Tuesday, 18 October 2011

G5 Photography with the iPod Touch

I had a blast with G5 AMC recently, showing them a couple of tips about Photography, together with some iPod Touch Apps for taking/editing pictures.

Talking to colleague (and photographer extraordinaire) David Caleb allowed me to share the following key tips:
  1. Perspective - try different approaches to a shot. 'Bird's Eye View' and 'Worm's Eye View' give a different look/feel to your photos.
  2. Stay Steady - lean on something, or lock your elbows in - whatever - to help keep your iPod Touch still when you take the photo. 
The apps we explored were:

Camera+ - 99c - the editing features of this app make it a complete bargain buy at 99c in my humble opinion. It makes photos taken in poor light that would otherwise be unusable, suddenly have value again. The scenes, effects & borders are my favourite features, and the G5s certainly enjoyed experimenting with them.

TiltShiftGenerator - $2.99 - The app description  explains, "By throwing out of focus things that ought to be in focus, scenes appear as if in miniature." This allows some wonderful effects, where a blur can be applied to the exterior of a line, or a circle in your image.

ProHDR - $1.99 - This app takes two images at different dynamic ranges, and merges them together to create an image with excellent exposure. It's great for shooting architecture, particularly where there are shaded sections contrasted with brighter light.

Adobe Photoshop Express - Free - this free app has some basic editing features (crop etc) and some neat effects you can apply to your photos.

Students spent 10 -15 minutes capturing pictures using these apps (sometimes in combination), and then came back to the class for 10 - 15 minutes editing and emailing them to themselves for use in class work later. I hope you enjoy the following examples of their work.

Alex used TiltShiftGen then imported the finished
product into Photoshop Express & changed the
saturation levels

Iris used Camera+ for this image, with an Emo effect
& vignette

Casper took this with ProHDR
Nikhita took this with TiltShiftGen

Florence used Camera+ for this shot
of our diablos
Jackson used Camera+ for this
picture of our wall

Dylan & Adhwaith used TiltShiftGen
to take this shot down our empty
Jackson used Camera+ with a vignette for this image

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Mahara - Sharing a Journal

By default, any content students create in Mahara, including their journals, is private to them.  This is a feature built in to the platform that is actually reinforcing the desired model of having students make considered choices of what they publish and share.
The idea is that students select the artifacts that best represent their learning for a particular purpose, whether this is a class, activity, tutor group, or parent audience.

This video demonstrates how to simply share an entire Journal by creating and sharing a page in Mahara.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Parent Coffee Morning 1: Social Networks

The Digital Literacy Team at East is pleased to welcome parents to our first Coffee Morning - this time focusing on: Social Networks: Why they matter, and how you can help your child develop a positive online presence.

We looked first at what was worrying you about Social Networks. Here is a wordle which shows your concerns:

The Digital Literacy Team has looked carefully at these. We have examined recent research, talked with students and other parents and teachers to put together some information regarding these issues. We hope you can see your concerns as opportunities to open the doors of communication with your child. 

1. Time
How much time with technology is too much? What's appropriate for a child at a particular age? The answers to these questions will be different for every family, and depend on a variety of factors - making it a difficult one to answer!

The DLT team recommends having a discussion with your child about what is reasonable. Homework, outdoor play, relaxation etc are some of the considerations to think about. Obviously the age of the child makes a difference too. 

We advocate a balanced approach, where screen time is only part of a set of varied after school activities.

Common Sense Media has some great articles on managing screen time:

2. Contact with Strangers
big bad wolfOne concern we hear often from parents is the worry that students will be contacted by strangers, who may try to track them down and possibly attempt to meet them. The statistical probability of this actually happening is very low.

Dr. David Finkelhor (
director of the Crimes against Children Research Center), in a panel discussion entitled 'Just the Facts About Online Youth Victimization' states,
"Our research, actually looking at what puts kids at risk for receiving the most serious kinds of sexual solicitation online, suggests that it’s not giving out personal information that puts kid at risk. It’s not having a blog or a personal website that does that either. What puts kids in danger is being willing to talk about sex online with strangers or having a pattern of multiple risky activities on the web like going to sex sites and chat rooms, meeting lots of people there, kind of behaving in what we call like an internet daredevil."
 For more information, you might like to read the following articles:

3. Digital Footprint

A digital footprint is not necessarily something to fear! Will Richardson, writing for the journal Educational Leadership states:
As the geeky father of a 9-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter, one of my worst fears as they grow older is that they won't be Googled well. Not that they won't be able to use Google well, mind you, but that when a certain someone (read: admissions officer, employer, potential mate) enters "Tess Richardson" into the search line of the browser, what comes up will be less than impressive. That a quick surf through the top five hits will fail to astound with examples of her creativity, collaborative skills, and change-the-world work. Or, even worse, that no links about her will come up at all. I mean, what might "Your search did not match any documents" imply?
We want to help students develop a positive online presence, ensuring they understand the 'stickiness' of online information, and how to make good decisions about what is shared publicly. 

