May 16

Creative Book Builder

A really powerful app to use in any class both as a teacher and a student is creative book builder.
Students love being able to easily include videos and images into their assignments. You can also create exciting “text” or topic booklets for your classes.
This can range from simple to amazingly complex.
The books can be easily shared as well, simply choose the “Share to Device” option when you publish the book, it will create a QR code and the students can scan it, and open it in their iBooks shelf. If they email the book all of the cool interactive features are lost …
My Year 8s at Beaui were very excited when I showed them how simple it was for me to collect their awesome Textiles assignments.
$4.49 from the iTunes store is a worthwhile taxable expense.

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May 16

Creative Book Builder

A really powerful app to use in any class both as a teacher and a student is creative book builder.
Students love being able to easily include videos and images into their assignments. You can also create exciting “text” or topic booklets for your classes.
This can range from simple to amazingly complex.
The books can be easily shared as well, simply choose the “Share to Device” option when you publish the book, it will create a QR code and the students can scan it, and open it in their iBooks shelf. If they email the book all of the cool interactive features are lost …
My Year 8s at Beaui were very excited when I showed them how simple it was for me to collect their awesome Textiles assignments.
$4.49 from the iTunes store is a worthwhile taxable expense.

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November 5

Supporting your professional learning apps

There are many resources online which focus on education, developing leadership, and teaching and learning. I thought I would share 3 apps I came across which can definitely be linked to your own professional learning development.
I haven’t checked the android market, but I would be disappointed if developers only make mac versions.
For my followers in other states and countries, the apps I will be referring to here are focused on Victorian and Australian structures, curriculum and leadership development.

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I will start with Teaching and Learning. The development of the national curriculum is a huge thing to get a handle on. The National Curriculum App has been around for a while now, and is been updated regularly to reflect the current stage of development. It is a handy resource tool for those involved with the Leadership of teaching and Learning, as you have all of the requirements clearly at your fingertips.

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The set out is easy to follow, and you are able to access the information even when not connected to the Internet.
Very clear capability statements, and no doubt will continue to add each of the learning areas as they are developed. Great information on cross curricular focus. The best part is the price: free
Search for Australian Curriculum on the App Store.

E5 is an organisational model which has some powerful and reflective strategies for improving individuals and whole school approaches to teaching and learning. It dovetails neatly with developing engaging pedagogical practices to excite our students. A few years ago the DEECD gave each teacher a reflective journal for E5, but if you came into teaching after that you missed out… But miss out no more…

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For the paltry sum of $2 (less than a cup of coffee) you can have your own electronic version of the journal. Much more useful than the enormous book.

Finally we hear that the DEECD’s Sergiovanni leadership model is on the way out, to be replaced with the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL)’s national professional standards for principals.

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The app guides you through the standards, explaining and elaborating on a number of areas. Great resource for those in or aspiring to leadership positions.

Check them out and let me know what you think of them, were they helpful? Do you know of other apps which can help support your professional learning as an educator?

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October 12

Exam time – review and revision strategies

That time of the year again, practical studies teachers swamped with folios to finalise assessment, teachers providing feedback on work to students, students panicking because they have left studying up until the last minute… There must be easier ways to do this! Clearly some things won’t change, as we have external assessments to prepare students for. There are ways to improve how and when we give students feedback on work, and help them to develop deeper understanding of concepts and ideas covered during coursework, without increasing our workload to the ridiculous extremes that seem to always happen at this time of year – teachers up ’til all hours marking practice tests and essays so as to get the feedback promptly returned to students, students up ’til all hours writing practice essays and exam papers, then having to wait for the teacher to mark it, and then get the feedback.

By creating self correcting quizzes, or collaborative documents students can get immediate feedback, and strengthen the depth of their knowledge and understanding of topics and concepts. Yes it can take teachers some time to prepare these, but once they are done and online, just annual tweaking will reduce the workload significantly. Alternatively you can start to flip your classroom and get your students to develop the quizzes as a learning task. Win – Win in my books, developing deeper student knowledge of core concepts being taught, reducing teacher workload AND playing games – educational of course 🙂

Where to start?

