My MacBook is a mini-drive murderer

MacBook I have been thinking of renaming my MacBook Highlander. Harsh, you say? I am up to my third portable drive with this MacBook. The one I got for my Windows desktop is still going. So what is the problem? No idea. I have been trying to resolve it for 2 years. It all started with my white MacBook. That was running on Snow Leopard which did a sizeable upgrade and then -bang – my WD portable drive was no longer readable, couldn’t be found in Disk Utility, could not be resurrected by the technicians and the shop gave me a new Toshiba one to replace it because it was still under warranty. All my Time Machine back ups gone, all my saved files gone. Was it the drive or the Snow Leopard update? I then backed my MacBook up to my new portable Toshiba drive and things fell apart again when we upgraded to the MacBook Pros. I was setting my new MacBook Pro up it at home, had connected my drive at the designated prompt on the screen and nothing. I sat there waiting. Nothing. So I had to bypass that part and set my MacBook up without the back up…which then meant a restoration and repair with the help of technicians when I got back to school. In the meantime I worked out my Toshiba would only be read by my MacBook Pro if I plugged it into my USB hub. With the hub it was fine and worked well. I just couldn’t plug it directly into the USB port on my MacBook. It went well for 6 months and then I plugged it in and nothing. I could see it in Disk Utility but the MacBook could not mount the partitions. I took it home. Nothing on Windows but on my Linux laptop I could read it. I shifted the files to there but the Time Machine backups were not going to go anywhere. I reformatted the drive on my MacBook and started again. All went well and then…same story. So I have been shifting files onto my Linux laptop to preserve them but have had no functional Time Machine back up because the drive just stops being recognised unless I reformat it. Defeats the purpose of a back up , don’t you think? Now my Toshiba portable drive is sitting waiting for me to do something with it. Not a lot at the moment. I now have a Seagate portable drive. How much is this MacBook nonsense costing me? The Seagate advertised itself as MacBook compatible. If it survives Highlander it will be an invincible hero. I plugged it in to the port and it worked straight away. That gave me hope. It loaded the MacBook software easily. Still hoping .It has backed up my MacBook. Early days yet. Fingers crossed. Ever hopeful. I am not the only one to suffer the demise of my portable drives on a MacBook. There is plenty to read on the Net about it. This is not me having an isolated issue. Apple needs to get onto it.

Oh, for a truly interactive whiteboard

boardIt’s 2014, so here’s a challenge for the developers. I want a really interactive whiteboard. I want a split screen! I want an app which can divide the screen so I can have videos, presentations, images, sound files and then my own teaching component set to go. Not much to ask! There could even be a spot to put up documents and text files. Why not I say. 2014. There has not been an upgrade in IBW world for years.

Egg gadget


Since it is Easter week, I thought you might like to look at this failed egg gadget. Pity,  because I am certain it would be popular and something people would want just because it is rolly, kinetic and cute. It was put out by Sony in 2007 as an MP3 player. Now you get it. No one wants just an MP3 player. They want a gizmo that does all sorts of things or they want a Nano, Shuffle or something small and unobtrusive for when they are cycling or walking. Apple has more or less sewn up the MP3 player market with its iPod and then everyone’s phone plays music too…so it was a case of a genius idea got squashed because of these wonderful market forces we are always subject to. I’d like you to see the Rolly , though, because it’s kind of like a tech-pet. The cuteness factor brings out feelings of goodwill towards it. Enjoy the clip.

Take a Google Earth Flight

Google Earth flight simulatorYou need your 3D glasses, your armchair and a downloaded version of Google Earth. Windows 8 does not have an app in the app store. Once you have installed the Google Earth app onto your desktop, you go to Tools in the menu bar and click on the flight simulator. Choose your plane and start destination. The app will then come up with a tour guide bottom left and the images will be shown across the screen. Quite fun, really. Check out the rest of Google Earth because there is a lot more on offer than the flight simulator. I tried turning off the 3D but it doesn’t seem to want to co operate. I am not a fan of special 3D effects. That is what real life is for.

Smart contact lens for diabetics

Google contact lensesIt is not the role of this blog at look at advances in medical technology but from time to time I do like to look at how our world is changing in a good way because of technology. I have students and friends who are diabetics and for some of them monitoring blood glucose levels is a painful chore and for teenagers it can be something they become very sensitive about in my experience. Google is working on developing smart contact lenses which will do the glucose monitoring for the wearer. What a breakthrough. You can read about it in this article because they are not really that far away. As you read you’ll also see there are some other interesting developments coming along nicely which will help us manage our health better.

Transfer photos from iPad to computer

I don’t know how many times I have shown others how to transfer videos and photos from an iPad to a computer. I often do it in class so I can share student work with the class or because students want a copy and they don’t know how to do it.  It is not obvious. I use a file transfer app but the way this video shows you is very easy if you worry about how you are going to do things with technology. If you want to transfer the iPad photos to a Windows computer the instructions are here. It is important to be able to do this because videos and images take up a lot of room on the iPad. You don’t have to want to be put in the position of deleting them if you don’t know how to transfer the images elsewhere. You can also upload them online to places like Facebook or Flickr or cloud storage like DropBox.

Communicate learning in multiple modes

Year 8 iPad lesson Not every lesson falls into place like this one but more and more of them are because I have worked on this over 3 years. You can really use technology to build on student understanding and the iPads make it quick and easy to access files and information. When you are dealing with TeFL 4.4 you need to be able to communicate learning in multiple modes. I was looking at my board this morning and I didn’t think of TeFL, I thought – this looks so different from how I have taught before. As you personalise and connect learning for TeFL Domain 4 and you are using technology, it can look quite astounding. I had my timer out because I have to keep my year 8s focussed. They are millennials and with iPads they will drift off into play mode – “I think I’ll just do this for a minute.” They are unhurried students with no sense of urgency and a device will tune them out completely from what is going on around them unless you focus them. My timer does that. So does my voice. While I was connecting my MacBook to the whiteboard at the beginning of the lesson I had them chanting the verb Venir – to come. I was still connecting so we started conjugating Je viens de manger une pomme – I have just eaten an apple. Tu viens de manger une pomme – you have just eaten an apple. They were saying it quite well even though they were not totally sure of what they were saying. Great effort from year 8s with a term of French. I went to my slide presentation after I had called the roll. Bottom left of the picture you can see it. We were practising the verb now as we looked at it. Last week we had gone through it. Today we were going to master it. I got out the work sheet, right, we had used last week to produce pictures and sentences like other image featured aimer We practised everything on that sheet. They could say it all and they knew what it meant. So then we went back to the verb venir I taught them how to construct the sentences – Je viens de manger une pomme. I gave them 10 minutes to make 5 sentences using what we had learnt last week on the worksheet. If they finished early they could use the time on our vocabulary learning site and they love that. Two students headed straight for a translator. Why? They couldn’t make the connection what we were learning was what we were now practising. The translator came up with rubbish. It’s why I practise sentence construction like this. I know the translator will let them down. Once more I could tell them not to use a translator because it would only write nonsense for them. By teaching them in different ways myself and getting them to make good use of their iPads and previous work, I actually had a really good lesson. They will remember it. We’ll then make some more picture sentences because they love doing that. It is how they learn…listening, looking and doing.

