Lego EV3 & iPads 

  
There are always challenges with new “stuff” and from my perspective that’s part of the fun. Today we ran a session with two Year 5 classes using Lego EV3 robots that we had recently purchased. This was experimental. We have used Lego Mindstorms before, but this was our first venture using the EV3s and in teaming them with our iPads via Bluetooth. 

The sessions went really well. Preparation for this activity was crucial. We were dealing with a newly acquired app and a new robot. We also needed to put together a series of activities which would entice and challenge the children. It was also important to anticipate different capabilities and provide enough progressively for the children to complete in just under two hours.

Lesson overview:

Introduction:

  • The EV3 Brick – input, output, navigation, display
  • The Robot – physical attributes 
  • The App – lobby, robot educator, programs
  • Geometry and measurement
  • Programming – motors, forward, back, turning, rotations, angles, wait, loop (note: introduced sensors briefly, but not required for this lesson)
  • Bluetooth 

 
  

   

The greatest challenge, it turned out, wasn’t actually to do with programming or in completing tasks, but was actually about enabling the Bluetooth connection. This is where playing before introducing technology is vital. As soon as we started experimenting with Bluetooth on the EV3s we realised that all the robots had the same name and that with multiple robots and multiple children robots needed to be easily identifiable. We named each EV3 brick to avoid confusion. Additionally we noticed that sometimes the EV3 Programming App didn’t pickup the Bluetooth connection even though in settings the Ev3 and the iPad were paired. This was resolved by restarting the app (double click the home button on the iPad and then push away the programming app). Even the pairing process wasn’t simple when adjusting settings on the brick via the buttons. Here I must say that once paired the Bluetooth interaction between the iPad and the EV3 was brilliant – getting rid of clumsy plugging of wires made it easy. 

The short video below shows the students in action. The children worked, cooperatively, collaboratively and purposefully. There was full engagement across the two Year 5 class sessions. The other thing which was great to see was the perseverance of groups to complete tasks even following repeated failure. It was a rich learning experience for us all. 

A Visit From Northern New South Wales

   
We recently hosted the visit of a leadership team from a school in Coffs Harbour. The visitors had travelled to Sydney to learn specifically about technology integration occurring at a couple of schools in Sydney.

The visitors were treated to a smorgasbord of technology integration. They enjoyed opportunities to interact with the children and they were provided with opportunities to connect with teachers. 
As I journeyed around the school, facilitating the visit, I was privileged to witness  some great learning in action. This is possibly the best part of my job – seeing the engagement of our students and the innovative ways in which technology has permeated our learning programs. We are happy to open our doors and to share what has worked for us and make valuable connections with other educators too. 

Below is the plan for the visit which provides a snapshot of the experience.

Visit Plan:

1:00pm – Principal, ICT Coordinator  – Meet / Greet – looking at the Vision, challenges and imperitives

1:30pm –  Year 3 class teacher (ADE) sharing his experiences blending, flipping and helping to drive STEM initiatives

1:50 –  Librarian – eBooks, QR Codes and Aurasma 

2:00 – Year 4 Maths in action creating interactive games using Futaba

2:10 – Year 3 Maths in action, differentiated leaning in a blended classroom using Stile

2:20 –  Music Year 5, GarageBand in action – creating music inspired by Star Wars

2:30 – Year 1 HSIE, Wet and Dry Environments using Pic Collage

Year 1 HSIE, Wet and Dry Environments using Popplet

2:40 – Year 4 Student Share Time – looking at student work samples and teacher experience – including CBL and 3D Printing

2:55 – Year 5 Student Share Time – looking at student work samples and teacher experience – including Book Creator Science Journals, Stop Motion, Keynote, iMovie, Minecraft

  

 STEM / STEAM In Action

Is this a school or a SCIENCE LABORATORY?

Over the last few days I have had the pleasure of observing our Year 3 Students at work. I enquired about the experiments underway.

