3 Things I’m Grateful For: Camera & Photo Tricks

I know, I know. You’re a power user of the camera. It’s one of your most used apps. But stay with me – there may be a use you haven’t tried out just yet.

Markup

This little-known feature in photos is an absolute winner, for so many reasons. Markup lets you sketch, zoom and add text to your photos.

You can access Markup when viewing one of your pictures. Click on the following buttons, which appear under your photo:

Edit photos.001Here’s where the super-cool part comes in… I needed to take note of the dimensions of various places, to see whether the items we wanted to buy would fit properly. Yes, I could have written them in a notebook, but there’s something about being able to visualise the space that helps when considering items.

Space for Microwave

I used markup to annotate the photos I needed, and what I loved best, was that when I was sketching on the photo, it took my wonky lines, and asked if I wanted to make them straight! So helpful! (Makes me appear way more professional, right?) I did sketch the numbers too, but quickly found adding text made them more legible. Whether I was buying a microwave, or figuring how long I needed the hallway carpet, Markup was there to make the process that much easier.

IMG_4052

Memory Making

It’s important not to underestimate the importance of memory making, when in a new country (or anywhere, for that matter!). So whether it’s documenting those firsts (first photo on the lake, spending time at the park, eating some great Swiss chocolate) or sharing photos of your new home/school/workplace with friends and family back home, the camera app is there for you, every step of the way.

Comparing Potential Purchases

Obvious, perhaps. But no less useful. In my humble experience, there is only so much furniture shopping two kids and a dog will put up with, so it’s inevitable that at some point, you and your significant other will not be shopping together. Camera and Photos to the rescue once more!

IKEA Wardrobe.001

Shopping decisions can be made when the kids are in bed, perhaps with a beverage in hand (if you’re into that sort of thing)… Considerably more relaxing (and efficient!) than the alternative.

The humble Camera and Photo apps are powerful allies in the move to a new country, so dust them off, and give them a workout!

 

 

 

3 Things I’m Grateful For: Location, Location, Location

There’s an interview with comedian Louis C.K. that really resonates with me about a lot of tech stuff. It’s called “Everything is Amazing and Nobody is Happy.” Take a moment, if you haven’t already, to enjoy watching (please note, it’s not suitable for children).

This interview makes me think about a lot of incredibly amazing tech stuff that gets taken for granted, but specifically, location based apps.
Here are 3 location-based pieces of tech wizardry I am grateful for:

GPS & Maps

Map PinsIn Switzerland, they happen drive on the other side of the road to each of the four countries I have lived in previously. Driving on the other side of the road feels like you are constantly making mistakes that may have dire consequences for you or the people you happen to be sharing the road with. In short, it’s terrifying. But with the GPS turned on, at least I don’t have to worry about knowing where I am supposed to be driving, and I can concentrate on important things, like not screaming out loud when a car comes the opposite direction on a narrow Swiss road.

True story: my kids gave me a round of applause when I first drove home. I think I’ll keep them.

Apple maps, Google maps, they’re both amazing! Take some time to appreciate the wonder that is location-based navigation! I do every day in this new country of ours.

Recycling Map

There are a lot of reasons to love the Swiss – chocolate and Roger Federer are but two of many – however, one has to appreciate their commitment to recycling. Recycling is expected, rather than encouraged, and I think that’s just great. Except for when I don’t know where to find the nearest recycling centre. Enter the Recycling Map. Simply type in your postcode, and what it is exactly that you want to recycle, and voila! The nearest locations are pointed out to you on the wonder that is Maps. Genius.

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 9.29.14 PM

FourSquare & Swarm

FourSquareLooking on FourSquare (also available as an app) has become one of the first things I do in a new location. It provides information on places to eat (very important to me!), nightlife (somewhat less important) and things to do (yes, yes!).

Users leave tips and ratings on each location they visit through partner app Swarm. FourSquare uses this information to recommend locations nearby, complete with distance, address and contact details, opening hours, and a rating out of 10. This is alongside the tips from reviewers.

FourSquare has been responsible for some of my most memorable meals on holiday. Peskesi in Heraklion and Gelato at Cioccolat Italiani are two recent examples of places that would have gone undiscovered, had it not been for FourSquare.