Print from iDevice via Windows

I haven’t tried this yet. I shall in my upcoming holidays.I am writing the blog post so it’s a reminder to get onto it. I print very little. I am saving the planet. There are times when I have to print because I need a hard copy of a document or letters for my older relatives overseas. They don’t use computers or tablets. While I am writing this reminder for my own learning I’ll remind you not to forget those older relatives. My neighbour was laughing because her 93 year old auntie got an iPad for Christmas and loves it. She is now sending emails to everyone and is overjoyed because now she has easy contact with her family again. Anytime, anywhere learning! It applies to everyone.

Exhausted iPad

safari“Mrs. Woods, my iPad’s exhausted,” was what was called out to me in my Year 8 class today. “Mrs. Woods, my iPad’s exhausted and I can’t upload my work.”

“What do you mean it is exhausted? Do you mean it has no battery life left?”
” No, it’s exhausted. I have a message which says it’s exhausted.”

Yes, indeed there was a message which probably meant there was a time out. The iPad was rebooted and all was well with the world.

Why would you have any other job?

Self assessment tool – aitsl

areas for development Is it me or is it them? I used aitsl’s self assessment tool  online last year and I have used it again this year. Both times I have found the questions a bit odd, both times I have come up with results I find odd and both times I have to wonder if their self assessment tool needs a bit of tweaking or whether I do. What I can safely say , though, is the results I get lead to some good thinking on my part and to some good discussions with colleagues. Last year I did it as part of my first professional conversation for the year. No matter what I think I have to confess it’s a good way to get started on an appraisal of my performance. The site itself provides a lot of questions to answer. My problem is I hold classroom teaching as far more important than any other thing in a school. I have dedicated my life to creating an effective classroom and technology has made it even more effective. I don’t think I am a better  classroom teacher because I have a leadership position or aspire to one. I am a better teacher if I look at who I have in a classroom, analyse what I am expected to accomplish with them and then think carefully about how I shall deliver that so students feel like they are genuinely involved in learning and improving their capacity to learn. This year I shall look at what have come up as my weaknesses and discuss them in a trilogy of SAT posts. On the SAT site you can go back through the questions to see what you have answered and you can also put in what you would use as evidence that you have met the criteria. It is a very effective tool if you are going to have some serious discussions about who you are as a teacher and what makes you strong.

The first section I am dealing with is:

Professional Knowledge

Teachers draw on a body of professional knowledge and research
to respond to the needs of all of their students. They know the
content of their subjects as well as what constitutes effective,
developmentally appropriate strategies in their learning and
teaching programs. In all subjects teachers develop students’
literacy and numeracy and use ICT to contextualise and expand
their students’ modes and breadth of learning.

My first weakness is :

1.5 G Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of
strategies for differentiating teaching to meet the
specific learning needs of students across the full
range of abilities.

This confounds me as it did last year. It is something I have discussed on this blog, which I focus on my other blog and something which has always been considered one of my strengths. I do look at who I teach and how I can effectively get them to learn. This blog has focussed on how I can use technology to improve that delivery and learning and how I include feedback from students as a means to enabling even more effective strategies in class. I partner with them so I can get the best out of them no matter who they are. I have also pioneered courses for vision impaired students and, at the time, that was also technology which helped them to achieve in a mainstream classroom. I need to go back through the questions to see what I am doing to come up with a weakness which is actually my strength. This is why the SAT tool is useful. Perspective is something which is essential to good performance. As a teacher you need to be very clear about what you are or are not achieving.

My second weakness in the area of professional knowledge is:

2.3 L Lead colleagues to develop learning and teaching
programs using contemporary knowledge and
understanding of curriculum, assessment and
reporting requirements

I have done a lot to help colleagues interpret technology in an educational sense and context. I even gave a talk at the ANU about it based on how we can better deliver our content using technology. I don’t see myself as a leader. I see myself as someone who does things and then shares them so I can then get feedback to improve what I am doing. I have explained that in the post Personalise and connect their learning. Assessment and how to assess is something we often discuss in our office. I have also discussed it on my blogs and explained how I go about that because I am very interested in and committed to the South Australian TeFL. I have also been working on how to to interpret the new ACARA curriculum and criteria for Languages and Personal and Social Capability. I have unpacked the elements for both groups so they are in a workable format. Reporting I cannot lead in. It is determined by the school or the examinations board. What I have impacted with are the assessment sheets and assignments I do for the senior students. They have been valued outside of my classroom. leading colleagues is not as important as leading myself and then sharing what I learn. If that then helps others then that is what I believe I should be doing as a teacher.

As you can see, if you work with the SAT tool you have something concrete on which to pin your thoughts and decisions. The report which is generated by the SAT tool gives you plenty to discuss and think about.

Capitalise on visual learning

iPad guideI saw the Creating and iPad Workflow for teachers, students and parents from TeachThought on my Facebook feed this morning. I use Facebook and Twitter to engage with sites which are likely to inspire me and bring me information I can use. The feeds do a lot of the hard work for me. When I saw the infographic, it’s not only very interesting and helpful, it immediately had me looking and learning. I then followed the link to IPAD 4 SCHOOLS and found a wealth of infographics and guides which were also teaching tools at the same time. These iPad inspired infographics are a new way of sharing good information. They can demonstrate leads, lessons, tools, tricks, tips. They can be displayed as posters, electronic images, embedded in websites, newsletters, homework assignments, lesson tasks. Teaching-Learning infographics have a multitude of uses and the iPad is where you can create them.

The Future of Learning

The Future of Learning This is an infographic from KnowledgeWorks and you can download your own copy from their site. KnowledgeWorks  looks specifically at the  connection between education and technology and how it can be delivered effectively at the school level. In the News Room you can find their World of Learning blog. I found the infographic and it is something worth sharing because it puts into a manageable form the sorts of things we should probably be discussing and looking at. As an infographic the attention is automatically created so the conversations can and will start. Just talking about where learning could, will and might occur is a conversation which would go a long way. Do we want schools to be as they are? Change? Do we want to access students 24/7? Do we want students there all day or could we create different sorts of days because we have technology? Lots to discuss about the future of learning. Whose learning will it be, anyway?

Australia is massive

Australia is bigThe one thing the internet does very well is give you visual feedback which is mindboggling. The capacity of the internet to deliver information in a visual form which will really make you think is astounding. As Australians, one of the things we find hard to explain is just how big Australia is. People don’t get it. These 17 maps put Australia into perspective for the rest of the world but even Australians will get a clear vision of just how big Australia is and will be able to explain it better. Buzzfeed is where you can look at 17 maps of Australia which will give you a clear idea of how massive Australia is. I love map 17.

Let them do nothing

nothingImage via Nae’s Nest

For me it is a simple choice. My primary objective in a classroom is to teach French. If I can use technology to create an effective learning landscape I can and I will and I believe it really enhances and facilitates learning. I also believe it is essential to effective teaching in 2014. When solving a problem I put my primary objective first and then work in the technology. Getting my year 8s who have iPads to deliver assessment pieces to me has been an interesting challenge. We can connect to the board and I can assess work that way but it’s time consuming. I can assess work loaded up onto the learner management system we have but they can only upload image files so that limits what I can assess that way. They can bring their work to me on their iPads and I can see it on their iPads. That works well. It is one to one and they love doing it and they learn a lot. It is also time consuming. We have a project they need to get to me by the beginning of term and it was looking like it would come into me in various ways so I said we needed a plan and we would need to be more or less doing the same thing or it would get too tricky for me. It came down to OwnCloud and USBs as far as they were concerned. Our school has offered us the option of using OwnCloud this year.This is their first major project so I want the delivery to be easy for them. We had a vote. The OwnCloud option won by 3 votes so the decision was more or less split down the middle. I have set OwnCloud up on my iPad and just have to send out the invitations. My plan is to get as many of them as possible to deliver their work that way but give them the easy fall back position they seem to want of putting it on a USB and bringing it to me. This takes the pressure off. The Australian School of Business has run an article about some research from Georgia State University where giving people the option of doing nothing will actually create the possibility of getting them to do what you had in mind. This is my plan. I am hoping by having the acceptable soft option in place I’ll actually be able to get most students to upload their work to OwnCloud because I’ll be sending the invitation with the link which ought to make it easier for those who aren’t feeling safe and secure with this option. What the nothing option offers is an opportunity to feel confident you can complete the essential task without feeling threatened. That’s important with technology. People need to learn in their own way and in their own time but you can make it easier for them in different ways.

