How to Haiku!

Presentations that work

I was recently asked to run a workshop on how to develop effective presentations. I had run this workshop last year, but of course, last year’s work needed updating, as so much changes so quickly that workshops from even last week seem out of date! Some things remain the same:

Of course, a lot of things have also changed; and one of the most important updates I made to my workshop was to introduce participants to Haiku Deck.

What is Haiku Deck?

Originally an iPad app, and now available on the web, with future plans for access on other platforms, Haiku Deck is a gorgeously simple slideshow creator, that enables the user to create presentations that easily meet all of the tips for presentations mentioned above.

The creators behind the app focus on three words: simple, beautiful and fun.

Click this image to view a simple Haiku Deck example.
Click this image to view a simple Haiku Deck example.

A ‘deck’ or presentation can be created in four easy steps, and the finished result can be shared on social media such as Twitter or Facebook, embedded on a blog, website or in a learning management system, emailed or opened in PowerPoint or Keynote for further editing (if necessary).

How to Haiku

The steps to create a deck are incredibly easy. The process described below is for the iPad app – but it is very similar using the web-based app, and extremely intuitive.

First, click the plus sign in the centre of the bottom of the screen to create a new deck.

Then, give your deck a name, and choose a theme. Don’t worry – if the theme doesn’t suit, you can always change it again at any time during the creation process.

The different themes run across the top of the iPad screen. Simply scroll through to choose your favourite.

2014-06-30_1109The deck creation process is determined by the four images you will see on the left hand side of the screen. These allow you to (from top to bottom) add text, add images, arrange your text and add notes.

Adding text is very simple, and the beauty of Haiku Deck is that it encourages you to keep the text to a minimum. Yes, they have made additions, to enable users to input dot points, or blocks of text, however the deck is most powerful when text is used sparingly.

One exception to this is using the block of text option  for quotes, which can be quite powerful when combined with the right image – see this example below:

quote eg

Choose from selected keywords, search with your own keywords or upload your own image!

Choose from selected keywords, search with your own keywords or upload your own image!

Choosing images is the fun part. Haiku deck cleverly identifies key words in the text on the slide, and automatically allows you to search a database of thousands of images using these words. You can also choose to search using your own key word, or upload your own image. The thing that really stands Haiku Deck apart from other presentation software is that if you choose a Creative Commons Licenced image (read more about this type of image here) it automatically includes the attribution on the slide – saving an enormous amount of time.

You can also choose from a range of pre-formatted charts, or choose a solid background colour (handy for those quote slides or for when you do need to include a lot of text). In addition, in the iPad app, you can purchase stock photography right from inside the app, with images costing $1.99 US.

Even if you are not wanting to create the entire slideshow in Haiku Deck this automatic attribution is powerful. Why not  create a deck of awesome pictures, complete with attribution in Haiku Deck, and then export the slides to PowerPoint or Keynote (say if you wanted to also embed movies, music or other features not currently a part of the Haiku Deck suite).

Choose to add a headline and subheading, or add dot points or a block of text.

Choose to add a headline and subheading, or add dot points or a block of text.

The third stage is to place the text. Here you have a number of options, which are useful for working around the image in order to best combine image and text. Although the options are somewhat limited (you can’t freely place text anywhere you wish on the slide, you must choose one of the set positions), this restriction actually frees the creator, as it enables the focus to be on simply word and image, and speeds the creation process.

The fourth step is optional, and is the addition of notes. You can make these notes either private, or you can publish them along with your slides, for sharing with others. This is a much valued addition to Haiku Deck, as it really enables the tool to be used for much longer or more complex presentations, and is a godsend for those of us who get nervous when speaking, and like to have a visual prompt!

When to Haiku

Haiku Deck has been designed to be used for any type of presentation, however it’s ease of use and the simplicity of the slide design lend itself particularly well to the following uses:

2014-07-01_12431. Prayer/Reflection/Meditation: when you want beautiful images and few words, nothing beats a Haiku Slide deck. Being based in Brisbane Catholic Education, many of our meetings and gatherings begin with a simple prayer or reflection; and often these are required at short notice. Even the most familiar prayer can be given new life when it is paired with amazing imagery.

