3 Ways to get the most out of your Sphero robots in the classroom!

Last week I was helping the Macgear team demonstrate the Sphero SPRK (Schools, Parent, Robots and Kids) robots to educators at the NZ Ulearn Conference in Rotorua. Here’s a short vid I made that shows some of the snippets of what we were up to for the 2 days.

We use these robots in our STEM workshops with teachers and they’re one of my favourite STEM tools to use; I’ll explain why in a later post. Here’s a link to our upcoming events page where you can see the dates and venues of some STEM workshop days coming up. (Let me know if your schools would be interested in hosting!)

Here are 3 ways to make sure you’re getting ‘learning bang’ for your buck with your Sphero.

1.The teacher is ALWAYS key!

Just like every learning situation, the role of the teacher is paramount. And not in a central, dominant way but as a facilitator, driver, connector and coach. The learning that happens is always best done in discover mode, where the learners are working things out, solving their own problems and making their own ‘cognitive links.’ It’s the teacher, however, who has a crucial part to play to;

a) Frame the activity – create the motivating problem or scenario,

b) Help redirect and scaffold the learner towards some learning outcomes,

c) Provide the framework for reflection and to help students make connections with what they’ve learned – and the space to share those with others.

2. Use a great learning app, like The Lightning Lab

This app – The Lightning Lab, is a great app to use with the Sphero SPRK, partly because of the community you can connect with. Students can download other people’s programmes and build on top, or alternatively, create their own programme and become Sphero authors by uploading to the community themselves!

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SPRK Lightning Lab App – IOS Android, Chrome OS.

The community section also has activities and lessons that teachers and students have written and shared within the app – it’s a great way to share learning experiences and get ideas for your next activity. An even better idea is to have students create a learning experience (around a concept such as angles, gravity, friction etc) and share with others through the app!

3. Combine the digital with the material world…like a boss!

I love seeing the digital world interact with the material – afterall, that’s reality! When we scaffold experiences like the one in the video, where we make a craft that will move across the water, and include a coded programme for the Sphero to automate the craft, we are connecting so many areas of the curriculum and AMPLIFYING the learning. Who doesn’t like getting hands on with things!

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Those are my three tips! Do you have any other ideas or things you know work with your Spheros? Leave a comment below or retweet this link in Twitter with an idea to share.

How to make a GIF on a Mac

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-6-59-48-amGIFs are huge right now – a GIF is a ‘graphical interface format’ and a great way to get a quick message across. It’s something I want to start using more in instructional blog posts.
Here’s a cool GIF making app that you can download (in beta mode) that works pretty well on your Mac. It’s called Gifrocket and the UI (user interface – it’s an acronym morning!) is brilliant. Just drag, drop and enjoy. Love it.

Here’s a GIF I’ve made that will be on an upcoming post. Oooo, the suspense.

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My Favourite Video Site = Youtube

fav 1.pngThis is the first of a series of ‘My Favourites’ posts. There are loads of different options for things when it comes to tools and resources but sometimes it pays to have a favourite. One tool that you commit to, develop a real depth of understanding about and build up a profile of bookmarks and links within it.

This first ‘Favourite’ is one of my favouritist favourites. Here are 5 reasons why Youtube is the video platform to rule them all!

1. Shear volume of content – Youtube hasvideo a remarkable 500 hours of video upload every minute! That’s a LOT of watching, but the upside is that you are just about guaranteed to find what you are looking for. As a teacher (or if you want to learn about or fix anything) this is a gold mine of a resource.

2. Removal of visual distractions – one of the problems with video platforms are the distracting ‘suggested videos’ that they display and Youtube is no different. When you use a Chrome Browser, however, you can download extensions (like the DF Youtube extension) that will only show the video you want to show!

Screen_Shot_2016-09-06_at_6_22_39_AM3. Subscriptions and Playlists – when you have a Google account and have signed into Youtube, you can subscribe to a channel and receive notifications whenever they have new content or uploads. This is a great way of keeping up with developments from apps and tools you already use. As well as following your favourite up-loaders – here are some of my favourite channels.

4. Filtering Options – If you’re a GAFE school you now have the option of restricting videos to those approved by Google for Education, or even only those approved by teachers at your school. These settings can be found in the Admin Console and clicking on ‘Other Google Apps.’

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5. HIGH Definition – Youtube has different settings for your device to get the best stream rate for your screen or wifi connection. You can leave the settings on automatic and it will set the stream rate to be best for your connection. Otherwise, choose the higher settings such as 1080 or 4K(if you have a screen that rates that high) and watch the video the way nature intended!

Screen_Shot_2016-09-06_at_6_29_25_AM6. Baked in Video Editing! – I’m not sure of any other video streaming platform that has an editing suite built into it. The Youtube Video Editor lets you upload video, add audio, captions, photos and transitions. It even has some free licensed music to add as soundtracks which has a huge range of tunes to choose from. Just go to My Channel > Manage Subscriptions > Create.

