Easy Blog Jr – Week 1 Reflection

After a week of using Easy Blog Jr, I can confidently say that I think the app is fantastic! As I’ve stated in previous posts, it is so simple to use.

rubysmovieI truly love how easy it is to post to my class blog. I love that you have the option of setting categories in profile settings; in my case, this is each student’s name. In one week, almost all of my class posted to our blog. That is amazing! And each post is categorised, meaning visitors can click on a name under the “categories” heading to filter results. I’ve already had a parent access our blog and comment on her child’s video using this method. She was thrilled to see her daughter’s work. Another parent mentioned that she loved the way the students spoke over their pictures. It meant more to her than a sentence or two under an image.

These comments got me thinking about how to use my class blog and the app for another purpose. Initially, my blog was to share with parents the learning that’s happening in my room, but by categorising each post, to a degree, I am also creating a digital portfolio for each of my students. We have student led conferences in a couple of weeks. How great will it be for my students to share our class blog with their parents, if they haven’t already done so at home, filter the posts to just theirs, and speak about what they were learning when they took each photo. Their digital portfolios are being created by them during class when they are completing activities, not during a stand alone “work on your digital portfolio” session. They don’t need to sift through work samples to select to include, they are rather sharing their learning journey as it happens. Students are commenting on their work sample at the time they are creating it. This app allows you to capture real-time learning. How awesome is that!? 🙂

I cannot express how flattered I am to have been contacted by one of the app developers to trial this app. I can see its potential and will continue to use it and sing it praise throughout the year. I’ve asked a few colleagues to trial the app in their classes too. I look forward to hearing how they go and sharing their experience with you and the developer as well.

Easy Blog Jr – Day 2

easyblogjrMy students and I have been using the app, Easy Blog Jr, for two days now and I must say we “absolutely love it!”

At the moment I have everything, i.e. all student profiles, set up on my iPad. Throughout the day, my students take photos, voice record a caption, review their recording, then publish their post to our class blog when they are happy with it. They are in control of the whole process. To them, publishing a post is very similar to creating a one picture project in Adobe Voice.

I have been amazed to see that with little instruction, my students’ posts are moving from a simple description about what they are doing towards what they are learning. This is exactly what I was hoping for. It is clear to me that this app has great potential in being a fantastic reflection tool. I can’t wait to see how my students’ reflections improve over the term.

categoriesI was sharing the app and my class blog with my pre-service teacher today. She asked if it was possible, once students had posted multiple times, for parents to easily access just their child’s posts, rather than scroll through everyone’s – Great question! This got me thinking of an easy way to “filter” the posts. When setting up each student profile, there is an option to add a category. I have decided to add each student’s name as a category. This will mean that as soon as students publish their post, it will be categorised under their name. Parents will then be able to click on their child’s name under the ‘categories‘ heading down the right hand side of our blog… So, problem solved! 🙂

I can’t wait to explore this app some more with my class over the coming weeks to share what we think, discover and solve 🙂

Easy Blog Jr

Earlier this week, I was contacted by an app developer about trialling a new app in my classroom. The app, Easy Blog Jr, allows you to post text, photos or videos directly to your blog via an iPad. Within the app, you set up student profiles to make this all possible. Students select their name (or photo if you choose to add a photo to each profile) from the home screen and, with a few taps, their post is uploaded. It is so simple to use!

I plan to explore this app this week with my students. I also plan to ask my students to share how they think this app can be used to support their learning 🙂

Be sure to check back soon to see how we go 🙂

For more information regarding this app, please view the video below.

Educreations

As mentioned in my previous post, I’m teaching a grade 2 class this year after 3 years in a grade 6 1:1 iPad classroom. I initially thought there would be a big difference with assigning tasks and students completing these using any app/s they wanted, but to my surprise, there isn’t. My little darlings this year have proved to me that student voice and choice is just as alive in an Early Years classroom!

educreationsCurrently, Educreations is the app of choice! My students love creating movies and video clips, as well as tutorials with it. They particularly like the way they can record themselves, press pause, add a new slide or two… then record themselves some more. They often critique the end result and re-record themselves to ensure a high quality product. For 7-8 year olds, this is AMAZING! 🙂

With so many recordings, I needed to think of an easy way to view them all. In the past, my older students have created their own Educreations accounts and emailed me a link to view their work online. Rather than ask my grade 2 students to do this, I decided to set up individual school accounts for my students, where I can log in via the Educreations site and access their dashboards. It did take a while to set this up, but in the long run, it is worth it, as now I don’t have to sift through copious emails to find what I’m looking for.

iLearning

Following on from our class experts, my “iLearning” program was further developed. I had introduced iPlay and iPortfolios to my students last year and decided to expand this concept to cover more ways to promote thinking, creativity and collaboration.

