Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Non-Fiction Text Features: Incorporating the Digital

There is so much to be gained from walking through the corridors of your school and popping in to see what classes are doing.

This morning, I happened to pop into Kim Duffy's Grade 3 class and discovered a really neat learning experience the class was exploring on Non-Fiction Text Features in digital books.

Kim had set up a Google Doc for her kids with different text features noted on the side. Students were to log onto MyOn (an online book library), and read Non-Fiction texts. They were to take a screenshot of each feature outlined in the table (see below). She had a column for the screenshots, and a column for students to explain why the feature is used.

See example of a student's work below:

Students now have a document with visual examples that they can refer back to when they create their own Non-Fiction books later on. We know that incorporating visuals helps students with retention of key information, and the fact that they actively searched for the examples of the text features will also be of benefit.

A few doors down, Daniel Withington was also looking at features of Non-Fiction text. It was great to see Grade 3 students identifying features of digital text as well, including hyperlinks, videos and search options. When Daniel's students think about writing Non-Fiction text, they will think more broadly about the features they need to consider as authors because of this introduction.

It is wonderful to see teachers like Kim and Daniel naturally incorporate digital text as a part of their regular literacy lessons.

This reminds me of the arguments for teaching Digital Reading set forth in Kristin Ziemke's insightful blog post, Yes And... Thoughts on Print Versus Digital Reading. Kristin asks teachers to consider their own teaching practice:

 "Take a moment to reflect:
How many minilessons have you taught this year that guide students to become effective digital readers?
Do you have anchor charts or scaffolds in place that will support them as they attempt to read digitally with independence?
Have you provided ample time for them to read diverse genres or self-select their onscreen reading material?" 
It is a privilege to work with teachers who can answer these questions with confidence.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Recapping The Learning Spaces Book Club Meeting 1

Our first three texts

Getting spaced out:

We started this journey by hosting consultant Maija Ruokanen (revisit her teachings in this episode of podcast UWCLearn). The DLCs then fanned those fuels as our in house #uwclearn spacebusters. Most recently a cohort of teachers across the college met last Friday to talk about our very first read for the Learning Spaces Book Club.

We started by looking at these questions in school specific teams:

The book club will meet again next August.  In the meantime, we will continue to curate resources on this Flipboard.

What ideas will we return to?

Check out this visual summary (using Canva's infographic-maker tool) of our conversations:

Do you have thoughts on any of our questions?

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

The Networked Teacher-Learner

What could your portfolio do for your learning?

Starting this May, join a cohort of teachers on campus looking to complete a five-month challenge.
The challenge will ask you to launch and share a portfolio (with the support of your DLCs), and to compose and share one post per month from May until September.

In small teams, you will receive feedback from your peers, and you will be asked to respond to others. What can we learn from one another? Can networking our inquiry build connections across our community and assist in better research curation?

You will have a great deal of choice from a month menu of post provocations. Preview the menu for May here.

Wondering why educators have found portfolio curation a useful endeavor?

Check out this post from George Couros.

What I did not expect though, was how much my own learning would grow.  Writing a blog for me is now something that I feel is necessary for an educator, as it gives me the opportunity to not only reflect on my practice, but also collaborate with others in a more in depth way then sites like Twitter can provide.  I also have had a major shift in my own thinking as I am less focused on the technical aspects of a blog, but the learning implications this type of writing can have on educators and students.-George Couros

If you'd like help getting set up with your portfolio, please ask a DLC.

Sign up for our five-month challenge here.
Anticipate a time requirement of 50-60 minutes per month (includes posting, reading, and commenting).

Digital Bytes - 24th April, 2017

A Beginner’s Guide to Creating Shareable Infographics

Infographics help us understand complicated data sets and simplify the complex.

With outstanding examples and easy-to-understand text, this guide for beginners  will help you learn about what makes a good infographic, the various types of infographics and steps to create a powerful infographic.
Teaching Digital Citizenship with Seesaw

A lot of the behaviours we want our students to exhibit in regards to digital citizenship can be taught in Seesaw.

Teacher Heather Marrs explains in her post, “Don’t Teach Digital Citizenship - Embed it!” how she uses Seesaw to teach her help her students learn how they can interact in a digital environment.
Five Ways Humor Boosts Creative Thinking and Problem-Solving in the Classroom

John Spencer raises some great points in support of humour and fun in the classroom, particularly as a model of creativity and divergent thinking for our students. Read about the Five Ways Humor Boosts Creative Thinking and Problem-Solving in the Classroom to get your week off to a great start!