4. Distractions
Part of learning to work effectively in the 21st Century involves managing distractions. Recognizing that homework may take longer if you are distracted, and taking steps to reduce that distraction is an important part of growing up for today's students.

Some of the suggestions we gathered from students, parents and teachers may help:

- Put your Skype on invisible so others think you are offline.
- Turn off Chat in Facebook/Google Chat
- Turn off Twitter notifications (or turn it off entirely)
- Work in a public place (e.g. Kitchen table), so other people can keep you on task
- Take regular breaks
- Set targets and reward with social networking check-ins
- Make homework a family time, where everyone works at the same time
- Work in Fullscreen view, to eliminate 'visual noise'
- Download Self Control, an OSX app that allows users to block certain websites for predetermined time periods.

Common Sense Media's article on Managing Multitasking provides suggestions at different age levels, which you may find a helpful starting place. 

5. Access to Inappropriate Content

Don't go there.
At UWCSEA we are of the opinion that educating students about what to do when coming across inappropriate content is the most effective long-term strategy.  We can't control what people put on the Internet, but we can control our reaction to it.

As part of our school-wide focus on Digital Citizenship, teachers discuss strategies students can use if/when they come across inappropriate content. Some suggestions include:

- Closing the window
- Covering it with your hand
- Changing your search terms
- Letting a teacher know
- Scrolling down the page
- Hitting the 'back button'

We encourage students to be responsible, and not make a big fuss - the worst thing they can do is to draw attention to it.

6. Kids Knowing More Than You

The short answer is, they probably do! That doesn't mean they don't require teacher/parental support in using technology. 

You can help by staying interested in what your kids are doing. If they are interested in a particular game, ask them to teach you how to play. Talk to them about what they like to do. Share your favourite YouTube videos. Just keep the conversations going!

Image Credits
cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by zoutedrop: http://flickr.com/photos/zoutedrop/2317065892/
cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo by nuclear dwarf: http://flickr.com/photos/kafkapie/4182398090/
cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo by escapedtowisconsin: http://flickr.com/photos/69805768@N00/3292899689/
cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo by gadgetgirl: http://flickr.com/photos/gadgetgirl70/136334749/

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Impact Posters in Grade One

What's an Impact Poster you may ask? I had the exact same question! An Impact Poster uses a powerful image and a short sentence, quote, or piece of text to grab attention and highlight something of importance. 

This week the Grade one students created Impact Posters to demonstrate their learning. Some classes focused on the current unit of inquiry (communities) and other classes chose to focus on what good readers do and / or the learner profile. 

These are the steps we followed:

1) Good Searching
We discussed the importance of the words you put into a search box when looking for images. As a group we listed all the words we could think of to do with our topic. At this point we didn't judge any of the words or take any away, we decided to let the students find out which words yielded the best images.

2) Creative Commons Images
We discussed the importance of using Creative Commons images as a way of being a good digital citizen. 

3) Inappropriate Images
We can't control what people put on the internet but we can control our reactions to it. We took the time to list all the ways that we can deal with an image that makes us uncomfortable (close the program, scroll down, just ignore it, close your eyes, cover the screen with your hand, tell an adult and ask for help are just a few of the things our six year olds came up with) 

4) Appropriate Images
After finding the image that best suited the individual students thinking the image was put into a folder on a shared drive so the whole class could access the collected bank of images. Share and share alike.

5) Adding Text
The next job for the students was to pop the photo into a keynote. We used keynote as it is easy to click and drag images in and to add a text box. We wrote our statements on paper first so we could edit the spelling before we went to print.  

What did I learn?
I learned many things while working with our wonderfully creative Grade One students. First off I learned that what I think of as inappropriate and what they think of as inappropriate are two vastly different things. An image of a basement was deemed too scary to see and therefore not appropriate (and here I was worried about naked bodies!). Secondly I learned that I have to find a better way to credit the photos we use from Compfight and Flickr Advanced. For now I am going around after them adding in the credit - so not the correct thing to do! I'm thinking about trying Attribution Helper but we'll see.

Some Resources
- a blog post about Impact Posters from Keri-Lee Beasley
- a Flickr Group with great examples Great Quotes about Learning and Change

Some Examples