Monday, 30 November 2015

Digital Bytes November 30, 2015

flickr photo by rahego shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
Making Icon-nections - An Inquiry Into Icons
Integration Specialist at Taipei American School, Pana Asavavatana, has written an excellent post about getting young students inquiring into common icons across core apps her school uses. Workflows, student samples and clear instructions will help you follow along easily. Kindergarten and Grade 2 modifications are included in her post. Check it out!
Split View and Slide Over
A great new feature in the newest iOS for iPads allows you to do have two windows open and running at the same time.
Depending on the app, you can adjust the size of the windows so they are split half and half (split view) or one larger window and one smaller window (slide over).
15 Features of Google Docs You Didn’t Know About But Should
One great thing about Google Docs being an online platform is that it is easy for improvements to be made and rolled out.
Here are 15 great features of Google Docs that you might not know about but should.
From the navigation sidebar to the research tool and voice typing, there is something new for everyone.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Digital Bytes - 16 November 2015

How to Provide kids Screen Time that Supports Learning
Kids are now spending more time on devices like iPads than watching television. “Children not only need to learn how to decode the letters and words they read, but also to gain an understanding of what goes into creating information and stories of all kinds.” This article talks about the three C’s: Content, Context and Child and the importance of balance.
9 Videos on News Literacy
Our students are increasingly getting their information from videos. How are we supporting them in this form of literacy?

This article examines what you as a teacher can do to help your students be more critical of the videos they watch.

The videos range in topics from how to choose your news to why the news isn’t really the news.
Classroom Eye Candy: A Flexible Seating Paradise
The personal touches in this English classroom make us feel we would like to be a learner in this space. The teacher also shares some excellent tips on how she rotates students through the “best” areas over time. Classroom Eye Candy will be a great inspiration for your flexible learning space.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Digital Bytes 16th November

How to Use Instagram in the Classroom
Connecting an idea with a visual is an important 21st Century skill. Instagram is a great platform for the classroom because of its ease of use and ability to be accessed by all. Here are 10 ways of using Instagram in the classroom. Don’t forget to include our hashtag #uwclearn when you post! You might like to follow other educational Instagram accounts like @timlauer or @venspired

10 Fun-Filled Formative Assessment Ideas
Checking for understanding is a crucial part of being a successful educator, and these great tips from the folks at Edutopia will refresh your existing toolkit. Explore these 10 fun-filled formative assessment ideas.

7 Tools for Building Infographics
In the world of information, getting your message across in a way that your audience understands is essential.
Infographics are a fantastic way to share information. Students use a huge number of skills to summarize, categorize, prioritize and collate information into a visual resource.
This article shares seven great tools for building infographics and even includes a short video of the process.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Breakout EDU - engaging students through collaborative challenges

UWCSEA Tech Mentors collaborate to solve an online puzzle. Photo: Dave Caleb
"A black-hat hacker has created code on a USB drive that threatens to destroy all digital mapping and navigation software currently in existence. Just think about that, no Google Maps, no in-dash GPS, no airplane autopilot, no more Uber. His claim is that they're making us lazy and mush-headed, lacking essential skills and understandings like latitude and longitude, map reading, and navigating by bearings. You an your teammates are our last hope. Can you solve the geography challenges presented to you and prove your worth in time to find the drive and destroy the code? You have 45 minutes to find out. Your time begins now..."

About Breakout EDU

This is a typical prompt in a game designed for Breakout EDU, an collaborative challenge where groups solve a series of both physical and online puzzles to open locks and ultimately, a box, before time runs out.

Breakout challenges exist for a variety of age groups, from Primary grades through adults. All of them can be adapted and modified for a variety of learners and topics.

A typical session involves the game facilitator reading the scenario to set the scene, defining the objective, and stating the boundaries of where clues might be found. The countdown timer starts and players gather clues and solve challenges. Along the way, additional clues are revealed. Players normally have two "lifelines" they can use to ask for clues from the facilitator if they're stuck.

Working on the directional lock. Photo: Dave Caleb

The learning

The role of the facilitator is key to successful learning in the game. The facilitator will be actively engaged in keeping players involved, recognizing the flow of the game (who did what, found what), and leading the debrief at the end. This is where the learning really becomes present. During the debrief, the facilitator will go through the puzzles that were solved step-by-step and will talk about actions or non-actions that particular players took.

Breakout games are especially well-suited for introducing new topics as well as reviewing concepts where you're either setting the scene or pulling together disparate pieces to show how they're connected. All participants will likely not personally engage with every puzzle, but the learning from others, in authentic collaboration, is made present for everyone during the debrief.

Content learning is only (a small) part of the Breakout experience. The thinking and processes of collaboration, communication and problem-solving that participants engage in present fantastic learning opportunities. Facilitators can support participant's metacognition by giving them thinking prompts individually and then leading the group through a process where choices players made are discussed and analyzed. Participants reflect on their own behaviors and the behaviors of others in supporting the solving of the puzzles. In doing so, they become better problem-solvers, collaborators, and communicators. 

Thinking like a designer

Breakout EDU is an open source project. That means that there is an active community of educators all creating, collaborating, and sharing ideas and games. Teachers and students can design their own games using the Breakout model and a template to guide the process.

The creation of puzzles gets people thinking like designers, really taking into account how the players will interact with the game. Challenges need to be difficult enough to be compelling yet solvable within the constraints of the game. This makes designing Breakout games a fantastic exercise for professional development.
Since puzzles can be online and physical, it really promotes the authentic use of technology. There is no "Ok, take out your laptops" in the typical Breakout game. Rather, participants draw on all resources they have available including internet searches. Because of this, you can't simply ask "Googleable" questions. Incorporating technology also means the sky is the limit for the kinds of puzzles you can make. From using clues hidden in Streetview images to assembling circuits, using drone photography and programming, the possibilities are only limited by one's imagination and willingness to explore.

UWCSEA Tech Mentors solve the challenge. Photo Dave Caleb


We have equipment available via the Digital Literacy Coaches. Please contact us if you'd like to play.

We can point you in the right direction and help you select or develop a game to play with your group, help you set it up and facilitate.

 Breakout is a great activity for mentor groups or with your teaching team as well as with a subject specific class.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Digital Bytes - November 2, 2015

The haze we have experienced over the past few months in Singapore has brought the conversation of palm oil to the front of everyone's thoughts.

This website does an amazing job of exploring the use of palm oil and uses a variety of media such as videos, infographics, sounds, text, photos and interactive elements.

We can clearly see when a variety of media are mixed, students will engage with the information and learn quickly and easily. This is a fantastic mentor text for our students.

Many of you may know that you can drag an image into Google and it will search the web for that image or images similar to it.

What you may not know if that there is so much more to Google's ability in this image search.

This short video does a fantastic job of showing some of those features and how you might use it in the classroom with your students.

We all have students that need a little or a lot of help in our classes.

Here are 8 Chrome extensions to help those struggling students in your class. Everything from Ad Block and Readability to help students who have trouble focusing or get off task easily to Read and Write for Google which allows students to highlight text on web pages.