Tag Archives: Twitter

New year, new apps

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I download so many apps onto my iPad and only use a small percentage of them. I don’t download all of them for my personal use – I like to be able to recommend apps for others to use, that they may find helpful or interesting for them or their students.
By recommending apps to others, many people in return have given me recommendations of their own. Many of them I have used but not really made the most of it, so I’ve decided to write a list of apps that I want to give a red-hot go in 2017.

  1. Smiling Mind
  2. Buncee
  3. Seesaw
  4. Adobe Spark.

Not a huge list, but these are apps that I’ve had other teachers tell me about, or found out about through my fantastic Professional Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter.

Stay tuned for updates on how I’m using these apps in the school setting…not just the classroom, as my 2017 role is going to be broader than a classroom!

The power of Classroom Connections

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In my second year of teaching, I began a classroom blog. That was my first adventure into classroom connections using modern technology…penpals had been a less than successful experiment in my first year!

In my fourth year, I was still blogging and came across @misskyritsis on Twitter. I have a feeling that we connected our classrooms using a Mystery Skype format and then a few weeks later, we connected with another Year 4 class to discuss and share our Christian Studies presentations about Religious Festivals. We Skyped @misskyritsis again, plus another class to share our Genius Hour ideas and progress. Kids love talking to other ‘real’ kids!

My Year 4’s began participating in the 100 Word Challenge (#100wc), giving and receiving feedback on other students writing. How powerful!

Last year, I was still blogging, Skyping and sharing comments and blog posts with classrooms all around the world. My Year 2s helped me write draft comments, reply to other blog visitors and broadened their geographical knowledge of country location due to the variety of people visiting our blog!

This year, I teach Preps on a Thursday afternoon. We do a poem and craft related to the sound of the week and then visit the library. Throughout the year, I stumbled across a Prep blog, which I showed the class. They loved seeing other ‘real’ Preps’ work and writing, so we began commenting. We Skyped them and their teacher @kaz_phi and talked about the similarities and differences between our school – their school is near a beach!! During our Bookweek, they Skyped us to share a picturebook that they had reflected in their artwork…so we listened to the story and created our own artwork too!

Yesterday was my birthday and the highlight of classroom connections is receiving a gorgeous audio message of a class of Preps singing Happy Birthday to me- we’ve never met in person, but it was so beautiful to hear it!

Why SHOULD you connect with other classes?

  • geography skills
  • authentic speaking and listening skills
  • to share ANY aspect of your learning
  • to learn from another class
  • to widen your audience for class presentations
  • debating purposes

Why AREN’T you connecting with other classes?

Building Cup Towers

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Last Friday I was responsible for organising some team building activities to promote clear communication and negotiation skills. I had around 15 students to work with, so I decided to do the “Cup Tower Challenge”, as many of you saw on Twitter.

In all of the links on Pinterest about this activity, you provide each group of students with a supply of plastic cups and a rubber band with pieces of string tied to it (one piece of string per group member). As luck (or poor time management) would have it, I didn’t have time to cut and tie the pieces of string to the rubber band, so I just sat the three resources separately, as a bit of an extra challenge.

Students arrived at their table to:

  • 6 plastic cups spread out
  • one rubber band
  • 4 pieces of string.

My instructions were simple:

Build a tower out of plastic cups without any part of your body touching the cups.

I was interested to see that every single group ignored the rubber band, instead looping the string around the cup and tightening the grip to pick the cups up that way. I will admit, for most groups it was successful, but as the outcome was communication and negotiation, I knew I needed to up the ante.

I watched for a further 5 minutes, taking photos and videos, giggling at those teams who were absolutely lost for ideas and had no collaboration skills to fall back on.

My next instructions were just as simple:

Tie each piece of string to the rubber band. Now, build the tallest tower out of plastic cups without any part of your body touching the cups.

Each team still only had 6 cups on their table. However, I had bought a pack of 100 cups…so I spread the remaining 76 cups out on a table around 4 metres away from the groups.

This time there was more urgency – there was more at stake as groups wanted to be creating the tallest tower. Most of the groups quickly worked out how to use their rubber band-string contraption and were ready to start.

Group 1 decided to collect as many of the 76 cups as they could first – and they did so by stacking one cup on top of another, flipping the cup stack upside down to ensure they were secure, before putting it on top of another cup…all using their rubber band and string.

