Pedagogy Litmus Test

We have a saying in our company.

“It’s about evolution, not revolution.”

It’s often the line I end workshops with. I encourage teachers not to ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ and completely revamp their whole classroom practice, but to choose one thing that will make a difference tomorrow for their students (that they’ve learned from the day) and go from there.

BUT, there’s a caveat to that. If your classroom is operating in a way that needs revamping… then you TOTALLY need to start again. Our children’s future relies on them being taught, encouraged, nutured and developed in a way that is completely different from before. Our generation have adapted because we’ve had to but this generation’s need to be agile, collaborative and multi-skilled is crucial.

So, how do you know if your practice needs evolving or a complete revolution. Here’s an idea – a small test. Where is your class on this spectrum? If you’re far to the left, then you need some serious ‘pedagogical redesign.’

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Info Pics – great to get a message across

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.

One of the most well known creators of these is @tonvincent who creates some stunning infopics. They’re well worth checking out on his site.

These are some infopics I made using a couple of apps and photos I’d taken. I started with PicsArt to create the filter and border I wanted and then added the stickers with Kiwi Camera.

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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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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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Listen to the Learning Chatter

If you’re like me then you love using technology to engage and motivate learning in your classroom. One of the ‘hits’ you often have to take when you do this is being labelled as a ‘teacher into toys.’ It’s frustrating to hear since you know and have seen the difference they can make for your learners.

img_2650One of the ways you can show others the benefits of these ‘toys’ is to record some of the conversations that your students are having during activities. I’ve started to call this;

  • LEARNING CHATTER = the language and conversations of learning in action.

Here’s a video of some sound bites I captured with one group at a recent Sphero SPRK+ demo hour I took at a local Primary School. Listen for the subject based vocab, the design thinking and collaboration here.

 

3 Shot Movie on an iPad

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;image 1.png

  • 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.

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Book Creator Comic Tips

This week I’ve been making some comics with a class in the Book photoCreator 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!

background

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.

 

transparent2. 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.character

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.

 


layering4. 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.

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Camels and Pokemon – VLOG #005

This is the fifth Vlog of a travel series I’ve started – this one is from a day off in Sydney. I’m loving the learning process that comes from discovering how to construct a story, film the clips and the combine them with the soundtracks.

Very fun!

Apps for Teacher Modeling Book

Lots of teachers are using their iPads to airplay onto a TV with their Apple TV. This gives them the ability to have an interactive modelling book that they can prepare before a guided lesson and add to as the lesson progresses.

I was asked about which app I thought was the best for this. My short answer would be that it deepens what functions you want to use. For the simplest, cleanest interface I would use Bamboo but if you want some more features such as adding images, importing templates and documents and more then Explain Everything has it all!

Here’s a graphic I’ve made that highlights the features of three well known apps. Please share the graphic around.

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IPhone Movie with Hyperlapse App

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 12.53.49 pmThere are some great photo features on the Iphones – anything from a 5 onwards has slow-mo, panorama and even a time-lapse feature built in. I came across this great app that you can combine with your IOS phone called Hyperlapse. This app films the video in normal time but then converts it to your desired frame rate and makes it looks like a time lapse. In most cases I think the clips look great sped up!

The app is an off shoot of instagram but there is the ability to upload the video footage into imovie and link them all together, like I have below, and throw some music in for fun. It’s a great app to combine with some other features like still shots.

Playground from mark herring on Vimeo.