Leadership: March to the beat of your own drum

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When I was about 14 I was fortunate enough to have drum lessons from an outstanding teacher. Despite being located over an hour away from my home, each week I would travel from Ealing in West London to Shoreditch in East London for my 60 minute drum lesson. What that teacher taught me has changed the way that I approach life and leadership, now that I am older I find myself applying his strategies to my professional life as a Director of Learning Technologies at my school in Western Australia.

In just a few years my tutor taught me that being a good leader was a combination of dedication, practice and applying one’s own personality.

Being a great drummer is to be a great leader.
Like any team, a band is only a strong as its weakest link. But to have a particularly bad drummer is to lay a very weak foundation for the rest of your colleagues… or musicians. An average lead guitarist, or singer can go unnoticed provided that the drummer is modestly keeping the groove. Occasionally the “back-bone” of the band demonstrates their flair, but typically they are underpinning their colleagues, making them perform to the best of their potential.

A band is only as good as their drummer.
A common mistake of most young and enthusiastic drummers is to play loud and fast. By squeezing as many notes and fills into a performance showcases their own ability, but does not contribute to the most important thing; that is a well written and performed song. The first lesson that I learnt was that a good leader understands rhythm. Knowing when not to play, or to just maintain a great groove, is as important as unleashing your best “chops” or showcasing your skills constantly.

Practice, practice, practice.
When the pressure is on, you will need to perform flawlessly. From a drummer’s perspective, the best way to achieve this is through something called muscle memory. The constant repetition of motor movements train our brains to execute such tasks almost sub-consciously. So to play a paradiddle or a double stroke roll comes naturally because you have spent many hours practicing this technique. Through constant reading and reciting, a great leader will perform without conscious effort too. Critical conversations, public speaking and responding quickly to incidents are second nature to great leaders. Maintaining their composure throughout, inspires those around them.

It’s all about timing.
Every moment that you are drumming you are acutely aware of the objective/the destination and where you are in the piece. You know that in order to reach the chorus, the verse and bridge have to executed perfectly. None of this can be rushed, and your colleagues need to be lead on a steady and unwavering pulse. You lead by example and it can be extremely hard work. You must be constantly seen and heard, like a conductor amongst a orchestra. Or as Steve Jobs famously said (as per the Steve Jobs movie: “Musicians play their instruments. I play the orchestra.”

It's about knowing when not to play.
This is all about dynamics and personal expression. Great drummers should never listen to just their own performance. Instead it is vital that they hear the overall sound of the ‘collective’ performance. What is it that you are adding to the sound? Should you be playing quieter? Are you responding with enough emotion to the piece? These are the truly creative components to the puzzle, and are developed through one’s own musical repertoire of those that inspire or influence you. It is here that you have the opportunity to influence the structure of the song, and the music itself. By applying the correct dynamics, you can hand leadership over to another performer, or you might increase intensity of those around you via a gradual crescendo. Good drummers enable creative song writers on their team, great drummers will enhance the quality of the song and contribute to its creation, and write songs of their own.

An exercise of humility.
Often the best drummers are not quite as popular as the singers or lead guitarists in their band. And it is this humility that really resonates with me. Take Paul Simon’s 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover. The song has become a popular classic with years of airplay. But this song would not have existed had it not been for Steve Gadd, who’s drum performance undoubtedly influenced the whole structure of the piece. Steve Gadd’s drumming has earned him the status of a legend amongst drumming circles, and this is recognition enough for most great leaders.

Unbeknown to me at the time, it was the leadership of this great drum tutor in London over 20 years ago that has impacted how I conduct myself now. I often think of his never-ending patience and selfless dedication to helping me improve. He understood the bigger picture of his influence upon me, and used this brilliantly to improve not just my drumming but my mind-set too. His flair as a performer was obvious and he had no formal training as a teacher, but this clearly did not hold him back.

A few tips to help you transition from Apple Configurator 1 to Apple Configurator 2

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I have recently assisted a few schools to get their shared iPads prepared for their students. Although quite familiar with Apple Configurator 1, the change to Apple Configurator 2 has thrown out a few 'gotchas'. I have included my notes below. I hope it helps.

Quick guide to Apple Configurator 2 (AC2), and changes to look out for if upgrading from Apple Configurator 1 (AC1).

  • If you want to use iOS 9 - you will have to sync with AC2.
  • If you need AC2, you must download the latest Mac OS X ‘El Capitan’ from the App Store via the Apple menu on your Mac.
  • You can only acquire app licenses in bulk from the VPP store, even licenses for free apps must be acquired first.
  • No more adding apps in bulk from your Mac’s iTunes library! (You can do this, but the end user must authenticate to App Store on each iPad)
  • Configuration files from AC1 will work with AC2.

Step 1 - Acquire the apps from VPP

  1. Login to apple education VPP with your usual credentials: https://volume.itunes.apple.com/au/store
  2. Search for the app that you want to add to your managed iPads.
  3. Make sure that you select the app from the “iPad apps” list and not the “Mac Apps” list. This is very important, especially if you are looking for iMovie or Garageband.
  4. Enter the quantity that you need. It may be cheaper to purchase 20 apps due to the heavy discounts, even if you only have 10 iPads.
  5. If you are using the latest Apple Configurator 2 (which you are), you need to be sure that the “Distribution Type” is “Managed Distribution”. If you are purchasing a free app, you only have this choice.
  6. Click Review Order then Place Order, do this for each app that you require. We are now done in the VPP store.

Step 2 - Add the apps to multiple iPads

  1. Open Apple Configurator 2
  2. In the top menu click Store and sign in with your VPP account details.
  3. Plug in one or many iPads. You may choose to Prepare the iPads and apply a config file. But for now just click Add and select Apps.
  4. Because you have signed into the App Store with your VPP details you will now see the apps which you have licenses for. Remember you must acquire licenses first, even for free apps.
  5. Do not click “Choose from my Mac”. This will give you the option to select previously downloaded apps from iTunes on your Mac. The problem being, when you launch these apps on the iPad the student will be required to enter the Apple id from your iTunes account (not practical if you you have many iPads).
  6. Select the app icons that you want to add, and click Add. The apps will be downloaded each time you sync new apps. So if you have 20 iPads, but can only sync 10 iPads at a time, the app will need to be downloaded twice. Frustrating if you have poor or limited internet connection.
  7. The apps will be installed on your iPads ready for use.

Register for "A Day to Remember" 2015

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I am very excited to be working with Anita L'Enfant from Datacom, this Thursday 17th September, at the beautiful Fairbrossen Estate in Perth. The day is for teachers and has been developed to share best practices around the use of iPads in education. We ran the event last year and it was received very well (read more here).

The day will include:

  • A thorough walk-through of the basics and beyond.
  • Hands-on activities: centred around the iPad, partnered with new tools and learning activities.
  • Lead and inspire your colleagues and students.
  • Tips and tricks for classroom management in an iPad enabled learning environment.

When: Thursday, 17th September 2015 Where: Fairbrossen Winery, Carmel Time: 8:00am - 3.30pm Cost: $300 per person or $275 per person if two or more attendees from the same school.

We have just a few spaces left, so please register now.

LEAD Awards

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Last week the Catholic Education Office West Australia, gave me an award as part of the LEAD awards for excellence initiative. The LEAD awards recognise projects and initiatives exemplifying the categories of Catholic Education WA’s strategic direction: Learning, Engagement, Accountability and Discipleship. I am very honoured and proud to have received an award for the project based around Student Personal Learning Profiles. I documented the details of this initiative here. More and more I find the work I am doing at my school focuses on data and analytics. With so much data now available it is critical that we analyse and present details to teachers so that struggling/at risk students can be identified. But also as a way to identify and develop every student with their strengths and weaknesses.

