Author Archives: john

Random Remote Notes 13 May 2020⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Notes to self as I try and teach myself to teach remotely. See More lockdown learning for some sort of background.

I remember when Apple Keynote came out I really liked it. For me the interface was simpler than PowerPoint and the files took less space. Now I am making a daily PowerPoint for our class meeting I’ve notice the file size situation is reversed. Exporting a keynote to PowerPoint is resulting in a smaller file.
I am still using Keynote as I am quicker and happier with the simpler UI.

For our meetings I am making, for me, quite long, 20 – 40 slide presentation. I get the impression that leaving out transitions and keeping them simple speeds things up. Pupils sometime get a blank screen, some of them have found that opening the chat and closing it sorts that out. I guess forces a screen refresh.

I try to keep the meeting moving along, were are doing an hour a day, covering a few different things each day. Given primary, age 8-11, I can’t expect a lecture to work. Getting the pupils to respond with voice as much as possible. Sometimes in turn, sometimes fire-at-will.

I am only getting around half my class of 24 turning up most days and imaging this would be more difficult with a class of 30.

More lockdown learning⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Some notes….

A few weeks ago I blogged about how I was tackling providing some home learning for my pupils. Since then we had a two week break and have been working on line for a couple of weeks since. The class is a multi-composite of p4 to 7, 24 children.

Some children continued to pop into our Class Team and post to their e-Portfolios over the break and I did make some Holiday homework suggestions.

Since the holidays I’m continuing on the path I started. A weekly post, with activity suggestions, monitoring and commenting of the portfolios and being available in our team at least 9-3.

I am getting a fair response on the e-Portfolios, these are Glow WordPress blogs the class are used to posting to. I’ve had over 200 posts since lockdown started with about 20 out of 24 children posting at least once. I’ve put, with permission, a selection of screenshots on our class blog: Learning at Home

We have started having a conference call every day in Teams. This lasts an hour and I’ve been doing alternative mornings and afternoons. I am finding that I need a fair bit of time to prep for this. The attendance has been around half the class.

The connection in Teams seems not too bad. I am basically working my way through a mini program from a PowerPoint deck. I am finding if I keep these as light as possible, without transitions that seems to work best technically. Some of the class who were using phones don’t seem to be able to see the slides but they have negotiated use of another device at times.

The different interfaces and affordances of Teams on different devices are frustrating. For example I can’t just start a meeting from my iPad in a channel. I can call an individual, or join one set up on a computer, just not kick one off. Guessing what is happening at the other end is fun too.

There also doesn’t seem to be a way on mobile or a table to see the meeting and the chat at the same time. This precludes pupil putting up their hand in the chat. That means that discussions can get either a bit confusing or we need to go round the room which takes a fair bit of time, or there are overlapping answers. I remember the ‘hands up’ feature in Flashmeeting many years ago. I see MS is starting to roll this out to the desktop apps, but it would be great to have in in mobile, web, phones and tablets my class are using.

I’ve begun to try muting all the mikes and telling the pupils to un-mute as a sort of hands up.

I try a range of things in the meeting, it is difficult to make it too interactive. I’ve tried having my phone & an iPad hooked in alongside my computer but failed to show the class anything. I thought the phone on a camera stand would be a great way to demo things. Turned out the video did not take over the main screen for most and the class could not see it. Coming out of presenting a PowerPoint and demoing on my Mac camera didn’t work very well either half the class could not see what I was doing. Swapping between PowerPoint and webcam seems problematic and opening the whiteboard slow.

I presume a lot of these problems are due the the huge number of folk using teams around the world, I wish they would stop with the TV adverts and give me some bandwidth;-)

We have tried number talks and quizzes. The whiteboard has sometimes worked for the number talks. Hard for the pupils on a computer to use with a mouse (me too). Demos on slides with questions and anything else I can think of. Most of the ideas I’ve seen around this sort of learning are aimed at secondary or tertiary students. I think primary might be a little different.

Last week we tried a writing lesson, we had discussed the poem maggie and milly and molly and may by E. E. Cummings each day during the week. On Thursday we tried to write out own versions. First we brainstormed in several sections: names, objects etc. One at a time with me talking for a couple of minutes, then two minutes writing time followed by the children telling the rest their ideas.

Next we went through in couplets in the same sort of way, I read a couplet, gave my own example and then had two minutes writing and then sharing. Not unlike you would do in class except I could not see what was going on or work briefly with individuals. I think it went well despite the strangeness of having two minute timed silences. We needed the silence as some pupils will just talk through the two minutes. I am beginning to like the mute all button.

