see the sorts of things the e-book writing apps can do. I can see my students using some of these and loving it. There are also 10 best writing apps recommended on NextWeb. Some of these are free and some of them practise and utilise hand writing skills. My favourite writing app is Notability but I also like Documents Free. Now that I have seen all these other apps I want to try them out because each app creates a different impact. Bottom line? Don’t go anywhere without Evernote! Cross platform, cross device , always there and pretty comprehensive.
Image: We are Teachers
We need to operate in a cross curriculum way and allow ourselves to be creative and innovative. The world puts Vitamin C molecules on high fashion , artistic bags and everyone loves them. We blend our ideas and our thinking in such a way these days that the innovation, recreation and impetus of ideas comes from blending our thinking from many disciplines. Project teams are often made up of personnel from different areas of expertise. It is true we need time and focus to develop skills in a particular discipline but technology allows us to work in a multifaceted way and then use different modes to share these ideas for peer review and feedback. We are Teachers has a whole range of ideas for cross curriculum activities. There are some good ideas for combining art and science which are very appealing. When you sit down and plan that next assignment, think about what you can include as a subtext. The new Australian curriculum is encouraging us to do that by including general competencies which we need to address as part of our teaching. We could just put something in and tick the box, or we could look at what we do and make it more complex so that we use ideas and techniques from other disciplines in order to teach our own. Technology makes it easy because there are sites like We are teachers to help us.
Image: Information Literacy
I have been using computers with students since the 90s. Technology in class is over 20 years old. It’s not new. What is new is the ubiquitous access to technology now and the number of devices which can be utilised to enhance teaching, learning , skills, competency development and thinking. I am not chipping this out on stone with my chisel, nor am I dipping my pen into the ink pot, gazing out the window and engaging in some Byronesque activity. I am clattering on my keyboard. I am pausing to think occasionally and I have all my resources at hand on the tabs in my browser. Education.com has a very good article on the impact of technology in the classroom. We are in the 21st century and the world has changed. It should not come as a surprise we have to adjust our thinking and rethinking. Within the next 10 years the UK will abandon pen and paper exams. Can’t come soon enough in my opinion. Our students are brought up on technology and have been for nearly 30 years. Time to move on and stop disadvantaging them. There is an article here which looks at electronic reading but if you look at the comments you can see that the article is based on faulty thinking. I use pdfs on a regular basis to get information. I can navigate them quickly and I retain the information. People are held up with electronic reading if they do not know how to navigate the device or software. It is not electronic texts which are the problem. I was amused , though, that this article was actually written as a very extensive electronic text. The irony did not escape me nor the fact it is actually a very good article to broach thoughts about electronic reading. It is far handier to carry texts on a device than several hefty tomes. If you search for literacy apps you will find links like this one where you can find all sorts of apps to develop literacy. The market is moving quite quickly now. There are also apps for creating books. Rather than go back to the familiar pen and paper, after 20 years of technology in schools it is probably better to look at those who have mastered this and who can articulate it. If you don’t know, you don’t know, but you do have to recognise there is a way forward and like anything else you have to learn it step by step. This is why teaching and learning are critical competencies for the 21st Century. No one can know everything and we all have to share, give feedback and then use our own personal skills to move it on. Reading Rockets has a really good, practical, real life illustration of how digital literacies work in a classroom. When it comes to testing those language literacies then some education regions use online testing where you can test the literacies as the students move through the online assessment. You can also use text editors which do not give the spellcheck and grammar support of software such as Word and it would be a great way to recycle old, text based computers which have none of the whiz bang software and support of their cutting edge counterparts!
From time to time I like to brush up my keyboard skills on my devices. I don’t practice much or often but I do find a concentrated effort now and again makes for better keyboard skills no matter what the device. Letter Bubbles is a game which helps familiarise you with your keyboard and you can play it different levels. On the insane level I got 83% at the first attempt. That one forces you to know your keys! As a teacher you need to be able to type well since it gets information up onto the board quickly and efficiently. I can type and teach . I can talk, teach and type! I have learned to set the work up in a slide presentation as I go if I choose to do it that way. More often I go in already prepared with the information I want to use. Students can easily ready typing and you can adjust the size and colour to suit their needs. Later you can improve the presentation to make it more professional and then it is there as a resource for another class and another day. I often have to type in correct answers to work book exercises on the board too. That has been a real step forward in my classroom. I no longer have to spell everything out. Students can see what I am writing and I have found we can do more and be better at it if I can type in the electronic work book answers. So, yes, I like to keep my skills up. Letter Bubbles is funny. At the Beginners’ level it is quite relaxing. The Classic level is a bit ordinary and the insane level really puts the heat on and really gets you to know your keyboard. Keyboard skills will still be necessary for large, demanding pieces of work. There is no voice software which is totally accurate even though it can be quite handy for smaller things and touch keyboards are designed for light weight written work. That’s why I think a keyboard makes an iPad more productive. The touch keyboard can only get you so far and if you don’t need to write a lot then it won’t be a big issue, but if you need to write extended pieces and present high level written work then , currently, we have need to sustain our keyboard skills.
