Hour of Code is an annual event for schools organised by Code.org, a group that seeks to promote coding around the world, particularly supporting women and minorities. Typically, Hour of Code takes place in the first week of December, but the 200+ activities are available to explore anytime. It could be a good opportunity for you to increase the amount of coding you include in your teaching, or just to have options for fun end-of-year activities.
If you are interested in exploring Hour of Code with your students, we recommend you:
Have a group discussion about which students are interested in coding and what they may know already – perhaps skilled students could lead novice students
Take a look over the HoC activities library and offer students some choice about what/how they wish to learn
Consider incorporating robotics such as Edison (UES), MangoBot (LES) and Lego Mindstorms (UES-HS) either in-class or in the design lab(s)
Talk to anyone in Ed Tech for more specific ideas linked to your units
Outside of the Code.org library, there are other ways to explore coding with your students, including:
The Digital Limiter: prefers to keep their children away from the internet, and often strictly limit screentime. These children are often Digital Exiles, kept out of the digital world for as long as possible;
The Digital Enabler: respect their children’s’ abilities to make their own choices online and take cues from other families on how to use technology. These children are often Digital Orphans, left to explore on their own;
The Digital Mentor: enjoys spending time with their children online, cultivating their children’s skills and fostering online learning. These children are often Digital Heirs, inheriting their parents’ values and skills.
Read more about Dr. Samuel’s findings here in her article in The Atlantic.
When looking at the percentage of children who have misbehaved online, Dr. Samuel discovered that it is the children of Digital Mentors who are often making the best choices.
So how can we help our children make these good choices? How can we become Media Mentors them?
Keri-Lee Beasley and Daniel Johnson from GEMS World Academy in Switzerland created and shared a calendar of suggested activities for parents to use as ways to engage with their children and discuss. This calendar also includes links to resources to help support you in having some of the more difficult discussions or in some of the more technical skills.
As a family, you may not be able to take part in all of the activities with your children, but that’s okay! We encourage you to find the ones that you can take part in and make the time to start having these important discussions and mentoring conversations within your entire family!
VideoScribe is a super great app for creating whiteboard animations. The application allows you to create fun, energetic and animated presentations without the fuss of having to draw on your own. The final product makes it look like you are drawing the illustrations and text – it’s impressive! Every time I’ve created and presented a VideoScribe video, I’m asked “Is that your hand?” – the answer, no! In addition to the simple and effective means to creating an engaging, scribed presentation, the app allows you the option to zoom out, at the completion of the video, and provide the audience with an overview of the story having just been told. This is an added bonus as presentations can essentially double as both video and print based media. This adds an additional challenge for students – What will my presentation look like in print? Will it tell my story without the need for audio or the structured flow of a video?
Here is a short video, created using VideoScribe, that outlines the many benefits of using video as a powerful tool for communication, in particular, the effectiveness of whiteboard style multimedia.
Recently, I have been working with a High School EAL class on a digital storytelling unit. One of the three tasks within this unit, was to develop a persuasive piece, using VideoScribe, on a current political issue, from an English speaking country. The planning process was significant in that, not only did students need to storyboard their persuasive argument, they also needed to consider how they would use the app to effectively convey their message. This included:
the selection of appropriate images and key words
the right balance of images vs. text
a clear and concise script for the voice over
selection of an audio track that would assist in conveying the message
the visual layout of the information (text and images) at the completion of the video (zoomed out view)
Jesse (Grade 9) planning the overall layout of his scribe.
Wumian (Grade 9) working on his final presentation.
Wumian from Grade 9, choose to research and present his persuasive piece on the current debate in Australia: Should the date of Australia Day be changed? This is his presentation:
This is another example of VideoScribe being used in the classroom. This time, a Grade 8 student explains the Syrian Revolution. Emily (Grade 8) says “The bloody Syrian Revolution is still going on and people to this day are dying. We think that not a lot people know about this subject, which is why we made this video.”