2014-07-01_12422. Conference reviews: when you attend a conference, you hear many nuggets of wisdom. What better way to capture and share these, than by using Haiku Deck. When you return from the conference, and have an amazing looking presentation to share with colleagues, no one will know just how quick and easy it was to create!

There are so many other creative ways to use Haiku Deck; young students could easily create a deck for a show and tell item, use as a simple way of sharing visual instructions, create awesome looking flashcards to learn a foreign language, and then share the great holiday snaps upon return from said foreign location; the list is endless!

You can find many more exciting and wonderful applications for Haiku Deck on the Haiku Pinterest Page. Better still, share ways you have found to use this beautiful piece of technology in your classroom, library or beyond!

 

 

 

 

 

Running a Maker Faire: Good Hard Fun at St Joachim’s

After being inspired by our fantastic day working with Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez at the Invent to Learn day hosted by Brisbane Catholic Education (which you can read about in the earlier post, Resourcing the Maker Movement, my colleagues and I decided to run a Maker Faire at one of our schools. Being based at ResourceLink, I began creating kits of resources and equipment that we could use to run the Maker Faire, and which could then be borrowed by schools who wish to investigate using this style of hands on learning.

Running the Maker Faire

The plan was to run the Maker Faire at St Joachim’s, Holland Park West, where we could work with the Teacher Librarian who had also attended the Invent to Learn day, to introduce the Year 5,6 & 7 students to a range of hands on activities based on the ideas in Invent to Learn.

We organised the students into groups of 8, and timetabled them to spend about one hour on each of the activities, which they would rotate through throughout the day. cardboard alley

One space, ‘Cardboard Alley’ was open for the students to visit at any stage during the day, and offered the students the opportunity to use Makedo and Rolobox equipment with a huge assortment of cardboard boxes of all shapes and sizes. This was an important option, as it provided students a place to go and recharge if they completed an activity early, or if they just needed a ‘brain break’ from the more challenging activities.

During the Maker Faire, the students had fun with:

Lego WeDo – an introduction to Lego engineering and robotics, Lego WeDo allows students from Year 3 and up to build and program simple models such as cranes, cars and ferris wheels. Using either the Lego WeDo software, or the free programming app Scratch, students can experiment and develop skills in  language and literacy, math and technology, as well as enhance their creativity, communication and design skills.

lego

Arduino – Arduino is an open-source electronics  platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. Using Arduino, students can write simple programs using  Arduino open source software to create projects using motors, gearboxes, speakers, LEDs, switches, cases and many other electronic parts.Projects can be as simple or as complex as you wish, suiting users from Year 5 and up.

arduino

Makey Makey – allows students to turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. Simply use the supplied wires or alligator clips to connect any type of everyday item (such as fruit, plants, coins, play dough etc) to the Makey Makey board, and then plug the board into the computer, and you are able to interact with the computer by way of the attached objects. Students love playing computer games using fruit as the controllers!

makey

Squishy Circuits– by combining conductive and non-conductive dough with a battery pack, leds, small motors and buzzers, students are able to create innovative simple circuits of any shape. A fascinating way to learn about circuitry and basic electronics.

squishy

Interactive Cardcraft– students were able to make light up greeting cards by using conductive paint and copper tape along with led lights and small batteries to create simple circuits on the cards. The challenge was to apply their understanding of circuits and switches to the real-life application of the greeting card.

paper

Interactive Wearables – Using ideas from this wonderful soft circuits booklet, students created brooches and arm-bands that lit up by sewing circuits using conductive thread, copper tape, batteries and led lights. While the sewing was challenging, so too was the application of their understanding of simple circuits to another practical challenge.

wearables

During the day, the students had so much fun. Their smiles, their engagement and the question ‘is this really school work?’ was evidence that the Maker Faire was a big success. However, not only did the students have fun; they also learnt so much about circuitry, programming, robotics and simple electronics, as well as developing their creativity, their problem-solving strategies and their ability to collaborate and work together. We encouraged the students to ask each other for help, and to share their successes and failures throughout the day. Listen to the conversations the students are having during this short video:

