Kids must code on iPads

hopscotch flappy

An important 21st Century skill

This post is about a topic and app close to my heart. Computer programming is the engine of modern life and dream maker for tens of thousands. More and more countries are introducing the subject as compulsory schooling at surprisingly young ages. The UK is introducing a national school programme in september this year whilst also funding yearofcode.org to increase momentum. Code.org is pushing an international message with big-name endorsement. Even small countries like Estonia have their 5-year-olds taking their first steps into logical problem solving. A site I’ve used for years is codecademy.com

estonia codeWhat learning to code offers young people.

Even I was surprised at how much my students have enjoyed their first experience of coding this year. In a number of ways, coding offers a ideal learning experience. Students receive immediate feedback from any attempt and can see the results of their endeavours without the need for teacher feedback. If the challenge is set at the appropriate level, coding automatically becomes a perfect example of gameification. It naturally encourages students to ask “what can I do next?”

code club ukAccessible to anyone 

Coding is problem solving and like any puzzle, it seems to immediately engage kids as long as the puzzle pieces are easy to play with and move around. That’s where Hopscotch comes to the rescue! I have been teaching coding for 10 years and have never seen such an immediate impact on engagement than that of touch-screen draggable commands. Hopscotch is a free app that has an online community to share your coding projects with. It’s easy and intuitive to play with and is appropriate from about the age of 4 or 5. You do not have to know anything about coding to give this a go with your class and of course there are Youtube video lessons.

hopscotch screeen Quick & keen

My colleague and I had written a typical coding introduction for our 12 & 13 year olds using Hopscotch but very quickly realised that the app negated traditional approaches as it was so intuitive. The students were creating shapes, drawings and characters within 20 minutes. They just wanted to play, discover and create and our teaching unit was far to slow. Obviously, we let them go for it!

codecademy“Let’s make Flappy Birds!”

Within the first hour, a 12-year-old had already realised the the ‘world issue’ that was “the death of Flappy Birds” could be solved with Hopscotch. It was great to see the students all working together and keenly sharing their discoveries. One student realised the the Emoji keyboard allowed for 100s more characters, another worked out how to colour the background in as sky and grass. The only element I had to directly help with was keeping score.

We were also amazed to get recognised by the folks at Hopscotch!

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hopscotch appPersonalised learning

One benefit of coding your own apps and games is keeping it personal. Students started twisting the Flappy birds concept into fish games or car games and it was as if I’d completely disappeared from the room. When using Hopscotch, students are constantly problem solving, working collaboratively and thinking creatively.

What’s coming next?

I have watched the development of this app and can’t wait to see the next version. There are a couple of significant programming tools missing but I am sure they’re on their way in future releases.

Here is a help sheet I produced from from my classes coding and I hope it helps.

Flappy Birds and code for other games in Hopscotch

hopscotch flappy

“School work is no longer school work when it’s recognised outside school” – @iPadWells

@ipadwells & OC on Hopsctch Blog

How PD can make real change

scared_UserWriting blogs like this one and interacting with teachers on Twitter and the like can make edtech teacher types, like me,  forget that it is still the case that the majority of teachers are not confident or regular users of modern technologies (social, mobile & student-centred) and need effective introduction and explanation of their benefits. I would estimate this majority of the non-confident to still be around 80%.

I have been Head of Department in my current school for just one year and a number of my teachers have highlighted recently how far they’ve come in just one year. I thought I’d share my approach to providing PD and why it might be that it seems to work (well, some of it)

THREE QUESTIONS:

  1. Why does so much Professional Development NOT work?
  2. Why do schools make such slow progress with modern workflows compared with business?
  3. Why do some teachers refuse to budge from their tried and trusted methods?

FIVE COMPLAINTS

  1. “PD’s never to do with how I teach”
  2. “I always forget PD because I don’t use it immediately”
  3. “PD’s a waste of my time”
  4. “It’s always too much to take in”
  5. “I’m not confident with using technology in my teaching”

COMPLAINTS CAN BECOME SOLUTIONS

Choose an Tech-coach Teacher to work one-to-one with others and give them time to do it
Make PD to do with an individual’s current teaching – Don’t introduce an unrelated “new-way”
Give them a reason to use it immediately
Provide the PD at a time that suits the individual
Provide PD in small but frequent sessions
Confidence grows slowly, so only take small steps from current practice

SOLUTION ?

