This blog looks really cool on an iPad2. That was the first thing I learnt about iPads. They make websites look fantastic and the display is very sensible. The graphics and text are very clear. I borrowed an iPad2 because I wanted to see what it could do compared with a MacBook and an iPod Touch. On the down side it doesn’t run Flash and that’s a problem for sites like Voki. The other thing which turned me off was it was location, location, location. Every 5 minutes there was a location message. No I don’t want to locate everything I capture and do. Settings became my best friend. I turned location off. I could turn my iTunes account on and off and my home network. It sent me the French24 news in English because of its location obsession. FRENCH news. Hint. I want it in French. Bottom right of the screen I could turn it into French. Good.Oh – it cannot do anything with screen shots. You take a screen shot by pressing home and on/off button. Click. Then you cannot do anything with it other than email it. So the iPad is like my iPod Touch. It has to be tethered to a computer from time to time.I thought I’d have trouble typing because I am such a touchscreen klutz but I turned it sideways and could clatter away quite well on the touch keyboard. That made my life so much easier than on my iPod Touch. I downloaded some free apps for French. I am just wondering how schools will manage payment of apps for different things and if iPads are shared how that will be worked out. When I showed my year 11s the iPad and what I had put on it for French I was an instant cool teacher. I then wanted to see what they would do. While they were working on an exercise on their laptops I said they could try the apps out. It was interesting to see how much they all wanted a go. Then those who got a turn were totally absorbed. I realised it was harder to see what they are doing than if they are on a laptop because they lean over the screen on the desk. They were so excited and absorbed. They have begged me to bring it into class again tomorrow so they can try some more things. I have downloaded another half a dozen free French apps and we’ll see how they go. I can see they would have a good use in a French classroom for verb conjugation, dictionaries, language practice, vocab practice, language extension , research. I have had it a day. Already the iPad2 has worked hard for me. I’ll try it for a bit longer and see.
If you actually knew what you were doing with physics principles you could probably build a working image far better than mine. In 5 minutes I had downloaded Phun, put in a background, inserted some physics objects and then had a working contraption which was sloshing the water about according to the laws of physics. It was fun! I can see how you would find it addictive and how you would want to make an even better contraption. I think physics teachers need to work out the best possibilities for this. For me it will probably become a cool desktop toy! There are plenty of YouTube videos showing you how to get the best out of it.
Students are often caught out with not having their work backed up. It means no result or applying for an extension and then redoing the work. Most students get it right. When students are on laptops it is really important to remind them to make back ups. They also need to remind themselves to make back ups. It saves time , energy, worry and keeps the system running smoothly. Our laptop students are all issued with an external hard drive to back up their computer . They can also back up their files on the external drive. Backups need to become a habit and I am not going to stop saying that. It is also possible to find free and paid for online storage if you do a search for it. I don’t store my files online in a particular place but belong to groups and run blogs where critical classroom files are then stored. If you are using computers you need to have more than one place for accessing your important files. Online storage can be a good option. It is not a waste of time! Back up now!
Challenge 13: How do you help your students learn critical thinking? Teaching critical thinking has to become second nature. It is important when students are using technology they can learn how to muster the best information and the most reliable resources. They also need to know how to produce something which is less than routine because the world is not very keen on ho-hum effort these days. There has to be a dazzle factor and there has to be a an eye catching aspect to anything you produce. We are visually saturated so we have to know how to get the best out of our ideas, information and software. I have trained my classes to look for what makes them learn and look for what makes them notice. We have presented things to each other and we have looked at how we can improve our efforts and make them even more interesting and better thought out. Since this is my approach we have become far better at being honest about how to improve, how to eradicate mistakes, how to create something which will wow others with its palatable and worthy information and graphics. We have to think and plan. We have to get it right. We cannot just slap something together. We know that now . So the Thinker’s Keys have been a useful tool and you can download a free copy from the link. I also use Twiducate so that students can record what they have learned and share help and advice so that they have support in their thinking. When it comes to complex language tasks the concept webs and graphic tools because it helps them think out their ideas. When I show them videos in the target language I give them things to listen for. They need hooks into thinking and discerning information. With technology I have found it is important to give them things to look for as they go along and then teach them how to extract value from what they are doing and HOW they are doing it.
Wasn’t sure what to make of a student request to use Minecraft as part of our house exercise in French. The students have to take me on a tour of a real or imagined house , talk about it in French and let me ask them interview questions about it. One girl wanted to use Sims and take screen shots. I know Sims very well and what it can do because my daughter has played it forever. Minecraft was unfamiliar ground and I could neither say no nor yes. I said I’ll give you 10 minutes next lesson to show us on the whiteboard what it can do. Other students might be interested and will be able to see what you can do with it. Act of faith on my part but then I had to spring into action. So what do you do if your want to be open to technology in a classroom but don’t want to put yourself at risk?
1. Search for it in more than one search engine. Minecraft came up easily and I could see what others were doing with it and go to the official site. This game is huge is what I learnt and seemed liked electronic lego.
2. Search for it on Twitter and see what comments are being made. Having done that I felt like it was okay and probably safe for my classroom. I still wasn’t a hundred percent certain though.
3. Talk to the technicians. This gave me a chance to get information I might not have known or hadn’t thought of. Technicians are a fount of thought and information so the next tips are theirs.
4. Look it up on YouTube. What comes up could well be indicative of the sort of programme /software it is and you get the comments on YouTube as well.
5. On the USB sticks left behind in our computers Minecraft has featured very heavily. That could be good or bad. I asked the students why that was. They like it . It is a good game. I asked them if it was violent. They said zombies came out and attacked them in the house and village they had built but they could switch that off.