Personalise and connect their learning

TeFL 4.3When I wrote the post Teach to their needs I discussed how I could approach students and create a lesson where they felt they were stupid, didn’t know anything and were inadequate. As a teacher you hold success or failure in your lesson planning and approach. My students could see they had quite an important learning gap but we spoke about how I had picked that gap and used it to make them look like they were incompetent. I had come back the next lesson and done something even harder and showed them they knew much more than they thought. On both occasions they had to blog about it and the feedback I got showed me they had understood what I was trying to show them and had realised their learning was also their responsibility and that feeling successful was how I could connect them to their learning. When you create lessons you are creating content for who you are teaching NOW. They may be year 11s but they are your 2014 year 11s. Their lessons need to provide what they need to feel successful. You create the content and you think about how you are going to share it with them. You then get their feedback and you work out how that will then be grown and changed into newer and better knowledge. I am following the same principle now. I am creating content for this post. I have used a four square graphic organiser from Teach-Nology because I want my content to be clear and accessible. I want the messages to stand out. I have shown Teachn-Nology by putting up their graphic organiser and sharing it they are now getting feedback from me as to how it can be used in practice. My post is published and I will get more feedback here, on Twitter, at school. That will then put this post into a new light and a new perspective for me. It will grow my post into something new. My thinking, creativity and knowledge don’t stop because I have “done” something. It’s the 21st Century. I have to keep moving!

1. Create content
2. Share content
3. Get feedback
4. Grow content

You have to grow to blossom.

QV06 menace

QV06 This is a Windows problem. Linux and Apple don’t seem to suffer from these opportuntistic, vile downloads. QV06 is a nasty virus-like acquisition which you can unwittingly download. Not exactly sure how I got it but probably the freeware I downloaded last weekend. Freeware will often come with extras you don’t want but they are often programmes which are helping to support the freeware site. At no stage did I see QV06 nor was it offered as a download option like reputable extras. QV06 is not readily identified as malware by malware search software. You know you have it. It sets itself up on any browser as the homepage and takes you to that site. If you try and remove it as the home page, it just puts itself back. I did the obvious and removed it from my computer and went into my registry and took out the files which seemed to be associated with it. It is invasive. It still loaded. It was slowing my browsers and stopping me some doing some of the things I wanted to do, most notably with Flash files. I did a search on it and it is very well known! Not surprised. Nothing suggested worked since I had thought I had removed the files. My cleaners couldn’t seem to identify it as malware. Wonder why because they do a great job with everything else? My solution was to download a free Adware removal programme. That fixed the problem and got rid of the QV06 files. Now, once a week , I’ll be back to running an Adware programme. I always used to and then the new cleaners seemed to be able to catch everything. Not any more! Can’t believe how fast my browsers are running again

Teach to their needs

interactive oral This is flipchart two of my oral lesson with the senior students. The first page had images of the sun, gamma rays, what sunbeams were in French and a scientific diagram about the sun’s UV rays etc. I can just slide images onto the blank canvas of the Promethean board and talk as I explain or explain as I talk. Promoting and encouraging visual literacy as a means of increasing vocabulary and expression is working well for me . I wanted to explain the French word “beaming” – rayonnant. It meant the students were learning other words as I explained that and could see by the end of two boards of pictures and drawings that they actually knew a lot, had learnt a lot and could say a lot. By contrast, yesterday, I made them go on Google Maps and show me where they came from and where they were living. Even though I gave an example of that myself it wasn’t enough to properly support them. I have to TEACH them expression and vocabulary Role modelling it and using the interactive board makes that whole aspect of teaching and learning a language and expression so much more dynamic.

Organise yourself with your iPad

iTeach PadI wish! I still cannot find what I am looking for. I want a way to organise my apps so I can connect them properly to my lessons, topics and teaching routine. With my MacBook I have gone through changes. I initially had files in year levels, then I had them in year levels and units and now I have them in year levels but organise the work in each term and within that I organise my resources in topics. Works much better that way because if I want to shift files I just move them from one term to another rather than going through rearranging topics and year levels. When it comes to iPad apps I have had no genius idea for organising my apps so I can connect them to a topic , year level or term. It relies on my memory at this stage or sorting through what I have to find the right app for the occasion. There isn’t an app for it either! Most disappointing. What I have found, though, are some fantastic resources for teachers on the iPad. iTeach Pad has had some sound reviews around the place and even though it’s a paid app it may well be worth my while to invest in it since it has so many helpful facets. It has gone through a consultation process which would be the best way to build apps for the classroom. The iOrganised post on the Reflections of a Passionate Educator blog gives some very sound and helpful ideas for how to put an iPad to practical use in a classroom. There are then the Top 20 iPad apps for teachers on the TeachTechTopia site. All of those things are really wonderful but I need a way of filing my apps so they connect with year levels and topics.

Get them organised with the Apimac Timer

apimacMy last post on the 5 classroom uses for the Apimac Timer is still one of my top posts by a long shot. My Apimac Timer is always in use and I find it really handy as a tool for timing talks ,speeches and presentations. It is important to stay on time and not to take up excess with the sound of my own voice more than necessary so the Apimac timer has taught me to be disciplined when I speak/teach or prepare a presentation. In class this year it has been used for the senior students to give them a specific amount of time to do a piece of writing or prepare an oral. It means they are focused on productivity. For this reason I use it a lot with my year 8s because they don’t have a sense of urgency so I am trying to give them a sense of organisation by using the timer. By contrast, my year 9s are very good at being organised so I use the timer to give them a certain amount of time to be ready for a presentation.

With the year 8s I use the timer:

1.To give them time to find a partner

2.To give them time to organise the apps and materials they need for the next part of the lesson

3.To give them time to record an oral (or they’d take all day!)

4.To give them time to prepare some ideas and resources

5.To give them time to upload something onto the LMS

6.To give them time to photograph what’s on the board and turn it into a better version

7.To give them time to practise for an oral

8. To give them a little in class break if we have been working hard

9. To go on our vocabulary learning software to have a practice

10. To give them time to practise what we have just learned and come up with their own versions

The year 8s love the timer. They love seeing how much time they have left and if I use the timer they invariably finish the task before the time goes off and sit their really pleased. They also know I have been rewarding their efficiency by having extra time on their vocabulary learning apps and they love those. Older students just appreciate having a countdown in front of them which they can consult as needed. It helps them manage their allocated time better and somehow makes them feel they are in control.

iPad Tips – new users

JRESHOW goes pretty fast on this video but the good news is you can stop and backtrack. This is where video clips can be really helpful. He shows 16 tips for the iPad and you probably know most of them but a lot of people don’t know or can’t use the Emoji keyboard which is a bit of fun and adds a light hearted visual element to any text. If you want a video to specifically show you how to use the emoji keyboard on iPhone or iPad 5 then use this one by PhoneBuff. JRESHOW’s video is a good way to check whether you have mastered the key competences of your iPad!

