Berlin Takeaway – ADE Institute 2016

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Berlin is a city abound with character, history, contrast and wonder. This year Apple chose it to host the 2016 the Global Apple Distinguished Educator Institute. The week was quite brilliant and I’d like to share five things that I took away from a remarkable experience

1. Technology can break down walls

Berlin Wall

Perhaps there is no other city in the world in which a wall has played such a prominent part in defining culture. The Berlin Wall was torn down over 25 years ago and it’s citizens now enjoy freedom of movement, ideology and expression. In a classroom, when used with well-planned instruction, technology has the power to unite classrooms, empower and amaze students and help turn teachers into global authors. Indeed, at the Apple Institute, educators from every corner of the planet joined together with a common goal – to use technology to change the lives of their students. From having breakfast with Brazilian ADE’s to working with ADE’s from the Middle East on global projects; the ADE institute highlighted that we are all truly global citizens and education is a force for good.

2. Swift Playgrounds has a LOT of potential

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Apple, like many other technology companies, believe that coding is an essential skill and will only become more and more important in our evermore technology focused society. They have come up with a new iPad App called Swift Playgrounds that makes getting started with coding fun, interactive and achievable. The APP is released in fall  Autumn but to get a good idea of what to expect, Apple have released an iBook guide for teachers. 

3. Running/walking is the best way to feel a city

IMG_3683A couple of runs in Berlin provided an opportunity to see parts of the city that were off the beaten track. The first was an early morning, 9mile adventure with Nathan Ashman. The second, a 6 mile random odyssey towards the Lichtenberg area of town. On the Wednesday, all ADE’s were given the opportunity to explore Berlin. Mark Anderson, Coby Reynolds and myself set off by foot to find the East Side Gallery. We roughly followed the path of the Wall from the Brandenburg Gate until we reached our destination. We filmed, took pictures, grabbed a couple of beers and sampled some local food – good times and great memories.

4. Photography is for everybody

eyeem-homeWe were fortunate enough to listen to a fascinating seminar from the team behind the App – EyeEm. The App is used by 18million people from 150 countries across the globe. Any image that you are particularly proud of can be uploaded and shared with The World. The quality of imagery is exceptional and you even get a chance to make a little cash out of it as brands like UBER, The Huffington Post and ASOS may want to buy them! Fellow ADE Rachel Smith had already been tapped up by Getty Images! The seminar also included some top photography tips and with the remarkable technology that is readily accessible to people, most people can get a shot that was once only available to the elite.

5. Virtual reality works in the classroom

IMG_3663Perhaps the greatest thing about the ADE institute is the humbling experience of seeing the amazing work that goes on in schools around the world. I take my hat off to every single one of the ADE’s who present a three minute showcase and I never fail to take home a list of things that I have to try in my classroom. After ADE2016, very near the top of the list is Virtual Reality (VR). Like some elements of photography and film-making, only a few years ago using VR in the classroom would have been obscenely expensive, time consuming and impractical. However, after seeing some of the work done by educators such as Sarah Jones and Nathan Ashman using affordable tools like Google Cardboard, Streetview and Thinglink 36o, I am excited about getting some projects started in the next school year.

 

 

Local Knowledge – iPad Project For The Classroom

Local Knowledge - Building Community by John Jones

Click on the picture to access the course

No matter where you live, there will inevitably a myriad of local stories in addition to places and people of great interest. However, it is not uncommon for local people to actually know very little about the secrets surrounding their locality. Indeed, this tendency is even more likely amongst younger citizens.

This iTunesU course, Local Knowledge – Building Community, is designed to break the trend and allow students to develop a deeper understanding and connection with their neighbourhood. It also should result in other citizens accessing the content that the students create so in turn, their appreciation of the wonders of their community are developed and enhanced.

The project is based around the concept of Challenge Based Learning and allows students to complete a range of engaging and meaningful activities based around the Big Idea of Community. The course is not about a specific app. It is designed to utilise digital technology, specifically the iPad to enhance instructional practice. I would really appreciate feedback in the comments section below from anyone who downloads runs the course with their students.

 

A Season To Remember…

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The Charlton Athletic 2015-2016 season will long be remembered, but for all the wrong reasons. Three managers, a toothless battle against relegation and continuing mass protests only tell a small part of the throughly depressing downfall of a famous old, once proud – now poisoned, football club in South East London.

The Duchâtelet regime has made the football club almost unrecognisable from the club I grew up supporting. The very thing that made Charlton Charlton has gone – the soul has been ripped away from the club and, unless there is radical change, is in very real danger of disappearing into the abyss for ever.

The miserable plight of Charlton has become increasingly well documented. The fallout from the Brighton match was well-covered by Football on Five, indeed both Chris Powell and Chris Iwelumo featured as guests; expressing their deep concern for the future of Charlton. Furthermore, a recent on-point and well articulated article by Barney Ronay in the Guardian highlighted the ignorant and arrogant destruction of Charlton by our classless and repugnant owner and CEO, Roland Duchâtelet and Katrien Meire.

