Posted in iPads, Learning, Technology

Setting technology guidelines

This year, I teach Year 7 Digital Technology. For the first 3 weeks of school, there have been no devices for students to use due to updates, new configurations and a broken internet server, meaning that simple tasks such as checking emails have been testing the patience of all the staff!
These 3 weeks have given me ample opportunity to explore the type of technology guidelines that the students think are appropriate. It was important to me that these students formulate the guidelines themselves, giving them ownership.

Students will be using 1:1 iPads, but also have access to a class set of Macbooks. I gave the students a handout containing 4 examples of technology rules and guidelines from other schools. Their task was to highlight the rules that they thought would be important to use at our school and then use these to write their own set of guidelines. Most students came up with lists that were fairly similar to each other, but we needed a purpose to our guidelines.

Enter: our school values. This year, as part of the Positive Behaviour 4 Learning (PB4L) program our school is focusing on: Success, Respect, Integrity & Compassion.  As a class, we split the student-formulated ‘rules’ into those 4 values, which led to a great discussion about how most of them covered more than one value. My scribbled columns on the whiteboard weren’t going to make the most attractive poster to refer to, so I spent a few minutes after class putting it together as a Venn Diagram, which I used in the following class.

tech-guidelines

This poster will be displayed in the classroom where we have all of our classes and I have encouraged all other teachers to develop a similar set of guidelines with their Primary School class, or their Digital Technology class. As we all know, technology is used across a myriad of subjects, so the guidelines need to be instilled and agreed upon.

How do you come up with technology guidelines or rules at your school?

Posted in iPads, Learning, Technology, wellbeing

New year, new apps

I download so many apps onto my iPad and only use a small percentage of them. I don’t download all of them for my personal use – I like to be able to recommend apps for others to use, that they may find helpful or interesting for them or their students.
By recommending apps to others, many people in return have given me recommendations of their own. Many of them I have used but not really made the most of it, so I’ve decided to write a list of apps that I want to give a red-hot go in 2017.

  1. Smiling Mind
  2. Buncee
  3. Seesaw
  4. Adobe Spark.

Not a huge list, but these are apps that I’ve had other teachers tell me about, or found out about through my fantastic Professional Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter.

Stay tuned for updates on how I’m using these apps in the school setting…not just the classroom, as my 2017 role is going to be broader than a classroom!

Posted in iPads, Learning, Technology

But HOW do I make iPads about learning, not games?

At the start of my career, I was a self-confessed worksheet girl. I photocopied every morning and every afternoon, had folders for each day with all the worksheets I would need, complete with binders of resources that I’d collected from multiple teaching placements. I probably killed a few million trees…sorry trees.

Since I was introduced to iPads in the classroom, or for that matter any digital technology, my printing and photocopying has decreased.

maths-worksheet
memegenerator.net

But how do I teach maths now? What do I get my students to do instead of worksheets? If we don’t glue a worksheet in their book, or upload it onto a digital portfolio, how will parents know they’ve learned anything and how will we as teachers, assess them?

It’s simple:

  • teach them how to use the technology using simple instructions.
  • focus on creation apps, rather than consumption apps – make the students think!
  • give them time to explore (not ‘play’, explore) what the app can do.

To get you started, I’ve created 4 different task cards which can be used for whole class or small group work in maths. They are based around students creating and applying their knowledge, with a focus on sharing their work with their class and teacher, through taking screenshots, sharing on the big screen, or adding to a collaborative Google Slide. You can download them for free here.

Posted in iPads, Technology, Web 2.0

What could make QR codes even easier?

I absolutely LOVE using QR codes in the classroom. There are times when I don’t do a trial run myself and the website or video is blocked or unresponsive, but overall they have saved me so much time and effort.
I’ve downloaded some from other sites, but usually just make my own – I’ve found that http://www.qrstuff.com is the easiest website to use: copy link you want, paste into the blank box, click generate and voila! Then it downloads and you either print it directly, or copy and paste into a document.

What if I told you that you could make that process even easier? At the recent #EdTechSA conference I went to, I learnt about a new extension for my Google Chrome browser – goo.gl url shortener.
To find it, I simply typed the name of it into my browser, followed by ‘Chrome extension’ and it was as simple as that.

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 5.11.53 pm
Once it appears in your browser, you simply click on it when you want to shorten the URL of a website.

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 5.12.36 pm

But, by clicking on the lowest option ‘QR Code’ – it automatically generates a QR code for you! No copying and pasting website details, no opening up a second tab to create a QR, no saving the QR code somewhere in order to download it…it is seriously so quick!

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 5.12.42 pm

If you’re absolutely amazed (like I was)…share it with your friends! Save them all some time!