Constructing the Invent to Learn kits: advice for libraries wishing to resource Maker Spaces

When creating the kits for the Maker Faire, I purchased equipment from a range of different outlets. As a library, ResourceLink cannot supply the consumable equipment required for these kits, and so I created detailed lists of what was included and what the user needed to supply in order to run the activity successfully. This information is included in each kit on a laminated card (copies of which you can download below). I also included where possible printable information and instruction cards, which you can download also from the links below. Being based in Brisbane Australia, please note that some of the suppliers are locally based, however some of the online retailers ship all over the world.

Cardboard Construction:

Click on the image to download a printable pdf version.

Click on the image to download a printable pdf version.

Click on the image to download a printable pdf version.

Click on the image to download a printable pdf version.

Squishy Circuits:

Click on the image to download a printable pdf version.

Click on the image to download a printable pdf version.

Makey Makey:

Click on the image to download a printable pdf version.

Click on the image to download a printable pdf version.

Arduino:2013-10-30_1217_001Lego Engineering:2013-10-30_1217_002Interactive Papercraft:2013-10-30_1217_003

Links to all of the resources you could possibly need to learn more about Maker Faires and creating maker spaces in a library are available on the ResourceLink Pinterest Board, Makerspaces and STEAM in Libraries or Anywhere, and also curated on this Pearltrees site.

For those who want to try running their own Maker Faire, I can only say: Go for it! The learning, the enjoyment and engagement is well worth the organisation, and the equipment is really not as costly as you would imagine. Start small, and build up. You may be surprised at what your school already owns, once you start investigating! For those in Brisbane Catholic Education, borrow these pre-made kits as a ‘try before you buy’ – contact ResourceLink find out how you can borrow these new resources today!

Wikipedia – one encyclopedia to rule them all…or just a great place to start?

The debate about Wikipedia and its role in education continues to rage.Just last month, Brian Proffitt, a  Lecturer at the University of Notre Dame wrote a well reasoned piece on why he believes Wikipedia has no place in the tertiary classroom. This was followed up with another, equally convincing article a week later by another practising academic, Jonathan Obar, explaining why he believes strongly that Wikipedia plays an essential part of education in the 21st Century.

Both articles raise valid points. Proffitt focuses upon the fact that by crowdsourcing information, there is no guarantee that the information is quality, and that Wikipedia is a major source of plagiarism, as students find it easier to copy text directly from a site that almost always appears in the first ten hits of any Google Search. Obar counters by arguing that the fact that the knowledge is crowdsourced provides an excellent opportunity to teach students not only critical literacy, but also a study in how knowledge is (and always has been) created – through debate, opinion and argument.

Currently, it is the decision of individual educators as to whether or not they encourage the use of Wikipedia in their classroom. It remains an immense resource of information – with William Cronon, the President of the American Historical Association stating that ‘Wikipedia is the largest, most comprehensive, copiously detailed, stunningly useful encyclopedia in all of human history‘.

One way that teachers commonly suggest students use Wikipedia is as a place to begin their research. While it may not be the source of information that students actually cite, it is often a useful starting point, for students to get an overall introductory understanding of a topic, and to use some of the articles cited in the Wikipedia article as a jumping off point into more scholarly literature.

An excellent tool to assist at this stage of research is the WikiMindMap.

Wikimindmap takes a search term, and creates a mind map of related topics, which are either directly linked to Wikipedia pages, or which open up into further refinement.

An example, based on the search term ‘Sustainability’ is below:

The best search results currently appear to be derived from en.wikipedia.org. When sustainability is entered into the search box, the following results appear:

Hovering over the term Sustainability in the centre brings up a useful definition, and direct link to the Wikipedia page.

When you click on the topics with the green arrows, a further search using these key words occurs – the topics in rectangles with the plus symbol indicates a further tree, with a narrowing of the topics focused around that general area. A blue arrow out symbol points to an external website.

This tool is terrific for students who are facing research on a broad topic, and need to narrow down their focus, or for students who simply don’t know where to begin their research. Since the Google Wonderwheel was discontinued, WikiMindMap might prove to be a useful research tool for any student’s kit.