Every student is an individual and so is every teacher.

Providing standardised Professional Development to groups larger than 10 is just as effective as trying to teach a standardised curriculum to classes larger than 10, that is to say, not effective at all. The biggest missing piece in so many PD jigsaws is a reason for each individual to ‘develop’ in that way. As well as a professional reason, each individual will be looking for a personal benefit too. Some non-edtech teachers will need small conveniences added to their current practice.

HOOK THEM IN FIRST

hookMy trick is to always emphasise the personal benefits or conveniences such as time-saving, less admin or increased popularity with students to the teacher before explaining any professional or pedagogical benefit. In addition to this, by mostly working with individuals, I can also add an immediate use for the ‘development’ by looking at the specific teacher’s current teaching programme. This gets them using it for a number of days after the session. If they feel there’s a personal benefit, they’re more likely to give it a proper go. The professional and educational benefits will be truly realised in time and the teacher will be proudly trumpeting those, whilst possibly keeping the personal liking for it more quiet.

Photo Credit Link

KEEP IT SIMPLE – SMALL BUT FREQUENT. STEPS MAKE BETTER PROGRESS

When I’m working with a teacher, I only work with something they are currently doing and try to reduce the development to 3 points or even 3 clicks if I can. I also ensure I only ever cover one task that they are currently doing but show how it can be developed to be easier, quicker or more popular with the kids.

LINK THE STEPS

chainI try not to jump around topics and tools between sessions. Try to link all the small steps together. For example, moving to Google Drive is good for this as steps are taken within one account and the format is similar throughout the Google eco-system. Google Drive is also enough like an old PC but introduces the use of Cloud storage and can then link to increased iPad use through the Drive app and thus mobile workflows.

If you jump from one topic to another, teachers can’t picture how all the ideas and tools link in different ways to their current practice. This is particularly evident with training that focuses on app after app. Most apps are isolated tools that might be great but when piled upon each other with all their various features, can overwhelm and produce little progress. This happens even if an app is covered each week or so. In the first 3 years, build a plan for how a limited number of apps will work together in the long term.

Photo Credit Link

HAVE A BACKBONE

Any school or edtech team should have a planned set of apps or eco-system that together get all the basics done. This plan can be ignored or added to by the more confident teachers but acts as a core safety net for the less tech-minded. These basics are:

  • Sharing
  • Collaborating
  • Photos
  • Video
  • Text
  • Project organisation
  • Filing
  • Animation
  • Drawing
  • (I’m sure you might have others)

Many teachers I work with have often wished they’d just been told one way of doing things whilst other colleagues have enjoyed playing with a variety of apps. So providing a core eco-system is important to get everyone onboard.

Building basic confidence in tech use is the first hurdle for many teachers.

AN EXAMPLE

My Step 1: “Don’t worry, the new way is like the old way”
helpCreate a department Google Account to log all the non-technical people into on both iPads and laptops. Demonstrate the easy dragging of Word and Powerpoint files into the Drive and how it acts like an “old” computer.
Then show how the docs appear immediately on the iPad App. This worked well for our Apple TVs as I needed a wireless way to present all their normal files. The apps and browsers log in permanently, so no password remembering and They only had to remember that dragging worked.

Photo Credit Link

Step 2. “I have a great reason to start using this”
“I’ve canceled the next meeting!” When I said this, they loved that I had freed up their time but you can trade that off against having to comment inside a Google document where all the questions, topics and discussion takes place over a week, when they each find time. Their browsers and iPads will already be logged in so emailing the doc link gets them all straight in.

Step 3: “We need to reduce the workload for all”
Indicate that sharing the same Google file structure means they can all use the same files and replication and movement of copies between teachers comes to and end. Groups of teachers can then add to the same files. This also works well for school or department policy or admin files that can be completed by the whole team, reducing workload further.