I had hoped that some sort of flipped learning might be a way to go, but the videos I’ve suggested pupils watch don’t get as much reaction as simple worksheets or writing tasks the pupils can do and post to their e-Portfolios.

The class are usually really creative (cardboard, photos and poetry the last 3 post before lockdown on our blog). The don’t seem to pick up on the creative suggestions as much as I expected. I think they need a little more support and encouragement.

My plan is to slowly expand the range of activities and technologies I offer. Testing something new one week and using it a bit more the next. Taking things slowly.

The week before last we briefly tested Minecraft Education Edition. I managed to get it working on my Mac so that some of the children could login to the same world. This week we had a few more sessions, them most pupils we got in was 7, they seem to have fun. I write another post about that.

The next step is to start putting some assignments in teams and see how that goes. I tried one this week, got 9/24 pupils competing a quiz. As we didn’t use Teams in class I think we need or add these things slowly and make sure as many as want to can use the technology. I’ll try a couple more next week and see how it goes.

I am also wondering about spending a little more formal time in the Teams chat as opposed to a meeting. At the moment it is mostly used to announce the meetings and Minecraft sessions. A couple of pupils have handed work in there too as an alternative to their e-Portfolios.

We also use Sumdog, it is quite a popular activity in class but I’ve not had much take up from home. About half the children are using it but only for a short time each week. The NLC Sumdog completion starts on Friday so that might encourage a bit more use.

As I am getting more children involved in posting to their e-Portfolios than anything else to will continue to be one of the main focuses. Most of the class have posted there at least once, many frequently. One thing that surprises me is the number of pupils working on paper and uploading photos of the work to their blogs. I presume some of this is due to access to hardware.

Teams meeting have maxed at 13 pupils, out of a class of 24. Afternoons seem more popular than mornings, I think some pupils are sleeping late. I am switching to more afternoon meetings next week. I’ll also continue to try different ideas in the meeting, give pupils time to complete tasks in chunks as I did with the writing this week.

I am just learning the ins and outs of Teams by trying things out. I’ve seen a few useful videos and posts but mainly just test as I go. It might be time to step back a wee bit and find out more. Unfortunately a lot of information is aimed at secondary schools or business like environments where the variety and access to hardware is not a problem. Time researching software is also not time preparing for the class.

I am also feeling my way to the both the content and delivery in Teams. Again most of the advice I’ve seem seems to be around delivering a secondary course quite different from a multi-composite primary.

It would also be slightly daunting to think about who is in the audience. It certainly sounds like many in my class are in a shared space.

It is taking a surprising amount of time to do this. Several hours at the weekend to put together the weekly post and two to three to prep each Team meeting. Hopefully I’ll get better at this. I also am trying to quickly comment on e-Portfolios and reply in Teams. I try to keep everything light as I my main aim is to keep in touch with as many of the class as possible. Having a multi-composite makes planning more interesting.

I am very lucky in having a supportive wife, my daughter is grown and away, I’ve little in the way of home responsibilities. I’ve no ide how you would manage if you had kids at home or a partner that needed the living room space too…

This is very much a case of fumbling around in the dark. I’ve not read much about how other primary teachers are tackling this and wonder if there are any patterns emerging.

Minecraft Edu from the Living Room pt 1⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

A few more details on how I got Minecraft education running as a “server” on my Mac. More a note to self than anything else.

I am pretty much a complete novice when it comes to Minecraft, I’ve never managed to get up much enthusiasm for computer games of any sort. I have used Minetest and Minecraft Edu in my class a few times and it is certainly an engaging environment for many of my pupils 1.

Given that Microsoft extends access to Minecraft: Education Edition and resources to support remote learning and it works with Glow accounts it seemed worth a punt to set up a server. I had suggested some tasks for individual use, but didn’t seem much sign of action.

So this is what I did:

I updated to the latest version of Minecraft education edition.

I read some documentation, I found some of this a little confusing mostly because I followed a link to help with Port Forwarding. Mentions of X-Box and different ports to open confused me. It seemed to be selling some software to help. Turned outto be a lot simpler.

Back at the bottom of How To Set Up A Multiplayer Game – Minecraft: Education Edition Support was all I needed.

You also may need to forward port 19132 on your router. Forwarding ports is useful because it can help to make your network connection more stable and sometimes even faster.

  • Forward Port 19132 TCP AND UDP.

