Monday, 31 March 2014

Exploration and Sharing

Today we began looking at a new app- Book Creator. I have the paid for version but you can also download a free version in which you can only make one book.

If I could only have one app on my iPad it would be this one. It has such potential for writing and sharing.

I showed the boys the very basics and let them explore adding images, video, photos, writing freehand, typing and adding audio to add as much as they could on one cover page.

There was much hilarity as the boys recorded and inserted video selfies. It was interesting to note that some boys were happily clicking everywhere to see what would happen and others were quite hesitant,  concerned about making a mistake.

I was also very proud of one of the boys who took it upon himself to show his classmates how to use Tellagami. This is what I wanted to see happen- the boys taking on positive 'schooly' leadership roles.

To share the app I used to mirror my iPad onto my laptop whcih was then projected onto the home class display screen.

  • I purposefully didn't 'teach' the app to the boys. I wanted them to go exploring themselves- to see what that the features and the limitations of the app were. I want to build resilience and problem solving in the boys- not leaping in the sort out problems for them.
  • I think the exploration phase was good and certainly produced lots of laughter. We need to have a discussion about what is acceptable in the way of filming other people and deleting images and projects after recording so as not to fill up the iPads with practice photo and video.
  • We used the free app Flick to 'throw' images from my iPad onto other iPads and my laptop. It was evidently 'sick' which is a good thing!!!!!!!

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Using Aurasma and String Augmented Reality Apps as a prompt for writing.

I put a link here to Daveyhulme School blog post about combining Aurasma and String as a prompt for writing and I don't want to forget to have a go at it. I reckon it would be great to have some physical places the boys could go to see their work. QR Codes and Aurasma seem the obvious choice.

Aliens in the Classroom!

Using the App String, children were able to scan a picture and see an alien moving around the classroom - an amazing WOW moment! String is a AR showcase app, there are plenty on the app store and they really inspire some great writing opportunities. To see examples of this - click here.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Inquiring into my Teaching Practice

If improving outcomes for students is not the purpose of professional learning,... teachers are likely to default to the position that gathering information about students is about students and not about teaching or themselves as professionals.

Evidence about students' engagement, learning and well being needs to be:
  • High quality
  • Fit for purpose
  • Valid
  • Reliable

In relation to this boy's writing inquiry- what is engagement?
  • That the boys want to come to the workshop?
  • That they want to write more?
  • Do they want to write on a device?
  • Are they writing more compound sentence?
  • Is their handwriting neater?
Best when done in collaboration with others so that...

  • There is someone to challenge my assumptions.
  • There are others to feed in their opinions.
  • I can get/share resources with others.
I have to think of not only the students learning but also my learning.

Teaching developing learning goals- questions

  • What knowledge, skills and attitudes do I, as teachers need to meet the needs of our students?
  • How I have contributed to existing outcomes?
  • In what areas and with whom am I effective and why?
  • In what areas and with whom am I less effective and why?
  • What do we already know that I can use to promote valued outcomes?
  • What do I need to know about to promote these outcomes and waht are my learning goals?
  • What sources/knowledge can I use?

So am I asking enough powerful questions of myself as a teacher?

Realizing the Power of Professional Learning - Extending Educational Horizons

Timperley pg 26

Monday, 17 March 2014

Writing on the iPad using Tellagami

Today we took it to another step and did our writing directly on to the iPad using their text to voice option. Previously we had been writing on paper as a prompt to speaking. Today it was all on the iPad.

The boys, by now, are quite familiar with the Tellagami app so were able to quickly find their backgrounds and personalise their character.

When searching for images the boys are using Google Images fro the time being- one step at a time to use Creative Commons Images. I made up a new rule- you had to chose your background image from the first few rows of images as the boys were spending way to looking perusing and talking about the merits of each image and whether they wanted to use it or not.

I was able to bring my own Access Point to the internet so I knew we would be able to get strong wireless which this activity needed.

