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!

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Pull From the Reflection Pool

Beyond major strategies like portfolios, journals, presentations, diaries, blogs, etc. as facilitators of reflection we often want quick tools to provoke reflection. Below are some ideas that can be completed in 20 mins or less.

Guest Post courtesy of Stuart MacAlpine and Anna Carr

Inspired in part by Jennifer Moon's work
Creative Commons Image from Pexels

Model reflection before expecting it

A first move is to share some examples of reflection with students, and perhaps ask them to rank or organise them according to critieria, such as 'depth of reflection'.


Students identify a particular moment of learning or event. Invite students draw footprints (or stepping stones) and write five chronological events or learnings that lead them to that moment or event. A good making thinking visible strategy for awareness and analysis.

Descriptive, Personal, Reflective

Ask students to write a description of an event they were involved in using an objective and third person voice.

Then ask students to rewrite the event in first person including their feelings and perspectives

Finally as them to write about what impact that experience has had on them.

Five Whys

In pairs, one students makes a statement about an experience of event.

The other student asks why, awaits until the other student has finished their response, then asks why again... and repeats until they have asked why five times.

Four Corners

Name 4 corners or the classroom Self; Others; Community; Society and the World

Ask students to think about a recent experience, then go to the corner that you connect with the experience. The corners represent the focus of the connection you had in that experience and the main learning you may have had.

In the corner discuss the experiences you have had.

SELF- thoughts, ideas, values, feelings, strengths, ethics, opinions, values, actions, hope

OTHERS- peers, people, meet/interact

COMMUNITY- places to interact, noticing concerns, successes, trends, ideas, culture, value

SOCIETY and the WORLD- big picture, insights and understanding.

Walk and talk

Take a group walk, with students talking and walking with a partner.


Ask students to bring in a quote that is reflective of a recent CAS experience. Randomly select several and place them on the wall. Students gather around the quote that most represents their thoughts or feelings regarding a CAS experience. This can also be done with song lyrics or melodies. This can be repeated with other quotes, lyrics and melodies.

Silent Drawing

Spread out large sheets of paper. Ask students to enter the room and ask for silence. Students consider a common group experience or simply what has been occurring in CAS and draw, in silence. This typically lasts 3–5 minutes. Then ask the students to add two words. Based on the words, students can select three words from anywhere on the paper and use these to write a short poem or haiku.

Cartoon or Meme

Ask students to create a meme or cartoon to represent an event or moment of learning, and share and explain to a a partner or the group.

Capturing the moment

Ask students to come to a CAS group meeting and to bring a photograph that captures, without any additional words, something meaningful in a CAS experience: a photo that says it all. Share without commentary from the photographer.

Using a scale

Invent a scale, say one to ten, for a particular feature of an experience like 'how important was this experience?', 'how bad was this experience?', 'how much learning was there'. Invite students to pick a level on the scale and explain.

Using a graph

Same as the above, but invent a graph to show feelings over time, or learning over time, or intensity of engagement (awareness), and support students in identifying why it was at this level (analysis) and then what they might do to make it more as they wish (application)

Compare accounts

As two students who shared an experience, to record it in first person, including feelings and thoughts. Then invite them to read and compare each other's accounts.

Act it out

Ask students to act out a scene from their service learning and explain why it is important. Good for awareness and analysis.

Pick an object

Either from a group of objects curated by the facilitator, or brought in by students for this purpose, students choose an object that represents their experiences and explain why it does (awareness).

Concept map

Ask students to create a concept map with all the important actions, emotions, and thoughts connected to a particular event.

Writing a letter you will not send

Invite students to write a letter to a real or imaginary person who is connected to their experiences - this could be cathartic or clarifying for students.


This is a technique from Pinar. The task is to write briefly about an event and how it relates to your past in one paragraph, your present in another, and your future.

Path not taken

Invite students to write about something they did not choose to do, and explore what that might have felt like or lead on to compared to what they did choose to do.


Ask students to draw doodles that reflect their thinking and ideas, and then share them with a partner and explain what they see in their doodle.

Draw yourself or your project as a tree

Invite students to draw a tree that represents your project or yourself and explain the choices they made

Blob Tree

Use a blob tree image and ask students to identify who they are in the tree and why

Road Map

Ask students to draw a road map, with road signs, of their current situation.

What if?

Ask students in pairs to ask each other 'what if' questions about their current situation.

Me, My relationships, my community, our world

Ask students to think about the significance of an experience through these concentric circles of influence.

Metaphors and Similes

Ask students to create similes or metaphors for an event. "This event is a boulder rolling down hill" and then share why they chose that metaphor.

SWOT Analysis

Use a simple 'strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats' grid to reflect on a current situation or a prior one.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Reducing Distractions on Digital Devices

Distractions are as old as time. Think back to high school when perhaps you were doodling on a pencil case or passing notes to friends. What is different is that the very tools that allow us to access such wonderful learning and communication opportunities, can also have the power to distract us. 

In the presentation below, you will find ideas and suggestions on helping students develop good work habits, practice self-tracking, and also provide suggestions for parental monitoring - IF it gets to that stage. We hope you find something of value for your family.

We also have a Padlet where we are collecting your great ideas! Please feel free to add a suggestion.

Made with Padlet

The Art of the Start: Your first podcast

Interested in trialing podcasting as an assessment option in your class?

Check out Tech Mentor, Georgina's reflection on that very process:

NPR shares the podcasting-love with this excellent resource for newbies and ninjas alike.

And of course, your DLC squad are always here to workshop, support and cheer you on.