What I had to do was to add a Firewall rule to my router to open these ports. I’ve got a BT hub so I logged on through the web interface, found the Firewall setting and added this. I have done this before for Raspberry Pi reasons. I guess different routers have different interfaces.

On testing with some of my class half a dozen tried to get in, and one failed. The others sometimes took a while to get connected but seemed to be fine once they started. It is hard to figure out why one failed when you can’t see what is going on, it could be a typo on the email address!

I don’t intend to do too much to start with, open a World Up and set an open ended task of some sort (design and make me a Minecraft classroom perhaps). I’ll see how it goes. I am finding just preparing for one hour of conferencing teaching it taking up a lot of time.

I’ve also not much idea about the security issues around this. I wonder too if it will handle more than a few pupils, we certainly had trouble in school with multi-play with more than a few pupils in one World.

1. I found that some of the activities were fun and helped with learning, but it took a lot of classroom time which seems hard to justify given I struggle to fit things in, might be an advantage now.

wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display 2020-04-08 11:57:10⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Liked 10 Remote Learning Practices to Avoid (esheninger.blogspot.com)
  1. Piling on too much work
  2. Posting assignments with no plan for feedback
  3. Providing just digital options (HERE are some non-digital ideas)
  4. Grading (avoid this altogether as learners are in inequitable situations)
...

Great list. via Aaron

Re: Self-hosting TiddlyWiki with GitHub Pages⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Replied to Self-hosting TiddlyWiki with GitHub Pages by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich
The fact that an empty TiddlyWiki file is named index.html gave me my answer: set up a GitHub Pages-based website and simply connect it to my domain! However, as simple as this pathway may seem to some, I thought I’d briefly document the process I took so others can do the same for themselves.

Hi Chris,

This worked very well for me, I already had some git hub pages so just added another directory https://git.johnj.info/tiddly/

Took a few goes to get the settings to stick but I got there. I also found if I had two browsers open saving failed. Get the odd save error, but it seems to sort itself out in the end.

Not sure what I am going to do with this as I’ve a couple of other Tiddlywikis, but it is fun to play with.

Two Weeks Teaching Online, What Next?⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

The last two week were a first, teaching my class online. I’ve seen a tremendous about of activity and discussion of this over twitter, blogs and in my in box. A lot of companies offering free services for a limited time. It is hard to know where to start.

Previously

Over the years I’ve participated in a few different online learning experiences 1 What has characterised these courses was a wide amount of personalisation and choice, open ended tasks and no real deadlines.

I’ve even run a couple of short online courses, Blogging Bootcamp & Blogging Bootcamp #2.

I don’t think these experiences gave me the answer as how to run a primary school class online. The courses I’ve joined in I’ve often dropped out, and popped in again in a interest driven fashion. They have taught me a lot about the tech side of being online and made me think a lot about engagement. They have shown that what works to keep me engaged: open ended tasks and individual encouragement and connections. I am not however an 8-11 year old in lockdown.

Preparation

We didn’t have much time for that. I use a lot of digital tools but I don’t use a lot of online communication in my classroom day to day. I have a loud voice. Over the past few years I’ve dipped into quite a few tools. But my go to method of digital communication in the classroom is AirDrop.
Apart for internet search, research and finding resources, the one online tool my pupils use most weeks is Blogs. We use glow blog e-Portfolios. We used other tools now and then particularly  to discuss and to learn about the technology, email and Teams. The children are frequent editors and creators of digital text, audio, images and video.

As it became clear that school closure was coming I made sure all the pupils could access their glow email and a new class team. The pupils didn’t get the chance to become fluid using these tools.

The Plan

This was not too complicated and will probably change. Every week I’ll make a blog post (week 2 example) with a weeks worth of instructions. I recorded the text as audio too. I email the pupils and get the school to email their parents. I try to have Teams open and respond quite quickly there. Keeping it very light. I share the link in teams and email. Unfortunately I told the class to leave the “got It” feature of online outlook alone as it was driving me daft in class.

Engagement

In the two weeks from my class of 24 8-11 year olds I had:

  • 16 pupils posting to their e-portfolios, 52 posts in total
  • 12 (11 the same) joining in chatting and posting files to the Team.

I have no idea if that is good or bad?

I do have a bias towards blog posts for keep a record of some learning, the children are somewhat in charge and we get a permanent 2 record. The detail in the posts was a bit less than it is in class when I can suggest, advise and nag.

We had not used the assignments feature in Teams but I did try a wee test with the children who are using Teams this week. A poll of devices being used. I had 9 responses.