 

iCreate

iCreate began as a way of embracing my students’ creativity. I was truly amazed by the brilliant constructions my students were producing in Minecraft. One of my students had been home sick for a couple of days and emailed through to me some dinosaurs she had constructed to cheer up her younger sister, who was also home sick with her. During the same week, another student had shared with me some work she had completed in an app called PicCollage. This app wasn’t on our school list, it was one she had found herself. I was surprised by how professional her work looked, in terms of layout, balance, text and image size, etc. Having an art and ICT background myself, it was clear that this student was a natural in considering the elements of design in her work. I also had a number of students in my class who played musical instruments, so they enjoyed tinkering in Garageband, as well as a student who was very keen on movie making. With such a creative class, it was obvious I had to do something to show I valued and was impressed by such talents.

 

iDiscuss

iDiscuss was formed because I wanted a space for my students to interact and respond to individual posts. I had a class blog last year and I loved the way my students commented on posts that were made. One downfall I found, though, was that on all of the pages, other than my home page, there was only one comment box at the bottom of the page. This, in my mind, defeated the purpose of responding to posts. I say this because I wanted my students’ comments to particular posts to be clearly identifiable. In the comment boxes on these pages, you needed to scroll down to read what was written.

This year I explored the discussion tool on wikispaces. It was easy to embed, yet my students needed to sign up to wikispaces and become a member of our class wikispace. Due to learning and teaching content being placed on our class wikispace, I decided this wasn’t the way I wanted to go – I didn’t want my students to accidentally delete information. I know I could have protected pages, I just hoped there was another option. I spent a while searching embeddable discussion tools and eventually came across one I liked – Nabble.

Nabble offers free access to discussion tools; however, after a trial period, a subscription is required if you don’t want advertisements displayed. For $25 for the year, I didn’t mind paying to remove the advertisements.

To date, my students enjoy responding to my posts. I now intend to open the discussion topics up to my students in order to cater for ideas and interests.

 

iExplore

Last year I encouraged my students to explore the internet in order to pursue personal curiousities. I occasionally posted links and infographics on our Discovery Learning page in order to spark discussions and initiate interest. This worked really well, so this year I repackaged this concept as iExplore.

 

iPoll

iPoll came about as a result of listening to my students and respecting their “voice”.  At the end of term 1, I posted a poll to see if my students wanted holiday homework. Of course, they didn’t 🙂 What they did want, though, was the opportunity to continue to vote on a range of topics selected by either them or me.

This data is real as it reflects my students’ responses. During our ‘Data’ unit in mathematics, we analysed these results. We looked at the different ways the data was graphed, we discussed which graphs were easier to read and questioned why the results were presented as percentages. During our ‘Sustainability‘ unit, we also hypothesised why litter is such a problem at our school, based upon the results presented.

Collecting data through this means has proved to be a rich learning experience for my students. It has also provided my class and my school with real data about a range of topics.

 

iQuote

Throughout my day, I often find myself sharing quotes and sayings with my students. These are shared to support what we’ve been learning or in response to an incident that’s happened. A class discussion follows where we unpack the meaning they take from the quote or saying and how it relates to the situation at hand.

Some of my students have really been inspired by this and have come to school with their own quotes and sayings to share with the class. Sometimes these are shared just before a recess break and sometimes they are shared at the end of the day as a way to promote thinking and reflection.

In some ways, I often think we overlook the messages and lessons we can learn from quotes, sayings, proverbs, etc. That is why I created the iQuote page on my class wiksipace, to expose my students more to thinking about their thinking.

iPlay

Gaming is a big part of my students’ experiences with the iPads. They love exploring and sharing the apps they have downloaded, comparing their scores and levels and assisting each other to improve their progress. I thought long and hard about incorporating gaming into my learning and teaching program to promote higher order thinking and reflection. I was hoping that by relating these skills to gaming, something my students do with ease and so naturally, the transition and transference of similar thinking and reflection processes about concepts covered and learnt in class would be much easier.

I posted my expectations on my class wikispace (http://manorlakescollege-6michelle.wikispaces.com/iPlay) and shared with my students my latest addiction to Angry Birds. My students loved sharing their successes with the app and I loved hearing the tricks to pass certain levels.

angrybirds

Brief:

During iPlay, I’d like you to play a non-violent game / app for around 20-30 minutes. I’d like you to take screen shots of your game / app and think about the strategies you use to score points, pass each level, etc… I’d then like you to create a presentation for me outlining the following:

  • Name of game / app
  • Purpose of game / app
  • Strategies required to score points, pass each level, etc…
  • Important information future players of this game / app need
  • Hidden features
  • Why do you like playing this game / app? (At least 5 sentences.)
  • What improvements can be made? Why?