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!

 

 

 

Camera+ makes photos on 3GS iPhone look great!

I know that I have mentioned Camera+ before as a great app for photos on your iPhone, but I feel I need to provide some before and after examples to really show the functionality of this amazing app.

I use Camera+ to edit any photo I want to post online now – the quality of the images far exceeds the capability of my trusty old 3GS iPhone. I know a picture tells a thousand words, so here are a couple of before & after shots for comparison:

Camera+ makes photos on 3GS iPhone look great!

I know that I have mentioned Camera+ before as a great app for photos on your iPhone, but I feel I need to provide some before and after examples to really show the functionality of this amazing app.

I use Camera+ to edit any photo I want to post online now – the quality of the images far exceeds the capability of my trusty old 3GS iPhone. I know a picture tells a thousand words, so here are a couple of before & after shots for comparison:

My Failure Bow

Failure Bow_ToGa WanderingDuring the Asia ADE Institute 2010, Improv expert Rebecca Stockley introduced the “Failure Bow” as a way of recognising failures as learning opportunities. Basically, if you stuffed up, you held your hands up and everyone applauded your failures (rather than only celebrating your successes).

I love the idea of this, but putting it into practice is something that takes a bit of getting used to. Admitting defeat is not something we tend to do, but I don’t want this blog to become a show-boat of lessons that have gone well without countering it with some of the lessons that haven’t. So here goes:

I stuffed up.

Overall, I think it would be safe to describe my Grade 5 animation project as a bit of a disaster. And that’s if you’re being kind.

The ingredients for success were all there: enthusiastic students, willing and supportive colleagues, the necessary equipment – but several contributing factors meant that the end result just didn’t cut the mustard. Instead of detailing the list of things that went wrong (there is only so much time in the day after all…!), I thought I’d share the lessons I learned through my failures.

Lesson 1. Large photo files + network + 22 students all on the computers = frustration. I wanted to use good quality images to get the best quality for the finished product, however with the scale we were working with (in excess of 300 photos each group), Movie Maker crashed more times that I’ve had hot dinners.
To solve this problem, next year I would reduce the file size to Large or even Medium, to speed the process up, and reduce the chance of crashing.

Lesson 2. Storing video/image files on local machines is much better than accessing files via the school network. I know this seems obvious, but when you have kids using different computers all the time (and occasionally different computers being out of action for some reason), then the network seems like the safest bet. For videos of this magnitude, storing files locally makes the whole thing run much more smoothly.

Lesson 3. Having 22 kids at a time making movies is great in theory, but, practically speaking, 1 per group would have been more manageable for the network. I thought that groups could work together to create and shoot their images, then take the images and edit their a movie individually. One movie per group would be fine, however clear guidelines for each group member would need to be established, so that everyone is responsible for different sections.

Lesson 4. Know your software. Despite making short test versions of animations (as outlined here), Movie Maker wasn’t up for the task on a larger scale. Our other software, Adobe Premiere Elements is a great tool, but the smallest picture duration we could customize it to was 1 frame per second (not nearly fast enough for a decent animation). While trying to fiddle around with the picture duration settings, I discovered Adobe Premiere Elements had a stop-motion animation function (if used with a webcam connected to the computer) which we could have used from the beginning. The quality of the finished movie wouldn’t be as great, however if it meant more kids would be successful in creating an animation, then it’s probably worth trying.

Lesson 5. Persistence pays off. With the Singapore International School Film Festival kicking off in a few short days, I woke at 1am in despair at how despite all the hard work from teachers and students alike, I had not even one video to submit to the Film Fest for consideration. It was heartbreaking. I lay awake for ages composing this blog post in my head. The very next day, one of the students managed to pull together his fabulous animation ready for submission, just in the nick of time. Where other students had given up, Jean-Luc showed an impressive amount of tenacity to keep coming back to the lab, even though each change involved a 10 minute load time, then the distinct possibility of Movie Maker crashing. I am so proud to share this video with you:

Photo Credit: ToGa Wanderings

My Failure Bow

Failure Bow_ToGa WanderingDuring the Asia ADE Institute 2010, Improv expert Rebecca Stockley introduced the “Failure Bow” as a way of recognising failures as learning opportunities. Basically, if you stuffed up, you held your hands up and everyone applauded your failures (rather than only celebrating your successes).

I love the idea of this, but putting it into practice is something that takes a bit of getting used to. Admitting defeat is not something we tend to do, but I don’t want this blog to become a show-boat of lessons that have gone well without countering it with some of the lessons that haven’t. So here goes:

I stuffed up.

Overall, I think it would be safe to describe my Grade 5 animation project as a bit of a disaster. And that’s if you’re being kind.

The ingredients for success were all there: enthusiastic students, willing and supportive colleagues, the necessary equipment – but several contributing factors meant that the end result just didn’t cut the mustard. Instead of detailing the list of things that went wrong (there is only so much time in the day after all…!), I thought I’d share the lessons I learned through my failures.