“In Year 3 we are learning how to investigate a specific part of the universe known as Heat. We learn what heat is, how it moves through the world and what kinds of things can be changed by heat. We have created our very own testable questions about heat, and then designed and carried out experiments to try and answer these burning questions about thermal energy.”

What struck me was the focus of the children purposefully at work and the seamless, natural use of iPads to record and reflect on their observations and conclusions. What I was seeing, from these nine year old students, was real scientific process and authentic learning occurring. 

This short video gives a small window into the great learning being experienced. 

 http://youtu.be/AzDDRik1i9s 

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A few steps away in another learning zone, this time Year 5, I found students in action conducting experiments on microorganisms. Here too I was seeing real scientific process as the students tested conditions which might influence the growth of mould on bread. Here too I was struck by the richness of the learning and by the engagement of the children as they conducted their experiments. 

  
And then off to one side I stumbled upon a bizarre group of petri dishes also in various stages of growing “something”. Here was, as it turned out, a great and unexpected example of Science and Art at work. The Year 5 students were attempting to grow microorganisms in patterns to create works of art. It was clearly an example of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths) in action. The other aspect which I found particularly exciting was that the Year 5 teachers had brought a Scientist from the UNSW and a working Artist into the learning experience. These “real life” participants brought a sense of authenticity into the classroom. Being able to bring professionals into learning environments is now easier than ever before. Technology breaks down the physical barriers and opens great possibilities. 

 

Broadening Our Horizons

Last week we were asked to share our 1:1 iPad student experience at an Enterprise Conference at Sydney’s Intercontinental Hotel. One of our teachers Mr B and his Year 3 Maths class attended.

This is Mr B’s account of the event, to over 100 participants, from some of Australia and New Zealand’s largest companies .

“At the end of my 15 minutes presentation, I said ‘You know, I could stand up here all day and tell you about what we do with iPads and Education, but instead why not show you?’ It was a great reveal as the whole audience turned around and then to their surprise, the doors opened and in walked my Year 3 Maths class looking super happy and confident. It was really a great moment! They interacted with the audience and illustrating their creativity, proficiency and capabilities. Many people were amazed at the competency of our 9 year old students. The feedback received from the delegates was overwhelmingly enthusiastic. At the end, the audience made a huge tunnel and cheered us out of the room which I know made the kids feel like true rock stars.
It went incredibly well. The presenters said on multiple occasions that it went better than they ever could have imagined, so it is a huge testament to our students.
It was a fantastic event.”

(No picture available at this time)

Throughout the year we have hosted several “in school” visits of both local and International educators, but this was the first time we had participated in an external event of this nature. Managing and facilitating such moments involves considerable time and energy on the part of all involved, but the benefits are also great.
*Our students gain confidence, esteem and they love to showcase their work
*Our teachers feel empowered and more connected
*Our school gains affirmation and gathers momentum for meaningful change
*Our community recognises that we are striving to be the best we can be
*And we, of course, hope that sharing our experience benefits others

Stile: A Few Impressions

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Early in Term 3 we commenced a trial of an application called Stile. You can read in more detail on a previous post https://rhp123.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/a-stile-ish-journey/
Since my first introduction to Stile, over a year ago, I have toyed with doing a trial. I think, now that we are concluding our trial, that Stile might be the truly robust teaching / learning solution that we have been seeking to team with our iPad Program. I must stress here that nothing is ever perfect. I still like Edmodo, Dropbox and iTunes U etc. I also keep stumbling on great new options like the new Glogster app. Possibilities are growing and the ground is constantly changing. One of the things that appeals about Stile is that it can easily fit into an eclectic environment like ours. When choosing something new, to use across K to 6, we need to take a firm step particularly as this application (Stile) will cost the school money.

When we came to undertake our trial, during Term 3, we needed a reasonable amount of time to really get the trial up and running across the K to 6 classes. This was provided. We also needed to run our trial across all of our classrooms. We wanted to know whether Stile would be suitable and be adopted by all age groups and potentially by all teachers. We wanted to know if Stile would make a significant difference wherever it was employed. I must say that the Stile team have been very helpful and supportive throughout and their willingness to accommodate our needs has helped to make our trial a meaningful one.