I encourage you to start contributing to the pool of knowledge on FourSquare, by leaving tips about your favourite places on Swarm. That way, we all benefit!

so-this-just-happened-might-have-overdone-it-a-bit-gelato-milano_27578786134_o


“Trip planning.” flickr photo by Shawn Harquail https://flickr.com/photos/harquail/15866878743 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

3 Things I’m Grateful For: Language Learning Edition

The Alps, fondue, chocolate, skiing and neutrality – these are some of the features of my new host country. Yes, my family and I have taken a great leap and moved to Switzerland. This is our first country move in 12 years, so it’s kind of a BIG DEAL!

With our kids, my husband and I usually spend a few moments each night sharing
3 things we are grateful for. I thought I’d share some ways I am grateful for technology making our lives easier as we transition to our new culture.
Today’s edition is all about language learning.

LANGUAGE LEARNING

We now live in the French-speaking region of Switzerland. Slight problem: I don’t speak French… yet! I am a firm believer that to know a culture, you must make an effort to learn the language. Enter Duolingo, Google Translate & the French keyboard on iOS.

Duolingo
My daughter (11) created a family French club on Duolingo, and each morning, we complete at least 3 exercises. It’s quite simple to motivate the littles – they aren’t allowed any screen time until they’ve done it, so it gets done in record time! They also love the club aspect – seeing where everyone is, smack-talking about who is taking over the leaderboard, and commenting on the activity.

Although Duolingo is brilliant (and free!), I am mildly frustrated that while I can tell you “The boy is calm,” and “The duck is eating a fly,” I don’t yet know the days of the week, or how to ask where the bathrooms are. Still! Great app, which has been super helpful so far.

French Keyboard on iOS
Adding the French keyboard to my iPhone has certainly helped too, particularly the predictive text feature. It automatically helps me spell words I am trying to type, and helpfully adds the right accents, making me feel more professional in my written communication. I do need to pay close attention when typing, because the placement of the letters on the French keyboard is a little different!

Google Translate
For everything else, there is Google Translate! I know, language teachers, I know! It’s not a long-term solution, but it has helped us find baking powder at the supermarket, decipher descriptions of everything from BBQs to cars, and tell the delivery people we are running late. We couldn’t do without it.

I recently downloaded French as one of my offline translation languages, which is helpful when trying to avoid over-using data packages!

I’m sure there are many other language learning tips you could give me! Any great apps I need to load right now? I am willing to give everything a go!


“Aletsch_36” flickr photo by Gipfelwanderer https://flickr.com/photos/150752905@N08/35375628573 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

7 Reasons Why Wunderlist Works

My colleague Dave and I work on many collaborative tasks. Our antiquated system for managing these tasks was a post-it note that Dave kept on his desk, that we would occasionally look at and cross things off.

Our MS/HS colleagues Adrienne and Jeff had been talking up using Wunderlist to stay on top of their To-Do List, so we thought we’d give it a go.

What we LOVE

  1. Working across multiple platforms – I can access my Wunderlist on my iPhone or on my browser. There are a number of compatible platforms (including Android, Windows and Apple Watch) that let you check off your task list from whatever device you happen to be using.
  2. Multiple Lists – I have a grocery list with my husband, a DLC Task List with Dave, a list with my sister in NZ who is visiting soon and wanting to know what to bring. The ability to have multiple lists makes it easy to manage the different aspects of your life.
  3. Adding Subtasks – There are many occasions when a big task needs to be broken down into multiple subtasks, and Wunderlist enables you to do this easily. Really handy to be able to feel like you’re making progress on those huge jobs!
  4. Assigning Tasks – Dave and I can assign our big tasks to each other, or leave them for both of us. It’s nice to be able to see quickly what you are responsible.
  5. Reminders – Time based reminders can easily be synced with your calendar. We are using Sunrise on our phones to manage our Google Calendar, which works a treat.
  6. Commenting and Notes – We can comment or write notes on tasks, clarifying new additions or reminding each other about things that are upcoming. Great feature.
  7. Attaching files – Adding a file, dropbox link or voice comment is another handy feature of Wunderlist.

What we WANT

  1. The ability to assign sub-tasks would be helpful.
  2. Linking to a file in Google Drive (although we can add links in the Notes section).
  3. The ability to undo the last action  – especially useful for accidentally checking off the wrong item! It can be retrieved with a few clicks, however undo or command + Z would be quicker.
Why not give it a go with your team?

Top Apps for Global Travelers

The following Apps are my pics for Best Travel Apps Ever, and ones I will be putting to good use this summer when I travel to Europe.

