Category Archives: Apps for Education

The BEST way to share video content with your learners

Sharing video content with learners can be tricky for a number of reasons – first, the files are often so big that they take up a lot of storage on your online learning platform (website/app/teams etc).  Moreover, if you are staring a recording of you reading a story, there are copyright issues that may affect it.  Also, you just might not want your video visible to the whole world.

The below video tutorial looks at the best way of hosting your videos privately and posing them to a specified group of people (e.g. your class)

I really hope it’s helpful.

I am starting to build and grow my YouTube channel with more regular content and would really appreciate a subscribe on the channel.  If you could ‘like’ any videos that you find helpful, it will help me tailor my videos to things that will help you.

Have a lovely long weekend,

Donald

Enhance Remote Learning with Kahoot

The media really is giving teachers a bashing just now during the COVID-19 lockdown, with many outlets saying that we are not doing anything.  I know that’s not true.  The amount of incredible online content and learning experiences that are being produced on a daily basis is incredible, and teachers have really risen to the challenge of keeping learners engaged online.

One way that can make this more simple and engaging for children is to use the free quiz app, Kahoot, to play quiizes and assign challenges for your learners – and the best thing is, you can share these quizzes on ANY platform that you are using to share learning – be it a school website, app, Microsoft Teams, Google Classrooms, Zoom etc.  However you are engaging your learners, Kahoot is free and readily available.

Here is a short video tutorial about how to get the most out of Kahoot and really engage your learners.

Take care and stay safe

Please do get in touch via Twitter if there are any tutorials that you’d like me to create or questions that I may be able to answer.

Donald

Using Glow and Teams for Remote Learning

Glow is a really powerful platform for connected learning, however we still often don’t engage as well as we could – I myself am guilty of that.

With COVID-19, suddenly we have been forced to reconsider everything we know about delivering learning experiences and are turning to online platforms.

Many schools are considering using Teams (who aren’t already) after the holidays, but not all staff and pupils feel confident in using it.  I have, therefore, created tutorial videos for teachers and pupils on Twitter, and will share below so that they are all in one place.

Please take care and stay safe.

Donald

 

For Teachers

Setting up Teams for your class on Glow

You will need a glow account in order to do this.

Sign into Glow at glow.rmunify.com and follow the below tutorial to add ‘Microsoft Teams’ to your launchpad, find your class’ login details (you will need to find a way to send these out to pupils) and set up your team.

The video also shows some of the features of Teams that you will be able to use to support children with their learning.

When changing passwords for the children, I would recommend using one password for everyone and ticking the box which allows them to change their password.  This is an excellent way to start a conversation about the importance of keeping passwords safe and secure.

If you forget to tick the box allowing pupils to change their password, don’t worry as I will cover how pupils can change their own password in my tutorial for them.

The official Glow quick-start guide can be found here

If any of your pupils do not have a Glow account, this needs to be set up on SEEMIS Click and Go.  Your school admin or SLT should be able to do this.

Here is an easy template to share pupil details via email/post to your class.  It also includes links to the pupil help videos featured below.  Click here for the Microsoft Word document containing information for pupils.

A full guide to using Teams

This video is an in-depth look into using Teams.  I have tried to keep it as simple as possible, so for more advanced features please check out some other readily available tutorials on Teams.  This looks at an overview of what the Teams experience will be like for you and your class, with a demonstration video meeting as well.

Use the timecodes below to skip to the relevant sections.

Video Timecodes.
1. Join or Create a Team (1min 18s) – find out how to create your own class team or join a team.
2. Activity and Chat (3 mins 02s) – Take a look at the ‘Activity’ and ‘Chat’ options in the left-hand menu.
3. Assignments and Quizzes (3 mins 55s) – Learn how to set assignments and create quizzes for your class team all within the application in the left- hand menu.
4. Calendar and Meetings (4 mins 43s) – Learn how to create meetings for your class (video lessons) using the calendar option on the left-hand menu.
5. Calls, Files, and Other Options (6 mins 31s) – Find out about the final left-hand menu options.
6. Inside Your Team (7 mins 15s) – Learn about all of the options you have inside your team page, such as hosting quick video meetings, text conversation, team files, applications, and giving out reward points.
7. Channels (11 mins 44s) – Learn about channels and how they are used.
8. Hosting a Meeting (12 mins 27s) – Take a look at what it is like to host a meeting with an on-screen mock meeting, and see the options that you have including sharing your desktop for the class to see PowerPoints etc while you’re talking.
9. How to Mute and Use Chat (16 mins 50s) – This is really underrated but so important in teams meetings in order to prevent glitching audio and nonsensical dialogue.
10. Pupils Sharing (18 mins 21s) – See how pupils are able to share their screen and examples of their work during a meeting (they can also upload to the files/conversation)