Lesson 1. Large photo files + network + 22 students all on the computers = frustration. I wanted to use good quality images to get the best quality for the finished product, however with the scale we were working with (in excess of 300 photos each group), Movie Maker crashed more times that I’ve had hot dinners.
To solve this problem, next year I would reduce the file size to Large or even Medium, to speed the process up, and reduce the chance of crashing.

Lesson 2. Storing video/image files on local machines is much better than accessing files via the school network. I know this seems obvious, but when you have kids using different computers all the time (and occasionally different computers being out of action for some reason), then the network seems like the safest bet. For videos of this magnitude, storing files locally makes the whole thing run much more smoothly.

Lesson 3. Having 22 kids at a time making movies is great in theory, but, practically speaking, 1 per group would have been more manageable for the network. I thought that groups could work together to create and shoot their images, then take the images and edit their a movie individually. One movie per group would be fine, however clear guidelines for each group member would need to be established, so that everyone is responsible for different sections.

Lesson 4. Know your software. Despite making short test versions of animations (as outlined here), Movie Maker wasn’t up for the task on a larger scale. Our other software, Adobe Premiere Elements is a great tool, but the smallest picture duration we could customize it to was 1 frame per second (not nearly fast enough for a decent animation). While trying to fiddle around with the picture duration settings, I discovered Adobe Premiere Elements had a stop-motion animation function (if used with a webcam connected to the computer) which we could have used from the beginning. The quality of the finished movie wouldn’t be as great, however if it meant more kids would be successful in creating an animation, then it’s probably worth trying.

Lesson 5. Persistence pays off. With the Singapore International School Film Festival kicking off in a few short days, I woke at 1am in despair at how despite all the hard work from teachers and students alike, I had not even one video to submit to the Film Fest for consideration. It was heartbreaking. I lay awake for ages composing this blog post in my head. The very next day, one of the students managed to pull together his fabulous animation ready for submission, just in the nick of time. Where other students had given up, Jean-Luc showed an impressive amount of tenacity to keep coming back to the lab, even though each change involved a 10 minute load time, then the distinct possibility of Movie Maker crashing. I am so proud to share this video with you:

Photo Credit: ToGa Wanderings

iPod Touches meet Kindergarten 2

Man have I been looking forward to this! My first chance at getting into classes with the iPod Touches. My expectations were certainly exceeded and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Full disclosure: I have never taught K2 before. In fact, I’ve never taught kids younger than Grade 2, so thankfully I had an expert to work alongside: Ms Louise is an experienced early years teacher (and fellow PYP workshop leader), so I was in very capable hands.

We worked with groups of 7 or 8 students at a time. The rest of the class was working with the teacher assistant on some shapes work, and another group had play.

We decided on 2 free apps to start with. First up, we introduced ABC PocketPhonics Lite

abc_1 abc_2 abc_game

This app reinforced phonics skills and writing skills. Once various sounds were explored, students played the game, where the programme says a sound, and the kids have to select the letter that matches the sound. They end up making words (e.g. an, it, sit, cap).

What we liked about this app was that we could select lowercase letters (from a menu of uppercase, lowercase and cursive), US or UK English sounds, and even the style of print. Very customizable.

After about 10 minutes on this app, concentration levels were beginning to wane (especially as a menu of other apps was only a click away!). I had planned on doing some more structured letter practice using our next app, Doodle Kids, but Ms Louise wisely suggested we let them draw and play.

K2LPh

What’s neat about this app is that you can change the background with a 2-finger tap, draw with various shapes, and basically be creative. When we were with the second group, Ms Louise said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could save some of the pictures?”

I remembered that with the Whiteboard Collaborative Drawing app, that simultaneously holding down the menu button and the sleep/wake button took a photo which got saved in the photos folder on the iPod Touch. I had a go, and sure enough, it worked!

From there, we were able to email it to Ms Louise (or anyone!).

** We had previously set up the iPod Touches with a generic gmail account I created for the school, and this function would need to be set up prior to use with the kids **

The kids were really excited about the prospect of emailing their pictures to their parents. One wee girl said to me, “This one’s for my Mum, because she’s going to Germany tomorrow.” How sweet!

Remember, this is day 4 of school for these little guys. Wouldn’t you be impressed with an email from your child’s teacher with a drawing they’d done for you? This one’s by Daniel.

Doodle kids Daniel

I have been asked countless times since purchasing the iPod Touches for the school, “But what are the kids going to be learning on them?” Don’t get me wrong, I totally support this mode of thinking. If we can’t justify to teachers/parents/anyone what kids are learning on the iPod Touches, then they’re just another toy.

So I have been reflecting on what the kids learned during that mini-lesson, and here are some of the skills I saw (using the PYP Transdisciplinary Skills):

Communication skills

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Viewing

Social Skills

  • Accepting Responsibility
Self-Management Skills

  • Fine-Motor Skills
  • Codes of Behaviour

Thinking Skills

  • Acquisition of Knowledge
  • Application

Clearly there is a lot of learning taking place.

I know this is just the beginning, but I hope to document the different ways we are using the iPod Touches at UWCSEA East so we can build a bank of knowledge and ideas to share. We are always looking at unique ways we can use them, so please feel free to share ideas with us.