I like to ensure my students are partners in learning. They like to ensure they are partners! We were working with the iPads and thinking about our next project. I always want them to have the capacity to work as individuals and to be able to survive as individuals. My year 8s see it differently. They want to work as pairs. It may well have been their training through primary school which means they are reluctant to abandon partners or it might just be that’s how they want to work. So I decided they could persuade me there would be more value in learning as pairs than in pursuing this particular project as an individual learner. One student put their hand up.
” Do you have an iPad , please?”
” We are not working with the iPads today.”
” Oh, you said we could come up with ideas to persuade you to let us work as pairs on our research assignment.”
” Well, you can just tell me that.”
“No, if we write it on the iPad we can be very quick and you’ll have our ideas in front of you to think about them. We’ll email you the screenshot of our work in 10 minutes.”
Now that’s what I like. Students who have learned to negotiate, who can articulate exactly what they want to do and who can see that technology will streamline the process if they use the right tool for the job.
The two of them met their goals. I had the screenshot and the next lesson I could spend another 10 minutes with the whole class looking at the advantages of pairs and deciding what our rules for the research project would be.
is the technology loop which really works.
Not sure why I should be surprised. Teenagers probably have very busy bedrooms so it ought not come as a revelation their laptops are cluttered and clogged as well . We are in Term 4 and have a few weeks left of the school year. By this time their laptops are full of images, videos, music, files and docs for their school work. What does impress me is how neat and functional their desktops are and how neat and functional their flash drives are. They do try to be orderly with their electronic school work. We ought to take screen shots of some of their desktops because they are very inventive with how they organise their work. I know all of this because I have spent the last two weeks getting some of the student laptops to work more efficiently. It’s not my job, I don’t have to do it but if I have a spare 5 minutes in a lesson then I will help them sort out their clutter issues. They know my MacBook is running well and accesses the internet quickly so when I get a moan of “I can’t get on the Net!!” and I have a chance to have a look, more often than not it boils down to an overloaded laptop.I always ask permission and I generally show them on my laptop and get them to copy me on theirs. They have often loaded software they don’t need to be running all the time, they have invariably filled the hard drive with music, videos and images and they often need to clean the recycle bin. They have all been given a back up external drive to save their work to and back up their Mac. I always ask if they are using it. I get the embarrassed face. Er, no. So then we have a little talk about how that would be good practice and how it can take the weight off their MacBook drive. In 5 minutes I can get their MacBook running better and then send them home with a few tips to clean it up even more and I know they will pass the word around because that is how their world works – share content, get feedback and reshare. The information feedback loop works well. What we need to do, though, is highlight a time at the end of semester one where we all focus on cleaning and backing up our laptops. It is a routine which just needs to be developed and would make this part of the year a bit easier.
I found this video on the iPad Insight site. The link takes you to the video on the site with the background to the video. I agree with the writer. That is not a 2020 teacher. That is a teacher here and now and it is so much better. When a student doesn’t know what a chrysanthemum is – I can look it up and show them a picture straight away. There are so many things where you can fast track the thinking and ideas just by accessing the technology available to us in a classroom. gone are the long , verbose explanations which might be as clear as mud to a student. For the most part you can get you facts and information correct, you can check the detail, you can add clarity to thinking and ideas and then the time you save can be spent on creating content with all those newly learned ideas. This video makes the point well that classroom time can be so much more effective when we access technology.
