Monday, 13 June 2016

Top 10 Tips for Tech and Travel

Travel Journals using Book Creator

What a great way to have a record of your summer vacation! Spice up the regular travel diary with Book Creator.

Kids will have fun writing a daily log of their travels and including recorded sounds, photos and videos.
Google Maps Offline

I can’t imagine my world without Google Maps and I use it all the time.

When travelling, we aren’t always connected to wifi or data. The solution is to download the map while you are connected and then you will have access to the map offline.

Packing Apps
I swear by my favourite Packing apps Packing Pro (free, $4.48 for premium) and Pack Point (free, with in-app purchases).

The premium Packing Pro generates expert lists for each family member - perfect when you’re travelling with family. You can add/remove items as needed. The checklist really helps to make sure you’ve remembered everything.

Pack Point can generate lists too, but for 1 traveller only at this stage. The interface is considerably nicer, however!
Packing Techniques

The good folk at LifeHacker have collated a series of tips on packing techniques to help you save space and carry more.

There is a little something for everyone, including my favourite tip: Invest in packing cells!
Google Translate

Google Translate is a fantastic tool when you are travelling somewhere where you don’t speak the language.

It is a free app and can even be used when you aren’t connected to the internet if you download language packs.
This amazing app and website easily organises your travel plans. Simply forward booking confirmations to to have an itinerary automatically created.

Maps, directions and details are all in one place. Super handy if you have a busy itinerary. You can add plans as needed, and it prints out beautifully if you need a paper copy.
Where to Eat
The FourSquare website and app are a hungry traveller’s best friend. Do a location-based search to find the best restaurants (or coffee, nightlife, fun, shopping) nearby.

Partner app Swarm allows you to check into places and have a record of your visit. Swarm links to FourSquare, so you can leave reviews for your favourite places there too.
Where to Stay
You’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard of AirBnB, the popular vacation rental website and its accompanying app. While we love AirBnB, you may not have heard of a similar service, called VRBO. VRBO does all the same things, frequently with different properties, so make sure you check it out - you might find your perfect holiday home there.
Photo Scavenger Hunt

Creating a photo scavenger hunt is a great holiday activity for kids of all ages. Grab some ideas from Pinterest, or build your own interactive one using Klikaklu.

Klikaklu is a fun app designed for creating photo treasure hunts on your iPhone.
Summer Digital Projects for Families

Everything from starting a family blog to coding and creating photo albums.

Have we missed anything? What are your favourite tech and travel tips? Please share below!

Monday, 6 June 2016

Digital Bytes 6th June 2016

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Google Drive Templates - Because Caring is Sharing

Who doesn’t love a good template? Erifili Davis has collated a post full of excellent Google Drive Templates, including the FakeBook one shown here.

Check out her suggestions on timelines, presentations, written projects and social media templates.
What Students Feel Learning in a State of Flow

“Flow,” is a state of being where one is completely engaged and absorbed by what they are doing.

Jackie Gerstein believes that one of the roles of educators today is to help set up conditions so learners achieve a state of flow. Read more about Gerstein’s suggestions for how to make this happen.

3 End of Year Reflection Strategies for Students

As the academic year comes to a close, many teachers are considering options for reflection so as to celebrate and highlight growth in learning.

Rebecca Alber has put together some strategies that will engage students, rather than turn them off. Check them out!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

BreakoutEDU: Migration Edition

BreakoutEDU is the brainchild of Google Educator and High School teacher James Sanders. Observing his students playing Escape the Room style video games, he was amazed at how engaged they were and wanted to create that same level of engagement for learning and problem solving during class time.

Enter BreakoutEDU.

James flipped the idea of escaping from a room on its head, instead getting participants to attempt to break into a box with a series of different locks attached. Clues to each lock could be hidden around a classroom, encouraging "critical thinking, teamwork, and complex problem-solving" across a range of content areas.

I first played BreakoutEDU at the Google Apps Summit in Singapore in September, and knew it had a lot of potential, particularly for the development of the traits of the UWCSEA Learner Profile. My MS/HS counterpart Jeff Plaman worked with DT teachers to build Breakout boxes, and we managed to procure a range of locks with the help of Head of Chinese Wendy Liao.

We played one of the pre-existing games with teachers at our Tech Mentor retreat, and have been searching for some opportunities to create games in the primary school ever since. Grade 3's unit on Migration gave us the perfect opportunity.

G3 teachers & TAs playing the Migration Breakout
Grade 3 Tech mentor Mike Bowden and Unit of Study mentor Kim Duffy worked with Jeff and me to design a game to help G3 students develop collaborative group work skills, while also gaining some insight into what it is like for new immigrants to navigate the language and culture of a new location.

We tested the game out on the G3 teachers and teacher assistants (who performed admirably and broke out in the nick of time) before we tried it out on students in Mike's class.

We divided the class into 2 groups of 11, and had 2 facilitators in each class (a teacher and a TA). Aside from the huge level of noise that came from each group (seriously!), we found it hugely successful in that they were thoroughly engaged, motivated and determined to break out.

One of the most powerful aspects of Breakout is the reflection afterwards. Students learned a lot about how they participated and contributed to their group - not all of it positive! Every child I spoke to wanted to do it again, and each could give insightful reasons as to what they would do differently next time and why.

Of the two groups, one broke out, and one didn't. Sometimes, as teachers, we want to make it so that all groups are successful, but there is learning to be had, whether or not a group gets into the box or not.

If you would like to get started with BreakoutEDU, I'd encourage you to join the BreakoutEDU Facebook community, and explore the existing games on the BreakoutEDU Site. We are also happy to answer any questions or share resources.