Over the holidays a while back I was inspired by people posting #infopics on Twitter. They’re simply images that share information – a great way to get simple messages across.
We help schools develop their STEM learning development with their students and teachers and one of my favourite activities is the ‘Artbot’ design challenge. It’s super low tech with simple circuitry and coloured felts and uses mostly vibration as a mechanism to drive the cup across paper to create some ‘art.’
But, given the time and space to ideate, design and redesign, students will often come up with stunning designs, completely out of the box. These students yesterday created a hand held rotating mechanism. Brilliant. I’d never seen that before.
See what happens when we allow them that time and freedom to imagine, to create, to explore. That’s what people were made to do. We were created to create.
Image above –cdn.sciencebuddies.com
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.
I’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…
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.
But 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!
One of our most popular regional events is the “STEM and Digital Technologies” workshop we offer. Teachers have a day to explore both the pedagogy of STEM and get hands on with a range of technologies, from Sphero SPRK+, to low tech gear like popsical sticks and ping pong balls! You can see a Twitter moment here which gives you a small window into the action!
This week I’ve been updating some of the material we share on the day and I’ve adjusted this graphic of the ‘STEM Elements’, based on based on the book, “STEM Lesson Essentials, Grades 3-8” by Jo Anne Vasquez, Cary Sneider, Michael Comer.
These elements are a great way to make the important aspects of STEM stand out for teachers and I also encourage them to use these four elements as a planning guide when they’re preparing to engage students in STEM. When we have an empty box it forces us to fill it in! It’s a helpful way to help us engrain this thinking when we are starting out and a good technique to foster new pedagogies into our school culture.
Here are some images from the workshop ran last Wednesday. If you’d like to host a regional STEM event at your school, or have me work exclusively with your staff, contact me here on Twitter or use the contact widget on this page.
I’m a huge fan of the 3 shot movie to help structure your videos. It’s a simple way to teach students and teachers about frames, clips and the basics of story telling.
I saw this demo’d at a recent GAFE conference by Jim Sill (an ex-producer and now Edtech trainer). The 3 shots basically are;
- the wide shot – gives context
- the medium – shows more about the characters
- the close up – gives more detail.
Here’s a quick gif that shows how easy it is combine these shots into your timeline on the iMovie app on an iPad. If you’d like to see more information on this process, including how this process can be done on Chromebook, check out my full post on our Using Technology Better blog.
This week I’ve been making some comics with a class in the Book Creator app. It’s part of a bigger ‘app-smash’ we’re working on by combining the comic with the Explain Everything app to make an animated video.
Here are some tips to creating a comic with backgrounds, characters, and layered objects to give your comics a super professional look!
1. Insert a background into each panel.
The new updated Book Creator has a great comic layout with loads of comic like features. Elements such as stickers, comic looking fonts and text functions and PANELS! These are one of my ‘go-tos’ for students adding photos into a page. When they click the photo or camera icon within a panel the app fits the photo perfectly inside it.
When adding a background image for your comic strip, use this approach to give each panel the right backdrop. You can use the same image and zoom in or out for each panel using the 2 finger pinch and stretch.
2. Use the ‘transparent’ option when searching for character images.
Students can search and save the right character images on a Google search by finding and using a ‘long press’ on the image to ‘Save image.’ This will appear in their camera roll for use later.
BUT, if you want to use images that can be layered without a background attached to the actual image (it will look like the character is cut out) then use the ‘Search tools > Color > Transparent’ function to search for PNG files. These will have a grey and white checkered background when opened and these save as PNGs for you to add to your comics.
3. Add your characters with the + icon.
When you’re adding the characters you will need to use the + button at the top right of the screen, rather than the camera and photo function inside the panel. If you use that function then the character will replace the background of the panel. The + button process will let you move the character over top or inside the panel as needed.
4. Layer the objects using the ‘move forward and back’ section.
The last step is to work on getting your characters, stickers, speech bubbles and other elements to be layered in the right way. The default order is that the last thing added will go to the top…but to change this order simply select the element, click on the ‘I’ (or inspector) and use the ‘Move forward and back’ function. This lets you order the elements how YOU want them.
And here’s the finished product of all of these tweeks. It’s incredible what students can create using a few techniques and the greatest thing is seeing the sense of accomplishment and pride at what they’ve achieved – as well as the chance to consolidate and deepen their understanding of new learning.