Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Youtube and new groups

With the first stories done I wanted to have the students look at all videos that were done and then write a reflection.  The one problem I had was finding an easy way to show the videos.  Enter Youtube!!  I found connecting the IPad a little too cumbersome and the Airserver that I had been using has been blocked in our school and I can't connect through that anymore so I went to my Youtube account that I had started many years ago and had forgotten about.  Now here is my attempt to link them to this page:

Our last step will be to put all these stories together to make one news cast with a couple of hosts.

This has led to new groups and new stories.  After watching and looking at the feedback from my class I have decided to make the groups a little smaller.  The groups of 5 students made it difficult for everyone to feel involved.  So we will be trying groups of 4 where each student gets to pick a partner and then I put the groups together.  I will also be working with a small group of students to be my hosts of the news show and hopefully bring life to each story.

Monday, 2 April 2018

First News Stories

Spring Break came a little too quickly in my class.  Things go fast during the school year and with these news stories time seems to fly by.  The students and myself have learned alot during this process and the growth continues.  I had the students turn in their first news stories.  After reviewing them I noticed that they generally needed more editing.  As the teacher, I thought that I had given them most of the tools to be successful.  We had covered what news stories look like. I had created an example for them to follow.  We went over specific skills and practiced filming.   Once the news stories were turned in there was a lack of organization within the story.  Generally they had no beginning, middle and end.  Most teams had to go back and create an introduction and ending to the story.  Some groups had to go back and redo the middle of the story because they didn't tell a story but just spoke of random things or just interviewed people with no context. 

As you can see from this video that the students were asked to go and learn about what has happening in a different classroom where they were studying Pandemics.  They were suggested to go and talk to students in the class but also show what they worked on.  Instead they basically just interviewed a few students and didn't really capture the ideas in of the projects in the class.

Every group ended up needing to work on the news story a little more.  After the break we will review the news stories so we can all learn and make any follow up news stories that much stronger.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018


Finally the first assignments came in which were mock interviews so that the students can get a good feeling for interviewing other people.  Creating questions, finding a good location, using the green screen were all features that the students struggled with at times.  Editing video on the IPad also was a challenge as lots of students hadn't ever tried editing video before.  One of the criteria I assigned was adding in a voice over which many students again had a lot of trouble figuring out how to do it.  All of these problems though seemed to figure themselves out as long as I gave them time to play around with it and showed them a few little tips.

 The main struggle for the class was teamwork or groupwork.  In many cases in my past group work ended up where students either divided up the work or just worked on a whole project together at the same time.  Usually one or two members of the group take the lead and organize everyone else and sometimes even just do all the work.  With this assignment the students were really dependent on each other and often had no control over the other students.  Students said they wanted to film and then struggled to keep the camera still, or the ones who wanted to interview but couldn't remember the questions really started causing problems within the group.  At the same time those students who like to take control and just want to do it all, couldn't just do that.  We started with defined roles of each group member but then for some groups they couldn't just keep to one role and needed to help out in other areas.  Creating this mock interview really created a situation where teams had to learn how to work with different personalities and not just in a superficial way.  They successful groups began communicating and compromising; listening and helping to finish the job.  Arguments and frustration arose during the assignment but they slowly started building tolerance for each other and began using the skills that each member had. 

Our news stories have now been assigned and I decided to keep groups together for one more assignment before I mix them up so that they can show me that they have learned about the people the work with and attempt to make the next assignment run more smoothly.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Sample news story

In the coming weeks the class now will be starting real news stories within our school. Items such as lit circles in classrooms, litter within the school, Olympics units, as well as getting to know you pieces with staff and people inside our school are all going to be planned.  To get the students ready for this I decided to put together a sample video with clips I took when our school put together a pancake breakfast. It gives the students a general idea of the expectations.

Sample Video

The challenge so far has been finding the right way to have them edit their videos.  Putting students into groups and having them cooperate to edit has been a huge challenge so far.  They are learning how to work together and give up control on a project.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Newscasting ups and downs

We are back at it in the new year with a strong focus on getting the newscasting started.  Good news is our VP has come by with lots of great ideas for stories or ways we can get a message across to our school.  Within the class we have started practice interviews so that we can learn how to use the Ipads to film and edit.  I started using Airserver to try to screencast the Ipad to the projector but am learning that these types of programs are not consistent.  I had it working perfectly every day until the day I needed it and of course it wouldn't connect.  Trouble shooting is not fun in front of 26 students so I had to find other things for students to do.  Hopefully on the next post I can put in the mock interviews and the story ideas for our upcoming Newscast.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Starting with Green screen

The Synergy project is continuing and the class is really starting to get their heads around the idea of news stories in our school.  One item that has been intriguing for them is the green screen.  I have it open in my classroom all the time because I can't figure out how to fold it up  so the kids see it all day long.  It has also lead to many other kids in the school asking questions about it.  So as we continue to learn about how to make news stories I decided to let the kids play.  I gave them the iPads and showed a couple of kids how to use the DoInk Green Screen app.  I really only showed them the basics and let them go.  The students spent the next 45 minutes just setting up scenes and having fun with the screen and the app.  The scenes were very simple but it led to a lot of learning how to use the different technology in the class.  Next up we will be working on practicing interviews so the newscasts can change from fun to more sophiticated.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Newscast Brainstorming and Understanding