Step 4: “Explain Everything but just with photos and a laser”
The only standalone app I introduced was Explain Everything. Non-technical, traditional teachers could see it’s worth as again it only recorded what they’ d always done. The trick was reducing the app to just 2 features:

  1. This is how you add a photo/screenshot to a slide,
  2. This laser lets you point at stuff.

The videos will go to the same google/YouTube Account so no further passwords.
Don’t mention Flipped teaching yet as it scares/annoys many teachers. In fact stay away for edtech vocabulary all together. :-)

Step 5: “Stop! That will do for year 1″
Let teachers master 3 things each year and the school will have far more overall success. If all teachers in any school were using Google services and Explain Everything, it would be a real leap forward for most schools.

THREE ANSWERS

  1. Professional development often fails by forcing too much too quickly, not giving personal/human reasons for shifting and not personalising it to individuals’ current needs.
  2. Schools move slower than business because they lack the financial / survival incentives to change. Schools should work with personal incentives to encourage change. Educational incentives are a worthier cause but in reality, teachers are human before they are idealists.
  3. Some teachers have habits developed over decades, so don’t try to change them but show how what they do can be done more efficiently and save them time. This will start the long road to change.

SAMR + Design Masterclass

Happy enough…

I’ve always been happy that I could visualise ideas for others and have had fantastic feedback from my readers, particularly in that area. Thanks readers! But…

Back to the drawing board

I also know when I’ve been outclassed by a talent on all levels. Below is a ThingLink poster that itself contains interactive elements to fill anyone with a complete understanding of the SAMR model for integrating Technology in the classroom. The fantastic Lisa Johnson (@TechChef4U) has combined knowledge, resources, (one of them’s even mine), and a flare for design to produce a toolkit for educators to start understanding where to go with technology integration.

This has inspired me to up my game further and definitely start using ThingLink properly!
I’m also jealous that her site looks so slick too.

The WordPress rules are blocking the interactive bits so checkout the ORIGINAL:

Here is the excellent design work that embeds on any site with the link in the top corner. Thanks Lisa!

iPad teaching is NOT about iPads

Priority no.1 ? 

apple-on-the-desk-1428611-m

I’ve covered technical and workflow ideas on this blog a lot but it’s time to properly summarise a teacher’s first priority when the kids have iPads. Now here is where I have an issue with terminology…

Maybe not an issue of “Pedagogy” (As many know it)

Until a few years ago, I would have used the word pedagogy in this post but this now has the wrong connotations for me as it is linked more strongly to ‘teaching’ and not ‘learning’. To many I’ve worked with, the word pedagogy still implies “the way in which I deliver the content to the students”

The tiers collapse

The one-way ‘dumping’ of teacher knowledge into students has never inspired and is just not the way the world operates anymore. Traditional hierarchies of age, resource ownership and societal prejudice are being eroded and we need new generations to be adapting and not waiting for information from the tier above.

city-people-at-sunset-1209081-m

What really matters?

In numerous surveys and studies, employers and universities say they desire the following qualities, which many of them say often seem quite absent in young people:

  1. Creative thinking
  2. Independence / self-drive
  3. Teamwork
  4. Problem solving strategies
  5. Confidence to try new things

These are all skills and traits that are not evident in many school leavers either because they were never given the opportunity to develop them or that they existed in elementary school but the classroom routines lacked a need for them and they were lost over time.

Try, fail and develop

Many teachers need to try something that I will admit is scary to think about. Namely, handing over the control of the classroom to the kids! All young people need to experience the pressure & excitement of sorting themselves out, especially within a team. The iPads add a further layer of possibilities and individual power for discovery and presentation and teachers will always be surprised by the quality of student output as long as some freedom is offered in what a team focuses on within a topic and how they demonstrate their findings.

They will fail some of the time but as far as what matters is concerned, these moments become the most important learning opportunities. Developing keen learners who see failure as opportunity must be our first target. This requires freedom and support from the teacher.

visible-learning-infographic-john-hattie-studie-460x400

Let the kids decide

I have an apps page and make a point of talking about my list’s theme of general purpose and it not being content specific. But it should be the kids who make this decision. There are many apps that my students are excellent on that produce fantastic output in a format I’d never imagine but of course their peers respond to much more genuinely.

