Launching MS Studios – Student Voices-Saying No is Not an Option

DAPodcasting MS Studiossmaller 20130405 080911 pngA group of teachers who are also members of the Middle School iTeam which supports our school’s iPad Learning Program took an Atomic Learning Catalyst Course on Going Mobile. During this coursework we collaborated with each other and teachers from around the country. We had a guest instructor, Brad Flickinger, one evening who introduced us to how his students produce KBOB Studios which are news, movies and other media projects with a few iPads. I have long wanted to have  a student voice for news and thoughts but was not quite sure how to get it going since I would need to find time outside of the “normal” class structure.

I looked up how he Brad was doing it at his school and kept thinking on how to weave it into our school. Then I got this message. How could I say no even though I had not yet figured out all of the details? We have motivated students with a passion to produce and all they need is an adult. I can do that and if I look at the long view this is the spark I have needed to say yes even though I have more then enough on my plate.

Dear Mr. Schaefer,
I heard that the teachers just finished taking a class where a school had a website that students could post podcasts to. I also heard that you were interested In bringing that concept to DA. The student body is in full support of your idea, we actually came up with the same one. I guess great minds think alike. There is a handful of us (not including myself) who already consider themselves online DJs. A few have volunteered to manage the site and even create a blog to go with it! Kids have volunteered to advertise and talk about the concept during community meeting as well (that’s the group I’m in). Ashley is considering proposing it to the student council as well. As this idea spreads across the school more and more people want to become a part of it. We have the strength in numbers, as well as passionate workers. Now all we need is technological talent, adult supervision and a faculty member that is willing to invest in this project and cares about it just as much as we do. Will you help us?
-Yaa B.

We have met about 3 times with me although I know they meet without me to discuss ideas. Two students created logos, one is above which will be merged with a new model since we now have a name and the other logo had good features we want to include. We decided to start with audio as it is easier to produce although we hope to grow it into having videos and a blog.

I felt it would be important to automate as much of the production as possible since there are many newsworthy events that happen that can simply be recorded. I checked out SoundCloud and Audioboo and decided on Audioboo as it has a nice app and will allow some customization as well as serve as our audio host for the podcasting part of MS Studios.

To prove the concept I recorded the morning announcements although I missed timed it so I did not get the start. Students will be better at this in time.

Thank you Yaa, Joseph, Sean, Ashley, Isabella, Jack, and Alayah for the efforts you are putting forth to get MS Studios and my hope off the ground.

Ready, Set, Portfolio!

portfolios

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/59217476@N00/6050805936

 

I am getting ready to work with classes to create and add artifacts to Google Site Portfolios. I thought this year I would make a sliderocket and embed it in the template so the students would have a tutorial after we worked together. I love how I can create presentations either in Google Drive or in sliderocket and then add my voice. I find doing tutorials this way better and easier then trying to do screen recordings especailly with the hoops you have to go through to record the iPad effectively. I always have to do multiple retakes as well since I mess up recording or the bells ring and I have to start over.  Since we use Google Apps for Education our sliderocket is free. I hope the new owners Clearslide continue with providing schools free accounts. Of course, if they stop, we will move on like I do each year.

This page will have a tutorial that we used to create the portfolio. It will help you in case you forget how to do something as you go through the Middle School. Since it is both a link and embedded, and changes that take place will be automatically updated to the tutorial.

 
Google Site Portfolios using Google Search App – A sliderocket
 

Getting Excited to Kno

Kno

 As I continue to look for alternatives to the heavy and expensive textbooks for our students, one company Kno, is rising to the top. I like their business model, (they have one) and the response time from their employees is swift. I have observed the company mature for a few years as they only continue to get better. In my opinion, they have now overtaken everyone but Amazon’s Kindle as the supplier of textbooks that are dynamic, affordable and easy to deploy if you work with them. I know that iBooks are wonderful, but they are device specific which is a real drawback as I want students to have access to textbooks no matter where they and there iPad happen to be located. Learning no longer happens only during class and with the textbook so access to the digital textbook at the point of learning is what is needed.