For those using mobile devices, the app Wikinodes provides a similar search tool, but with the added functionality of note-taking and the ability to share articles via email, Twitter or Dropbox. The note-taking feature is particularly interesting, with students able to add text, visual or audio notes. These notes are then able to be added to a ‘presentation’, so that they may be shared with others.

These tools are useful no matter what your opinion is on the quality of the content in Wikipedia – even if only to teach the concept of drilling down from a general topic to more specific keywords that will shape searches more effectively.

Don’t write off Wikipedia – using it creatively could be the key to more effective research by all students of every level.

Cronon, W. (2012, February). Scholarly Authority in a Wikified World. American Historical Association. Retrieved October 8, 2012, from http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2012/1202/Scholarly-Authority-in-a-Wikified-World.cfm
Obar, J. (2012, September 20). Why Wikipedia Does Belong in the Classroom. ReadWriteWeb. Retrieved October 9, 2012, from http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/why-wikipedia-does-belong-in-the-classroom.php
Proffitt, B. (2012, September 12). Why Wikipedia Doesn’t Belong In The Classroom. ReadWriteWeb. Retrieved October 9, 2012, from http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/why-wikipedia-doesnt-belong-in-the-classroom.php

Augmented Reality – Even Better than the Real Thing?

Augmented Reality has become a buzz word recently in ed-tech circles.The K-12 Horizon Report describes Augmented Reality as  blending — or augmenting — what
we see in the real world with related information,data, media, and even live action.

Although it was once envisaged that the future would be completely virtual, it is now becoming apparent that rather than stepping into entirely computer created worlds, it is better to harness technology to add to our current reality – hence ‘augmented reality’ has become more popular, and ‘virtual reality’ has become less so.

An easy way to understand exactly what the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality is by viewing examples of each:

This is an explanation of Virtual Reality (also known as Virtual Worlds):

Below is an example of Augmented Reality:

The girl is able to see a 3d model of the lego before she purchases it.

Virtual reality has existed for quite some time, however the increasing use of mobile devices equipped with cameras has enabled the development of apps that put this technology into the hands of students and teachers; and the potential for learning is very exciting.

Augmented reality has two major forms; the first is where a printed trigger image initiates an interaction through the camera of the mobile device; there are many examples of this (and they will be elaborated on below), but the one pictured here is ‘Sneaker ID’, where the printed image of a sneaker transforms into a realistic 3d depiction of a sneaker when viewed through the app.

The second form is where the app uses the devices GPS capabilities to ‘layer’ digital data over the location where the user is. A well known example of this is Layar, which provides a huge number of layers which can provide information about the user’s local environment. The photo below shows a Layar view of Museums and Galleries in a 5 kilometre radius from the Brisbane Catholic Education head office in Brisbane.

Although augmented reality as a learning tool is still in its infancy, there are a number of apps that provide an engaging way to stimulate students imaginations, and one app in particular, Aurasma Lite, which moves beyond simple viewing an augmented reality, and provides tools that students and teachers can use to quickly and easily create their own digital layers onto images and items.

The Horizon Report suggests that Augmented reality is very likely to become a powerful teaching tool within the near future for the following reasons:

  • It can be used for visual and highly interactive forms of learning.
  • Students find connections between their lives and their education through the addition of a contextual layer.
  • It is an active, not a passive technology; students can use it to construct new understanding based on interactions with virtual  objects that bring underlying data to life.
  • Dynamic processes, extensive datasets, and objects too large or too small to be manipulated can be brought into a student’s personal space at a scale and in a form easy to understand and work with.

Before looking at using Aurasma though, let’s just explore some of the ‘fun’ ways that augmented reality can be used in the classroom.

1. As a stimulus for creative writing:

Download the String AR app, and using the printouts available from the String website, bring ‘Proto’ to life on a student’s desk, or inspire a story based around a dragon who bursts out of the computer screen and into the classroom.

