Friday, 9 December 2011

Voicethread Log In

Don't you hate it when you have a plan and it doesn't quite work out the way you want it to? Well, that's what happened to us on Wednesday during the Staff PD session. Who knew the iPad Voicethread App would give us a hard time?

We don't know why the app wasn't letting some people sign it - it was annoyingly random, but we now know how we can make it work. If, when you open the Voicethread App and you sign in, it says you don't have a flashplayer (see photo 1a) - what you have to do is create an account first (see photo 1b and 1c) and then it will - fingers crossed - all work fine.

Photo 1a

Photo 1b

Photo 1c

Formula for the Best Parent Workshop

(Cross-posted at Tip of the Iceberg)

This little gem of an idea, came to the Digital Literacy Team at UWCSEA via Robyn Treyvaud, who had been visiting our school to work on the initiation of our generation safe project. Robyn's idea - so obvious I don't know why we hadn't thought of it before - was to include students in the presentation to parents about social networking. 

We created a sign up sheet for our workshop, and asked parents to outline the sort of things they were concerned about and/or what they wanted to focus on. Below is a Wordle of parent concerns.

Jeff asked which students in the class he was teaching would be interested in sharing how they use social networking with parents. He got at least 10 students who were keen to help out. I must stress that students were not pre-selected - we only asked for interested individuals, and we didn't prep them as to what to say. Rather, we provided them with talking points to which they responded.

We scheduled a meeting at lunchtime where we shared a wordle of parent concerns, and they talked about their responses to the concerns, and explained to us the different ways they use social networking. It was fascinating just listening to them. At one point during the discussion, I thought, "We should be videoing this!" so turned on PhotoBooth (all that I had available at the time!) and listened.

Here are some short segments from that video which show the sort of things they were saying.

The following day, we had a huge turnout from parents. We sat one or two students at each table with parents, and did a brief presentation from the school's perspective.

We encouraged parents to ask the students about their concerns and turned it over to the kids. It was amazing to see the positive body language of the parents, and see how engaged both groups were in listening and talking with the other.

We asked for some verbal parent feedback at the conclusion of the session, and received some very lovely comments from the parents. One parent said from his discussions with the student at his table, he learned he needs to trust his children more, and involve himself in what they're doing.

Others spoke very highly of the students involved, and said it was much easier to talk to someone else's child about these sort of issues than have conversations with their own children. That said, they now felt more comfortable about initiating the discussions with their own children.

One of the most touching things I saw was one of our Grade 10 students giving the parents at her table her email address, with the words, "If you have any more questions, just send me an email." How great are our students?!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Great IWB Resource

Noah Katz, one of the Digital Literacy Coaches at Dover came across this fantastic resource which he shared with me.

Triptico (designed by David Riley) is a FREE download which works very nicely in conjunction with IWBs. The free download gives you a number of desktop resources which are fully customizable.

What I love about them most of all is that they are so aesthetically pleasing! I have seen other countdown timers, but none that look as good as this one!

Below are a few examples of the tools in the Triptico IWB toolkit.

Hourglass - countdown timer

Class Timer - another countdown timer

Question Quiz - provide the answer and have students guess the question. Award points to teams if they guess correctly

Class Magnets - create a set of magnets for your class. You could get them to drag their names up to the board when they arrive to record attendance. There are lots of other different ways to use this tool, particularly if you select a different background from the ones on offer.

Find Ten - create a quiz of sorts, and get students to guess which 10 things match the category you choose.

Order Resource - This would work extremely well with Kath Murdoch's 'More True than False, More False than True' activity. Essentially, just order the statements.

What's in the Box - this is similar to the TV Show 'It's in the Bag'. You choose a box, then decide whether to keep it, or risk playing on. 

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Thinking Routines & the iPad

The iPad is a great mobile device for recording students thinking on the go. When we combine the iPad, Harvard's Artful Thinking Palette, Harvard's Visible Thinking Routines and the free Voicethread app, a plethora of possibilities become available.

Sign in to Voicethread*, making sure that the domain you are signing in with is - if not, click Edit, then type then continue to sign in with your email/password from there.

If you have trouble with this process, check this link for some suggestions.

(*NB: non-UWCSEA teachers if your school has domain, as ours does, you can edit this on the sign in page, otherwise log in as normal)

I Used to Think, Now I Think
Used when students' thoughts, opinions & ideas might change over the course of a unit. (Click here for more details)

Students could draw and screenshot a picture that represents their initial thinking in a unit. Bring the image into Voicethread and explain their thinking. Follow up by repeating the activity at the culmination of the unit, and add to their initial Voicethread.