As our trial has drawn to a close we have sought teacher impressions. These are provided below via an exit survey which we posted in Google Forms. We sought responses from teachers who had really engaged in using Stile as part of their regular classroom activity during the trial period.

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Improving the Journey – Airserver

Until recently we were using a VGA connector to display our iPads on our Smartboards. This meant that we were tied to a physical connection to a computer. We considered using Apple TV, but found that many of our projectors didn’t have an HDMI capacity. We then explored the idea of an HDMI adapter. This wasn’t a cheap option and the quality wasn’t great.
We then found Airserver http://www.airserver.com . Airserver is proving to be a brilliant display solution. Here I must stress Airserver isn’t Apple TV. Airserver is really just provides the airplay capability that Apple TV enables.
The reason that Airserver is a good solution for us is that it is cheaper than Apple TV, it interacts well with old projectors without HDMI, it can display multiple iPad screens (up to eight without too much distortion), it provides good quality audio and visual wireless display via a PC.
If you go with the Airserver option you should install a couple of additional programs (free) which are recommended during the Airserver installation such as Bonjour.

We have installed Airserver on several PCs which we have connected to Smartboards and the application is being used actively by students and teachers. In general it has been pretty reliable.
The other evening our PA (Parent Association) were doing a cooking evening. We were able to use Airserver in conjunction with iPads and a projector to display close up images of the food preparation to the audience in a large hall area. It may also be useful to provide close up vision of our band in action during performances.
In small group work it has also been useful as the teacher can keep an eye on the work being done on several iPads at once.
Clearly though the big advantage is being able to gain mobility and for students and teachers to use the displays from anywhere in the space.

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I must emphasise that Airserver isn’t a complete entertainment and display system like Apple TV. It is just a simple airplay option.

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Above: The PA cooking class in action.

More Than Just A Few Souvenirs (1:1 iPad Program)

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The iPad Program has revolutionised our school in many ways and a number of by-products have been generated as a result of their adoption.

Firstly we were forced to evolve our connectivity. Clearly our old wireless network, stitched together with a mixture of different branded wireless access points, wasn’t going to be reliable or fast enough for the onslaught of so many data hungry devices. Initially we trialled a Cisco access point (we chose a device which could become a part of a managed network) and over the course of about a year we progressively built a managed CISCO wireless network.Today we have 10 access points which work together seamlessly so that no matter where we are in the school buildings, and in some areas of the playground, the wireless network is available all the time. There has been a shift in our thinking. In the past we would have felt satisfied with our destination. Today we are more aggressively aware and ready to change as innovation occurs.

We needed a better internet connection. A single ADSL line servicing our network was ineffective and we added two more lines. This we thought would be adequate. And it was for download, but suddenly upload was a growing necessity. This was a challenge for a small primary school with limited resources. In the end we managed to bring in a fibre optic connection which increased our upload capacity (10 up) as much as we can afford at the moment. The fibre does provide the possibility for us to massively increase capacity if we need to (and can afford to) in the future.

One of the other major by-products has been a shift amongst our students and teachers to “The Cloud” in a variety of ways. The DNA of iPads was a challenge to us when we started out. We were very “earth bound” by this I mean locally based. Everything was saved to our servers and that was where the data stayed to a large extent. The iPads are all about the mobility of data and this opens possibilities to share, flip, blend etc. Mobility of data between school, home or anywhere is a real shift for us and an exciting one for us to start to leverage. The sooner we can get away from those “earth bound” restrictions the better. Great too to escape the clumsy school server network and associated costs and failures. We haven’t quite escaped yet, but hope that we will one day soon. The iPad has certainly moved us substantially towards The Cloud through a host of options such as Dropbox, iCloud, Edmodo, Google Apps for Education, YouTube, Evernote etc.

