Rapanui Kickstarter Project

My Google alert feed on all things Rapa Nui (my latest musical ‘Compass Rose’  is set there) suggested this great Kickstarter Project: ‘Vai –  The Story of Water On Rapa Nui‘.

Paleoecologist Dr. Candice Gossen plans to create a documentary film covering 15,000 years of Rapa Nui history and, in her own words:

“Tell you a story, a new story about what I found deep down in the mud below the waters of the crater lake Rano Kao“.

With so much speculation and misinformation regarding Rapa Nui and its tragic history, this seems to be a most worthwhile project to get behind.

Personally, I’ve plumped for the tree gift ($25 or more) as Rapa Nui needs all the trees it can get!

Take a look yourself and consider making a pledge.

kickstarterscreenshot

Vai – The Story of Water on rapa Nui: Kickstarter website screenshot.

 

 

360Cities Rapa Nui Panoramas

I love the colourful and personal world-view that Google Maps and  Street View have brought to my classroom.

I’ve now added 360Cities to my teaching toolkit as they take Street View and turn it into an immersive (you guessed it!) 360 degree panorama.

I’m writing a children’s musical set on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and was alerted to a 360cities panorama of the Ran Raraku quarry, where the famous heads were carved:

 


Inside Rano Raraku : The Moai Quarry in Rapa Nui – Easter Island

This one shows the Ahu Akivi moai, the only ones to actually face the ocean.

Ahu Akivi (Front Left) in Rapa Nui – Easter Island

This one shows the Ahu Tongariki, the largest moai on the island.

 


Another Day At Tongariki (Front Center) in Rapa Nui – Easter Island

The 360Cities site requires Flash, so there’s no visiting on your iPad! Fortunately, there is an app, and since it allows you to make your own panoramas, it’s excellent value.

Panoramas are user uploaded, so popular tourist sites are over-represented and some places have none at all. That aside, my quick sampling (birth place in UK, recent trip to New Zealand, Canada and interest in Easter Island) all turned up useful views.

And of course, your students could make their own too!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drumkit Rock Rhythms Poster

At its most basic, a drumkit rock rhythm can have just just four components: a snare drum hit on beats 2 and 4, a bass drum hit on beats 1 and 3.

The pdf  poster features eight variations on this idea, each adding a slightly more complex hi-hat pattern or bass-drum variation.

The bass drum is coloured red, the snare green and the hi-hat blue.

Small groups of students can play these patterns together. Allocate one student to the bass / snare pattern and a second to the hi-hat pattern. The hi-hat pattern can also be duplicated on the ride cymbal and (lightly) on the bell of the crash cymbal.

Before playing the patterns on the kit, have students practice using their hands and feet while sitting on chairs. Rehearse the counting patterns, particularly for the two last rhythms with the more complex bass pattern.

Download Button

Download Basic Rock Patterns Poster

Classroom Rights & Responsibilities

Here are three posters sets from my classroom.

The first chart in each set lists five rights children have as students. The second chart lists the relevant responsibilities these create. The third chart lists ten class rules that will help safeguard students’ rights and guide their responsibilities.

I use adaptations in my Drama and Music areas.

Music:  ‘Listen while others speak or perform’, ‘Applaud performances’. “treat the Music Area with respect’

Drama: ‘Listen while others speak or perform’, ‘Applaud performances’. “treat the Drama Area with respect’

Why Say Please?

Good manners don’t just happen; they’re explicitly taught. usually by a child’s family.

And if the child hasn’t been taught good manners? Then we need to make them aware of why, where and how to use them.

This set of three free-posters suggest four reasons why ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘excuse me’ should be a part of everyone’s vocabulary, our’s included. And it also provides the phrases in six other languages. How many can your students pronounce and identify?

Download postersDownload the ‘Say Please Because’ posters as a pdf.

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.

Australian Curriculum: The Arts Foundation to Year 10

 

ACARA (The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority) has released a consultation draft of The Arts curriculum.

The paper is organised into eight sections:

  • Rationale and Aims
  • Organisation
  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Media Arts
  • Music
  • Visual Arts
  • Glossary

Each of the five Arts subjects has its individual rational, aims and learning detailed. Learning outcomes are then expanded for the Foundation to Year 2, Years 3 and 4, Years 5 and 6, Years 7 and 8 and Years 9 and 10.

Unlike other curricula (yes SACSA, I’m looking at you) the draft celebrates the diversity of the Arts’ subjects whilst acknowledging the connections; I love the description of them as being ‘distinct but related’.

The draft sees students in Foundation through Year 6 having ‘opportunities to experience and enjoy learning in, learning through and learning about all five Arts subjects’. From Years 8 up they have a more modest aim; ‘students will continue to learn in one or more of the Arts subjects, with the opportunity to specialise in one or more subjects in Years 9 and 10.’ Sounds like at least one of the authors has their feet grounded in the real world.

It’s interesting to see how the draft refines the presentation the Arts in each subject down to just two interrelated strands:

  • Making – using processes, techniques, knowledge and skills to make art works
  • Responding – exploring, responding to, analysing and interpreting art works.

There’s a nice turn of phrase for this; ‘The strands … involve learning as artists and audience’. Yay for simplicity!

Initial impressions are favourable, the draft is clear, concise and quite readable. Our school has an Australian Curriculum day this week and some our Arts teachers will be reading, analysing, dissecting and discussing the draft in detail.

I encourage all Arts teachers to do the same and make a submission while you can.

Links