2. As part of a science unit on Earth and Space Science:

Examine the Mars Rover in a way that was never possible previously; Using the marker downloaded from the NASA 3D spacecraft app, bring the Rover right into the classroom for an interactive experience:

3. Make mental calculations of money fun:

Capture photos of students with money falling from the sky using MoneyVision; add the totals and graph to seewhich student received the most ‘virtual’ cash!

4. Students studying weather patterns can use the Floodlines app and printable markers created by the State Library of Queensland to examine the extent of the flooding in Brisbane during the 2011 floods.

More ideas for these apps can be found in the attached booklet.

Aurasma takes the tools for augmenting reality and gives it to users.

It allows users to connect short movies, animations or still images to items; best explained by the creator of Aurasma himself, Matt Mills

Creating an ‘aura’ is simple – instructions are in this booklet.

Ideas for using Aurasma in a school setting are numerous; here are just a few:

1. Attach a video of a student presenting their project/artwork/writing to the piece, so that those who weren’t in attendance at the presentation can view it later.

2. Attach a student created book trailer to the cover of the actual book, so that others can view the trailer prior to reading.

3. Embed footage of a school event into the printed school newsletter – still photos in the newsletter become video captured on the day.

4. Record a student reading to a photo of the student holding that book; a collation of these images with embedded video taken over time can provide a timeline of student reading development.

5. Embed a video of the teacher reading out an exam/assignment question onto the task sheet for those students who struggle with reading print text.

6. Create a short video orientation of the school and attach to the school emblem/crest – this will provide a multimedia introduction to the school to anyone who scans the emblem using the Aurasma app.

7. Place Location Auras around the school grounds, with video explaining the history/useful information about that part of the school.

8. Attach labels with embedded video to realia in the school library to add additional explanations about use or care of the item.

The list is endless! Please share your ideas in the comments below.

Augmented Reality might still seem futuristic, but it is hardly science fiction. Students will be engaged and challenged by the multimedia and transmedia possibilities augmented reality brings to learning; what an exciting time to be an educator!

Check out more augmented reality information and resources on my PearlTree.

A Day in the Life of a Mobile Learner

The flexibility of mobile devices is without doubt what affords them their great potential.  Whether you have a 1:1 tablet arrangement, a bank devices or a single device per class, there are many possibilities for creative use. A mobile learner takes advantage of this flexibility; they use it individually, with a buddy and in groups,  taking it to where the learning is – to the playground, to the library, on the excursion – and using it in a variety of ways – as a source of information, as a tool for recording learning, as a method of expression or a channel for collaboration. This post aims to exemplify just some of these modes of use.

The SAMR model developed by Ruben R. Puentedura encourages teachers to move beyond simply substituting the mobile device for what they might otherwise do with another tool, and

‘enables teachers to design, develop, and integrate digital learning experiences that utilize technology to transform learning experiences to lead to high levels of  achievement for students’ (Beyond Substitution, 2011).

The SAMR model

SAMR, a model designed to help educators integrate technology into teaching and learning , was developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura.

While this model is excellent in encouraging teachers to imagine creative new ways to engage students in constructing new understandings, it also provides a place for apps that simply present more traditional teaching strategies in innovative ways. The key as always is balance – and the seamless use of technology – so that it does not dominate the learning but merely enables it. Just as picking up a pencil does not disrupt the ‘flow’ of a lesson, but just enables the student to record their learning, so too should opening up an app on a mobile device not be the focus of the lesson, but just the process through which students access the information or learning opportunity.

The presentation below ‘A Day in the Life of a Mobile Learner’ seeks to present the many ways a mobile device (in this scenario, an iPad) could be used throughout a ‘typical’ day for a student in the middle years of primary school. Below the presentation is a more detailed account of the day, with suggestion as to how each of the activities fit within the SAMR model, to enhance understanding of how the model looks in action.

If you cannot view the Prezi (above) please use this link.

A day in the life of a mobile learner: the adventures of Kid A

The app images link directly to the page where you can download these apps. For other useful teaching apps, check out the ResourceLink Pinterest board for apps.

