Archive for August, 2013


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One thing that was central to this week with Apple was that storytelling is a powerful tool. Many amazing blog posts have come out over the last couple of days reviewing people’s experiences of their week. Each one talks of the authors personal journey.

So for my posts is this last reflection the end? Or just a set up to a series of sequels?

One of the main things I learnt personally this week is that I can make a difference, that the work I do does matter and it is worth keeping on trying to develop others in its use.
There are many times it feels as though I am pushing against brick walls or that people think its just a fad, however, this week I have regrouped my passion and realised it is what effects the students that is important.

So long as students are at the heart if everything I do (and they are) then it is more than worth trying to change hearts and minds. In speaking to a lot of people that have the set up in their schools that I would love to have in mine, the main feedback I got was that I was doing great things and to carry on.

This sort of support and encouragement is so powerful and has totally recharged me for “the sequel” to me journey. In the words of Duarte founder, Nancy Duarte, in my story the students are the hero of the piece, I am just the old sage that offered support.

Thank you Apple, all of the ADEs I met and especially my PLN for making me see my worth, it will make a difference when I feel I am getting nowhere.

Day 4

So the week was already moving at a fast pace, today was a great day for really working with my PLN and others to really develop my skills. We looked at iTunes U today and seeing as I have barely looked at it I chose the basics session.  just as well really as they covered the things that I really needed to look at.  iTunes U for those that don’t know is a course creation tool for making courses to be accessed on iOS devices.  it is a way to combine resources and lead learning either directly through session led courses or at self paced level.  This is a fantastic way to structure content and I can personally see the benefits for teaching students with accessibility needs such as EAL as they have options for making notes on everything from text to videos.  All of this then gets synced to their notes section and makes for a great revision tool.

More time followed with a chance to sit with PLN to develop practice.  First a huge thank you to @ICTEvangelist for showing me the basics of Final Cut Pro, this is going to be useful in some of the work I do this year.  These were the moments that really made an impact this week.  The chance to share our best practice and ask questions to a room full of experts.  Simple things like using an app and having others want to know a little more about it and how it works.

The afternoon sessions were again small workshop style sessions that we could opt for.

The first session for me was the Lennon Bus (www.lennonbus.org @lennonbus) OMG, this was a great experience and you really need to have a look at the work that they are doing.  It is a fully equipped recording studio that tours around Europe to work with students of all ages.

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This group of amazing people run this as a charity and work with students to really develop their skills in creativity.  A lot of the time they are working with students that have no experience at all but they leave with a professional product at the end.

These are some examples of the work that they do.  They really are inspirational.  Hopefully they will be coming to visit my students as I have put in an early request with them.

Next I did a session on Keynote led by Josiah from Duarte.  This session absolutely blew my mind.  The tips and tricks they shared here were unbelievable.  Real magicians on the stage making simple things look amazing.  I desperately tried to keep up with everything they were doing but definitely had to rely on my notes and those of others to develop my skills.  They were showing us how to use the built-in tools to create amazing keynotes that can be used in interactive books.

The last session was improv games.  This was led again by the excellent Rebecca Stockley.  This was a great opportunity to see some more games that could be used with students or staff to build collaboration and trust.

We started in a circle and were instructed, without talking, to form a square, then a triangle.  This was quite an interesting tool and really got everyone thinking about everyone else in the group.  Next we were asked to try to make an equilateral triangle with 2 others but were not allowed to let them know we were using them.  Each person in the room (nearly 30) all had chosen 2 others and had to form a triangle too.  As we moved around we were affecting others triangles and so it continued.  We never actually formed a still shape but it got extremely funny at times.  Next we had to create a human machine.  one person would start with an action and others would join in with an action that was a reaction to the one we were next to.  We also had to add in a sound to go with the noise.  As it grew the person that started had to slow down and so you could hear as the collaboration was happening.  Again a great game to build collaboration into a group.  These games were great fun and we looked at how they might be used in subjects as games to break away from the norm and get groups working together.  We also did some more work with Rebecca that she called recess games.  We were doing some work as a PLN and she asked us if we wanted to try some things.  Glad we said yes.  We played a couple of great games.  First up the Bunny Bunny game, a great game for building trust, then a game where you go to the middle of the circle and make a pose declaring what you are, then someone joins adding to it and one more person add.  We started with, a tree, an apple and a worm.  The first person then choses an object to stay and the game continues.  Very funny.  So many games it is impossible to get them all down in this blog but really useful and inspired me to possibly take some of the drama classes just to try them out with students.

