Quick question with long lasting consequences

Everyone’s talking about personalised learning. It’s one of the real reasons I love being a digital consultant for teachers and schools: it’s the technology we have now that enables this to happen on a manageable scale. And students are the winners!

One aspect of personalised learning that I think get’s overlooked (we’re often catering for style, timing, pace, age etc) is tailoring our programmes towards passions, interests and strengths. Here’s a question…

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Did you know it’s a myth that Einstein was a failure at school? He was actually a great student, from many accounts, with obvious strengths in Mathematics and the Sciences.

At the age of 12 he was studying Calculus, which at that time wasn’t normal until students were 15. He showed obvious strengths in this area. It would seem that, in 1881, his school system was flexible enough to cater for his strengths.

Interesting.

iPhone Panoramas

 

If you’ve got an iPhone, chances are you’ve taken a panorama. I know Android phone have that feature on their cameras but in my experience, and I’ve owned both kinds of phones, nothing beats the iPhone for simplicity when it comes to camera features.

The Apple Youtube Channel now has some brilliant short videos that teach you how to get more out of the iPhone’s camera – from close up shots, to using the flash and of course, how to take great panoramas. In this clip below, the clip demonstrates how to use the pano in a vertical fashion to take images. Why didn’t I think of that!

Here are some recent panoramas from some of my trips this year. The trick is to move slow, keep the arrow on the line and hold your phone steady.

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Rugby match, Rugby Park – Invercargill, 2017
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San Francisco street, CA, 2017
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Sphero workshop, TTP, Melbourne, 2017

 

Too worried to poke the bear

I came across this quote yesterday on Twitter, by @wes_kieschnick. You’d have to agree, it’s not the kind of quote I would splash on the screen of a presentation with some teachers since it’s pretty confronting.

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But it’s real, right? I saw a classroom recently that had a pile of student work sitting on the teacher’s desk. It was a pile of A4 photocopied templates where the students had ‘published’ their writing in pencil and cut out and glued a photo from the internet in the bottom corner. I write ‘published’ since you could tell that they had rubbed out their errors (that’s why it’s in pencil) to get it perfect.

dontPoke-the-bearIs that preparation for the future? Is it even the world we live in now? I’m not aware of many, outside of some classrooms, who are sharing their ideas with other on paper with pencils. There are just so many better ways out there to get a message out to people.

What kind of school are you in? How can you be a ‘bear poker?’ A change maker. I think our kids deserve it.

Why would I get certified?

Did you know you can now be certified in whatever platform of digital tools you use in your classroom or school? Whether it’s Microsoft, Apple or Google, there are online modules, videos, lessons and exams you can do to get qualified and earn some recognition of a certain level of competence.

Yesterday I completed another Google Certified Level 1 Bootcamp where we take teachers and Principals through a 2 day course that helps them prepare for and sit the 3 hour exam. It’s a really rewarding exercise for those who come along.

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Here are 4 reasons why you’d want to go for some of these qualifications, whether independently online or at a face to face course with a company like ours.

  1. You get a badge!
  2. You learn SO much in the process.
  3. You become an asset to your school.
  4. You add another ‘string to your bow’ when applying for further positions.

If you’re interested in finding out more, click these links to find out more about these certifications.

 

Keeping the Family together

Now, I know what you’re thinking – why would we need an app to do this? And we don’t. The family that plays cards and collects pine cones together stays together… I know that doesn’t rhyme but we hope we’re doing ok there.

But, with 2 teenagers already, and with 3 on the way, any help we can get keeping a track of where everyone is is helpful; especially when you have a dad who is traveling around for work as well.

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 6.37.06 AMLast night I saw this app on a Youtube video – Zenly. It promises to help share your real-time location with friends and family without killing your battery life. Techcrunch has a great review here and it’s apparently becoming a real hit with the youngsters. It’s a cross between a messenging app, location sharing and even links with Maps and Uber.

So – we’re going to give it a go and I’ll post a ‘comprehensive review’ (Casey Neistat) in a little while.

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‘Why’ – helps to have a vision.

Since seeing Simon Sinek’s Ted talk about the importance of ‘the why’ in everything we do (see the talk here, one of the most popular talks ever from the site) I’ve had this concept in my head with just about everything I do. From ‘why’ am I writing on this blog, to ‘why are we learning this in maths?’ I usually start with thinking or talking about the ‘why.’

