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CargoBot - Incentives to Improve

Written by David on May 30th, 2012.      0 comments

One of the things I like about the CargoBot app is that it allows students to record and share their solutions. In the video above I have shared two of my solutions. What is apparent is that although I have solved the problem, the one star grade the application gave me for my efforts illustrates that my programming is not ‘tight!’ This grading acts as an affirmation and also as an impetus and this is what I like. Yes a student may have solved the level, but have they solved it in a ‘Three Star’ way? I also like the hints, they are wonderfully vague in a helpful way, which forces you to address your approach without really supplying a solution. This is great for students learning to be resilient in the ‘pit of despair.’

Once the videos of their solutions have been saved, I would encourage students to provide a voice over explaining their method and reasoning about how they solved the problem and if they score a low star solution like I have, they could then begin to speculate how they could make their code more efficient, more general and therefore be awarded a better star rating for thier efforts. With so many problems to solve, this app has a longevity in a class situation that many others might not have.

Last but not least, with the student solutions captured, annotated, shared via YouTube and finally embedded into a wiki, blog website etc, students can collaborate, share their ideas and compare solutions with others. This simple app faciliitates higher order thinking, problem solving and resilience. It is a great app.


ShowMe! - Capturing Learning

Written by David on May 30th, 2012.      0 comments

I was working at Pinehill School on Monday and one of the clasrooms I worked in was Kate’s year 2 class. The class has only had a single iPad for two weeks now and Kate was wondering how she might use the tool in her class, beyond simple enrichment activities. Kate already knew of ShowMe! but needed some advice on how to use this profitably with her class.

I have said many times before that I am passionate about capturing the learning that we miss in class and tools like an iPad and apps like ShowMe facilitate this process. I suggested to Kate that she consider altering her table group activities to include the iPad so that students can demonstrate and crucially record their learning even if the teacher is not present. I demonstrated to Kate a simple literacy activity and also a simple numeracy activity and she was impressed with the potential this app could offer to her and her students. Kate immediately saw how this could app be applied to her plans for the day. She had a lesson on money planned for the afternoon, when I would be in another class.

I used my Apple TV to demonstrate to the students before I left how to use ShowMe! and then had them model back to me their understanding and left the class. Before I left I asked Kate to record how the students managed with the app, the video below demonstrates this. Note also the assement opportunities from the recording that a teacher might have missed had they not been able to capture the moment as Kate has here.




App of the week - Cargo Bot

Written by David on May 29th, 2012.      0 comments


I learned of CargoBot earlier this week and it has become an instant hit with me and the students I have been working with. CargoBot is free and at first glance looks like a game, it is sort of. The difference is that this app is infact an introduction to programming for students. The simple tutorials show you how to use the object blocks to program the crane to move boxes around a warehouse. It rapidly introduces the notion of nested programs and loops. What I particularly like about this app is that your efforts can be recorded as a video which is saved to your image directory, which can then be imported into iMovie, a voice over added and then shared. So not only can students demonstrate how they solved a particular problem and there are lots of tricky ones, but they can also share where they are stuck and call for help.

Interestingly this app was created entirely on an iPad using the Codea app, which is not free! It costs $14:00 and I have downloded that and am working my way through that app to see how easy the language is to master in order that any app can be created within an iPad. Great for schools wanting to develop their own resources or simply as an extension excersise or as a strand to an existing computer studies course.

CargoBot is a great find and one that I think every school based iPad should have on it.


Hunger Games update

Written by David on May 24th, 2012.      0 comments


Mockingjay pin - The Hunger Games

I went back to Waiau Pa School today to work with the team on their Hunger Games fan fiction project. You may well remember that we planned this two term long unit last term and today was my first visit back.

As this is week 5 of the term I was very excited to get back into school to see how far the students and the teachers had progressed.  I was initially a little dismayed to discover that this week has been their first week of work on the project.  The teachers have spent a long time in the intervening period convincing their team leader that this project had validity.  To their credit they stuck to their guns, addressed all the reservations that their team leader had raised and finally got the green light.  This process has not jaded their enthusiasm for the project but on the contrary has made them more passionate about it.  We spent the first session of the day, reviewing where they had got to in the plan, (chapter 4 of the book) and then I helped them to flesh out the writing elements of the plan.  They had sorted out the reading part.  In the middle block of the day I then worked in the classes to start to get the project off of the ground and enthuse the students in the project.  They did not need any additional input from me, these students are completely into this project.

We will be writing our own fan fiction novel and publishing it on the fan fiction site and using the work already published up there not only as a resource for lessons content on editing and positive feedback, but as a space to publish draft chapters and get genuine feedback from a huge peer audience.  This project will be a genuinely collaborative project between classrooms, but already these teachers are talking about repeating this exercise but with classes from other parts of the country or globe, interested?  You can follow how the project is evolving on their wiki and also checking in here over the next few months.  Below are a couple of videos from today showing how the students are starting their planning for their own fan fiction novel.  They will be following the events of the first novel through the eyes of Gale.  We await their interpretation with interest.

The teachers at Waiau Pa will be presenting on this project and its impact upon writing attainment and student engagement at Ulearn 12 in October, I will be there to offer moral support and chip in if they want me to!





