Stepping out with the iPod Touch

StepTrakLite2Our K2 Team have been at it again! They continue to actively look at new ways of integrating technology into their programme.

Teaching about non-standard measurement is one of the K2 Maths expectations, and Louise & Andrea had the inspired idea of using the pedometer app StepTrakLite on the iPod Touch to make it more interesting for their students.StepTrakLite

Andrea created a recording sheet for them, and had them estimate the distance (in steps) from one place to another, then check it using StepTrakLite. Louise got her kids to make their own recording sheet. Both approaches worked brilliantly, and the kids had a great time. Here is Andrea’s recording sheet:

Measuring With StepTrakLite Using iPod Touches

Here’s a video of the kids excitedly measuring their steps using StepTrakLite

Stepping out with the iPod Touch

StepTrakLite2Our K2 Team have been at it again! They continue to actively look at new ways of integrating technology into their programme.

Teaching about non-standard measurement is one of the K2 Maths expectations, and Louise & Andrea had the inspired idea of using the pedometer app StepTrakLite on the iPod Touch to make it more interesting for their students.StepTrakLite

Andrea created a recording sheet for them, and had them estimate the distance (in steps) from one place to another, then check it using StepTrakLite. Louise got her kids to make their own recording sheet. Both approaches worked brilliantly, and the kids had a great time. Here is Andrea’s recording sheet:

Measuring With StepTrakLite Using iPod Touches

Here’s a video of the kids excitedly measuring their steps using StepTrakLite

Attempting Animation

Comfort ZoneEvery now and then I think it’s character building to step outside your comfort zone and try something you wouldn’t normally try. That’s what I kept telling myself – repeatedly – having made the decision to take on Stop-Motion Animation.

Luckily for me, people who have far more patience than I were on hand to help.

For starters, @beckcollect gave me some great ideas on how to begin, and kindly shared the Animation Stage plans he used, together with some student examples.

I found a partner-in-crime in Margot (@togramann, our wonderful Art teacher), who was also willing to have a go at this in a combined project. Finally, we found (read: strongly convinced) the Grade 5 team to let us use their students as our figurative crash-test-dummies.

Grade 5 were doing a unit on inquiry called Voices, with the following enduring  understanding (Central Idea in PYP-speak) as its focus:

Through the Arts we tell our stories of who we are: our beliefs, our values and our experiences of life.

Background (Medium)Our idea was to animate Aboriginal Dreamtime stories using Stop-Motion Animation, which we had hoped to narrate (however think we’ll just add title slides with the main story elements instead).

In Art, the students painted the backgrounds and foregrounds for the project and created the characters of their story out of plasticine.

In the ICT Lab, we had a practice run by learning to animate a sketched character and adding music to the background, to prepare for our final project, which will be animating the characters across the background and foregrounds they have constructed in Art.

Here is an example of our first-try animations, made by Al.

P1000062 (Medium)Thankfully our estates staff helped build the Animation Stages using recycled materials. They were fantastic! We ordered new digital still cameras (we went with this model) and adjustable lamps (we tried these ones, but they were a bit tricky to use).

We are now in the final stages of the project, and I have high hopes that some of the kids will be finished in time to enter their movie into the inaugural Singapore International Schools Film Festival.

Stay tuned…

Comfort zone image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/434pics/ / CC BY 2.0

Self-directed learning with YouTube

This tweet from @pluke17 got me thinking…

pluke17_1

pluke17_2

He shared a link to this photo of his son Declan’s art work:

I thought it was a pretty amazing drawing, and I was equally impressed that this 11-year-old had found something he wanted to learn and knew exactly where to find the information that would help him.

I personally use YouTube a lot for learning all sorts of things, including new recipes, using new software, and looking for help with existing software. I remember when I first discovered how useful it was – it was a revelation!

I put the call out on Twitter to see what sorts of things other people were learning, and I got lots of interesting responses:

youtube_learning_1

This is just a sample of the suggestions my PLN came up with – the Tip of the Iceberg (if you will excuse the pun).

It’s obvious great self-directed learning is happening at home for many people, but are our students, parents and teachers aware of what can be learned through YouTube?

Jeff and Kim at ISB had parents search ‘how to’ videos on YouTube for things they were interested in during a parent workshop on Social Networking. What a great way of informing parents about the potential uses of YouTube!

