I’ve just had a trip down memory lane, Littlefish Flash lists some of the things I did with Flash and also links to a pile of worksheets I made for my pupils.
Looking back I remember how exciting, for me, to be able to learn and teach about layers, frames, bitmap and vector graphics.
One of the introductory exercises we did was to use flash to trace our faces. The same technique was popular with my class using iPad apps this year.
I’ve read a lot online about the problems with Flash over the last few years. It uses too much energy for mobile and has regular security problems. Despite this and the fact it was priced out of my classroom when Adobe bought it I am a little sad that old flash content will either vanish or be hard to view in just a few years.
I’ve recently finished my first year in a classroom in nearly a decade. A lot had changed! One of the thing that changed in my classroom is the children each had use of an iPad. I’ve blogged a bit about some of the technical aspects of the experience but not about some of the decisions made about when to use technology and any benefits. At the start of the year I didn’t introduce the iPads straightaway, but established jotters as normal. We discussed the importance of keeping using the jotters and over the year came to some sort of balance. I’d estimate about 1:2 iPad to handwriting ratio. Given that the primary sevens would be going to a new school next session where they would not have 1–2–1 devices I did not want to put them at any disadvantage.
It was a small class and only the older children, the primary sixes and sevens, did a lot of daily writing on the iPads. I’ve not got any statistics or real findings. I do feel that writing digitally has help with some of the processes of writing. In particular the ability and willingness to revise written work. Correcting ones own writing is a lot easier on a device and gives a more pleasing result in the main. Reorganising writing is easier too. Moving paragraphs around, or just creating paragraphs out of a block of text is a lot easier.
That should make improving writing easier? I hope so.
Kenny writes about his own experience of finding examples of his handwriting from the past.
I found a little piece of my own history when I came across the old notebook. Wouldn’t it be a shame if that same opportunity were to be denied to future generations?
Which was obviously an enjoyable experience for him. My own history with handwriting has been different.
All the way through school (and university) I got reminded that I would lose marks for my handwriting writing. I can’t recall ever feeling pleased with it.
Left handed, primary seven lessons with pen and ink were a smear. Even with a left handed fountain pen.
At sixteen, taking a shotgun licence form to the local police station my printed ‘signature’ provoked a ‘call that a signature son’, I’ve signed a scrawl ever since.
A gap of nearly 10 years between university and Jordanhill did nothing to improve the situation.
My first permanent head teacher gently suggested I practice writing on the board and at home. This I did for a few minutes at home (copied out the Tao Te Ching), and when I arrived in school. This improved my classroom writing enough to get by. Making Banda worksheets was an extended torture for me. Usually making a mistake right at the end.
When the same head suggested I improve my non-existent ICT skills by taking home a computer for the summer break I was not too keen, but I went along with it. I discover ClarisWorks and the ease of editing. I was much more interested now.
I write a lot. I’d not argue that I am a good writer, but I love blogging, as a way of sharing but more as a way of thinking.
The main difference between my blog and the few journals I’ve kept (I’ve found old travel ones) is that I can read the blog. I can search it too and find what I half-recall.
I don’t know if digital writing is better or worse for pupils literacy. I’ve read various bits of research but nothing conclusive. I certainly feel digital helps me and perhaps some learners.
Although there is over a month left of my first year in the classroom for a while I though that I’d start writing this as if I leave it till the summer… 1
I am lucky enough to be teaching in a 1–2–1 classroom. 15 pupils spread across primaries five, six and seven.
I’ve probably not done as much with the iPads as I could have this session, stepping back into the classroom after a few years out has been ‘interesting’, teaching a multi-composite has had it challenges too.
The last time I was in school the classrooms had 2 desktop PCs, we shared a lab of desktops and a trolley of laptop. This was a great provision, but 1–2–1 is quite different.
The iPads are original Airs. They have individual ‘school’ iCloud accounts and the pupils use their glow accounts for emails, online storage (O365) etc.
Apps are distributed via a free meraki MDM account. The devices are not in DEP. I ask pupils to request app that they want. And not to install them themselves. Obviously they could if they wanted to. We have a few restrictions, movie age for example, set from meraki but the devices are pretty open.
Some brief notes on the main apps we have used this session.
writing, as the year has gone on we have written more in notes and less in other apps.
drafting, especially useful for blogging as removes any distractions.
collaborative writing, it is easier to airdrop a few notes that setup online document.