Shhhh! We are consolidating!

Short, sweet and to the point but when you arrive at the end of the video you can click on follow up options. This is what we are trying to do at the moment in education. We have had lift off with technology in the classroom. Most teachers have been though a J learning curve to implement technology into the classroom and most now have their niche and their strengths. The video highlights the big picture. We have to keep our eye on the ball . We also need time to slow down a bit and consolidate . The model for  this consolidation is exactly what is at the end of the video. We have a way of doing things now. We have chosen different paths because there are choices with technology. We have common ground and then we have the things we are really good at and not so good at. We need to get real confidence with what we are doing but we cannot stop and sink into a rut. Change is rapid and new technology is very soon old technology. New communication is very soon old communication. In order to stay in control we need to make sure we really feel comfortable with the skills and devices we have but we need to have options which will build on what we have currently learnt so we keep moving forward but in a considered way. We can transfer skills , we can learn new skills, we can pick up a new device and explore its educational possibilities but we need to stick with what suits us best and the things we are confident with. We are teachers. We need the vision but we need those consolidation times too. It’s learning for effective teaching which is paramount right now.

ORID feedback gets thumbs up

thumbs-upThe ORID feedback format I blogged about the other day surpassed my expectations with what actually came back as feedback. We finished seeing the presentations about ourselves in French which we had created on our new MacBooks in Year 9. We had learned how to present ourselves, we had tried our best to learn how to make Powerpoint, KeyNote and iMovies. This was the first big assignment on our MacBooks. I wanted to get the class to decide as a whole what WE could focus on to make our presentations better next time. We used the ORID format on Twiducate for the responses and students warmed to that immediately. We then used that feedback to come up with the top 5 learning gaps we needed to fill. Here are some examples of how the feedbck went so you can see how specific it is:

O: I really liked each presentation that had music. I liked them because each song was different and it made it easier to focus on the presentations with music. I remember the photos/pictures being really effective. R+: I think Anna’s presentation was really good because of the effects she used with the writing. I liked Sarah’s presentation because she made a movie, and she used videos in her presentation. I also liked the presentations that had effects because it was more entertaining then just watching the same thing over and over. I also liked that everyone’s presentation was really different.It showed that we are all creative in different ways. R-: I found it was harder to concentrate on the presentations that didn’t have music than the presentations with music. I found that some presentations were very similar to others which made it somewhat harder to focus after 3 or 4 people. I: Headline: Learning about our classmates. Making this presentation has helped me with my French and I have learnt more about everyone in the class. D: I would ask for help with putting music on the slideshow and I would motivate myself to use my time better.

1.O~ the presentations were very different , some of the music didn’t work in people’s presentations but they were all unique and special. The French music was exquisite and had the slides were colourful and bright. 2.R+~ i liked it how people used different programs like: keynote, powerpoint and imovie. Also how different people are in this class and how we got to see what they like doing and also about their family. 3.R-~ some bad things about the presentations were that people were not prepared and some people’s slides were hard to read and some pictures were blurry. Also the music didn’t work for some 4.I- I have learnt about what people like doing and also how to use imovie and powerpoint and what special effects they offer. I enjoyed the presentations very much and got to see how creative people are in this class. It was great fun and I am very keen and excited to see what everyone’s Paris presentations are going o be like! 5.D- I think our class could improve their presentation by being more creative and being more organised plus learning maybe how to use keynote, powerpoint and imovie better to make our Paris project AMAZING!!!!!

O All the presentations had colourful images, original text designs and each were very visually appealing. R+ The positive things about the assignment were how each person took the assignment in a different direction, and how we were able to book in, giving us further commitment. R- The negative things about the assignment were the lack of music on many presentations (due mostly to not understanding how to add music) and how some designs were very plain, simple and boring. I The presentations were high-quality and were extremely good. I learned how to use some basic introductory lines in French, which will help me in the future if I decide to visit France. D Next time I will make sure to get the information and music done in alternating times, to make time for asking questions about things I may not understand how to use (music).

ORID encourages detailed feedback , as you can see. It means you and your students are able to hone in better on what needs to be changed or embellished. Once the students had put their feedback up I got them to “like” the comments of 2 other students, comment one other student’s comment and comment on the feedback  of the person whose presentation they had really liked. When we looked at finding the 5 things we would improve for next time it was just so easy! They loved writing the headline which is part of the feedback. “Amazing Year 9 French Presentations you have to see to believe”

Use your interactive whiteboard!

knmags has put up a no nonsense, this is exactly what I need, YouTube clip so that if you haven’t used a Promethean Board or you have forgotten how to be in control of it, you can master the basics again and have fun in lessons. You can calibrate it by pressing on the Promethean logo top left of the board with your interactive pen. My MacBook decided to update my Promethean software so I decided I’d update my use of the board again as a teaching tool. A change. A chance to be centre front. Part of my problem is the board is slightly too high for me to reach to the top. Height challenged…so I am on tip toe to get to the toolbar. I look upon it as exercise! This video shows you how to get some good use out of the board by being a teacher.  Last week I slid an image onto the board so I could practice daily routine with the students very quickly and effectively because they needed to see me saying and doing to help their pronunciation and learning. I also used it to write up things for my years 8s with my poorly drawn pictures. I was surprised how responsive the year 8s were. They liked my drawings and they liked it that I was pronouncing as I wrote. We could then go over it and they them photographed the board I had written on their iPads and made a classy version of the work. That was all good learning practice and revision for them. Today , with my senior students, I used a big, complicated vocabulary word and explained it in French and how to use it. I used the Promethean Board to draw and say things. I draw badly and slowly so my French had to slow down to allow me time to draw and write. For them this was a bonus. They could follow what I was drawing and writing and they didn’t worry it was all in French. I was so impressed with how they learned what I was saying and they were taking in the explanation. It was better for them to see me talking, see me writing, see my dreadful pictures because they were totally immersed in the process of learning and out of it learned so many new words which they could remember. I have yet to read their feedback on this approach to see what they really thought. The feedback will help them identify where I may have lost them. I am also hoping it will make them realise that they know more than they think. I need to access their passive knowledge so, paradoxically, I have found the active board a good way of doing this. I spent about 15 minutes of my lesson doing that today. With the junior students it was only about 5-10minutes so there is still plenty of time to do other things and use other approaches. Use your interactive whiteboard and see what response you get. Maybe these new students appreciate the fact you are interacting more with them courtesy of the board.

Get quality feedback

ORIDWhen you are teaching it is essential to engage students in a feedback loop. Create information and content, share it and then get feedback. That feedback loop is critical to providing better and more informed lessons where everyone is using technology and may be looking at content differently. So many people absorb information visually and so many people are using technology in a different way so each person’s strengths can become an asset in a classroom if you know what the strengths and learning gaps are. Getting good feedback means you have to have an organised and specific approach to getting ideas in a way that you can utilise them to construct better lessons. ORID is an evaluation tool which has some real strengths and which I have just reworked so it can be used in my classroom. I found out about it because it was in the recent newsletter from FacilitatorU. I have been subscribing to their emails for quite a few years now and they always come up with ideas which give me practical help to be a better teacher and to relate to my students in an effective way. Over the years their way of doing things has proven to be very effective when I have worked with groups. I used the life cycle chart from Microsoft Office to create my ORID feedback.