 

I’m such a Youtube Fan that I’ve subscribed to Youtube Red. This gives you no ads, save videos off-line and play videos in the background – perfect for screening to a Chrome Cast. It’s totally my fav!

Morning Run Panorama

I shot this pic with my iPhone 6 Plus while running from our house a few weeks back. It was a pretty foggy morning and I used the panoramic setting to catch the wide angle from each side of the road.

I used the ‘magic wand’ highlighting tool in iPhoto to get the colours out. We live in a blessed part of the world!

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The Power of Video

Screen Shot 2014-08-09 at 3.13.34 pmThis week I facilitated 2 sessions at the Mediamash Workshop day in Winton. This was a teacher/student day for everyone to learn alongside each other – a powerful theme for the day in itself!

My sessions were looking at the potential for videos as a powerful tool in the learning process. In our class we recognise 3 things:

1. Today’s learners are incredible visual in the way they like to learn.
2. Outside the school environment, we often use video to learn things – from gaming walk throughs, to instructional videos for building and fixing things. So why not at school?
3. Videos can be used at lots of different stages in the learning process.

In the slides below you’ll see some examples for how we use videos before, during and after which are just ways to describe the steps our students take in our learning pathways.

The before part of the process is where flipped learning emerges. Many times this year we have had students come to a learning workshop having watched a video we provided in the pathway with a much deeper understanding of the concept or skill we are looking at. This allows us to practise, or fill in the gaps they have.
During in this sense indicates the workshops that happen with a teacher and after is where the student goes away to consolidate, clarify or create their own videos.

Make sure you click on the images and links to access the movies and sites.

**Above image sourced from http://www.visual-learners.com/image-files/models.gif

 

‘Engage, Empower and Enlighten’ Presentation

This is the presentation for a workshop I’m taking tonight with some Home Educators in Southland. It’s exciting to sharing with a ‘different’ crowd and one outside of my normal environment – people involved in schools. But, it’s also exciting to be sharing at tonight because our own children are taught at home and I’m sharing some links and sites that have been created by my own kids!

Please dig into the presentation and engage with the links. Most of the images are linked to the actual sites and resources that I share. This is a presentation I’m sure I’ll adapt and use a few times more!

Worried about losing an ipad at school?

Our school has had a large roll out of ipads minis this year and it’s been a journey learning how to
 – configure
 – register
 – store
 – update
 – charge
 – secure!

Last week we had one of ours go missing for a weekend and we weren’t sure how to find it. So – once it was found in the library shelf – we set about getting ‘Find my iphone’ set up on all of them. No mean feat!

Here’s a video I’ve made that shows the steps. I’m intending to share this with parents, too so they can have some peace of mind over the BYODs they send with their children each day.

Created on Quicktime Pro – music made on ‘I am Beatbox’ app.

Mobile devices – unlocking student potential!

This summer I entered the world of the mobile device. All I can say is, ‘Wow! This has been predicted as one of the technology trends to watch, according to the 2010 Horizon Report, k12 Edition. You can download the report here.
This is what they write about mobile devices.
“Mobiles represent an untapped resource for reaching students and for bridging the gap between the learning that happens in school and the learning that happens out in the world.”
The 2010 Horizon Report, K12 Edition, Page 7
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It’s the ‘…untapped resource for reaching students…’ that has my wheels spinning. I’ve got a Samsung GT 15800 and it’s amazing to suddenly have the online world at my finger tips, when ever I need it.
I’m sure I’ll be posting regularly about my new mobility but here is one application that I’ve been enjoying over the holidays – Google’s My Tracks app for android.
The video below, by Google, explains how to works a lot better than I could but, in a nut shell, it records your outdoor activity using GPS and transfers the data (using bluetooth) into your google apps account – mymaps and google docs. Here’s a map from my run this afternoon, with the altitude chart) and the google docs graph I can create using the data (this chart shown is comparing the average running speed) to the right.
Talk about motivation. Now I can start to compare the data from my runs over time and watch my progress. Another great feature is the ability to add information to my map using hash tags that others can search and find on google. We can discover where others are running and explore new trails – even get competitive… if that’s your style.
So, how can we use this app with our classes? One idea could be to give this to a student during our fitness run in the morning. I have a little belt bag that holds it (no I wouldn’t trust them to not drop the thing) and they could wear it, transfer the map and analyse the data. They could then repeat the process, after a few weeks of training, to see the improvement. There could even be a class incentive for improvement if a number of students improved their times and average speed.
Unlimited potential…indeed.
TOP TIP: – set your phone to flight mode before using the app. This will restrict the GPS from using any 3g capability (and draining your data) when tracking your progress. I’ve found that the GPS is incredibly accurate, even to the nearest couple of meters! Much more accurate thah when using the google maps, app…strange.