Brighton and Blackpool fans join in the protests.

Brighton and Blackpool fans join in the protests.

However, despite the ongoing tragedy, Saturday was a day to be proud of and will be memorable for the right reasons. Yet again, CARD did a superb job in organising a mass protest in which an estimated 6000 people took part. There were banners, balloons and beachballs and the game became a mere sideshow as the fans made their incandescent feelings towards the hapless board known once more. Moreover, the accompanying Brighton fans were absolutely brilliant. Thousands joined in the protest before the game and during the match could be heard singing anti-Roland songs. Some even joined the after-match protest to huge ovation and appreciation from the Addicks faithful.

As it stands, unless things change, I hold no hope at all for next season; time and time again the regime has proved itself clueless and incompetent and this shows no sign of changing.  There have been hopeful murmurs of Lennie Lawrence, Paul Elliot (and even David Beckham!); knights in white armour riding into SE7 to save us. However, until the Belgian contingent leave us the hell alone, I fear that next season may bring even darker times upon my beloved but beleaguered Charlton Athletic.

old valley ruin

 

The Success of a School iPad Project – Pupil, Teacher & Parent Voice

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Has our iPad deployment worked? A simple question, but one that is often very hard to answer. There is no doubt that technology offers many means of improving teaching and learning in the classroom; the results of our recent pupil survey certainly reiterated this. However, as any technology deployment is unlikely to suddenly provide all pupils with 11 A* at GCSE, how do you truly measure success?

Ready_for_final_exam_at_Norwegian_University_of_Science_and_TechnologyPersonally, I don’t believe that success should be judged by a set of test results, but those that do will tell you technology is an expensive waste of time as there is no evidence it impacts upon ‘standards’. Simply, they are wrong. I am fortunate enough to work at a school where independent thinking and a love of learning are just as important as great grades and standards of all-types are valued.

Over the previous two years we had made considerable investment in the procurement of whole-school holistic WiFi. The Y6 iPad roll out in September 2015 was the culmination of many months of planning, training and decision making that had ultimate the goal of improving the classroom experience of our pupils; allowing them to do things differently and express themselves in a multitude of ways.

Eight months into the project, and with September 2016 fast approaching, it has been a time to reflect on both the successes (and failures) as we make preparations for the second phase of the deployment. We recently held an iPad information evening for prospective Year Six parents whose children are in the second year of our roll out. Therefore we compiled these two short films and completed a qualitative survey of parents to demonstrate the success of our 1:2:1 project so far from those who have experienced it first hand. The results speak for themselves.

Pupil Voice:

 

Teacher Voice:

Parent Voice:

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App Spotlight – Adobe Post

Nowadays, you see Social Graphics everywhere. Facebook and Twitter are literally littered with them. From humorous or political MEMEs, to nauseating quotes about true love; for the average digital citizen they are nigh-on impossible to escape from.

So rather than try to avoid these pieces of digital-dialogue, I would actually encourage educators to start creating their own with the fantastic free APP, Adobe Post – there are a myriad of ways in which they can be used at school and beyond!

Once downloaded, you can select from a variety of ready made ‘Posts’ from the Inspiration Wall generated by Adobe. You can simply to choose to explore and remix those or even better, create your very own truly unique masterpiece.

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Some of the ready made Posts that you can choose.

You hit the large green ‘plus’ sign at the bottom of the screen to get started.

You can then choose between a wide selection of design options surrounding the image you use for your picture. The APP comes pre-loaded with access to some fantastic copyright free images, or of course, you can add your own from the camera-roll or instantly take one from the iPad/iPhone camera.

Once you have selected your image, Adobe Post starts to get clever. The App will automatically select a design that suits the image. It’ll select a font, colour scheme and text size to match the image and so far I have been pretty impressed with the in-App choices! However, if you disagree with the artistic preferences of the app, you have a selection of customisable choices to  choose from.  You can manipulate layouts, colour, font, typography styles, shapes, alignment, opacity and even the spacing.

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The customise options within the App allow creativity

You also have a wide selection of gorgeous designs and palettes to choose from. There is even an in-App photo-editor that allows you to filter your picture too perfectly compliment your design and text.FullSizeRender 2

Furthermore, you are not limited to one text box; you can add as many as required to complete your graphic in the way that you envisaged. No design experience is required to create stunning social graphics in seconds.

So, how can Adobe Post be used by teachers and students?

  • Speech and language play
  • Classroom posters and displays
  • Sight words proficiency
  • Narrative prompts
  • Rhyming game
  • Playing with shapes and colors
  • Second language acquisition
  • Story starters
  • Creative storytelling
  • Book covers
  • Advertising events (CPD, debates, sports fixtures etc.)
  • Photo essays
  • Class reports and blogs
  • Trip reports
  • Science fair presentations
  • Student portfolios
  • Classroom newsletters
  • Game updates
  • School and district reports
  • PTA ads and promos

Please find below some examples from school:

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There is no reason why  can’t become a incredibly useful (and simple to use) addition to the iPad classroom toolbox. Indeed, if you need some further inspiration – check out The Adobe Education Community who frequently share ideas and classroom uses on the Adobe Education Exchange site.