Build your knowledge

Technology in the classroom

How can we learn from what we are doing?

I was looking at the book Instructional Rounds – a network approach to improving and teaching learning. It being about networking I thought it would surely be good to help process the thinking for using technology in a classroom. I was right. On pp 56 and 57 are Tips and Takeaways which I put on the left of my graphic organiser from Education World. In the other two columns I have filled in what could be possible answers. We have had a good amount of time to introduce technology into our classrooms. We now need to start analysing its use to see if we are getting the best teaching and learning outcomes. You can download my sheet  here :Technology in the classroom .

The magic of technology

quotepixelI used to love Arthur C. Clarke novels when I was at school so this quote comes from an author who had an important impact on me and my imagination. Never underestimate the power of one. I am , and have been for a long time, the author of my own classroom. With technology I get to do magic each and every day. It’s a different way of teaching but if that means I am lighting imagination, I shall be more than happy. Quotepixel is a great site to get visual quotes for your classroom.

5 inspiring tips to start the school year

aitsl Image: aitsl CEO blog

Look upon it as a challenge. I did. As soon as the aitsl CEO blog popped up on my Facebook feed with the 5 inspiring tips I read it and wondered if I had inspired myself into the new school year. It’s term 1 week 5 so a good time to sit for a minute and take stock. Why not? The new school year has blossomed and grown but has it been inspiring? I took the aitsl challenge and this is the result:

1. Inspiration number one: do something professionally that you haven’t done before. This year our faculty set up participation a global competition in Languages . It is an online site like Mathletics which we wanted to engage with. We did the trials last year and the students really liked it , so we have moved on to enrolling our classes this year. This has taken time and effort on the part of the teachers and the organisation we are dealing with. It’s a first. It’s new and it’s all learning for everyone. It is now a classroom and home resource which we are happily discovering. It has been a real positive in our lives at the beginning of the year even though there has been a lot for us all to learn.

2. Inspiration number two: join or start a group or better still a movement

My Twitter and Facebook PLN never fail to bring me inspiration. These social media engagements are a source of ideas, thinking, sharing and give me a real sense of participating in something dynamic. I am never short of information, never allowed to stay in a rut and the information which comes my way keeps me buoyed up and moving forward. Our office has also been a fantastic hotbed of ideas and sharing in terms of technology and approaches. We have really skilled each other up and been keen to learn whatever we can with technology.

3. Inspiration number three: ask questions about your professional values.

This often happens spontaneously in our office or in the staff room over recess and lunch. I think it is the direct result of the lean start up we had at school this year and then aitsl got on the ball pretty quickly by bringing us thoughtful videos and encouraging us to participate in our development as teachers. Without technology and those virtual connections to be made you can be left feeling swamped with expectations and demands. This way the information is grown into organic learning which can be shared , discussed and implemented.

4. Inspiration number four: focus on knowing how you make a difference to students and their learning.

I use Twiducate with my junior students and blogging with my senior students. This way I can see clearly where the learning gaps are and I can also see very clearly the impact of what we have done in class. When you ask for feedback or you ask them to grow your lesson in their own way on their blog it becomes encouraging far more often than disheartening. In fact, it’s rarely disheartening. Our students like technology and they feel at home so they value being able to respond and then I can be rewarded for my behind the scenes work.

5. Inspiration five: find a way to make sure that every student succeeds.

“If our education system is to be truly successful, we need to find ways to ensure that every individual in every school achieves success. Success will look different for each young person and as teachers and school leaders we are key to that success. Make sure everyone in your school knows what it feels like to be successful.”

This is clearly stated on the CEO blog and it sums it all up. It is about allowing everyone in the teaching/learning environment to show and grow. No-one can know everything. Teachers can create the learning memes and help students work through the thinking, content and grappling with ideas. Students then provide feedback and have input into each other’s learning and the capacity of the teacher to teach better. Leadership in education has to further guide and support teachers in a productive, positive way by sharing , challenging and engaging with those in classrooms so they are constantly able to have a sense of vision and a real capability to teach effectively. It’s not automatic. It is a complex undertaking but the results can be far reaching and so the foundation and preparation of a teacher has to be unequivocal each and every day.

Cross curriculum apps

cross curriculum appsI subscribe to the SimpleK12 teacher learning community site. Some of the resources are paid but if you subscribe to the site you get notification of the free resources as well. This time it was 20 apps for cross curriculum work. I knew a lot of the apps but others of them I did not know. They were Android and iPad apps so that is even handier. You can follow the link here if you are interested and it’s a site worth keeping in touch with. Some good apps for maths, science and EALD/ESL but other worthwhile apps too.

Best search engines for your students

search engine

Pick the right search engine

The graphic left is a smaller version of the great graphic you will find on Educational and Mobile Technology. Not all search engines are the same. Not all search engines bring the best results. You need to search for what you need with the best search engine. You can download the chart from Educational and Mobile Technology and pin it in your classroom or share the link with your students. It helps them to select the best search engine for their purposes. Acquiring good information in a society swamped with information is a skill which has to be taught and learnt. Before , we all went to Britannica and Colliers. Can you remember the people you used to be in awe of because they knew so much from encyclopedia Britannica? There isn’t the same awe attached to anyone who knows search engines well. We are now in awe of someone who can be a grand success on YouTube.

AirDrop dropping in

If you are having trouble finding AirDrop on your iPad there is help at AirDrop transfers files to compatible devices/computers on the same network. AirDrop comes with iPad 5s and Mountain Lion and I have been using on my iPad 5 since I got it at the end of last year and had no idea there was the famously infamous AirDrop. I know the symbol. I use it all the time to email and DropBox files. Airdrop is supposed to directly connect the wireless capabilities of devices/computers and create a peer to peer network which is then not using bandwidth. On a MacBook you can turn it on and off by using the sidebar and then also see a map of who is available:

Finder > sidebar to the left. AirDrop is listed in the sidebar> Click AirDrop > you can see an animated radar icon which has activated by AirDrop and shows who is broadcasting >Click on another one of the sidebar options> Airdrop is now off.

What is wrong with an on/off switch? Leaving it to some random find in the control panel of the iPad or the Finder sidebar of the MacBook tends to suggest the default Apple wants is Always ON…which is a security risk and poor device management. Bluetooth can be switched on and off. Mobile data can be switched on and off. Wifi can be switched on and off. Why not AirDrop? No wonder people have found their new iPhones and iPads were running out of battery power too quickly.

This is from the Apple site:

Looking for a fast way to share files with people nearby? With AirDrop, you can send files to anyone around you wirelessly — no Wi-Fi network required. And no complicated setup or special settings. Just click the AirDrop icon in the Finder sidebar, and your Mac automatically discovers other AirDrop users within about 30 feet of you. To share a file, simply drag it to someone’s name. Once accepted, the fully encrypted file transfers directly to that person’s Downloads folder.

You have to accept incoming files but if you are inadvertently broadcasting then you are there to be discovered by anyone who can connect to your device. Apple is not very clear on the protocols and security and for that reason I want to know AirDrop is off unless I specifically choose to use it. I do the same with BlueTooth and wi-fi. I don’t have unsupervised connections! That aside, you can see from the video there are some advantages to AirDrop. How it beats BlueTooth I am not sure. We’ll find out.