Safari, having an always to hand reference book, media library etc. Brings a lovely set of problems with it, copyright, fact checking and distraction. Updating the school blog and e-portfolios should be easier when everyone has a browser to hand.
O365 through glow. I’d decided to use these office tools this session. At that point I could have used the Apple ones, but would, then, have had to pay for the apps. I could have used Google, but would have had to organise accounts.
Microsoft Word, used for writing, especially for presentation and if work needs printing. Now we often start in notes. Early on we tried a lot of handing in of work via sharing in O365. Had a lot of problems with work going missing, documents not fully syncing. Some of this might have been confusion round saving (locally, Onedrive,auto, manual) some due to poor bandwidth. Now I ask pupils to start in notes, moving to word for formatting and adding images.
Microsoft OneNote, after early problems with Onedrive & word I decided to use Onenote as a virtual, handout/worksheet/jotters solution. When it works it is great. Unfortunately, for us, it doesn’t work consistently. I have persisted, for months. One of the most frequently used apps, but am probably going to look at other solutions next session.
I’ve blogged about the problems and spent a fair amount of time trying out solutions suggested by other glow uses, twitter folk and the Microsoft team.
PowerPoint, we have used a little. Most often as a choice for personal projects. I think I’ll try Keynote next session as is now free.
Microsoft Sway, we have dipped into sway, I’ve not found the pupils as excited by the app as other glow users have reported. Might be the way I’ve explained it?
LEGO® Movie Maker, a nice free stop motion app. we used this for some maths shape work and a whole class Tam O’Shanter movie. 4I think the app has been discontinued a great shame
iMovie, for editing videos, science reports, animations. Some of the pupils are very keen on trailers in any spare moments, golden time and personal projects. 5
If I was limited to the number of apps I think we could have got by with stock software, Safari, Notes and Photos will get you a long way. I’d add iMovie next.
The app I’d like to find is the simplest audio recorder that would allow pupils to listen to, record and share audio. It is a pity that Apple voice memos is limited to the iPhone. We have used boss jock junior a bit this session, but I think I’ll try the free version of ferrite next, unless I find something simpler.
Attempts to distribute, gather and organise.
Over the session I’ve used OneDrive, OneNote and latterly experimented with Apple Classroom. These all have their strengths and weaknesses.
Pupils creating documents in OneDrive and sharing with me was the way we started. The obvious problem is organisation. We tried both sharing documents through OneDrive and emailing back and forward. Emailing proved to be the most successful, we had a lot more failures with sharing, as noted above, it’s hard to tell if these are problems with the syncing, pilot error or due to lack of bandwidth. Emailing brings organisation problems.
The main app I’ve used this session for distributing and collecting information has been OneNote. Apart from a few dislikes of the way the software works, no grouping in particular, the concept of how OneNote should work is great. Unfortunately We’ve lost data, had slow syncing and a lot of errors thrown. Even when working with a small group of 10 pupils, getting work to review back from all of them in a timely fashion has been a struggle. We have quite often lost work completely.
The possibilities of the class notebook are wonderful. Pupils record and assess their own reading on the one page. I can use the classnote book tools to click through them all listing and adding my 2 pence worth easily. I can had out maths ‘worksheets’ with a video of myself working through the problem embedded. The pupils work can organised and accessed easily. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work for us.
Recently I took the iPads out of meraki management to allow us to test the Apple Classroom app. The best practise for doing this is to have the iPads in DEP, The Device Enrollment Program, and supervised in an MDM (e.g. meraki). Unfortunately our iPads are not in DEP and they would have to be wiped to do that. I am not doing that at this stage in the session.
Instead I got the pupils to remove the MDM management and join a manually created classroom. Compared to the onenote workflows described above the classroom is quite limited. There is no organisation of media, text etc. The killer feature, for me, is that sharing is done locally, via Airdrop, without needing to get data out to the internet. So far I’ve just used it to distribute and collect files, notes and media files of all sorts. This is lightning quick, and so far I’ve had no problems. Longer term I need to figure out how pupils work could be organised, both on their iPads and mine. Notes has a simple folder system, but it could get pretty messy over time. I wonder if iOS 11 out this autumn will help, either with improvements to the Notes app or the new Files app that integrates with OneDrive?
There is a lot to think about. I avoided the Microsoft classroom this session, it felt a bit too complex for me and seemed to still be evolving. Quite glad as MS classroom is going to be replaced by Teams. I am wondering it if will be any more successful than OneNote in my situation.