Also, in a major meta-data study by John Hattie, the number one driver in student performance was self-reported grades / expectations. (See Info-graphic – the full version can be found with a google search)

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AppSmash_icon_iPadWells

What I often do now…

  • Divide my topics into important sub topics
  • Get the kids into groups (3s works best for me but 4 if I have to)
  • Pose a ‘driving question’ to the class that doesn’t have a specific ‘correct answer’ E.g. “Should everyone contribute to the web?”
  • Offer supportive questions to spark the groups conversations and give them areas to look at.
  • Get the groups into the habit of recording their discussions and discoveries in their favourite format. (Some group message, some audio record, some mind-map)
  • Have a shared class “success matrix” for every group to add to which outlines what would make a successful group product in general when covering the topic, answering the questions plus also product quality.
  • Challenge them to “AppSmash” their learning as a way of sharing with the class. “App-Smashing” is where content created in one app is used in a 2nd app. This forces a little more creative thinking in how to present their learning.
  • Most of the time we then upload, share & comment on other groups’ creations.

Time consuming ?

My time is now spent crafting better and better questions for my class to deal with in ways that suit them best and give them a genuine experience of crafting their own learning and enjoying the process. If we continue to push the idea that you need a teacher to learn then we’ll maintain the same small percentage that develop a real passion for learning right through high school and beyond.

The iPad Effect.

It’s the iPad’s versatility, portability, camera, app selection and user-friendliness that keeps it ahead of the others for education but it’s the approach taken by the teacher to learning within the classroom that realises these benefits, not the iPad alone. Worry first about what you are asking of your students and how much they are reliant on the teacher.

Team Blogging with WordPress App

wordpressWhy Blog?

My school is turning to WordPress for its student blogging and the kids will be recording all that they do in online blogs for peers, teachers and parents to enjoy. It’s been said by many now but individual students publishing school work for a whole community to interact with has been a game changer for many schools. Engagement increases naturally though tangible, ‘real-wrold’ appreciation of their work.

Here’s some english kids talking about their blogging:

And here’s some Grade ONE kids!:

Teamwork.

One issue has been raised about how they might run a project as a team using WordPress and contribute to the same online space. So to help, here’s my Team Blog Setup steps for both laptop and iPad users.: (JPG links to 2-page PDF)

i4s-team-wordpress-blog

The “One iPad” Classroom

ipad04 005

If you have been allocated just one iPad for your classroom then you have very different issues to 1-to-1 classrooms as the iPad is not designed as a shared device. But don’t despair! There are apps for that!

I’m never one to push for the downloading of numerous apps as it clouds the workflow. The core skills of handling and organising information,  images and creative output from each student as the device gets passed around should be a first concern. Students like to have their own space to save things.

There are always a number of ways to do anything on an iPad but the organising and separating of student work on one device can be very easily organised with 2 cloud accounts:

  1. Evernote – Writing – Drawing – Images – Audio – screenshots
  2. Youtube – videos (including lessons)

The passwords can be kept by the teacher and students needn’t worry about the account itself. The material saved can also be managed from the teacher’s laptop for both accounts.

YouTube-for-iOS-app-icon-full-sizeThe camera, iMovie & Explain Everything apps can all be permanently logged-in to the Youtube account. This is important as video is the primary storage killer. Video is the new pen and once an iPad gets into the classroom the opportunities for recording evidence, performances and reflection mean the organisation of video becomes important. These videos can be stored as privately or publicly as needed.

evernoteEvery student can record their own work, including material from other apps within their own Evernote Notebook, all held and synced to the same  account. Evernote allows students to record web content, writing, images and record audio notes and arrange all that into folders of topics etc.

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penultimate_icon_256Penultimate is Evernote’s Sketchbook app. It allows students to add photos and screenshots freely onto unlimited pages and freehand draw on them. It also obviously allows for freehand drawing and has a choice of 4 paper types. These sketchbooks auto sync to the Evernote account. This means it’s also viewable by the teacher from their laptop.

This setup creates a cloud classroom for the teacher to monitor 24/7 and also caters for all the basic tasks that students might already be doing.

