Tech Salad

With Crunchy Bits and Bytes

Month: January 2012

ePub Projects

Being away from my office since last Wednesday set the stage for a fun Tuesday. No, really.

This morning I worked with Mrs. Ray on an upcoming project. Students in her Creative Writing class will be publishing their stories and artwork using Pages and ePub. By distributing the finished product through Mrs. Ray’s blog, students will be able to share their writing with family and friends, and with students and teachers around the world. Check back later in February to get your free copy of the class anthology.

Around lunchtime I had an iChat discussion with Mrs. Barnes (blog). Her students will be creating ePub documents in Spanish. I don’t know much about the project, but I’ll be in the room to assist on Friday.

Later I met with Mrs. Weyant (blog) to discuss some of the details of the project we are starting in her room tomorrow. Her students will be creating a comprehensive guide to Goochland Middle School. The project will include images, video, audio, and text published as an ePub document. The students will record interviews with important people around the school, create video tutorials for online services, and much more. The finished product will be available on all our iPads, and will be shared with fifth graders when they visit GMS later in the semester.

These are just two projects that make the most of this very flexible learning tool. If you are interested in learning more about creating ePub documents with Pages, sign up for one of our classes on February 13.

Mobile Movies

Today I was back at GES, reading with Ms. Cachina’s class and working on videos with Ms. Webb’s class.

Here’s the sample video the kids helped produce.

Starting tomorrow, the students will be producing their own videos discussing different types of weather.

Look out, Ken Burns. Here comes the next generation of documentary producers.

Reading at GES

I am spending the day at GES, reading with second grade students. We are expanding our fluency pilot started earlier this year at Byrd Elementary School.

The students in Ms. Gooding’s class (blog) jumped right in and recorded themselves reading books about the weather, snowmen, and dogs. We had a great time.

Creating and Sharing Video

Yesterday afternoon I led a class on creating and sharing videos in class. We made videos in Photobooth and edited them in iMovie. We also looked at the screen capturing feature in QuickTime. It was a fun way to end my day.

Here are some resources I wanted to share with the teachers who attended the class, and with anyone else who reads my blog.

First, we have our iMovie tutorial. It is not new, but the basics are still the basics. We hope to update this over the summer.

Second, find out how you can have some fun with Photo Booth and green screen technology. There are so many possibilities for student projects using just this one simple app…

Third, if you are unsure of how to share your videos on your blog, you can always check out our publishing guide. There is a video tutorial for every step of the way.

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Looking Good

What does your online presence say about you? When was the last time you Googled yourself?

I had not Googled myself in a few months. And, the last few times, I had not looked past the first two pages of results. This weekend I had time, and I found some interesting things.

First, when I reset my AIM password a few  months ago, I somehow activated a setting that posts all my iChat status updates to the AOL Lifestream. There was an incredibly long and boring list of “in my office” and “teaching” and “away” that didn’t do anybody any harm. Still, I did not want that visible to the whole world and have deactivated it.

Second, I realized my email to NPR’s Morning Edition made it into the Ombudsman’s blog. Pretty cool. I wish they’d notified me. Or maybe they did and the message went unnoticed and directly to junk. I’m glad they read their email, in any case.

If you do not Google yourself up regularly, you should. Scan the first few pages of results, and make sure the links provided portray you in the fashion you would like to be perceived. It is not narcissism, but a necessary action for all of us of living online.

Accessibility and Reading Comprehension

Today the students in Mrs. Yearout-Patton’s class are reading selections from the Civil Rights Voting Act of 1965.

Well, legislators are not known for the readability of their prose. Reading Article X of Section Y of any law can be a daunting task for most of us, so just imagine a high school student afflicted with a terrible case of Senioritis struggling with the unfamiliar terms and convoluted sentences.

To help the students get the most of the reading, Mrs. Yearout-Patton will be showing the students how to activate the voiceover feature on the iPads. Listening to the read-aloud and reading along with it is a great way to improve comprehension of tough passages. And, accessing the legislature as a PDF using iBooks gives students the additional advantage of finding unfamiliar words in  the built-in dictionary with the tap of a finger.

If you would like to know more about Mrs. Yearout-Patton’s classroom and her excellent use of technology, visit her blog and follow her on Twitter (@GotGovt)

Audio, Video, and Independent Learning

This morning I was invited to Ms. Townsend’s ESOL classroom (blog). The students have been using Google Translate and other tools on mobile devices to help them communicate with teachers and peers, and I wanted to see how things were going.

The students have benefitted greatly and have learned much since they started using the iPods, and we wanted to give them even more opportunities than the apps can.

After chatting with the two students from Mexico, the three of us agreed some of the apps are aimed at very young children. They want something more. We have found several podcasts we liked after reviewing a few episodes together. One in particular caught our attention. Habla bien ingles (iTunes link) helps Spanish speakers master sounds in English. With video and audio, each episode guides students through various sounds a letter might make in different words.

The students now have the podcast episodes on their iPods. They also know how to use the video camera to record themselves practicing the sounds after watching each episode. Video of themselves will allow them to self-asses and practice any time.

Next week we will get together again and see how everyone is doing, and we will load the next set of podcast episodes from the Tu ingles! podcast (iTunes link).

Finished Watercolor iPaintings

I know I told Mrs. Rohrer I’d send her these for her blog, but that does not mean I can’t post them to mine, too. I love them, and I can’t wait to see the final watercolors on paper.

Mental Workout

Everyone catches up on their reading over the break, right? Here’s something interesting I found at OpenCulture: a video of a TV game show where contestants have to do some interesting math.

This made me think of one of my favorite apps we’ve installed on our iPads here in Goochland. Contig (iTunes link) is a game where the player has to combine the numbers to arrive at an answer, then quickly find the answer on a grid full of numbers. The numbers are never as high as those in the video, but the player has to be quick to find the number on the grid. It is a great way to get kids doing math in a fun way.

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