I remember it well. In the 90s students were coming into my classroom complete with glo pens, highlighters, glitter pens, little pots of glitter and their work was full of glitter, gloss, colour and bling. I have always let them set out their work in a way that suits them . If it is to be handed in I ask for a name,title and date. That shift from pens, pencils and rulers to glitter and bling was a significant one. They would sharpen little piles of coloured pencil and use bits of sandpaper and paper to shade their work. I am going through a similar shift in my Year 8 classroom this year because of mobile technology. These students won’t have laptops at school until year 9 and they can rarely get into the computer room this year because we are in a rebuilding programme which has meant rooms have had to be reallocated or preferential block bookings have had to occur. By now I am glad I spent time at the beginning of the year looking at apps which were suitable for iPads and iPhones. I am equally glad I have got the iPads out and let them explore and discover them in an educational setting. Magic is occurring. Necessity is the mother of invention. My students know if they ask permission and tell me what they are going to use and why, they can use their smartphone in class. They also know if they do the wrong thing their phone is locked up in the filing cabinet until the end of the lesson. So far I have locked up three this year. With technology pressure on for students who have grown up with it and have been surrounded by it, bit by bit they are shifting to mobile apps for their work. They have not demanded it nor expected it. They have just naturally gone that way within my boundaries. I haven’t pushed it. I haven’t insisted. I haven’t suggested. I have just encouraged them when they are doing clever things on their phone. Today was a real eye opener. Some students were doing their homework on their phones. Why? We had finished what I wanted to do and I gave them a choice of exercises to do or finishing off their assignments for tonight and tomorrow’s lesson. Some students brought me their work on their phone to show me to see if they were getting it right. One student emailed me the work so I could check it. They have got some really good productivity going. What they can’t do is easily know how to get it to me. We have choices at the moment . Some can easily email. Some can go home and get it onto their computer and bring it to me on a USB. Some can Bluetooth. At the moment I am working with what they know. Were it earlier in the year this hotch potch approach would be totally unacceptable. For now I am looking at the success rate and staying with what each student can do. Each week the number is growing. The ones using their phones are totally absorbed and happy. The bling of technology is just as an effective means of engaging them in content and problem solving as the glitter and glo days of the nineties. Soon there will be a few students who can do all their work on their phone and that will be a big breakthrough. These phones are expensive and have a capacity to do a lot which we need to explore as partners in learning. It is great to see them being used as anywhere, any time learning devices.
Generation Touch is already here. We already have students who have grown up on touch screens and we have parents whose children are using touch devices at the age of one and two. You do not have to do much investigating to discover generation touch will engage easily with these devices at a very young age and find them very shiny. If you look further it is at the cognitive interaction level. They are touching and swiping and using gestures to fill in gaps, hear sounds , perform tasks at the automatic level of cognitive interaction as you would to turn on a switch , brush your teeth or run through a series of exercises. It means as teachers we need to get them onto the explicit interaction level to truly engage with these devices and use them as real learning and thought development tools. They may also be a step on the way to real technological interaction and engagement in much the same way many children’s and educational toys are. Just because it is a device doesn’t necessarily mean it is better than Lego , Meccano ,board games or computers in terms of child and brain development. We need to ensure these students are being as well educated as any generation before them and encouraged to think and develop their skills. Both the video and this article from Tech Cruch – Generation Touch will Redraw Consumer Technology give food for thought. As teachers we need to put our educational theories together with our new approaches and then look at what the outcomes are. We need to do that now or we shall have classrooms run by consumer tech and not educational tech and we shall have the marketing done by companies and media rather than educationally driven companies and educators. It is important for us to know the strengths and limitations of devices and then to know which devices fit into which areas of learning and thinking development.
What I like about this clip is that it teaches whoever is watching it that you cannot believe everything on the internet! Love that thought. It also teaches the viewer not to worry about that but to just find the work around and if you are providing information for internet readers and viewers, to provide something authentic and workable. For that reason , the clip is well worthwhile watching as a reminder to provide quality internet content and to just move on if you find dud information. Not even bother about it. These little Hallowe’en glow jars are simple and easy to make and maybe someone who is good at chemistry can work out why the other ones didn’t work. Younger children would need to be supervised as they made these glow jars but they are a fun thing to do for Hallowe’en or any other festive occasion or that matter. To build on this in class or at home there are plenty of Hallowe’en resources on the Teaching Ideas site which encompass multiple teaching and learning modes.
If you and your students are looking for free digital images then freedigitalphotos is worth a look. Some images are paid for certain uses but most are free to use in projects and websites provided the image creator is acknowledged. When you download the image there is no watermark. The site has categorized the images to enable faster searching.