Our attitude as educators and as students has changed. The niggling issues around ease of access, reliability, time, capacity and capability are greatly improved. As a result technology is enabled and possibilities are opened in classrooms. This has added another real dimension to our Professional Development. Teachers are more eager to learn, share and exchange ideas as they recognise the technology tool as an asset to their teaching rather than often seeing it as a liability. Suddenly too we are rethinking traditional learning spaces as we realise the need for flexibility.

The result of all of this has been a substantial shift in the way we are thinking about technology. It is becoming more of what it should be a simple and integral part of the school environment. Our iPad Program has opened our minds about the possibilities available and got us thinking actively about innovation to improve student outcomes and that’s so much more than just a great souvenir from our journey.

Reflecting On The Journey

Our school is a Primary school (K – 6). We embraced a 1:1 iPad roll out in 2013.

Powerful Transformative Learning: Ideas around Workflow, SAMR (http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/) and TPCK (http://www.tpack.org) can become a reality in a 1:1 iPad program.

A host of different applications are in play across classrooms. Our school hasn’t attempted to be prescriptive. Allowing a degree of freedom amongst teachers has opened possibilities and teachers are also offering students options which expand the learning opportunities to individualize and to differentiate. We have tried to tailor applications to class needs, however certain apps are staple across most grades including all the Apple Applications iMovie, Pages, Keynote, Numbers, GarageBand, also Book Creator, Creative Book Builder, Edmodo, Explain Everything, Puppet Pals and Visualize. The more “open ended” applications are the most useful providing greater scope to both teachers and students. Student-centred, authentic, project-based learning experiences are being enhanced and inspired by the application of iPads.​

The capability of delivering content quickly through iTunes U, Edmodo, Showbie and Evernote has made opportunities for blended learning and of flipping Classrooms a reality. Teachers are developing class blogs or arranging Skype links with classes in other countries and bringing experts virtually into the classrooms and into children’s homes to support learning

Teachers are also actively using iPads to augment their assessment of student progress. The capability of the iPad to record learning moments, collect, collate and report is impressive.​
Our library has developed an eBook collection and borrowing system which means that students can access digital books virtually on a range of devices. This has opened access for students and learning opportunities in our classrooms.

Curriculum
In Australia there has been substantial change with regard to the Curriculum. The new Australian National Curriculum is seeking to integrate technology across all strands of the Curriculum. Our provision of iPads to all students in years K to 6 has provided the capability to achieve this. Teachers are redesigning their teaching programs to reflect the integration of technology, and in particular the integration of iPads, as the New Curriculum is released. Our school has a Curriculum Coordinator helping to coordinate change. The process is very much a collaborative team effort.
The Australian Curriculum includes seven General Capabilities as can be seen in the diagram below ICT Capability is identified as one of the seven General Capabilities to be addressed across the Curriculum.

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© Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority

Teacher Development
Our mission as educators, at our school, is to transform the potential technology offers to improve teaching and learning practices and ultimately, student outcomes.
The school has committed to developing a strong culture of learning aimed at developing learners for the 21st Century.
Our teachers have been actively involved in a comprehensive learning program. A Whole School approach was undertaken which targeted several key areas.
Differentiate teaching to meet specific needs of students across the full range of abilities.
Teachers undertook to complete a number of learning opportunities presented in an iTunes U Course and demonstrate differentiated strategies in programming of Curriculum including the use of technology to individualize and differentiate
Technology – Effective integration of iPads and other technology resources within the Curriculum.
Provision of an Apple Certified Educators (via external providers) to provide a structured mentoring program and workshops.
Crucially the school has continued to develop a Culture of Thinking (both amongst teachers and the students) where learning is more purposeful, deeper and more meaningful to students. ‘Thinking’ is an integral part of the learning process. Visible Thinking is tied strongly to our use of technology, Project Based Learning and broader Curriculum Outcomes. http://www.visiblethinkingpz.org
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Changing Spaces
The arrival of real mobile technology via the iPad has opened possibilities to change pedagogical practices. The way that classrooms are working is changing too. Escaping from traditional classrooms to more versatile spaces is another great by product of the iPad Program. Entering classrooms it is common to see children on floors, sitting in pairs, in clusters or just moving and doing, as well as working in traditional formations. What is clear is that spaces need to be able to accommodate many ways of learning and collaborating.
We are starting to think about how we can achieve this using existing structures, by adapting furniture, creating movable walls, using glass to open the environment, as well as reviewing timetables and student groupings. The school is engaging in a process to identify and plan, so that our existing and future buildings and spaces can be designed to accommodate for the changing needs of students, teachers, curriculum and the community.