So now I was ready for the student to show us for 10 minutes in class and what he showed was really interesting and it had a real retro game look and feel but all the students could relate to it. He could use screenshots or take me on a tour as he was doing in class but do that in French. For secondary students it would make life quite interesting and Minecraft could be used in the way I shall be using it in class. Mine is but a modest contribution!
6. If you are going to use a game or screenshots from a game – how are you going to prove that this is student work and not that of a Net friend or expert gamer? That is a very good point to think about from one of our technicians. We need a work in a process approach and we need to have some idea of how games work. I could tell from the way the student was talking that he was new to this game and was doing the sort of things newbies do but could recover as you do and was very good at thinking on his feet.
So now I look forward to going on French tour of his imaginary house and he’ll be happy because he really likes that game.
7. If I still felt insecure I would not let it go on the whiteboard. I would get the student to show me on their laptop which this student did at lunchtime after he’d asked me if he could use it. That is how keen he was!
Command then M – minimises the page you are viewing to the Dock.
Command then D – brings up the bookmark window so you can save current page in your bookmarks
Command then F puts the Find function into the bottom of your open window and then you can search for , find and highlight any particular text you need to.
Don’t try to remember all the shortcuts. Focus on one and make yourself use it all the time. They soon become second nature!
The Science museum UK has some good educational games for science in its online section. I played Thingdom which is a game designed to teach students about genes and genetic makeup but there are plenty of other online games to choose from. They run on shockwave so you would need to make sure that plug-in is installed in your browser. It probably will be or there will be a message to update it. The main science museum site has a number of interesting themes for science which might be suitable for your classroom and it also has a section for educators with online resources and an e-news section.
It has come to my attention that a lot of people do not know what an operating system is. Without an operating system you have no computer. An OS (operating system) is the management system for your computer. Most people are familiar with Microsoft Windows operating system.Windows 7 is the newest version of the Windows operating system. Apple runs a unix based operating system. The newest one out is Lion but most people are running on Snow Leopard. Linux has a wide variety of operating systems like Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora , Mandriva, SuSE. I run different operating systems because they all have their advantages.
If you are running an operating system on a workplace/school then the computers need to be able to “talk” to the server or servers which are running the system. You need to use the recommended and supported OS for work and you need to be mindful that you cannot change things on a workplace computer without talking to a technician about it. Most work computers are set with one operating system and that is the one you use for your workplace. If you try and run a different OS you will have compatibility problems because different OS’s speak a different language and it is very hard to make a lot of computers work together if they are not running a compatible OS.
At home you might have your operating system dictated by your internet service provider. Some internet providers find it hard to work with Linux and some find it hard to work with older versions of Windows. Your internet service provider will generally be helpful in providing you good information as to how to smooth out your internet connection.
That said, I use the operating system the school provides for school AND I DO NOT CHANGE IT. It is a workplace computer and has to fit into a big system. At home I run the latest versions of Ubuntu, Linux Mint and Windows 7 but my Apple laptop is quite happy on my home network too.
There is a very clear explanation of operating systems here at learnfree.org.
I have given some space on my blog to cool workstations because our base for computing needs to be somewhere we love and can feel comfortable if we are going to be computing for a large portion of our day. Besides cool work stations can give you a bit of status! Today I was thinking it would be good to feature some cool Mac desktops. Some of my students have cool desktops on their computers and I am showing my current desktop in the image for the post. Smashing Magazine has some cool desktops images. Macappstorm has a wide choice of Apple logo desktops.Outlawdesignblog has screenshots of some really cool mac desktops. Desktops are a good artistic outlet but decorating your desktop can help you become more organised because you are considering how each element fits with another. So, keep the creativity in your day and get yourself a really fantastic Mac desktop!
Scaffold their thinking I cannot imagine it any other way now. I automatically go into my classroom with ideas of how I am going to help my students manage the technology and learn their French. Today was no exception. We are doing clothing in French. We have learned quite a lot of vocabulary. We have been working on the placement and agreement of adjectives. We have looked at how to describe clothes and say whether they are in wool or cotton. Last week I took in some French fashion magazines and I took them on a 10 minute tour of Vogue.fr fashion parades. They were alive and alert. When I explained that most top fashion designers were men and the fact our own Colette Dinnigan had managed to make a hugely successful career for herself in Paris the students were even more interested. Then we looked at the top models and Australian girls featured well. As we looked at the clothes and practised our vocabulary the boys were having trouble identifying. The assignment is to make a mini fashion parade in iMovie with 3 French sentences for each image from a top French fashion designer. They had to find 5 images they liked, one they hated and one for the boys if they were a girl and vice versa. About 10 minutes into this the boys were looking very glum. “There must be something in you boys which can connect if the world’s top designers are men!” is all I offered at the time . I could see them try harder. 10 more minutes passed. I could feel the pain. So my laptop was hooked to the white board. I showed the boys if they searched for a designer and then an item of clothing – Balmain pantalon (trousers) they would find pictures they could relate to. Success! The girls by then had found some more images and were suggesting things to the boys like the streetware section of Vogue.fr. Everyone was at home. We have since worked on the sentences. They are very comfortable with iMovie because we have worked on it a lot. I suggested they might like to record their sentences and make a voice track. Their eyes lit up and I may well see that. They have loved the fashion. They are learning their vocabulary well because we did some spot quizzes today just quickly and they know just about all the words. Their presentations are coming along and they are looking forward to Friday when they will be sharing them.