Monthly Archives: February 2014

Fun Friday – Kid President’s pep talk for teachers and students

Kid President is on a mission to make grown-ups less boring.

So who is Kid President? Kid President is an eleven year old American boy (real name Robby) who together with his older brother-in-law Brad makes inspiring, entertaining and thought-provoking videos in the belief that kids can change the world. Brad explains:

The two of us work on each episode together. There’s no fancy film crew or staff. It’s just us having fun and hoping we create something that makes people happier than they were before they clicked play.

Kid President has become a Youtube sensation and has even appeared in an official White House video in a simulated conversation with President Obama and, in an April Fools joke in 2013 when the White House released “A special message from the President“.

Kid President’s pep talk for teachers and students is my Fun Friday pick for this week.

Google Drive

Did you know…

Part of being a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) school means that, in addition to our email accounts and calendars, every staff member and student at KDS has access to Google Drive. We each have 30Gb of storage available compared to an individual’s allowance of 15Gb.

Google Drive includes tools like word processing (Word), spreadsheet (Excel), presentations (Powerpoint), forms and storage for all types of files – PDFs, images, audio, video and so on. If you upload an MS Office file you can even choose whether to convert it to the equivalent Drive format or leave it as an Office file.

Because Google Drive is a cloud service you have access to your files from any PC or mobile device that can access the internet and you can set up offline access on your PC. The Google Drive App is available for any smartphone or tablet.

But Google Drive is more than just an alternative word processor or file storage system, there’s a whole world of clever things you can do including:

  • save email attachments directly to your Drive
  • share a document so it can be viewed or edited by multiple people simultaneously
  • collaborate on a presentation
  • add comments to another person’s document – for example to a student’s work during the drafting process
  • gather information using forms

and much, much more.

This video from Google gives a brief overview of some of the possibilities:

and their Getting started with Google Drive pages will help you do just that.

If you want to know more about how Google Apps can be used in education, Chris Betcher, a Google Certified teacher from Sydney, has developed this presentation (using Google presentations of course!) about why he loves Google Apps. In it you will find lots of great ideas that might just inspire you to give something a go.

Are you using Google Drive? Have you found ways it makes your life easier in the classroom? Do you have ideas for creating engaging classroom activities using Google Drive? Please share in the comments.

Pedagogy first, technology second

Cloud computing; Flipped classrooms, Personal Learning Networks; Digital portfolios – what do you think when you hear those words? Do you know what they are or do you find them a bit intimidating?

I found this article by Krista Moroder on Ed Tech Coaching and it really resonated with me. Titled Let’s Stop Talking about Teaching with Technology, and Start Talking about Teaching she describes how some people have confused technology with pedagogy and asserts that technology alone will not make someone a better teacher. Someone I know says that technology simply amplifies whatever you are doing, good or bad; used well it is very valuable, used badly it is actually worse than no technology.

Some excellent teachers are a little over-whelmed or even scared by technology but a little thought about what teaching’s core business actually is and the ways in which technology can enhance that should allay fears.

Good teachers create authentic learning experiences for their students by building rich, performance-based assessments. Good teachers encourage students to solve problems and take an active role in their own learning. Good teachers teach skills like critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and curiosity. Good teachers know how to create learner-driven environments where failure is considered learning and persistence is an expectation. Good teachers know how to inspire students and build a love for learning that can last a lifetime.

Moroder explains some of those slightly intimidating concepts as follows:

  1. Cloud computing is nothing more than finding a more efficient way to collaborate with students and staff
  2. Content managements systems are nothing more than finding a more efficient way to communicate with students and parents
  3. Personal learning networks are nothing more than finding a more efficient way to find and share resources
  4. Behavior management software is nothing more than finding a more efficient way to give formative feedback of soft skills and track student behavior
  5. Flipped classrooms are nothing more than finding a more efficient way to deliver direct content
  6. Electronic portfolios and digital quizzes are nothing more than finding a more efficient way to assess student knowledge

Technology should never be seen as an end in itself, simply it is (many many different) ways to enhance what you already do well.

iPad as the teacher’s pet

Did you know there are heaps of ways you can use a single iPad in your classroom to be more efficient and to create more engaging activities for students?

We are nearly ready to use our set of iPads in the 3, 4, 5 and Hebrew classrooms. In coming weeks I will post more detailed information, links and resources for using the apps that will be loaded on every iPad. In the meantime, there’re plenty of things you can be doing with just one iPad in and out of your classroom.

Not one of the select teachers who will have access to the set of iPads? Never fear, if you own or have access to an iPad there is a whole world of things you can do in your classroom.

I’ve mentioned Tony Vincent before, he is a respected guru on mobile technology in education. He has created a fabulous infographic titled iPad as the teacher’s pet. Check it out for lots of great ways you can use a single iPad to make your life easier and to create great learning activities for students. As he explains:

Hey, teacher! Got an iPad? Then you’ve got a toolbox that you can fill to help you be an even better teacher! Spend some time with this infographic to discover how your iPad can be your handy assistant. It’s filled with apps and services that you’ll wonder how you ever lived without.

It’s all about verbs, that is, the things teachers can do with an iPad. Those actions include showing your screen on a projector, managing the classroom, assessing student work, interacting with students, accessing your files, making instructional media, and expanding professional learning. The infographic focuses mostly on free apps that you’ll be able to put to use immediately. Those apps turn your iPad in a timer, interactive whiteboard, voice recorder, document camera, calendar, magazine, notebook, and much more.

So take a peek to see how iPad can help you capture learning artifacts, plan lessons, poll students, visualize concepts, share demonstrations, and much more.


iPad as Teachers Pet

While infographics aren’t really meant to be printed, here is a 6 page version for printing. Here is a very large 24 page version. You can cut off the margins and tape the pages together to make a poster.

iPad news and views 02/21/2014

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Google Cultural Institute

The Google Cultural Institute provides access to thousands of works of art and museum exhibits through an interactive, highly engaging portal. The aim is to make cultural heritage from around the world freely accessible to all. You will find artworks, landmarks and world heritage sites, as well as digital exhibitions that tell the stories behind the archives of cultural institutions across the globe.

You can take a virtual tour, see works in great detail and create your own gallery. There are special features for educators including the Art Project and the World Wonders Project.

This video  will give you a glimpse of what is available but (warning!) you will need to visit the site and be prepared to lose a few hours to start to see the magnitude of what is available.

The Google Cultural Institute is highly relevant to teachers of history, geography and of course art.

ABC Splash

Have you seen the ABC Splash website?

ABC Splash was launched last year as a new world-class education website for Australia. It includes excellent Australian content from ABC television and radio, and they have joined up with Education Services Australia to link hundreds of new learning resources directly to the Australian Curriculum. Look out for cutting-edge games, virtual worlds and immersive digital experiences.

The special teacher area features thought-provoking articles and blog posts, teaching resources and up-to-date education news. You can even read about the project I was involved in last year: Disaster Resilience for Students.

ABC Splash also runs some live events for teachers and students – to find out more and be kept updated about upcoming events, visit the site and register for their newsletter.