 

Blog On – Challenge Based Blogging

I’m a huge fan of school blogging and also of Challenge Based Learning. I therefore decided to combine the two for a school project for Year 8. This post shares what we did and also contains links to all the resources you need to replicate the project in your school. Using the CBL wheel as our guide, we started with…

THE BIG IDEA

The Big Idea should be broad concept that can be explored in multiple ways. Furthermore, it should be important to students, and society at large. For this project, the over-riding concept was communication and with a little prodding in the right direction, the students decided to create their very own blog sites to share their writing with a potentially global audience.

ESSENTIAL QUESTION

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 20.39.35The formation of an essential question is a fundamental part of any CBL challenge; it is something pupils can always use to refer back to and forms an umbrella under which they can all work. The students used Padlet to establish “Sometimes our writing never gets read. Can we use blogging to write for a real audience?”

CHALLENGE

The next task was for the students to embark on their specific challenge. It is imperative that the students generate an area of interest in which to work. By this point they knew they would be making a blog and creating content for it, however they needed to decide what they would be blogging about and organically work out whom they would be working with. Again, Padlet was the tool of choice. In the example below you can see that 4M loosely bundled their choices into video games, pets, cars, photography and sport.

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ACTIVITIES / RESOURCES

Once the groups were formulated (via subject choice not friendship) their initial task was to plan their blog. To do this I provided a blog planning sheet for each group. Each group started with a discussion and then took to their computers. They then used OneDrive to begin work on the planning sheet collaboratively in real time and left it in a shared folder for me to check and provide feedback.

Blog Planning Sheet

Another key aspect of the project is the blog design. We are fortunate to have a whole school WordPress site, hosted by the fantastic Creative Blogs. I am a huge fan of WordPress and knowing how to use it properly is becoming an ever more valued skill. Therefore, a significant part of the project is an introduction to some basic skills that can enhance their blog and help them to meet their objectives.

Blog – Design Checklist

Once the subject of the blog has been decided, students then begin to design their blog. This design checklist details things that all students should do and a few things they could do, therefore taking care of differentiation.

I also created some tutorials below that will help the students (and teachers) with the could do section. Flipped learning really does change the dimensions of the classroom and empowers pupils to work independently. Please note that each template within WordPress may have slightly different functionality but the tutorials should certainly point you in the right direction.

Customised Widgets:

Personalised Header:

Customised Menu:

Customised Background Image:

There are a couple of ‘Could Do’ options on the deign checklist that don’t have tutorials; that is because if the students get this far they should be able to start to work things out for themselves! The beauty of working with technology is that it doesn’t really matter if you get things wrong, but it is hugely important to experiment and take risks. Of course, if it does go horribly wrong; hit the undo button or don’t save and start again!

SOLUTIONS/IMPLEMENTATION

Once the site is designed and up and running, it’s time to get blogging! Each group should have a theme for their blog that they opted to write about. This should promote enthusiasm for the task. When you set up your blog, students can be assigned different privileges. Good practice is to ensure that they are contributors as opposed to editors. The reason being contributors can not publish articles without approval from the page administrator which should be the teacher. This should also encourage a good standard of English as only well-written and thoroughly edited posts should be published.

Students can add images and even embed videos within their posts relatively easily. The following tutorials are available should assistance be required with this.

Embedding Video In Your Post:

Inserting Images In Your Post:

EVALUATION

Evaluation does not have take place at the end of the project. As soon as the first blog posts are published, pupils can start leaving comments on each others work. Using the comment function of blogging is arguably the most important part of it. Comments provide each author with feedback from a variety of sources. It is also authentic evidence of an audience and has the effect of improving standards as students realise their work has a true purpose. The comments are all moderated by the administrator (teacher) and should be useful and constructive. It’s worth spending time looking at comments and what makes a good quality comment, and indeed a poor comment. Teacher feedback can also be provided via comments and by using social media, comments can even be collected from an authentic global audience and should provide a successful, contextualised answer to the original Essential Question.

Here our some example comments taken from our ‘Blog On’ project:

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BETT Bingo – Prepare Yourself For The World’s Biggest Edtech Event

It’s that time of a year again… The BETT show arrives in London at the ExCel Arena for 4 days of Edtech madness. I have attended BETT every year since 2010 and have always had a brilliant time; alongside the endless sales pitches, there really is a wealth of great resources and ideas to stimulate and inspire the educator’s mind (and destroy their budgets…)

There are also a few other experiences that are almost guaranteed to occur as you battle your way through BETT. Therefore, I have created BETT Bingo; a few things that will inevitably happen to you should you be lucky enough to attend the show this week. Hopefully see you there!

BETT Bingo

What have I missed? Let me know in the comments section below!