The Thinglink Challenge #1

This summer I have decided to take part in the Thinglink Challenge.
challenge
I heard about it last year, but too late. This time I didn’t miss it and so, a couple of weeks ago, I started it. I really wanted to take part in it for a number of reasons. First, I like connecting with colleagues from all over the world and sharing what I do or what I think with them. Second, I like challenges. I find them extremely stimulating and the idea of a task to accomplish in a certain time, even though the Thinglink challenges have no deadline, is what makes me work at my best because it makes me stay concentrated and focused on what I am doing. Third reason, I can explore a tool I already know and use but much deeper and so I can find out more ways to use it. Actually I have already learnt something new, even though it is not that clear so far if what is new in only there for the premium version of the tool that you can use during the challenges. Fourth reason, what I create now can be used in the classroom next year, so it is not a waste of time at all, on the contrary it is highly productive

The first challenge was about getting to know each other, as a matter of fact there are so many of us in the challenge that it won’t be easy to get to know everybody!The task was to create an avatar, use the image to create a Thinglink and then add as many tags as possible in order to give information about yourself.

Here is my product :

I must say this is a very simple idea but I had never thought of it! What a nice way to make students know each other during the first days at school, for example, or at the beginning of a project with students from other schools. I am sure they avatars will be much more tagged than mine. In addition I have found out a lot of sites which allow you to create avatars. Here is a list:

http://www.buildyourwildself.com/http://www.doppelme.com/create/
http://www.voki.com/
http://cpbherofactory.com/
http://bitstrips.com/create/avatar/
http://www.dudefactory.com/
http://marvel.com/games/play/31/create_your_own_superhero
http://www.picassohead.com/create.html
http://www.manga.com/content/avatar-face-maker

Avatars are extremely helpful  also when you don’t want to or can’t use pictures of  students for reasons of privacy.

 

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The BuddyPoke avatars

I sometimes need to use avatars when I create tutorials for my students. The one I prefer is the lady from the Tellagami app because she looks quite professional and even though you can’t customize her entirely for free any longer, you can still work on her quite well.
But a couple of days ago I remembered BuddyPoke, an app which I had never used and so almost forgotten.

BuddyPoke allows you to create really cute avatars and customize them, you can then use them with pictures or in videos. You can even make videos with two avatars.

I used it to create the guide to the visit of the epic citadel which I illustrated in my previous post and after that I kept on exploring it and found out that I can use it to make activities far more engaging than they actually are.
Here are some examples

Students can make up dialogues using two avatars

or they can create a presentation about any topic

–or they can make a collage of pictures and then incorporate a video using PicPlayPost – I think I have already said how much I like appsmashing 🙂

A visit to the Epic Citadel

It is incredible how many things you can learn day by day through social networks. Twitter and Facebook above all are kind of mines of information and are essential for a teacher’s professional development.

And it is incredible how many lessons, videos, tutorials you can create while comfortably sitting on your sofa and using a tablet.

Just yesterday I learnt about Epic Citadel. According to Wikipedia it is “ a tech demo developed by Epic Games for iOS to show off the Unreal Engine 3 running on iOS devices”, which was also released for Android.

epic citadel

pic from itunes.apple.com

I have no idea what Unreal Engine 3 is but I read on Twitter that Epic Citadel can be used also in education. I had no idea either of how to do it but felt curious and so I downloaded the free app and started the tour of the citadel. It is really amazing! It is just a setting with no story, nor people in it but how wonderful to use it for asking students to fill it with stories!

Sometimes students complain about not having ideas when they are asked to write and always need some prompts. So I thought of creating the prompts using Epic Citadel. I needed also kind of guide for them and I remembered Buddy Poke, an app which I had installed some time ago but never used so far with which you can create avatars. The avatar would become the guide I needed!

collage made with Halftone2

collage made with Halftone2

I made this short video for my students in few minutes and I am going to use to ask them to write a story and create characters, setting, atmosphere and so on.

The video is thought for my younger students but I think that, with some changes, it could be adapted also for the older ones.

A teacher at a gig

A couple of days ago I went to a gig. It was James Blunt’s Live Concert in Piazzola sul Brenta, a small but nice village not far from Padua, in North-East Italy.

I am not a big fan of James Blunt but the ticket was a gift which I accepted gratefully and the location was surprisingly charming. The gig took place in the big garden in front of Villa Contarini, a magnificent mansion which stands in a picturesque place.

                                    

villa

I appreciated the concert very much: the night was warm, the people were full of joy and enthusiasm and James Blunt was nice and involving.  

 

 

stage

Anyway, since I can’t help being a teacher, while listening to Bonfire Heart I started thinking of creating a lesson around it. And here is what came out.

Bonfire Heart