I am not sold on having novels and reading books as only a digital option as there is something nice and non-distracting about curling up with a book and reading. My iPad provides too many opportunities to take away from the reading even though I try to read. I know I could do the same with a paper book by putting it down and picking up my iPad, but that effort is just enough to prevent me. Besides, novels are not nearly as large as some of the textbooks.

I have the expectation that the books our students need will be setup with accounts they create for us. In addition, they will bill us so we can bill the parents. Cost is huge in that a Kno version of our current English textbook is $9.99 versions compared to $110.00 for a paper version. Besides the cost factor, there is much more interactivity and learning objects which will allow for deeper learning. I am hopeful that next year the backpacks of some of our students will be less as we begin to shift some of the mass from hard cover paper books to downloaded textbooks.

The movie below gives a nice overview of what the company is doing. I could have done without the whole Valley Girl stuff, but it does make the video available.

 

 

Am I Treading Lightly Enough?

Tread Lightly

http://www.flickr.com/photos/21317398@N04/6243312715

As I work on writing comments for my students during our teacher workday, I found a link to Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk in a shared Google Doc from the English Departments Retreat last week. I had not seen it so with two browsers open, one for comments, and one for soul food, I listened and wrote. How do I best support my students learning? How exactly did they walk into our collective learning environment? What dreams did they leave at home because they do not get to fulfill them during school? Should I even care?

My day started out with an email from a friend who is opening a new school in August. He has worked on this for a few years and while I no longer interact with him due to a possible conflict of interest, I am happy to see him getting closer to realizing a dream of his. I am jealous a bit in that he has gone for his dream. Not that I haven’t as I am doing a job I love with a school that has all of the learning resources needed at the ready. Yet, I feel like something is missing and maybe it is the change that Sir Ken speaks to and that I think Steve is going to try to foster. My own grandchildren are in school now and I see a melting of the dreams that they once shared with me. What can I do better to nurture all of the dreams of the dreamer, myself included?  

Steve had read a post by Denise Krebs and got to using VoiceThread and remembered how I had told him about how much I like it. You can read more at his blog. 

 

http://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_bring_on_the_revolution.html

 

This is a quote from the talk when he reads a poem W. B Yeats.

I wanted to read you a quick, very short poem from W. B. Yeats, who some of you may know. He wrote this to his love, Maud Gonne, and he was bewailing the fact that he couldn’t really give her what he thought she wanted from him. And he says, “I’ve got something else, but it may not be for you.”

He says this: “Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths, Enwrought with gold and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths Of night and light and the half-light, I would spread the cloths under your feet: But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” And every day, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly.

NCAIS Innovate Presentation – Reflection on Year 1 with iPads

hearstpool http://www.flickr.com/photos/95572727@N00/4321052153

I will be presenting at the 2013 NCAIS Innovate Conference titled Make the Connection. More information is available at the NCAIS Innovate website. I am also one of the instructors for VISnets Teaching Academy being held August 5th through 7th at Charlotte Latin School. To register or get more information.

This is the presentation I will be using for my talk about my reflections on our school’s first year with a 1:1 iPad program in grades 5 through 8. I have two slides at the end of the presentation that you are welcome to add your suggestions, comments, or questions either before my presentation or during my presentation. I hope the presentation is more of a conversation between us then my just talking for an hour. 

Student vs. Faculty Basketball Game

Spirit Wk Bball Jan 2013 Donnelly DSC 2455 jpg

Photo by Ms. Donnelly

This is the second year that students and faculty have played a basketball game as part of Spirit week. Last year the teachers one on a last minute shot by Ms. Ellis. This year’s rematch may allow the students to avenge this heartbreaking loss. You will need to watch the whole movie to find out as there are no spoilers.

 

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hb8O84nodEc which is viewable by teachers on campus and students off-campus.

 

VoiceThread: which students can watch on their iPads at school. https://damiddle.ed.voicethread.com/share/4073858/

 

Last years game is here if you want to see it. http://damiddle.ed.voicethread.com/share/2702997/

 

 

 

 

 

Learn to Write Computer Code with Mr. Schaefer

After school programming

 

I was very intrigued when I read about Code Academy offering free coding courses. I decided to try something after-school when I saw they had a curriculum guide. So for any parents of students that go to Durham Academy, I am pleased to announce that I will be offering a Spring Enrichment Class.