Using the Teams App – common troubleshooting

A common troubleshooting issue when signing in to the mobile & desktop app is using the full glow email extension.  This quick video will talk you through using the Microsoft Teams app on any device.

Ideas for using Teams

For ideas about ways to get started using Teams, check out Malcolm Wilson’s blog post here and follow him on Twitter @claganach.

For Children

Please feel free to send the video links via your communication platforms to children that you want to support in accessing Glow and Teams.

Video 1 – How To Set Up Your Glow Account

URL to share with pupils: https://youtu.be/FCnTV0sBtn8

Video 2 – How To Set Up and Use Teams

(Make sure to set up your Glow account before watching this video; video 1 will help you with that)

URL to share with pupils: https://youtu.be/EoRLC6xjyeQ

 

 

Spheros

I love Spheros.  They have so much potential to really enhance learning and teaching, and really provide you with opportunities to allow learners to apply their learning in different contexts.  They are not cheap though, but they are so versatile that they are a really good investment.

Many schools and councils are purchasing Spheros, so hopefully this blog will be beneficial if you have/are getting Spheros and would like to know what you can do with them.  Even if you aren’t planning on getting them, hopefully this blog will allow you to understand more about them, what they do and how they can enhance the learning of your children.

What are Spheros?

Image from source

I think the New Yorker sums it up the best in their post: “Spheros aren’t just fun; they are also an excellent teaching tool. Students have begun using them to learn everything from geometry to genetics. They can code them, too, to take a first step into computer programming.”

Spheros are programmable toys, similar to Beebots but with far more capability and potential.  In a computer programming context, children can apply their learning of code to make the Sphero perform a variety of actions, such as: drawing shapes, completing mazes, and even to interact with their surroundings.  Movement with spheros isn’t as simple as ‘move forward’ for a set number of steps.  Children have to apply an understanding of angles, speed and time in order for the sphero to move.  They can develop an understanding of the link between speed, distance and time to accurately program their device to move as intended.

Spheros aren’t just for older learners though – there is so much potential for younger learners to use the ‘draw’ feature to manipulate the device.  D&T activities are also notable, as children can design devices that are powered by the Spero – such as a racing car that is driven by the sphero, or even a helicopter whose rotary blade spins as the sphero spins.

There are a variety of different Spheros available – most schools use SPRK+, however all are fantastic.  You can see the full range here.

Below is a fantastic intro video that shows what Sphero Edu is all about:

 

Activities and Resources

Fortunately, getting started with Spheros need not be daunting or tricky; there are a whole host of free resources to use with Spheros.  A Sphero resource guide is available here although is based on the American K-12 system.

The best place to start is the Sphero Education Website.  The activities tab allows you to find fully comprehensive lessons sorted by stage / subject.  It should be noted that Spheros shouldn’t only be used for teaching computer science – there are so many applications across the curriculum that it really is worth browsing the activities site to see what you can do.

Another great resource is your local Apple store.  Did you know that you can take groups of children there for FREE to learn how to use Spheros (you don’t even need your own devices as the store provides them!) . Go to the Apple Field Trip website for more info and to book.

Of course, the other place that I love to go for my ideas is Twitter.  Loads of schools use Spheros really effectively.  Just search for ‘sphero’ in your Twitter search bar, and you will find loads of schools using them and be instantly inspired!

Here are some of my favourite recent examples:

How have I used them?

We’ve actually only just purchased our Spheros in Mosspark, so I have only used them twice with learners.