Before School:

Kid A goes to the school library, and borrows an iPad from the ‘Gadget Garage’. He then chooses ‘Fred and Ted’s Road Trip’ to download  onto the Overdrive Media Console.  When the bell rings, he returns the book on Overdrive, and then returns the iPad, before moving to class.

First up Kid A participates in Literacy Block.

Kid A participates in a number of different activities.

The first thing Kid A does is practise his morning talk with a buddy. He recorded the talk using Dragon Dictation, and then pasted the text into the the VisioPrompt app, which converts the iPad into a teleprompter. Having his talk on the teleprompter enables him to feel more comfortable when talking in front of the class, and also gives additional reading practise. This is an example of Augmentation, as the apps allow Kid A to do the same task (morning talk) but with functional improvement.

Kid A has a spelling list of words that he practises by typing into WordFoto. The act of typing the words in and searching for a picture that connects or represents the words helps Kid A remember them better. When he completes his wordfoto, he places the picture into the Dropbox app, so that his teacher can print it out later for him to take home. Having a visual stimulus assists Kid A and encourages him to spend more time practising his spelling words. This is an example of Modification – although the task of recalling spelling words is the same, the method used is significantly modified by the Wordfoto app.

Kid A now joins with three classmates and plays Futaba, using the pre-prepared list of vocabulary words and images his group compiled the previous week. Futaba is unique, as it allows four students to participate in a game using the one iPad simultaneously. This is an example of Substitution, as there have always been word games that students have played where they match words with images – the iPad in this case simply provides a different channel for delivering the game.

Next week, the students in Kid A’s class will be exploring the instructional text type of recipes. In preparation for this, Kid A works through the Cookie Doodle app, reading each stage of the recipe and noting the verbs used at the beginning of each instruction. The Cookie Doodle app is an example of Redefinition – the task is redefined through the use of this app, as it allows a level of interactivity with the recipe that would only otherwise be possible through actually cooking.

After morning tea, Kid A starts his maths rotations.

During this time, he works individually and in groups, completing number skill activities and also more open ended problem solving tasks.

First, Kid A practises his ‘add to 10’ skills, playing the game Mathris, a number facts game based on Tetris. (Substitution).

Working with a partner, Kid A then uses ScreenChomp to develop an explanation of how to multiply by two digit numbers. This whiteboard app records the verbal explanation and the writing on the screen and converts it to a video, which Kid A emails to his teacher. The video forms an excellent piece of evidence for the teacher in assessing Kid A’s understanding of multiplication. It also allows the teacher to pinpoint if and where there are any difficulties (i.e. if Kid A needs more practise with basic maths facts, or in remembering the strategy for multiplying double digits etc). Previously this opportunity to watch and listen as a child explains the process of completing an equation was limited, as teachers did not have the time to sit one on one with every child – therefore this is an example of Modification – the app provides data gathering in a way that was previously extremely difficult.

To wind up their maths rotations, Kid A leads a whole class game invented by the teacher,  using the speaking calculator app. Another example of Augmentation, as the presence of the app allows for a functional improvement on previous games using calculators, by the presence of the ‘speaking’ feature.

Time for the class to begin working on their integrated unit, which is one on sustainability.

The class is exploring ways that they can change their school environment so that it better reflects principles of sustainability.

They begin with a simple ‘substitution’ exercise – working in small groups to complete a KWL graphic organiser on the iPad, using the Tools  4 Students app. This is emailed to the teacher for later use in a whole class activity.

Next, Kid A buddies up with a friend, and walks around the school, using the iPad to take photos of parts of the playground where they think environmental practices could be implemented. They return to the classroom, and use the Skitch app to annotate their photos, explaining why they took the photo and what change they believe is needed. This combination of activities is an example of Modification – although it could previously have been completed using a digital camera and pen and paper, the use of the iPad camera and Skitch app have made the learning far more about the process rather than the tools.

Finally, the class adds the finishing touches to a display for their upcoming parent morning. This display is two-fold. Firstly, the students wrote poems about the school environment, and published them as posters for the classroom walls. They then recited these poems to the class, while a classmate recorded their presentation using the video recorder on the iPad. Today, the students use the Aurasma Lite app to attach the video to the posters, so that parents can view through the Aurasma app and see their recitations. This is an example of Augmented Reality, and is definitely a task that falls into the Redefinition category of the SAMR model, as it was not in any way possible prior to the use of augmented reality apps in the classroom.