Learn to Write Computer Code After-School
How does a computer do that? Join our class to answer that question and more. We will use the online coursework of Code Academy and some Khan Academy to learn how to write computer code. Students will learn about topics like drawing, animation, basic programming, and languages like HTML/CSS and Javascript. This class is open to any level of student as the coursework is flexible enough to accommodate all levels of learners. Student will also be exposed to problem solving and troubleshooting in a collaborative environment. Students will use their DA email address to create an account at Code Academy. Girls are encouraged to attend.

This information from the Code Academy web site explains the goals very well. 

“Why should every child learn how to program?
Technology is radically changing every area of our society, from communication to government to how we do our jobs. Digital literacy is now a fundamental skill like reading and writing.

By learning to program, kids can have a say in how software shapes their world. Plus, programming teaches important reasoning, logic, and communication skills”.

Karl Schaefer is the Middle School Digital Learning Coordinator and Computer Department Chairperson. He is an NCAIS Master Teacher and long time blogger at http://528tech.edublogs.org. He has taught young and old how to get the most out of technology while also maintaining a balance in the use of technology. When not teaching, he is on his farm where he enjoys being off line and on land.

SPRING SESSION 2013:

– Classes will be held on Thursdays from January 31 – May 16 (15 classes)
– No class when Durham Academy is not in session
– Class time will be 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
– Class will be held in the MS Computer Lab
– The cost of the classes will be $300.00

If interested, please register at the After School section of our web page.

Great Video on How to Use the iPad for Literacy

Explain Everything  EE Showcase

 

I have been interested in this app for a while and thought it had value but just wasn’t sure. I liked the idea of being able to share to Evernote which is a huge issue when trying to get files off of an iPad. With the new features coming in EE 2.0, we may need to look at including this in our list of must have apps for students and teachers. I like the fact that users will be able to edit the recording track as that was one downfall when I used it in my testing. This video by David W. Malone does a wonderful job with this video on how to use iTunes U, Explain Everything, and Evernote for literacy. 

 

Google Drive iPad App Tutorial for Uploading

Keynote

I have written about the Google Drive app before, but the latest update really helps us with a major problem we have been having with Keynote presentations in particular but will also work for movies and other large files that exceed the 10 MB email message limit.

Many Keynote Presentations are larger then 10 MB due to the theme used, size of images or sheer length of the presentation. Up until this Google Drive update, students often had to email each as an image to their teacher which sort of defeats the whole idea of a presentation. There are times when simply sharing a PDF will work while other times a true Keynote file is needed as the teacher wants to evaluate it as a presentation or the students will be presenting it to the whole class from the teachers computer. Of course, the iPads can display the Keynote as well.

This tutorial will show you how to use the Google Drive app to upload and share non-google formatted files. If you want to learn more about how to use the Google Drive app, check out this post where I discuss that and other apps.

 


Update: I wanted to include this link to a Miguel Guhlin’s great post One Drive to Rule Them All as it has solid screen shots and good directions as well. Tip of the hat to Miguel.

What Do You Get When You …

Reading

Stop me if you heard this one already. What do you get when you give a student a Nook, an iPad, a Hardcover, or a Paperback? Answer: Reading! Which is superior, which is inferior and why does this matter if what we hope for is to have our students develop a love of reading? I think too often the device conversation can take away from the pedagogical or curricular goal if we are not clear of the objective. I like being able to find the definition of a word without asking someone or getting a dictionary as it removes the stigma of not knowing a word. I also enjoy reading the hardcover edition of a book as I try to find the meaning of the word in the context of the writing. Paperbacks are great as I think of them as consumables where hardcovers are for shelves after I finish like some sort of display of how well read I am or might be if I read all of the books on my shelves.

The back story: I was in Ms. Williams’ class the other day getting ready to introduce Membean to her students as part of our trial. We were getting the equipment ready and students were occupied with their free reading time. As I was getting ready to start, I saw this happening and after asking the students if I could take their picture to use on my blog, they all said yes. That lead me to think about so many conversations that have taken place regarding our iPad program. It is not about the device, it is about the learning goals! Read on!

By the way, the student iPads now have the Nook app installed so the student would not need to bring his Nook unless he wanted to.