In the coming months I will be focusing my efforts on projects surrounding formative assessment. There are already dozens of great digital tools available, but the secret is structuring a method for staff and providing a constant across my school. After all, if we all use a single standard, then you develop a greater and more valuable data set for each student.

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The Art of Learning Design

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Every month vendors and app developers improve their platforms in response to the needs of the most efficient and proactive teachers, and the lines between technology and pedagogy blur. But for many, this "EdTech" bullet train is passing us by with just a few onboard. The reason for this isn’t because some teachers have missed their opportunity to be involved, it is because most teachers are not ready to apply transformative methods to their teaching practice.

One notable outcome of this journey at my school became apparent at the beginning of the year: Unless the teaching methods and content were ready, the use of modern technologies would do nothing more than to highlight a teacher's shortcomings.

It was a difficult realisation to make, but we decided a review of teaching practice was in order. From there we could decide the best way to support staff, and guide teachers towards calculated and appropriate technology decisions that genuinely promote their sound teaching programs.

Tech pairings

1. Course development

I am extremely lucky to work amongst incredible teachers, and one such teacher has been granted the task of shaping and formulating a culture of teaching excellence at my school. In doing so my colleague has introduced me to the relatively uncomplicated concept of Backward Design. Simply put, teachers ask themselves what it is students should know, understand and be able to do by the end of a course.

The idea was originally developed by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTigh. In their book titled Understanding by Design, Wiggins and McTighe encourage teachers to analyse their lesson plans closely:

  1. What should participants hear, read, view, explore or otherwise encounter?
  2. What knowledge and skills should participants master?
  3. What are big ideas and important understandings participants should retain? These choices are the “enduring understandings” that you want students to remember after they’ve forgotten the details of the course.

At my school, these questions signal the start of a framework, which keeps the learners squarely at the centre. The framework asks “Who are my learners”, encourages “one on one teaching moments” and intricately unpacks assessment.

The method supports the teacher while at the same time challenges them to reflect on their practice and deconstruct their own pedagogy. Teaching staff are aware that even the best technology use, does not enhance a poorly structured lesson plan or course.

2. Course delivery

As we move into the next stage, teachers begin to draft their learning pathway and shape the program for students to access.

Technology has evolved in such a way that it’s pedagogical use fall into 2 clear spaces: A learning Pathway for course delivery and a communication/creation tool for course execution.

It is important that a software tool is chosen which is accessible and simple for students to use. You must also provide some level of choice for your staff, and I have learnt that a teacher needs personal ownership over a platform. For a teacher to feel empowered let them choose from a narrow selection of software. Allow them to discover its merits and become the authority.

We have chosen 3 platforms at my school, and staff are fully supported in the adoption of each platform. Although not a “how-to”, this following guide simply helps to illustrate the options that we provide to staff.

Learning Pathway in iTunes U.

iTunes U Course Manager is accessed on any computer. It is a place where teachers can place all of the videos, pdf documents, websites etc, that the student needs to access. It is a linear design, that clearly walks students through the tasks which need to be completed.

Courses are typically designed with verb-like Assignments:

1.Watch DNA Chalk Talk. 2.Listen to this lecture. 3.Watch the video on DNA. 4.Study this animation etc.

The Assignments are interweaved into posts, which create the body of the course. The courses are accessed on the student’s own iPad.

Learning Pathway in Google Sites.

Google Sites is a natural evolution to Wiki’s. Effectively an easy to build collection of web pages, teachers can choose to structure their course using pages of their choice. E.g. a Welcome page, a Resources page and if they choose a Units page, etc.

A Google Site is no different to building a simple website, and teachers can personalise the menu items and add pictures/movies, change fonts, and background colours, and make the course look and ‘feel’ interesting.

Learning Pathway in SEQTA’s Programmes.

Teachers Assistant (T.A.) is a very popular choice for West Australian schools. The system is deeply engrained into our Learning Management System (also developed by SEQTA), which brings obvious merits such as integration with compulsory attendance, marks books and reporting.

Although visually lacking, the Programme feature is awesome. Teachers can provide details of each lesson and include Assessments, Homework due, and even link to ACARA for Syllabus references.

From a Principal’s perspective, a very important aspect of using your internal LMS, is that you have authority to access all programs at a time of your choosing. Please remember that should you choose to utilise a free third party (like the previous options), you may not be able to review course content for quality.

3. Course execution

So the start of the term is upon us, and staff have deepened their course content, structured the learning pathways, and all that’s left is to hold the hands of students as they progress through their learning.

A goal from a teacher’s perspective is to contain all course related activities into one space, with particular attention to student questions, and homework submission. Personally, I have never been a fan of students emailing a teacher’s inbox, with course related questions or homework submissions.

iTunes U 3.0, Google Classroom and SEQTA’s T.A. can all manage homework hand-in, private/group discussion and integrated grade book. One solution may have minor advantages over the next, but these subtleties have to be assessed by your teaching staff, for they will be managing the technology.

Over 6 years of experimentation, and my school have decided to provide clarity, by mandating the use of these software tools. We have provided scaffolding and professional learning. But above all, if a technology is to succeed, staff need to decide which tool works best for them. In the same way that our students need differentiated instruction, so do staff. Tech solutions for education

Conclusion

In our efforts to enhance learning, technology use has done little more then to magnify weaknesses in our own teaching practice. Certainly staff at my school are re-aligning their focus from technology, back onto outstanding course content, development and execution.

Pro-active support from your school, with clear direction, will advance student programs and teaching methods. Both parties will become more engaged through appropriate technology choices, which will inspire all to achieve their very best.

Personal Learning Profiles

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A few months ago I wrote about the importance of differentiation in the classroom. It was identified that, by providing teaching staff with a wide spectrum of details about a student, then learning could become more meaningful. Since that discussion, my colleagues and I agreed that a Personal Learning Card, available about each student in the school, should be a priority. This finely curated digital card would give teachers an ‘at a glance’ overview of a learner.

In this article I will cover how you can collect this data, display it, and more importantly show how it can be accessed and processed by your teaching colleagues.

 

Personal Learning Cards

A Personal Learning Card is a singular location that houses details concerning a student. I chose to start with the ideal outcome of the project: what information needs to be included, and how should it be displayed?

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This diagram illustrates how I envisioned the information that the learning card would contain. I have started with Tomlinson’s three suggested categories that vary a student, they are: Readiness, Interest and Learning Profile. The field of Readiness can be achieved through a combination of official testing such as NAPLAN results, but also individual teacher surveying and notes throughout the year. In my school's case we have been using ACER's PAT testing, it is this type of data that will provide teachers with a starting point to understanding a student's Readiness.

The two remaining fields of Interest and Learning Profile are something which can be ascertained by way of a survey or quiz to be taken periodically, for example at the beginning of each year.

As a result of Tomlinson’s work I developed a survey using Google Forms, which was split into three different sections, developed to ascertain the following:

  1. Interests: including favourite subject and least favourite subject at school. Aspirations: what the student hopes to become; who the student admires. Media influences: favourite TV shows and websites.
  2.  Self-perception: how a student would describe himself or herself. Results from a multiple intelligence test (questions were derived from a reputable online source) would also be included, providing a teacher some insight into a student’s preferred learning style.

    • Kinaesthetic – Body Smart
    • Linguistic – Word Smart
    • Logical – Number Smart
    • Interpersonal – People Smart
    • Intrapersonal – Myself Smart
    • Musical – Music Smart
    • Visual/Spatial – Picture Smart
    • Naturalistic – Nature Smart
    • After some deliberation it was decided that Naturalistic intelligence would be removed. This would not be applicable for the staff at our school.
  3. I also chose to include details about a student’s preferred learning environment, and how they function in different social situations.

The results of the Google Form come through in a spreadsheet, 1 student per row. By creating new sheets nested in the spreadsheet, I could begin to sort the data, 1 sheet for each student.

