My Journey to Work

I was kindly tagged by Kim Cofino in this blog meme of sorts, (via Jess McCulloch) which involves documenting how you get to work. It’s an interesting one, because I love seeing the diverse lifestyles of my friends around the world – check out the journeys of Kim, Jess & Clint, by way of example.

The journey starts at the elevator, where my son Griffin (more often than not wearing only PJ top & underpants) waves us all goodbye. Scarlett, Miles & I love this part, because he makes us smile as we leave.

Then it’s into the car with Maggie (the Music teacher, who gets a ride with us).

Scarlett usually dictates the compulsory musical sing-along numbers each day. Today we started with Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream as sung by the Glee cast, so we pump up the volume and sing at the top of our lungs as we head onto the motorway. Maggie has come to learn that songs will usually be replayed ad nauseum. I’m just glad we’ve moved on from the Shrek album…

To our right as we drive is East Coast Park – the closest ‘beach’ (and I use the term loosely), and home of the East Coast Seafood Centre, where I have Chilli Crab (my personal favourite). I love the Brazilian Rain Trees that line the motorway – they are beautifully gnarled.

We pass a golf course or two on our commute.

This morning, we turned towards Tampines and all of a sudden the sky went dark – perhaps related to the Typhoon that went through Hong Kong yesterday?

It went from daylight to darkness very quickly. And then the rain came.

Finally we arrive at school.

We drive up through the main entrance and into the car park.

Scarlett & I walk up to the plaza, then turn left towards the Primary Library.

Books and friends await in the Primary Library.

Louise loves having her photo taken… She is sitting at the desks we share.

Finally! Time for a cup of tea and a tweet or two before school starts.

So that’s my journey – I hope to see journeys from Joel, Michael, Thomas, JessLouise, Megan, Tim, Colin, Ann, Melissa & anyone else who would care to share!

 

My Journey to Work

I was kindly tagged by Kim Cofino in this blog meme of sorts, (via Jess McCulloch) which involves documenting how you get to work. It’s an interesting one, because I love seeing the diverse lifestyles of my friends around the world – check out the journeys of Kim, Jess & Clint, by way of example.

The journey starts at the elevator, where my son Griffin (more often than not wearing only PJ top & underpants) waves us all goodbye. Scarlett, Miles & I love this part, because he makes us smile as we leave.

Then it’s into the car with Maggie (the Music teacher, who gets a ride with us).

Scarlett usually dictates the compulsory musical sing-along numbers each day. Today we started with Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream as sung by the Glee cast, so we pump up the volume and sing at the top of our lungs as we head onto the motorway. Maggie has come to learn that songs will usually be replayed ad nauseum. I’m just glad we’ve moved on from the Shrek album…

To our right as we drive is East Coast Park – the closest ‘beach’ (and I use the term loosely), and home of the East Coast Seafood Centre, where I have Chilli Crab (my personal favourite). I love the Brazilian Rain Trees that line the motorway – they are beautifully gnarled.

We pass a golf course or two on our commute.

This morning, we turned towards Tampines and all of a sudden the sky went dark – perhaps related to the Typhoon that went through Hong Kong yesterday?

It went from daylight to darkness very quickly. And then the rain came.

Finally we arrive at school.

We drive up through the main entrance and into the car park.

Scarlett & I walk up to the plaza, then turn left towards the Primary Library.

Books and friends await in the Primary Library.

Louise loves having her photo taken… She is sitting at the desks we share.

Finally! Time for a cup of tea and a tweet or two before school starts.

So that’s my journey – I hope to see journeys from Joel, Michael, Thomas, JessLouise, Megan, Tim, Colin, Ann, Melissa & anyone else who would care to share!

 

Claymation – 3rd Time Lucky!

This is the third year Margot and I have worked on a claymation project with the Grade 5s, and we both feel this is the year that everything is coming together!

I have written about our adventures with animation here and here, so you can see a bit of the history.

This year, we are again connecting with the Grade 5 unit entitled Voices.

Central idea: “Through the arts we tell our stories of who we are: our beliefs, our values and our experiences”

What’s different this year?

This year, we are making more of a connection to Art.

The students have been instructed to select a piece of abstract art that interests them, and use it as an inspiration for their animation. We showed them this delightful claymation that shows the sort of thing we envisioned.

It’s been great to see the diversity in the works of art the students have chosen. We are confident they will be able to express themselves creatively through having selected a work of art that interests them.

This year, we have more measures in place to make kids successful.

Hafiz, the fabulous new TA for art has personally tested the best positioning of the macbooks and the animation stages, and constructed some 90 degree wooden frames to help keep the macbooks in the same position each time.

The more consistency kids can have in keeping their macbooks still, the better their finished product.

This year, we have provided more scaffolding.

