Author Archives: annemirtschin

Tech Talk Tuesday in Review: Exploring Favourite Apps and Tools

A small group participated in this webinar but it was another amazing sesison with ‘pop up’ presenters, Peggy George (USA) and Shamblesguru (Thailand) contributing some wonderful tools and apps.

From Peggy George

  1. livebinders – link to the engineering tab on the demonstrated livebinder
  2. a site from ccedtech that shares many tools and apps with supportive tips

Shamblesguru

  1. Favourite apps that he is exploring in the last month or two – periscopeperiscope app and meerkat Live streaming with mobile devices. Read meerkat or persiscope and How to broadcast video live via a mobile Or search within Shamblesguru wonderful site.

Anne Mirtschin

  1. format factory for file conversions on PC

What is a good tool for file converstion on an ios device?

Here is the link to the recording

 

Favourite Tools and Apps – Tech Talk Tuesdays in review

We had a number of people willing to share their favourite apps and tools and two wonderful ‘pop up’ presenters from the USA, @pgeorge (Peggy George) moderator of Classroom2.0 LIVE webinars and @glovely (Gail Lovely) author of Suddenly It Clicks – both of the USA. Answergarden It started with the demonstration one of my favourite tools (also an app) answergarden. Participants were shown how to create an answergarden with the question “What are your favourite apps and tools?”. The link was shared in the chat of blackboard collaborate. Participants clicked on the link and keyed in their favourite tools or apps. Padlet was a popular choice and was therefore the largest sized word. See the resultant garden answer garden favourite tools and apps Why I like answergarden

  • simple but effective tool
  • No need to register
  • easy to share the resultant link
  • can be moderated
  • embed code provided so can be added to a blog or wiki and students or others can add to the garden from the blog post etc.

Uses – great for brainstorming, exit slips, collaborative writing, reflections etc Doodlemaths a  popular Maths tool app for the iPad (but requires a subscription) Peggy George, one of our ‘pop up’ presenters shared:

  1. Tacck – digital portfolios with tacck See Avra Robinson’s Tackks and
  2. Thinglink – resources for thinglink
  3. photosforclass (personally love this one as it attributes the license to that actual photo. All photos are sourced from flickr.) Tips: search for the photos in photosforclass, open them in flickr and download them, the downloaded file comes complete with the attributions.
  4. As Peggy had just been in a recent thinglink webinar, she shared what the group had done via a group padlet. or try this one.

Padlet Gail quickly showed us how to create a padlet and participants shared the last food we had eaten on her padlet wall. See the interactive padlet wall
Other:- TeleStory & Toontastic are now free from google. What are your favourite tools and apps? Add them as a comment here or put your answers into the garden by clicking on the appropriate link above.

What are your favourite apps and tools?

Listen to the recording of this webinar by clicking on this link.

Australia and New Zealand classes connect for Anzac Day

April 25th marks the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli Landing in Turkey. Australian and New Zealand On the 25th of April 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula. April 25th is called ANZAC day – Australia and New Zealand  Army Corps and is celebrated every year, with a public holiday in Australia, special Dawn services and public marches by military veterans and personnel.

150 poppies made by the students

150 poppies made by the students

Each year, we hold a full school assembly to  commemorate this event. Students speak about what the day means. Everyone is encouraged to bring flowers from home to lay on our Australian flag which is draped over the stairway to our stadium stage. Students have  made 250 poppies, one for every member of our school community, and placed them at the entrance to our stadium.

Skype with New Zealand

Skype with New Zealand

Due to the nature of the special centenary, commemorations are even more special this year. Our grade 5/6 class linked up with a class from Auroa School, Taranaki where Myles Webb (our contact) is a deputy principal. The goal of the connection was  to compare traditions associated with Anzac Day.  Students in our school have been making poppies, diaramas, posters and more. These were shared over the webcamera. The NZ students told ours that although they have a special ceremony on Anzac Day, they do not really do much more than that. Our school will plant a lone Pine tree given to us by our Moyne Shire. Read the significance of the lone pine.

The lone pine tree

The lone pine tree

This led to discussions about why there are differences in commemorations, insired each other to further reseach the alliance, the history and what it means today. I wonder whether we could linkup with a school in Turkey and find out whether this day means anything to them? If so, how do they remember it and commemorate it?