Creative Book Builder – A Year 5 student talks about his work.

A short video explaining the creation of an iBook about Microorganisms using Creative Book Builder (app) on an iPad.

Transformation SAMR and Redefinition

It is interesting to consider how apps might be used to satisfy the various transitions in the SAMR Model. This is a work in progress and this reflects my understanding of the model. I am starting by looking at Redefinition. When I attended Dr. Puentedura’s sessions, at a recent conference, he described work where all four transitions were being involved in the completion of learning tasks. In the suggestions here, for example, when a word processor is used in Book Creator or Evernote this would really just be “Substitution” and yet it forms part of the “Transformed” / “Redefined” product which is the desired outcome. We can strive towards “Redefined” products, but not all work needs to be at that level and often doesn’t need to be. Sometimes a “Substitution” e.g. Watching a video in preparation for a flipped lesson can offer a rich learning experience or using an app such as “Side by Side” to help research a topic can improve the effectiveness of the process.
Additionally, I recently saw a wheel which attempted to combine Blooms Taxonomy with SAMR and with apps. This is useful, but needs to be viewed in the context of how the app is used e.g. Explain Everything (app) can be used as a simple whiteboard to record notes or at a more sophisticated level as an annotation or screen casting tool. How the app is employed is important to consider when viewing in the context of either Blooms or SAMR.
http://www.edudemic.com/2013/05/new-padagogy-wheel-helps-you-integrate-technology-using-samr-model/

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Below I consider how apps might fulfil the Modification Transition in the SAMR Model.

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Below are the groups of apps used by Dr. Puentedura in presentations at a recent conference. He used an app for each transition to create a learning sequence.
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Sequence 1:
iPhoto – substitution
Timeline 3D -augmentation
Quick Graph – modification
Interior Design for iPad – redefinition
Sequence 2:
iBooks – substitution
Timelines Eons – augmentation
iThoughtsHD – modification
iMovie – redefinition
Sequence 3:
Khan Academy – substitution
Coach’s Eye – augmentation
Algodoo – modification
Comic Life – redefinition
Sequence 4:
Google Earth – substitution
My Maps Editor – augmentation
JMF Graph Builder – modification
Safari website – redefinition
Sequence 5:
iTunes U, video discussion – substitution
Word Collage – augmentation
eClicker Presenter – modification
iMovie – redefinition
Sequence 6:
iTunes text book, Life on Earth – substitution
Peterson Birds of North America – augmentation
Numbers (graphing data) – modification
iMovie – redefinition

Links to Dr. Puentedura’s presentations
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Paths to Technology Integration: keynote presentation http://t.co/tIIagzCeEz
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SAMR: Moving from Enhancement to Transformation” workshop: http://t.co/DPIdH5ZC8U

Below is a workflow from a previous post which I think adds to the discussion. In this workflow a number of different apps are used to create a learning experience which encompasses different stages of the SAMR Model and would meet the criteria to provide a “Transformative” experience.

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More about the SAMR Mode on this blog:
Improving the Journey – SAMR
https://rhp123.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/improving-the-journey-samr/

Revisiting SAMR with Dr. Ruben Puentedura
https://rhp123.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/revisiting-samr-with-dr-ruben-puentedura/

Transformation Example 1: This short video was created by a Year One student using an iPad. He sourced pictures and used iMovie to create a narrative around the pictures on the topic Shelters.

http://youtu.be/KtomFkQxX84

Example 2: Here a student is working in the Book Creator app in conjunction with Visualize app to create a product (creating a workflow).

http://youtu.be/lOxIDgtPXXE