 

Making the data accessible

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In order for any of the information to be useful it needs to be presented in a visual manner, so that a teacher can quickly reference and process it. The intelligence test data is displayed as a pie chart, so it is easy to establish the domineering intelligences.

The text based answers concerning interests and aspirations are probably the most revealing about a student. These are displayed simply in clear red text.

The most challenging formula to write into the spreadsheet was the one which reveals the learning and social environments of a student. Depending on the answers of 28 questions a student can have one of four outcomes for each category.

For example the outcome “I like to learn…” will result in an output of either:

  • “In a group where I’m lead”
  • “In a group where I’m the leader”
  • “Independently”
  • “Independently with some direction from a teacher or friend.”

 

In practice

The advantages of a Google Form is that I do not require each student to leave their name, we already know who they are because they are logged into their instance of Chrome on their device. Each student can spend as much time as they need on the survey and once they click ‘submit’ the answers are all collated for me. This may be dozens or even hundreds of results. The data is then processed in a largely automated fashion. The result is a webpage for each student that hosts their very own Personal Learning Card.

Google Forms and Sheets is an incredibly powerful tool, but the real benefit is in the option: ‘Publish to the web…’, here lies the redefining aspect of the GAFE suite, enabling us to create a webpage of finely tailored information (including graphs, charts and tables) for every single student.

Make no mistake; the information provided is nothing more than a tiny slice of information that a teacher may take into consideration. It is by no means a method by which we pigeon hole students. Probably the most rewarding part of this process is that all staff will begin to reference some of the same terminologies (Readiness, Learning Profile etc), and all are starting to think about differentiated instruction.

Google Drive from an educators perspective

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If you use Google Drive for work/school, you will find that keeping all of your files organised, can get out of hand very quickly. As you add new items into your Drive, the files typically reside in the ‘top level’, without any folder structure. This can give the impression of a chaotic & unorganised space.

Overtime I have learnt that folders, are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Search, and smart folders like ‘Recent’ are your best friends. Use these wisely and you will never lose a file again.

Here are 3 rules and 3 tips, which will help you stay in control of Google Drive. (Thanks @missrubery: brilliant GAFE teacher, critical in the development of these ideas!)

(Download my Google Drive help PDF )

http://youtu.be/BqPo6f7ZQCA

 

School portal page or 'jump page' using Google Sites

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Click here to view your schools portal page. This tutorial will show you how to make a great looking 'school portal', if you set the permissions of the page to share with only your domain, then you have a fully functioning, private, and great looking intranet Jump Page!

You can access my resources here to get started.

Portal pages are very handy for navigating your students, parents and staff to important services or resources which your school provide. If you are a Google Apps for Education school this is a snap using Google Sites. In this video I will show you exactly how to build your school portal in less then 15mins.

Once you have built your portal, consider the following:

  1. Use the Share button to restrict access to only members of your domain, effectively making a private portal for you staff and students.
  2. Place a hyperlink in the footer of your school website, making it easy for your colleagues and students to find.
  3. This space will look great on any device or browser because it is responsive!

 

Google SItes for portal page

 

  • This is responsive, which means it will adjust to the screen size of the device which it is being viewed on.
  • You can have as many or as few colour tiles as you like, linking to any digital resource on the web, or internal service on your servers.
  • If you follow my video carefully, you can build this within 30mins.
  • You will need: Google Sites and Photoshop.
  • By using the permissions of the portal page - you can restrict its access to just staff and students inside your domain!

 

 

 

 

https://youtu.be/zSSaBfne0Y0

 

This is just a taster of what can be done, for free, using Sites. You could even insert a Google map or the school Google calendar to make your site extra useful.

Redefining home security from Canary

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The internet of things. This blog is typically reserved for discussion around innovative tools and practices in education. However with the huge impact that the ‘internet of things’ is making on our lives, I am very excited at the positive impact that devices like the Canary can bring into our homes and lives. This post is a review of the Canary security device, available from www.canary.is

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I have been using the Canary for about 2 weeks. It is a small and unobtrusive cylinder which can be discretely placed in your home. It contains a wide angled lens, and a very loud siren that can only be activated by you, from your smartphone. The camera is activated by movement, you are notified of this movement within seconds and you decide on the best way to proceed, all done remotely via the app.

Other security systems might be more effective at stopping an intruder with the automation of a siren upon a break in, but these automated alarms often amount to nothing more of a nuisance as the information available can be incorrect, and simply lead to a ‘false alarm’.

Police connected systems are very expensive, and really response time would likely be ineffective to stop an intruder. So I like that Canary have re-approached this challenge, they are redefining the way that we monitor our homes and if they get things right they can bring piece of mind at a very low cost (currently $249).

It has been made clear that the Canary device and accompanying app are kind of in a beta period. Updates from Canary’s brilliant blog have been great, “We will continue to push app updates—to improve the experience, fix bugs, and add features”. The Canary website and communications from the team have been very informative, it is clear that you can put faith into this brand.

This placement meant the Canary covered the main living area. I considered lying the Canary down in the help, but it really needs to be placed standing on its feet.

The setup.

Setup was very easy, I chose to connect my device to the Ethernet port although Wi-Fi is an option. I downloaded the app on my iPhone, created my Canary account and followed the on-screen prompts. All up, this took about 5 minutes.

I was a little disappointed to read the minimum specs of “1 Mbps upload recommended”. My internet speed tests come in at an upload of 0.86Mbps. I’m no expert in this field but I am fairly sure that this is considered standard for residential properties the world over. Therefore surely it is Canary that should be working within my limitations, not me within theirs? (is the video always captured in HD? If so can SD be an option?).

This upload issue will likely account for why the “Watch Live” feature simply doesn’t work. The watch live feature is displayed on the home screen of the app. At any stage I should be able to take a look into my home via the built in camera, a killer feature, but after 3 to 5 minutes of waiting before a jittery image begins to appear, this feature should be shelved until it works.

This also shows that I am at home with a check by my name.

Having said that, the system does perform excellently in most other areas. I really like that Canary puts itself into “Armed” mode when I leave the property. I added my wife’s phone, which was a very simple procedure, and now the Canary uses both our phones to evaluate its mode. Initially I was concerned that this geofencing of both our iPhones would impact on the battery life of the phone, but I am pleased to report that it is not noticeable.

The camera quality, even at night, is excellent. I placed my device in the main living area and the wide angle lens covers the entire open living area. The app is so simple and really well designed. It keeps a timeline of video activity and air sensors for me to preview at anytime.

Activity detected!

I received this notification about 45 minutes into my working day. I was a little alarmed as I waited for about 1 minute for the video to load into the Canary app. It turns out the activity was light reflecting on the ceiling from my next door neighbours car.

It occurred to me that the Canary must be always recording, because the said activity happened about 3 seconds into the 20 second clip. (A little more info from Canary surrounding video capture would be really useful).

The second notification came in about 2 hours later, this time it was a shadow being cast through the window. On the first day I received another couple of notifications, all of which were very minor movements in my home due to shadows. Rather annoyingly I also receive a notification when the Canary enables the Ambient Light sensors (its own night vision). Fewer notifications would be better.

The app has a really nice feature where I can “Help your Canary Learn”. So now I spend a few minutes each day waiting for video to buffer so I can mark it as “Everything OK” and labelling the activity as “Shadow” or “Reflection”.

My only concern here is by about day 4, I stopped checking the alerts as they were just so regular, surely defeating the whole purpose! I would value a future update whereby a threshold for the movement can be set.

https://youtu.be/wEQN2cOliM0 This video shows how 'over' sensitive the motion detector is on the Canary home security system.

Privacy.

