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Zite Magazine Top Story

Written by David on June 19th, 2012.      0 comments

One of our blog posts has featured again in the Zite Magazine app.  Great to see that the key words and the subject matter that we write about is increasingly being picked up by Zite.  Thanks guys!



Topics: App, iOS, Magazine, Zite

Hunger Games - Gale POV

Written by David on June 19th, 2012.      0 comments

I returned to Waiau Pa School today to work with the students on their Hunger Games project.  To remind you this project is to be spread over two terms and by the end of the project the two classes  will have written their own fanfiction variant of the Hunger Games, but from the perspective of Gale.  Today we spent time working out how each of the chapters that the students have read would have looked through the eyes of Gale.

The level of engagement with this work is amazing to watch.  The students discuss the work and make frequent references back to the text to make their case.  The level of discussion and vocabulary that the groups generate has really pleased, beyond their expectations, their teachers.  Today was spent laying the ground work for the writing effort that will come next term. We have planned the broad brush strokes of the ten chapters, have fleshed out the characters and agreed the layout and look of the various locations, now the students in their groups have to plan their individual chapters and start writing.  We are going to manage this through linked Google Docs.  We are also designing our own book cover and have yet to decide on a title.

For our review work next term we will be drawing heavily on the huge number of resources on the fanfiction site so that students can critique the work of others and learn from their mistakes.  We read one of the chapters today and the students fell on it with glee, pointing out plot holes, this will hopefully enable them to critique their own work.




Hunger Games - Lesson

Written by David on June 19th, 2012.      0 comments

The last time I was at Waiau Pa School I worked with students to help them create the bedrock to their collaborative project.  We worked on agreeing what the character attributes of their collaborative fan fiction would be and we also worked on developing an agreed setting, location and look for the key buildings in The Seam.  The purpose here was that we wanted to ensure that we would have consistency throughout our 10 chapters.  I returned today to work with the students, but they shared with me a clip they had taken of me at work last time I was in their class.



Boy in Striped Pyjamas - Literacy Project

Written by David on June 19th, 2012.      0 comments

In tandem with the Hunger Games project I have been working on with the year 7 and 8 teachers and their students at Waiau Pa School, I have also been working with the year 5 and 6 teachers on their own literacy project based around “The Boy in Striped Pyjamas.” Today was my first session in class with these students and we were using collaborative tools such as Mind42 and Audioboo to capture what the students had to say about the tasks we had set for them. The ultimate aim of this unit is for the students to create a video trailer to entice those that watch it to read the book. So today we were examining the interaction of the charaters with each other within the plot and the impact that the setting itself has on the mood and feel of the book. The aim was for the students to create ‘fish hooks” in their review to entice readers to want to read without putting in plot spoilers.

I spent some time talking with the teachers about this project and from my own observations it is clear that the students are fully engaged in this task and remained so throughout the block I was with them. What the teachers also report is that motivation on behalfo of the students for reading the text, engaging with it and the work that we have planned around the book has remained high throughout the duration of this work. The teachers report that the collaborative and elearning centred nature of the work has contributed to making this traditional book study more engaging for the students, even those who they would not have expected to.




Sketchup and Sam Animation

Written by David on June 18th, 2012.      0 comments

I was working with Maureen at Valley School today.  We have been working on a project for the R@W awards.  Some of her students have been working with Google Sketchup to create an animated fly through of the Olympic podiums that they have designed.  It has been really interesting to watch students struggle with scale, some of their awards structures were nearly 1000 feet long!  But they had no grasp of this in their models as they had no scale frame of reference to refer to.  We had forbidden them from downloading models pre-created in the 3D warehouse.  Perhaps if we had allowed this, the scale issue would have been spotted earlier.

Whilst students were creating a 3D world in Sketchup, others were displaying the patience of a Saint by using Sam Animation to create stop motion videos of Olympic events.  It never ceases to amaze me how creative and motivated students are when teachers allow them to be. This is how every class should be, hot beds of creativity, engagement and motivated students!

Below are a couple of videos from today to give a glimpse of what is about to be published from room 4 at Valley School.



Scratch Update

Written by David on June 18th, 2012.      0 comments

I was back in Ludwig’s class last Friday and was in “role” again as Mr Kingdom from EA Games, back in to assess how the games we have commissioned are coming along. The brief was that the students had to create a game using Scratch that will help others to learn about the Treaty of Waitangi.

It is a amazing to watch how the students have settled into their roles and how they can appreciate that each role is a crucial to the overall success of the project. We have created script writers, artists, programmers and de-buggers. Each member of each group has to be one of these roles on a rotational basis, so that they all have the opportunity to play each of the roles as they create their game.

What is amazing is that the level of complexity in programming continues to increase along with the capacity for each group to problem solve, collaborate and move on. I have also introduced the students to Blockly, which is similar looking to the Scratch interface, but will enable them to build apps. This has proven to be a very motivational focus for some of the students. Mr Kingdom will be back in class on the last day of this current term to ascertain how their work is coming along.




App of the Week - VoiceReader

Written by David on June 18th, 2012.      0 comments



My app of the week this week is Voice Reader.  This app enables a student to copy any text from any application or website within their iOS device.  Once copied into the app, the app then “reads” the text out loud.  There are a range of accents to choose from to suit your particular ear.  This app enables those students who have difficulty reading to access the data in front of them.  What is more, each interpreted block of text can be exported as an audio file, which can be embedded into a third party website such as a wiki or blog etc.  This means that the iOS device can be used for research and initial interpretation, but the saved files can be accessed at any time from any other device in the class or indeed from home. This app is a great SEN or ESOL app.



App of the Week - Dragontape

Written by David on June 12th, 2012.      0 comments



Dragontape is another example of a great web site, packaging their services as an app for mobile devices.  In short on the web site and on the app you can mix together You Tube videos.  It is a simple case of searching within the app for the videos that students want to use to share information from then dragging them onto the time line in the appropriate sequence.  What is more, each You Tube video can be ‘edited’ so that when the Dragontape mix version is played, only the desired segments from each video are played.

The website variant has more functionality, but the drag and drop, edit and save facilities on the app mean that students can research a topic, create a mix tape and save it.  Once on a computer the mix tape shows up on the website variant and from there the video can be embedded into the appropriate web site for sharing.  This facility makes Dragontape a great tool for enabling students to pull together several sources of information into one.




App of the week - ShowMe

Written by David on June 4th, 2012.      0 comments


Show Me


Having posted about ShowMe last week, we had better make it our app of the week this week!

ShowMe is a screen capture app in the mould of products such as Jing.  What I love about this tool is that it enables a student to demonstrate their learning by allowing them to annotate on the screen and talk at the same time.  For example I have had students use the whiteboard mode to demonstrate their understanding of a particular maths strategy or algorithm.  With the camera function enabled, students have taken photographs of their own work and have recorded their voice over the top of the image, as illustrated last at Pinehill last week.  Not only that, but images from the camera roll on the iPad or images searched from the Internet can be included into ShowMe, these options are easily accessed from the image icon on the ShowMe toolbar, so that students can annotate over the top of the image and also record their voice.

When the work has been reviewed, and once the teacher has set up the ShowMe account, which is a simple process, the students are easily able to upload their creations to the cloud, whilst their peers are busy working on their own ShowMe creation.  This app makes the iPad a table top learning centre.  Once the videos have been uploaded the teacher or if possible the students can then log on to their showme account on another computer and embed their video creations into the appropriate wiki, blog, website etc.

The power of this tool is its simplicity and the learning it enables classrooms to capture effortlessly.  I love it.



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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