Really need to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to the following people who affected my development.  the sessions were great in everyday but definitely enhanced due to the people I was with (though I’m sure I could have been with anyone)

@gavinsmart @linakerict @snarfjle @tessenglish1 @jespersh @mrjonesict @headdowneyesup @wsoeldner @ictevangelist @syded06 @rebeccastockley

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Thank you all.

Day 3

This day started with the excellent presentation from Duarte,  by Nancy Duarte herself and Josiah the Senior Accounts Manager.  Between them they talked us through the power of presenting.

The presentation was titled Resonating through contrast.  The message i received was that in order to reach people in a way to make a change you need to find a common message, to make them see where you are coming from and how what you are saying will change them.  If you can identify their passion, you will resonate with them.

It was all about creating a story and making links to great stories told in film and how we as educators fit into that model.  We as teachers are not the hero of any story but the sidekick.  The hero is the learner.  An example given was from Star Wars, the students are Luke and the teacher is Yoda.

When creating presentations or delivering information you need to construct it as a story.  to fully understand this I highly recommend her book.  Particular attention should be given to her study of great speeches that have been made and the model that she has created as a result.

Next up Josiah took us through the visuals.  great simple ideas about how to make presentations look great.  Use of white space, taking the noise out of a visual.  What is the thing you want to draw attention to and what is a distraction?  Clear unified style consisting of colour scheme and fonts.  An easy way to check this is the glance test.  Look at something for a few seconds and then say what you were drawn to.  If it wasn’t the main thing, then it needs to change.  He also spoke of the flow of things.  Where are you drawn on the page?  Are you drawn to the right thing?  Such great ideas learnt here about the visual presentation that will have a huge impact on my work.

Next up was a session on using iBooks Author.

Having made a couple of these I went for the advanced session to get some extra tips.  Some great ideas in here thinking about the Duarte presentation and making books accessible to all.  We learnt all about making sure the books flowed well and looked good.  We also looked at using widgets in the books to make them truly interactive and how using iAd producer you can create your own widgets too.

We then had a chance to meet with our PLN and discuss things we had been working on.  using a great structure we spoke about a project, then there was clarification time, then each person answered three prompts

I really liked….

I wonder if….

A good next step would be…..

this was a great tool for developing ideas and getting quality feedback.

That evening I had the great opportunity to take part in a 1 in 3 series of presentations to the Institute.  1 idea given in just 3 minutes.  I presented on some of the work I was doing on Numeracy in Sport and the lunchtime club I had set up.  This was a great experience presenting in front of not only fantastic educators but also Apple themselves.  It was a very nervous affair but received some great support and positive feedback so thanks to all.

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Here is the presentation I gave

Overall a great day again and really starting to feel like I do make a difference doing what I do.

For the last week I have had the great privilege to take part in the Apple distinguished educator institute in Cork.  I met great educators and heard from some amazingly inspirational speakers in what can only be described as a whirlwind of a week.

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This post will be a summation of both the things I have learnt and a reflection on the people I met and how they have inspired me.