App of the week - Broadcastr

Written by David on May 21st, 2012.      0 comments


My app of the week this week is Broadcastr. It continues in the theme of capturing student voice. It is similar in nature to Fotobabble, which we reviewed earlier. However where this app differs is that you can pin your voice recording, with its image onto a Google Map.  It is an augmented reality app once in the app you can search for other nearby or related Broadcastr recordings.  This enables students to place their recording in time and space. Therefore, tours can be made, such that galleries of work for example could be accompanied by voiceovers from students explaining their work or what the person in the physical world is actually viewing, or virtual tours around the key features of the school could also be made.

Broadcastr does require an account to use it. However, if a class account were to be created, individual student work could be differentiated through the use of searchable tags. It is a simple tool to use, but has the potential to create elaborate virtual tours, scavenger hunts and create a virtual world of student work that can be searched through the app long after the students have left school.

It is available from the App Store and from the Android Market.



SamAnimation and Numeracy

Written by David on May 16th, 2012.      0 comments

Yesterday I was working in Maureen’s class. She wanted me to start work on several projects with her class. The first of these projects was using Sam Animation in her numeracy programme. She wanted the students to create an animation using concrete materials such as units, tens, hundred’s and Thousands blocks to explain the process, algorithm, technique for subtraction over a 10, 100 or a 1000. The students storyboarded the process, organised the materials in their groups to explain and off they went.

After a little while it became clear that although SamAnimation could do the job of recording, a camera and iMovie in her case or Photostory in a Windows environment would have been perhaps more efficient. However that said, the process illuminated to Maureen a very interesting point. The students could do the maths, but could not articulate the logic of the mechanics of how they understood the maths to work. In other words they each had an algorithm down pat, but they did not fully understand the logic of that algorighm and therefore lacked full understanding. By introducing an elearning element into the numeracy lesson, Maureen has now got some concrete formative assessment data that she will now focus on. This information was only really fully revealed because of the videos the students created.

As you know I have long been an advocate of capturing student voice and this example demonstrates why. We may set up concrete examples on our tables for students to scaffold each other, but without some form of a capturing that conversation, we only see the end result and not the process and the misconceptions or fallacies. As far as Maureen was concerned, based on the results of her class, they all understood the process and mechanics of subtraction, but the student videos yesterday eloquently showed that they know the process but lack the understanding of how this works. Without the understanding, children will find it difficult to apply the process to other situations.



Apple TV for staff PD

Written by David on May 15th, 2012.      0 comments

I was working at Pinehill School yesterday.  The staff were all issued with an iPad each last week and after a week of owning one, we ran a staff meeting to allow staff to share their thoughts and share the apps they had discovered and used in class.  I decided to run a ‘Genius Bar.’  I set up my Apple TV on the large TV that is mounted in the staffroom and started the meeting off by showing the staff how they could turn on mirroring on their iPads.  The staff were then able to take it in turns, or not and bump each other off from the screen session to demonstrate the apps that they had been using over the last week.  It was a great session and it also showed to the teachers how an iPad and an Apple TV in their class could be used as a collaborative tool with their students.  The iPads became a multitfunctional mobi.



App of the Week: Rover

Written by David on May 14th, 2012.      0 comments

TN-7743 Rover AppStoreIcon 512x512

The Rover App

This weeks app of the week is the Rover app.  There is much to love about the iPad but there is also much that is frustrating and one of those frustrations is it’s complete lack of support for all things Flash.  As we know there is much content on the web that is Flash based and when viewed on the iPad a black space where once was content is all that is left.  This is particularly frustrating for educators.  The web is in a state of transition to HTML5 and a post Flash based world of media content.  But for teachers who have assiduously collected links to many resources over the years, much of what they know to be good sites for learning are invisible to them via the iPad.  Many legacy sites and even great current service providers, such as Mathletics are entirely Flash based and will take a long time, if ever to convert their sites from Flash to HTML5 and be a viable resource on the iPad.

This is where Rover comes in.  It acts like a third party browser and enables you to use your trusted Flash based sites on your iPad.  It is simple, and free and is my app of the week.


Zite Magazine

Written by David on May 11th, 2012.      0 comments

It was good to see that our own blog post on Evernote showed up today in the Zite magazine. The truth is that the magazine searches for articles that relate to the tags we have said we are interested in, so it is inevitable that our blog posts will show up. But what is pleasing is that clearly our blog is now part of their crawler engine. Long may that continue.




Scratch Programming

Written by David on May 11th, 2012.      0 comments

I have been working with a teacher at Wakaaranga over the last couple of months and we have been planning and he has been implementing an open ended programming unit.  The students have been given the task of developing a game that will teach other students about some of the facts surrounding the Treaty of Waitangi.  Today was my first visit to the class and I was in ‘role.’  I had been invited into the class as “Mr Kingdom” an executive from EA Games who was to assess the appropriateness of the students plans, and embryonic games.  I spent some time emphasising how projects such as theirs rely on having good plans and good teams, who all know what they have to do.  I was really impressed with how the students reacted to my observations and “Mr Kingdom” will be returning in a fortnight to see just how well they have progressed.



David has been a specialist in the field of elearning for over 12 years. He has presented on elearning at conferences in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. His consultancy work includes education and business clients. READ MORE


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