Further information on Augmented Reality and augmented reality apps will be featured in an upcoming blog post, so if this activity has intrigued you, stay tuned!

The afternoon session brings Health and Physical Education and Art.

The HPE and Art activities are simple examples of how basic substitution apps such as PE Games and FacesiMake can be used in creative ways that encourage higher order thinking and collaboration skills.

The PE Games app is essentially a HPE Games book that is accessible on the iPad. The flexibility comes from being able to add your own games to the ones already included. Students can be encouraged to work collaboratively by providing them with access to the app and the required resources (e.g. balls, hoops, beanbags), and asking them to work together to understand and play a game that is randomly chosen by shaking the iPad/iPod touch gently.

The FacesiMake app allows students to exercise creativity in designing a face using innumerable number of items, including pieces of fruit, household implements, stationary items…the options are endless. Suggesting that students use this app to create a new character for a story that they are to write, or to imitate a famous work of art adds another layer to what is essentially a very fun and non-messy way of creating unique images of faces.

Kid A’s day is over too soon! He has never been as engaged, and during the  day, he has worked independently, in partnership with his buddy and in small groups, as well as in whole class settings. He can’t wait to see what apps he might use tomorrow…but that is a blog post for another day!

References:

Beyond Substitution: The SAMR Model. (n.d.).2011 Summer Tech Institute. Retrieved August 1, 2012, from http://msad75summertechnologyinstitute.wordpress.com/beyond-substitution/
Please note: The Prezi in this post was embedded using the very helpful tips found at https://boisebarbara.clarify-it.com/d/62kpct

Copyright and Copyleft…read all about it!

The world of copyright can be a confusing and complex place…therefore ResourceLink has created a ‘one stop shop’ intended to provide educators and students with a simple to understand overview of Copyright, Creative Commons and other licences that exist, as well as resources to locate materials and information on how to correctly attribute these resources once they have been used.

The wiki is called Copyright and Copyleft.
Access it here, or by clicking on the image on the left hand side.

The site also provides access to printable posters, multimedia, learning objects and handouts collected from a variety of sources that can be reproduced (with correct attribution!) or used straight from the site.

The majority of the site has simply been curated from a wide variety of sites currently online – the aim of the site is to provide quick and easy access to the most useful materials.

The reason for this resource is clear; as technology continues to evolve at an ever-increasing pace, the area of copyright has moved into focus for all educators.

A ‘perfect storm’ has hit education – never before has it been so easy to reproduce images, music and text, and never before have students and teachers been able to publish to such a public audience – the entire world. Students and teachers can remix, reuse and repurpose materials in innumerable ways.

Whereas previously students may have displayed their work in the classroom,  they now publish to YouTube, to blogs, to their own websites…and therefore to audiences well beyond the classroom. Teachers also share their lessons and resources publicly, via their own blogs or through their personal learning networks on Twitter or Facebook.

This is  why education is in such an exciting space right now – however it also means that teachers and students need to be aware of the rights of the owners of works that they may be incorporating into their own works, and also need to know where they can access material that they are free to reuse and remix.

Using this resource, it is hoped that teachers and students will feel confident to navigate this area, empowered with knowledge that they can pass on to others.

If you wish to learn more about Copyright, Creative Commons or the Open Source and CopyLeft movements, the following websites will be of interest to you:

We hope you enjoy using this resource and find it useful – we’d love your feedback!

Wordle, Word Clouds and Why They Work!

Analysing large blocks of text, comparing versions of stories and evaluating the content of websites are common tasks given to students each day. For many students, facing a dense block of text is overwhelming. Enter the tag cloud – a fabulous resource for enhancing literacy, creating beautiful artworks and generally having fun with language! 

Tag cloud generators convert blocks of text into a cloud of words, and provide a variety of tools to assist students identify key words, important themes, competing ideas or hidden agendas. There are a number of tag cloud generators available online, each with their strengths and weaknesses. This post explores several of them, suggesting ways they may be used in the classroom, and why they are a valuable literacy tool.

