pics2phone

As much as I love my iPad (and I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Windows PC person) the lack of ease in transferring photos to applications is frustrating, to say the least.

The issue this time was iDoceo, a brilliant marks book / electronic portfolio / lesson planner which I’ve been using for a while.

I had all my  students’ photos on my PC. I’d used the export function in Picasa to resize them and thought I’d save them on a SD Card then import them via the iPad camera kit.

No. You can’t do that, as the camera kit only works for photos created by the camera.

Okay, upload them in DropBox and …

No. Well, yes, but then I’d have to import them one-by-one from Dropbox into the photo roll. So no.

Sync via iTunes? Not a solution I want to use on a regular basis.

So?

pics2phone

I ended up buying pics2phone.

It’s an iPhone app, and it has one of the ugliest (but simplest) interfaces you’ll find.

To use it:

  1. Create a folder called pics2phone in your Dropbox root folder. (pics2phone may / may not create this for you.)
  2. Copy folders of photos into the pics2phone folder.
  3. Start up pics2phone on your iphone / ipad.
  4. Tap the ‘Download Photos Now’ button.
  5. pics2phone scans the folder in Dropbox. If it finds new photos it uploads them into your Photos app, with each  sub-folder becoming a new album.

That’s it. Photos go into Dropbox, pics2phone imports them into albums.

It’s simple, it’s reliable, it works (and yes, IT is ugly)

pics2phone icon

pics2phone icon

pics2phone_screenshot

 

Google Alerts

Google Alerts are “email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your queries”.

This is a very handy service if you have specific topics you like being kept up to date with.

Here’s the Google Alert form at www.google.com.au/alerts

Google Alert form

Google Alert form

Setting it up

There’s a few options:

  • Search query: Complete with your topic of choice. Be specific here, otherwise you may be overwhelmed!
  • Result type: Are you after News? Blogs? Videos? Discussions? Books? You can also choose Everything to be sure!
  • How often: Choose from “As it happens’, ‘Once a day’ or ‘Once a week’
  • How many: Two choices here – ‘Only the best results  or ‘All results’
  • Deliver to: Your email address.

In practice

I’m currently writing a musical based on Rapa Nui (or Easter Island).

Here’s the alert I set up and a sample of the responses I received.

Google Alert form example

 

Google Alert form example

I’ve found the system excellent. Just two days in, I received an alert about the final stages of an expedition that paddled a traditional outrigger around the Polynesian ‘triangle’ of New Zealand / Hawaii / Easter Island. Then I received an alert on an update to 360Cities with panoramic walk rounds of the Rano Raraku quarry where the stone heads were carved. Two very useful stories within one week!

 

 

 

Backwards

YouTube is a huge resource for teachers and especially so for those in the areas of Music, Multi Media and Drama.

I came across the video ‘Forward’ after following a Reddit link. The clip features music by Fred V and Grafix with video by Messe  Kopp.

The concept is simple; have your principal actor walk through a scene backwards. When finished, reverse the footage and add your music.

Student responses

I showed this to a range of year levels. I explained to them there was only one ‘special effect’, and asked if they could work out what it was. Some of the responses were quite entertaining! The clip certainly caught their attention, as all classes wanted to watch it again! It was also intriguing to hear their thoughts on where it was filmed. After some hints (look at the signs, headwear) students worked out the Middle East, then Jerusalem.

Project

We then bounced around ideas for filming our own version. With the weather still warm students were keen to try out the water effect and one group immediately saw the potential for the playground swings.

We started with a whole-class version. Two students were chosen as the ‘walkers’ and the rest of the class positioned themselves strategically along a path from the front of the school to our Performing Arts Centre. We attached the Flip Video to a tripod and balanced it on a furniture trolley for stability. The trolley was then pushed keeping pace with the students walking backwards.

Safety is obviously a concern when people can’t see where they’re going. We had a spotter (outside of the view of the camera) and I made sure nobody was falling off the trolley.

Once filmed, we downloaded the video onto our Windows 7 PCs and used the excellent VideoPad video editor to reverse the video. (If you use VideoPad, right click the clip in the timeline > ‘Change Clip Speed’ > Tick box ‘Play Clip In Reverse’)

The results were impressive, with some very ordinary actions producing totally unexpected results. Throwing jumpers or hats to the ground was especially impressive, as were any leaps or jumps.

Students then formed small groups and recorded  footage of their own which we edited and presented to a whole school assembly.

After-words

I discovered Coldplay’s ‘The Scientist’ after we completed the project. I shared the clip with one class, and although several students had seen it before, had never connected the story to the backwards filming. This clip led to a discussion of what life would be like if it ran backwards, Arthur Eddington’s ‘arrow of time’ theory and the Red Dwarf episode (and later novel)  ‘Backwards

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zite Update

Layout of the new Zite

Layout of the new Zite. Note the ‘headline news’ section with the scrolling news items, the new ‘explore icon and the updated Quicklist icon.

Zite, my favourite news aggregator, has just been updated.

As mentioned in my original post, Zite uses an algorithm to gradually tailor the app’s content to your interests. Over time this results in pages (and pages and pages!) of news and blog articles that I simply just have to read.

Awesome!

