Amazing Videoing Lesson with Kinder

I just had an amazing videoing lesson with a Kindergarten class. We are going to make an iMovie about the things that help us to learn. They have been working on this unit for about 4 weeks already so they have lots of knowledge about what helps them learn.  

Two years ago we did this lesson with the iPods, but I made the movie.  This year I managed to get the teachers to agree to let the kids build the movie! So when I sat down with the kids I started with, “Are you ready for a challenge?”  They all responded with a “Yes!”.  I told them that we would be making a movie.  They all were very excited.  I let them know that we would take small videos and put them together to make a larger one and that they would do that!

So we discussed what things we need to remember when videoing.  They are usually pretty good at remembering all of the things that I would put on the list.  The usual suspects are:

  • No Finger Monsters (This is what we call the stray fingers in pictures and videos.)
  • Speak Bravely (this came from Zeniya!)
  • Be still when videoing (We talked about how if you do move move slowly.)
  • Speak quietly if you are not videoing
  • Keep the person in the center of the iPad screen.
  • No Silly business
  • Keep a good distance from the person you are videoing
  • Stay Calm (Don’t wiggle too much when you are on camera.)

We then started practicing what they were going to say.  This is when their teacher Mrs. Honey brought over the mind maps that they had been creating.  This helped them with preparing what they would say. They all went with their mind maps to think about what they wanted to say.  Then they were to come to me and tell me their sentence.

Once they had their sentence ready, I matched them with a partner and they began videoing.  We quickly realized that the room was too noisy so we all stopped and waited while I called out team names and told them to record.  The kids did an amazing job of remaining silent while their classmates recorded their sentences.

One of the things that I will need to show them next time is to have a bit of time at the beginning and the end of the video.  This helps with the putting it together part, as some of the videos are 2 secs long!

A Silent Discussion with iMessage

Today I did an experiment in grade five. We held a silent discussion using iMessage. A silent discussion you say? Yes, everyone was “talking” but all 3 locations that students were at were quiet with only the sounds of typing happening.  So let me back up and explain.

Last week I introduced the idea of using an instant message program to have a silent discussion. I explained to the kids that we would be using an instant message system to do this. We would all be “talking” at the same time in an instant message about a question that was asked.  I asked them to help me brainstorm expectations for behavior. I used these to help create the rules for the discussion that appeared on the rubric that we will be assessing them on.

Rules for Discussion:


  • Be Appropriate
  • Use VCOP
  • Reread what you have typed before you send it
  • No Emojis
  • Stay on Topic


I then explained how the discussion would work. I based the technique on Twitter chats that I have participated in. So questions would begin with “Q1, Q2, etc” and answers would begin with “A1, A2, etc.” The questions would come from me, but students were told that they could ask questions if they thought of any.

Then we practiced with some very basic questions. I had originally planned this using Google Hangouts within the Google Apps for Education (GAFE), but that feature is not very well developed and it made the chatting hard to follow and not visually easy. So before I introduced the concept to my third grade five I decided to switch to iMessage. This also allowed students to use their iPads instead of laptops and desktops which were going to be more of a logistics issue.
After the practicing I arranged to be in the same building with the teachers. I added all of the students to my contacts and put them into contact groups (only missing 3). The students came in this morning and immediately got onto their iPads and ready to participate.  We had about 3 minutes of technical sorting that needed to be done at the beginning to get everyone sorted and then we began.
Q1: Why should you not judge a book by it’s cover?

The students who are in EAL were with their EAL teachers during the discussion so that they could talk their time and have some assistance if needed with answering the questions. I wanted them to feel comfortable talking to someone to ask questions. 

One of the things that a student pointed out when we were learning about what to do, was that in a normal discussion if the teacher moves on to the next question you can’t give you answer to a previous one. That is one of the reasons I wanted to trial this. I wanted to see if it would help those students who need more time to process, participate in a discussion. Also allow those students who prefer to not talk, participate. 

Q4: How can you show that you are a good friend when you are a shy person? Or if you aren’t a shy person- How could you help a shy person become a good friend?

You may notice the students started putting their names in their answers. This is because one of the teachers pointed out that it was hard to tell who was answering. While I have the students in my contact lists, they appear named on my screen but if they aren’t in your contact list it just shows their email address which can be hard to figure out. 