Posted in iPads, Learning, Technology

This weeks absolute gems!

This last week I attended 2 seminars at my local TAFE – one on Dyslexia and another about supporting readers through the use of phonics.
Both sessions were filled with scary data, thought-provoking questions, numerous definitions and last but not least, lists of apps and websites.
Yes, like always, there are a few different aspects to consider when given a list of resources to use with students:

A) Is it free?

B) If it costs, is there a free trial where I can access EVERYTHING?

C) Does it suit the technology I have available to me?

D) Is it actually going to benefit the student?

There are 2 (so far – I’ve barely had time to check any out!) that I rate quite highly.

  • Oxford Owl is a website that provides free eBooks for students, at various age levels and genres. Yes, they have provided audio (with expression!) and the books are actually interesting! I discovered this site through the Spelfabet website, under a list of decodable book resources.
  • ReadTheory is a website that I also heard about at the seminar (from the girl sitting next to me, rather than the presenter!) – free, online, engaging comprehension texts, with questions to match, based on the Lexile Reading Scale. It does refer to Common Core, but Aussie teachers can still benefit! The girl next to me said her students in Year 4 were loving it, as it strikes up a bit of friendly in-class competition while still being matched to each child’s ability. I did a little bit of extra reading about ReadTheory here.

Double bonus, both of these resources are iPad-compatible! Yay! I’ve linked QR codes to both of these sites, printed them (along with student log-in details for ReadTheory) and popped them up in the classroom I worked in today.

Can’t wait to hear the feedback from the students!

 

 

Posted in iPads, Learning, Technology, Web 2.0

EdTechSA presentation

For all those who were at the @EdTechSA conference in Adelaide and were in my workshop, you’ll know we had some technical difficulties – ha, yes – at a technology conference.

EdTechSA 1

As we all know, flexibility is the key, so after 15 minutes of me talking with a blank screen, various cord changes, menu options, adapter swaps…we had lift off!

If you’d like the links to the resources I talked about in the presentation (ipad resources, apps and websites, please feel free to download the PDF version. You’ll notice that I’ve removed the videos and photos which had identifiable students in them – sorry, I don’t have permission to share them further than the conference.

Enjoy!
P.S. The lovely @JessOttewell actually filmed 11 minutes of my presentation – so if you want to experience some of it…you guessed it, jump on to Twitter, search for (and follow) Jess and you can see for yourself!

Posted in iPads, Learning

4 Apps for creating…3 different ways!

Screen Shot 2012-12-02 at 8.32.19 PM
http://www.mrswideen.com/2012/12/my-top-picks-for-content-creation-ipad.html

Often iPad apps are seen as a quick fix to boredom – used to entertain, with minimal thinking involved. Here are 4 free apps to use in the classroom, for students to create, rather than to consume!

Number pieces – free

  • Using number lines as a basic counting tool in Numeracy, and annotate to show different numbers on the line.
  • Making numbers to 100 using the Base 10 blocks.
  • Forming a variety of numbers and annotating their extended notation. This could be photographed and added into Educreations, to include students voice to explain their thinking.

ChatterPix Kids – free

  • Counting to 10. Students can take a photo of themselves, add a mouth and record their verbal counting.
  • Role-playing. Students can record their thoughts on what to say in certain situations they may encounter in the classroom or in the playground.
  • Oral presentations. Students can record their thoughts on paper and then read them aloud while recording their own voice.

Make Beliefs Comix – free

  • Inserting characters to use as a basic storytelling tool.
  • Using the characters to add speech bubbles and create dialogue between 2 or more characters.
  • Create a comic which includes dialogue, and follow it up with a lesson on talking marks when writing.

PicCollage – free

  • Learning a specific sound/blend. Students take photos of objects around their classroom that begin with that sound/blend. They can add text, or a title of the letter they are working on.
  • Writing descriptions. Students can photograph an object, and add text to add adjectives around the photo.
  • Modelling behaviours during Literacy – how to Read to Self. Students can take photos of their partner reading and annotate with text to identify the correct behaviours to show during this time.

(These ideas were designed with F-2 classes in mind, but can easily be adapted for higher year levels.)

Posted in iPads, Learning

Reluctant Writers

This year I have been faced with a significant number of difficult students in my class. Let’s face it, no class is a ‘breeze’. There are individual nooks and crannies to every single student, however the Year 2 class I am teaching in 2015 seem to present a myriad of ‘specialities’.

Trying to get my Year 2 students to write is challenging. I have a student with Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD), who needs physical stimulation, eg a trampoline, massage, yoga, roller-board to shift his ‘writing brain’ into action. Despite his Occupational Therapist providing me with a wide range of suggestions – some days there is no progress made – the ‘Defiance’ part of his diagnoses comes into play, well and truly!