Next session Glow will also give use access to the Google suite, I’ll be interested in seeing how that plays out. My personal use of google apps has lead me to feel that they are lighter weight and faster to sync than O365 but I’ve not used them in the classroom.
I am also, now they are all free, thinking that switching to the Apple ‘office’ apps would be a good idea. I certainly find pages and keynote easier to use on iOS than Word or PowerPoint. 7
I am tempted too by Apple classroom, the quick local transfer seems like a good idea.
From the distribution to pupils, just using the notes app with the classroom Airdrop, where you can send to the whole class or a group is a great improvement over OneNote. On iOS or mac the OneNote classroom lacks the ability to send to groups which Apple Classroom has. The success and speed of Airdrop beats O365 via the web hands down (not surprising). Tables I’ve missed a little and it would be nice to be able to record audio straight into notes. It is simple enough to record in another app and insert into notes.
Ideally I’d love the simplicity and speed of Notes and Airdrop to be extended to add some of the organisational features on OneNote classroom.
I am a bit disappointed that I’ll start next session still unsure about the best way forward. Google will not arrive in Glow until September. MS teams is not yet ready for use.
I am looking forward to trying all of this out, but mindful that swapping out workflows is not as easy for our digital natives 8 as it is for me.
Yup, this post has taken at least 3 weeks to mature. It is a bit of a grab bag but has helped me think things through. ↩
This is pretty basic stuff but I’ve found it useful in class.
I’ve often combined writing poetry with digital tools in the classroom. There are a lot of short forms that mean even the slowest typist can produce something good in limited time. From a pupil blogging perspective pupils of varying ability often get great results they can be proud of publishing.
When I started using iPads in teachers training and with pupils, I started using simple poetry forms as a way to produce something quickly that could develop from text be combined with images, video and audio.
Good, IMO, forms are kennings, lunes, haiku and six word stories.
Back then we used skitch and comic life to added text to pictures. More recently I moved on to the free version of pic collage1.
When I arrived back in the classroom with a pile of iPads I’ve been using the technique quite a bit.
More recently 2 I’ve cut out third party apps to use the newish built in markup in the Photos app. Recently I demoed the process at an interview and saw Jenni Robertson show it at an Apple event in Glasgow. On both occasions I was surprised to find that it was a new concept to most of the audience. I though it might be worth a post here. There is a video embedded at the bottom of this post, but here are some written instructions.
Start with an image
This is a good opportunity to talk and demo a wee bit about copyright and attribution. In class we often use the Morguefile or my own FlickrCC Stampr.
write some words
I believe it is best to use the notes app for this, avoiding thinking about how the text looks, where it goes etc.
Copy the text to the clipboard.
Combine the words and pictures
Select and view the image.
Click on the adjustment icon
When the photo opens click on the ellipses and then Markup
On the markup screen click the T tool to add a text box and then press on the box to edit it.
Paste in your poem.
Adjust the size, colour and placing of the text.
Bonus Tip – drop shadow
Duplicate the text, change the colour of one and move the top one over the bottom leaving a nice ‘old style’ drop shadow. I think this is worth it as a intro to layers in graphics. It can also hep readability on complex backgrounds.
Although this is a very simple lesson I think it give the opportunity to teach a few different things over and above literacy involved in the writing:
Copyright and creative commons
Combining apps (safari, notes, photos) in a workflow.
It has the potential for being extended into video & audio editing (groups pictures perhaps) and sharing the results.
I guess the online educational project I feel most proud of was the Sandaig Primary website.
I am not sure when I started it, the internet archive has a snapshot from July 2003. The news page says ‘Site opens ||| 11 April 2003’.
Over the next few years I and my pupils developed the site by blogging and podcasting. We were lucky enough to get in near the ground floor for pupil blogging and right at the start of podcasting. We had a lot of fun. I made plenty of mistakes, but learnt a lot.
This is hopefully a useful tip for organising pupil created content on WordPress blogs like Glow Blogs.
Most of the content posed to blogs consists of posts or pages. Posts join the stream, pages are static generally accessed from menus.
This is another way to organise content that can be useful. Especially if several pupils are posting similar content at the same time. It helps organise that content and the early posters don’t get pushed away down the stream.
An Example Banton Birds
At school we are trying to pay attention to the local birdlife. We took part in the BIG BBC Bird watch with local Bird watchers, Mr & Mrs Carter. We started feeding the birds and trying to get some photos.
The pupils are doing a bit of research on the birds we saw (not too many it was a windy hour) and I hope they will continue over time adding other birds seen in the playground and around.