The tools discussed below are Wordle, ABC Ya, Tagul, Tagxedo and Wordsift.

1.Wordle – (http://www.wordle.net)

Wordle is perhaps the best known of the tag cloud generators. It creates beautiful tag clouds that are as attractive as they are useful. In weighting each word by usage, Wordle word clouds allow for easy analysis of text, as the most commonly used words are the largest.

Wordle allows users to change layout, font and colour, and has options to remove common words and numbers.

While it is easy to print a Wordle, saving the word cloud for future use or inclusion in other documents requires the use of the Print Screen button, or a screen capture tool such as Jing.

Wordle comes into its own when used to compare texts – such as Wayne Swan’s 2011 budget speech, and Tony Abbot’s budget reply, seen below.

Text of Wayne Swan's Budget 2011 speech

Text of Tony Abbott's Budget 2011 reply

In summary:

• No email address or login required

• Simple to use

• Several options to edit appearance

• Requires additional tools to save completed Wordle

2. ABC Ya – (http://www.abcya.com/word_clouds.htm)

ABC Ya Word Clouds are very similar to Wordle, but feature a colourful and simple interface designed specifically for primary school aged students.

There is no log-in required, so users do not need an email address, and printing and saving the finished product is as simple as clicking the button below the cloud.

Red Riding Hood using ABC Ya

In summary:

• No email address or login required

• Simple to use

• Aimed at younger users

• Easy to save

3. Tagul – (http://tagul.com/)

Unfortunately the need to register prior to use may limit Tagul’s audience, as users require an email address and must remember a username and password. However, Tagul offers several different features including the ability to create a word cloud in different shapes and to animate the text.

If embedding the finished word cloud into a web page or blog, users can tag the words so that they act as hyperlinks to websites, making Tagul wordclouds a creative way of directing students to particular sites of interest.

Red Riding Hood Tagul style

In summary:

• Email address and log in required

• Different shape word clouds possible

• Creates hyperlinked and animated wordclouds

• Simple to save, print or share

4. Tagxedo – (http://www.tagxedo.com/app.html)

Tagxedo is in Beta at the moment, so many features that will become available only for paid users are currently free.

While Tagxedo takes a little more practise than some of the other generators, it does offer a wider range of options to create very artistic and beautiful clouds.

Tagxedo allows users to create tag clouds in any shape (many standard shapes are provided, with the option to upload your own) and currently users can upload any font or colour scheme they choose.

It also provides many different printing and saving options, in a range different resolution levels and formats.

Tagxedo is possibly of more use in creating works of art than for analysing text, however the way students choose to create their cloud may provide insight into their understanding of the text.

Wolf-shaped Red Riding Hood tag cloud by Tagxedo

In summary:

• No email or login required

• More complex and therefore may take longer to learn

• Wide array of creation options

• Strength is in artistic representations of text rather than analysis

5. Wordsift – (http://www.wordsift.com/)

Created by Stanford University, Wordsift is not so much for creating beautiful word clouds as practical ones with features such as the ability to list words in order of frequency or in alphabetical order, as well as allowing  users to click on words to view a visual thesaurus entry and matching Google images. These tools make WordSift terrific for great for decoding activities.

Having been created in a University environment, Wordsift is backed by research, with an interesting article available highlighting underlying theories for using such a tool to enhance vocabulary development and therefore reading skills. There is also information for teachers available as well.

WordSift analyses text using multiple tools

In summary:

• No email or log in required

• Visual thesaurus and Google images accompany word cloud for richer discussion/understanding

• Suited for older users

• Designed for use as a tool rather than image creator

Of course as with any Web 2.0 tool, many variations abound. If none of these tag cloud generators fit your bill, why not try:

TagCrowd – http://tagcrowd.com/

VocabGrabber – http://www.visualthesaurus.com/vocabgrabber/#

TagCloud Generator – http://www.tag-cloud.de/

More resources on word clouds and their uses in the classroom can be found below: