Why Have a Class Twitter Account?

Digital GEMS templatekey.001

There are a whole host of benefits to having a class Twitter account. Allow me to present you with my top 5:

1. Access to Experts

By following the Tweets of experts, such as NASA or Dr Jane Goodall, a class can access up-to-date information in byte-sized packages. Most often, links are included to videos, articles, blog posts and images to explore in more detail

 

2. Connect with Authors

Remember writing letters to authors, mailing them off and never hearing anything back? Today, a significant number of authors are on Twitter, interacting with their readers.

Last year, a G5 class was thrilled to Skype with Gary Whitta (an author of Rogue One, the latest Star Wars film), who spoke to us about the writing process, diversity in film and answered student questions. Talk about relevance! This got the whole class hooked on writing!

Some lucky students in G4 tweeted an author of a book they were reading, and were thrilled when they got a reply. What a motivator for developing literacy skills!

3. Share our learning

We can make a difference to other people’s learning simply by sharing our own. Tweets of student sketching a character’s development, might give another child an idea about how they can represent their own learning. Parents love seeing examples of their child in action during the school day too.

Adding hashtags can allow us to reach a common audience, where we find ideas related to topics we are learning about too, such as #writingworkshop

4. Develop International Mindedness

Part of the PYP is developing International Mindedness, where we seek out and value perspectives from different cultures and communities, and consider the impact of events around the world on different groups of people.

By way of example, @littlemissflint became a powerful role model for taking action after she began tweeting about the water crisis in her hometown of Flint. Now she continues to take action on issues important to her and her community

From a class Twitter account, you can follow the United Nations to learn about what school is like in different parts of the world, for example this school in Gaza.

5. Model Digital Citizenship

We know that modelling positive and appropriate use of social media helps students learn how to be effective digital citizens. Through a class Twitter account, students can see how to interact positively with others online, they can learn to compose Tweets, and develop digital literacy skills such as appropriate writing conventions in digital medium (e.g. use of the @ symbol to reply, and use of hashtags). Having a class account lets students learn these skills with their teacher as a guide and role model – almost like having a safety net there for them as they learn.

A class Twitter account shows that teachers value writing in digital as well as print form, adding weight to the writing students are doing in their lives outside the classroom.

The bottom line is that teachers are there for kids.
We want learning to be relevant, contextual and engaging.
A class Twitter account is just one of the ways we teachers support today’s learners.

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

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.

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.

//

5 reasons to get back into Google Wave – with your students

google waveIf you’re anything like me, you will recall the hype surrounding Google Wave, and you will remember with excitement, the day your invite finally arrived.

I felt a bit like the cat that got the cream when I got mine, however my Wave potential was limited by the number of geeks people I could interact with (I had no invites for ages!). I felt it would be a wonderful tool for use in the classroom, but my initial lack of invites put the kibosh on that!

Fast forward 6 months and my Google Wave account was gathering virtual dust in cyberspace.

As good fortune would have it, my husband and I met up with an old friend in Bali – Werner Paetzold – from Bali International School on our holidays in April. Werner was singing the praises of Google Wave, and said he used it quite successfully with his Middle School students. There was a challenge, if ever I heard one!

He told me about the newest extensions, and also extolled the virtues of Google Wave as a conference note-taking platform. At the recent IBO conference, wireless was at something of a premium, but Werner insisted that if he opened the Wave when he had wireless, and left it open, he could happily take notes throughout the conference, and when he returned to wireless connectivity, it would sync all his notes for him.

The upcoming Grade 5 PYP Exhibition sounded like the perfect opportunity to have a look at what Wave could do.

I am mentor to two groups for the Exhibition (a unit that is a really student-driven inquiry, with mentor support), so I invited one member of each group, and they subsequently used their invitations to invite the rest of their group members. I asked them to start a Wave as a way of collaboratively collecting resources and research for their Exhibition. I love the grade 5 kids, they really are a fantastic bunch, so it was no surprise that they took to Google Wave like ducks to water.

Wave_1

Here are 5 reasons I believe you should dust off your Google Wave account and invite your students:

1. Collaboration Google Wave allows for very easy collaboration. It is very similar to both email and instant messaging, which are mediums that are extremely familiar to the kids I work with. Adding contacts to a Wave is… well… child’s play! I asked the students to invite me to their Wave, meaning I get all the updates as they work. It is a great way of having all the students’ research in one place – a place which is easily accessible at home and at school.

2. Playback – not sure who has contributed to the Wave lately? Or keen to see how the interaction is playing out with your students? Hit Playback, and you’ll see a sped up replay of the editing to date. This is useful as a way of tracking  involvement, but also a good way to catch up if you have been invited to a Wave fairly late in the piece.

3. Real-time Editing – my students think this part of Wave is uber cool – and it IS! There is something mind-blowing about the ability to see exactly what someone else is typing the moment they press the keypad. No more waiting until a person has finished his/her sentence – you can answer a question as it is being formed.
Pretty powerful stuff. Reason number 3 leads directly into reason number 4…

4. Just-in-Time support – on several occasions, I have been online at home when the kids have been working on their research. One time, I was able to give some immediate feedback and suggestions on a student’s just-completed Prezi, another time I explained how to embed a website into the Wave using one of the Extensions. It has been a fabulous tool for this sort of interaction.

5. Extensions – in my opinion, one of the best things about using Google Wave is the fabulous Extensions that are now available. Without the extensions, Wave is like an iPod Touch without the apps – cool, but not quite cool enough! I have pulled out a couple of the great Extensions that I have found useful so far:

extensions

iFRAME – this Extension allows you to embed a website into your Wave so others can read/preview it from within the Wave, and not have to leave the window.

iFrame

Ferry – a way of exporting waves to Google Docs and other formats

ferry

How have you used Google Wave in the classroom? Any bright ideas to share? Any must-have Extensions? I am keen to hear your feedback!

Google Wave image credit: curiouslee

Update May 26th 2010: Lessons Learned

Thanks to a comment from a reader, I was alerted to the Terms of Service for Google Wave, which state:

“2.3 You may not use the Services and may not accept the Terms if (a) you are not of legal age to form a binding contract with Google,” (http://www.google.com/accounts/TOS)

I hadn’t realised I had overlooked this section of the Terms of Service (TOS) – and took steps to rectify it immediately.

I had originally invited the kids using their school-controlled Gmail account via Google Apps, but when the students discovered those addresses weren’t accepted by Google Wave (at that time), they used their own accounts (which they already had outside of school).

As Google Wave is now available via Google Apps for Education, I informed the students of the issue, and had them create a replacement Wave account using their school-controlled Gmail account. They still have access to the wonderfully collaborative features of Wave, but without the extensions (at this point). The only loss to us is the <iframe> extension, which allows websites to be embedded in a wave. A very nice feature indeed.

My intention is, and has always been, to connect students to technology that enhances their learning. Although I sincerely regret not checking the terms of service more thoroughly, this has turned into a valuable learning opportunity for us all.

I regularly discuss the importance of Internet awareness with my students, and this has given us another opportunity to bring these issues to the fore, and ensure students can learn from this, as I have.

The key issue is the US laws relating to COPPA/CIPA and one aspect of that is the legal age at which people can engage in a contract.  This is the same thing that has plagued Ning use in elementary schools.  There seems to be agreement that the legal age is 14 in the States — though in California where Google is incorporated, the legal age is 18.  Here in Singapore it is 21.

I would be interested to hear from someone with legal knowledge and an international school perspective.

I remain convinced that Google Wave is an outstanding platform for student use, and hope you see the benefits too.

5 reasons to get back into Google Wave – with your students

google waveIf you’re anything like me, you will recall the hype surrounding Google Wave, and you will remember with excitement, the day your invite finally arrived.

I felt a bit like the cat that got the cream when I got mine, however my Wave potential was limited by the number of geeks people I could interact with (I had no invites for ages!). I felt it would be a wonderful tool for use in the classroom, but my initial lack of invites put the kibosh on that!

Fast forward 6 months and my Google Wave account was gathering virtual dust in cyberspace.

As good fortune would have it, my husband and I met up with an old friend in Bali – Werner Paetzold – from Bali International School on our holidays in April. Werner was singing the praises of Google Wave, and said he used it quite successfully with his Middle School students. There was a challenge, if ever I heard one!

He told me about the newest extensions, and also extolled the virtues of Google Wave as a conference note-taking platform. At the recent IBO conference, wireless was at something of a premium, but Werner insisted that if he opened the Wave when he had wireless, and left it open, he could happily take notes throughout the conference, and when he returned to wireless connectivity, it would sync all his notes for him.