I have survived the Windows 8.1 installation/upgrade/service pack one, even the gaudy bit at the end where the screen goes from green to purple to Schiaparelli pink to orange to red and lands on the dreaded purple start up screen. It took two hours from start to finish but I could work on my desktop computer as it downloaded files so it was really only the last half hour where it reboots and reboots and sets things up that I had to wait and watch. It is actually a very straight forward and self sufficient installation and did, in the end, restore all my settings. It changed the start screen from purple back to the green I had chosen. There does not seem to be a lot of difference at the moment but what were they thinking with those ginormous orange arrows that pop up in big black squares to tell you how to use charms and toggle between start and desktop? Surely , if you are installing 8.1 , you have already installed Windows 8 and know how to navigate it? Maybe not. Microsoft is either being over obviously helpful or does not suffer fools gladly. Using the corners of the screen is important on Windows 8. They have changed bottom right to a Windows logo so you quickly navigate between screen and desktop. There is no start menu because this is Windows 8 and the layout has changed. To get to Run you use Windows key R. To search it is Windows key S or use the top left had corner and do it from Charms. To find a file you can click on the down arrow on the start menu bottom right or you can type Windows key F or use the Charms bar. I am desperately hoping I can get rid of those massive orange arrows. It has added Food and Drink, Health and Fitness , Help Tips and Reading List tiles to my start screen. Must have thought I am somehow inadequate but I’ll investigate them. The food and health ones scroll pictures so they add to the visual appeal of the Metro start screen which I really do appreciate. So, at this stage , it has all been easy and my only need is to make those arrows vanish. I have not had to change , alter or manage a thing. The installation took care of everything.
If you saw Shift Happens about 3 years ago, then this is the updated version. Our world is now solidly connected and devices really are a part of it. It is not about transitioning. Technology should be well and truly embedded into classrooms and daily life. Amazing stats.
While I am deciding whether to do the Windows 8.1 upgrade I have been redesigning my Metro start screen. One of the things which isn’t obvious is that if it is not a Windows 8 app, you cannot change the size of the tile. Windows 8 start screen is really colourful and interesting to watch! I like the movement. It also tends to intuitively gather like app tiles together when you download them. I have resized the ones I can and just left the others as small tiles. I have also cleared away and unpinned the tiles I don’t need on my start screen. I tend to go to my desktop first and then to the start screen when I want my favourite programmes. I am using Win 8 on a desktop computer and not a device. As for the upgrade, there is a very good review of it here at Gizmodo. It needs about 10 to 15 GB of space to install and about an hour. That’s why I am thinking about it. I won’t have to pay for it but it is a massive update and I need to be sure it’s worth the time and effort since I really like how my Windows 8 computer is running and how it looks.
What do you do when the grand plan falls apart? You plan a lesson or a series of lessons which are reliant on technology and then…the iPlan goes to iPot. Like when you book a computer room and find the system has somehow made a double booking. 30 students are waiting in the corridor as you try to work it out. This time it worked out on your side but since there were no computer rooms available for next week to finish the task, then the resolution was still a work in progress. Last time, you gave way and let the other person take the room. So then you wander back to class 15 minutes into the lesson and then what? I usually patch that sort of thing up with a little video. A song or some interesting vocabulary practice. On the way back to class I think of plan B. Sometimes the iPads will save me. Other times they are not what I want. It is a matter of the right tool for the job. This time I renegotiated the home work expectation so what we were going to do in the computer room would be done at home. There – the wonderful flipped classroom solved it.
What then if you have 30 students who were presenting last term’s investigative study and you planned to use Apple TV? You get it out , plug it in and nothing. Not working. Later in the week you discover the access points were being changed over so it’s just a matter of patience and time but when you have 30 students sitting there and you can’t easily resolve something you have to resort to plan B. 30 students presenting from my desk plugging in and unplugging their laptops take quite a while whereas with the Apple TV it is practically instant and so you can be far more time efficient. Okay, so we did it the old way and then discovered one student’s screen went blue when she plugged in and then her whole computer froze when we disconnected. A reboot fixed that and then we tried it again and the screen went blue again. In the meantime I had asked another student to present so we wouldn’t be wasting time. So, for the other student, I got a USB stick and asked for the presentation files to be put on there. She had had the sense to export her iMovie to the desktop otherwise that would have been another step to take so we could transfer the files. She then ran her presentation from my MacBook and it all went well.
When your iPlan goes to iPot:
1. Have plan B
2. Keep talking and moving the conversation on to get to the resolution.
3. Always have a USB stick and an alternate presentation mode.
If you could have a technological innovation in your classroom, what would it be? I’ve decided I’d like the equivalent of SIMS thought bubbles. I’d love a little switch or scanner I could use so I could see thought bubbles pop out of the top of my students’ heads. It would make life so much easier if I could quickly see why they were not concentrating, why they are hyper, why they look like they are in shock, why they are all droopy. The SIMS also have moodlets so it would be good to know if the students were hungry or grumpy. Maybe the moodlets would be better. I don’t play Sims so I am not sure which I should plump for. I have seen the SIMS screen a million times when my daughter lived at home and I have had students who have used SIMS for their French to very great effect. We teach students from all sorts of backgrounds and family situations. We teach students who pop in from overseas or interstate and so a teacher has to adjust very quickly to new personalities and characters. It would make life so much easier if I could do a quick scan and see the issues at a glance. I know it would probably cut across privacy requirements but at the moment I am just putting my frivolous wish out there. They already have voice mood monitoring tools for phone calls. I just want a quick scan to see indicators of mood and issues.