Probably the single most important thing for me is that these very personal video snippets of me in my home are kept private. The app functions in 3 modes - Armed mode, Disarmed mode and Privacy mode. Armed mode and Disarmed mode are effectively the same thing, except I receive notifications to my phone in Armed mode. Therefore Disarmed mode is still recording me, even when I am at home, and that is ok. I get that there might be times when this is useful, especially if I want to check in on kids. But for me when I am at home I like to place the device into Privacy mode. What is annoying though is that when Privacy mode is enabled, the Canary will not re-arm itself when I leave my home. I hope that Canary will add this feature in a future update.

Despite the canary.is website being clear and very informative, I would really like to know a little more about what is happening with the video and audio footage that is being captured. Is there a disk inside the Canary? Does the footage constantly move up to a Canary server or just when activity is detected? I personally found the Privacy Policy to be not that clear.

Home monitoring system.

This is probably a better description for the product. I like the temperature and humidity sensors. However the air quality sensor needs a little more explaining, for example would it pick up on a gas leak or carbon monoxide presence? Overall though the piece of mind brought by such a simple ‘set and forget’ device is awesome.

A snapshot from the Homehealth part of the app.

Conclusion.

There is room for improvement, and I don’t think I am the only early adopter waiting for the Canary app updates to arrive. I am also excited to see if Canary bring any other complimentary hardware to market. Some kind of super-slim door sensors would probably completely ‘secure the deal’ making the device a true security system.

I was not expecting to be as impressed with this device as I am, especially at this early stage of their rollout. It is a winner because of the user experience, the design, and the fact that once you see it in action, it makes perfect sense. I just hope that the company continue their hard work and innovative vision, and if they do, I can definitely see a Canary in every home.

Adobe in WA Classrooms events

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I have just signed up to join the Adobe team for some training, next week at Edith Cowen University. The sessions look really interesting, with 4 sessions including: "Webdesign without coding using Adobe Muse & Edge Animate" and "Animate Digital Portfolios made easy with Adobe Acrobat". This opportunity is too good to miss, especially as its free!

The Adobe in WA Classrooms events at Edith Cowan University are being held next week (18th & 19th Feb) for WA teachers in all sectors. Afternoon and Twilight options are available at Mt Lawley and Joondalup.

Register via http://bit.ly/adobe-wa-feb15

Event 1 - 18 Feb 2015 ECU Mount Lawley Campus 12.30 pm to 3.30 pm Event 2 - 18 Feb 2015 ECU Mount Lawley Campus 4.00 pm to 7.00 pm Event 3 - 19 Feb 2015 ECU Joondalup Campus 12.30 pm to 3.30 pm Event 4 - 19 Feb 2015 ECU Joondalup Campus 4.00 pm to 7.00 pm

Come and find out how teachers across the globe are enhancing creative teaching & learning experiences with Adobe products.

I hope to see you there!

A Classroom of Apples and Pears

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Technology's role in differentiation Computers can be used for a whole variety of purposes in the classroom. But I have recently come to the conclusion that if technology’s use is for anything other than the pursuit of personalised learning and differentiated instruction, then educators should reassess the role that technology plays in their pedagogy. Used in the wrong way, technology can be non-conducive to learning, and nothing more than an expensive distraction.

Take an electronic book (ebook) for example. When iPads first began to filter into schools, principals were promised that school bags would be lighter due to the removal of textbooks. On the contrary, after years of effort it is clear that a book is the best way to present text, a textbook is best at being a textbook! However an interactive book, with tailored content for the individual, rich in immersive media has the potential to become a better tool. In this instance you have moved beyond simple substitution and you are beginning to use technology to improve learning. The overall objective? Differentiated Instruction.

Late last term, I was fortunate enough to be involved in a professional development session hosted by Differentiated Instruction expert, Donna Deed (care of the Catholic Education Office). This session exposed me to the writings of Carol Ann Tomlinson and my colleagues and I began a conversation about technology’s role in the delivery of personalised learning, and my own objectives, in the manner with which I support teaching staff, have been reaffirmed.

Also referred to as Differentiation, teachers must apply a range of techniques and methods if they want to enhance the learning outcomes of every student. In Carol Ann Tomlinson’s book, The Differentiated Classroom, she highlights six components that form to create a focused teaching and learning method.

The teacher modifies content, process, and products based on student readiness, interest, and learning profile. Carol Ann Tomlinson.

‘Content’ is the area which, in most respects, is out of the teacher’s hands. It is likely already selected as per the curriculum and represents the destination in this process. The ‘Process’ and ‘Products’ are elements that can, and often are, directly enhanced by technology e.g. research and media creation like photographs, movies, and podcast creation.

Assessment of a student can identify their ‘Readiness’ or entry point to a topic, and the ‘Interest’ component highlights a learner’s curiosity about a topic. The sixth element, which I find most interesting, is the ‘Learning Profile’ of a student that is developed in a number of ways. But of uppermost importance, it is crucial not to pigeon hole a learner within a traditional learning profile, e.g. auditory, visual etc, using these containers ignores the reality of the whole person.

“Assessment is today’s means of understanding how to modify tomorrow’s instruction” Carol Ann Tomlinson

Developing Learning Profiles

To make a real difference, a collective effort from all teachers should be made to teach to a student’s needs. But this can only be achieved if all staff are privy to the same information. It is here where many schools and their choice of Learning Management System (LMS) fall short.

The challenge we face is how can each staff member contribute to form an overview of a student’s learning profile, and how can that data be easily accessed by dozens of teaching staff? I am referring to data beyond NAPLAN data. Observational data, character data including personal interests, and data that evolves throughout the weeks and terms.

This challenge remains a focus for my colleagues and myself, and we are very near to a solution.

The essential top 10 steps to setup your new iPhone 6

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iPhone screens are getting bigger. I am already seeing dozens of new iPhones at my 7-12 school and I am anticipating that in the next 3-5 years, this device might become a students primary tool. I have assisted many teaching staff in recent weeks, with their new iPhones, primarily to connect them to our network. But while we are together, our discussion expands into “Can I use this tool to further enhance my teaching practice?”.

Well, set it up correctly and your iPhone can become both a fantastic personal assistant, and a self directed and inclusive learning tool.

1. Schedule “Do Not Disturb” to get a good nights rest.

Settings/Do Not Disturb/turn “Scheduled” on.

If you are tired of getting woken up late at night by a tweet, email or sms just turn your Do Not Disturb to scheduled. I prefer my phone to not vibrate or chime between the hours of 10.30pm and 6am. But don’t worry, if there is an important phone call from one of your contacts that will still come through if you specify in the “Allow Calls From”. And just to be certain you don’t miss anything REALLY important, turn on “Repeated Calls”, meaning a second call from the same number will ring. But do be honest, most things can wait until the morning.

2. Allow “Hey Siri”.

Settings/General/Siri

If your iPhone is charging, just say “Hey Siri” and Siri will answer.

While you’re in the Siri menu, choose a nationality and gender which you prefer Siri to be. I personally prefer English (U.K.) Female.

3. Speak Selection and enhanced voices.

Settings/General/Accessibility/Speech

Turn on Speak Selection and turn on Speak Screen. Speak Screen is new to iOS 8 and is one of the best features. Just drag 2 fingers down from the top of the screen and what ever text is on the screen will be read to you. This is great for text messages or emails, especially if you are driving!

While you are in this section, take a look at the voices. If you can spare the space on your iPhone, instal the Enhanced Quality voice for Alex. Remember though, your “Speech” voice is not the same as Siri.

4. Navigate your phone easier.

Settings/General/Accessibility

Turn on Button Shapes. This just adds a small arrow to indicate stepping back. The menu system becomes a lot easier to navigate with this on. Also turn on On/Off labels. This shows a little “I” to indicate when a option is turned on.

5. Make your iPhone flash when you receive a call or message.

Settings/General/Accessibility LED Flash for Alerts turn on!