The upcoming Grade 5 PYP Exhibition sounded like the perfect opportunity to have a look at what Wave could do.

I am mentor to two groups for the Exhibition (a unit that is a really student-driven inquiry, with mentor support), so I invited one member of each group, and they subsequently used their invitations to invite the rest of their group members. I asked them to start a Wave as a way of collaboratively collecting resources and research for their Exhibition. I love the grade 5 kids, they really are a fantastic bunch, so it was no surprise that they took to Google Wave like ducks to water.

Wave_1

Here are 5 reasons I believe you should dust off your Google Wave account and invite your students:

1. Collaboration Google Wave allows for very easy collaboration. It is very similar to both email and instant messaging, which are mediums that are extremely familiar to the kids I work with. Adding contacts to a Wave is… well… child’s play! I asked the students to invite me to their Wave, meaning I get all the updates as they work. It is a great way of having all the students’ research in one place – a place which is easily accessible at home and at school.

2. Playback – not sure who has contributed to the Wave lately? Or keen to see how the interaction is playing out with your students? Hit Playback, and you’ll see a sped up replay of the editing to date. This is useful as a way of tracking  involvement, but also a good way to catch up if you have been invited to a Wave fairly late in the piece.

3. Real-time Editing – my students think this part of Wave is uber cool – and it IS! There is something mind-blowing about the ability to see exactly what someone else is typing the moment they press the keypad. No more waiting until a person has finished his/her sentence – you can answer a question as it is being formed.
Pretty powerful stuff. Reason number 3 leads directly into reason number 4…

4. Just-in-Time support – on several occasions, I have been online at home when the kids have been working on their research. One time, I was able to give some immediate feedback and suggestions on a student’s just-completed Prezi, another time I explained how to embed a website into the Wave using one of the Extensions. It has been a fabulous tool for this sort of interaction.

5. Extensions – in my opinion, one of the best things about using Google Wave is the fabulous Extensions that are now available. Without the extensions, Wave is like an iPod Touch without the apps – cool, but not quite cool enough! I have pulled out a couple of the great Extensions that I have found useful so far:

extensions

iFRAME – this Extension allows you to embed a website into your Wave so others can read/preview it from within the Wave, and not have to leave the window.

iFrame

Ferry – a way of exporting waves to Google Docs and other formats

ferry

How have you used Google Wave in the classroom? Any bright ideas to share? Any must-have Extensions? I am keen to hear your feedback!

Google Wave image credit: curiouslee

Update May 26th 2010: Lessons Learned

Thanks to a comment from a reader, I was alerted to the Terms of Service for Google Wave, which state:

“2.3 You may not use the Services and may not accept the Terms if (a) you are not of legal age to form a binding contract with Google,” (http://www.google.com/accounts/TOS)

I hadn’t realised I had overlooked this section of the Terms of Service (TOS) – and took steps to rectify it immediately.

I had originally invited the kids using their school-controlled Gmail account via Google Apps, but when the students discovered those addresses weren’t accepted by Google Wave (at that time), they used their own accounts (which they already had outside of school).

As Google Wave is now available via Google Apps for Education, I informed the students of the issue, and had them create a replacement Wave account using their school-controlled Gmail account. They still have access to the wonderfully collaborative features of Wave, but without the extensions (at this point). The only loss to us is the <iframe> extension, which allows websites to be embedded in a wave. A very nice feature indeed.

My intention is, and has always been, to connect students to technology that enhances their learning. Although I sincerely regret not checking the terms of service more thoroughly, this has turned into a valuable learning opportunity for us all.

I regularly discuss the importance of Internet awareness with my students, and this has given us another opportunity to bring these issues to the fore, and ensure students can learn from this, as I have.

The key issue is the US laws relating to COPPA/CIPA and one aspect of that is the legal age at which people can engage in a contract.  This is the same thing that has plagued Ning use in elementary schools.  There seems to be agreement that the legal age is 14 in the States — though in California where Google is incorporated, the legal age is 18.  Here in Singapore it is 21.

I would be interested to hear from someone with legal knowledge and an international school perspective.

I remain convinced that Google Wave is an outstanding platform for student use, and hope you see the benefits too.