Like , share , follow

There are no small ideas. In 2014 we have to value both individual achievement and collaborative endeavour. TeFL makes that quite clear but so does our social networking world. We have to encourage individuals to develop their strengths but we also have to enable them so they remain plugged into the flow of collaborative knowledge. This little video demonstrates clearly that the simple, modest ideas can be of great benefit if they are harnessed and allowed to become part of the greater whole. We are all one but we are connected! This paradox is how we are both strengthening and renewing ourselves for this century.

Cyberwise Daily

cyberwise dailyThe CyberWise Daily is a media literacy site designed to help educators maintain contact with current trends and issues so they can better use technology in a classroom . It also means they are more aware of the sorts of issues which affect digital citizenship. This internet daily is very practical and features a wide range of interesting articles so that you do not feel as though you are working at learning what you need to know to be effective in a technology based classroom.

Linux Mint 15 – Olivia

Linux Mint 15I said I would come back to give Linux Mint 15 a proper review. It was just unfortunate or ill-advised that I’d decided to install it when I had internet treacle. That previous review couldn’t do it justice because I was dealing with internet issues and extreme heat weatherwise which had been affecting my Toshiba Satellite A500. It’s a credit to the operating system that I could rescue it from its crippled installation without having to resort to a completely new installation. I repaired the MergeList mess through Terminal. The only thing I haven’t been able to achieve as yet is get the TV going. It won’t work from a stick and it won’t work from the card. It may be to do with the fact Adelaide shifted channels when it went 100% digital and it may also be to do with the fact that the card and stick are hybrid tuners. It’s annoying because the first thing which has always worked on Linux Mint is the TV tuner. I’ll persevere. I have loaded everything I can think of , searched and used that help. Still nothing. I use Brasero for my music because I can also incorporate and look for podcasts. I use Firefox as the browser and Thunderbird as my email client because it automatically blocks images for security reasons. I have dressed up my desktop nicely with all the customising features available. On a good laptop Linux Mint 15 just goes. It runs everything (except TV), it is remarkably smooth and it’s not resource intensive. It can also run Flash respectably. Linux is usually hopeless on Flash and there is a horribly lag between clicking and action. It is painful normally. Not so with Linux Mint 15. It copes very well but will start pushing the processor after a little while. As I have said before, I come on Linux Mint to get away from it all. I am not bothered by anything, it’s very stable and just goes. Olivia is a very smooth operator and has some nice features in the menu so that you can easily manage , access and shift what you want. It also has some nice additions to the bottom taskbar so that you can keep up to date with settings and notifications. Linux likes to help you keep the desktop tidy. This means the load time is very fast. I am just about on Linux Mint 15 as soon as I have switched my laptop on. Compares well with Windows 8 in that respect. My latest and best find is Polly , a Twitter client which is very similar to TweetDeck. It loads quickly and is very efficient. I can now say that Linux Mint 15 is a classy, efficient version of Linux Mint and I enjoy using it.

Lots of resources

ICTmagicI am going to say very little. ICTmagic is a UK educational site which has organised so many online classroom resources for you to look at. You need to go to the site and start looking! Plenty of choice and plenty of support for your classroom.

Electro magnetic fields

BBC Panorama is not noted for its alarmist approach so I do think we need to sit down a minute, take a break and think about what we are doing with all the technology at hand. It is very important to keep a level head and allow any evidence to be developed scientifically ,carefully and rationally. It is not as simple as getting a gadget to measure electromagnetic fields. All the evidence in the world will not change us a lot. We were warned of the dangers of TV watching and how it would affect our eyesight, stop us thinking and break down relationships. We still have TVs and we still watch them. The nakedscientists has a good forum where they discuss these sorts of issues. We are not talking a nuclear power plant. We ought to be looking at ways to improve set up and delivery of technology and managing our daily routine so that we are not constantly exposed to magnetic fields. Easier said than done in the age of technology. EM Watch has a good discussion of the topic. When it comes to health hazards you always have in the back of your mind – how much of this information is true? How much of this information has been produced to sell something? We have learned through too many advertising campaigns that we are not always getting the facts. Electric Sense gives some practical ideas of how to manage electro magnetic fields better. Wired is always better than wireless but not always practical. Getting away from technology is desirable but may not be possible if we increase wireless coverage. Putting your laptop on a solid surface and not your legs will help. It is important we look at these things properly. There do need to be solid studies. Things can be made to sound scary when infact they are not. At this stage common sense ought to prevail and looking at ways of minimising exposure should be on everyone’s cards. We won’t be giving up technology any time soon. We need to live harmoniously with it!

Clearing the internet sludge

internet treacle

So slow….

When your internet is slow and treacly, there are several things you can do before you ring up your ISP to get them to help you resolve the issue. There is often a wait time on the phone so this fills in the time until the wait time improves. You can check your speed here.

1. Check data usage. You might be being shaped.

2. Clean your computer. You might be using up all your storage.

3. Run the anti virus software to ensure it’s not a virus.

4. Turn off all your equipment, count to 10 and turn it back on.

5. With ADSL try just having one phone connected to modem. Unplug your other phones.

6. Check the ISP site. There might be problems in your area.

7. Try a different computer.

8. Turn off your anti-virus and firewall.(Don’t forget to turn it back on!)

9. Change modem.

10. Ring ISP support

For me the issue was resolved by changing modems. I then had to contact ISP support because my broken modem is part of a combo plan and they are now sending me a new one. For now, I am leaving the one which is working but it will be good to have a spare.

Thumbs up from the students

schoolYou just never know and you have to be open to never knowing in a classroom with technology. Last Friday my year 8s brought their iPads to school. This is the first year of Year 8s bringing their own devices so it’s all a learning curve. That lesson  I took them on a tiki tour of my iPad on the whiteboard so I could show them the apps I wanted them to download. I had given them a list. Some apps I wasn’t sure if they’d like and I had said that. We did the French apps …yes, yes, mm, okay, yes, mm…then we got to Explain Everything and I explained when they got their MacBooks they would be able to down load it on there too and I showed them. I said they could also put it on their home computer and work between their iPad and computer like I did. The energy level lifted. Their eyes lit up and I could see they were so keen to know about this app. I moved on to Educreations. I had opened a blank page, was putting in some text, a few squiggles, changing colours and got to the image part. Nothing on my camera roll  suited so I lifted my iPad and the students were so excited . I got the best photo of my class. We were all laughing and they were so involved. I put their image into my Educreation, wrote on Bonjour with my stylus, recorded “Bonjour, la classe!” and played it back to them on the board. That was learning. That was what they wanted. Monday when they came to class they had Educreations and  Explain Everything and had used them for their homework. Some apologised they hadn’t had time to download Explain Everything. There was no compulsion. It was interesting they wanted to apologise. So now I am looking at my year 8s in a new light. That photo moment has turned into a new learning curve for me. I realise these students want feature rich but simple layout apps. They want colour, text, paint, draw, sound and image. They want apps where you collate ideas in different modes. I had gone in with my plan to familiarise them with apps but they had moved my head on into a different thinking approach just because I took a picture. That meant something important to them and I need to work on that. I had noticed that iPads were like toys to these students. They were thinking of them in terms of diversion rather than intense learning so I had opened their eyes about how their iPad could really help them learn and they had shown me I could really teach far better with feature rich apps.