I’ve really enjoyed working with schools lately who are discovering this for themselves. We’ve been looking at this through a digital learning lens; why do we want to use digital tools and the kinds of teaching and learning practices they allow. And it’s super exciting to be able to ‘see what we’re trying to achieve.’ If we walked around the school, once this is happening, what would we see?

So ‘the why’ leads to our vision. It’s SO important to be able to articulate where we are going since this helps us drive our decision making. Too many people, and schools, and businesses and families are busy ‘doing things’ and making action plans without actually having specific goals and a vision laid out.

Here are some interesting questions for you and your school, your colleagues, family, business partner, husband or wife.

“What is our vision? What would that look like when we get there?”

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Google Maps and Instagram

One of the huge perks with my job is that I’m able to travel a lot and one of the best ways to see a new place is to go for a run. Running is my way of staying mentally sane. It helps to clear my head and gives me some good thinking time.

Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 6.53.09 AMI’ve started to map the different locations I run in and post little video clips on my Instagram account with the tag, #whereismarkrunning. To help keep  track of these locations I’ve started to locate them on a Google Map in My Maps, a great way to create your own Maps, just like a Google Doc.

Here’s the map so far. Click on the image to see the interactive version on Google My maps. Each location has a screen shot of my video clip and the link underneath will take you to the Instagram version.

*there seems to be a ‘500 error’ if trying to view the map on IOS at the moment. Desktop might be best – online forum threads suggest Google is working on it…

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A New Website for Carol – HappyDraws

Untitled design (6)My wife spends most of her spare time in the shed! It’s actually her studio, where she draws and paints and sketches and illustrates to her hearts content. It’s not surprising that she spends her ‘sparse spare time’ in the shed since she home-schools our five kids…not to mention managing the 27 animals…and counting.

When we first met she was a successful free-lance illustrator for children’s books and a ton of educational material. There are probably School Journals in many teachers classrooms in NZ with her work in there as we speak. Life took a couple of bends and she took quite a few years off to focus on the kids. Something we both don’t regret, even if it has cost us that beach house we could… I’ll stop myself there.

IMG_1613But this year she’s decided it’s time to get back into it! It’s her passion, her ‘me time’ and something she’s super talented at. This week we built out her website / portfolio on the Adobe ‘Portfolio’ which comes free with the Creative Cloud package we have for her. It’s a start and we have plans for her to paint on skateboard decks, maybe make some T-shirts and develop her portfolio for books again.

Her website is at happydraws.myportfolio.com. Have a look – if you’re after some work, let her know on the contact page. Especially check out her work on her Instagram account. She’s in the midst of a #100daysofcharacters challenge where she paints a character a day!

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Playing to our strengths

One of the reasons I love to watch Rugby (I played it through my school years) is that it’s a game for anyone, no matter what your size or shape. You can be tall and thin, wide and not so thin; there is a position for you on the field.

Some players are called ‘forwards’ who do all the grunt work in getting possession, some are ‘backs’ whose role is to run the ball and find space out wide. Everyone has a role to play and they all rely on each other.

In our company, we have a wide range of strengths and abilities. Some of us have insight and skills in areas that are different from each other but when we play together then we are incredibly strong as a unit.

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What I’m learning as I get older is that self-awareness is everything! Knowing what position we are suited for, what skills we have, and equally, what skills we lack, is what makes us strong.

I think the key is to know how much to ‘work on our weaknesses,’ and how much to have others around us cover those areas. There is a point to which we can’t just ignore those weaknesses. One of my strengths is NOT to be organized and prepared down to the fine details but by working on that, hard, it’s something I can do now.

But, my real goal should be to know where I’m strong and build on that strength. What am I good at? How can I contribute in this situation best and help us succeed? That’s real collaboration for me.

Book Creator Online!

pic 44The Book Creator app, the one I’ve described as my fav ‘non Apple’ app for teachers and students, has just realised an ability to publish books online! This is HUGE. One of the stumbling blocks teachers have had with the app is how to share the ePub files.

 

Up till now you had to publish to the iTunes store, or email the file or link to a Google Drive upload, or Airdrop the file from iPad to iPad.

Here’s a little example of a book I made as an example of an app ‘smash’ with the @wordFoto app, a cool little word and image mash up app.

Check it out – to get the online publishing feature, just update your app in the App Store to V5.1. Go for it! The whole world is waiting to see what you’re written and created!

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Make sure you click on the sound – one of my kids read it out for me….