Thursday, 27 September 2012

A Question of Colour

The Grade 5 team was lucky enough to have Noah Katz (Digital Literacy Coach at Dover) speak to them about Visual Literacy last week. He spoke about the elements of Graphic Design, referring to the acronym:



Students had the opportunity to design a poster, then give it a makeover. We saw some really interesting before and after shots, let me tell you!

One thing that it seems many of our students struggle with, is an awareness of appropriate colour schemes, or which colours work well together. This is evidenced by the garish rainbow-coloured gradient fill text boxes we see so frequently when students present work digitally.

There are some great websites out there that help even the most chromatically-challenged of us select colours which work well together.

The first I'd like to highlight is Color Scheme Designer.

Color Scheme Designer
Color Scheme Designer provides a broad range of colour schemes to choose from, from monochromatic to accented analogic, and everything in between. It creates a nice palette, which you can see with hex codes as well as just the regular view. This is very helpful when choosing colour schemes for a website.

It also provides a preview of what a website might look like using that colour scheme, providing both light page and dark page examples.

I have had success using these colour schemes to create a custom palettes in Pages when creating a poster. I'm sure there's probably a quicker work-around, but I take a screenshot of the palette, bring it into pages, use the colour picker tool to select the right colours, then drag them into the frequently used colours at the bottom of the colour tool inspector.

Colour Lovers
Colour Lovers provides both colour schemes and palettes with hex codes, together with patterns, which can be customised to a certain colour palette. All very engaging and fun!

Sharing sites like these with our students will hopefully help them gain an understanding of aesthetically pleasing colours, patterns and designs, that will assist them in getting their message across to an audience when they are making posters, designing websites or any visual graphic.

In Grade 5, I hope to help them learn to customize their blog to a colour scheme of their choice using these two sites as a reference.

What other sites do you use for colour schemes? What else can I share with my students?

Monday, 24 September 2012

A culture of sharing

share your ideas by Britta Bohlinger on Flickr!
We teach children from an early age to share. Learning to share the sandbox, our favorite toy, or a book is a formative experience that we all go through as we learn to relate to others.
A lot of emphasis is placed on sharing when we are young, but it's just as important, maybe more so, as we grow up and have our own unique perspectives, ideas, and techniques to share.

So, I'd like you consider this question.

"Are you a good sharer?"

This is something that's been on my mind a lot lately as we establish the learning culture of our secondary school. We have more than 50 new teachers this year and will be adding more than 30 more next year as we expand. I think it's critical to demonstrate overtly that we are all learners; students, teachers, and parents alike. Sharing, to me, is an obvious way to do this.

Last week, we opened our Middle School professional learning sessions with seven people, including our Principal, sharing quick (3-5 minute) things that have worked for them and their students. The topics centered around communication, organization, and collaboration with digital tools. I, of course, shared them with the audience by setting up a backchannel on Today's Meet. Here are excerpts (full transcript):
Mike J gives just-in-time feedback using Google Docs "insert comment"
Aloni C uses iProcrastinate to stay organized.

Jeff P at 07:31 AM, 19 Sep 2012 via web 
David S uses weekly announcements to update what's been going on in class.

Jeff P at 07:34 AM, 19 Sep 2012 via web 
Resources I will share- Class blog

Jabiz at 07:36 AM, 19 Sep 2012 via web 
Ian T showing us #social commenting aspect of their site.
Martin S showing us how his students are "writing the textbook" as they go in Pages.

Jeff P at 07:52 AM, 19 Sep 2012 via web 
This was a great way to start our meeting. It gave everybody a window into what others are doing reinforcing good practice in some cases I'm sure while providing that little seed of an idea to solve nagging issues for others. This sharing primed the pump for professional discussions in teams related to our iLearn goals and how to make them actionable.

I recognize that it's not easy for everyone to share, in public, in small groups of peers even.
I wonder, why don't some people share more? If you're a non-sharer, you probably won't comment on this blog, but maybe you've "seen the light" and have converted to the sharing culture. Is it a lack of confidence in less than perfect ideas or maybe just general introversion? And, the bigger question, if we want to establish a culture of sharing including all stakeholders, what's the best way to go about it? 

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Google Maps in the Classroom

We were fortunate to attend the Google Summit here in Singapore last week where Patrick Green (@pgreensoup) ran a workshop on using Google Maps in the classroom. We were so excited by the prospect of using this tool in our classrooms that we presented the ideas to our Grades 3 and 5 teaching teams. 

Step 1
While signed in to any of your GApps select the word 'Maps'

Step 2
This is where you can see all your maps and you can create a new map


Step 3
If you click on 'Create Map' you will see a dialogue box that looks like this.
Fill in the title of your map, add directions you would like to give the students, and choose if you want to make it a public or unlisted map

Step 4
If you click on the 'link' button you will get a dialogue box that looks like this:

This is where you share the information with your students. You can either send them a link by email or you can send them the URL.

When we set up our sample Google Map we decided to ask people to add in their favourite places to eat in Singapore (and we got some great suggestions!).

Have your students use the search bar just above the map to find a place they would like to mark, then when they find it if they click on the place marker they will be given the chance to add it to your shared map. It's as easy as that!

See any possibilities for the classroom?

Tom Barrett shares at least 15 ways to use Google Maps in the Classroom. See if you have anything to add.