In the first lesson/few lessons with spheros, I like to let the children get used to syncing, controlling and putting to sleep the Sphero.  I often play ‘Sphero tig’ and other simple improvised games.  Sphero tig is easy – one Sphero is it and sets their colour to green.  The other Spheros are blue.  If the tigger catches a Sphero, it turns red and waits until a blue Sphero frees them by touching them and flashing their light on/off 5 times.  The children really enjoy this and it engages them instantly and allows them to quickly learn to control the Spheros through the ‘drive’ function.

You can follow our journey with Spheros by following @MossparkPS on Twitter.  Here are some of our recent Sphero tweets including our instant hit, ‘Sphero Tig’:

 

I hope that the post this evening has been helpful and has given you ideas about how to get started with Spheros in your own classrooms.

As always, please connect with me on twitter: @mrfeistsclass.  I love getting inspired by everything that you all do.  Feel free to send me suggestions for future blog posts and tag me in Tweets showing how you are using Spheros or any digi tech to enhance learning!

Have a great week

Donald

 

 

 

Visualisers – or is there a better way?

Over the last few weeks, in the twittersphere, I have come across three posts all about visualisers and asking whether there are good ones out there that won’t break the bank.  Sure there are great visualisers out there, but there is a far cheaper and better way to get the same effect: use a phone or tablet.

I will be recommending a lot of things in this post, but I will point out that I am not amazon affiliated or in any way getting profits from any of the products that I note below – they are for reference only, and may not be the best ones available.

The three posts…

https://twitter.com/education_MrP/status/1095398290970079238

What is a visualiser?

Working in much the same way as an Over-Head Projector used to, a visualiser projects an image of what you are displaying onto a board.  For example, if you place an example of a child’s jotter work under the visualiser, it will display it on the smart board for the class to see and as reference.

They truly are fantastic for plenaries, feedback and for showing examples of good work – even just for talking through a worksheet or drawing attention to a passage of text.

Why don’t I use visualisers?

Visualisers are clunky pieces of kit and really serve only one purpose.  They are also expensive.  The cheapest I found was £40, but you’d most likely want a good one which can be closer to £100.  There are better ways out there to achieve the same aims – at often better quality – with devices that you already have in your class and less expensive resources.

So what’s the alternative?

As I have noted in response to each tweet that I’ve seen this week regarding visualisers; my favourite solution is using your trusty mobile phone or tablet.  In past posts, I have recommended getting a VGA adapter for your device that will connect it to the SMART board.  In my case, I use iPhone; so a search for VGA to iPhone X (or VGA to lightning, as the port is named) gets me the results I’m looking for.  Most modern androids use a type C port, but typing in VGA to *phone make and model* will give you the results that you’re after.

Whilst these can be fairly expensive (around £20), they are very versatile.  I love using them to also read kindle books with the children – they can read along on the board without having to purchase multiple copies of a book.

For visualising though, simply use your phone/tablet’s camera when it is connected to the board, and your children will see what your device can see – an instant visualiser!

Go hands free…

Visualisers are good, as they hold a fixed position and you don’t need to hold a camera pointing at the work to show it.  Therefore, there is no camera shake and you get a very clear picture.  This can be achieved easily for a phone or tablet by purchasing a desk clamp stand for your device.  You can get a good one for less than £10 such as this one.

This very literally turns your device into a visualiser.

Go wireless…

I do actually love using an adapter as I don’t have to rely on a good connection or network.  You can, however, go wireless.  Many schools are getting Wi-Fi and even Apple TV.  There are also many good screen mirroring apps out there such as AirServer, as recommended by the below twitter user, and Reflector.  If you fancy going wireless then these are great things to look into.  Benefits of this include being more portable and being able to cast work from anywhere in the room to your board.

Again though, I do prefer a wired connection with a desk clamp stand when I am casting work, and would recommend this above getting a visualiser every single time!

I do hope that you all have a great week and hopefully this has given you some ideas about how to use your devices and/or real visualisers in your own practice.

Donald

The best app?

Just short blog this week, as it’s been quite a hectic week and I’ve just not had the time I normally would.  I am writing on the iPad as I commute just now, and spell check is playing havoc, so apologies in advance if I miss a complete corker as I go.

