Saturday, July 8, 2017

Words of Wisdom: crafting digital texts creatively and collaboratively

Words of Wisdom - a workshop at the AATE/ALEA national conference Hobart 2017

Workshop outline
How does literacy and learning differ in classrooms where students have access to personal devices and online tools? What are the pedagogical implications for digital writing instruction? In this workshop we explore how teachers can support students to effectively craft multimodal digital texts appropriate to audience and purpose.

It will be argued that teachers need a deep understanding of the creative workflows for planning and producing digital texts. Furthermore they need to establish a participatory culture, utilising online tools such as Edmodo and Google apps, to promote collaboration and maximise student creativity and critical thinking.

This workshop draws on recommendations from the “iLearn Anywhere Project”, a longitudinal study (2014-2016) in which 500 primary students utilised iPads as a personal learning tool.

Participants will investigate classroom case studies, including the ‘Words of Wisdom’ project, for evidence of the pedagogical strategies and supports used to facilitate the digital authoring process.

iLearn Anywhere project background
In 2014, eight Catholic Education primary schools engaged in a 1-1 ipad trial to support their learning, particularly in Literacy and Numeracy.  The iLearn Anywhere website documents the project and provides the supporting resources.

Words of Wisdom workshop presentation slides

Click on the images to download.

Words of Wisdom

The Board Game project


iLearn literacy, numeracy and religious education in a 1 to 1 iPad classroom video

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Multi-modal text creation with the Book Creator App in Stage 1

The Book Creator App is a simple but powerful digital book creation App. It provides students with the opportunity to work with digital technologies to create texts that incorporate a range of multi-modal elements through the ability to incorporate text, photos, drawings, sound and video.  Additionally the new feature to be able to share privately or embed their books publicly via a teacher account provides even more options for publishing to a wider authentic audience.

The Book Creator App can support teachers to engage students in the range of modes and skills required to meet the English K-10 syllabus outcomes:

  • Speaking and listening (communicating)
  • Reading and Viewing
  • Writing and Representing
Skills:  * Grammar, Punctuation and Vocabulary  *Spelling   *Responding and Composing    *Handwriting and using digital technologies  *Thinking imaginatively and creatively  *Expressing themselves  *Reflecting on learning

Stage 1 Activity
In a recent activity, Year 2 students students were introduced to the Book Creator App and were asked to create a simple digital book about their favourite animal in the App in pairs.

Learning Intention
Use Book Creator App on the iPad to create an ebook about our favourite animal

Success Criteria
Know how to:
  • Use different strategies to capture a drawing of our favourite animal - draw straight into App, draw on paper and take a photo and add to book
  • Use the camera to capture a photo of ourselves for our book
  • Add a title for our book
  • Change the background colour of our page to personalise our book
  • Add audio to capture our thinking
Task instructions
  • Work in pairs
  • On the iPads go to Book Creator
  • Start a new book with the + button
  • On the cover use the + button take a photo of the two in pair plus add a title
  • On the first page the first person in the pair will use the draw tool to draw their favourite animal and type the name of the animal
  • The second person will draw in their reading group books their animal and then go to next page and use the photo tool to take a photo of it and add to the book
  • Each person then interviews the other using the recording option on that person page about why it is their favourite animal and adds the recording.
Sample books from students after first session
Viewed via the new Book Creator teacher account embed option.
Feedback on the activity
  • Students were writing and representing their knowledge through drawings and text.
  • Students choice of animal as well as the ability to personalise their book allowed them to express their own individual style and knowledge in the task.
  • The interview aspect using the recording feature developed student's speaking and listening communication skills
  • The features of the Book creator App engaged the students to think creatively and discover different ways of representing their knowledge.
  • Helped lower achievers show their learning and build their confidence
  • Students were able to problem solve and work together. Very confident by the end of the session
  • Allowed students to be more engaged in their learning
Ideas for developing further skills with Book Creator for Year 2
  • Warm up - a Mr Squiggle type drawing
  • Ability to layer and lock layers - maybe build on a plan of their house, or what would characters  look like - prediction. So they learn about layers, can build on things, design mentality do things in parts
  • Build vocabulary - a word then next student does a drawing for the word and then next student guesses what it is and writes the word and then so on - for 6-8 times (based on Tellestrations game)
  • Write sentences and then use the read to me feature to check spelling and grammar construction of the sentence
  • Embed video for example a science experiment that the students record
  • Hyperlinks to web resources via text (press down on the word to select it in text edit mode and then choose hyperlink)
  • Oral feedback onto their books from teachers
  • Portfolio of their learning - say in science, geography or history