See, Think, Wonder
Sets the stage for inquiry. Usually used at the beginning because it stimulates curiosity. (Click here for more details)

Using a pre-selected photo, or one they have taken, create a Voicethread with 3 slides (photo repeated 3 times). Add narration over each slide - one for 'see', one for 'think', and one for 'wonder'.

Below is an example of a See Think Wonder about forces in Grade 2 MLN:

Compass Points
Compass points helps you extend your thinking. (Click here for more details)

East = Excited. What are you excited about?
West = Worrisome. What worries you?
North = Need to know. What more information do you require?
South = Stance/Suggestion. What are your next steps?

Have students take 4 photos representing the four points for a given topic (e.g. current Unit of Inquiry). Create a new Voicethread and have students narrate over the top, explaining their selections.

Beginning, Middle & End
This routine develops observation and imagination. (Click here for more details)

Have the students look at pre-selected image. Get them to choose either Beginning, Middle or End.
Beginning - if this is the beginning of the story, what do you think might happen next?
Middle - if it this is the middle of a story, what might have happened before? What might be about to happen?
End - If this is the end of a story, what might the story be?

Create a Voicethread with the image, and have students explain their thoughts through a voice comment. 

Claim, Support, Question
This routine supports reasoning. (Click here for more details) This routine might be better suited to upper primary aged students.

Claim - Make a claim about the image/topic
Support - Identify support for your claim
Question - Ask a question related to your claim.

Using an image that represents your topic, add a voice comment for each section of this thinking routine. This may be 3 separate comments, or 3 slides with one comment on each.

Looking 10 x 2
Great for observation and descriptive skills. (Click here for more details)

Look at an image for 30 seconds. Try and list 10 words/phrases you see. Repeat these steps again, this time trying to list an additional 10 words/phrases you observe.

Add the image to Voicethread and add two voice comments to the image.
You might like to consider purchasing a camera connection kit to transfer images directly from your SD card to the iPad.

Alternatively, you can email images you wish students to see to the email address set up on your iPad. The students can add the images to the Photo Gallery from there by holding one finger on the image, then selecting save to Photo Gallery.

Magnifying Glass ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Lanzen
Compass ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Roland Urbanek
Cuff Links ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Oberazzi
Pale Blue 10 ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Caro's Lines

Monday, 5 December 2011

Publishing on the Web

Having a class blog allows us access to added benefits to enhance student learning.

Some of them include:
  • Being able to share student learning with extended families/friends around the world. As an International school, our students come from many different places, and being able to share what's going on in (and out of) the classroom with others, enables us to stay more connected.
  • The ability to connect with other students/classrooms around the world. We would like to begin conversing with students in other countries and learn from/with them. 
  • Interactivity - being able to add comments to our blog posts turns communication with parents into a conversation, rather than purely information. The students (and teachers) love knowing you have commented on their blog. 
  • Learning gets extended beyond the classroom. Teachers may choose to highlight interesting websites for example, which parents can share with their children at home. Alternatively, a comment from a parent may spark an inquiry in class.
  • For teachers, the blog is a window into their classroom. This allows them to develop professional relationships with other teachers around the world, which in turn, improves their own practice.
  • The class blog is (for some) the beginning of a positive digital footprint for the children.
You might be interested in these 10 Reasons Students Should Blog written by 12 year olds in Australia.

Myth vs Reality

We would like to reassure parents that having a class blog is not a security risk or unsafe for their children.

 In setting up the blogs, teachers have taken a number of precautions to ensure this is a positive experience for all concerned.

Firstly, teachers selected the option that meant their blogs would not appear in a Google Search. This means, that although 'publicly viewable,' it would be very difficult to stumble across them accidentally.

Secondly, teachers have turned comment moderation on. This means that before a comment appears on the blog, teachers need to approve it. They may decide not to publish a comment if they deem it unsuitable.

We will only refer to students by their first names, as a security precaution.

It is important to know that many perceived 'fears' about being online are largely unfounded. There are a number of articles that address these concerns (some are linked below), and we invite parents to have a read through and hopefully allay some of their worries.

Six Myths about keeping kids safe online
The Myth of Online Predators
Online sexual predators, Myths and Facts
Online Safety 3.0: Empowering an Protecting Youth

Best Practices:

We welcome parents' feedback and encourage comments on the class blogs. Below is the information we share with students when they comment on blog posts.

Good comments:
  • are constructive, but not hurtful; 
  • consider the author and the purpose of the post; 
  • are always related to the content of the post; 
  • include personal connections to what the author wrote; 
  • answer a question, or add meaningful information to the content topic; 
  • follow the writing process. Comments are a published piece of writing.

To subscribe via email, simply put your email address in the 'follow by email' box, and you will be alerted to new posts.
We hope you enjoy your child's class blog, and look forward to participating in the conversation.

Good Question ( BY ND ) flickr photo shared by e-magic
Boris ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by ianus