So what would you recommend as the essential classroom apps? I’ll think about it and put my own post up on that soon, but TeachThought has come up with some teacher app essentials and then Inquiry Learning essential apps. If you need to get started then these apps are worthy of consideration. If you are already up and running with your iPad thinking and learning in education then you can look at them and see what you think. Are there any missing? Are there ones you prefer not to use? My year 9 students have certainly made excellent use of Google Earth for their latest presentations which were about discovering Quebec and presenting it in French and English. Those who had mastered the Google Earth tools came up with stunning but very informative presentations which had everyone looking and learning. Some apps just know how to be the best and some apps have ready appeal for students. Others are worth persevering with until you learn to get the best out of them. If you haven’t been to the TeachThought site before, I highly recommend it. It is very practical in its approach and always comes up with good resources and ideas for the classroom.
Finally solved the flash problem thanks to this video. If I am stuck I always search for a solution or go on YouTube and then, when I am desperate, I launch a query on Twitter. One way or another I solve the problem. So now what you can do is go to the free animated Powerpoint templates at Microsoft and insert the flash files as shown in the video. Ignore the instructions which come on the downloaded Powerpoint templates. It’s a lot simpler now I know how to do it in newer versions of Powerpoint and it means I can put the flash files wherever I want in the presentation. When you download the Powerpoint templates they come with two flash files and you need to put it all in one folder and then insert the files as you wish by following the easy steps in the video. It really will make Powerpoint presentations that little bit more interesting because we live in a visual world.
I am comfortable making animated presentations in Powerpoint and Keynote and so are my students. I have spent time developing the skills and then have shared them. Students are used to a moving screen and so when you want to get content across it works really well with something which is animated one way or the other. Not everyone wants to develop the skills but the world is becoming more and more visual. There are lots of things you can do as a teacher so that your students can be enticed into learning with a classy presentation. Obviously there are sites like Presenter Media which offer you subscriptions so you can download pre made animated templates. An example is here on YouTube. I’d want a try before you buy option with anything like that. I tried the Microsoft animated templates and so far I have not made the splash they advertised. More of a belly flop. I can enable nothing. I can change the settings on the developer tab and nothing. They might work in older versions of Powerpoint but newer versions appear to have an issue with Macromedia flash. Maybe Microsoft will put up templates which do work in the newer versions. Maybe not. You should not have to be tech savvy to get them to work. They are still nice templates, though. You can also get really nice templates here:
Free Powerpoint templates.
I have tried VisualBee, though, and have made such a cute presentation for my year 9s. You sign up to the site and ignore any messages about your username already being used. You then go to Powerpoint on your computer and open it. It works from there and you follow the instructions. Once you have chosen your template you save it to your computer. The VisualBee tab on your Powerpoint ribbon will then enhance your Powerpoint for you if you click on that and so a lot of the hard work is taken out of presenting. The basic free option gives you plenty to play around with and it’s a great new presenting tool.
There is a lot to be learned as a teacher from Matt’s video. It has had over 46 million views on YouTube and more than 260,000 likes. Obviously it is what people engage with very strongly. As teachers we are always talking about engagement. Matt went to 42 countries and took 14 months to make this video. Time and money were obviously not an issue, but it is an example of how students can reach for the stars in their work. Shakespeare often used to set his plays in Italy and Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days was highly acclaimed and well loved. We have always like to know we can be somewhere else meeting other people. We have always wanted to connect. In 3 minutes the video shows some of the most amazing places on the planet. Matt then is brave enough to do a little dance in each of these places and , more often than not, others join in and you know what? They are happy. They are glad to be together. So the recipe is simple – put some joy into lessons and let people connect as real people as they learn together. Give them hope and give them something achievable. Matt has made quite a few of these videos now which can all be found on YouTube.
I am going to get my pdf files organised and Adobe Digital Editions is the very thing since it has a Mac and a Windows version. It is free and designed to be used as an e-book reader and so it has the added advantage of my being able to create libraries for my pdf files. I can copy text by using Control- C and then paste it into other software if I need to. It is as easy as dragging and dropping the pdf files from my desktop or location to the Digital Edition. It’s only been out since at least 2011 so it’s about time I caught up! Digital Editions comes with its own pdf which you can read in the e-book interface and it has plenty of useful information to make the most of it, including keyboard shortcuts. There are also some sample books to download from the site.