This week, I want to look at my favourite all for ‘the digital plenary’ and arguably the best app of all time (in my opinion).  This is because I’ve been seeing quite a bit of debate on Twitter about the ‘good lesson’ structure and whether people still use a plenary at the end.  I personally love a plenary – even if it’s just a quick recap at the end about what the LI and SC were and what we have achieved – I find it a nice way round up a lesson, however, as we all know, a plenary can happen at any point in a lesson, or even at the start of a future lesson to recap something learned previously.  Enter the digital plenary.

There are two apps that I swear by for plenaries.  The first, Plickers, is an app that I have talked about previously so won’t really cover here. Currently, I use Plickers more than my favourite app, as it works better hen you don’t have many connected devices. Kahoot! however is what I want to focus on.  Now, I have actually written about Kahoot in the past also, but not extensively and certainly not since their recent updates and changes.  In my previous school, we had iPads that connected to WiFi – I really look forward to that being the case again this year in my current school, as I was able to use Kahoot a lot to review learning, track responses to questions and summatively assess understanding, but most of all, we were able to use it to have fun.  At its very heart, Kahoot is a Quiz app.  It is fun and engaging and can be used for a multitude of purposes.  It is free (although new paid premium services can now be added for as little as £1 pcm).  I genuinely love it.  You can create your own quizzes or search for ones that have already been made by teachers across the country.  In my last school, we created a ‘class’ account, where the children were able to sign in and create their own quizzes for peer assessment (and for fun) to review each other’s learning.

It works in browser and there are free apps also. Heck, I’ve even used it for a fundraising Harry Potter Quiz night with friends at my house.

If you do anything today, check out Kahoot.  They are also on Twitter | @getkahoot

Here’s a video clip of Kahoot being used in a medical science lecture.

Truly, I can’t recommend it enough, and hope that you enjoy using it as much as I do.

See you next week!

Donald

Creating Digital Art

Truthfully, I didn’t know what I was going to post about until Friday, during GoldenTime, when one of our P7 Marvels (below) wanted to show the fantastic art work that he created on the iPads, and imported it into Photoshop Mix to blend it over a stock image as an overlay (we have been learning to blend overlays in Camera Club).  I want to show you how to do this so that you can teach your learners!

He was so proud of his work – and, so he should have been.  It was super.

The truth is that using technology, creativity can be tapped into and explored to a much greater degree than without.  I don’t think there’s really any debate about that.  Of course, more tactile arts and many different art forms will always require us not to use technology, the power that technology gives our young learners to explore and create is unparalleled – and what’s better is that it doesn’t have the cost of purchasing all of the resources for each individual project.

Once again, I will be focussing on using iPads, as this is the main teaching tool that I use for creativity in technology; however, most of the below applications are available on all devices – I will note which of these do.

Tayasui Sketches School

The first app that our Marvel used for his work was Tayasui Sketches School.

Once again, I would like to refer you to the Apple Books entitled “Everyone Can Create“.  The book that I’m now on to, following on from “Music” and “Photography” is their guide on using the iPad for drawing.  Most interestingly though, they highlight a non-apple app as the best drawing app available, although also show you how to use Keynote, Pages, Camera and Photos for drawing too.  It should also be noted that ‘notes’ is a very good application for younger learners to create simple drawings.

The application that apple refers you to is the one that we are looking at today: “Tayasui Sketches School”.  It is pressure sensitive and has a huge array of tools, allowing you to create really detailed, intricate work.  Whilst it works best with an apple pencil, a cheap stylus or even finger will do the job!  Even better; it’s free (although a paid, pro version is available)!  Heres a link for iOS devices and a link for android (it should be noted, I have never used it on android, so don’t know if it is free or has the same features as on iOS).

Here’s a tutorial on using Sketches by Sylvia Duckworth, available on YouTube.

The thing that sells drawing on iPads for me, more than anything, is the amount of paper that you will save.  Children love to draw and create – fact – but a LOT of paper gets used up in their quest to develop their skills.  Yes, a device has an initial price tag, but it really does save money in the long run!