Friday, 21 April 2017

Building Better Infographics: Friendly Friday Advice

Interested in building better infographics with your students?

Here's a quick guide to the four essential elements to include in any infographic:

1. The Wireframe:

Structure is key.  Best practice is to map out your infographic before you move to any digital tools.  What structure will work best for the story you want your infographic to tell?

2. Put the info into infographic:

Do your research, be sure to attribute key stats.  Collate your research before heading into the design phase.

3. Call and response

A good infographic is working with a great question.  Starting with the why is another key step for effective infographic curation.

4. Find your flow

Is it easy to navigate through your infographic?

 How do I put those elements into action?

Luckily, our digital tools have come a long way in recent years.  Here is a list of free tools making it very straightforward to embrace those four essentials:

Get inspired

Here are a few of my favorite infographic artists:
Check out his fantastic work here

Check out his fantastic work here

Check out one of his featured infographics in this collection 

To learn more about infographic production, design, and analysis, contact your DLC today.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Digital Bytes - 17th April 2017


This new app has the potential to be the app of the year in education. If you haven’t already downloaded it, do it now.

It is incredibly easy to use and perfect for students who want to create a quick video.

One of the best features is the ability to to speak and the app automatically creates the text in real time. You can also add filters to your video and easily share it.


This is beyond amazing. Autodraw from Google is something you just need to try to believe.

Start to draw anything and Autodraw will recognize what you are drawing and give you options. Draw a house and you will see options for buildings pop up. How might you use this with your students? So many possibilities!

10 Apps for Creating Poetry on an iPad

Even though there are a number of apps that you may not have heard of, you can always use the ideas presented with apps you already have.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Introducing the Spacebusters

Looking to revamp your learning space?

If you've been following our Flipboard of resources, or you are just curious about having a fresh look at your classroom, this post is for you. Classroom redesign is not something you need to 'go alone.' What if we saw your space as an opportunity to learn together?

"Teamwork" via Flick taken by Quinn Dombrowski

What does a collaborative classroom makeover involve?

Click here to learn about our process, and listen to this podcast to push your thinking. Consult a coach today to start your audit. DLCs love to think about the ways our digital and physical spaces can come together.  We'd love to think about that with you, so leave a comment here if you'd like us to schedule an appointment to spacebust with you.
"Stay puft marshmellow man" via Flickr by clement127

Monday, 27 March 2017

The No-Stress Way to Remove Backgrounds from Images

I love what Photoshop can do with removing backgrounds from images, but it is complicated to use, and not available on the iPad. I wanted something that even our youngest students could use to level-up the quality of their Book Creator books.

Thankfully, my colleague Dave Caleb discovered the iPad app Photoshop Mix. This incredibly easy-to-use app makes removing backgrounds from images a breeze.

Photoshop Mix requires users to create an Adobe ID, so for our under 13s, we use a class or grade level account to log in. You only need to log in once, then the app remembers your details.

Below is a tutorial which shows you how easy it is to remove backgrounds using Photoshop Mix, and add the exported image into Book Creator, so you can make really professional looking books, in the style of DK Find Out.

Photoshop Mix for Removing the Background of Images from UWC South East Asia on Vimeo.

You can also use Photoshop Mix to blend images or change the opacity of an image - more features which would work well in combination with Book Creator.

Digital Bytes - 27th March, 2017

Digital Breakouts with Google Sites

Breakout EDU is a fantastic way for students to work together to solve a series of challenges. Many of our teachers and students have participated in Breakout and we have even created our own for specific units.
Tom Mullaney created a template so you can create your own digital breakout locks in Google slides. It a another excellent way to experience breakout. It a another excellent way to experience breakout.

Toontastic App

This fantastic free app from Google allows you to quickly and easily tell stories in a beautiful animated format. It is similar to Puppet Pals but so much better.
You can draw your own characters or choose from the many characters supplied with the app. The animation is incredible and users are even provided with a story structure to help them tell their story.


Reducing the number of clicks it takes to complete a task is the aim of the app Workflow, which Apple acquired a week ago and subsequently made free.

This blog post shows you some of the ways you can use this app to be more productive in your day.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

If you only download one book from the iBook Store this year...

It should be THIS ONE.

The Joy of Professional Learning is an absolute goldmine.

The free to download text comes with 16 ideas for tailoring learning experiences depending on the time and space you have.  The text has been compiled by Apple Distinguished Educators like Kurt Klynen, and Cheryl Davis amongst many others.

The last chapter curates follow up resources, like this link to podcasts which focus on professional development.

