Monday, 16 September 2013

Google Chromebooks and the WeVideo app

Last year I evaluated Chromebooks and the impact on learning

I have had the privilege of having a Samsung Chromebook on loan for a couple of months now which I've put into classrooms to try out.  We did a collaborative project around persuasive writing using WeVideo which is a Google Drive video editing app that allows you to record voice, upload photos, video, sounds etc. (Create, Connect App, WeVideo, then use by Create, WeVideo).

I tried out the 30 day trial collaborative Education version of WeVideo whereby users can collaborate on the same video at the same time.  What was interesting was that I was on my MacBook Pro and other students were on the Samsung Chromebook.  I had do download updates to Flash etc to get WeVideo to work on my MAC, however the Chromebook had no issues whatsoever.   Very impressed!

Here's a a draft version of the video we created.  Interestingly, you have to pay for the collaborative version of WeVideo ($200/year for 50 users), however you can just use the free version of WeVideo, which is a watered down version.  Not as many transitions and effects.  I am definitely sold on WeVideo as an  effective and simple tool to use across the curriculum.  I love how it ties in so nicely with Google Apps too.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

I don't have the time to learn or collaborate! Really? How can you afford not to!

I have found that whenever I talk to educators about Twitter, if they haven't used it before, a common response is, "oh I don't have time for that".

Surely at the heart of teaching is learning and building relationships!! Do you really NOT have time to learn new things or collaborate with like minded colleagues?   I would argue how can you afford not to!!

Twitter for me has provided some of the best professional development I've ever had.  I connect and collaborate with educators all over the world and most of the New Zealand educators I connect with I have had the privilege of meeting in person.

Amazing things start to happen when you do start connecting and participating on Twitter.  For example one night I was tweeting with @mrs_hyde who is a DP at an intermediate school in Rotorua.  She encouraged me to attend the Educamp unconference in Rotorua and mentioned @CaroBush was travelling down suggesting a carpool. The next minute @CaroBush (whom I didn't know) was tweeting saying she had space if I wanted to go.  To cut a long story short I ended up travelling down with Caroline and four other educators and we had the most amazing learning conversations in the 3.5 hour drive, and by the time we got to Educamp we'd already done so much learning.

I saw Jarrod from #pegeeks in Australia had created a 14 day twitter day challenge, which gave me the idea to create a 14 day challenge to encourage educators at my school to give Twitter a go.

I created this challenge in which is an online flyer.  So I challenge you to take the 14 day challenge!   You won't regret it.

Anyone for EduCafe Maths?

I have tried EduCafe style maths with a year 2 and year 5 class successfully.  So what is EduCafe style maths??

Divide children into mixed ability groups around tables.  I usually build a bit of fun into it by talking about how we are going to a cafe to do maths today etc.  

Each group must decide on a 'summariser'.  This is a person who will summarise the group's findings to a new group.  

On each table is an A3 sheet of paper with a problem to solve in the middle. Problems around each table vary in difficulty and type.  

Everyone must write down their own ideas and put their name on it.  To start, everyone has 5-10 minutes to solve the problem in any way they can think of.  They can draw it pictorially, describe a strategy etc.  Each group must discuss the strategy they used to solve the problem and check for understanding. The summariser in particular must be able to talk about the different strategies the group have come up with. You may need to remind children that it's ok to make mistakes.  (Classes that have already developed a culture around risk taking and learning from mistakes don't have any problems with this challenge.  If you have a class that aren't comfortable with making mistakes or don't know each other well enough to feel comfortable to do this, then let the summariser pick one strategy on the paper to summarise back to the new group).

When 5-10 minutes have passed, signal to change tables.  For year 2s I found it better that children all rotated one way, for year 5s I let them choose which table they went to next to shuffle everyone a bit (max 4 children at a table).

The summariser must not move tables, and their job is to summarise the previous group's strategies, to the new group, then that group tries to add any new strategies they can think of. 
And the process continues.

I found it beneficial to pull everyone together at the end and focus in on some of the strategies that were used to solve various problems.

Monday, 2 September 2013

How are you driving your own learning?

There are so many opportunities to drive your own professional development  these days, it can become a little overwhelming. Where do you start?

At a staff meeting I presented staff with some key professional development learning opportunities - best of the best - to encourage everyone to get behind that wheel and start the journey.   There is a little bit of something for everyone.

When presenting I like to use demonstrate the use of different tools, so this time I tried out Haiku Deck which is an app on the iPad which focusses on the visual side of presenting and you are easily able to select from a range of non copyright photos available at your finger tips through the app.  I found it quick and easy to use.  The downside is it doesn't offer voice and you can't hyperlink websites. (as a side note, I recently read a post which talked about importing a Haiku Deck into the Explain Everything app, then you can add voice that way.  When there's a will there's a way I say!

I have provided all links that are included in the presentation below.

Develop a Personal Learning Network
We need to be connected and collaborate as educators so we can not only continue our own learning journey but be role models for our students.  Our students are growing up connected and collaborating, therefore we need to get our hands in there, so we understand the world our students are growing up in!!!

Virtual Learning Network
A network developed through which teachers are connecting through in their droves.  If you want to find what iPad app to use for reading etc, this is the place to go.  Great place to share your own ideas to.

Connect to Teaching Ideas and Free Technology for Teachers which will be a  good start.  

I will do a separate post on Twitter as I have developed a 14 day challenge to twitter.  Twitter is the best PD I have ever had and I would really encourage you to get connected. Even if you start by searching on #ICOT2013 or #EdChatNZ, #GAFE.

These are six of the top blogs I would recommend to start with.
These are fabulous opportunities.  I love getting involved and presenting, but the formats also let you go along and observe until you gain confidence to get more involved.

So take your first steps and get 'driving your own learning'.