VideoScribe is now available on the iPads in the Middle and High School and will soon be available on the ES iPads. If you’re keen to offer this app as an alternative option for video creation, or perhaps use this app to create your own flipped learning content, let me know you need any assistance. The VideoScribe website offers a series of tutorials to help get you started. These include adding text and images, change draw and pause times, adding audio and soundtrack files, and publishing and sharing your scribe. I encourage you to give it a go!
On Wednesday (Jan 17th, 2018) I lead a TTT (Teachers Teaching Teachers) for staff, from PreK-12, on iPad Tools for Creative Teaching and Learning. The purpose of the TTT was to introduce teachers to three apps that are now available on our (brand new!) iPad Pro 2 class set in the library. The apps will soon be available for Elementary classes which is why teachers from across the school were invited to attend (and are encouraged to continue reading if you happen to be an Elementary teacher!)
The apps covered in Wednesday’s TTT were Explain Everything, Stick Around and Apple Clips.
Explain Everything is an awesome tool for creating instructional and explanatory videos using visuals, annotations and narration. I’ve used this app in the past for blended or flipped learning, providing feedback to students and most often, for students to showcase their understanding and share with their peers. I’m currently working with Monique Cover and her EAL class for a digital storytelling unit. Then first project, in a series of three, has students developing an instructional, informative style tutorial using, you guessed it, Explain Everything. Students are required to develop a tutorial on a topic covered in either Science or Social Studies from last semester. Students will seek feedback from their teachers and make improvements before the final export. The idea is, students will “present” their completed tutorial to their teacher for use in future years. I’m also hoping that they will see what these students have been able to create and ask the question: “How do I do this with all of my students?”
Here is an example of an Explain Everything video created by on of my Grade 7 Science students from Caulfield Grammar School: Scout Squire.
The second app we looked at was Stick Around. Stick Around allows users to create puzzles using drawing tools and/or photos and add stickers with text, images, sound, arrows and/or drawing. Teachers could create puzzles for students (great for formative and timely feedback) or alternatively, students can create puzzles to communicate their understanding and share with their peers. Ideally, if students were creating the puzzle, you’d have a range of topics, so that on completion, all students can benefit from the creations. I’ve managed to set up a folder on the server which will store all Stick Arounds created. This allows them to be downloaded, once published and shared by the creator, by anyone with the Stick Around app. The only downside that I’ve picked up on, is that the puzzles can only be viewed (and played) through the Stick Around app. The files can be shared without a problem, but opening the puzzle is limited. The following video is an example of what a puzzle looks like to play.
The creation of the puzzle itself is surprisingly easy. I was pleased that two Kindergarten teachers that attended my TTT, Sally and Elizabeth, both expressed possible applications for their classrooms. They were also confident that their students, with minimal assistance, would be able to manage the intricacies of the app. This app is not only a great tool for labelling diagrams like in the planet example above, it’s also great for having students complete Venn diagrams, quadrants, tables etc. There are a number of templates that are built into the app which make creation of puzzles even more straightforward forward and accessible. The general steps involved in the creation are:
Design a background or select a template to use
Create the stickers – these can consists of images, video, weblink and even audio which is great for the littlies.
Set the answer scheme.
Publish and share the puzzle!
There are some fantastic resources out there to support this product. This is a thorough user guide and see this URL for a range of really great tutorial videos. I love this app!
The third app we looked at was the new Apple Clips . This is a quick and easy way to create and share fun videos with text, effects, images, stickers and more. There are so many ways that a tool like this could be used in the classroom: explaining a topic, givingformative feedback, examination and explanation of photos or diagrams, explaining the steps in a process, public service announcement or commercial, to name a few. Check out this awesome site that showcases 5 ways to use this app in the classroom and is well worth a look. Essentially, a video comprises of clips and each clip can be edited differently. For example, on clip might include a voice to text option. Another, might use a photo or video from the photo library. To work Clips you must press and hold the red record button. You can also hold the record button and swipe left to lock the record. A lock symbol will appear. This is useful for complicated or longer shots. From there you can add:
Live titles – to create these, a voice to text option is available of which I’m impressed with it’s accuracy.
