Curate and aggregate

ZiteYou have choices! You can outsource your curating and aggregation to things like Flipboard and Zite or you can do it yourself with things like Pinterest and Springpad but aggregate and curate you must because we live in a world that is churning through information and where the technology changes are coming rapidly. Building a habit of curating and aggregating information means you always have new ideas and trends coming your way which keep you current. As a classroom teacher you need to stay current. Our technological society is developing at a rapid rate now in the same way we did after the industrial era start up. We just have to keep moving. Resistance is useless because we need to be able to observe and manage the changes. We are teachers. We have sound critical skills and we know how to be discerning and can then influence sound aggregation and curation choices. So, outsource or DIY? I say both. Zite is one of the newest, trendiest aggregators which will bring you news and information from all sorts of interest areas. It is up to you to decide what you are interested in and then Zite will aggregate it for you in a very user friendly way. It is well suited to tablet use but in no way dilutes the content. SpringpadSpringpad is more like Pinterest or Livebinders. You can find things of interest on the web and store them in your note books and share them. Like Zite, it is very tablet friendly. You are working on your own resources but are automatically part of a sharing community. You can follow other people’s notebooks and benefit from their curation. Your research can grow exponentially. As a teacher you are probably familiar with Evernote and if you are not, it is well worth investigating. Evernote is not the same but it does serve the purpose of saving and curating information. it can serve a bigger educational purpose which is explained well here at lifehacker. There are all sorts of curation and aggregation apps to suit your needs but Flipboard, Pinterest, Zite ,Livebinders and now Springpad are the most widely known and used and so will help bring you the most information and choices.

Quick Windows 8 Shutdown

New ShortcutIt isn’t obvious how to shut Windows 8 down. If you go back to the start screen you can do it through your icon top left. I shut Windows 8 down with alt F4 which shuts down open windows and then brings you to the shutdown screen. I have now made myself a shutdown icon which makes it simpler and I could add how long it takes to shut down too.

1. Right click anywhere on the desktop and choose New and then Shortcut.
2. Call it shutdown – or anything you like.
3. Right click on the icon and choose Properties.
shutsoen code4. In other versions of Windows you use the – to delineate parameters. In Windows 8 you use /
5. /s means shutdown and it has a 30 second default setting. /c brings you to a personalised shutdown screen. I have typed /c “A+” because A+ means see you later in French. You could type /c “Bye”. You have to have the speech marks. If you don’t want the shutdown screen, leave the /c out. If you want to add the time it takes you write /t 40 where the 40 specifies a 40 second shutdown.
6. To change the icon, right click on the shutdown icon and in the middle of the window which comes up you see Change icon. Click on that and select away.
7. Don’t forget to click apply to set your changes.
8. You now have a quick shutdown icon!

iPad 4 with iOS7

ipad 4We have just been generously given new iPad 4s to use in class as part of our revamped technology offerings for 2014. I have brought mine home to set up and it is taking a while. I found out the new iPad 4 is concurrently loading my apps from my iTunes account AND updating the iOS. That is service, but I have a lot of apps and the iOS takes a while to upgrade. There was a difference in the purchases screen about 5 minutes after I had connected the iPad to my MacBook. Much better. It sets itself up as pages and that makes it easier to manage. I am so glad I had my apps backed up to the cloud from my own iPad 2. Made the whole process painless. The iPad 4 has a micro connection to the iPad so I will be using the Apple TV to connect to my whiteboard. I have a wired vga connector for my iPad 2. That’s okay. Keep moving. I have Siri turned off until I check out the issues which appear to be with it at the moment and I am not quite sure what they are for iOS7 because I haven’t had it before. I couldn’t set the time until I put the location on. Location is under Privacy. I do not automatically allow my devices to broadcast my location. Once I turned the location on it set the time and then I turned location off again. Now curious to see if the time will stay in place after I turn the iPad off and back on again. I have a minute for the iOS 7 update to complete and quite a while to go to get my apps installed. Our technicians had thoughtfully put in a “how to sheet” with the new iPads. I just had to check I was running iTunes 11, which I was , and it has been very straight forward. Now I have to wait to see what the new iOS looks like!!

Apple TV in the classroom

Apple TV Image : Apple TV

I have had Apple TV in my classroom for about a month now. I lock the device in my filing cabinet because it is very small. Great for classroom design to have such a powerful gadget in such a small package but easily misplaced because it is small. I simply select my room and then am on the Apple TV on the whiteboard screen which mirrors my MacBook or my iPad. The  MacBook picture is much smaller than my IBW but it hasn’t really been a problem if I can think ahead as to what I am going to do. I still want a wired connection so I can use the interactive part of my board and then a bigger picture if I need it. In time the picture size will be resolved and given iPads have a lot of good whiteboard equivalent apps I probably won’t need my IBW – just a decent screen or wall space. I use a stylus on my iPad and the students really love that so I can’t see shifting boards/display areas as a problem to be overcome once the screen size is rectified. The Apple TV picture has stronger and clearer colours and better definition so there are plenty of things you can display on this smaller size. It came into its own when my big year 9 class had to do their presentations. Normally we go through the process of around 30 students getting up from their seats and connecting to the board and then sitting down again. That is all time. With the Apple TV they could connect from their desks and show their presentations and it created quite a happy buzz as the students showed each other how to connect and then could see their own presentation as they presented. It is usually behind them and we can see it but they are looking at their laptop. It meant the next time we presented we had even more spectacular and carefully created presentations. The visual feedback had helped their learning and it was noticeable. The second time the Apple TV was worth its weight in gold was when my year 12 had to do their 5 minute French orals for the final assessment. This is a nerve wracking event. Students are running on adrenalin and have prepared themselves so well it means anything which can help is a bonus. The Apple TV turned out to be the fairy Godmother of the event. The students could sit at their desks surrounded by their little coaching team who were going to ask the questions at the end. It also meant they had something routine to do to take the nerves away – they had to organise their presentations on the Apple TV because they had never done it before. The wonder in their eyes when they saw their presentations was priceless. They instantly got rewarded for hours of careful preparation which was going to support the oral presentation. I can also use the Apple TV to get some of my younger students to show how they are gathering their information for learning. I can choose students and ask them if they would mind if we looked at what they were doing. They love going on the Apple TV so then I have their work on my board and we are all learning from each other. If students have an Apple device then it means you can create a far more interactive, connected approach via the Apple TV. I have not had any of the issues reported like poor connection but I have had sound issues on some files and that might be more to do with the speakers I have rather than the device. Some sound is very distorted and in a language classroom that is not good. Doesn’t happen a lot , thankfully. One thing which is better and ought not to be is my connection to the web is better. I can get onto the websites faster than if I have my Macbook connected to my board via a hard wired connection. Doesn’t make sense but it works!  Two sites which can give you some more teacher experience of Apple TV are:

Teachinglikeits2999

Ryan Orilio

Coolest text effects ever

Cool text

Image: Cool Text

I have spent this year focussing on visual effects, good graphic principles and animation with my students . Cool text effects are a part of that. They learn as they create their designs and presentations. It’s what I consider to be percolating time. You channel students into doing something after you have taught them something you really want them to know. As they search for images or text all of that lovely information you shared with them is seeping into their brains. This site comes highly recommended by my students.

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