 

Photoshop Mix

The second app that our Marvel used was Photoshop Mix.  Photoshop comes in many forms – most notably as a paid professional product that photographers use on an daily basis.  It has also released some free apps (including Fix and Mix) which are all fab.  Photoshop Mix allows you to create some really impressive composite drawings – or, in this case, blend overlays to create dramatic and creative pieces of work.

A link for Photoshop Mix for iOS is here and for android is here – note, to use it, you have to have an adobe ID.  This is free and can be created the first time that you log in.

Here is a tutorial for using Adobe Photoshop Mix by Adobe Creative Cloud, however, I should note that the video is 2 years old at the time of writing this blog, and some of the features have changed quite a bit since then.  This being said, it is still very relevant and will give you a flavour of how to use the application.

 

The Project

With the overview of both apps covered, I’m going to demonstrate how this pupil managed to create such a beautiful piece of art work using the above apps.  I won’t use the same images, however, you should get a very good idea of how it works from the below.

I hope the video helps, and would be great to see some of the digital art work that your learners are doing, so make sure to tag me in tweets @mrfeistsclass as I love to share great work from across the country!

Have a great week!

Donald

Keynote – more than just a tool for presentations

I had an amusing experience at a recent digital-themed meeting.  A colleague from another establishment sat down beside me before we started and said “You watch, there’s going to be at least one geek here who opens up their MacBook, takes notes on their iPad with their apple pencil, sets a reminder on their Apple watch and just talks about the importance of code.  You wait.  I didn’t wait – I took out my MacBook, opened up Good Notes on the iPad Pro with my apple pencil at the ready (and for good measure set a reminder on the apple watch).  Sure enough, my role in the meeting was also to talk about what progression in ‘coding’ looks like in Early years and primary.  I just loved that the colleagued just sighed and had a good chuckle about it.

Sure, I’m a geek and proud – and following on from that, today, I’m looking at another Apple product – Keynote – and why I use it over PowerPoint each and every time.  I am not, however, saying it is better than PowerPoint.  PowerPoint is a phenomenal and powerful tool, and many of the things that I describe below can be done using PowerPoint – however, as Glasgow is undergoing a digital transformation where learners will be working with iPads on a 1-1 basis I feel that its an important tool to really get to grips with.  Hopefully, by the end of this blog post, you will have found new, creative ways to use Keynote (and perhaps PowerPoint) not just to create presentations, but as a tool for learning across the curriculum.

I will be focussing on the iPad (app version) of Keynote.  The Mac version has additional features and a slightly different layout, but it is less likely that your learners will have macs instead of iPads…

Here is a breakdown of what I aim to cover in this post:

  1. An overview of Keynote
  2. Presenting from Keynote in the classroom
  3. Creating a ‘links only’ presentation
  4. Photo editing and making creative montages using ‘Instant Alpha’

1. An Overview of Keynote

What is Keynote?

Simply stated, like Microsoft PowerPoint, Keynote is presentation software.  Apple says this about Keynote: “With its powerful tools and dazzling effects, Keynote makes it easy to create stunning and memorable presentations. You can even use Apple Pencil on your iPad to create diagrams or illustrations that bring your slides to life. And with real-time collaboration, your team can work together, whether they’re on Mac, iPad or iPhone, or using a PC. (view source)”

Getting started

Instead of using picture guides, there are lots of great YouTube videos  available on using Keynote.  Here is a series of videos that are very clear and just focus on ‘getting started’.  Please note that the content is not created by me, but is publicly available on YouTube.  If you like the videos, please support the creator, WCPS, by giving their videos a ‘like’, sharing their content and/or subscribing to their channel.

Creating a Keynote Presentation

One edit from the above video: to delete a slide or select options, tap on the slide icon (instead of hold) so that it highlights in blue and then tap again – this is easier than first holding.

You will notice that it still feels very much like a ‘PowerPoint’ at this stage, and it is fantastic to use.  Keynote and PowerPoint are also interchangeable – you can open your previously made PowerPoints in Keynote, and you can save Keynote presentations as PowerPoints if you wanted to use it on a school computer.

Adding Content

Modifying Content in Keynote


 

2. Presenting from Keynote in the classroom

Linking to the projector

There are different ways that you can link to a projector in class.  The easiest is if you are lucky enough to have ‘Apple TV’ set up in your classroom and Wi-Fi – however, this is unlikely so I will skip over this.

