Monday, 20 February 2017

Digital Bytes 20th February 2017

Kindness: A Lesson Plan

The folks at Edutopia have put together another great article on ways of incorporating more kindness into your classroom. With detailed suggestions and resources, you are bound to get some new ideas to enhance your personal and social education lessons.

We could all use a little more kindness in our lives.

Starter Questions for Seesaw reflection

During a twitter chat on the weekend about portfolios, one of the teachers shared a padlet of questions prompts and sentence starters that students can use for reflection. Sometimes, reflections can become “same-y” and a little stale. Why not refresh your reflections with this padlet?

Spreadsheet Activities for Every Subject

Eric Curts has put together 5 ways spreadsheets can be used by students. Check out his webinar, or scroll down to explore each of the 5 suggestions in a shorter format. I think the pixel art challenge could be a fun activity!

Monday, 13 February 2017

Digital Bytes - 13th February 2017

Apple Teacher

Apple recently launched their Apple Teacher programme - a series of self-paced professional development modules for educators. Gain badges which help move you to becoming an Apple Teacher for Mac and/or for iPad.

Commenting in Google Docs

Take your commenting in Google Docs to the next level. Many people know that you can leave written comments but did you know that you can leave voice comments, video comments and hand-written comments too? To do this, you will need to use some Chrome Extensions. This article take you through the process one step at a time.

Why Drawing Needs to be a Curriculum Essential

This article from the Guardian explains how images are a primary visual language and we need to create images and also be able to understand them.

Try out some fantastic drawing apps on the iPad like Adobe Draw, Paper 53 or Drawing Pad.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Friday Friendly: Bloggers from Outer space...

If you've recently been thinking about ways to make use of ePortfolios next year..or next month: this post's for you.

Wait.  Back up a minute.  Why should we use online portfolios?
In addition to inherent components of reflection, which traditionally have been viewed as internal (thinking about one’s own learning and that thinking primarily benefiting ourselves), we need to take a closer look at amplifying reflection by sharing our reflection transparently (learning how to articulate and make our thinking visible to others and the learning benefiting ourselves AND others). By sharing our reflection beyond a teacher or a classmate, we acknowledge our voice as learners and the role that it can play in the learning process (our own process or the one of others).-Silvia Tolisano
(The full pitch on how to Amplify Reflection is here)

You mix it up. You think about the plethora of styles and approaches to building your portfolio.  Here are a few ways to go about doing just that:

But I don't want to be the only lone ranger using portfolios...

We don't want that either.  Here's what a few of your amazing colleagues have to say about experimenting with the approach:

Ok, then.  So how far can blogging/portfolio curation fly?

Outer space.  Seriously.

Meet three astronauts who blog from a long, long way from home.
(PS you can leave them comments and strike up a conversation too)

1. Alexander Gerst's Blue Dot Blog

You can follow him on Twitter as well, his profile is here.

2. The Great Outer Space with Joe Acaba

3. Daily updates from the NASA Space Station

The full guide to NASA's social media is available here.

Lastly, enjoy this 24/7 livestream from space looking down on you this weekend, let's give them something to blog about!

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Podcasting our Book Club Conversations

Book Club conversations are an important part of a UWCSEA literacy education. Thinking deeply about a shared text, sharing understandings and connections, and - crucially - listening to the perspectives of others, all contributes to our reading experiences.

As teachers, we know these conversations are valuable, but we can only be in one place at one time. Listening to one group's discussions has the opportunity cost of missing out on the other conversations.

Podcasting book club conversations has a number of benefits - not least of which being teachers have the opportunity to gain an insight into more conversations.

Knowing a conversation will be recorded adds a layer of accountability for students, meaning they tend to take it more seriously. They consider their word choice more carefully, ensure they provide evidence for their assertions and listen with greater consideration.

G5 teacher Andrea McDonald began the podcasting process for her students by listening to great examples. Book Club for Kids has a whole host of age-appropriate options. They also listened to a charming episode of the Modern Love podcast called 'What it's like to fall, quite literally, in love'.

Andrea provided an A3 planning sheet for students to write sentence starters to use as prompts for their discussion. The class wanted natural sounding conversations that were largely unscripted, to give it that sense of authenticity they love when listening to podcasts.

Here are some documents Andrea created in support of the planning and preparing, including some examples of student work.

Once planning had been completed, the groups found quiet spots to record. We decided on using iMovie for easy editing later, however, GarageBand would be another great choice.

To enhance the quality of audio, we used headphones with a microphone placed in the middle of the group. Students recorded their discussion in chunks on a shared iPad and airdropped their footage to their individual laptops afterward.

One thing we learned (the hard way!) was not to record in 1080p, but to change the settings to 720p instead. We had some difficulty getting the footage to individual computers due to the sheer size of the files. The students were very patient with this frustrating aspect of the process.

Next, it was time to edit. Adding clips to iMovie was pretty straight forward, so we just showed them how to detach the audio from the video clip, and replace the image so the emphasis could be on the conversation itself.

Making decisions to cut aspects of their conversation was really hard for many! But always good practice to learn about cutting to strengthen the overall process. Most podcasts ended up between 10 - 15 minutes in length.

Below you will find a few examples of our finished podcasts. It was our first attempt, but a great learning experience for us all.