Day 1

We arrived at the institute with some ideas around what was going to happen but in general were fairly in the dark about what we were going to experience.  Sunday was just a settling in day on the programme, a chance for the 200 or so ADEs to travel and settle in.  No time is ever wasted though and this was the first of many opportunities to network and make some great connections.  After just a few minutes it was clear that I was surrounded by great educators that were going to have a huge impact on my week and beyond.  @headdowneyesup @tessenglish1 @linakerict @mrjonesict @wsoeldner @gavinsmart @ictevangelist (more would impact later)

First session was an orientation, a chance to get an idea of what the week was about. Advisor, Ambassador, Advocate and Author. That is what ADEs are.  We heard about what we would be doing this week and were told that the people we meet would become friends for life (at this point I hadn’t met all those people who would fit this bill but no truer words have been spoken)  The week would be a mix of inspirational talks, smaller workshops to meet our personal needs, opportunities to get expert advise and a chance to work within a PLN of similar thinkers.

This institute covered Europe the Middle East and India bringing together over 200 of the most innovative educators around, a real mix of cultures, languages and experiences.  This would lead to a real mix of ideas and possibilities.

Day 2

Today was all about creating our PLN to get together with like-minded individuals to share ideas and develop our network.  This PLN would become integral as a support network when creating new things as they were people who shared a similar passion.  Making these PLNs was a great tool in itself for any development session.  First we had to write down a keyword that summed up what we were about.  Maths, Leadership, Creativity, Media etc.  We then walked around holding our signs to see who else shared that passion.  This started to merge into conversations to explain what the passion was in detail and allowed for those keywords to change.  Eventually we found groups of like-minded individuals and began to think about what tied us all together.  My PLN was ‘Think Different”  a range of teachers from different backgrounds, some primary, some secondary and a range of subjects.  We all felt that the things being taught needed to be done in a new way to really develop students thinking. @gavinsmart @tessenglish1 @linakerict @mrjonesict @snarfje @jespersh

In these sessions we also looked at team building activities with the utterly amazing Rebecca Stockley (improvlady.com @rebeccastockley)  I will say more about this great lady later but the session was designed to break down every barrier in the room from language to the usual British reservations of things.  First find a partner and find out how to say hello and thank you in other languages.  Next, a game of simply counting from 1 to 3 with a partner.  Alternate between each person counting in sequence.  This is where we were introduced to ‘the failure bow’ an opportunity to accept failure and to celebrate it.  When mistakes were made we cheered, this is a great tool, especially for my students that fear failure.  We then adapted the game, taking out the 1 and replacing with clicking fingers.  This continued, trying, failing, celebrating, changing partner, failing some more.  Such a simple approach but very powerful in breaking down barriers.

Next we looked at a game to open up conversations.  Yes, and….  n this game we had to tell a story, a random story about a place we may like to visit.  One person starts with, do you remember when we….. When they are done with their statement the next person has to start with yes and.  In this way the statement from the previous person is positively accepted and then built on, rather than being dismissed.  It makes you really listen to the other person, co creating a story and building the skills of adaptation and acceptance.

This would be the first of many references to storytelling being a very powerful tool to be used in education.

Next we looked at Accessibility.  Learners with a range of needs have had their access to the world changed through technology.  Here we learnt about the whole range of options available on iOS devices to really help with this.  From voice over to closed captioning.  When creating any content for learners it needs to be added in.  This was a really powerful message and really made me think about the things I make and how to adapt them or enhance them to allow everyone to access.

Next up.  Looking at the SAMR model for using technology in the classroom and what it is doing to the learning.  Lots has been written on this by Mark Anderson @ICTEvangelist and I urge you to read his work as it really makes it clear about the purpose of using technology in education.

Finally we were treated to a great talk from Bill Frakes @billfrakes billfrakes.com.  he is a world-renowned photographer.  he was talking to us about digital storytelling.  Basically the message was that our brains are wired for storytelling, it’s what we remember about things we are told and that devices we use enable us to easily create and share these stories.  I urge you to look at his work as it is simply inspiring.  He also shared a video with us that was really special.

That was all just day 1 of the institute.  Some amazing experiences and some awesome friends made, and still 3 days to go…..

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