Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.

This ancient Chinese proverb expresses how I feel my learning has been progressing the past 6 months, not stagnant, but moving forward slowly and as the end of the year approaches, and the first anniversary of this blog also approaches, I can say I am not standing still, but may need to walk a bit faster.

Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 4.30.05 PM
This Webpage is Not Available – a very common occurrence behind the GFW.

This is my first blog I write since August where I have not needed to turn on my trusty VPN as I am in Singapore on holiday – it is liberating. Living and working behind the Great Firewall has been an adventure, but the internet restrictions of the GFW have stolen half the tools within my 21st Century Teacher Toolbox…

-YouTube
-Google Docs and Apps for Education
-Blogger
-Wordpress
-Edublogs (Unless we subscribe as a school for over $1000)
-Twitter
-Skype

…all unreachable within my classroom environment. Blogging platforms and Google  gone from a modern classroom seems unthinkable and I have spent the past half year rethinking and reworking my philosophy to ed tech as it relates to my present situation.

Stolen from Smosh.com.

The Classroom

All of the restrictions aside there is still much that I can do as a professional for my own learning and there are still ways that I can create a connected classroom…

-I am creating a class Wiki.  Wikis are not my preferred  tool with a year 2 class, but it will suffice in the absence of a blog. Additionally, it will allow me to embed YouKu videos (China’s version of YouTube) and gives us a platform to share work as well as host relevant clips for flipped learning at home. With many of my parents not being native English speakers it may also break down the barriers between school and home.

-Skype: I can access skype through my personal VPN, so connecting with other classes through Skype is achievable.

-Email: Letters never seem to arrive, but connecting to other classes through email is a definite.

The Teacher

Now for me as a learner and a connected teacher I just need to keep looking at the glass being half full. I am researching into some online study, but reconnecting with my PLN is a must, as through the GFW and timezone differences I have been inactive on Twitter and Google+ and not dedicated the time to blog reading and hashtag following that I normally would. Edcamp Home is a mere 14 days away and I can not think of a better way to inspire a new year and prepare a teacher for the second term.

I have discovered that learning to code is like a Soduku  or Crossword and is giving me a better understanding of how a computer and the internet works. I am halfway through a html course on Code Academy and trying to create Apps for my Android phone with MIT AppInventor (You have to give it a go if you have an Android, and get your class to give it a go too!).

I got my class involved with Decembers Hour of Code initiative for Computer Science week  – seeing 6 year olds programming Angry Birds was inspiring and let me know that Scratch, another product of MIT,  will be part of my class program next term.

Lastly I need to remember about this blog – writing a blog post like this is the best way for me to clear my head and order my thoughts, make a plan and direct my thinking, let me reflect and redirect, as that was the purpose of this blog when I created it, but if I do not use it with regularity is is a waste.

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Cargobot App – Angry Birds crossed with Code Academy

Cargo Bot App - Click to be taken to App Store.
Cargo Bot App – Click to be taken to App Store.

I may be late with picking up on this, but I have just discovered Cargobot – the first App to be created on an iPad  using the Codea App and it is just too awesome. Learning coding is on my ‘To-Do’ list for the next academic year and am researching into Code Academy at the moment as a starting point.  With Cargobot you are introducing the concepts of Coding and I know that any student that I have ever taught would love the challenges that Cargobot offers.

Drew Minock and Brad Waid, the two guys who introduced me to this App,  mentioned in a webcast from #ISTE13 how they had their students using this app in class and at home when one of the students was told that they had created a new ‘Best Solution’ for the level and was asked to please record then upload to YouTube – how cool is that! Just imagine how inspired  that child have been to know that at Grade 4 they have achieved what no one else, no even the App developer, had achieved before?

Now add it to your classroom environment and you are onto a winner. The game is all about  Logic and reasoning skills, trial and error, working through a problem and persistence – skills that every teacher is trying to foster in the 21st Century learner.  When you attempt the problem you can see how many moves it takes to reach the best solution and when you reach a solution you are given a star rating out of 3 just like Angry Birds-  a 1 star or 2 star solution means your solution is OK or  your solution is good, but could be done better.  To me that becomes a second challenge and makes me want to do better – I will persist until I get those 3 stars that have eluded me.