Quizstar the fantastic people who brought you Rubistar – for developing rubrics online also now provide access to free online game making. You can

With QuizStar you can:

– Manage classes and quizzes

– Attach multimedia files to questions

– Make quizzes in multiple languages

– Access from any Internet-connected computer

– Allow students to complete and review

You need to add students, or have them add themselves, and then you can create your quiz in a number of forms – Multiple choice, True/false and short answer (Short answer ones do not self correct). You can modify your quiz, and see your students results. You can make student accounts, they don’t need an email address, so this is great for the little ones, and also some of the big ones who may need some incentive, or lack access at home. You create “class groups” and add your students, really simple process to use, I created quizzes for my senior Textiles students very quickly. There are lots of other resources on the website too.

Kubbu is a simple to use online quiz creator. Quickly and easily create a Teacher account then you are able to create a range of different types of quiz including: Crossword, matching, catergorising and dynamic quizzes.

kubbu quiz typesYou then have the option of either creating student groups (the free account allows you to have 30 students)  or you can get a web link, which allows you to post the link onto your LMS (Moodle, Ultranet, Daymap etc), email students the link, or pop it on your facebook or Edmodo group. The data from results is anonymous in the weblink version, but if you are using it as student revision and self correction this could be helpful. Creating student groups is much like the Quizstar option. If you like this the cost per year is quite reasonable.

Wanting more control of how and wherer your quiz is shared? Perhaps Hot Potatoes is for you. The Hot Potatoes suite includes six applications, enabling you to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for the World Wide Web. Hot Potatoes is freeware, and you may use it for any purpose or project you like. It is not open-source.

You will need to download the application, but this also means you don’t need an internet connection to create your quizzes. It also means you have control over where they are placed and who has access to them.

This is also a great way to get kids to create their own quiz as a learning task. Get them to put Hot Potatoes onto their Netbooks or Notebook. Have them share each others games!!

Socrative I mentioned in detail not so long ago, but just to reflect on this great tool for getting instant feedback. If you have an extended test you can send yourself a spreadsheet with all of your results. You can use it as a spontaneous pop quiz, with the responses on the IWB or Data projector.

Google Docs – Google Drive Fantastic tool to get students collaborating and sharing knowledge. ast year my year 12 students loved working together to create a study sheet. They felt really well prepared for their exams, and their results reflected this. Sometimes,, just hearing one of their peers explain a concept in a slightly different way becomes the “aha” moment for them.

So…. how do you prepare your students for exams? Is it fun or arduous? Do you use ICT to improve student preparation for exams? How?? I would love to hear about how others are using these and other great tools.

 

 

 

 

 

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September 7

My iPad my classroom

I have had the the iPad2 for a few months now, and thought I would share how it is transforming my classes, and the way I reflect on my teaching, and my students achievements.
So….here are my top 10 iPad features or tools which make my life easier.

My Number 1 feature is the camera, which allows me to record assessment tasks, students working, video myself to create podcasts of processes or procedures they may like to refer back to. I do take into account student privacy, and most photos of them at work are just hands and garments, and I check with them to make sure I have their approval to post images to our shared group on Flickr, blog posts or YouTube, and our Facebook group.

My number 2 goes to Evernote: the must have app on all devices, android phone, iPad, tablet, pc, MacBook, or any computer connected to the Internet. I am able to take notes, and they are then stored in the “cloud”, allowing me to be able to access them from any computer. I can also publish my notes on a range of platforms. For example is notes I make while doing professional learning can immediately be tweeted to my followers on Twitter. You can search through Evernote to find a specific topic or discussion very easily.

Number 3 blogging and reflecting: I am writing this through the WordPress App, which allows me to have easy access to all of my WordPress based blogs (this includes the DEECD’s Global2 and Edublogs as well as WordPress itself). I have ready access to all of my blogs and am able to quickly and effortlessly reflect on learning, achievements, outcomes, ideas and share with my blogging community.
As a part of my VCE Unit 2 Product, Design and Technology course students are investigating the use of ICT in a team based approach to working, so my Textiles blog has regular guest bloggers from the class, reflecting on challenges and projects, sharing the development of their work to each other, as well as a broader community. They are able to take photos and add comments as to how their challenges are progressing. I have shared this blog with the college community, and parents, to have authentic and immediate understanding of what tasks the students are working on.