In the first group the boys turned up with dead flat iPads and no chargers. The joys of Monday morning! We paired up and shared iPads which has its pluses and minuses. Because they were working together on one iPad there HAD to be a dialogue. But then we had to resort to Paper, Scissors, Rock to decide on a story topic if it looked like developing into a full blown argument.


  • Having my own Ubiquiti Unifi wireless access point is absolutely brilliant. A bit of a pain to take to and from school each visit but well worth it.
  • We now have a room we can use on a longer term basis rather than moving around each week. This is great.
  • I am getting better at the boys' names but as we write using Tellagami I now longer know who is talking because it masks the natural voices. We must make sure to include our names in the video.
  • One of the boys said he had downloaded the app on his family owned iPad with his mother's help and was experimenting with it at home as well. I must remember to let him know he can upload to Dropittome from home as well if he would like to share a finished artefact with me.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Engaging Reluctant Writers

Catrione Pene from CORE Education made this presentation on Engaging Reluctant Writers. I might use some of the resources later in the year as we move to blogging as one of the choices the boys have for writing.


Monday, 3 March 2014

Ups and Downs

The trouble with working one day a week in school is that you can't really prepare infrastructurally beforehand. The room I was to work in for the first time this year had a very poor wifi and we really did need it for today's work so we started off there with the data projector and then moved to another room without a data projector but with internet. I thrive on chaos!

Today we did a similar activity to last week's Tellagami lesson but this time we got images from Google to write about and the boys could chose their own topics. The boys were delighted at the prospect of writing about Lego, shooting possums, speed boats, bikes and rugby.

To save the images from Google on the iPad we viewed the image and then pressed on it with our finger until save image came up- it saves to the camera roll.

The boys wanted to leap into recording but could see the point of writing down what they wanted to say as they had to practice it to make sure it was good enough for sharing- Tellagami fosters reading, writing and speaking.

A couple have twigged that you can just talk to the app without having to write down what you are going to say- the text and the video speeches don't match. Next week's work will sort that as we are going to use the text voices.

This time round the boys were much more confident with using the app and knew what they wanted to achieve quite quickly and more got their writing completed and uploaded to Drop It To Me via the blog. A couple were able to upload their videos independently so that made life easier.

The blog is now sitting on the iPad desktop of most of the iPads so it looks like an app and that works really well.

I gave the boys a newsletter introducing myself and giving the URL of the blog where we are sharing our work. Apart from a heap of them not taking the note home I think it is a good idea letting the parents know where to look and my email address if they want to follow up or ask questions.

A couple of the boys wanted to download the app on their home iPads - Tellagami is free so that makes that easy!

I photocopied and laminated some copies of my Spell-Write basic word lists so the boys can be more independent when sourcing basic words. You can download a copy for your own use by clicking on the link.

One of the teachers has her own personal copy of The Writing Book which she is happy to loan me for the week and the school is going to buy one as a reference. Yay!


  • I need to have the data projector and the internet all happening in the same room- some of the boys lost focus in the shift but it was a brain break at the same time.
  • I need to have a better grip on the boy's names. Maybe I am leaping into outputs too quickly and not getting to know the boys well enough first- partly down to only seeing the boys for a short time once a week, partly because I am not good at remembering names. Maybe name tags is an idea for next week!
  • I am thinking a QR code to the learning artefacts might be a good way to share them in school. Will have to get a free QR Code maker/reader on to the school iPads.
  • Next week I will bring my Chromebook so I can help the keen Bloggers in the senior school. We are having some specific issues logging in on the Chromebooks that will take some time to resolve.
  • Looking forward to next week when we will use the text to voice features of Tellagami.
  • I still need to get the boys to support each other with the work- not to do it for their buddies.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

The Writing Book

I came across The Writing Book  by Sheena Cameron and Louise Dempsey, via a blog post from Juliet Revell.

I have been to a course with Sheena on reading a while back and found it to be immensely useful. I think I will have to see if I can track down a copy.

They have a Facebook page as well which I have 'liked'.

I have stored these writing ideas as prompts for later on when the boys get stuck.