Do you share special commemorations with other countries? If so, what and how?

Which tool for virtual tours?

Polly Woodside museum is in Melbourne in the beautiful Docklands are. Polly Woodside is a 1985 Tall Ship and is a reminder of Australia’s rich maritime history and of the importance of such ships to the settlement and development.

Polly Woodside intend to run a staff PD web conference session in October to promote the possible education and learning resources offered at the Polly Woodside.

virtual tours

However, following are the few logistical issues …

  • they prefer an “outside broadcast” – “live” from the deck of the Polly Woodside and to then move around the deck to different locations and activities for the presentation.
  • They would use a laptop computer for this with a good quality video camera (usb).
  • Polly Woodside do not have any wi-fi. They were going to use a mobile wi-fi hotspot or  possibly access/utilise the wi-fi from the Melbourne Convention Centre immediately next door to their location.
  • National (ie Australia wide broadcast) so would need to be an accessible tool for all to participate.
  • Want to demonstrate a class of students working on activities there but may need to be asynchronous ie via shared videos

Questions:

  • Which tool to use for conferencing?
  • How to overcome the logistics etc?
  • How to share pre-recorded  videos of students working on activities

My response:

Tools to be use Blackboard Collaborate (BbC) would be the top suggestion – can be used nationally through DET (Department of Education and Training, Victoria) license, can have up to 250 or more logged in. Allows a backchannel, video conferencing (participants would need to know how to grab the video module and drag it on to the whiteboard to make demonstrations more visible.) Can pull back the bandwidth if internet access is an issue. Best of all it has a recording function.

  • MS Lync could be made to work  as DET has a license, but would be more fiddly with invitations for schools outside DET etc.
  • Maybe zoom but I don’t know how many video logins you can have with this but it is a relatively stable platform.
  • Skype would only allow 5-10 video logins
  • Live streaming through ustream etc but bandwidth heavy and may cause lots of problems.

Polly Woodside’s wifi access –

  • a mobile dongle may also allow them sufficient bandwidth to web conference out.
  • Cabled access is always preferable when working with video etc.
  • Or if they can tap into the Melbourne Convention centre, that would be ideal.

Sharing videos of students involved in activities will be problematic for whichever tool chosen, due to file size, sound, bandwidth. Links to the work online would be better so participants can look later.

Challenges:

Sound, may need a wind sock for the microphone or alternative (would a headset with mic prevent the ‘wind’ type sound often experienced if outside?)

A mobile device logged in would allow a virtual tour by a moderator. Allows them to walk around, use the back camera and take us on a virtual tour, whilst another moderator is on the laptop. This could be smart phone, ipad, surface tablet etc.

Backup Plans: I think back up dates would be the only option. However, could we run BbC and MS Lync or is that too complicated simultaneously. Would need several moderators so if one falls down the other would work? If Polly Woodside are on board they can always record and share the recording link. Testing is essential and maybe several tests prior. A backchannel in Todays Meet or similar would allow communication through most problems. They would need smart phones

Summarising: I think that BbC is the tool to use (MS Lync could be made to work too). Polly Woodside would need to test the set up before hand. (We would be happy to be a ‘test’ class) and work through any of the sound and video issues that might arise.) Ideally they should have a standby tool like ustream but I have seen that fall over many times when used on poor bandwidth or even ideal bandwidth.

What suggestions would you make? What tips could you give?

“Lost for Words” – Lest We Forget!

lest we forget wreathr

Katherine Zablatnik is an innovative teacher from Austria who brings textbooks to life wherever possible. She is responsible for creating the Hello Little World Skypers group which won the Edublogs awards for the winner of the “Best Use of Social Media” in 2013.

As a history teacher she is keen to make the centenary of  the start of World War I alive for her students. Today, I linked up with her students and shared how we commemorate Armistice Day at school, here in Australia. However, we call it “Remembrance Day”. Although it is not a public holiday, we hold a special commemorative service in the Reflection Space in the centre of Hawkesdale. Students walk up there and interested community members  join us.

students teachers

The student leadership team together with several staff members organise and run the service. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we hold a minute’s silence across Australia to remember especially those who served in both World War I.