It would be great to see students have an opportunity to use YouTube to help further their learning in a variety of areas too. There are videos about spelling rules, times tables, taking action, learning French, learning the recorder, learning punctuation, how to cook, throwing a rugby ball, how to draw cartoons, how to make stop motion animation… The list goes on. Why aren’t we encouraging kids explore ways to help themselves?

I suspect people are worried students might come across an inappropriate video in their quest for quality information. Even though this may occur in some instances, I feel it is a perfect learning opportunity for students. Two questions immediately spring to mind that I would ask the students before they even touched the computers:

1. What should you do if you come across something that makes you feel uncomfortable?
2. How can the careful selection of keywords help you find the most relevant content?

Here are some other ways YouTube has been used in classroom settings:

  • Hot DogsOur Grade 2 students inquired into the origins of food products for their unit From Field to Table, and watched YouTube videos of  how different foods were made (such as this one on Fortune Cookies) to augment their print research. It was especially good for those who had difficulties reading.
  • Kathy Epps at ISOCS has YouTube playlists for videos that highlight the PYP Attitudes, e.g. this playlist for Respect. There are lists of books suitable for the PYP out there, but it’s great to see YouTube being used as a resource in a similar way.
  • Many of us use the Common Craft videos on YouTube to introduce applications or ideas to students or staff. Their simple and effective method of explanation appeals to all.

How have you used YouTube as a learning resource? Would you encourage students to head to YouTube to learn more about things they are interested in?

I look forward to your ideas!

Mini-Bloggers

People have a tendency to underestimate small children. A couple of years ago, I’d probably have been one of them. The combination of having my own kids and having an opportunity to teach younger and younger kids at school means I’m now a complete believer that there are no limits to their capabilities.

Like many people, I have been keeping a family blog (with the intention of keeping my family back home up-to-date with our goings-on) since 2005, when my daughter Scarlett was born. I have managed to keep blogging over the years, and it has been a wonderful reminder of events and day-to-day happenings that I would have forgotten about otherwise. The baby books I keep for the kids are somewhat embarrassing in comparison – lots of blank pages and photos falling out…

I thought about what a great way of documenting learning a blog is – I have a post about the time Scarlett first learned to crawl, learned to walk, wrote her name etc – and how that might translate to the classroom. I figured it would be handy to try this out myself before using it with others, so in the time-honored tradition of teachers everywhere, I decided to use my own daughter as a guinea pig!

I had already purchased domain names for my 2 children (together with Gmail accounts for both – a fact which my fellow ADEs found amusing during a session Jeff & Chrissy initiated over dinner one evening – “what’s the geekiest thing you’ve done?”) so setting Scarlett up with a blog was not going to be a huge drama. I knew exactly which blog platform I wanted to use – I simply haven’t found anything easier for kids than the drag-and-drop interface of Weebly. I wanted something Scarlett would be able to manipulate herself (with assistance from me of course).

weebly 1

I wanted Scarlett to be as involved in the process of blogging as she could be. Given that she is four years old, this meant that instead of predominantly typing, we recorded her explanations of pictures using my iPhone, which we then emailed to my address, and uploaded to the blog from there.

IMG_0024

Scarlett has done the vast majority of the clicking (and dragging). She has typed parts too (that she has said and I have transcribed for her) and taken some of the photographs. Each time we do an entry together, she is getting better and better.

The impact on her literacy and numeracy, together with her geographical knowledge is encouraging. The other day, we went to the site and she said, “Oh look Mummy! Two comments!” though I’ve never taught her the word ‘comments’ before. She also wanted to look at her map (the clustrmap I set up to show her the location of her visitors) to see the dots around the world. She pointed out New Zealand (where our family is from), and Singapore, and then we talked about the other places people have visited from. The hit-counter has got up to 179 at last count, which was more than she could count, but now she knows past 100.

Thanks to my fantastic PLN, Scarlett has enjoyed getting comments from all sorts of lovely people around the world. It is amazing that she has had the opportunity to hear from such a diverse group of people. What a motivating experience! I’m sure it is largely due to them that Scarlett has been coming to me saying, “Mummy, I want to do my blog.”

I am also glad to help capture her voice (both literally and figuratively) explaining her world, as I am sure it will be something she will look back on fondly in years to come.