Maybe add it as a homework challenge? In those paperless classes with 1:1 iPads it would be perfect, as all you need to do is set a level, get the kids to work on it and then record their best solution and upload it to their blog or digital portfolio through YouTube like my 2 start solution below.  The next day in class you could get into groups and discuss each others solutions, possible problems, ways to improve solutions and then rework the solution.

Further Readings

Cargo-Bot, An Addictive iPad Game That Teaches Programming Concepts

Cult of Mac – Cargo-Bot is the World’s First Game to be made entirely on the iPad

Two Guy’s & Some iPads – EdReach Presents talk from ISTE 2013

Codea App

Snow Day doesn’t stop the connection.

As the snow came down the schools closed sign came up and it was Snow Day so what to do?

  1. Text parents… “School is Closed”.
  2. Set up iPad and take Time Lapse of making a Snow Man with the girls.
  3. Upload to Class blog with photos of school with lots of snow to show the disbeliever (Yes it really is snowing at school).
  4. Text parents again “New Homework bonus challenge – make a snowman and email the entries in to me”.
  5. Wait and see what happens, but will add al entries to this post tomorrow.

My entry and students motivator is…

Snow Day Snow Man from Dukelyer on Vimeo.

Apps that Create – GIF Makers

GifI have used many a .gif file (Graphic Interchange Format), but until the other day never created one. There have animation_by_GifMEbeen two iOS apps that I have trailed over the past week and both have simple interfaces, are easy to work and the end result is a GIF image that can be uploaded to blogs, webpages or other presentations.

The two Apps that I have used are GIF Shop and Gif Me, I am sure that there are online webpages or downloadable programs that will do the same or better, but both these Apps are cheap (Were actually free on Apps Gone Free).  Both gather images through either your camera roll or take images through front or back cameras.  You sequence the images, choose the speed of the Gif and then create. You are able to email to a friend or save to camera roll.  The whole process takes no longer than a few minutes.

Applications in the classroom

  1. Sharing a sequence.
  2. Advertising an event.
  3. Showing change over time time.
  4. Get kids to create a GIF from photos taken every Monday over a term.
  5. Just cool!

Why not a video?

  • Gif is just an image file, so does not need to be embedded through Youtube or Vimeo.
  • File size is quite small, where video is much larger.
  • Just shows images in a set sequence and can create from photos taken over a long time period.

Technology – Create, not stagnate

On the news last week there was a fantastic sensationalist piece on the 7pm curent affairs news bagging technology and our children’s addiction to it.  It was the holidays, it was a high interest topic and there were some key points, but their solution of take away the technology irked me, as it did nothing to address the issue of children sitting all day long with eyes glued to screens and just brushed it under the carpet.Canon_310XL_Super_8_camera

Do not get me wrong, I feel that there is a place for Angry Birds and Temple Run and other such games, but iPods, iPads and Android devices offer so much more. Hence my new catch phrase with mobile technology…

Create, not Stagnate.

In my class of 25 seven and eight year olds over 75% have an iPod or iPad of their own at home, so I simply thought “What would a bored Peter Jackson have done in the school holidays if his first camera was an iPod not a Super 8?”.

Using a couple of Apps that cost me less than $10NZ I set out to see how much fun I could have with Lego, 20 minutes and an iPad (since discovered that all of it could be created on an iPod or iPhone as well).

3

1.  In Action Movie, choose the effect and Film, then save to camera roll.

2.  Open Gun Movie FX and import previous clip from the camera roll. Add Laser or Gun effects to the clip and then, once again, save to Camera Roll.4

3.  Open iMove and, surprise, import from Camera Roll. Edit clip, add sound track, dub in voices, clip and move all the files around until you have it just right.

4.  Finally, upload your final product to Vimeo or YouTube.

Now is that not a better way for you or your child to spend an hour.  Do not take away the technology, just use it in a creative and collaborative way.

In 5 minutes I had this uploaded to Vimeo…

7 second Tutu from Dukelyer on Vimeo.

And in 25 Minutes I had this uploaded to Vimeo…

Should Be Working from Dukelyer on Vimeo.

So what could your children come up with in an afternoon?