Below is my usual style summary of the apps and the roles they play in the classroom. It certainly acts as a solid starting point for collating and organising a class’s output. It also gives each student a place of their own on the shared device.

Here’s 2 PNGs that link to PDFs:

Page 1:

i4S-1-iPad-Classroom

Page 2:

i4S-1-iPad-Classroom-pt2

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Project Based Learning with iPads

projectKidsBringing learning to life – Bringing Life to learning!

To start with, I think Project-based learning is the future of education. It puts students into real situations where they have to:

  1. Act professionally
  2. be a team player
  3. understand their assigned role
  4. Stick to deadlines as a team
  5. Problem solve
  6. Project manage
  7. Communicate ideas

… I could go on for a while here!

Photo by USdagov

These are the skills the world,  employers, charities and universities are crying out for, far more than any specific content schools might have traditionally taught. The world is changing too quickly to be concerned with static content and these general skills that enhance one’s ability to learn new things quickly will be key to success in this century.

Fortunately, I don’t have to cover PBL in much detail as there are a number of sites and Youtube channels that do it brilliantly, especially EDUTOPIA and BIE.

Here’s Edutopia’s introduction:

Just one Important distinction!

Project-based learning is not ‘doing projects’. PBL is student-driven and specifically open to interpretation to ensure students learn through carrying out a project and not doing a project pre-designed by the teacher. They are driven to answer a ‘big’ question and carry out their inquiry and design in teams. They are also under pressure to present their results to a third party of some kind. The students decide on how to achieve the goals and are not carrying out teacher-designed tasks.

PBL APPS (version 1)

Here’s my quick representation of PBL by iPad App. The process is not necessary linear but the apps might help you start various stages and help students and teachers understand the task at hand.

i4S PBL Apps

Bring schools to life with Aurasma app

The Magic of Bringing Information to life.

AurasmaI’m assuming you’ve seen at least one of the eight Harry Potter films. In the films, one everyday magical experience is that photos are always moving as if they were video screens, even though they are ‘printed’ on paper. Newspaper photos act out the news event as film too, whilst you walk down the road reading. It seems so magical and yet, like so many things these days , there’s an app for that!

The Aurasma App (free) allows you to create what’s known as Augmented Reality (Real life with extra info added)

Here’s a great intro into the world of Augmented Reality.

And here’s Aurasma’s own demo video of it in action:

Before I take you though how to make your own, let’s look at the potential uses for learning.

Lets start with possible posters on the walls around your school or classroom that come to life and

  1. welcome visitors and introduce the school.
  2. animate mathematical problems being solved.
  3. explain how to use school equipment (useful in my technology or science classrooms)
  4. bring famous people from history to life with students acting out their most famous moments or words.
  5. explain famous paintings on demand
  6. introduce apps with demos of students using them.

What about the school newsletters? Every photo could be the first frame of a video and showcase performances and sporting moments.

What about worksheets or project introduction sheets that come to life and guide the students through the process.

The possibilities are endless! The idea that all those posters that have been unnoticed on classroom walls for decades could now offer a real interactive experience on demand is really exciting!

Getting started with your first “Auras”

Below is a step-by-step guide but here are the essentials:

  1. Record a video using the iPad’s Camera or animation app like iMotionHD.
  2. Pause the video on the first frame to grab a screenshot of it for the poster
  3. Make a poster using your screenshot and add words, titles and the Aurasma logo to indicate it being interactive but also to make the poster’s layout unique enough to be recognised by the app.
  4. Run through the process in the guide below of adding the video to Aurasma and taking a photo of your finished poster as the ‘trigger’ image.
  5. When finished, name your aura and add it to a class / school channel within you free Aurasma account. This will make it public for the students to subscribe to in their Aurasma apps and so interact with all the posters in the class / school.

I will have a fun 2014 with this app. Here’s the guide: (PNG links to PDF)

School Aurasma

And thanks to Serena Davies (@serenadavies1), here’s the info in Welsh!….

