Thursday, February 12, 2015

Science Classification in Jokaydia Grid

Our 8th grade students are working on classification skills in Science. This year, as in the previous school  year, we took them into our ABC El Salvador 2 region of Jokaydia Grid for some practical work. This section of the region is called ABC Pandora, inspiration for which came from the movie Avatar, and yes,  we even have a huge tree of souls!

The Science teachers prepared their annotation resources in Google Drive and shared them with the students while we prepped the region.  This time around  we built a new 2 story lab with the classification grid embedded in the floors. Each teaching group was then assigned a floor.

We needed a few examples of algae and moss so we added these as well and ensured that certain copies of plants were copyable by the students.  The idea was that they would search out examples of the plants they needed to classify, take copies and then place copies in the appropriate sections of the grid.

We added one other element,  eyeballs and flying fish which were scripted to follow the students around on the grid. Of course when I demo it to the kids I am covered in flying eyeballs and fish as I am the only one in there. As they kids get in however, that soon changes and the eyeballs and fish begin sticking to them. It is a bit silly, but what would Pandora be without an element of slightly annoying native creatures and objects.

The kids are very experienced in working in Jokaydia Grid since they built their environmentally themed park last school year. They didn't need a long tutorial or explanation, just a reminder on how to set up the grid on a different machine.

Finally they were given their users and passwords and in we went. Things became quite electric for a while as the activity intensified.  What really stands out here is that the kids had a blast doing this and learned so much at the same time.

Here is a short video we managed to capture during the final session.
We hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Creating French Dialogues with iPads and Google Drive

Last week we did a bit of work with the French department, on a small cross curricular initiative. The 6th grade students have been working on writing up dialogues in French lessons and the teacher was looking for a simple way to record these using video.  Our 6s have used the iPads a great deal this year for both audio and video work, so I suggested them as our tool of choice.  It just made sense, the kids are familiar with them and the apps are very user friendly.

Next we looked at all the options and decided that due to time restraints and the required outcome, a fully edited video was not needed this time around. Next, we needed to address the potential issues of trying to share media work on iPads with teachers, over wifi connections. This can be a huge problem. DropBox blocked and emailing the videos would not only be difficult, due to their size, but also be a breach of our school email protocol.  In the end we decided to work with Google Drive and I am so glad we did!

This made a lot of sense. We are a Google Apps school and the kids use their Google Apps accounts for a good portion of the work they do, across subjects and grades.  The initial plan was to record the videos with the camera app and then upload to drive. Later that day I began playing around with the upload option in Drive when I struck gold! I was thrilled to find that one of the options was to record a video through the Drive App!

This is so easy to do! All you do is navigate to the folder you want the video to be uploaded to, click the plus symbol. Next, select Use Camera from the menu and point and record.

When you have finished recording, you will be asked whether or not you want to use the video. If you select the Use Video option, it will save in your Google Drive account within the folder you specified in the beginning. The other options are to preview your videos before you select Use Video and  retake them if needed. Finally, be prepared to wait a few minutes to process videos before they are viewable. This was fine for us, as our students used the wait time to share their videos with their French teacher.

Now none of this is particularly new. The option has been around for a while. It is new to me however.  I am thrilled with how easily staff and students can create videos, and share them right in their Google Drive Apps. 

If you would like more information about video creation within Google Drive for the iPad, Bill Campbell has produced a good video on the process.

Below I have included a short Animoto video featuring some of our students as they work through the activity. As you can see in the video, the iPads, or any mobile device for that matter, are fantastic for audio/video work. These devices enable kids to plug in, move around and work in more unconventional learning spaces, outside of the tradition classroom walls.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Internet Safety Week 2015

Our ABC Internet Safety Week , also known as Safer Internet Week, starts on Monday.

During the week students will learn more about safe online practices through daily mini lessons, assemblies and focus activities in lessons.

We have been  talking to students and parents about online safety, providing strategies and holding practical workshops for the past 7 years and although progress was slow initially, most of our community is aware of the issues and can apply certain strategies in their daily lives to help ensure that they remain safe online and make social networks work for them.

If you are on the lookout for good resources to use with your children,  have a look through the Mini Lesson resources we have compiled. Parents might want to use the resources for their children's grade level to reinforce the concepts they will be focusing on during the week.

Here are three short videos done by the younger students in their after school club.  They contain very brief messages, which offer advice for staying safe online.

These videos were fun and easy to produce using the school iPads.