Friday, 7 December 2012

Text Analysis and Visuals with Keynote

In Grade 6 English, our students are reading a book called the Big Wave and are spending time analysing quotes for how they illustrate the atmosphere of the book. To support their analysis they created a visual essay with a voice recording in Keynote. The aim of the activity is to scaffold and develop the students text analysis skills. 


The Process

A nice approach we have trialled is taking quotes from a book and then finding images that depict the atmosphere. The process of finding images helps students analyse the meaning of the quotes and think in a visual way. It was also a nice way to introducing the concepts of Creative Commons, CompfightFlickr and the photo attribution.

Once students have found three appropriate images to support three quotes, they added these into Keynote and choose contrasting colours and appropriate fonts to layout the different slides. Once they have organised a layout we ask them to record their analysis using the voice recorder tool built into Keynote. They were allowed a few post-it notes to prompt their discussion, but the aim is to encourage kids to verbalise their thoughts in a less formal way and adhoc way.

Asking students to voice over their analysis is very powerful, as it captures the students thoughts in a different way than writing and supports different forms of communicating. Overtime these types of analysis tasks scaffold our students into writing deeper pieces of analysis, whilst at the same time being fun and a little different. 

A nice ending to this project was sharing the videos through a Picasa Web Album. This allowed the students to share each others work and celebrate each others successes. This time they really ran with the commenting functions, most students would have watched most of the presentations. In a traditional class setting it is impossible to show each students work to the class, but an album is a nice alternative.

  • Creative Commons Images - Compfight is perhaps the best way to search for photos that can be borrowed. Once you have searched for a topic, click on the creative commons filter. These Creative Commons images can be referenced back to the original photographer using an attribution page as a last slide. 
  • Voice Recording within Keynoteyou have a record button in the top menu bar. This allows you to record using the internal microphone and narrate over the slide show. You need to click the arrow button to proceed to the next slide and then click exit once you are complete. You must record from the beginning to the end, and not try pause or re-record over the top. 
  • Exporting as Quicktime Movie - Once students have saved the Keynote, they can click File then, Export. Choose the Quicktime option and then click save to place the movie on to the laptop.
  • Picasa Web Album for Sharing - from the link any staff member can sign in and create an album. You need to upload and image first using the top menu option. Once you have done this and labelled the album, chose the share option from the right hand sidebar. You can type students email addresses or just share to your class group from the contacts. See tutorial here on creating class groups in contacts

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Collaborating with Crocodoc

A nice classroom practise is to get students looking at example essays and analysing the associated rubrics and success criteria. This is a important tool to help students understand what they should be aiming for when writing pieces of course work.

Crocodoc Personal allows you to upload different examples of student work (PDF, Word Documents) and then use the built in tools for commenting, highlighting and annotating with drawings. The really nifty feature is that the application collates the comments under student names so you can filter and look at students engagement and thinking. Watch the video below for a quick explanation.

Click to enlarge
You can also use the clever highlighting tools by setting up some codes for each colour. Blue could be for highlighting clear definitions, yellow for analysis and green for evidence of evaluation.

Quick Instructions:
  1. Visit and sign in to create a teacher account
  2. Upload a PDF, Word document
  3. Click on the URL link and share this with students
  4. When students click on the link, ask them to open the righthand side bar
  5. Students need to change their name from anonymous. 
  6. See example Crocodoc here
Further ideas:
  1. Select the comment drop down to choose area commenting
  2. Try setting up some colour coding and use the highlighter - only works on typed documents.
  3. Create a shared Crocodoc folder and upload several examples.
  4. Filter comments on the sidebar by student or by page. 
  5. Ask students to reply to others comments, to create nested comments.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Troubleshooting Google Drive

Google Drive is currently being used very heavily in parts of the school and is a very good option for sharing files between teachers and students and vice versa. Everything however relies on the magic black triangle to keep synchronising the files back and forth across the internet. Once this triangle disappears from the status bar you are in trouble :)


Firstly reopen the Google Drive application from Spotlight, then wait for the status bar to change to spinning black. You can also check the the little green arrows are appearing within your Google Drive folder within Finder.

Secondly, you might be best reinstalling the Google Drive app. Click here to download. This seems to fix most problems and ensures that the app always runs in the top status bar. Watch the following tutorial which explains how to update your app.
  1. Quick the Google Drive app by clicking on the icon in the top status bar
  2. Delete the Google Drive application from within Finder -> Applications. Do not delete your Google Drive Folder. 
  3. Click here to download the latest version of Google Drive.
  4. Once the file has downloaded, open the .dmg file and then drag to applications.
  5. Finally open the Google Drive app from Spotlight.
Thirdly, please visit the IT Helpdesk on Level 4 of the Middle School Block and one of our technicians will be able to help you out.