Groups 2 & 3 chose to stack their original 6 cups first before beginning to collect extra cups.

Group 4 took quite a while to establish how to tie the string to the rubber band. Then the pieces of string were too close together. Someone kept pulling too hard and letting go too early, which meant that cups were dropped and knocked over. Needless to say, a lot of this group’s cups ended up on the floor, which meant they needed to pick them up…using only their rubber band and string.

It was an absolutely fabulous social experiment team building activity…and a great reflection task, especially for Group 4.

EdTechSA presentation

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For all those who were at the @EdTechSA conference in Adelaide and were in my workshop, you’ll know we had some technical difficulties – ha, yes – at a technology conference.

EdTechSA 1

As we all know, flexibility is the key, so after 15 minutes of me talking with a blank screen, various cord changes, menu options, adapter swaps…we had lift off!

If you’d like the links to the resources I talked about in the presentation (ipad resources, apps and websites, please feel free to download the PDF version. You’ll notice that I’ve removed the videos and photos which had identifiable students in them – sorry, I don’t have permission to share them further than the conference.

Enjoy!
P.S. The lovely @JessOttewell actually filmed 11 minutes of my presentation – so if you want to experience some of it…you guessed it, jump on to Twitter, search for (and follow) Jess and you can see for yourself!

Technology Tuesdays – Skype

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Yesterday I held my final Technology Tuesday session for Term 3. The topic was Skype, which I use quite regularly in my classroom. Being 4.5 hours from Adelaide and 6 hours from Melbourne, we don’t get the same range of guest speakers that other schools may get in larger cities. I find that Skype can be fantastic for this, as it allows the students to still talk to an expert – and their teacher isn’t an expert at everything!!

I have also used Skype to chat with authors, such as Wendy Orr when my class read Nim’s Island. To actually ask the author about the book, instead of guessing what she was thinking or where she got her ideas from, was an amazing opportunity. Sharing lessons and projects with classes at other schools is such a powerful tool as students can see what other children their age are doing and how the quality of work can vary. At a conference recently, I was introduced to the concept of Mystery Skype, which I am excited to try very soon!

I use the Skype Education website, and you will need an account. The website is full of teachers and lessons to connect with, but I also connect with possible Skype-ists via Twitter.

For people that came to my Skype session, I created a very basic handout which you can find here. It just showcases a few examples of how I have used Skype in my classroom, which are all featured on my class blog.

Technology Tuesdays

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During Term One I attempted to run “Technology Tuesdays” at school to help assist staff to integrate technology, in particular iPads into their planning, teaching and learning. Other schools have “Techie Brekkies” which I feel is a great idea, except the part that means I would have to get up early. After school works better for me!

I had grand plans and ideas. But as the term wore on, there was very little interest in the after school sessions. 

Following a staff survey about iPad use at school, I decided to give Technology Tuesdays another go for Term Three – with a few adaptations.

A term schedule – These sessions will only be held on Tuesdays that we do not have a full staff meeting. Our meeting nights are Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but there isn’t a meeting scheduled for every staff member each Tuesday. I’m also going to add the schedule to the school calendar and invite staff to attend. To see what my plan is (so far) for Term 3, have a look here: Technology Tuesdays

Options – I’ll be uploading the content for each session here, onto this blog. That way, if staff can’t make it – there’s always the option to catch up later! Which leads me to the third adaptation…take-aways.

Take-Aways – Although I’m trying to reduce my paper usage, I’ve learnt that staff love to have a piece of paper with instructions on it to take home and look at later. Yes, I know they can take a photo of it, or just take notes on their iPad, but it can also work this way too! Because I’m aiming to create independent staff members my handouts will be more like step-by-step guide so staff will hopefully be able to teach themselves. The handouts will be uploaded here in the blog post here each week.

 

The first Technology Tuesday’s topic is ‘Twitter‘. I’ve designed a 3-Level Challenge for staff, ranging from beginner, to novice, to expert. These Challenges were based around @mrrobbo‘s 14 Day Twitter Challenge, but adapted to suit my school and the staff who work there.

Feel free to use or adapt! Perfect for anybody new to Twitter as a PLN (Professional Learning Network).