Add to this mix a boy who has autism and hates any fine motor activities, a girl who has super low processing speed, a boy who has the attention span of a gnat…it’s really like any regular classroom.

Trying to write descriptions last week was my chance to really find out what I could expect from these students.  I started with a 3 step process:

  1. Plan
  2. Draft
  3. Publish

I decided to eliminate the editing stage, to try and build that success. I helped edit briefly, but wanted to show the children that publishing work is fun and something to be proud of.

We used this template to brainstorm words to describe our lunchbox.  I then modelled how to write the words into sentences as a whole group activity. Once the students had written their sentences, it was time to publish.

Using the iPads, students worked in pairs to use PicCollage to describe their lunchboxes. I gave (and modelled) the following instructions:

  1. Take a photo of your partner with their lunchbox.
  2. Open PicCollage and add the photo of your partner.
  3. Add text boxes with your descriptive sentences.
  4. Change the background etc.

PicCollage - Version 2

There were a few types of students – those who completed all three stages with ease. Others who did the planning, but found the drafting too draining. There were others who planned and drafted, but weren’t overly interested in publishing – they’d prefer to spend their iPad time doing whatever they like, rather than a set task.

  It was a fabulous activity to include all students.

What other strategies/apps do you use to encourage reluctant writers?

Posted in iPads, Technology

Technology Tuesdays – iPads for Assessment

Today’s Technology Tuesday session is about using iPads for Assessment purposes in the Early Years.

It is an amalgamation of two of my previous posts, Evernote and RRCalc.

Evernote can be a tricky app to master, but I found that when I set it up on my computer, the iPad app became a lot easier to use.  It allows me to have a Notebook Stack for my class, with each student having their own Notebook. Within each student’s Notebook, I have created Notes for different categories.  For example, in Brad’s Notebook, I have 3 Notes so far – Behaviour, Maths and Literacy.

I have created a handout for the session, with links to videos which help explain how to use Evernote in conjunction with the RRCalc, to keep track of reading progress.  The handout can be found here: iPads & Early Years Assessment.

Other apps that I use for my assessment are

  • Numbers – like an Excel Spreadsheet, with a different sheet for each topic (Spelling Results, PAT Maths, Project Partners etc).
  • Record of Reading – very similar to the RRCalc, but this app allows you to photograph the running record with the words to follow along.
  • Skitch – I will often photograph a rubric in Skitch and then annotate for various students. There’s probably a much easier way…I’m still learning and trying!
Posted in iPads, Learning, Technology

Technology & ASD

Referring to teaching students with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), I was inspired to write this post by a question asked during #pstchat tonight on Twitter.

Q7. Does technology provide tools that help students with ASD? #PSTchat
17/06/2014 8:28 pm

Yes, it does. But it’s not the be all and end all.

One of my students ‘hates’ writing. I suggested that he could use the iPad to record his thoughts, plan, draft etc. No, he didn’t want to because “Nobody else is.”

Some children with ASD like to be the centre of attention, or don’t realise that they are being treated any differently. Others are very switched on and are agitated by the fact that they are ‘different’. When using technology with ASD students, there needs to be a clear purpose. 

I have used iPads as a reward for a student who could do 20 minutes of solid work. It had a clear purpose – to motivate the student to achieve as well as give his brain a break and clear his head in the 10 minutes of iPad time.  Clearing his head was a positive strategy in order for him to consume the next set of instructions.

For non-verbal ASD students, the app “Tap To Talk” can be helpful for constructing a line of communication. Other communication tools like voice recorders can provide relief for those hard-to-handle moments when things are hard to understand!

I have used apps like ‘Strip Design‘ and ‘Comics Head‘ for ASD students to help construct social stories, using speech marks and photos of themselves. The power of having a photo of themselves is fantastic and gives a lot more meaning to the activity.

In instances where ASD students may ‘need’ to do some writing, or produce literacy content, apps like Educreations, Explain Everything or 30 Hands can offer them the opportunity to record their voice, annotate photos and complete the task successfully.

Even a the simple timer or stopwatch in the ‘Clock’ app on your iPad can prove to be a useful device for students with ASD. It shows elapsed time for a set timeframe, so it is visual for them to see, but can also emit a sound to signal the end of the activity.

Sitting an ASD student in the corner with an iPad while you teach everybody else an entirely different concept is rarely productive and isn’t a feature of an inclusive classroom. ASD students need to be interacted with, listened to and appreciated within a classroom. Celebrate their successes!

Many of these suggestions are suitable for all students, not just those with Autism Spectrum Disorder.