The Thinglink Challenge #2&3

The challenge of the second week was not that exciting, really, just using the functions of the tools: remix images, create channels, share stuff, but the task of the third week was really interesting!
We had to create a collaborative project for our students.

First of all I must confess I had never thought of Thinglink as a possible way to create and work on a project.
I have used it so many times with my classes but usually either as a presentation tool or as a way for students to do a simple research work, but now I have learnt much more.
Ok, my project is not that brilliant as the one Susan Oxnevad, our tutor, created as an example. Check it out, It is fabulous, isnt’ it?

http://thinglinkblog.com/2015/07/20/create-a-collaborative-student-project/#tl-e3ae201

Anyway I thought a lot about it and in the end I realized that the only thing to do was to choose something that can be easily done in the classroom and could be stimulating for a group of 15-year-olds.

I thought of a question which could help them be active and creative and I came up with this “What would you do to make your town more attractive for tourists?” and I went on from there.

Here is my first try with a project made with Thinglink

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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.

 

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

 

 

 

First try with Appsmashing

I don’t like textbooks very much, I must admit it.

And the moments I like them the least is when they present some passages about topics which seem to come out from nowhere and with words or references to topics that students cannot possibly know. So I have to invent some activities that  have to motivate students to read and have therefore to be engaging, but that have also to give them the knowledge they need to fully understand the text.

A couple of days ago I stumbled upon a Twitter hashtag which  led me to learn about appsmashing – #appsmash –  and since I was trying to find out a way to introduce a passage about Scotland, I used it at once.

Appsmashing is the combination of more apps in order to obtain a single product.

I thought it was the right solution for my problems and so I started using it on my iPad.

As I said, the passage we will read is about some aspects of Scotland. It mentions haggis, porridge and tartan without explaining what they exactly are and I am sure my students don’t know any of them.

scotland

 

So I thought of preparing a video for the students to use in a flipped classroom activity.

First I prepared a word cloud, using the first app of the process: Word Clouds

word cloudThen I used Google and Google Earth for images and next I started thinking about how to organize the video. I didn’t want just a video. I wanted a special one 🙂

I therefore used Tellagami in order to create a speaking avatar on a green background. The avatar had the task to explain the difficult terms. Next I used iMovie in order to create a video with all the images I had previously downloaded. Finally I used DoInk Green Screen to edit the video and put the avatar in the right background.

apps

 

 

And here is the result!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-_94mjKfJM

 

I know, I know, it is not perfect but I think it will be helpful anyway. And what’s more I think of the incredible potentialities of appsmashing above all when I ask the students to create their own presentations or videos! Can’t wait to see them!

 

Verdun, World War 1 and SpeedTwinning…

From 11 to 13 April I attended the Multilateral Seminar eTwinning about History and Remembrance of the First World War.

Image

 

It took place in Verdun, a location which is also a symbol and which reminded me of the area where I come from: same connections to the Great War with the trenches, the tunnels and above all the victims. The small museum we visited in the Butte of Vauquoise is quite similar to the small museum which we can visit in San Martino del Carso and both are held by volunteers.

The Museum at San Martino del Carso and the Museum at the Butte de Vauquoise

ImageImage

The aim of the seminar was to allow eTwinners to meet partners and set up a new project about the war. The method the organizers chose to make all this happen was quite peculiar: SpeedTwinning. Basically you had five minutes to contact a potential partner, illustrate your idea of a project, listen to their suggestions and then it was time to change partner and so on. I met 6 partners and came up with 6 ideas for a project. Since three of them were quite similar to what I had in mind, I decided that those three eTwinners would be my partners in a new project.

ImageImage

 

We have planned some activities so to be ready to start next September. The title is Let’s Twin our War Memories and it has already been approved by our Agencies.

The seminar was mainly meant for new eTwinners. As a matter of fact some of the colleagues I met there had just registered on the platform so most of the meetings were about how to register, tips about how to create a successful project, how to use the TwinSpace and so on.

An interesting presentation was illustrated by Elizabeth Sauser-Monnig, from the French NSS while a French teacher, Solène Faupin very nicely explained what to do and what not to do during a project, if you want it to be successful.

 

Image,,,

 

While I was looking at all the participants coping with all the tools of the TwinSpace and making a bit of confusion about the site and the TwinSpace, I was thinking of how eTwinning has developed in these almost ten years. I think I am lucky because I joined the platform at the very beginning, when eTwinning was “only” a site where you could contact colleagues from other European countries and there was just a forum and four chat rooms! Since I have been present throughout its whole development, it has never been difficult for me to feel confident in the site and to understand its changes. But for newbies it must not be that easy to wander among teachers’ rooms, groups, learning events and whatever eTwinning offers, all at one time.

I must say anyway that as usual when eTwinning is concerned, the enthusiasm of the participants makes it easy to overcome all difficulties.

Image

In the end, after visiting Verdun, tasting delicious French food, taking part in lectures about the three different moments in the writing of the war history – the political, the social and the cultural – and the way the memories of the war are dealt with in France and Germany, meeting new colleagues and starting a new project I can say that, despite some difficulties with the initial organization of the journey, I came back home once more enriched and revitalized by this new eTwinning experience.