Twitter 101: Twitter Level 1

Twitter Know-How: Twitter Level 2

Twitter Extra: Twitter Level 3

BONUS – Twitter + AITSL

 

I’d love to hear about your success stories about staff PD for ICT use at your school!

Switch off!

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The week leading up to the Victorian school holidays, @KatSchrav, as the moderator of @Edutweetoz tweeted this:

Screenshot 2014-07-09 13.37.43

As you can see, #digitaldowntime wasn’t a major priority for me – I hadn’t really thought about it, but appreciated its value.

However, it got me thinking… I need to schedule it in.

My first thought was to have Technology Free days – you know, no phone, no tv, no iPad, no laptop… but to be honest, that would be fairly difficult for me. I use all of those things (apart from the tv) during my work day at school.

My second thought was to limit my iPad and laptop use to just at work. But, it would be unfair to limit my technology use to only while at school – all teachers know that there is SOME level of preparation that happens at home, and there is only so much laminating you can do without using the computer to print something else off!

I have opted for this, the third option: switching off from technology outside of school hours for two days per week – Monday and Friday. I asked myself – what will this mean?

It means my iPad and laptop will stay in my bag when I get home until I unpack them at work the following morning. I’ll have to be more organised – no more posting on the class blog when I get home, no more researching a new lesson idea for the following day.

It means I will only use my phone for phone calls, messages and photos – no Facebook, no Twitter, no internet searching, no Pinterest, no frantic recipe searching for dinner (I have enough recipe books in paper format!)

It means that I’ll be able to relax and enjoy some new interests in my life – going to classes at the gym, learning more at aerial yoga, baking and cooking new treats as part of my ‘I Quit Sugar journey’, and playing with my new puppy. I might even have time to have real conversations with the people around me. I can still watch tv…without ‘multi-tasking’ with 6 different browser windows and apps open.

It means that I’ll have to let go of my F.O.M.O. (Fear Of Missing Out) that I experience when I leave the worlds of Facebook and Twitter – what if I miss an important event in my friends’ lives? What if I miss a revolutionary idea that is going to change the education world? What if I don’t read that email from an angry parent and respond immediately? I will have to catch up on Twitter chats that happen on Mondays and Fridays…that’s just how it will be.

I’m only starting on Monday the 14th of July – it’s my Term 3 Resolution. 

It’s a wellbeing thing. Switch off. Join me. I dare you. 

Technology & ASD

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Referring to teaching students with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), I was inspired to write this post by a question asked during #pstchat tonight on Twitter.

Q7. Does technology provide tools that help students with ASD? #PSTchat
17/06/2014 8:28 pm

Yes, it does. But it’s not the be all and end all.

One of my students ‘hates’ writing. I suggested that he could use the iPad to record his thoughts, plan, draft etc. No, he didn’t want to because “Nobody else is.”

Some children with ASD like to be the centre of attention, or don’t realise that they are being treated any differently. Others are very switched on and are agitated by the fact that they are ‘different’. When using technology with ASD students, there needs to be a clear purpose. 

I have used iPads as a reward for a student who could do 20 minutes of solid work. It had a clear purpose – to motivate the student to achieve as well as give his brain a break and clear his head in the 10 minutes of iPad time.  Clearing his head was a positive strategy in order for him to consume the next set of instructions.

For non-verbal ASD students, the app “Tap To Talk” can be helpful for constructing a line of communication. Other communication tools like voice recorders can provide relief for those hard-to-handle moments when things are hard to understand!

I have used apps like ‘Strip Design‘ and ‘Comics Head‘ for ASD students to help construct social stories, using speech marks and photos of themselves. The power of having a photo of themselves is fantastic and gives a lot more meaning to the activity.

In instances where ASD students may ‘need’ to do some writing, or produce literacy content, apps like Educreations, Explain Everything or 30 Hands can offer them the opportunity to record their voice, annotate photos and complete the task successfully.

Even a the simple timer or stopwatch in the ‘Clock’ app on your iPad can prove to be a useful device for students with ASD. It shows elapsed time for a set timeframe, so it is visual for them to see, but can also emit a sound to signal the end of the activity.

Sitting an ASD student in the corner with an iPad while you teach everybody else an entirely different concept is rarely productive and isn’t a feature of an inclusive classroom. ASD students need to be interacted with, listened to and appreciated within a classroom. Celebrate their successes!