Number 4 Authentic Assessment: I have been using the Easy Portfolio App (developed by a Victorian teacher – Jarrod Robinson aka the PE Geek) to create my own portfolios of student achievement, which I use when writing reports. This allows me to have a voice recording, add images, documents and links to allow the student to demonstrate levels of understanding. At the end of the unit I will email the portfolios to them in PDF form, so they can add to their own portfolio. I used this for semester 1 reports, and found it was a great way to ensure relevant, authentic, achievement based comments.

Number 5 Sharing: Dropbox is a must have App for the easy sharing of documents or images created on the iPad. Like Evernote, you can put it on all devices and share your documents and files through your secure cloud. You can also create links to files which others can access, saving postage on emails…hehehe…or if you wanted to share a document with people who’s emails you don’t know.

Number 6 Internet: the fact the iPad is so quick to launch allows you to get on to Daymap really quickly to mark rolls, check bulletins etc. Moodle, the Ultranet and email are all ready to go at your fingertips.

Number 7 feedback: Socrative, excellent immediate feedback to students, create quizzes to determine starting points, or exit questions to see how well topics covered in class were understood.

Number 8 creativity: Augmented reality…I am creating a range of triggers and videos which will become a virtual tour of the school at work. I also am looking at using it for some of the mundane classroom tasks like “threading the sewing machine and bobbin”…
Explain everything and Show me are two apps I am exploring to create Support videos for students, and to get them demonstrating their understanding of a range of concepts covered in class. Some fantastic music apps like GarageBand, allow you to create your own music to accompany ideas or podcasts without having to worry about copyright infringement
Inspiration and Popplet lite are great mind mapping tools, allowing you to share your thoughts in an ordered way.

Number 9 lifelong learning: ITunesU is a most fabulous tool for those lifelong learners…allowing you to explore a wealth of inversion standard courses which are open and ready for you to participate in. SCOTutor is an App all about learning to use your iPad….great resource.

Number 10 curating information: Live binders is a an app and website which allows you to “collect” information and then store it in topic binders. I was participating in a MOOC and used this to collect all of my resources on the topic. You can have them open, so you could share yours with a class, or students could share with you. The app makes it very easy to collect and curate the information. DIIGO and ScoopIt are also great tools for curation.

My “to explore and try out more” list includes Nearpod, Wunderlist and others as I discover them on ScoopIt, blogs and Twitter.

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What are your favourite tools or features of the iPad? Do you have a top 10? I found it hard to limit it to so few… Always trying new ones out!

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June 13

That time again

Reports…. although it is mandated that we write reports to let parents and students know how we believe they are going with understanding the topics we present them, just how much is really relevant? Are there better ways to report on student learning. At the recent Alan November conference which was a part of #ICTEV2012, he discussed the notion that kids respond best to feedback given within seconds, not days or even months. So it does make me wonder how we can improve our response times, and I have started to explore a few tools which do indeed make life and responding to students much simpler and faster. There are so many being developed, there is bound to be one that suits your needs and environment. Teaching on the senior campus, I know the students always have their phones on them, and in surveys I have done in my classes there are generally only one or two in the class who cannot access the internet on their phones. Here are a couple of Apps I have had some success with!

SocrativeThe first one I will mention is Socrative…. available in Teacher and Student versions… beautifully integrates with ANY device. So I am able to set up quizzes, general questions or use those already created on my laptop, PC, Macbook, iPad, tablet, ipod, iPhone or Android phone, any mobile device which is able to access the internet. This also means you can harness the powerful devices found in the students pockets… their phones – regardless of the platform they use. When you create a Socrative Teacher account you are allocatted a “Room Number”. When students login to the m.socrative.com they are asked to enter Your “Room Number” and then join – no creating accounts, or having to remember passwords…. simple and straight to the action. The exit quiz gives you immediate feedback as to how the kids are understanding the concepts you have taught them. Very much in the vein of Eric Mazur and his Flipped Classroom. The feedback I have had from the students I have used this with is very positive, they are engaged, and enthused to learn more.

