Technologies Amplifies and Changes the Way We Create

Is it “technologies amplifies our ideas and changes the way we create”? Or is it the other way around or both in tandem?

Last week our district came together for Pro-D. Aptly named “District Day”, it’s a day dedicated to learning and exploring together – meeting and connecting with friends and colleagues from other schools. Certainly it’s a day of “connectedness” where the buzz of excitement is palpable, exploration and new ideas are plentiful and teachers sharing their passions are the norm. While I must admit that this is an exhausting day but one of the most extremely worthwhile days ever! I always come away rejuvenated and filled with possibilities. It’s a sparkly time.

maker centersWhat do the concepts of social emotional (perseverance, resilience, self regulation), curiosity, exploration and problem solving have in common? They are all intricately woven in the fabric of  Applied Design, Skills and Technology. At the 6/7 level, we invited lead teachers on the Thursday to experience Coding Quest. At the K-5 level, ADST is meant to be included in the regular curriculum. Inspired by Ian Landy (principal in Shuswap district) who presented at the CUEBC conference, we put together a number of centers focused on developing the mindset skills in ADST. The twist? – incorporating the core competencies of Personal Awareness, Communication and Critical Thinking. Just to give you a flavour, some of the centers were:

  • Elenco Snap Circuits (electronics from basics to multi-levels)
  • Keva planks (understand the dynamics of physics and architectural design)
  • littleBits (snap together parts to code)
  • LittleCodr (unplugged activity of developing specific logic and communication)
  • Makey Makey (create something to do something awesome)
  • Sphero and Ollies (code robots to do what you want them to do)
  • Coding apps on ipads (from simple to advanced – Crossy Roads, Lightbot, Cargobot, ScratchJr, GarageBand)
  • Pixel Art (post-it notes create an image – bitmap style)

Why centers? We wanted multiple entry points to include something for everyone (a success story waiting to unfold). Each center is designed for active engagement in both the building/making aspect, as well as revealing self regulation, perseverance, resilience… (Personal Awareness Competency). Reflection during and afterwards is key to explicitly connect the maker mindset and language of the competencies (critical thinking, communication, personal awareness) in “I can…” statements.
Click here for all the center instruction cards and information on setup. 

Add Layers to Images to Create New

Have you hunted high and low for the perfect image to use? Besides trying to photograph the image there are many options with varying levels of complexity that can be taken. I lean towards simple, yet with a small bit of complexity.next

 

My last post, “Intro to #CLMOOC” used a bunch of images in a collage and
accented with thumbtacks (to create a more defined area for additional information to pop. I used picmonkey.com (an online image editor) Collage and Overlays.

In Collage view, import your images. I decided on using an Andy Warhol effect (done by first individually editing the original image of paths with a variety of EFFECTS).

overlay_cropped

When you select EDIT COLLAGE, you return to the original picmonkey view. Select Overlay for choices. Since I preferred my own thumbtack image, I chose OWN. (Be aware that you need to use png files so they can be layered without showing any of those white box areas you normally would get using a jpg file.

 

 

The final image looks like this, which can be downloaded.path_4square_ed

However, while this may be fairly simple, I prefer to add a few more skills without making it onerous. This doesn’t even require access to the internet. Rather than looking for png graphics, why not make them yourself? Then you can be really flexible especially if the images are of simple shapes, like a thumbtack.

This process uses paint.NET (a simpler version of photoshop), which can be downloaded for free and MS Word. (AAAhh, I can foresee these images in powerpoints or a host of other venues…)
Click here for the instructions. We’ve done this with elementary students and they’ve been really successful.

Voices Need Words

Have you ever had “heart to heart” chats with students and you know they have a story to tell but got stuck on trying to get it out? Sometimes I feel that students don’t have the vocabulary or aren’t exposed to the vocabulary of emotions to be able to clearly tell their story. Recently, quite accidentally I fell upon the project, RULER (Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing, Regulating Emotions) by Marc Brackett at Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Here is an overview of the “Mood Meter” that they developed to help identify the various quadrants of moods and related vocabulary.

So I wondered as some of our classes are using this approach, what if we were able to gage an audience’s mood and create a real-time visual. We could use it to have conversations. This process might also work well with literature circles. I ended up using Google Forms to create the survey so it could be available for easy access on a class blog or website. Here are the results. Give it a try.

What I like about it is the list of terms to expand possible ways to share feelings. (Aren’t you tired of the same “I’m mad, sad, glad” routine.) By selecting the graphing mode you gain a visual representation of a whole group mood right away. I can imagine the rich discussions this would offer to a group.