I recommend this to everyone who has an iPhone. Even if your phone is on silent, you will easily see when a call or message is coming through. That quick flash is bright!

6. Save your iCloud space by deleting old backups.

Settings/General/Usage

Beneath the iCloud title tap Manage Storage. You may have owned another iPhone before this current one. If you don’t need to restore from any old iCloud backups, just delete them. Just don’t delete the backup that says “This iPhone” next to it.

7. Choose the right Language and Region, your spell check depends on it!

Settings/General/Language and Region If you are tired of the dictionary correcting your spelling for words like “specialise”, you may have the English (U.S.) set. Set this to U.K. or Australian English.

8. Don’t keep turning your ring tone volume down.

Settings/Sounds/ Change with Buttons off!

It is too easy to turn the ring tone volume right down to nothing. Lock the volume level in by turning Change with Buttons to off.

9. Give yourself every chance of retrieving a lost iPhone.

Settings/iCloud/Find my iPhone Send Last Location to on!

Literally means that if you lose your phone, and the battery dies; you will be able to find its last whereabouts (maybe at school, or a gym locker?)

10. Don’t keep missing appointment reminders from iCal.

Settings/Mail, Contacts, Calendars

Beneath the Calendars title you will see an option that says Default Alert Times. Be sure to turn Events to 30 Minutes Before. Unless you specifically set that reminder when you make the appointment, your phone will not notify you of the upcoming appointment. I have fallen foul of this one a few times, but not anymore!

11. See your messages (both iMessage and regular sms) on your MacBook.

Settings/Messages/Text Message Forwarding

This is the place to go if you would like to activate your MacBook to receive and respond to text messages sent to your phone. If your Mac is signed into iCloud you can enable it here! While you are in this area be sure to turn on "Send as SMS". Just incase you do not have internet access your message will be resent as a SMS, even to another Apple device.

iPhone 6 setup ideas

A review of the iPhone 6 at the highest point in Africa

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How did the iPhone 6 cope on a trip up Kilimanjaro and around the Serengeti?

While trying to justify my $1000 purchase to my wife she challenged me, "what can it do that my iPhone 5s cannot?". After some head scratching I responded that it has a better battery life and a better camera, infact I was going to prove it by making it the first iPhone 6 to go up to 19000 feet to the summit of Kilimanjaro, and capture some great photos on the way.

Our adventure started with the climb up Kilimanjaro 5895 metres, then on safari in the Serengeti and rounded off with 3 nights in Zanzibar. This post will showcase the best images taken with the iPhone 6 camera. The shots are untreated and uncompressed (so please allow some time for them to load).

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Zebra in the Serengeti - This image will be great once cropped

Battery Life

We left our hotel in Kilimanjaro on a Sunday morning, with the iPhone 6 fully charged. I turned the iPhone into flight mode but decided to keep the screen brightness on auto. I was expecting the battery life to fall quickly once I started taking photos but I was proved wrong. The iPhone 6 stayed on 100% for almost 2 days, by the time we made the summit on Thursday morning I still had 55% battery, when we returned to civilisation on Friday evening, the battery was on 25%. Considering the sub-zero conditions the battery life was better then expected, although I did keep the iPhone in my sleeping bag at night when the temperature really dropped.

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Day 1 of the Kilimanjaro trek - The canopy of the trees

iPhone 6 hardware Performance

The challenging part was having to remove my gloves when wanting to take a photograph. You have to press the Home Button then slide the screen with one finger to go straight to the Camera app. A combination of button presses, like a double click of the sleep/wake button would be really useful. This would make the device feel more like a camera, instead of a phone masquerading as a camera.

Another huge frustration was the new positioning of the sleep/wake button. I get that it is a subtle improvement for general use, but when you use the volume up button to capture the photo I almost always pressed the sleep/wake button by accident with my supporting thumb, resulting in a screen grab of my iPhone! Surely this could be rethought, perhaps if the volume down button was used to capture a photo it would help a little.

I used the leather case as supplied by Apple, no complaints here. It didn't effect the operation of the iPhone and saved the day by absorbing a couple of drops.

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This is the top of Kilimanjaro at about 6am

Camera Performance

Firstly I do not really consider myself a photographer, however I appreciate a good picture and i've been using my Canon digital SLR for a few years (which ofcourse came on the trip in my wife's bag, just incase!). Apple have developed the iPhone camera to be the quintessential point and shoot, even a novice should be able to pull off a good shot. All that the photographer needs to do is frame the shot and judge the best angle for lighting. The pictures included in this article are all untreated and un-cropped. I am looking forward to bringing these images into Photoshop for a few enhancements, then I will see how they look in print. I hope that you enjoy the photos and that you can appreciate that the iPhone 6 can now easily replace a "point and shoot" in even tough environments.

 

Below are more shots, all taken with standard settings on the iPhone 6. You can view the whole gallery here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk5ArGrk

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The Serengeti at sunrise

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A quick "selfie" at the top!

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At the Mweka gate on our final day at Kili

 

A Modern Learning and Teaching Environment

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A comparison of iTunes U, Edmodo and Google Classroom.

If your students are using any form of technology throughout their day, then one would expect the consumption and creation of digital media. This may be in the form of a Word doc or PDF. As students begin to express their creativity further they will create images, videos and audio podcasts. Your LMS will be the glue that brings together all of this media, the LMS will be a ‘one-stop shop’ for students to visit while doing homework or revision. You can use it to share the course assessment criteria, or any marking matrix. This digital location is very important for schools looking to reduce printing costs, while keeping all students on track on their learning pathway. In this article I will compare 3 modern LMS’s and highlight the positives and negatives so that you can select a platform that best suits you.

Edmodo and iTunes U have been in the making for many years, and they have gained a huge user base. Google Classroom (or just “Classroom”) on the other hand is very new, only being released in August of this year. Each system is quite unique, and although one is not clearly better then the next, they do have advantages and limitations when compared.

Personalised Learning.

Prior to technology use in the classroom, it was challenging, if not impossible for teachers to provide a personalised learning experience for every student in the class. Laptops and tablets have proved to be an invaluable tool because of their flexibility and potential to appeal to almost all learning types if used effectively.

Edmodo and Classroom have been developed in a fashion similar to that of a Facebook timeline wall. Both students and teachers can engage in discussion on the wall, and teachers can share course documentation and assignments. More importantly both Edmodo and Classroom provide a method of private messaging as well. When a student feels a question to be deemed too trivial to ask in a group context, he/she can reach out to you for clarification. This could be done via email, but the thought of having all communication recorded and kept associated with the relevant course/assignment is very useful.

Edmodo goes one step further and has a great feature called Small Groups. Effectively groups within groups, this can be a great way to differentiate instruction and learning for students of different abilities in your class.

iTunes U does offer discussions associated with a course but only for all students and instructors to view. With the option for personalised help missing, iTunes U fails to accommodate this important criteria for a well appointed system.

Inspired Learning

iTunes U houses thousands of public courses and is an incredible repository of knowledge which all iPad teachers should be made aware of. If you’re affiliated with an institution that has a public iTunes U site, you too can publish your course to the iTunes U catalog, effectively reaching millions of students. This community of classes for all to learn from is one strength of iTunes U, it was after all originally intended for universities to disseminate their material to large cohorts or distance students.

Edmodo provides “communities”, a way for teachers to connect with other teachers and you can also share your own class code with as many people as you wish, achieving a global audience, but your classes will not be publicised in the way iTunes U makes your classes discoverable through the iTunes U app.

Google Classroom comparison

Accessibility.

If you are already an iPad school, you have the advantage of being able to benefit from the best that Microsoft, Google and other developers have to offer, because all companies develop native Apps for the iPad. But bear in mind, if you commit to using Apple’s native iTunes U, your courses can only be consumed on the iPad/iPhone. On the other hand, Google Classroom and Edmodo can be accessed from any internet browser, which is great if a student is unprepared away from their computer, as mum or dads smart phone can be used to quickly review any homework tasks which may have been set.