  • A computer. it is a hp one. I sometimes use an apple iPad.
  • Mum’s phone (android) Our kindle tablets, Mum’s laptop
  • An IPad Generation 6
  • I’m using a laptop but set up app on my mums phone for notifications
  • I use an IPad Pro to get into teams
  • Phone, samsung galaxy S8, andriod
  • I am using my phone its a samsung galaxy s6
  • I am using an iPad
  • Ipad

I don’t really have a very good picture of where and how the pupils are working either. What sort of support they have or what connectivity or devices. Some of them will have home schedules that don’t allow them time for this. Some will have parents that are tech savvy some not. Some will have good spaces to work…

Video conferencing

We have seen a lot of discussion of this, both for school & work. Zoom’s rise and problems are well to the front.

It is likely our option is going to be Microsoft Teams. Again we had really briefly tested this in class. Last week I had another test with 8 or 9 pupils and a fellow teacher.

Teams in glow is limited in that pupils can’t turn on their video, only audio. This seems like a fair choice to make. There will be a lot of teachers dipping their toes into the online for the first time. Also audio is likely to use less bandwidth, Teams seems to have struggled a bit with the surge in use.

It was really nice to hear from pupils I’d not seen for a fortnight. There will be a lot of work to do around turn taking if there are going to work for anything other than good vibes1.

There was also a great difference in what different pupils could see. It was hard to tell if this was due to device, bandwidth or the fact teams is being a bit overwhelmed. Some pupils could see the whiteboard some could not, some could see a powerpoint other not.

Teams meet has a nice integration with the chat function. This seems to be a desktop only function. On tablets and phones you are ‘taken out’ of the video conference and back to the chat tab in Teams. Again physical space will make a difference. Will the pupils be in a quite place, or amongst other members of their family.

I think running a class via video conference successfully probably needs a lot of thought, practise and planning, if the object is a bit more than keeping in touch.

Going Forward

I expect we will be getting some guidance from Local Authority and National level as to how to proceed after the spring break. This would be what I’d want to try if given the choice.

  1. Start as low tech as possible: text not behind any login. In my case blog posts. These should be accessible on a wide range of devices. Should we be mailing out paper?
  2. Provide the text as audio too.
  3. Augment with images. Keep these as small as practical.
  4. Add video, again keep the file size down. HandBrake is my best pal for this. I wonder if YouTube would be more efficient?
  5. Look for and embed/link to existing content. I use textbooks and plenty of other pre made materials. Avoild wasting time making things that are already there
  6. Support via as many channels as possible chat in Teams, email, and anything else that comes up.
  7. Video/audio conference for extra explanations, help and support.
  8. Encourage responses from pupils on their e-Portfolios first, but accept anything else. The e-Portfolio will create a record for each pupil. It looks like assignments in teams would allow that too but I know some of my pupils don’t have access to that. I’ll keep testing and experimenting there. I suspect that Teams will be the chosen tool for my Local Authority.

I guess my plan looks a lot like the Flipped model. Without the emphasis on video and with online comms replacing the classroom side of the flip.

I imagine when we get to it, I’m kludge and fidget my way through. The main idea I have is to keep it simple and the tech as low-fi as possible.

I am also going to keep in mind that some of my pupils will have better learning in their than I can provide. I’ve already seen some of this from reports by children and email from parents.

Featured Image by Heather one of the talented Banton Biggies. She share this in our class team, the mouse was released unhurt. Used with permission.

1.

for example.

2. As permanent as anything else in this digital age, but perhaps more importantly, portable.

3. Nothing wrong with Good Vibes, they may turn out to be the most important thing we can do.

Re: Re: Indigenous Desktop Test⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Replied to re John Johnston Indigenous Desktop Test by Aaron DavisAaron Davis
I know that emojis have been an issue in the past, however I manually remove it from the slug these days (see url https://collect.readwriterespond.com/indigenous-for-desktop/). The only emojis are in the title? I think that you have touched upon my only concern/frustration with Micropub/sub Readers....

Hi Aaron,
I find emoji anywhere in Response Properties makes them vanish on publish. Lots of folk use them in twitter names, and if I’ve been too lazy to look at the details, boom.

Indigenous seemed to fill the response properties in an emojiless post, but I needed to update the post manually to get them to show on the front end of the blog.

I’ve got Default Status for Micropub Posts set to draft, and posting from Indigenous’s post section respected that, but replies didn’t. I need to test a wee bit more.

I guess I want cake and eat it, quick posting and the ability to edit quotes etc. Unfortunately I don’t have the ability to dive in and do this for myself.