School Aurasma-Welsh

A Teacher’s 3 Twitter Accounts

shareButtonTwitter is the simplest system available to interact with the web and share resources. Twitter is built into the iPad’s operating system and so an account allows you to share any photo, website or resource immediately without fuss. Its system is the opposite to Facebook and expects you to operate numerous accounts for different purposes. Once you have something to share, the iPad will allow you to pick which account to Tweet with and thus which group will receive it. Below are 3 account ideas for how iPad teachers can get the most from Twitter.

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@EDUCATOR – Tweet as an Educator

TwitterAcThe first account is your ‘Educator’s’ account (mine’s @iPadWells) with which you interact with other teachers and share resources. This is the account you build your personal learning network with and discuss matters and ideas with other educators. Here’s a list of the benefits and uses for this account:

  1. Follow other like-minded teachers doing exciting things.
  2. Follow the world leaders in education to inspire your pedagogy and approach to teaching.
  3. Ask teachers directly how they achieved success in their classroom.
  4. Share your own teaching resources and inspire others.
  5. Share photos of good practice and successes in your classroom.
  6. Share useful websites, video links that have inspired you.
  7. Follow your subject’s multiple hashtags such as #EngChat for English teachers.
  8. Follow the weekly chat hours for teachers in your geographical area or school subject such as #EdChatNZ for New Zealand teachers or #1to1TeChat for 1 to 1 device teachers.

@TEACHER – Tweet as a classroom teacher

TwitterTeachCreate an account for your classroom activities with your students.  Use this for quick, live sharing of photos and and resources to the kids you teach. It’s important to remember that it’s available to the whole world but can be useful for creating a live news feed of the work going on in your classroom. This account is separate to your professional connections so as to not annoy other teachers with day-to-day classroom activity. Here’s a list of classroom uses:

  1. Take photos of good student work during any day. Sets example to others.
  2. Share a new resource or website discovered during the day for students to try or read.
  3. Share websites and video links for class preparation and future lessons.
  4. A Dropbox account allows you to instantly share links to your files too. Great for those last minute things you forgot to pre-upload.
  5. Senior students can use this account to ask extra questions directly after a lesson either publicly or privately.
  6. A class or topic #Hashtag can instantly create a discussion group.
  7. Senior classes can set up small group accounts with which they can easily blog their progress with all 4 or 5 students logged-in and sharing their team’s project.

@Dept – Tweet as a Department or School

TwitterDeptThis is something I’m just setting up now. All the staff in my department (15 Tech teachers) can now publish the successes as a department. This works well for many schools but I think it’s going to be useful to present my subject of Technology as a team effort and as such, create a stream of examples for both the students and the staff to see. It will be important though to make staff aware of issues regarding privacy, spam and general good social media conduct.

Here’s the list of ideas so far:

  1. All colleagues get to see best practice within the same department / school. This is great for starting professional conversations in the staffroom.
  2. Parents can follow if they have their own account or just view the account’s web page to see great work completed or in progress,
  3. Students get to see what’s going on in your area of the school and this helps future choices of subjects and careers.
  4. The best work in one classroom can inspire those next door.
  5. Announcements that effect more than one class can be given using this account. Good for trips and deadlines and last minute changes.

Conclusion

The whole iPad is now designed to be the perfect management tool for organising these 3 streams of information as you go through your day. Activity on one account can influence what you do with the others. The Twitter system is simple and a great start for those new to iPadding or professional use of social media. It doesn’t have the considered organisation of running a website or blog but for minute-by-minute live updates and interaction with like-minded individuals, it’s perfect! Connect your accounts within the iPad’s settings and connect your teaching with the world.

Here’s the summary Poster (PNG links to PDF with links)

Teachers 3 Twitter Accs

New Year: iPad First 5?

After getting lots of positive feedback about a visual interpretation I did of a blog post by Holly Clark (@HollyEdTEchDiva), I also had a small number of requests and suggestions for other ideas that would be ideal for a visual summarising. I’m currently working through them but one came from the talented Beth Holland, who let me know she was writing a post for Edutopia.com based on the theme of “First 5.” This idea can be applied to many scenarios and asks experts to consider what one might do in the first 5 minutes, 5 days and 5 weeks when introducing a new initiative or technology. I loved the idea and got to work immediately. Here’s the result and I hope it helps some classrooms get going in the new academic year.

iPad First 5