One of the things that I have noticed is that because this is their first time doing this, many students were not able to do much more than read the question and type their answer. Following other people’s answers or building on them happened a few times but not as much as it does with adults. I am curious to see how long that might take grade five to begin to do this.  It might not ever happen but the potential is there.  I think as well this could be done better if the discussion were happening more slowly.  I am sure that some students found the speed quick for answering and then felt that they didn’t have time to go back and read what other students had written.
Another reason that iMessage worked better is that I was able to print the conversation out from my computer. Now I can add the conversation to their rubric and reflection for the students to put into their portfolio. I was thrilled with the way this lesson went and I look forward to trying it in other grades and with other subject areas.  I really hope that the teachers could see the potential of having occasional class discussions this way. 

iTunesU Reflections by Students

Grade five is just wrapping up using iTunesU as a way to learn how to make and iMovie.  They created their first movie on how to find the perimeter of a complex shape.  This movie was to learn the skills of how to use iMovie.  

The grade five teachers asked me to lead this lesson because they wanted the students to have movies as an option to use during Echibition.  They also were hoping to give the students another “tool” to use to show understandings that they had gained while inquiring. 

Grade Five Blog on iTunesU 
Movie Made with first iTunesU Course 

Since completing that course the students have now made 2 iMovies that contain most of the elements that any good movie would contain.  

I have decided to use the iTunesU course format again for Google Forms. So far the students have worked through the first part of the course and made their forms.  This week they will share their forms with their classmates and look at how responses come in from their forms.
Reflection on the Second iTunesU Course 


As I flew home from the UK for the Christmas break I was struck by the fact that I have stopped hearing accents as strongly as I did before.  Especially the ones that I hear regularly. I am sure that part of their is due to the fact that I am surrounded by so many accents at school.  Just in the lower school division there are UK, US, New Zealand, South African, Australian, Canadian, Zimbabwean, Irish, Mexican, and Venezuelan.  The advantage to our kids is evident  when we have guest speakers from different places that they get into the flow of listening to very quickly.

When I think about how part of our goal is to raise global citizens.  I think that part of that is the ability of our students to hear more than one accent.  When I think back to my time in Thailand the main accents were American, Canadian, Thai, and Taiwanese. While that was good the students missed out on hearing other English accents and I wonder how they would deal with listening to them.  While I lived there a fellow teacher was given a job at an English(UK) international school.  While she was there a child was removed from her class to a class with a teacher with an English (UK) accent because in their country the English accent was perceived as better.

I started this entry on my way home to the states in December.  Then yesterday at school we had a trainer for Espresso come to the school and show us this resource.  One of the teachers asked him about the accents in the videos that were on the website and he started to say how important he thought it was for kids to hear a variety of accents!  Glad I am not the only one!

Living Abroad

I thought that this article about living abroad kept it short and sweet!  10 Things About Living Abroad

I first moved abroad I left by myself to go and live on a small island in Italy called La Maddalena.  I had been to Australia for 5 months backpacking but not living and working in one place.  I arrived late in the evening and was picked up by one of my fellow teachers.  I was so tired when I got in that I hadn’t even noticed that they had made me a “survivor” basket for me.  They had made it up with all of the things that the survivor castaways had been given that season.  I still have the note that they made out of burned brown paper sacks!  Moving to a small island and living in a small town that was so similar to where I came from, minus the fact that just about everyone spoke Italian, made my move easier to process I think.

My next move was after a three year stint at home.  I got a job in Bangkok Thailand.  My parents took me to the airport with my cat, my laptop bag, and 2 suitcases.  I had mailed 2 small boxes also but that was it.  I waved goodbye and yelled “see ya in 2 years” and off I went!  I had a great friend meet me in LA and bring me a carrier for my cat (adding pets to an international move is a whole other adventure!).  After two years in Thailand I managed to move to my next location with five 25 kg FedEx boxes, and 2 suitcases.  Oh wait and the $1000 worth of FedEx shipping at employee prices which was way less then $1000!  Sometimes it is good to live in Memphis!

The next move required a car but not much more space. My parents helped me drive from Italy to England.  We stopped at Spa in Belgium so that my dad could see Eau Rouge.  Then when we got to the border to England and the passport inspector said “Can the lady in the back lean forward so I can see her!” we laughed forever. Mom said that the east side of Europe was lovely, she isn’t sure about the west side though!

In two and a half more years my next move will happen.  This move might actually come with some shipping allowance but I am torn over actually using it or just sticking to my suitcases and the adventure that comes with realising that you only have 3 pairs of pants and 5 shirts, cuz you just had to have those picture books you always read!

Photo Credit:

Kids these days

I recently read an article about why mom’s should be “mean”. How and why to be the meanest mom in the world.  Reading it made me think about what I have been saying for years that kids need to hear the word “no”.  Of course, not all the time.  I have had many a student in my classroom that don’t really know what no means. To them they think no means ask it another way, or go ask another teacher.  Very few accept no as a final answer.  Yes, kids should question things in life and yes they should have opinions,  but sometimes a no is a no.