Finally, some good clear advice about plagiarism in a format which will mean something to students! Pleasedontcheat is a fantastic site with videos, teacher tools, student tools and clear, well articulated information about plagiarism. In a copy-paste world where it is far too easy just to get “stuff” for assignments we can easily miss the point of teaching what is ethical, what is right, what is appropriate. There is software for checking plagiarism but as teachers of school age students then I think it is part of our ongoing duty of care to ensure our students are properly prepared to take a good place online and that we will work together to create good online habits and connections. The digital checking software then becomes an audit tool as part of that process if you need it. Digital citizenship has to be part and parcel of any lesson and this site has provided material which will help assist positive conversations. I have two useful approaches which have stopped plagiarism. Firstly, in a big class, I regularly set oral assessments and presentations. Nothing is more tedious to a group of 30 than hearing the same thing over and over and seeing the same thing over and over. What students will then do is start creating their own material in a far more original way and they will be very careful to acknowledge images and resources. They take a pride in it in the end! In smaller classes I work one on one with students and then you can talk them past the dependency phase. When students are not really sure what they are doing or if they leave themselves time poor then it becomes obvious as you work with them and you can scaffold them better which helps them find their own way and then become more absorbed in the work so that they then are prepared to give it the time it deserves. Plagiarism these days seems to be a factor of competing activities and diversions for study time. I am not sure whether there are current studies that put this together in an educational context, but I would imagine the advent of technology and then the lifestyle trend of always being busy would mean dedicated study time is something we are eroding. Conversations about plagiarism can be set comfortably into the whole context of prioritising and time management.
No technology can compete with the incredibly complex and über awesome supercomputer between our ears and between the ears of our students. Doesn’t even come close. Technology is a tool and it amounts to getting the right tool for the job and the right software for the occasion and letting the human brain spring into life both in the head of the teacher and in the head of the student. Technology can inspire and enhance activity and creativity. If you are working in collaboration with others then the spin offs can be endless. Scientists are collaborating across the globe to reverse engineer the human brain so they can create artificial intelligence but when you look at the power and capacity of the human brain and then the equivalent in terms of computing power, we have a long way to go and so much work to do. It does not stop us from accepting that challenge and scientists know that if they work collaboratively they will be harnessing all that human brain power in order to develop and progress computing power. The IBM project has attracted millions in funding and is looking at developing more intelligent computers for the business world. The site gives so many interesting links to follow up on this project and idea . The commitment from around the world is impressive. It is how we are going about learning , research and development these days. An even bigger project with 1.6 billion in funding is the 10 year human brain project which is looking at developing computers for neuromorphic computing and neurorobotics. They want to work out how the brain works and then design computer architecture around that. The video on the site is well worth viewing. In the mean time , value and enjoy the fact you are surrounded on a daily basis by the best living supercomputers and make the most of it.
Teachers need to use Twitter. It means you can have regular input from like minded people and from people who are involved in all sorts of areas. It broadens your knowledge and your thinking. I have access to a constant stream of professional input from all sorts of sources. New ideas, trends and processes come my way on a regular basis. I can use my own areas of expertise and knowledge to share ideas with others but I can help them too. A problem shared is a problem halved and people often go on Twitter to get technology help. I tweet my issues with devices and software and the same goes for others. An annoying block or difficulty can be quickly resolved – like my Samsung Galaxy Express stopping my Windows 7 laptop from accessing wifi. I just tweeted it. The fix was there by the next day. It means we are constantly helping and supporting each other but we are growing ideas and sharing inspiration too. It keeps you buoyant. You are never hunting for ideas nor blocked because you can’t think what to do. Another real advantage is you can combine with others to cover the content of meetings and conferences. This means that content is preserved so it can be utilised elsewhere in the real or virtual world. They are not separate. They run concurrently and what you do in the virtual world can be of real help in the real world. Twitter facilitates all of that integration of the real and virtual worlds and so takes away the burden of trying to battle it out alone in the classroom day in day out. Teaching can extend into virtual world and make some valuable, viable connections and impact. Those then can be used to grow your real world.
Image thanks to @creigthomas
Were it not for my PLN on Twitter I would not have known Apple puts out a free app a day which, after that, you have to pay for. They are beautiful apps and well worth having. Recently I got the one of the Louvre HD because it came up on my Twitter feed. I have known about the free apps for a while but I don’t always remember to go and have a look. This post is by way of reminding myself to take advantage of these offers. So many really good ones come up for classroom use. As for the one on the Louvre, it is now back to 99 cents and still worth it. It brings you some of the most amazing paintings in the world in HD. If you use your iDevice you will also see there are so many amazing art apps for you to have. Some are free and some are paid. I also got ones on Cézanne and Monet since I do French art as part of my year 11 French course. The world really is at your fingertips.