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Across the Ocean - a whale's story - a beautiful interactive school created narrative

A beautiful interactive audio visual iBook has been created from the writing, artwork and music from K-6 students at St Canice’s Catholic Primary School Katoomba around the story of a whale and her calf.

Students were inspired to create the story, to connect with a sculpture they had created and installed at Scenic World Katoomba.  It follows the adventure of the baby whale, Isaac, separated from his mother in a storm at sea and his encounters with a submarine and a island of garbage.

Student's created the storyline and artwork to go with the Whale story and then with the support of Principal Mark Geerligs, Teaching Educator - Music, Phil Rooke and classroom music teacher Kristina Frazer they also created music reflective of the story which was incorporated into a communal iBook.

The purpose of the soundtracks were to provide a musical soundscape to the whale sculpture and the story. The challenge was for the whole school to contribute to and create the soundscape from available sound sources; eg instruments in the classroom, body percussion and voice.

The sound samples were recorded in class on March 2017 in groups from Kindergarten to year 6 and in the case of Kindergarten, year 1 & 2, a whole class choir was formed to record the actual ‘whale song’.

This sound track features some deep sounds and also some spatial effects. For example, the baby whales appear at the beginning and are chasing after the mother whale - the mother whale (The "Hmmm" recorded by Kindergarten) can be heard deeper down and mixed more to the centre of the track. The Baby whales (The "woo" recorded by year 1 class) is a 'call and response' which shifts around the stereo field from the left to the right in response to the much deeper "mother whale"

How schools can use this iBook
Schools can use this as a stimulus for writing narrative both in digital and print form.  Using an iPad students can create a similar ebook using Book Creator by creating the text with artwork either digitally with an App like Brushes or via including a photo of a  physically created artwork.  Then students can record relevant music or audio to accompany the Book Creator ebook.

Where you can get Across the Oceans - a whale's story iBook 
You can download the iBook for free from the iBooks store at Across the Ocean - a whale's story.  Remember that you can download iBooks to an iPad or to the latest Macbook with OSX 10.9 as long as you have the free iBooks App on the Mac.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Creating iBooks or eBook Apps

The iPad is a great tool for students to create and publish their own books. Following up from the previous post on Creating your own iBook, there are now a number of Apps that can be used on the iPad to create your own iBook or eBook App.

  • Book Creator
  • Creative Book Builder
  • Demi Book Composer (free)
  • Ebook creator
  • Ebook magic

A great summary of the above Apps can be found at Technology Bits Bytes & Nibbles.

A comparison of which one to use can be found at : The Amazing iPad.

One schools collaborative iBook using Pages App as well as Drawing Pad and Whiteboard Lite - iPads at Burley.

A useful presentation at Author Stream on How to Create an Ebook. For some detailed instructions on using Creative Book Builder start from slide 26.

For a quick ebook of any website or blog use dotEPUB. You can install a bookmarklet on your iPad which will automatically convert the webpage you are viewing to an ebook. I quickly and easily converted pages from this blog into an ebook via dotEPUB's bookmarklet (see pic above).

