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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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Apple TV vs Airserver

A fluid digital workflow between teacher and pupil is essential in a modern classroom. Teachers need to be able to distribute, collect, mark and return work to students easily. Depending on the tech your school chooses to deploy, there are a variety of different models available.  I have constructed a workflow for my school and have attached it at the bottom of the post. An interactive version is available here.

One of the fundamental aspects of Workflow is the ability to cast the screen of your, and indeed the students, iPad/Device onto the class screen/whiteboard. I have used both Apple TV and Airserver in this regard and thought it may be useful to share my findings.

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As you can see, the Airserver option is by far the most cost effective and practical option in a school setting. Don’t get me wrong, Apple TV is brilliant at home but if you are involved in, or considering a mobile tech deployment at your school – Airserver is the right choice to make.

Workflow PDF

Airserver plays an integral part of the digital workflow at my school.

 

 

 

Interactive Digital Workflow

Its happening. In September, we are initiating a 1:2:1 iPad project across Year Six! Two years of research, planning, hard work and graft have paid off and the school is looking forward to an exciting 2015-2016 full of new and engaging learning opportunities. Considering where the school was a couple of years ago, with regard to tech-infrastructure, it really is a huge step-forward. However, for the project to be successful, a clear and well-structured Digital Workflow is paramount to it’s success. Using the awesome Thinglink, I have created an interactive version for use by our teachers. It gives them an opportunity to learn more about the Apps/Tools and also provides information on how they could be used.

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The King’s Prep digital workflow is based on an original by Greg Hughes but adapted to fit the needs of our school. Establishing a digital workflow helps classrooms operate with efficiency and allows teachers to personalise instruction, collect, mark, assess and return  work. Establishing a successful workflow requires careful thought, experimentation, and research into the best apps for accomplishing tasks in the context of your school.

Thinglink Revision Guides

The stress of exams live long in the memory

As an adult, I love Spring and saying goodbye to long, dark and cold nights. However, I distinctly remember as a teenager, dreading what has traditionally been exam season. In an attempt to alleviate some the stress inflicted on our y8’s,  I decided to dedicate the computing curriculum time to revision in other subjects.

This may sound odd, and neglectful of computing, but my theory is that by using technology to create engaging, interactive revision guides that both bookmarked useful sites and allowed students to create their own content, I would be providing them with the best of both worlds; time to learn, consolidate and revise but also time to create high quality digital content.

The ideal tool to do this is Thinglink. A free resource that allows users to pin links/video clips/images to an image of their choosing.

Example of student description of link

Students were encouraged to pick curriculum areas in which they lacked confidence and then develop their research skills and collate useful and helpful websites. Short descriptions and links were then added to their Thinglinks that explained the resource at the other end of the link.

Once 3/4 quality links were attached to their ThingLinks, students were then encouraged to create their own content. This could take the form of a film, blog post, podcast, popplet, quiz, prezi or whatever students thought would allow them to create content that would be useful for themselves and for their peers.

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Examples of positive and constructive student comments.

Finally, once completed, the students embedded their ThingLinks onto their year group blog. Each student was also careful to ensure that they categorised their work properly therefore creating what is now a complete revision hub, across all subjects, available to all students locally and indeed, globally! The categories range from German Revision to the Great Reform Act and contain superb links to both web content and self-created content. Another huge advantage of blogging is the ability for children to comment on each others work. This has done wonders for their self-esteem and has also created a great atmosphere of collegiality between the students .

I have embedded a few examples below but please take the time to visit their class page and even better, leave a comment or two!