Alternatively, you can purchase an iPad (lightning) to VGA adapter which will allow you to plug your device into the wire that normally connects your laptop to the projector.  Apple’s own lightning to VGA adapter is very good, but unnecessarily expensive.  There are much cheaper versions available on Amazon or similar.  *Please note that I am not affiliated with any products I mention, and am only doing so to note examples, but am not recommending any of these products as better than any others.* A search on amazon for lightning to VGA brings up some good results – make sure that you do select one that has a lightning (not thunderbolt) connector and is compatible with VGA (it may also have an additional HDMI or other post – that is okay).

I do have my own adapter, but the school have also purchased some as they are well used not only for presentations, but for modelling how to do different things on the iPad that we are teaching the children (e.g. using Garageband, Book creator, Pages etc.)

Presenter mode

With the iPad connected to the projector with a wire, it takes away from the ‘portability’ of the iPad.  Fortunately, Keynote has presenter mode through which you can not only control the Keynote from your phone/another iPad, but you can read your presenter notes on your second device while the students only see the presentation.

Using presenter mode is easy once you’ve done it once.  The very first time that you connect the devices, you need to be using WiFi or cellular, but thereafter you don’t need to be connected to WiFi or cellular (I don’t know if this is true for two iPads though – I use my phone and my own iPad for this – my iPad is not connected to WiFi when I use it and does not have cellular.)

To use presenter mode, open the presentation on the iPad that you wish to display your presentation and also open Keynote on the device that you want to control the presentation from.  I normally use my iPhone for this.

If you have previously paired your two devices, then follow these steps to remotely control your presentation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you can’t find the iPad that you wish to control (it won’t say ‘play’ if this is the case) click on ‘devices’ as below and then choose ‘add a device’.  To add a device for the first time, you should make sure that they are both connected to the same WiFi or cellular connection – thereafter they do not need to be connected (at least, I’ve not had them connected after this point).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you’ve used presenter mode, I can guarantee you won’t want to present in any other way, especially if you use all of the extra features like presenter notes and the laser-pen simulator / drawing tools!

 

3. Creating a ‘Links Only’ presentation.

I did this as a workshop in Strathclyde University for student teachers as it is a fab tool.  For older children, they could create interactive textbooks and study guides.  In the past I’ve used it to create ‘branching narrative’ style interactive stories.  There are lots of ways to use ‘links only’ and create links to external sources and also internal slides.

Here are some of the tweets prior to and from our #MPTechTeam trip to Strathclyde University:

4. Photo Editing and Making Creative Montages using ‘Instant Alpha’

For years, I’ve been using photoshop for this very thing, but it is available on our iPads for free and is surprisingly powerful!

Truthfully, until ‘Everyone Can Create: Photo‘ came out, and I read through the chapter on using Keynote for photography – making scrapbooks and montages etc, I hadn’t even realised that this was a feature or just how amazing it was.

Instead of trying to describe the process, in the below tweet is a video of a simple creative montage in action on Keynote – whilst watching, just think about the ways that children could use it creatively for art & design, or advertising a product, or for bringing stories to life in literacy etc.

*Images used in this video are stock images purchased through Adobe Stock*

 

Hopefully this has been a helpful insight into using Keynote and why I now use it for everything!

Sorry this blog is late, I had hoped to finish it before performing in Edinburgh today, however, that wasn’t to be!  A great day though, with an audience in the tens of thousands our boys did phenomenally well – you can see what we were up to on the choir twitter feed or facebook page.

As always, please get in touch via twitter with feedback / suggestions etc

Thanks again!

Donald

 

 

The most versatile tool

Over the last two weeks, I have been mainly focusing on the ‘Everyone Can Create: Music” publication, available for free on the apple book store – looking at how we can use digital tools (with a heavy focus on GarageBand for iPad) to achieve music experiences and outcomes.  Whilst this week I am moving away from music, I would like to stick to the “Everyone Can Create” series, as one of the other publications in the series as I am currently reading each book, and they are fantastic.