Project Noah makes great use of mobile technology and is well suited to upper primary, junior secondary students. It is an app which is designed to help them discover their local environment. There are awards to be earned and an opportunity to see how others who belong to the project are doing. The app is colourful and clear. Students can help identify finds but also discover things as well. They can participate in challenges and generally learn how to share information online and then see what can be done with that information. They can see that by collaborating and taking on challenges they can contribute to research and a wide body of global knowledge. The app is free and ran really well on my iPad but it would suit a smart phone easily and so contribute to making good use of those expensive pocket devices. Great believer in developing ideas and challenges for mobile technology so that students have better options for use.
It’s Google Drive, remember? Google Docs had a name change and makeover this year so even if this little video calls it Google Docs, it is now Google Drive and the video was made before said name change. Google Drive can be used to make assessment rubrics and all sorts of things useful for class. I have to thank the EdCampSC September 7th Storify for reminding me about this. We had started to look at it at school in our training and then the idea got lost in all the other things I had to think about as a teacher. The EdCamp Storify had a link to creating a self-grading rubric. I couldn’t get the video to play properly. It stopped about 3 minutes into it so then I went looking for another. The one I have chosen is shorter so there is not as much information. I also found some really good Google form templates by Kern Kelly which you can load straight into Google Drive. They might suit your purposes once you understand what you can do with Google forms.
500 words into the future is a ZNET blog by Simon Bisson and Mary Branscombe. They do a lot to demystify technology in the real world of hi tech because they both write authentic posts about what they are actually thinking and doing as high tech people. It might be as practical decorating the Surface tablet as well as working out how to keep it from slipping off your lap if you have short legs to looking at what the market is and could be doing and then, the sorts of real life situations which occur requiring hi tech input and thinking. Digitising the undigitisable one page at a time is a post that meant a lot to me as a teacher. I was looking at how this person with a lot of technical knowledge was solving a critical paramedic problem so that ambulance staff could manage the onboard assessment of patients and thereby give the patients a better chance of correct treatment as soon as they got to hospital. This is the stuff life is made of and the sort of thing students need to realise . It’s TeFL Domain 4 – Connecting their learning with the real world. After a couple of minutes of reading you can see how important technology, problem solving, logical thinking, collaboration, communication, literacy and networking are. You can read any of the posts on this blog and come to a realisation of how important technology is in the world and when the information is taking you 500 words at a time into the future then you can feel as you read it that you belong there. These two make technology very accessible but also very authentic.
You have choices! You can outsource your curating and aggregation to things like Flipboard and Zite or you can do it yourself with things like Pinterest and Springpad but aggregate and curate you must because we live in a world that is churning through information and where the technology changes are coming rapidly. Building a habit of curating and aggregating information means you always have new ideas and trends coming your way which keep you current. As a classroom teacher you need to stay current. Our technological society is developing at a rapid rate now in the same way we did after the industrial era start up. We just have to keep moving. Resistance is useless because we need to be able to observe and manage the changes. We are teachers. We have sound critical skills and we know how to be discerning and can then influence sound aggregation and curation choices. So, outsource or DIY? I say both. Zite is one of the newest, trendiest aggregators which will bring you news and information from all sorts of interest areas. It is up to you to decide what you are interested in and then Zite will aggregate it for you in a very user friendly way. It is well suited to tablet use but in no way dilutes the content. Springpad is more like Pinterest or Livebinders. You can find things of interest on the web and store them in your note books and share them. Like Zite, it is very tablet friendly. You are working on your own resources but are automatically part of a sharing community. You can follow other people’s notebooks and benefit from their curation. Your research can grow exponentially. As a teacher you are probably familiar with Evernote and if you are not, it is well worth investigating. Evernote is not the same but it does serve the purpose of saving and curating information. it can serve a bigger educational purpose which is explained well here at lifehacker. There are all sorts of curation and aggregation apps to suit your needs but Flipboard, Pinterest, Zite ,Livebinders and now Springpad are the most widely known and used and so will help bring you the most information and choices.
It isn’t obvious how to shut Windows 8 down. If you go back to the start screen you can do it through your icon top left. I shut Windows 8 down with alt F4 which shuts down open windows and then brings you to the shutdown screen. I have now made myself a shutdown icon which makes it simpler and I could add how long it takes to shut down too.