I’d love to hear what you think about this. Please leave a comment.
If you would like your own copy, I’ve created an open folder, which you can make a copy (you need to have a google account first).

2016 Must Have List of Apps for IDevices

I can’t believe that it was February, 2015 since I came out with a list of Apps that every school should consider having on their idevices. Anyone who has been to the App Store will know all too well the number of apps represent a mountain of options. How do we choose our apps for “THE LIST”? While exploration has its place, we assess all apps against a criteria. I wrote about this process on another blog post. We like a tight list as it leaves plenty of space on the idevice to do actual work, speeds up the efficiency of the device and is easier for staff/students to learn. Besides, who needs 10 audio, image or phonics apps?

The following is an updated list (you will notice that some have survived the test of time, while others have been replaced).

app_googledrive Google Apps for Education (Google Drive +) (free) – Risen to the top of our “go to” list is GAFE (includes the core suite of productivity softwares for education [Docs, Slides, Drawing, Forms, Sheets], which allow for writing, collaborating with teams any time, anywhere, commenting in real-time (think formative assessment), and an accurate speech-to-text synthesizer (imagine having those words magically appear on the page as you speak). Contact your Learning Technologies team for more information. (You need to apply for a GAFE account > FORMS. We do the rest to set up your classes.)

app_wordpress WordPress (free) – This is extremely handy to upload content direct from your  idevices. You can write and save drafts for later editing. Or publish immediately. Apply through our FORMS page for your own sd41 blog to connect with your community (including students).

imagesize_ap Image Size (free) – This easy to use app resizes images taken by the camera so they can be uploaded to websites. A definite ‘must have’ if you plan on doing something with those images!

videoslimmer_ap  Video Slimmer ($3.99) – While there are many in this category, this one is worth the price. Shrinks most video files while keeping the quality. Simple editing tools include trim, merge multiple videos, rotate, customize. Great if you want to upload the video to a website or send by email. An absolute must-have for those who like to create video (eg. from camera, iMovie, ChatterPix, Tellagami, your fav app…)

app_voicerecordpro Voice Record Pro (free) – A professional voice recorder that saves in standard formats. Exports  to anywhere including camera library, YouTube (as a movie), Vimeo, blogs. This is a phenomenal app to support reading fluency self assessment or formative assessments or oral speech or think radio talkshow host or musical review. Export products to multiple locations to use in other software.

app_tellegamiedu Tellagami-Edu ($6.99) – Create a custom talking avatar to share story, lesson, teaching. Includes  backgrounds, draw your own or take a background picture. Products can be saved to the camera library. Great for oral language development and speeches, explaining processes (records up to 90 seconds). No in-app purchases needed. There is a free version that save 30 second videos. (Hint: use other apps to stitch the ‘shorts’ together.)

app_chatterpix_kid ChatterPix Kid by Duck Duck Moose (free) – Take a photo of anything and make it talk. Teach a lesson, share a story,  sing a song, do a rap. You’re only limited by your imagination. Share it on our class blogs. Stitch a few videos together to make a longer video. Or keep to “shorts”. There’s something to be said for brevity in 30 seconds.

app_explaineverything Explain Everything 3.0 ($5.49) – screencasting and interactive whiteboard to annotate,  teach, narrate and animate. Exports to/from anywhere which makes this incredibly flexible. New feature – collaboration!!

app_bookcreator Book Creator ($6.99) – Create stunning ebooks that can be saved, uploaded, or saved as pdf.  Incorporate images, video, audio, music, text. Import your ChatterPix, Tellagami, or Explain Everything files. Turn the pages and see the magic unfold before you. A great tool for a portfolio-esk presentation.

piccollage_ap

Pic Collage (free) – Photo editor and collage creator with some template effects. Make your images sparkle with stickers and comicbook bubbles. Export to a blog or pop it into Book Creator to create an ebook – so many options to share your thinking. Merge this with an interactive image (eg. Thinglink) and you have an added layer of depth.

mathtappers_ap MathTappers Family (free) – Find Sums, Subtraction, Multiply, Geometry… These activities go beyond drill designed to help make sense of math concepts. No internet access needed. Individuals can save own work to reflect on their personal strategies for problem-solving.

app_greenscreenGreen Screen by Do Ink ($3.99) – Take any green coloured background and turn it into your own green screen. (Yes, this is how newscasters do it.) Tell a story, teach an  idea, share a research project, be a newscaster and include an interactive weather map or video behind you. Consider how this might access oral speech, critical thinking, sequencing, design, dramatic skills.

What are your most “can’t live without” apps? Leave a comment below. We’d love to hear about them.