A presentation was quickly put together to show our Student Leadership team at work at lunchtime in preparing for the special service that we hold each year. The reflection space, the school wreath, a summary of the program etc Link to the presentation

I talked about the program for tomorrow which is as follows:

  • Student led Introduction
  • In Flanders Fields
  • Commemorative address (Sarah, one of our student leaders)
  • Wreath Laying
  • The Ode for the Fallen
  • Playing of the Last Post, followed by the Rouse when the flag is again raised to the top of the flagpole
  • Singing our National Anthem

But when I talked aabout the odes and poems we use, they had not heard of them. They wanted to know what the red poppies were about. And I was flabbergasted as I thought everyone knew them.  Then I asked what they did to commemorate this day. The answer was ‘nothing’. I asked about the minute’s silence – they do not have one. Katherine asked what those words “Lest we Forget” signify on the school wreath.

However, they thought it might be an idea to join in with ours and maybe next year we could do something together. This has driven my curiousity further – where was Austria placed in the war, how do they feel about it all, how do Katherine’s students feel about us commemorating those who went away to fight for us. We are an island on the other side of the world and so, so far away from the battlefields.

They asked whether our textbooks and our learning of history was biased. Do we see some sides of the war and the countries as being ‘good and bad’? My response was yes, we do? But maybe that is my age .What do our students think? I am going to ask them tomorrow. Can we rewrite our history books? Can we learn more about each other together and avoid many of these conflicts that potentially exist.

When I asked Katherine further questions via the skype chat, she simply replied: “I am lost for words”. Now I am pondering on that!

The Sound of Music is one of our most popular movies and I guess it speaks volumes about some of the feeling in Austria at the time.

Spring is in the air at school!

roses and treer
bird aviaryr

Hawkesdale P12 College is set in a beautiful rural landscape. It is surrounded by farms, most of our students travel to school on a bus and either live on farms or in small country towns. Spring is highly evident now, as the gardens are blooming, the birds are hatching eggs and the vegetable gardens producing well. There is a “Birds Club” with student representatives purchasing and looking after the birds.

The school bird aviary is like a nursery this week with the arrival of baby quail and diamond doves. The bird aviary is one of a number of special clubs and leadership oportunities that have offered students the opportunity to explore special interests. A pathway has been added to the aviary at a recent working bee and a new chook house will arrive shortly.
eggs and chickens

The 9/10 Agricultural students have placed duck eggs in the incubator and they will soon hatch.

There is a “green thumbs group” led by one of our teacher assistants. Vegetables are growing well in the new wicker containers and will soon be picked.  A section of our school garden has been reworked into a fairy garden. Projects like this aim to build on student interest and builds pride in their school.

primary gardenr

 

fairy gardenr

“That’s weird! We live in their future!”

I woke up this morning to read a skype in education message from a teacher in the USA looking urgently for a class to ‘mystery skype’ with. Knowing that our time zones rarely work, I nearly declined, but checked out the suggested times for connection and ‘hey presto’, I could say that I could find a class to connect for them to connect with.

request

Students love to connect with the USA as many of the TV shows that they love to watch come from America, many of our fast foods are from there etc etc However, I had to find some students as I thought I was not timetabled with a class. Three year 9 girls gladly came out of their maths class and some of my year 11 IT students took part.

Bellingham

The notice was late as Brian, the lecturer suddenly thought “Why teach his pre-service teachers about the use of skype in the classroom, why not actually do it!” and so we did.

group of girls and Bellinghamr

Here is what it looked like:

  1. We introduced ourselves individually to each other.
  2. Next, we played mystery skype. It was easy for us to work out they were from the USA, but then quite difficult to work out exactly where. After several clues, we finally worked it out.
  3. On the US part, the pre-service teachers used their mobile devices – phones, tablets etc to finally work out exactly where we were from (after some clues).
  4. Times of each country were shared, then the date and day of the week we were in. As soon as the girls heard they were still in Wed afternoon at 4:00pm, they responded with “That is weird, we live in their future!”
  5. The US teachers asked what the girls thought made a good teacher. Some of the responses were ‘a sense of humour’, allow students to follow passion projects, take into account different student learning styles, they want to have fun with their learning etc.

monitorr

Student reaction: They had fun, enjoyed learning with them and sharing their knowledge and particularly liked working with older students”