When I have watched those “supernanny” shows in the past these points are the ones that the nanny’s always force the families to do and stick to.  It is amazing how they work!

My mother did everything on that list and I turned out to be an independent (possibly too independent), confident, happy adult.  I have a stable full time job in a country other than the one I grew up in.  I am able to make life decisions for myself or ask for help.


During the Apple event I attended on Friday, November 8th, I realized something.  I realized that and iPad can give us as teachers the freedom to allow students to choose their final assessment product.  Freedom to find information in new ways.  Freedom to collect information in new ways and freedom to express themselves in ways we haven’t even dreamt of.

Adding the iPad to the mix of options allows students to individualize on their terms.  Once they know how a few apps work and understand what apps work for them, I think that we will see a section of students blossom in a way that we haven’t in the past.  The iPad gives them a chance to do the same type of activity in many different ways.

For example say a teacher is asking for them to make a web to show their brainstorming.  Even if the teacher tells the students that the must use Popplet, they still have some freedom.  They can choose their background color.  They can choose their popple colors.  They can choose to show their brain storm as a series of pictures, text, drawings, or a combination of those three.

If a teacher gives students a task to create a book in Book Creator, then the student has even more choices with the options of video, audio and weblinks.

I think that the only thing we as teachers have to do is pull back, instead of saying giving students a list of instructions on what each page of a book should look like, they should say.  “I want a book that contains these elements, how you show them is up to you.”

Even better I want something that shows your understanding of this activity/learning.  You may choose the way you show me.  You do not have to use your iPad but you may.  If you choose to use your iPad you may use any app.  If you choose not to use your iPad you may use anything.


I recently read an article about multitasking. It made the point that basically no one does it well and that multitasking wasn’t productive.  It even had an image of a brain and what is happening in that brain when a person is trying to multitask.  I would love to see an image of a teacher’s brain while they are in school for the day!

One of the points the author made is that now that she knows about this she has trained herself to single task.  It is obvious that she works on a computer at a desk for most of her job.  Unlike teachers who are in front of 20+ students delivering a lesson, making sure that the students at least look engaged, keeping in her/his mind that child who’s English isn’t as high as everyone else’s, keeping a closer eye on the one most prone to being off task, all while watching the clock to make sure that there is enough to complete to follow up activity.  Then not loosing the plot when she/he asks are there any questions and a student who normally doesn’t raise their hand very eagerly raises theirs and asks “Can I go to the bathroom?”

I think that teachers rock multitasking in ways that would make most people who work in an office go insane.  We have to work with small groups while at the same time monitor the rest of the room to make sure Susie isn’t hitting Joey over the head with the pillow in the reading area.  Or that Jane has returned from the bathroom and has gotten back on task.

I do wonder if anyone has ever done any research on this!  Hmmmmmm

Oh The Possiblities

I saw a post on Twitter from Cailean Hargrave (@CaileanUk) at IBM that contained this video.  It got me thinking about innovation and technology.  This is a movie made by IBM researchers who are testing the limits of data storage.  They are actually manipulating atoms in order to find ways to store more data.  While doing their research they took time to create a movie by moving atoms frame by frame.

What could our kids come up with if we allowed them time to play and explore while they were researching?  This was created and thought of by adults who probably had timelines, deadlines and bosses breathing down their necks.  What could our kids do if we let them know that it is okay to explore and get side tracked while researching.  Who knows what it could lead to?

The Cloud Explained

I hear people all the time refer to the cloud like it is a mythical creature.  In simple terms it is a hard drive somewhere on the internet that you access through a web browser.  Some where in the world, probably in an old Cold War bunker, is a computer where your files are being stored.  You use a website to create a link between your computer and that hard drive so you can access it. The term “cloud” is another way to say the “internet”.

“The Cloud” is a wireless network across the UK. “iCloud” is Apple’s cloud service, but it doesn’t matter what you call it, they are all using the internet to store files.

Why would you want this?  Well, it means that your files are able to be accessed anywhere anytime as long as you have a internet connection.
As an international teacher this first appealed to me because it meant that I wouldn’t need to constantly be carrying a portable hard drive everywhere.  Then I realized that it was even simpler.  I didn’t need to take my work computer home or carry a USB stick anymore, because I would be able to access my files both at home and at work.
The cloud can be a great thing.  And since the cloud’s drives are more consistently backed up than most people’s home computers, they are more reliable.  At the moment space is limited on the cloud, unless you pay for extra, but as the cloud continues to grow, more space will come for free. 
My favorite cloud services.–  You get 2GB for free but if you refer people you can “earn” up to 18GB– This is the storage side of Google Docs where you get 15GB for free to store your created Google docs and other documents that you upload.
Both require accounts and a bit of set up.