Linux Mint 15 – Olivia

Linux Mint 15That has to have been the buggiest install I have ever had with Linux Mint. It is not necessarily due to Linux Mint 15. I am working under duress here because there are broadband and mobile upgrades going on all around me and there are also faults in the area. Some of it may also be because of the extreme heat we have been having. It is one of the reasons I wanted to convert my Toshiba Satellite A500 laptop solely to Linux. Windows runs hard and uses a lot of system resources. When it is exceedingly hot and humid on a regular basis then you need to take the strain off the hardware. I had a copy of Linux 15 and decided to install it…and the package manager had a MergeList problem. This meant I could not select software, I could not install software and I could not get updates. My installation was broken! There is some code you can put into Terminal to rectify the situation and it worked like a charm. You type one line at a time:

sudo rm /var/lib/apt/lists/* -vf
sudo apt-get clean
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

It took over an hour on my gluey connection but my Linux 15 works perfectly now and I am currently installing Audacity. This would normally take a couple of minutes. Not today!!

Linux Mint 15 Phone

I was going to Bluetooth this

There are some nice touches to Olivia . Bottom left are settings and notifications which scroll up when you want them to. The system settings is very similar to my MacBook Pro and customising the display is much easier. The Blue tooth doesn’t want to discover my Samsung Galaxy Express but I don’t blame it. I didn’t want to know it when I first met it either. I obviously will have to go through formal introductions. Linux Mint 15 is running smoothly under a slow connection and is managing well. I shall have to come back and give it a proper write up when I have normal access. In the meantime, it is doing what I want – taking the strain off my nice laptop.

Thank you to the Ubuntu Forum for the code which helped.

Internet treacle

slow internet speedsI live in a part of the city which is giving a whole new meaning to the word upgrade. The mindboggling ramifications of any upgrade in my area have to be lived to be believed. Our train has been being upgraded. We haven’t had one for over year. It then came back and vanished. It now runs sometimes and who knows when? The transit corridor to the city is being upgraded. For nearly two years three major roads have been inaccessible. Those are now accessible but they have blocked a fourth one which is a main corridor for this area. Doesn’t matter. We are upgrading the Expressway. I was thanking my lucky stars I was running my phone on a 4G network because they are upgrading the mobile coverage for 3G. I  also noticed Windows 8.1 was doing some updates the other night. For the last couple of days I have had internet treacle. There have been a number of things I cannot do because I have been running at a spectacularly impressive speed of 56K. I was expecting to hear the dial up tones at any moment. Linux has managed considerably better than Windows 8 but it hasn’t been at all satisfactory. I checked the ISP and, yes, there is an upgrade to the broadband going on in my area. I never even had the thought I’d be upgraded to dazzling dial up speeds. Apart from going mental as anything what have I been doing when I am forced to run at 1990s dial up speed? I have  laptops running different versions of OS. Current computers run bloated software, invariably need internet connection for said software to function well and we are all connected on social networks. My desktop was useless at one stage. Linux Mint Maya survived pretty well and got things done for me. Using flash became out of the question. My iPad has been my friend because it easily accesses social networks even at abysmal internet speed. It also has productivity software which functions under those same tragic conditions. At the moment I am back on my desktop because the situation has improved. Not perfect, not optimum conditions and not as good as before the upgrade. No surprises there. If I have to I’ll get out a really old laptop and run an old version of Linux because if I am going to run at 1990s internet speeds I need to match the device and software. There is a real flaw in our technology roll out around the planet. If you want people to use high end devices and engage with the latest versions – you had better have the infrastructure to enable said devices.

Genes in Space – help cure cancer

2014 is unbelievable. Genes in Space is living proof we can collaborate as a planet, pool our resources and skills, work cross curriculum and find a cure for cancer. If the whole planet could do that it would be amazing and if we did that by being ourselves with our own skills and capacity to learn it would be even better. Cancer Research UK has collaborated with gamers and the gaming industry to get all the data from their cancer research into a playable form so that players can help search through the data!!! A scientist or group of scientists would take too long and so a cure would be too far away. In all this data could be the genetic flaws which create cancer. More than 200,000 people have classified almost two million cancer images. Human eyes are good and better at detecting anomalies. Read the BBC Play to Cure article. Watch the video. Download the app!! We do not need cancer.

Best apps for students

Doc Scan HDIf you do a search for top “5 apps for students” you will come up with a vast array of apps the world thinks are the best apps for students. We are all different. We all teach differently. We all use technology differently and we are all dealing with different content. It stands to reason there would be a wealth of choice for the best student apps. One thing which is consistent these days is cloud storage so something like DropBox, Google Drive or SkyDrive are must have apps in 2014. The other thing which comes up regularly is a scanner app. Yes, you can use your iPad as a document scanner. This was news to me. I had never thought of my iPad doubling as a scanner nor had I thought to use it that way. If I want a copy of a document I’ll photograph it. I learnt that from my students. A number of them take a shot of their timetable as soon as they get it so they have an electronic copy of their timetable on their smartphone. I tell them to do that now because it saves time wasted and worry when they cannot remember their timetable. I must take a picture of mine for this year. Doc Scan HD comes well recommended and I have downloaded it to see what the difference is. I have photographed receipts, worksheets etc so I am not sure there is a benefit in using a scanner. They are so popular I am thinking there has to be an advantage. In the meantime , have a look at the best student apps:

Best student apps for android

Best student iPhone and iPad apps

Some of the android apps may be available in iTunes and some of the iDevice apps may be available in Google Play.

Love my lolly pink cable

charger I now have to work with iPad/iPod 2 and iPad 5 cables. It can get a bit confusing when you are in a hurry. In the car I connect my iPad 5 and my iPod 2. I don’t want to confuse them. Nor do I want to confuse school cables and home cables. My lovely lolly pink cable is the very thing. They come in other colours, too . I got this one from a department store. There is no doubt this is my cable nor any doubt it is actually the cable I keep in the car. It is longer than the standard Apple cable so it can be a bit more convenient. I always find the Apple cables are too short for what I want to do. I wasn’t sure if a non-Apple cable would work – but it does!

Mark with your smartphone

If you are thinking you are too small to make a difference – try getting into bed with a spider. Walter Duncan is a teacher who had a great idea and used technology to make it a reality. He crowd sourced support and funding so that he could make his idea a very innovative and practical reality for so many teachers. Much time can be spent in some subject areas grading quizzes and short answer questions. The Quick Key app is designed to take the strain away and to put our smart phones to very good use by lightening our load. I loved the video when I saw it. It is funny but also demonstrates just how mind numbing marking test answers / quizzes can be. I haven’t yet thought of a good use for it in French. I don’t like multiple choice answers because you then give wrong answers and I like to ensure I am keeping correct versions in front of learners. I had thought, though, I might be able to make aural comprehensions an easier and more effective task if I design some with multiple choice answers. Listening skills are vital in a language and I could well develop some quick and pertinent ones. Walter Duncan (@4_teachers) is very genuine and enthusiastic and will answer any questions you have in a helpful way. You can get more information on the Kickstarter project site. The free app is available here.