The new Zite has an updated icon (a rather fetching owl), a slicker interface and a larger database of categories (over 40,000). There’s also an interesting feature where Zite will connect to social sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Pocket and Google Reader and ‘suggest topics based on your social activity’. I hooked it up with Pocket and it returned just three new suggestions. The low number is probably because most of my Pocket clippings come from Zite in the first place!

Thumbs up or down?

Mostly up. The UI design is smart, minimalistic and easy to navigate. The number of article stubs per page is nicely varied, from 3-5 and a ‘suggested by Zite’ box, with several sliding stories, appears every few pages.

The thumbs up / down icons are now present on the page without having to activate a menu, and this makes saving to other services (such as Pocket, Evernote etc) quicker. You can also ‘thumbs up’ an article by pushing the article stub up to reveal a green thumb. Releasing it means you’ll ‘see more articles like this’. You can also navigate the various articles in a category without returning to its overview page using the ‘next’ button at the bottom of the page.

Some down. You can’t navigate between articles by the iPad tradition of swiping, which is easily forgotten as you move from app to app. Zite won’t allow you to ahve a category that it doesn’t define With 40,000 to choose from this shouldn’t be an issue, but I’d love to be able to view ‘tech theatre’ or ‘stage design’ as categories. Lastly, any pages you navigate to from a Zite page can only be viewed. You can’t send them to a service, open them in Safari or otherwise interact with them. Shame.

But Zite is (still) awesome and of course, it’s still free. Brilliant!

 

 

 

 

 

Graduation Certificates

Here are samples of the two certificates we presented to graduating students from our primary section in 2012. The Year 7 students received their certificates (along with a big slice of cake) at our annual Graduation Dinner where we celebrate the  completion of their Primary education.

The Year 2s received their certificates at a special assembly.

Both certificates were designed in Adobe inDesign with an Excel spreadsheet providing the data (names, personal pronouns etc). Contact me if you’d like a copy of the files.

Olympic Sports Symbol Posters

Olympic Posters screenshot

Here’s a free set of Olympic sports symbol posters.

Each poster features a graphic symbol of the sporting event, the name of the sport and a photo of a piece of equipment used in that sport.

Great for decorating the Olympic classroom!

Lesson ideas:

Drama

  • Spot the Sport: Divide into teams. Each team attempts to guess the sport from the symbol alone. A correct guess wins the card.
  • Sports Charades: Divide into teams. Place even piles of cards, face down,  a distance from each team. On the command players race to the pile, turn over the top card and return to their team. Players then try to guess the mimed sport. As soon as it’s guessed the next player races to the pile. First team finished is the winner.

Art

  • Designing sports: Using the cards as a model, design symbols for other sports or events. Focus on clarity and how easily recognisable the sport is.
  • Supersize Me: Make larger versions of the posters for a classroom display. Introduce enlarging techniques such as the grid or the pantograph for students to experiment with.

Olympic Sports Symbols Download

Link to resource at TES

 

Easy Portfolio app – it’s a start

 

Easy Portfolio is an app for collecting and storing student portfolio. It’s a good start but unfortunately it’s not quite ready for intense classroom use.

The good

  • You can add portfolio names (probably one per student / one per project.
  • You can add a range of document types namely video, photos, documents, urls, notes and audio.
  • You can add multiple photos, docs and videos at one time.
  • You can sort, rename, delete,email and save documents.
  • You can import from Dropbox. But not everything.
  • iPhone / iPad app in one.

The not so good:

  • Inconsistent interface makes for a confusing ride. And there are save buttons. Save buttons on an iPad? I don’t need save buttons! If I change my mind I’ll just delete the entry.
  • It takes a minimum of eight taps to add, say, a video. More if you want to rename the video. And did I mention saving? One of those taps is a save button. Forget the save button and you have to start again.
  • You can’t sort the portfolio names. Thirty students in random order? I think not.
  • You can’t select a student and then add multiple items – you have to select a portfolio each time.
  • You can’t select a document type then add multiple versions to different portfolios (such as a set of class photos). I can imagine this getting very aggravating when entering a lot of material.

So…

Give it a try, because it’s heading in the right direction and feedback ideas to the developers because there’s certainly potential here, but not quite the actuality.

Picasa Tutorials

Picasa’s been a permanent part of my PC since it first came out many years ago.

It’s easy to use, has plenty of tools for photo manipulation, a (relatively) easy to operate filing system and it’s free. So what’s not to like?

One of the gems of flash features which your students (and probably you too) will like is the picture pile function.

I wrote two sample pages on this feature for an unpublished book on utilising freeware in the classroom. Download and enjoy!


Picasa picture pile tutorial part 1      Picasa picture pile tutorial part 2

Marionettes – take two

The marionettes the year 6/7 students are making are nearing completion.

This project has certainly captured their interest and I think the combination of tools use (pliers, side cutters, knives, hot glue guns etc), technical issues (stringing, balance, weight distribution) and aesthetics (painting, costume making and props) has meant there’s been something for everyone.

I’m impressed with the problem solving that’s gone on, the sharing of techniques (inserting eyelets is TRICKY without a power drill) and the support they’ve given each other along the way.

We’ve also covered logic too. So just because your puppet / controller / lower marionette limb has gone missing doesn’t automatically mean there’s a nefarious puppet thief loose in the classroom. Especially when you find the missing pieces not soon after…