However Classroom, at this stage, is an entirely enclosed experience; you can only add students if they belong to your school, ratified by having an “@yourschool” email address. And this highlights Google Classroom’s Achilles heel: your school must use Google Apps for Education to take advantage of this LMS. This means that you need to handover management of email (from your existing Exchange service) to Google’s “cloud” and Gmail. This in turn brings many enhancements, notably the inclusion of all documents included in a Google Classroom being filed automatically in your Google Drive. Students can even submit work to you via Google Classroom, and that digital media is neatly added inside the assignment folder for you to access whenever you are ready. When handling of documents becomes this simple, teachers really can focus less on file management and more on teaching.

Edmodo review image

Simplicity and user experience.

Edmodo has a simple interface and students feel familiar with the layout as it resembles Facebook, but beneath the simple interface is a whole plethora of options, and it is these enhancements that to some, can feel overwhelming.

iTunes U maintains a very clean and clinical experience. It’s simplicity doesn’t distract the user and with native notifications built into the app, a student is always alerted to a new post. The courses have a very useful checklist feature, allowing you to mark off tasks as they are completed.

Google Classroom courses can be personalised with great looking themes and the overall experience from a student perspective is streamlined and simple, with just 3 different screens to become familiar with. Furthermore if your school has gone Google, all students have 1 single username (their school email address) and 1 password to remember. A frustration with both iTunes U and Edmodo is that you are dependent on the student correctly keeping their username faithful to their actual name, and that the student remembers their password.

Edmodo appears to come up trumps against these 2 rivals, and for good reason. I work with many department schools throughout W.A. and Edmodo is a learning platform that I am seeing more and more of. It works great behind the stringent internet filters, and staff have found its stability across multiple devices a real blessing.

iTunes U Review image

iTunes U is reserved for schools who have adopted a 1:1 iPad environment. Teachers can assign all types of materials and tasks and students are kept on a narrow pathway to their assessment dates. However with no option to receive documents from the student and no way to provide personalised feedback, this system may be better suited for mature, self-motivated learners.

Google Classroom is currently only available for Google Apps for Education schools, and this LMS is an extremely good reason why you should consider the transition for your school. The streamlined, clutter free experience offers almost all that Edmodo does, but integrates into your own Google Drive beautifully, meaning that neither you or your students ever have a reason for losing work or not meeting deadlines again.

There are of course many other LMS’s that you can use, and the competition seems to increase every term. But it is becoming clearer to me that a singular approach from the outset is the best way to go. So if you have the luxury of a clean slate, consider the above and choose an online learning environment carefully, so that you can provide clarity to your colleagues and consistency for your students.

Measuring success: is your technology investment worth the money?

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I have worked at two schools over the last five years and in terms of student achievement, I have found that each year group is as different as the next. Some excel in literacy, where as others are gifted in the arts. One thing I can say for sure is that the use of technology over the last five years has not seen a significant improvement in NAPLAN or ATAR scores – at least not an improvement that could be fairly accredited solely to a 1:1 computing environment. So why then should principals support the budgets demanded by the ICT Department?

I believe it is because of the future that our students face, and in particular a growing sector of society now being referred to as the Creative Class.

The rise of the Creative Class

The creative industry in our local and global economy has been steadily increasing since the 1980s. Up until this time the Australian economy was largely driven by agriculture and more recently the industrial revolution.

Each month we are reminded of the changing workforce in Australia. The impending end of GM Holden as a carmaker in Australia is evidence of an entire fleet of employment being transitioned to a cheaper Asian work force. Many of our whitecollar jobs are also being put at risk. With websites such as ODesk, thousands of freelance workers based in India, Asia and China can market themselves to complete any number of design, administrative or information based jobs.

The modernisation of our workforce was summed up beautifully by Ian Jukes this year at the EduTech Conference in Brisbane: “Service Class jobs are replaced by technology, Creative Class jobs are facilitated by technology.”

A report published in 2013 by CCI.edu.au states, “Creative professionals now outnumber mining sector employees three-to-one, and those of agriculture fishing and forestry two-to-one.”

All of these changes are indicators that the future faced by our students is a very different place to the workforce that you and I were prepared for. A creative class citizen would expect to work in a design environment, or the multimedia sector. They would be found in architect offices facing environmental issues. They would also be found in graphic design and marketing studios. Creative rolls also encompass politics, coding and most importantly teaching.

The creative minds will be responsible for solving climate change issues, population management, and travel challenges. With the aid of technology, they will communicate so intuitively between each other that different dialects will not be a barrier. Creative industries will cater for the digital demands of the 21st century, including entertainment, gaming and even relationships.

Apps for everything

The Apple app development business alone was worth over 10 billion dollars in 2013. The thought of App design as a career choice just five years ago was unimaginable. Just consider what other career choices will emerge in the coming years.

Creative roles require diversity. All young people have the best opportunity then ever before to flourish in a marketplace that requires critical and challenging minds, these are minds that can traverse digital devices and discover new information in a moment.

As educators it is important that we recognise student abilities to think ‘out of the box’; we must not smother these artistic, unusual or mischievous minds. To impose our own social categories, such as gender, race or sexual orientation, or to grade students by the same competency tests, which we ourselves sat, is simply wrong.

This enormous emerging sector is critical, and it does not require traditional intelligence from an education system that has largely been unchanged in decades. Australia's future workforce will need to compete with some of the most forward thinking entrepreneurs across the globe; it will only be through innovation that we can get an edge.

Technology underpins almost every aspect of the creative industry and modern schools have a duty to integrate technology so seamlessly into the curriculum that to distinguish between the two is impossible. This does not mean an over-dependence on personal devices, rather a seamless flow of modern tools. Modern learning goes way beyond laptops and iPads. Technologies present in everyday items like dishwashers, thermostats, cars and even nature are indicative of our need to educate students to innovate, to acquire solutions to problems which don’t yet exist.

Does it work?

A measure for your return on investment should simply be, does it work? In September 2013, the Australian Human Rights Commission produced a paper that highlighted the importance of the access to the internet for all. Has your ICT Department succeeded in delivering this very basic ‘human-right’? I think that you should have high expectations in this field. If your colleagues report that internet access is slow or frustrating, then your organisation is not delivering value for money.

Other indicators for success lie in the attitudes of staff and students. Are staff welcoming of change and prepared to put in the necessary hours to adapt their pedagogy? Are students excited and engaged with the possibilities available to them?

Student attendance figures and even staff retention should also be considered. Although I can’t comment on the staff retention at my school, I am very proud of the number of ex-staff who contact us after they have moved on to ask for advice on how things should be set up. I see this as a very positive indicator.

The ROI of your ICT budget cannot be measured by conventional methods. If the infrastructure is working then you are on your way to success. The rest lies in the hands of your teaching staff. Continue to create a fertile environment where students are inspired and new ideas can flow. Technology is such a powerful catalyst for this that to undervalue its importance will be detrimental to the future of your students.

Education: A global challenge, improved through collaboration

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For the first time, every school in the world has an opportunity to place themselves amongst the highest achieving academies. The very best online education resources are often completely free, meaning that every student on the planet can have the same opportunities as the next. Cloud services like Edmodo or Google Apps For Education are so powerful that, to not align oneself with such resources, and to not expose students to these tools, is considered by many to be reckless. Every principal and every teacher is limited only by their imagination. Technology prices continue to fall each year; I believe that a school in remote Africa has every chance of producing some of tomorrow’s greatest minds as a school in a first world country does. Only the constraints of a stable internet connection hold some back, but in the coming years this will no longer be a factor.