This week we are looking at the most versatile tool available to us – the camera.  Of course, “Everyone Can Create: Photos” is the publication that I will mostly be referencing today, however, a physical camera (potentially combined with a computer program) or any device with camera function will enable you to achieve much of what we will look at today.

The Camera – ways to meet EXA outcomes.

I think the value of the camera is often understated in education.  Yet, it is a tool that can be used for so many different aspects of learning before we even begin to look at some of the amazing creative ideas outlined in ‘Everyone Can Create: Photos”.  With iPads/tablets/phones/class cameras, children can photograph / document aspects of their learning that they are proud of for saving digitally and sharing electronically home.  Children can capture aspects of peer performance that they like and use this for feedback.  They can capture and edit images creatively, creating montages of their learning, or IDL posters.  They can use them to capture images that will enable them to promote enterprise projects.  Really, the possibilities are endless.

However, all of this is mostly about ‘capturing’.  Photography itself is also an expressive art, and, considering this children can also create using cameras.  Take the below EXA outcomes for art and design.  All of these can be met through photography as well as by ‘drawing’ or ‘sketching’.

Let’s look at some of these to se how we can use the camera.

  • “…comparing and combining them (photos in this case) for specific tasks.”   For this one, children could capture images on a theme, combine them in a collage-maker app, or in Keynote/Pages for a different task – e.g. poster / story etc.
  • “…line, shape, form, tone, colour…” edit images creatively in mark-up or the inbuilt editor, playing with saturation, hue, white balance, lighting.
  • “…to convey ideas, thoughts and feelings…” capturing ‘mood’ in photography, looking at composition, colour choice or more.

That’s just a very quick snapshot of some of the ways we could use cameras.  It’s versatile, reliable, relevant and simple to use from nursery age right through to further and higher education.

Everyone Can Create: Photos

I do love this publication, and will be using it with my school camera club (see below for tweets from them) over the coming months.

The guide aims to teach us how to do the following, using a combination of the camera, photos, keynote and pages apps.  Even if your school doesn’t have iPads though, I’d strongly recommend you check out this fantastic publication as it does have so many great ideas that could be taken and used on different software available in your school.

  • A personalised picture
  • A portrait from the past
  • A story in a single photo
  • A moment in motion (using the iPad to create slow shutter speed images)
  • A personalised collage (using Keynote and the mask tool)
  • A photo documentary (and thinking about photo journalism)
  • A portfolio of your favourite photos

As I say, I really rate this publication and will be using it with my school camera club and also in classes.

Mark-up with younger learners

Something I love to do with younger learners is not only capture images, but to edit and personalise them.  The iPads have a fab built-in app called ‘mark up’, where children can add drawings to their pictures.  This covers digital outcomes in addition to some of the above EXA ones, so well worth doing with your learners (and they love it!)

For the below demo, I will use a stock photo from Adobe Stock.

  • Take a photo using the ‘camera’ app, or open a previously saved photo from the ‘photos’ app.

  • Select the blue ‘edit’ icon in the top right hand corner

  • There are lots of different options now that can change the lighting etc – it’s great for older children to experiment with these and get a feel for what they do.  For our younger learners using ‘Mark-Up’ though, select the ‘three dots’.  Please note, I have additional applications in this option that may not be installed on your iPad so won’t appear by default.

  • Children can then add their own annotations/drawings to edit their image creatively.  A cheap stylus is a bonus if you have one (or an apple pencil if you can!) but children can also just draw with their fingers!

  • Click ‘done’ when finished to save the image.

Other apps

There are, of course, lots of apps out there that work in a similar way to mark up, or that can be used for more advanced photo editing, but I love the sheer simplicity of mark up for our youngest learners, and have used it with P1+ in the past.

Other free apps I like to use are:

  • Keynote and Photoshop Mix (for creatively mixing images together)
  • PicCollage for children to select their favourite images and creatively put them together for display/sharing
  • Notes and pages for annotating images
  • Greenscreen apps (such as DoInk – although this is not free) for using the images as a background for a news report etc

#MPCameraClub

This year I have started a photography club in my school, mainly because a P7 wants to be a photographer when she’s older and I thought that this would be a great way to help her develop her skills – however, I’m finding that it is so beneficial and is developing such good creativity that I think it will be one I keep running for years to come!  It is open to children in P7 only, and runs after school.  The reason I mention it is that we will be starting to use the ‘Everyone Can Create: Photos” resource, mentioned earlier; but have been using the ‘camera’ creatively (funnily enough!)