 

TripIt – One of the easiest & most useful travel apps is TripIt. You simply forward your flight confirmations and/or hotel bookings, and TripIt will put together a wonderful itinerary for you, complete with essential booking references, confirmation numbers and maps of surrounding areas. Best of all, it’s FREE! This is my number 1 travel app of all time.

Packing Pro – If you’re anything like me, you have a tendency to overpack for trips, meaning I often lug around unnecessary items. I also manage to forget at least one key item every time I travel. Well, no more! This app can give you pre-prepared lists for various types of trips, or you can customize your own lists, meaning you will be well-organised for your next trip.

Travel App Box – This provides several useful travel apps in one, including offline maps, currency converter, tip calculator, basic phrases, pictionary, emergency call numbers, travel games and more. The offline maps in particular, I think will be extremely useful for those between-wifi moments.

Google Translate – When traveling, instant translation can be your best friend. Google translate can even ‘say’ the words in the language you desire.

Dropbox – Putting key documentation in Dropbox when traveling can be extremely useful. I have photocopies of my passport and green card in my Dropbox, just in case.

Pocket First Aid & CPR – This app not only has great first aid information, but is a place you can store important medical information about your family, e.g. Medical insurance numbers, blood type etc. Very easy to use and handy to have in your back pocket.

Kayak – Flights, hotels, rental cars, travel planner – this free app is a great place to start planning your next vacation. This won the people’s choice award at the 2011 Webby Awards.

XE Currency – A straightforward currency exchange app from the popular site with the same name.

Foursquare – Checking in to new places can give you excellent tips from other Foursquare users. I have used Foursquare to get recommendations about what to order at restaurants, and find out recommended activities in the area.

Lonely Planet (e.g. Paris) – Lonely Planet is a wonderful source of information for tourists, and they have guides for all of the major cities.

Local MRT (e.g. Paris Metro) – When traveling to a new place, I always download apps for public transport, as you never know when they might come in handy. Most are free, however some, like Paris Metro, have added value and therefore charge a fee.

Weather+ Free – Anticipating the weather in the countries you visit is always essential.

World Clock – Time Zones – Knowing what time to call home is important when traveling – no one wants to be woken at 3am, even if you are calling from Germany. This app shows the current time in a range of destinations, so there are no more excuses!

Camera360– This amazing FREE app has a range of different features that will help you take great photos wherever you are. Each effect has a range of sub-effects, meaning the possible combinations are endless. (**if you are using the Singaporean App store, the app description will turn up in Chinese. Don’t panic, the app will be in English once it’s downloaded**)

TripAdvisor– The popular website is now available in app form. Search for hotels and more, and read user reviews about your upcoming travel destinations.I hope you find these apps useful. Leave a comment with your favorite recommendations – we’re always on the lookout for new apps.

Thinking Routines & the iPad

(Cross-posted at Greatechxpectations

The iPad is a great mobile device for recording students thinking on the go. When we combine the iPad, Harvard’s Artful Thinking Palette, Harvard’s Visible Thinking Routines and the free Voicethread app, a plethora of possibilities become available.

Sign in to Voicethread (NB, if your school has domain, as ours does, you can edit this on the sign in page).

I Used to Think, Now I Think

Used when students’ thoughts, opinions & ideas might change over the course of a unit. (Click here for more details)

Students could draw and screenshot a picture that represents their initial thinking in a unit. Bring the image into Voicethread and explain their thinking. Follow up by repeating the activity at the culmination of the unit, and add to their initial Voicethread.

See, Think, Wonder

Sets the stage for inquiry. Usually used at the beginning because it stimulates curiosity. (Click here for more details)

Using a pre-selected photo, or one they have taken, create a Voicethread with 3 slides (photo repeated 3 times). Add narration over each slide – one for ‘see’, one for ‘think’, and one for ‘wonder’.

Compass Points

Compass points helps you extend your thinking. (Click here for more details)

East = Excited. What are you excited about?
West = Worrisome. What worries you?
North = Need to know. What more information do you require?
South = Stance/Suggestion. What are your next steps?

Have students take 4 photos representing the four points for a given topic (e.g. current Unit of Inquiry). Create a new Voicethread and have students narrate over the top, explaining their selections.

Beginning, Middle & End

This routine develops observation and imagination. (Click here for more details)

Have the students look at pre-selected image. Get them to choose either Beginning, Middle or End.