I want to organise these bits of research automatically collecting them together. To do this the pupils create, not posts or pages but a custom post type, project.
How it is done
This is just one way to do this but it is, at least on Glow Blogs, the most straightforward. It uses the JetPack Custom Content Types module and the unfortunately 1 named Portfolio Projects.
These projects are like pages in that they are out of the flow but like posts have Project Types (like categories) and Project Tags (like tags) that can be used to organise them. The also have a shortcode that can be used to create an index of the projects by type or tag2.
Activate the Jetpack plugin.
In Jetpack Settings Activate Custom Content Types.
In Settings-> Writing Enable Portfolio Projects for this site
Pupils create Projects for each item, add a project type (in this case Birds).
To create an index of these projects I add a page Banton Birds and add a shortcode to the page:
Thing 15 is tumblr. I’ve been using tumblr for a few years now for all sorts of different projects, but I though I’d skip by that to the next thing, OneNote.
Try using OneNote on your pc/laptop/device.
Create a new Notebook, add some sections, pages, and try out the features. Use the Interactive Guidance Videos to learn your way around the platform.
Write a short blog post detailing your use of OneNote and how this may/may not be of benefit to you.’
For two years I worked alongside Ian Stuart who is a OneNote expert. Despite Ian’s enthusiasm for OneNote and many powerful demos it didn’t at that time click for me.
I tend to keep notes as text, HTML or markdown files in Dropbox. My _notes folder has nearly 1000 notes including over 300 in a blog posts subfolder and almost 100 in the snippets one. Searching via the finder is pretty effective for this sort of information.
When I moved to working in the classroom this August I though I should use the chance to revisit OneNote.
I am using the mac desktop version of OneNote, my pupils use the iOS app. So these notes pertain to those applications.
I started a ‘planning’ notebook, pulling in notes and information from the school and doing my weekly planning in a simple table. It was easy to archive these pages as I went and I could the simple syncing between work and home very useful.
The ability to combine files, images, media and text is useful and works fairly simply. The fact that I’ve kept using the system for planning and extended use to include a class notebook tells me I am finding it useful.
The only major flaw I’ve found using the mac app is an occasional failure of the copy and paste keyboard shortcuts. OneNote used the standard ⌘-c ⌘-v for pasting I find these often fail, especially the first time or two I use them after opening a notebook. The menus and contextual menus work fine, but the keyboards are my preferred method of doing this. Copying something and pasting to get the previous content of the clipboard pasted is alway annoying.
I would also really like to be able to have more than one notebook open at once. I believe this is supported on windows and not mac. Given that mac users are traditionally more likely not to have documents full screen and to use drag and drop between documents I find this a wee bit surprising.
I’d also like to be able to set a page width rather than have a page of infinite(?) width.
I started a class notebook to use with the pupils in my class. They are using the OneNote app on iPad Airs.
I’ve used this to distribute information, worksheets and the like to the pupils and to gather in work. I started just before the addition of the class notebook tools. When the tools appeared I’d just had some fairly negative experiences with the class sharing and using Word and Onedrive on their iPads. I though I’d give OneNote a try for this instead.
When the tools work they have been very effective, I can create a page and distrubute it to all of the pupils easily, I can target the section of their notebook I want the content to go to. I can then easily find all of that content and mark it within the notebook.
I have also got a way of distributing shared resources to all of the pupils. The only part of the workflow that is missing was the ability to upload documents created in Word and saved to OneDrive to the web (glow blogs). But failures with that was the reason I started using a class notebook in the first place.
For the most part this has worked fairly successfully. When pupils are submitting written work they seem to prefer typing in the native iOS notes app (or even word) and pasting the finished text into OneNote.
Collecting a set of brief texts in the one place on a table in the collaboration section has been more successful that multi editing a word doc
Occasionally I’ve had sync failures for particular pupils, while the distributed page gets to the rest of the class it will not sync to one pupil. Often logging off force quitting, going through the log on sorts this but not always.
I’ve had one really frustrating experience with adding notes to pupil work which did not sync at all consistently leading to a very confusing lesson but for the most part the class notebook has been a success.
Reading back over this post so far I realise that I’ve dwelt on the negative aspects more than the positive. I thing that is because I am finding the software pretty useful and these bits of friction stand out.
There are a lot of really cleaver features.
The ability to share with pupils as a group, individually, and to distribute content to each of them is great. The choice between letting pupils edit that content or not is also useful.
Another useful feature is how easily the pupils can record audio in a page. This allow them to listen to themselves read and me to collect there reading.