Push, push and push again!

pushMemes are so successful because people get hold of a picture with a caption or a great quote and they push it out into social media. Those potted thoughts are then transferred sometimes at the speed of light. We are connecting as a planet so we are finding our common ground, our common ideas and our accepted ways of connecting. By pushing ideas, processes and connections we are creating a basis for a global connection which will pool all our thinking and doing resources. Some ideas are pushed and become instantly popular. It is what we wanted or just what we needed. If you want something to get traction you have to keep seeding it electronically so the idea or process will take hold and become “the thing”. Advertisers know this but it is now a way of life. It is how we improve knowledge, gain knowledge, get and promote thinking and ideas. I can put things on here that I have learnt. Other people can learn them, add to them or enhance them. I can put my thinking on here. When I am stuck I always get help. When I am clear about the success of something I can share it and other people can grow that idea. We can connect , share and develop ideas as we go along and that is how it is. We currently don’t have the time to sit and think for hours so the planet is moving forward through electronic leverage through push technology. It’s a great way to participate in dynamic learning.

GarageBand podcasting for beginners

This is another clear video about how to make a podcast in GarageBand if you are a beginner. Like the last one it goes through things slowly but from a slightly different perspective. In 10 minutes you know more than when you started. From my point of view , GarageBand is offering more options and a greater ease of file integration than other software. That is probably because I am a beginner. You have to start somewhere and with technology it is important to look at the options and find out what is available and then start with what you can manage. As you learn, you can become more discerning and more able to make sensible judgements about what is good. I have been looking at videos about what equipment to get if I wanted to be really serious about podcasting and I have to say it’s interesting and I’ll probably share one of those videos soon. There are longer, more complex how to videos on podcasting in GarageBand but I am not ready for those yet. I need to start simply so now I have two good clips. My next step is to try to create a podcast using GarageBand. As I do that I am still fiddling around with different software and equipment on my Windows 8 desktop. That is more complex but I like the challenge. I also need to organise sound files into DropBox or somewhere in my cloud storage options so I can try to use the iPad podcasting apps. I usually focus on one approach but I never stop myself from exploring the other options I find interesting.

Podcasting for newbies in GarageBand

I have always made a point of learning something I really don’t find easy. It reminds me that when I learn something brand new that is hard…it really is hard. I cannot just do it. I can’t just get it right. I invariably get into quite a mess and gradually the light dawns and things fall into place. It is critical as a teacher to know how hopeless and blocked you can feel when you just can’t easily do something. What I do is I keep trying, keep collecting information and keep a note of where my learning gaps are. I am still on my podcasting mission. I have programmes, software, peripherals and stuff. I have lots of stuff and it is not going the way I want. The sound isn’t good enough and that was my whole reason for doing this. It’s better, I have improved it. I have worked out how to use some of my apps and software. I am looking at GarageBand now to make sure I can use it to its capability. We use MacBooks at school so it’s important for me to know the software. It’s easy to make a recording. It’s not so easy making a podcast. I could just make of recording – blah, blah, blah, blah , save it and upload it as a podcast. It wouldn’t be very exciting. I have also found my voice doesn’t really suit audio. Some people have a rich, vocal sound or can make their voices sound interesting.  I have been recording and recording trying to get myself to sound better. I need to work on that. GarageBand has lots of options for making a good podcast so I need to learn how to use them. I want to be able to mix in clips and I can do that on my iPad. Not brilliantly yet, but I can do it. There is an art to it as there is an art to making a video. Now I am going to find good videos to help me and they’ll get posted here so I don’t lose track of them. This one on GarageBand covers the fundamentals in just over 10 minutes.

Professional learning animation – aitsl

aitsl is our national professional teaching and school leadership organisation in Australia and its website has a wealth of information, ideas, support, discussion and ,of course, our national professional standards. This video was made 2012 and it’s a good motivator for the beginning of 2014. Its message is timeless. Teachers need to be encouraged to thrive and they need support in order to drive and sustain themselves and their students through a school year…and the next school year …and the next. Teachers need to be connected and encouraged so they can create the environments which are best for learning. This then connects well with TeFL Domain 1 Learning for effective teaching:

1.Understand how self and others learn
2.Develop deep pedagogical content and knowledge
3.Engage with the community
4.Discuss educational purpose and policy.

Teachers need to be connected to the real world and its context and that can be easily done with technolgy. You  can connect with anyone anywhere and sites like aitsl can support you outside the school environment 24/7. As a teacher you work in a local context but connectivity means you can engage with the whole world and sustain yourself in that way. Three key messages from TeFL which this video draws clearly into focus are:

Learning as a way of being
Co construction is the key
Find every person’s strength.

I was reminded of this video because aitsl put a tweet out about it. My Twitter feed  keeps me strong and connected with the fundamental building blocks of creating a sustainable classroom with an invincible teacher!

We had a lean 2014 start up

Lean start up cycle

Image: How to apply lean start up principles

Not going to have a discussion about whether lean start ups are a method or not or whether there are faults in the process or not. We had the best lean start up at school this year and it was because of astute use of technology. For this reason it is worth looking at why it was a successful lean start up. I am still of the opinion that as teachers we need a day just to be there after the long summer break. A day to meet and greet, to go to our spaces and think about whatever it is we need to think about to get the year going and get our heads out of long summer holiday mode. Eric Ries is the creator of the lean start up concept because often people get started on something (and lean start ups are basically about production) and they end up with something no-one wants. If you apply lean start up to a school year then at the start the build-measure-learn cycle needs to be clean and clear and as effectively implemented as possible. It is about creating something the teachers will want and then they in turn will create something the students will want. The principles are outlined here and critical to a good lean start up at school is the capacity to create validated learning for the teachers who will then promote and encapsulate the sustainability of the ideas throughout the year. One of the criticisms of a lean start up is that it is not a method and so the process needs a method. We had that additional layer of reinforcement for our thinking and preparation because we had a well prepared document on which to pin our thinking, we have the TeFL and we have our performance standards from Aitsl. Those 3 things complemented the start up process. One of the other criticisms is that you will simply respond to feedback and therefore put yourself at risk of unbuilding something which you are taking the courage to build. The beginning of the school year is like that. You don’t want to totally rely on feedback when you have a whole year of discovery ahead of you. It would stop you in your tracks . You need to be clear about your beliefs and goals . Your vision.

We had enthusiastic, cheerful, positive presentations to start each day. The presentations were both visual and spoken so we had our senses and our sense involved. The presentations celebrated our achievements or focussed our thoughts on process and we were given clear messages about our direction and were shown how our past would influence our future. These presentations were inspirational rather than prescriptive but they were shown to be based on who we are, what we can achieve and how we can achieve .  We worked in specific groups where these ideas were explored and built upon and where we could contribute to furthering the thinking. Some of that relied on sharing our ideas with our laptops and iPads. Critical information was emailed to us so we had that information at our fingertips and in front of us . Our LMS has been updated so we can easily direct message each other and our students and there are some other customisations to suit our school so that gave us another avenue of communication and another possibility of seeing the LMS as an asset in 2014. We did not have a deluge of paper and screeds of information to read. Technology was used to provide us with that information in multiple modes and so it was more interesting and direct and the uptake of the information was quicker. Our conversations became focussed. When we had our planning time we then had clear things to work on and we grew that by sharing links, websites, apps, emails, images, graphics, videos, resources. Our planning became super productive and those who didn’t know could easily focus questions and the answers were quickly supplied. We had such a good sharing of vision, resources, ideas and planning in such a short time we accomplished a really strong start up for this year. We had already mastered the art of effective communication. In a big school, networking is crucial to keeping everything and everyone on track and that ease of communication was breeding enthusiasm. When we see the students next week, we’ll be ready like never before!