I will add three of the tweets below detailing what we have done so far, but do follow us on twitter using #MPCameraClub – tweeting from @mrfeistsclass and @MossparkPS – to see more.

 

 

 

 

I hope that this blog has been helpful.

As always, if you have any comments/feedback/ideas for future blogs please do get in touch on Twitter.

Have a good week,

Donald

Using GarageBand loops to teach music

Before we should begin, I should make one thing clear.  I do not believe that technology is the only way to teach music.  The National Youth Choir of Scotland (through which I gained most of my musical education – learning about music theory and singing through the Go For series that uses Kodaly methodologies) have done incredible work in promoting music education through singing.  The only thing that I have always felt that it lacked was the creativity of composition.  I loved creating music when I was young, but never really knew how to do it, as I didn’t have the skill to compose or even understand musical notation.  GarageBand changes that.  Combined with other musical learning, GarageBand is a tool to bring creativity back into the heart of music education.

There are so many fears and concerns that music is being lost in the curriculum, and it’s true. Alongside digital literacy, it is an area that many colleagues feel unconfident in delivering effectively.  Hopefully, this blogpost will give you the confidence to experiment with GarageBand and allow your learners to do the same.  Many aspects of musical learning can be taught through GarageBand, and it also is one of the best ways to achieve the ‘musical technologies’ outcome in CfE.

Getting started

The biggest problem with GarageBand is, as it’s such a powerful program that can be used by beginners and professionals alike, its interface isn’t the easiest to navigate.  Fortunately, there are many tutorials and guides online to help, the best of which is Apple’s own “Everyone Can Create: Music” available in the apple book store for free on iOS devices.

I have put together a few slides below to help you with the interface.  I have used GarageBand with learners from P2 upwards, so it is very useable with a little bit of understanding about the main features.

Here is how to create a new piece, and a little about the main menu:

 

Learning through live loops

For this post, I am mainly ignoring the ‘instruments’ that you can play in GarageBand, as we can do this with real instruments anyway.  Of course, children should be shown them and allowed to experiment and record with them, but this is not what makes GarageBand so fantastic and useable at a young age.  The thing I will focus on is ‘Live Loops’.  Again, I have put some slides below about how to use live loops but I’d strongly recommend looking at the Everyone Can Create: Music, which allows you to download a live-loop version of Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake, to demonstrate teaching points about structure etc.  Everyone Can Create: Music is a fully comprehensive teaching and learning tool, and can be used as a script for lessons even!

Here is the basic overview of how to use live loops:

Important learning in this section is:

*Tempo

*Dynamics (using the mixer – drag the small bar beside the instruments to the right to access this)

*Key signature

*Time signature

*Beats and bars

 

Getting creative

This is more advances, and I’d only use it with upper primary – secondary.  Children can create their own loops from scratch, or at least select pre-recorded loops from the vast expanse of GarageBand loops to create their own music that hasn’t been pre-arranged.  Creativity at it’s best!  They can use the instruments in GarageBand or even their own voice to record loops if they like – but, even just selecting pre-recorded loops and thinking about structure is hugely valuable.

Here’s how to do it:

 

P6 and P7/6

This term, I am doing a music project with P6 and P7/6 in Mosspark PS every Wednesday using GarageBand (and the Everyone Can Create: Music resources).  You can follow us on Twitter using #MossparkP6 and/or #MossparkP76, or by following @MossparkPS to see what we are doing.

Conclusion

I love GarageBand.  No guide that can be made can ever be fully comprehensive in its use, as it is so powerful that its limitation is truly the imagination of the user.  I hope that this blog has helped you to get the confidence to experiment with GarageBand.  Even experimenting will show you just some of the potential of this incredible app in the classroom.

Please do send me a tweet if you have any specific questions about how to do certain things in GarageBand and I will get back to you ASAP!

Have a great week

Donald