Scarlett’s not the only little kid out there blogging – I found out about Owen in HK through his Dad, and Kaia’s an inspirational photographer too (with tips from her Dad). Maddie and her Mum in Shanghai blog about their life overseas & Oscar in Hanoi makes movies that hope to improve the lives of disadvantaged kids in Hanoi (with help from his Mum & Dad).

I’m sure these parents would agree with me when I say that blogging with your child is a great activity to do together. It’s nice to spend time talking about events in your child’s life, organising content and reflecting on experiences together.

I truly believe if Scarlett and I can do this, anyone can! I would love to hear about other success stories out there.

Finally, please visit Scarlett’s Blog to leave a red dot from your country on the map. I can tell you – honestly – she will be excited to see it! A comment may even tip her over the edge..!

Mini-Bloggers

People have a tendency to underestimate small children. A couple of years ago, I’d probably have been one of them. The combination of having my own kids and having an opportunity to teach younger and younger kids at school means I’m now a complete believer that there are no limits to their capabilities.

Like many people, I have been keeping a family blog (with the intention of keeping my family back home up-to-date with our goings-on) since 2005, when my daughter Scarlett was born. I have managed to keep blogging over the years, and it has been a wonderful reminder of events and day-to-day happenings that I would have forgotten about otherwise. The baby books I keep for the kids are somewhat embarrassing in comparison – lots of blank pages and photos falling out…

I thought about what a great way of documenting learning a blog is – I have a post about the time Scarlett first learned to crawl, learned to walk, wrote her name etc – and how that might translate to the classroom. I figured it would be handy to try this out myself before using it with others, so in the time-honored tradition of teachers everywhere, I decided to use my own daughter as a guinea pig!

I had already purchased domain names for my 2 children (together with Gmail accounts for both – a fact which my fellow ADEs found amusing during a session Jeff & Chrissy initiated over dinner one evening – “what’s the geekiest thing you’ve done?”) so setting Scarlett up with a blog was not going to be a huge drama. I knew exactly which blog platform I wanted to use – I simply haven’t found anything easier for kids than the drag-and-drop interface of Weebly. I wanted something Scarlett would be able to manipulate herself (with assistance from me of course).

weebly 1

I wanted Scarlett to be as involved in the process of blogging as she could be. Given that she is four years old, this meant that instead of predominantly typing, we recorded her explanations of pictures using my iPhone, which we then emailed to my address, and uploaded to the blog from there.

IMG_0024

Scarlett has done the vast majority of the clicking (and dragging). She has typed parts too (that she has said and I have transcribed for her) and taken some of the photographs. Each time we do an entry together, she is getting better and better.

The impact on her literacy and numeracy, together with her geographical knowledge is encouraging. The other day, we went to the site and she said, “Oh look Mummy! Two comments!” though I’ve never taught her the word ‘comments’ before. She also wanted to look at her map (the clustrmap I set up to show her the location of her visitors) to see the dots around the world. She pointed out New Zealand (where our family is from), and Singapore, and then we talked about the other places people have visited from. The hit-counter has got up to 179 at last count, which was more than she could count, but now she knows past 100.

Thanks to my fantastic PLN, Scarlett has enjoyed getting comments from all sorts of lovely people around the world. It is amazing that she has had the opportunity to hear from such a diverse group of people. What a motivating experience! I’m sure it is largely due to them that Scarlett has been coming to me saying, “Mummy, I want to do my blog.”

I am also glad to help capture her voice (both literally and figuratively) explaining her world, as I am sure it will be something she will look back on fondly in years to come.

Scarlett’s not the only little kid out there blogging – I found out about Owen in HK through his Dad, and Kaia’s an inspirational photographer too (with tips from her Dad). Maddie and her Mum in Shanghai blog about their life overseas & Oscar in Hanoi makes movies that hope to improve the lives of disadvantaged kids in Hanoi (with help from his Mum & Dad).

I’m sure these parents would agree with me when I say that blogging with your child is a great activity to do together. It’s nice to spend time talking about events in your child’s life, organising content and reflecting on experiences together.

I truly believe if Scarlett and I can do this, anyone can! I would love to hear about other success stories out there.

Finally, please visit Scarlett’s Blog to leave a red dot from your country on the map. I can tell you – honestly – she will be excited to see it! A comment may even tip her over the edge..!