Education: A global challenge, which can be fixed through collaboration.

I work at an independent Catholic school, and although many strategic decisions may appear independent, I have learned that the pathways taken have been chosen largely via deep consultation with a local and global education community.

Our early message was similar to other schools at the beginning of their technology journey: ‘24/7 learning, any where...any time.’

Opinions now are a little different. Mobile devices allow for personalised and self-directed learning. Students have the opportunity to learn when and how they like. Today’s students have an appetite for digital expression and they want to be connected. Modern teaching should accommodate and capture this curiosity.

Mirroring the attitudes of all staff, technology has become so ubiquitous that our modern classrooms and digitally driven curriculums are not considered unique or important. The focus is squarely on diverse learning opportunities and personalised learning. These processes are effortlessly enhanced with iPads, but it is not forced.

Last February I wrote about where we had come to in 2013 and what our plans were for 2014. We had some significant challenges, particularly with our network connection speeds, which we overcame, and 2014 has seen a significant shift of attention from a leadership perspective.

We still face technical problems, but in this field we have established a sound infrastructure. So I find myself working closer with pedagogy experts in an effort to transform some components of teacher practice.

Here I find a two-pronged challenge. First, what does transformative teaching look like? And second, how should one address a teacher, who may have been teaching for decades, and suggest they consider using new technologies such as Twitter?

The shifting shape of TPaCK

For many years I have been referencing the TPaCK model. It illustrates perfectly the necessity of three main ingredients which combine to make a well rounded teacher. Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge.

TPaCK model

I have often found myself dwelling on the T component. However it is becoming clear to me and my colleagues, that this venn diagram is merging ever tighter each year. Eventually we should see the T component disappear completely, as the P component expands to encompass it.

My mother retired from teaching just last year; five years before her retirement she was instructed to use an interactive white board. Needless to say she responded with words to the effect of; "My students constantly achieve the best grades in the school, I am not prepared to change my teaching to justify your overspend on new equipment."

With the use of IWBs declining, you could argue that my mother was wholly right in refusing to integrate this tool into her teaching. But IWB's have had their role to play in the classroom, just as overhead projectors have. A teacher needs to be adaptable and willing to move with the times, because classroom tools will continue to change, just as our student's needs change.

At my school we pride ourselves on building a community. We support each other and ultimately we listen to each other. Professional learning for staff should be the same. Teaching is a highly respected career choice, pedagogy is something unique to each teacher and I believe that through respect of this, you can begin to implement positive change from the roots up, even on a global scale.

SXSW Festival

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Check out the iTunes Festival from SXSW streaming free via iTunes and on the Apple TVIf you're a Soundgarden fan (like me) you can see them perform the entire Super Unknown album from beginning to end. https://www.itunesfestival.com

If you have an Apple TV, you'll find the iTunes Festival has it's own channel on the front page. I highly recommend checking it out!

The T's & C's

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The T's and C's

Last month I wrote about classroom tasks which could be easily sorted by 3 C's: Consumption, Creation and Collaboration (read here). By aligning your tasks with Blooms Taxonomy the iPad apps became authentic learning tools.

But take a look at the broader picture. The modern learning environment typically consists of many components, but in the scope of my blog and expertise, I am choosing to focus on: Tools, Tasks and most importantly Teaching. Loosely based on the excellent TPaCK model, these venn diagram bring together 3 challenges for a modern teacher.

[/vc_column_text][az_special_heading heading_type="3" heading_style="default" heading_align="textalignleft" padding_bottom_heading="30" animation_loading="no" animation_loading_effects="fade_in"]Focus on your T's, then look at your C's[/az_special_heading][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width="1/2"][az_lightbox_image image="2966" animation_loading="no" animation_loading_effects="fade_in"][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="1/2"][az_lightbox_image image="2849" animation_loading="no" animation_loading_effects="fade_in"][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_column_text animation_loading="no" animation_loading_effects="fade_in"]

My job is to support teaching staff by clearly defining how they can transform their classroom environment using modern tools. By focusing on the tools which we have available to us in the classroom, it is easy to see how the the teaching and tasks should take shape. Or you could approach it from the teaching, assess the tools and then develop your tasks. Each component as important as the next, and each underpinning modern pedagogy.

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What are the tasks you can use in the classroom? I have outlined some of the most important tasks for you in this post.

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Classroom Tasks

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The Tasks

Below I have outlined a number of tasks, for use with the iPad in the classroom. I believe that if you understand these 5 tasks from beginning to end, you will have an excellent foundation to build any engaging classroom activities.

Focus on the outcome

It's important to know what you would like your task outcome to be. I recommend that you work backwards from there. How are you going to collect this digital media for assessment? Which apps will be needed along the way? Once you have established the complete workflow, you and your colleagues can begin the task.

  • A PDF, created from Pages or Word
  • A presentation, delivered in person and as a video.
  • An interactive book
  • A podcast (audio enhanced with still images)
  • A movie

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][az_divider div_type="normal" margin_top_value="5" margin_bottom_value="5" animation_loading="no" animation_loading_effects="fade_in"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row section_mode="normal" bgmode="default" bgposition="top_left" bgrepeat="no-repeat" bgattachment="scroll" padding="default-padding" padding_top_value="70" padding_bottom_value="70" shadow="shadow-off"][vc_column width="1/1"][az_special_heading heading_type="2" heading_style="default" heading_align="textalignleft" padding_bottom_heading="30" animation_loading="no" animation_loading_effects="fade_in"]Task 1. Create a movie[/az_special_heading][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width="1/4"][vc_column_text animation_loading="no" animation_loading_effects="fade_in"]

Outcome:

Make me a 2 minute video. This task will present a workflow which you can adapt to suit your curriculum outcomes.

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Context

Role play and character interview. Your students will put themselves into the position of an individual during a significant historical event. In this case we will use The Great Plague which occurred in 1065 predominantly in London. What was it like to live in London during this time? How did the plague effect different classes? What did it feel like to be in London at this time?

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Safari Icon

1.

Remembering - Research dates, names, places in Safari. Collect images and text, and don't forget to reference all of your data.

  • Save your images: *touch-hold* - "Save image".
  • Save your text: *touch-hold" - "Select All" or drag blue handles

 

Photos app

Notes App iOS

2.

Understanding - Review your text and images. Your images are saved in the Photos app. Which images will you be using to illustrate your work? Compose your supporting text in Notes, don't forget to reference where your photos came from.

 

Pen & Paper icon

3.

Applying and Analysing - Pen and paper? Use your note paper to storyboard your movie. Consider how each scene might be shot. Will you be interviewing a friend? Which locations will you record in? If you can draw the scenes great! If not write down a brief overview of your proposed movie.

Carefully script your movie, how does your character feel? Which class does he belong to and what can he do considering his position? Present your storyboard and script to your teacher for assessment. Once approved move onto making your movie!

 

iMovie

4.

Analysing and Creating - Use iMovie to bring all of your media together. Use the still images in your Photos library and place Titles on the slides from your Notes. Record and edit your movie all within iMovie.

 

YouTube

5.

Collaboration - Preview your movie. When you are happy you will need to share it with your teacher. From iMovie select the share button and choose YouTube. If you use Google Apps for Education (GAFE) or have a youtube account, sign in and select Unlisted under the Privacy option. Now just share your YouTube link with the teacher.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][az_divider div_type="normal" margin_top_value="5" margin_bottom_value="5" animation_loading="no" animation_loading_effects="fade_in"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row section_mode="normal" bgmode="default" bgposition="top_left" bgrepeat="no-repeat" bgattachment="scroll" padding="default-padding" padding_top_value="70" padding_bottom_value="70" shadow="shadow-off"][vc_column width="1/1"][az_special_heading heading_type="2" heading_style="default" heading_align="textalignleft" padding_bottom_heading="30" animation_loading="no" animation_loading_effects="fade_in"]Task 2. Create a podcast[/az_special_heading][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width="1/4"][vc_column_text animation_loading="no" animation_loading_effects="fade_in"]

Outcome:

Make me a 2 minute audio recording. Typically a podcast is a way to broadcast a series of audio recordings from radio stations or hobbyists who have something to say. We will be using the term podcast as a simple voice recording, empowering your students to be the radio host!