Many of these suggestions are suitable for all students, not just those with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

App of the Week #2: Twitter

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twitter

What is it?

Twitter is a social media platform, used for conveying thoughts, opinions, photos and links in only 140 characters (letters, numbers, punctuation & spaces).

Why should I download it?

From an educational perspective, Twitter is the perfect base for constructing an active PLN (Professional Learning Network). If you want to find out more about education, connect with like-educators and increase your knowledge and resources, don’t hesitate to download and sign up! It the the best form of free, instant Professional Development that an educator could ask for.

What do I use it for?

In the first few days of using Twitter, a lot of people are still finding their feet. There is the opportunity to just ‘lurk’; watching what others post without responding or being actively involved. As you come across information that you find useful, you can save it as a favourite, start to follow the user who ‘Tweeted’ it to see what other pieces of sage advice they have to offer, or respond to the ‘Tweeter’ to find out more.

How do I get it?

Click here to be directed to Twitter in the App Store.

This post is the second in a series, highlighting apps which can be helpful in the education ‘game’.

8 lessons from my holiday reading

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One of my #nurture1314 wishes for 2014 is to read more. I wrote earlier that I was going to aim for one book per term and one book per holidays.  So far these holidays, I have read two.  Both for pleasure, although they are both related to work. I am hoping that what I have taken from these two books is going to change my teaching and my learning. I must be honest – one book took me 2 days to read, as I was trying to do a few other things at the same time, whereas the other book took me a total of 65 minutes. They also have numerous highlightings and bookmarks thanks to my Kindle app!

This is what I have learned so far…

Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids (Chris Biffle) @ChrisBiffle

Lesson 1: Keeping the whole brain of a child busy reduces challenging behaviour. It stands to reason that if a student is too busy thinking and learning, they have less time to distract others, flick pencils across the room and draw on their arms. I had never thought of the classroom as a war-zone, but Biffle writes,

“Year after year, good teachers leave teaching because they are tired of warring with disruptive kids.”

I do not want to be one of those teachers. I want to stand strong.

Lesson 2: Manage your own behaviour as a teacher before trying to manage the behaviour of a student.  I have definitely lost my cool more than once in the classroom, but giving myself a weekly ‘teaching score’ as a reflection is probably fair if I expect students to reflect on their own behaviour.

Lesson 3: A classroom only needs 5 classroom rules, as long as they are referred to constantly and used consistently. I loved how Mrs Maestra’s rules activated five different areas of the brain – hence the term Whole Brain.

Lesson 4: Keep your instructions short, always. Follow the instruction with an opportunity for students to teach each other what you have just taught them. Repetitive, but effective.

Why School? (Will Richardson) @willrich45

Lesson 1: “Access doesn’t automatically come with an ability to use the Web well.” (Richardson). This is probably my favourite quote from this book. The majority of our students have access, yet parents and teachers still need to guide them and support them in their technology journey.

Lesson 2: Telling students to “do your own work” should become a phrase of the past. Collaboration is the key, the buzz word, the new line of teaching and learning. Richardson writes that it we should be telling students, “do work with others, and make it work that matters.”

Lesson 3: Newer doesn’t necessarily mean better. To quote my mother, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” applies to education as well. Hasty decisions get made in education all the time because some school strive to be the biggest and best…and beat everybody else. Just because the school down the road has X,Y & Z doesn’t mean that your school’s U, V & W are completely redundant. When new devices and programs first come out, they’ve still got glitches and wrinkles to be ironed out. Patience is a virtue.

Lesson 4: Talking to strangers these days is a completely different concept to what it used to be. I freaked out my boyfriend the other day by telling him that I met for coffee with one of my Twitter friends. He had trouble getting his head around the fact that this ‘stranger’ was in fact somebody that is part of my PLN and we were just being complete nerds and getting together in the holidays to talk about…school. Yes, as he reminded me, talking to strangers can still be dangerous, I know that!  The ‘strangers’ in my PLN on Twitter teach me so much and I am forever grateful to them.

Next on my reading list: Beyond the Hole in the Wall and Twirling Naked in the Streets and No One Noticed.  Has anybody read any of these books? I’m keen to find out your thoughts!