Making real connections at the DLTV conference 2014

Blown away, amazing, practical and awesome are just some of the words to describe this year’s Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria conference at Swinburne. I was fortunate to attend the DLTV conference as both a presenter and attendee. Some great things I took away from the conference (in no specific order) were:

  • Inspirational key note speakers (Adrian Camm and Khoa Do). I don’t think I can fully capture the impact these speakers had on me in words. They used their own experiences (as educators and film makers) to show that anything is possible.
  • Seeing the power of Google apps for the classroom and to organise myself as a teacher and my students. I am really making use of Google forms, Google tasks and Google calendar. I have gotten my students to complete post reflection tests using Google forms (I only had access to 6 iPads), but the ease of using it was fantastic.
  • Understanding the importance of giving students more say in their learning and the apps they choose to use. As teachers, we don’t always have time to search and trawl through the thousands of apps out there, but students do. Why not get some appsperts in your class and let them review apps and choose which apps to use to show their thinking?
  • How students can really show their creativity through movie making and green screening. I have now downloaded the app Green Screen by Do Ink and plan to use this with my class. It’s a great app to use especially if you don’t have a 1:1 iPad system.
  • You can learn from everyone. Last year when I attended the conference, I didn’t think I had anything I could bring to the community. However, this year when I chose to present on ‘Blogging in the Early Years’, I realised that everyone has something to contribute. I feel that I shared some useful ideas and knowledge on blogging.
  • Implementing change in schools takes time. I went to a fantastic session on ‘Motivating the Masses’ and this was a main theme throughout the DLTV conference sessions I attended. Whether you are a principal, have a position of leadership or classroom teacher, it all takes a long time. It also doesn’t matter what you are implementing, be it Google apps, iPad apps, etc, you need to be patient and not expect things to change overnight. Before implementing any change, it is very important to know the three Ps which are: knowing your product, your people and your process. It is also so important to get people on your side (followers or early adopters) – see this fantastic clip on leadership, dancing guy.
  • There are so many fantastic teachers out there and I feel so motivated and supported when I talk with them. Meeting people who I have communicated with on twitter and then meeting them in person to chat about teaching is insanely fun.

I can’t wait for next year’s DLTV conference! 🙂

Explain Everything v Thinglink

ThinglinkExplain Everything

For many projects and assignments, I have often used the iPad app Explain Everything for Year 1 and 2 students to share their thinking. I have used Explain Everything for students to explain the features of 3D shapes and how they have worked out particular maths strategies. Thinglink has been used for students to review books they like or to make a quick comment about an image. After students make these projects, we share their work on the interactive whiteboard. It’s a real thrill for students to see their work displayed for the whole class to see.

Pros of Explain Everything:

  • Pictures, photos, text, symbols (arrows, etc) and videos can be inserted.
  • Students can draw pictures using the tools.
  • Students can record their voice.
  • The final Explain Everything project can be copied to the photo roll of the iPad, and then played on an ordinary computer.

Cons of Explain Everything:

  • It is not that intuitive and not simple to use (for year 1 and 2 students at least). Students need to be explicitly taught what each symbol (i.e. the + one for new slide) means, how to insert a picture or take a picture and so on. Inserting arrows and different coloured text needs some playing around with.
  • I am still not sure how students do this, but sometimes when students draw a picture and then record their voice explaining the image, the picture somehow disappears until the very end of the video.

I recently discovered a great app called Thinglink. This is also an app where students can share their thinking.

Pros of Thinglink:

  • Pictures, photos, text and videos can be inserted.
  • Students can make a video.
  • The final Thinglink can be embedded into a blog.
  • It is intuitive and very easy to students to learn how to use.

Cons of Thinglink:

  • The final Thinglink cannot be saved onto the camera roll.
  • Students can’t draw pictures.
  • Internet connection is required for work to be displayed.

Overall, I feel that if I want students to make a book response or project that doesn’t require it to be saved onto the camera roll, Thinglink will be my preference.

How do you feel about using Explain Everything and Thinglink? Which one do you prefer students to use and why?