Teachernotes in the App store

The second one I will mention is Teachernotes – developed for iPhone and iPad – not there for Android yet. I had been looking for a simple recording device where I can take photos of students work, record their progress, and primarily use it as my marking book…. This App offers all that and more. I can create up to 3 classes with the free version… the paid version is $5.49 and you can have unlimited classes. I can enter the names of my students, and record details of assessments on the fly, from conversations, folio development, interaction etc, the stuff that often gets overlooked in the recording and reflection processes, unless you have an amazing memory. Each note can be saved under the student’s name, and come report writing time, you have a list a mile long to draw from, reflecting on their learning over the semester, including potentially images and voice recordings. But wait there’s more….. as I have been recording my assessment of folios, I am then able to email their assessments/my reflections on areas which need work etc directly to the students! Win – win as far as prompt feedback and reflection is concerned!.

The last app I will mention is Nearpod… currently only available for iOS devices (that’s iPhones. iPod and iPads) and I have been hearing wonderful reports about it…. so once I finish my reports I will put together some personal feedback and a plan of attack.

 

NearPod

Engage and create

 

Of course all of these apps can only be really useful with effective teaching practices. These tools give us the opportunity to reflect on how we teach the kids we have in our classes, and it has the potential to transform the way we teach to produce better outcomes….. if we use the tools and don’t change how we teach, the bottom line will be not much change will happen! Let’s transform learning and teaching!! What do you think? Would love to hear from other people as to what apps they find most useful! And how they have transformed your classrroom…. are you flipped yet??

 

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June 2

My List: A Collection on “ipads” (ipads,ipad,ios,apps) | Diigo

My List: A Collection on “ipads” (ipads,ipad,ios,apps) | Diigo.

Oh this is cool, I have added the “Press this” button to my bookmarks bar, so I can share what I find on the web directly to my blog… sensational.

Diigo is a fantastic social bookmarking tool, which can be used to share sites with groups, or just to store your bookmarks in the cloud, so you can access them anywhere… if you create a Diigo account, make sure to add me as a friend/contact “starnott” so we can share.

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April 27

Are you free on……..?

Catching busy people for a face to face meeting can be a real challenge, email and phone ping pong can be frustrating, and then you just put it in the too hard basket. There is a solution, but it does involve you using your calendar effectively.

There are a couple of online programs which can help you to schedule meetings, or share your availability with others… either in a local group or much wider, depending on who you share your information with. Tungle  and Timebridge work seamlessly with Outlook or Google calendar to allow you to share your availability with your audience. You copy a link and send people directly to the times you are available, where they can “book in” a meeting.

Using just Outlook you can achieve a similar result, by being able to look at your contacts availability.

By filling out your calendar with each class, yard duty, regular meetings etc you give others the opportunity to see when you are available and schedule a meeting with you.

To access your calendar open Outlook and on the left of the screen you will see your mail boxes, and a list of other options, including “Calendar”

To create a new Meeting click on “New Item” and select “Appointment, then fill in the required details

To avoid the email ping pong, and get the best time you can click on your contact to get their available times (provided of course they have filled in their calendar see below)

When you click on the “Schedule a Meeting: link on the contact card you will get information on each person you have invited to the meeting – as to when they are available or busy.

So I hope this clarifies and simplifies meetings on Outlook. There are no doubt many ways to set up meetings online, but I have found this to be effective for me. So the tasks for you now are to set up your calendar, blocking out your busy times (teaching, yard duty or meetings already scheduled) and start booking your meetings through Outlook. Questions? Thoughts? would love some feedback.

 

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March 6

Getting your class into blogging

Blogging and bloggers are a vibrant part of the online communities many of us belong to. Technorati investigates what is going on in the blogging world with their “State of the Blogosphere” report. As well as you and I and our blogs, there is much blogging going on in the corporate world. Every company seems to have a blog link on their website, where media news and reviews are often posted. There are even people who get paid to write blog posts…for a writer, what a wonderful opportunity…

What better way to get your class going with their own blogging adventure, than to be a part of a global student blogging challenge. It’s not to late to join in. Simply pop along to the Edublogs Student Challenge information page, and look around to get some ideas if you have not blogged before.

Totally confused about what a blog is and where to start, check out the Redback Project blog for some info on what a blog is, and what it is used for.

So you just want to jump straight in and set up your blog? Go along to http://global2.vic.edu.au this is an Edublogs campus site set up by the DEECD, so you get all the safety and functionality of an edublogs subscriber, with none of the cost (if you are a Victorian Government or Catholic school).

Kathleen Morris has put together a brilliant “Getting started with blogging” post on her Integrating Technology blog, so for the nitty gritty on setting up your blog take a look.