Add filters like comic book or ink, stickers and emoji
Add overlays – this could be useful for labelling or drawing attention to a particular element
Export your video and save to your photo stream
Here is an example of a short movie I made using Apple Clips.
As you can see, Explain Everything, Stick Around and Apple Clips are some pretty awesome ways to create and share authentic learning. Although you may not feel completely comfortable in using an iPad in your classroom, Ed Tech is here to provide you the necessary support to take up learning opportunities, like these, for your students. Please send me an email if you’d like to chat further, or even better, if you’re keen to start using one of these apps.
“The immersive nature of virtual reality brings depth to educational content by engaging the senses and allowing exploration to a degree that would be difficult to duplicate within the confines of a classroom, making it an ideal catalyst for curiosity and true learning.” (Ashley McCann, TeachThought) So what is VR and how does it work?
On Thursday 16th of November, I ran a TTT on virtual and augmented reality. We started by engaging teachers in a Google Expedition of the Great Barrier Reef. Google Expeditions is a virtual reality teaching tool that lets you lead or join immersive virtual trips all over the world — get up close with historical landmarks, dive underwater with sharks, even visit outer space! There are currently over 700 expeditions available free for use. I have since found this incredible resource which documents details of all currently available expeditions. It is updated regularly and includes links to lesson plans created by teachers around the world. For those of you interested in running an Expedition in your class, browse this resource and then touch base with me about the expedition you are looking to run. Alternatively, provide me with a brief outline of your unit and I’ll do the research for you. We have 20 VR headsets for use – students will need to use their own phone with Google Expeditions app installed.
Last week I assisted Brian Germain in running two expeditions in his High School Psychology class. The theme was the nervous system so we began with a VR tour of the brain stem, limbic system, cerebrum and cerebellum, a neutron and synaptic transmission. What I enjoyed most, was the second expedition, to Everest, where Brian asked students a series of thought provoking questions, which has them thinking about the science they’d just explored. e.g. standing in the cold at base camp, what part of the brain is responsible for…? What a great way to make content meaningful.
During the TTT we also spent some time looking at augmented reality (AR). AR is the layering of virtual information over the physical world, or reality, using software and devices. Take a look at this Ikea Concept Kitchen to see AR in action!
One of the most impressive educational apps I came across when looking for AR content was Quiver Education. Essentially, students are provided with one of the colouring in sheets and then, using the app, bring their work to life. The Quiver app is free, however, the Quiver Education app (which is now available on the MS/HS Library iPads) does cost. Quiver Education provides the same magical augmented reality coloring experience, but with a greater focus on educational content than the awesome Quiver App. During the TTT, teachers attempted an AR quiz using a plant cell, explored the habitat of the Kiwi bird though sound and watched as a volcano erupted in front of their eyes!
If you are interested in introducing some AR or VR material into your classroom, don’t hesitate to contact me or any member of the Ed Tech team!
Over the summer holidays, we were fortunate enough to send 6 teachers to the Global Online Academy (GOA) Blended Learning Institute. In our time on the beautiful Island Wood campus, we had an opportunity to think about blended learning and what it could look like here at ISB. While the classroom teachers were focused on bringing in elements of blended learning into their IB DP Higher Level classes, I was looking at an overall picture: what makes an effective blended learning environment and what can we do to bring that into our new learning management system?
Based on the work of the GOA crew and their Catalyst Cards, I walked away with three things that all teachers can strive to put into their online learning environment:
a student-driven focus on learning
authentic, meaningful interactions
intentional cultivation of relationships
Regardless of your subject or of your content, these are elements that teachers can weave into what and how they teach. In fact, these are usually elements that are already in existence in a face-to-face environment! The questions for us now are, what are the tools that we can leverage and what are the skills that we need to explicitly teach in order to effectively introduce these elements into our classes on Dragons’ Exchange?