Tellagami

Update: the function on tellagami where you can type what a character is to say and they read it aloud is no longer free 🙁

Recently I used the iPad app called “tellagami” with my Year 1/2 students and they loved it!

“Tellagami” is an app that can be used to make videos. This is how it works:

  • Students need to choose a background. They can choose from the ones on the app or take a picture of their own.
  • Students need to choose a person to talk. They can choose whether the person is male/female, what they look like (hair colour, eye colour, clothing).
  • Students then need to record their own voice or choose a voice on the app. There are many different voices to choose from, both male and female sounding voices.
  • The “tellagami” needs to be saved to appear on the iPad’s photoroll.

At my current school, we teach students resilience through the program called “You Can Do It!” or “YCDI!” This term, our YCDI key is “Organisation”. In groups of two or three, students were tasked with choosing a background in the classroom of an area that shows organisation and choose a person on the app to speak. Some students took pictures of their lockers, the book corner and the whole class sitting on the mat. They then practised saying how this demonstrated organisation. Next, students recorded their voices.

I saved these videos onto the iPad’s photoroll and then uploaded them to schooltube. My students loved seeing their work showcased as a video and it made teaching organisation much more engaging!

How have you used “tellagami” in the classroom?

A Tale of Two Blogs – The Benefits of having an Open Blog

I was recently asked what are the benefits of blogging and found myself having so many wonderful things to say about it.

Blogging is a fantastic learning tool and I couldn’t recommend it more highly. I have witnessed firsthand the benefits of utilising an open blog in the classroom and will compare it to the private/closed blog I initially used.

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 10.48.53 AM

Photo credit:  via dreamstime.com

The main benefits of the open blog (comments are moderated by me and there are guidelines based on this) are:

  • Students’ literacy skills improve. They learn how to answer questions posed in the blog and by other people, respond to others in a respectful manner, pose their own questions and navigate around the features of an internet website.  They have also become more adept at typing and some students know how to copy and paste their typed comments in the event it is not sent.  At the start of the year, I wrote most of the blog posts and replied to most of the comments. Now my students can comfortably reply to anyone who writes on the blog and I provide less support.
  • Students are engaged.  Students love seeing their work and that of their peers. They love being able to read and respond to events and things that they have been a part of. I provide class time for my students to write comments, but more than half of my students also voluntarily respond to the blog at home.
  • There is an authentic audience. Often the only people who read student work is the teacher and themselves.  Using this blog, students are creating work and writing comments for a real audience. Using widgets like ClustrMaps shows students that people around the world are looking at their work. Siblings, parents, parents from other classes and other teachers in the school have viewed the blog and some have even commented.
  • It is used as a vehicle to teach internet safety. The blog is a great way to teach cyber safety and the importance of being safe online.  My students know that anything we write on the internet can be seen by the whole world and as a result, we must be very careful about what we choose to include. They know that surnames, addresses, email addresses and specific details are not things they should publicise.
  • It can be linked to all areas of the curriculum. The fantastic thing about having a blog is that it can be used to share student work, reflect on a specific unit in maths, reflect on our learning, share school excursions, and so on. The possibilities are endless!
When I used a closed/private blog last year, this is what I found:
  • Students were not engaged. When I asked students if they wanted to write a comment, the majority of my students were not interested. This could be due to the fact no work or photos were displayed so there was little they could relate to.
  • There was no authentic audience. As it was private, it meant the students could not access it at home to show their parents. Other teachers within the school could not comment and people from around the world were not able to view it.
  • It could not be used as a vehicle to teach internet safety. As it was closed, I could not say to my students “We need to be careful about what we write on the internet because anyone can see this.”
  • The failure of the closed blog almost made me give up the idea of having a class blog, but after seeing some amazing open classroom blogs, I decided to persevere. And I am glad I did!
Before starting my classroom blog here I had no experience with blogging and had never attended any PDs. What I found most useful was looking at fantastic classroom blogs like this and simply googling anything I didn’t know. For example, I wanted to insert a page and didn’t know how so I simply googled “how to insert a page on edublog.”
There is still so much more about blogging that I would love to learn!
What are your experiences of using a class room blog?