Due to time constraints, we launched straight into the projects last year. This year, we have included time to play and learn some claymation techniques. We asked the students to roll a ball back & forth, make it disappear, then explore some other ways of moving. Below you can see Kelly & Maia’s first experimentation with claymation.

5 Fab Ideas for Effective Online Research

Over the past few days, UWCSEA has been lucky enough to have Apple Guru Kathleen Ferenz visit our school. She has been a fabulous resource for me personallyas a Digital Literacy Coach, but also for the groups of teachers she has worked with.

One of Kathleen’s many strengths is in Literacy, and she has given us lots of handy hints to do with helping students make sense of online texts, research techniques and some strategies for developing effective research skills. Many of her ideas come from this great article ‘Making Sense of Online Text‘ which is extremely relevant today, even though it was written in 2004!

Please know that the following Fab Ideas for Effective Online Research are Kathleen’s – I am merely sharing them around.

1. Start with images

The right search words are the keys to unlocking the information you are searching for. Kathleen recommended showing students a photo of the sort of thing they would be searching for online to elicit keywords. By way of example, she showed an image of a volcano, and then asked students to think of the keywords that might describe the image. She then used the words the students gave as a starting point for a search.

2. Narrow search by Reading Level

A neat little addition to the ‘more tools’ section of the Google search results is the ability to search by reading level. I’m not sure how, but I had missed this gem.

3. Scaffold

Our Grade 6 students have been researching about the UWC movement and the other UWC schools around the world. They worked collaboratively on Google Docs to find information under various categories, with the view to making a Keynote presentation later on.

Although the teachers took care to direct students to retain the URL of their sources etc, the Google Docs quickly became a receptacle for work that had been copied and pasted.

Kathleen got the students to set up a table in Pages to help summarize and organise their data. This helped bridge the gap between the ‘research’ and the Keynote. Too often, students are not provided with enough scaffolding, and as a result, the finished product lacks a depth of understanding. This scaffold will help our students be more successful in their presentation.


4. Summarize & Transform

As part of the scaffolding process, students were asked to summarize their findings into bullet points, which was a great start of course. Where I think Kathleen really raised the bar was when she asked the kids to transform their notes into audio form. The process of transforming written text into a different form (in this case, audio) really made them think about what they had learned, and what was important. It helped put the notes into their own words and moved them away from copying.

Throughout her time at UWCSEA, Kathleen used the technique of transforming text. Occasionally it was creating/finding an image that represented a particular word, sometimes it was a movie recording, sometimes audio. I will definitely be adding this technique to my research toolbox.

5. Search Stories

How do you assess a student’s search skills? When Kathleen asked this question to a group of teachers, it certainly made them stop and think. Typically, the skills of searching and synthesizing are seldom assessed, and instead, the quality of a summative task/presentation becomes the assessment.

Using screen capture tools (e.g. Quicktime player) or a specially created video tool to help with the process, students can record their screen and show the process they use to search for relevant information. Google calls these ‘Search Stories‘ (see amusing example here).

[Although this post is primarily about researching, it would be remiss of me not to mention that Search Stories could be used as a basis for literacy – developing storylines, uncovering the plot with each new search category, character development…]

I would like to thank Kathleen for all her support, ideas and above all, her warmth! I hope you find these ideas as useful as we have.

Image credits:

Volcano Erupting ( BY NC SD ) by kahunapulej
UWCSEA by Keri-Lee Beasley
Singapore map via Google Maps

 

 

 

5 Fab Ideas for Effective Online Research

Over the past few days, UWCSEA has been lucky enough to have Apple Guru Kathleen Ferenz visit our school. She has been a fabulous resource for me personallyas a Digital Literacy Coach, but also for the groups of teachers she has worked with.

One of Kathleen’s many strengths is in Literacy, and she has given us lots of handy hints to do with helping students make sense of online texts, research techniques and some strategies for developing effective research skills. Many of her ideas come from this great article ‘Making Sense of Online Text‘ which is extremely relevant today, even though it was written in 2004!

Please know that the following Fab Ideas for Effective Online Research are Kathleen’s – I am merely sharing them around.

1. Start with images

The right search words are the keys to unlocking the information you are searching for. Kathleen recommended showing students a photo of the sort of thing they would be searching for online to elicit keywords. By way of example, she showed an image of a volcano, and then asked students to think of the keywords that might describe the image. She then used the words the students gave as a starting point for a search.

2. Narrow search by Reading Level

A neat little addition to the ‘more tools’ section of the Google search results is the ability to search by reading level. I’m not sure how, but I had missed this gem.

3. Scaffold

Our Grade 6 students have been researching about the UWC movement and the other UWC schools around the world. They worked collaboratively on Google Docs to find information under various categories, with the view to making a Keynote presentation later on.