One of the most interesting is the way text in images is handled. This can be searched. It also, on iOS at least can be copied.
Ironically in getting this screenshot I had a repeat of a problem I had in class this week. After I inserted an image, OneNote crashed. It then refused to sync.
The answer was a tweet away.
@johnjohnston I get the id's message if one section is corrupt, rest of file sync ok. Try copying affected section, deleting old #MIEExpert
On iOS I couldn’t copy the whole section, but I could select multiple pages and move those to a new section. After deleting the, now empty, problem section all was ok.
It would be good if the error message was a wee bit more indicative of the problem and how to solve it. It looks like a hangover of the Window’s desktop app? Even if I sync the OneDrive, where my OneNote files are stored, to my desktop, the OneNote files are replaced by a weblink.
I am going to continue using the class notebook for a while and see if we can work around the problems. The many affordances of the software certainly seem worth further exploration.
It also may be that updates will fix things. The app has been very frequently updated, in fact it feels slightly beta like sometimes.
I don’t think I’ll be converting my own notes out of text files any time soon. Having them in an open format that I can open with a myriad of applications on different platforms is important and Dropbox certainly seems to have syncing down a lot better.
on iOS I mostly use the drafts app to keep notes, this syncs via iCloud and has been rock solid for several years. Draft’s ability to push text to different places is outstanding. The Apple notes app is pretty good too although a lot simpler than OneNote. ↩
the first few times I used a windows computer this completely floored me, I could not understand why anyone would want full screen. ↩
this took us into of lot of failure, repeated attempts to log on and a lot of wasted time. ↩
I am not sure if these problems like others with the MS iOS apps are to do with the apps, authentication with glow or local network issues. ↩
Dropbox is not a suitable choice for use with my pupils. Onedrive via glow takes care of account management, data protection etc without me having to do any work. ↩
For the last few (twelve) years I’ve been a enthusiastic proponent of blogging by pupils. I only actually carried this out in the classroom from 2004 till 2008 when I started work in North Lanarkshire as an ICT staff development officer.
Since then I’ve run plenty of courses around blogging, continued to blog myself and investigated lots of blogging systems. I also support pupils setting up e-Portfolio blogs in many classroom in flying visits. I spent a couple of years working on Glow Blogs and continue to provide support for Glow Blogs on a part time basis.
I’ve got a strong opinion of the positive value of pupils posting about their learning. I hope as I provided support and encouragement for pupil posting that I kept in mind the difficulties of organising this in class.
I am now back to eating my own dog food and again in the position to blog about ‘Teaching, ict, and suchlike’ from the position of a classroom teacher.
In many respects I’ve landed on my feet. I’ve got a very small class of delightful pupils, a good range of hardware and due to the small numbers, bandwidth that is not awful.
However I am feeling pretty out of my depth in regards to the changes in curriculum and practise that have happened in my absence from the classroom.
Beginning with blogs
On the practising what you preach front I’ve started using Glow Blogs. We set up e-Portfolos a couple of weeks ago. I am pretty pleased all the hard work of the Glow Blogs team has paid off from a technical angle. I am not working to hard on the idea of profiling yet, just trying to get the class enthused about owning their own space.
First thing I’ve noticed is that it doesn’t get any easier organising time for pupils to post. The ideal is to give them enough time to write a well written reflective post, but also not missing out on too much of the current classroom activity.
The other thing that has changed is the familiarity of current pupils with the Internet. There is a lot of that I need to explore and discuss. Being a YouTuber is an aspiration of more than one pupil I am working with.
Of course this familiarity with the Internet does not come packaged with some of the things I an interested, safety, copyright, controlling your own data, along with technical skills, knowledge of file types, urls, keyboard shortcuts and the rest. A lot of learning will hopefully be sparked by discussing blogging.
We have also started using Glow O365, mostly word and Onedrive so far and I’ll have a fair bit to reflect on that too. I also set up a Yammer group for the pupils, with little instruction about what to do with it. There was a huge wave of enthusiasm from the pupils, but left to their own devices they have mostly posted hi messages. I think I’ll have to seed the group with some ideas to get things going.
Joining some dots
What I am hoping that I can do with the blogging is to start the pupils reading other pupils posts making some connections perhaps with other small schools. Hopefully I can get a podcast together too, watch that space.
Get in touch if you have pupils posting that would like a few comments or would be interested in some sort of blog to blog communication. It might take me a wee while to get going but that’s the direction I hope to travel in.