This is one of the follow up posts I will be doing as I continue to explore newscasting in my class.  We now have the padcaster and Ipads but are just waiting for cases so that the Ipads are safe in the students hands.  This week I will be finally opening the padcaster equipment to see how it all works and I look forward to trying it all out.  In the classroom we are starting to explore what the newscast will look like.  I gave the students a general chance to brainstorm ideas.  I also handed them out my starting personal brainstorm on topics as well as my starting criteria.  The hopes are that during class the students will expand on my brainstorm and we will make adjustments to the criteria. 

After students brainstormed they came up with some new and interesting ideas that I hadn't thought of.  They were very interested in creating with the green screen some comedy skits and try to make some sort of news article out of it.  Such as walking on water and have the a water scene in the background and the kids walk across.  This lead to many different ideas that involved some fun content.  That being said I then talked to them about articles that we could do that would be newsworthy for our school.  Students struggled a bit with this idea. 
After our brainstorm I felt I needed to give my students an idea of what does something mean to be newsworthy.  I had no idea how to do this but luckily I was able to quickly find a series of lessons by PBS on exactly this topic.  Anyone interested can follow this link.  PBS Student Reporting Lessons

I adapted the first lesson a bit so that it fit into what I wanted to accomplish but generally the students had to write down news that has been  important to them.  Students wrote down things about wildfires , hit and runs, the death of an athlete, how safe is our school in case of an earthquake, and of course Donald Trump.  From our list we were able to come up with things that make news worthwhile.  Our list basically followed the list by PBS 
  • Timeliness Proximity
  • Conflict and Controversy
  • Human Interest
  • Relevance
There job now is to find different news articles or television reports that fit into these four categories.  I am going to follow a few of the lessons here by PBS that will hopefully give my students a better scope on reporting news.  Our newscast may have already changed to include some comedy along with some newsworthy items.  I am also finding that starting this it may take a little longer than my original plan to get the first newscast complete.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Synergy Newcast

I have been lucky enough to be selected by SetBC to take part in a classroom project.  Our class goal is to create a newscast for our school.  It is something that I have thought of in the past but just needed a little push and some of the technology to make it happen.  SetBC is able  to provide a lot of the technology that will help out and we will be doing group discussions throughout the year.
  Most of the summer this project was in the back of my mind and how I could do it and make it meaningful for the class.  The great thing was when I told my class about it most of the students were genuinely excited and are offering ways to help, which is a great start!  Next my team of teachers put in place time in our schedule so that we can involve as many students as possible.  In the coming week the class will be brainstorming the types of news items we would like to produce and begin to find our tech team that can help with filming, lighting, and editing.  There are so many positive aspects to this year long project and I am looking forward see how it will develop as we go.  Giving a lot of the power to the students will be an important piece.  This blog will transform for time being as I document how things are going.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Logic Puzzles used for Problem Solving

A couple of years ago I received a Christmas gift from a student of mine.  It was one of those desk calendars where you remove a page a day.  This one in particular was titles Brain Games.  It has a bunch of different types of puzzles in it that are supposed to be done fairly quickly.  I tried to start my day doing a few of them in the morning before the day started and found a few of the puzzles quite interesting.  One morning , one of the many students in the my class came to ask me a question and saw that I was working on a sudoku puzzle and asked if they could help.  Since I was pretty busy anyway, I told them to finish it for me.  Well then it began, I didn't know it at the time but giving that student the puzzle lead to a fun part of the class that encourages problem solving and logical thinking.   When that student went back to finish the puzzle it lead to about 5 more students asking if they can do a sudoku as well.  I showed them the calendar and said I only had the one copy but I would find some more and hand them out later.  The next day when I got to school I went and photocopied the next puzzle which was a Binary puzzle.  I put them on the students desks and told them to try this one while I take attendance.  I was expecting students to finish within ten minutes and then we would move on with the day.  They stayed focused on the puzzle for about 45 minutes, coming up to ask me if the answer was correct and then going back to review and find the errors to try again.  I was amazed at how focused they were and how they were used some basic problem solving strategies to try to solve it.  On that day, nobody solved the puzzle and we had to move on to another commitment.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

CUEBC 2015 - ProD

So Professional Development is always an interesting day.  The chance to learn how to make our practice better.  With so many options it is often challenging to choose what to do.  The problem for me is often this question, With so many fads in education it is tough to choose what will be productive.  Pressure gets put on to attend different Development days and often they make little or no impact on my teaching.

This year I chose CUEBC  to attend and enjoyed it thoroughly.  I have been to this conference before but was disappointed the last time I went so it has been a few years.  In my class I am thinking of trying to have students start coding and wanted to have some resources or structure to set this up.  My day brought me a few things I can honestly say I am excited about.