Although the teachers took care to direct students to retain the URL of their sources etc, the Google Docs quickly became a receptacle for work that had been copied and pasted.

Kathleen got the students to set up a table in Pages to help summarize and organise their data. This helped bridge the gap between the ‘research’ and the Keynote. Too often, students are not provided with enough scaffolding, and as a result, the finished product lacks a depth of understanding. This scaffold will help our students be more successful in their presentation.


4. Summarize & Transform

As part of the scaffolding process, students were asked to summarize their findings into bullet points, which was a great start of course. Where I think Kathleen really raised the bar was when she asked the kids to transform their notes into audio form. The process of transforming written text into a different form (in this case, audio) really made them think about what they had learned, and what was important. It helped put the notes into their own words and moved them away from copying.

Throughout her time at UWCSEA, Kathleen used the technique of transforming text. Occasionally it was creating/finding an image that represented a particular word, sometimes it was a movie recording, sometimes audio. I will definitely be adding this technique to my research toolbox.

5. Search Stories

How do you assess a student’s search skills? When Kathleen asked this question to a group of teachers, it certainly made them stop and think. Typically, the skills of searching and synthesizing are seldom assessed, and instead, the quality of a summative task/presentation becomes the assessment.

Using screen capture tools (e.g. Quicktime player) or a specially created video tool to help with the process, students can record their screen and show the process they use to search for relevant information. Google calls these ‘Search Stories‘ (see amusing example here).

[Although this post is primarily about researching, it would be remiss of me not to mention that Search Stories could be used as a basis for literacy – developing storylines, uncovering the plot with each new search category, character development…]

I would like to thank Kathleen for all her support, ideas and above all, her warmth! I hope you find these ideas as useful as we have.

Image credits:

Volcano Erupting ( BY NC SD ) by kahunapulej
UWCSEA by Keri-Lee Beasley
Singapore map via Google Maps

 

 

 

Learner Profile Certificates

I know Learner Profile Certificates aren’t the be-all and end-all of the PYP, however if your school is anything like my school, teachers like them anyway. And let’s face it – so do kids.

A teacher on staff made some gorgeous certificates, however they were all with copyright images, so Louise & I made up some using Creative Commons images which you are welcome to use/share.

Learner Profile Certificates

If you are interested in some Learner Profile displays relating to technology, you might like to also check out Clint Hamada‘s Flickr set Tablets and the Learner Profile.

//

iCreate, Therefore I Am

Here is an overview of what I will be exploring in my workshop today on using iPads to create rather than consume content. You might like to check out UWCSEA East’s list of apps to find other useful apps.

Newspaper Blackout Poetry

Using Brushes & any News app (such as NY Times, Stuff, BBC) on the iPad, you can easily make creative blackout poetry. I have already written about Newspaper Blackout here, but see below for my  quick tutorial video.

Newspaper Blackout Tutorial from United World College of SE Asia on Vimeo.

Storytelling with Puppets

We have 2 great storytelling apps: Sock Puppets & Puppet Pals HD. Our language teachers (e.g. Wendy Liao) use these to reinforce conversational skills, and they find that it really motivates the kids to do their best.

One of the best things about Puppet Pals HD is that you can (with the Director’s Pass) upload your own characters (either hand-drawn, or photos of the students themselves) and backgrounds, which makes the app more suitable for upper-elementary and middle school learners.

Create Soundtracks with GarageBand

GarageBand manages to make even a novice feel like an expert on the iPad. The addition of Smart music (e.g. Smart Guitar, Smart Drums) can turn every student into an accomplished composer with very little  teacher input.

GarageBand Tutorial from United World College of SE Asia on Vimeo.

Photography

With the advent of the iPad 2, the ability to create content has definitely gone up a notch. Taking your own photos, editing them and using them in cross-curricular ways is easy, fun and very creative.

By way of example, apps like Camera+ (currently only for iPhone), Adobe Photoshop Express, and ColorSplash for iPad all let you edit your photos in new and wonderful ways.

Apps such as Strip Designer or Comic Touch (currently only for iPhone) allow you to take these photos and transform them into comics or flashcards (to name but a few). Our early years teachers sent students out to find words starting with the letter M for example.

Bill Atkinson Photo Card lets you use your photos to create beautiful postcards to send to others. Some teachers have used this app for character studies, where students write a postcard in the manner of one of the characters in the novel they are studying. In our early years department, students emailed their teacher and told them about their favourite holiday, relating to their unit on celebrations.

If we have time…

I’d love to share some kinetic typography using Keynote. Also using Creative Book Builder to make ePubs straight from the iPad, however as it’s a new app, it’s a little buggy right now. It is definitely one to keep an eye on.

I’m always on the lookout for great apps that allow you to create rather than consume, so drop some suggestions in the comments!