Beginning – if this is the beginning of the story, what do you think might happen next?
Middle – if it this is the middle of a story, what might have happened before? What might be about to happen?
End – If this is the end of a story, what might the story be?

Create a Voicethread with the image, and have students explain their thoughts through a voice comment. 

Claim, Support, Question

This routine supports reasoning. (Click here for more details) This routine might be better suited to upper primary aged students.

Claim – Make a claim about the image/topic
Support – Identify support for your claim
Question – Ask a question related to your claim.

Using an image that represents your topic, add a voice comment for each section of this thinking routine. This may be 3 separate comments, or 3 slides with one comment on each.

Looking 10 x 2

Great for observation and descriptive skills. (Click here for more details)

Look at an image for 30 seconds. Try and list 10 words/phrases you see. Repeat these steps again, this time trying to list an additional 10 words/phrases you observe. Add the image to Voicethread and add two voice comments to the image.

Tips

You might like to consider purchasing a camera connection kit to transfer images directly from your SD card to the iPad.

Alternatively, you can email images you wish students to see to the email address set up on your iPad. The students can add the images to the Photo Gallery from there by holding one finger on the image, then selecting save to Photo Gallery.

________________________________________________________________________

Credits
Magnifying Glass ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Lanzen
Compass ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Roland Urbanek
Cuff Links ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Oberazzi
Pale Blue 10 ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Caro’s Lines

Thinking Routines & the iPad

(Cross-posted at Greatechxpectations

The iPad is a great mobile device for recording students thinking on the go. When we combine the iPad, Harvard’s Artful Thinking Palette, Harvard’s Visible Thinking Routines and the free Voicethread app, a plethora of possibilities become available.

Sign in to Voicethread (NB, if your school has domain, as ours does, you can edit this on the sign in page).

I Used to Think, Now I Think

Used when students’ thoughts, opinions & ideas might change over the course of a unit. (Click here for more details)

Students could draw and screenshot a picture that represents their initial thinking in a unit. Bring the image into Voicethread and explain their thinking. Follow up by repeating the activity at the culmination of the unit, and add to their initial Voicethread.

See, Think, Wonder

Sets the stage for inquiry. Usually used at the beginning because it stimulates curiosity. (Click here for more details)

Using a pre-selected photo, or one they have taken, create a Voicethread with 3 slides (photo repeated 3 times). Add narration over each slide – one for ‘see’, one for ‘think’, and one for ‘wonder’.

Compass Points

Compass points helps you extend your thinking. (Click here for more details)

East = Excited. What are you excited about?
West = Worrisome. What worries you?
North = Need to know. What more information do you require?
South = Stance/Suggestion. What are your next steps?

Have students take 4 photos representing the four points for a given topic (e.g. current Unit of Inquiry). Create a new Voicethread and have students narrate over the top, explaining their selections.

Beginning, Middle & End

This routine develops observation and imagination. (Click here for more details)

Have the students look at pre-selected image. Get them to choose either Beginning, Middle or End.

Beginning – if this is the beginning of the story, what do you think might happen next?
Middle – if it this is the middle of a story, what might have happened before? What might be about to happen?
End – If this is the end of a story, what might the story be?

Create a Voicethread with the image, and have students explain their thoughts through a voice comment. 

Claim, Support, Question

This routine supports reasoning. (Click here for more details) This routine might be better suited to upper primary aged students.

Claim – Make a claim about the image/topic
Support – Identify support for your claim
Question – Ask a question related to your claim.

Using an image that represents your topic, add a voice comment for each section of this thinking routine. This may be 3 separate comments, or 3 slides with one comment on each.

Looking 10 x 2

Great for observation and descriptive skills. (Click here for more details)

Look at an image for 30 seconds. Try and list 10 words/phrases you see. Repeat these steps again, this time trying to list an additional 10 words/phrases you observe. Add the image to Voicethread and add two voice comments to the image.

Tips

You might like to consider purchasing a camera connection kit to transfer images directly from your SD card to the iPad.

Alternatively, you can email images you wish students to see to the email address set up on your iPad. The students can add the images to the Photo Gallery from there by holding one finger on the image, then selecting save to Photo Gallery.

________________________________________________________________________

Credits
Magnifying Glass ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Lanzen
Compass ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Roland Urbanek
Cuff Links ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Oberazzi
Pale Blue 10 ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Caro’s Lines