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).

Outside the Box

Sometimes in our wish to try something new we forget that purpose and pedagogy need to ultimately drive the journey. But dabbling with new technologies and software also has purpose – play. It is through play that we explore what might be possible through new lens. In my last post I shared “change the lens, change the story..”. This is especially true in innovative teaching and learning using technologies. Looking at something with new eyes allows for the possibility of recombinant options.
student_voices_rosserplan

It began with a casual conversation, one that would lead eventually to risk in a big way. A principal asked, what would happen if a school growth plan was not a paper document (as its always been) but a living, breathing, changing over time conversation document? Can our ePortfolio-esk environment (based on making learning visible) be used as a way to invite and extend the conversation at multiple levels? In a heartbeat, YES! Thus began the journey of Rosser principal Debra Gojevic and school team. Along the way, questions had to be addressed:

  • What story do you want to tell?
  • How do images tell a story? What types of images are better than others?
  • What is the interplay between images and text?
  • If video, what finite clips show the thinking, not just the act? (enhance? detract?)
  • How do you lift voices that need to be heard?

Their journey is now public and linked to their school site with a side button. Or click here for the direct link. It is not finished; their conversation has just started.

Learning on the Edge

We just finished a districtwide Pro-D, where for the first time we squeezed 2000 people into one building. So parking was quite hairy and the deluge of rain didn’t help matters. Once inside, the northvikingbandatmosphere was positively electrifying (thanks to the facilitators and participants). Our opening started with North’s own marching Viking band, keynote Abe Fernández (Director of Collective Impact, the Children’s Aid Society and Co-director of South Bronx Rising Together) and then hundreds of workshops and ‘edcamp-ish’ conversations to choose. My team of three led four sessions – a crazy rewarding day of connected energy.

Here are some things I learned:

  • Building community and togetherness is everything even though the only building that can handle the numbers is a very old one! Crossed our fingers as fuses blew…Comfort Zone Quote
  • New experiences have to be connected to what you understand and then move from there
  • Individuals make personal conscious decisions to learn new things. What is ultimately worth learning is usually difficult and messy. It takes courage to make the leap.
  • Sometimes people will try something only because they know you will support themmyquote_changethelens
  • When you see something with a new lens, you can never go back

Pro-D, while meant as a learning experience, is really an event. How will you carry these sparks and these challenges to thinking into your classrooms or offices? That’s where the magic happens.

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.