Blogging is a great way to let parents see the good stuff that happens in your classroom. It is also a valuable reflection tool for your own ongoing learning. Developing a professional blog where you can reflect on your reading and learning is another weay you can record your professional learning hours for VIT registration.

Feel free to post questions here… the comments, feedback and dialogue is just part of what makes blogging so very powerful, and a fun way to learn, regardless of your age.

What do you enjoy about blogging? What is stopping you from blogging? What is stopping you from getting your class into blogging?

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October 5

Holiday meanderings, Google+ and Digital Story telling

I have spent these holidays catching up with reading and getting my head around the new Google Plus… which I had an invite to a while ago, but had few people I knew using it… so it was left on the backburner as the end of term chaos consumed life.

So Google + wow… I have been using Twitter since the early days, and have loved how I can expand my professional learning network by following people whose tweets I find interesting and relevant. I have eLearning connections all over the world now as a result. The only thing is that most comments are limited to 140 characters – which can be good, a bit like a haiku, you really have to think about how you say what you want to say, to get the full meaning and context.

Facebook I have mainly kept as a friend space… not wanting to bore my non techy friends with tech stuff… and vice versa with my other pastimes. I did create a “school” facebook account this year, because with a range of other tech issues and unreliability I at least knew all of my students would be able to log in and see my reminder posts etc.

The benefits so far with what I have played with and seen on Google+ is all the great things about twitter…lots of sharing of ideas with people you allocate to circles… you can also share publicly with the world. You can share your thoughts or ideas with as many or few people as you like by simply selecting the relevant circles.

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Google+ is still in testing… but so far it’s looking very good for educators wanting to develop their skills and knowledge with educators worldwide.

One of the features is a “Hangout” where you can get together with others and have a face to face chat over the internet. At the moment I believe up to 9 people can be involve, but this can present a great range of sharing opportunities not only locally but globally.

I was luck enough to participate in viewing a hangout session about Digital storytelling.  There were educators from all over the US who shared with us how they have used Digital Storytelling to get students to develop not only their literacy, but a wide range of skills including digital citizenship.

VoiceThread allows you to collaborate via text voice or image as you and your class discusses images, either as a starting point, or analysis of an artwork. There are education versions, which allow students to post with more security http://ed.voicethread.com/

Youth Voices Youth Voices is a school-based social network that was started in 2003 by a group of National Writing Project teachers. They have found that there are many advantages to bringing students together in one site that lives beyond any particular class. It’s easier for individual students to read and write about their own passions, to connect with other students, comment on each others work, and create multimedia posts for each other.It’s also an opportunity for educators to develop their knowledge about curriculum and digital literacies.

Storybird is a lovely site which has artists who collaborate by providing artworks which can be used to stimulate and illustrate story creation.

Teachers Teaching Teachers check out here for the next talk

GoogleLabs is being phased out… but has an amazing set of resources… imagine 3D Google earth for the body…or the Google Art Project, giving you tours of the worlds greatest galleries…Get in quick!!

Sketchfu is an online drawing and sharing program… very easy to use, and some great artworks to stimulate ideas.

Handling the enormous amounts of information is something we have to try to help our students resolve… Where do you find reliable sources? How do you know what is reliable? Where do you store the information. The easiest way is using a social bookmarking platform such as Diigo, Delicious or Google, where you can save your bookmarks on the cloud, and always have access to them, using keywords and tags to search for them.

Another couple of apps I came across over the break have been Scoop.it and Storify both allow you to create a “feed” of information on a specific topic.

With Scoop.it you can have a tool which sits within your web browser, and allows you to scoop any relevant topics for your area of interest. You then add new links each day or week, or when ever. Others can follow your topic, and add further relevant “scoops” to your page. You can in turn follow others who are “curating” topics which interest you. The topics are wide and varied.

Storify uses a range of social media such as Twitter, facebook, Google+, YouTube etc to draw information together to form a “story” on a specific topic. This could be a unit of work you have created with your students, or it could be the information you want your students to explore.

Both of these would be great ways for students to collaborate and sift though information to create a really useful knowledgebank of information.

Whatever way you want to delve into the digital classroom of the 21st Century, don’t imagine it can just happen… it needs a lot of pre-planning and organising by the teacher to ensure students don’t get lost in the information, or the technology.

Well… some correction to get done…..

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