The book is an excellent resource not only for teachers teaching teachers, but their ideas can also be adapted to use at any grade level.  

Free to use courtesy of Pexels

Looking for other amazing free to download resources?

Check out a few of our in-house authored texts, like Keri-Lee Beasley's great read on Design Secrets or Dave Caleb's gorgeous look at photography skill sets for any photog. 

Interested in curating your own text using iBook Author? 

See a coach today to talk about how.

Free to use Courtesy of Pexels

Monday, 20 March 2017

Digital Bytes - 20th March, 2017

This amazing site is a fantastic starting point for anyone interested in student-driven inquiry.

There are over 130 different skills/interests to look through and thousands of projects to try.

What is Media Literacy?

This YouTube Video answers the question ‘What is Media Literacy?’ and provides 5 key questions to answer when viewing any source of information. The key questions help determine biases in the information, and examine why it was produced in the first place.

Google Docs Blackout Poetry

Blackout Poetry is the process of taking an existing text, selecting the words you want to form your poem, then shading in all of the extra words. Eric Curtis has come up with a clever hack for doing this process in a Google Doc. Check out his blog post which explains how he does it!

Friday, 17 March 2017

The Power of a Small Idea

I was checking Twitter one day, when this tweet by Anna Davies jumped out at me, with its striking red and black colour scheme and professional-looking images.

Anna Davies on Twitter

G5 deeply personal hopes&fears on display. Seeing each other from a different perspective #ishcmcib thanx 4 the inspiration @itsallaboutart
It turns out that Anna had been inspired by my Dover colleague, Nicki Hambleton, who created posters with her Middle School students, based on the work of Designer, Graphic Artist and Photographer, Barbara Kruger.

When I see an amazing idea, like the images in Anna's tweet, I always want to try it out. As I don't have a class of my own, I have to pitch the idea to my colleagues and hope that it sparks an interest.

As it happened, our school was just embarking on a PSE unit around the Power of Words. Tech Mentor Mike Bowden jumped on board and took the idea to his Grade 3 team.

Students prepared for the poster by finding a quote that resonated with them about the Power of Words. They took a photo of themselves on a plain background, ensuring to leave enough space to fit the quote.

In Keynote, students added the image, then reduced the saturation to turn it black and white. They used the limited colour palette of red, black and white for the text, experimenting with placement and rotation as needed.

This was a very rich learning task for our students. There were a lot of technical and design skills that we were able to build into an authentic context that met our curricula outcomes.

Naturally, we shared examples of our finished posters on Twitter - these examples were from Mandy Whitehouse's class.

Keri-Lee Beasley on Twitter

G3 posters: Power of Words @annadeibisu @itsallaboutart Thanks 4 the inspiration! #uwclearn #pse @debgordon123 @MickBowden @maw0305
What happened next is what I LOVE about social media. Jose O'Donovan saw our examples on Twitter and got his students to make their own - this time, posters about Kindness.

Monday, 13 March 2017

The Respectful Hum of Learning

"How will they become learning-minded?"

Follow along as we sit down to learn from Maija Ruokanen in this episode of podcast UWCLearn:

Digital Bytes Monday 13th March 2017

Abstract - Netflix Series

Abstract, a fascinating series (free on Netflix right now) takes you into the minds of designers in a range of fields - from shoe design to architecture and everything in between. Perfect for our focus on Learning Spaces.

World Population History

This interactive experience on World Population shows how population growth has changed from 1 C.E. to the projected population in 2050. Watch the video to get an overview, or play with the interactive sliders and overlays to explore themes such as environment, or people and society, or use of fossil fuel emissions

The New Science of Team Chemistry

Are you a Pioneer, a Guardian, a Driver or an Integrator? Each team member is comprised of combinations of those four characteristics, though one or two will likely resonate with you. In the New Science of Team Chemistry, find out how exploring your dominant characteristics and understanding those of your team members, can enable you to work more effectively as a team.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Digital Bytes - 6th March, 2017

Google Keep in Google Docs

Google Keep is a great note taking app that you have as part of your Google account.

10 Meditation Apps for the Classroom

There are many benefits of using meditation and mindfulness in our lives. Here you can find 10 Meditation Apps for the Classroom to explore with your students.

Don’t forget there are also meditation videos in the Calming section of Go Noodle.

Getting Creative with Video in the Classroom

When was the last time you let your creativity loose? Walmart challenged several well-known movie directors to create a short film where items on a Walmart receipt was the central feature.

Jonathan Wylie takes this idea and suggests it as a tool for making creative videos in the classroom. Check it out!