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Context

A book review. Ask your students to think about a book which means a lot to them. Something from their childhood or a book which they have read recently. Why did they enjoy this book? What is it about? and who wrote the book? By working in pairs each student can share their favourite book with another.

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Safari Icon

1.

Remembering - Bring a copy of your favourite book into class. Find an interesting paragraph which captures the essence of this book. Why is this book special to you? Use Safari to learn more about the author. Outline key facts about their career and collect images to illustrate your findings later.

 

Photos

2.

Understanding - Discuss with your partner why you chose your book. Review the images of the author and talk about what their life may have been like, when and where were they born? When was the book written and what does it mean to you?

 

Pen & Paper

3.

Applying and Analysing - Pen and paper? Use your note paper to storyboard your podcast. Outline the discussion that you will be having with your partner. Who will introduce the podcast? Who will talk about their author first? What is the story about and why does it mean so much to you? Finally are their similarities between your chosen books?

Carefully script your discussion and hand in for review.

 

Garageband

4.

Analysing and Creating - Use Garageband to record you podcast. Alternatively you could use iMovie again if you would like to make an enhanced podcast with images to support your findings.

 

 

Drive

5.

Collaboration - Preview your podcast. When you are happy exit the Edit Mode and select the Project view. Select your project and choose  "Open in another App". Name your podcast correctly and open in Google Drive. Make sure you move the file into a folder which you share with your teacher.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][az_divider div_type="normal" margin_top_value="5" margin_bottom_value="5" animation_loading="no" animation_loading_effects="fade_in"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row section_mode="normal" bgmode="default" bgposition="top_left" bgrepeat="no-repeat" bgattachment="scroll" padding="default-padding" padding_top_value="70" padding_bottom_value="70" shadow="shadow-off"][vc_column width="1/1"][az_special_heading heading_type="2" heading_style="default" heading_align="textalignleft" padding_bottom_heading="30" animation_loading="no" animation_loading_effects="fade_in"]Task 3. Create an interactive book[/az_special_heading][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width="1/4"][vc_column_text animation_loading="no" animation_loading_effects="fade_in"]

Outcome:

Make me a book with text, images and audio files. I can touch the audio icon to listen to your voice.

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Context

This workflow works well in the Languages area. I would like you to select 10 different modes of transport. Find me a photograph, create a title and record yourself pronouncing the mode of transport in French/Italian/Japanese etc. You can preview your book inside iBooks and when happy share it with the teacher via Dropbox.

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Safari Icon

1.

Remembering - Search for images that represent your mode of transport; Bicycle, Train, Bus etc. Make a note of their spelling in both English and French.

 

 

Photos

2.

Understanding - Review your images in Photos. Practise how to pronounce these words.

 

 

 

Pen & Paper

3.

Applying and Analysing - Pen and paper. Add extra words, e.g. "I like catching the bus", or "The train is always busy". Hint: try Google translate to help you.

Begin to script your book.

 

Book Creator

4.

Analysing and Creating - Use Book Creator to compile your images, text and voice. You can record your voice snippets right in Book Creator. You can also design a great front cover. Take some time laying out your book, extra marks will be given for presentation.

 

 

 

Dropbox

iBooks

5.

Collaboration - Preview your book. When you are happy press the share button and select: Open in another App. Choose Dropbox. Make sure you place your .epub in a folder which is shared with the teacher. The teacher can then select the .epub (on their own iPad), and choose: Open in. The teacher will need to open your .epub in iBooks.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][az_divider div_type="normal" margin_top_value="5" margin_bottom_value="5" animation_loading="no" animation_loading_effects="fade_in"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row section_mode="normal" bgmode="default" bgposition="top_left" bgrepeat="no-repeat" bgattachment="scroll" padding="default-padding" padding_top_value="70" padding_bottom_value="70" shadow="shadow-off"][vc_column width="1/1"][az_special_heading heading_type="2" heading_style="default" heading_align="textalignleft" padding_bottom_heading="30" animation_loading="no" animation_loading_effects="fade_in"]Task 4. Create a presentation[/az_special_heading][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width="1/4"][vc_column_text animation_loading="no" animation_loading_effects="fade_in"]

Outcome:

Make me a presentation. You will need to present this to your class and then submit your presentation as a video with your voice talking through your script.

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Context

This workflow can focus on any learning area and topic. In this example I will use the Al Gore, Our Choice app. Each group will take one chapter from this book and compress the data into a 5 minute presentation to share with the rest of the class. You can of course use any media/fact rich app or iBook.

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Our Choice

1.

Remembering - Break the class into groups or 2 or more. Ask each group to study the impact of global warming on our environment. Using the Our Choice app each group can look at a chapter and present to the rest of the class their findings and opinions.

 

 

Safari Icon

2.

Understanding - What is energy? How do we collect and use energy and what are the implications?

 

 

Pen & Paper

 

3.

Applying and Analysing - Localise the information to where we live. Do you live near a power plant, a forest or ocean? Can you make the chapter relevant to our city? Modify the data which you have found and sketch out your ideas.

 

 

Explain Everything

4.

Analysing and Creating - Use Explain Everything to develop and deliver your presentation. Think about annotation of your images and graphs, compile and model your research. What can be done to improve our environment?

 

 

 

Showbie

5.

Collaboration - Deliver your presentation to the class! Anticipate what questions may be asked and prepare for them. Once you have done your presentation, record your presentation with your voice one last time. Export your video file (as a .mp4) and Open In Showbie. Your teacher will have created a classroom projector folder for you to submit your work for assessment.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][az_divider div_type="normal" margin_top_value="5" margin_bottom_value="5" animation_loading="no" animation_loading_effects="fade_in"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row section_mode="normal" bgmode="default" bgposition="top_left" bgrepeat="no-repeat" bgattachment="scroll" padding="default-padding" padding_top_value="70" padding_bottom_value="70" shadow="shadow-off"][vc_column width="1/1"][az_special_heading heading_type="2" heading_style="default" heading_align="textalignleft" padding_bottom_heading="30" animation_loading="no" animation_loading_effects="fade_in"]Task 5. Create a PDF[/az_special_heading][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width="1/4"][vc_column_text animation_loading="no" animation_loading_effects="fade_in"]

Outcome:

Make me a magazine cover. Tell me about a topic which you are interested in, and really try to sell your area of interest to me.

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Context

Focus on the messages you are trying to depict. Which colours and fonts stand out? What is your main focus and how important is the main image that you choose? Page layout and good design are vital in the media rich world we live in.

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Safari Icon

1.

Remembering - What hobbies do you have? Do you have a favourite magazine or website? Focus on your hobby, outline all of the outlets you can use use to follow this area of interest.

 

 

Popplet

2.

Understanding - Summarise the marketing methods used. Identify and illustrate with screen shots.

 

 

Skitch

3.

Applying and Analysing - Use skitch to annotate your screen shots. Begin to sketch out your ideas for a magazine or web page to market your interest.

 

 

Pages

4.

Analysing and Creating - Use Pages to prepare you final magazine cover or webpage. Consider your use of space, colour, text and word choice.

 

 

 

Evernote

5.

Collaboration - Inside pages select the share button and choose: Open in Another App. Select PDF as your final document choice. Upload your PDF into Evernote. Make sure you select a workbook which is shared with the teacher. The teacher may choose to give you assessment recorded as an audio message in the same folder.

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