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Learning with the Olympics

The Olympics are always a rich opportunity for students to use the 4C's across the curriculum:
Some ideas:
  • Geography:  look local then expand global - where do our athletes come from in Australia, where do they train, what is their story?  Compare this to other athletes across the world. Where is the host Olympic country and what do you know about it.? See the Games Overview.
  • Numeracy:  How many athletes are competing from Australia and across the world, what is the percentage of Australian athletes to all athletes? How many countries are competing?
  • History:  Who has competed in more than one Olympics?  When did a particular sport start in the Olympics?
  • Literacy:  Research, read and write about the Olympics and the athletes and countries involved.
Below is a Google slide with some starting information about our female football team 'The Matilda's" that could be used for students explore a range of learning connections:
  • RESEARCH and locate more information about the team, the players and female football.  Why are they called the Matilda's? What countries are they playing? What is a midfielder?  Search for the details about an athlete by name here.
  • CREATE  a biography for themselves as if they are an Olympian like this one adjacent at Lisa De Vanna's profile or alternatively use Google forms to interview another student to gather their Olympian profile, (scroll down to Q&A)
  • CRITICALLY analyse information and create infographics using Google Slides or Canva about the athletes or the team or other Olympic information. (Remember to change the Google Slide dimensions to an infographic format or copy my infographic template from here).  Use to find great  creative commons licenced icons for the infographic.
  • COLLABORATE on a class Google My Map of the athletes using data gathered by the students about the athlete's town, their age, position in the team, favourite food, photos etc.
  • COMMUNICATE a fan message to one of the team that tells the athlete an  interesting fact the student discovered out about them and wish them well.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

21st Century Learning and the integration of Religious Education and Literacy.

Students at Sacred Heart have been unpacking The Holy See - Misericordiae Vultus which was written by Pope Francis reflecting on the Year of Mercy. Students used Lego Movie Maker to summarise their understanding of the text so far. Students are highly enthusiastic and have created some fantastic movies.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A learning process at St Bernies in Lalor Park!

The staff (including myself) learnt a lot last Term when using the iPads to enhance learning. We discovered the amount of work that needed to go into allowing the students to authentically create using the SAMR model. Here is a look at what the SAMR model is all about:
We were given the task to create an image that needed to be framed by the end of the term to be sold individually at the Fete. The image had to capture the theme of "light".
At the beginning of the term, we discussed how we wanted the image to be created with our year 5 and year 6 students. We decided that we wanted to focus on photography in visual arts, and on inspirational quote writing in English (with a strong link to our Growth Mindset focus that we have been doing throughout the year).
The students begun the term by looking at photography techniques, and then practicing the specific technique. For example, students looked at distance (zooming) and how this impacts the image. Students discussed how the response to an image can be changed due to how far away certain objects are.  Mrs Nicole Sprainger also aided with teaching students some photography techniques which aided the students learning immensely.
The students begun their process by understanding what the end task needed to look like. We showed students examples of images linked with inspirational quotes. Students analysed what the quote meant and why the background image was chosen. Students began to understand how important it was to have the image link with the quote.
Students then began writing their own inspirational quotes and how to write short and sharp texts. This process took many weeks and students began to critically analyse their own work. They chose the one quote they liked the most. After this, they started to capture images from around the school that they believed linked to their quote. They were taught how to edit their image using many apps on the iPad. Students were able to choose the app they thought best suited their piece of work. This also took many weeks to teach. Students needed to play around with the app in order for the real learning to occur.
After this, students choose their final edited image and began the process of adding the text to their image. Students needed to understand how to add text successfully. This meant looking at the font style, the colour of the font and the size of the font.
Once students completed this, it was all over! We printed each students photo and framed them.
Here are some of the finished products:

I am sorry for the red boxes, I wanted to get rid of the students names. Myself and the other Stage 3 teachers were so proud of what the students had created! Even students of our lowest ability were able to achieve success due to the amount of time we spent on each little element of this project. The second image I have uploaded was created by one of our most vulnerable students.
If you would like to know more please don't hesitate to email me on

Tanya Janssen