1. Right click anywhere on the desktop and choose New and then Shortcut.
2. Call it shutdown – or anything you like.
3. Right click on the icon and choose Properties.
4. In other versions of Windows you use the – to delineate parameters. In Windows 8 you use /
5. /s means shutdown and it has a 30 second default setting. /c brings you to a personalised shutdown screen. I have typed /c “A+” because A+ means see you later in French. You could type /c “Bye”. You have to have the speech marks. If you don’t want the shutdown screen, leave the /c out. If you want to add the time it takes you write /t 40 where the 40 specifies a 40 second shutdown.
6. To change the icon, right click on the shutdown icon and in the middle of the window which comes up you see Change icon. Click on that and select away.
7. Don’t forget to click apply to set your changes.
8. You now have a quick shutdown icon!
We have just been generously given new iPad 4s to use in class as part of our revamped technology offerings for 2014. I have brought mine home to set up and it is taking a while. I found out the new iPad 4 is concurrently loading my apps from my iTunes account AND updating the iOS. That is service, but I have a lot of apps and the iOS takes a while to upgrade. There was a difference in the purchases screen about 5 minutes after I had connected the iPad to my MacBook. Much better. It sets itself up as pages and that makes it easier to manage. I am so glad I had my apps backed up to the cloud from my own iPad 2. Made the whole process painless. The iPad 4 has a micro connection to the iPad so I will be using the Apple TV to connect to my whiteboard. I have a wired vga connector for my iPad 2. That’s okay. Keep moving. I have Siri turned off until I check out the issues which appear to be with it at the moment and I am not quite sure what they are for iOS7 because I haven’t had it before. I couldn’t set the time until I put the location on. Location is under Privacy. I do not automatically allow my devices to broadcast my location. Once I turned the location on it set the time and then I turned location off again. Now curious to see if the time will stay in place after I turn the iPad off and back on again. I have a minute for the iOS 7 update to complete and quite a while to go to get my apps installed. Our technicians had thoughtfully put in a “how to sheet” with the new iPads. I just had to check I was running iTunes 11, which I was , and it has been very straight forward. Now I have to wait to see what the new iOS looks like!!
Image : Apple TV
I have had Apple TV in my classroom for about a month now. I lock the device in my filing cabinet because it is very small. Great for classroom design to have such a powerful gadget in such a small package but easily misplaced because it is small. I simply select my room and then am on the Apple TV on the whiteboard screen which mirrors my MacBook or my iPad. The MacBook picture is much smaller than my IBW but it hasn’t really been a problem if I can think ahead as to what I am going to do. I still want a wired connection so I can use the interactive part of my board and then a bigger picture if I need it. In time the picture size will be resolved and given iPads have a lot of good whiteboard equivalent apps I probably won’t need my IBW – just a decent screen or wall space. I use a stylus on my iPad and the students really love that so I can’t see shifting boards/display areas as a problem to be overcome once the screen size is rectified. The Apple TV picture has stronger and clearer colours and better definition so there are plenty of things you can display on this smaller size. It came into its own when my big year 9 class had to do their presentations. Normally we go through the process of around 30 students getting up from their seats and connecting to the board and then sitting down again. That is all time. With the Apple TV they could connect from their desks and show their presentations and it created quite a happy buzz as the students showed each other how to connect and then could see their own presentation as they presented. It is usually behind them and we can see it but they are looking at their laptop. It meant the next time we presented we had even more spectacular and carefully created presentations. The visual feedback had helped their learning and it was noticeable. The second time the Apple TV was worth its weight in gold was when my year 12 had to do their 5 minute French orals for the final assessment. This is a nerve wracking event. Students are running on adrenalin and have prepared themselves so well it means anything which can help is a bonus. The Apple TV turned out to be the fairy Godmother of the event. The students could sit at their desks surrounded by their little coaching team who were going to ask the questions at the end. It also meant they had something routine to do to take the nerves away – they had to organise their presentations on the Apple TV because they had never done it before. The wonder in their eyes when they saw their presentations was priceless. They instantly got rewarded for hours of careful preparation which was going to support the oral presentation. I can also use the Apple TV to get some of my younger students to show how they are gathering their information for learning. I can choose students and ask them if they would mind if we looked at what they were doing. They love going on the Apple TV so then I have their work on my board and we are all learning from each other. If students have an Apple device then it means you can create a far more interactive, connected approach via the Apple TV. I have not had any of the issues reported like poor connection but I have had sound issues on some files and that might be more to do with the speakers I have rather than the device. Some sound is very distorted and in a language classroom that is not good. Doesn’t happen a lot , thankfully. One thing which is better and ought not to be is my connection to the web is better. I can get onto the websites faster than if I have my Macbook connected to my board via a hard wired connection. Doesn’t make sense but it works! Two sites which can give you some more teacher experience of Apple TV are: