Friday, June 26, 2009

Rescuing A PPT

First off, let me just say congrats to the grads of 2009 from my school! This will be the last grad class from Grand Centre High School as we're moving to a beautiful new facility in September! It's the last day of school and I was inspired to write this in my bed on my iPod touch. Sad, I know.

A grad came to me yesterday and asked for some help exporting a PowerPoint presentation to a DVD. The PPT was a simple slideshow of each grad as a baby as well as their grad photo which will loop on a screen at the dinner. I cringed.

After importing it onto my MacBook pro we found a font error so 180 grads later I changed all the fonts for all the grads' names. Not fun.

In PPT for Mac I love the export to movie feature. This resulted in a movie that was 6:30 in length with 5 seconds for each slide. I could have been done then, but I wasn't happy with the resulting flat, boring typical 'slideshow'.

Here's how I 'remixed' the grad slideshow. I exported the slides to pictures becuase I didn't want to start from scratch and put all the names back on toneach grad's photo again. I then uploaded all 185 pictures to Animoto (which took a while, so I walked away). Animoto was giving me a warning that they did not have music that was long enough to display all pictures, which concerned me. My workaround came from Garageband. I took a techno loop, repeated it 7 times and exported it as a 7 minute MP3. After uploading the MP3 to Animoto I waited 30 minutes for the Movie to be made and what you have is a totally remixed but way more interesting presentation that will loop all night at the dinner on Saturday. Plus. I can link embed it on our school website or give a web quality mp4 to a student to put on their grad 2009 facebook page.

Those with the Animoto app for the ihone can also watch their own movies directly. Animoto is free to signup for. I would like to see all the mobile tweeters with iPhones start taking advantage of the ability to take photos on their iPhones, upload them to Animoto, add catchy music and tweet the link. It would be a fun and entertaining way to share your pics from NECC for each day!

Next time you have a stagnant, boring PPT that is looping over and over, consider spicing it up with Animoto!

-- Blogged from my rockin' iPod touch

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Technology in PE class

This post is going into uncharted territory. 2 weeks ago our staff was fortunate to have John Maschak from Apple to work with us on designing technology infused lessons and units. The best part of the 2 days was having John give us time to work in small groups to create something that we can use next year including. This could have been a lesson, project or unit; the only caveat was that it must include the use of technology in the unit. 

The great thing about the opportunity to work and collaborate during PD sessions is the conversations that occur. After listening and sitting in sessions for the past 8 years of teaching, the best ones have built in time for applying and discussing what we have just learned. 

I connected with one of our PE teachers Kelly Gallant, and we were off to the races! Kelly is an energetic and dedicated teacher who has embraced technology and is eager to work with the carts of Macbooks that will be available to all teachers starting next fall. By the end of the afternoon, we had worked together to design a project where her students in our new Sports Performance class will create a workout video stretch routine as a culminating activity. 

While we developed this, I tweeted out to my PLN about other PE teachers who are using technology. I was directed to another Jarrod's blog who has done amazing things in PE with technology. His blog is called "The P.E. Geek" and is a must read for anyone who is thinking of using technology in physical education, and for that matter, any classroom. From QR codes, to Skype to Wii Fit, he's done a lot of amazing things. 

My goal while working with Kelly is to build capacity in her students. They will then be able to create these workouts routines to be used again and again in future classes! Great work Kelly! The future of Sports performance will be bright with personal reflections, blogs, video diaries and using technology regularly to track progress of students achievements. 

Have you heard of tech being used anywhere else in PE class? Ideas? Please share...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

End of year feedback

I thought that since this was my first full year in a pseudo 1:1 environment it would be a good idea to ask my students what they enjoyed about learning with technology on a daily basis. I also threw myself out there and asked what I needed to do to be a better teacher with technology, including getting marks back sooner! It was a powerful reflective tool, and I can now look at assignments and evaluate why I am doing them, and how I can make them better. 

It's often tough for us to put ourselves out on the line, but hopefully the students will welcome the chance to share with us. Give it a try with your students, you'll be surprised at their honesty.

Check out my students' responses.  

Have a great summer all, I've got a few more posts to share over the next couple weeks! Apple Summer Camp, here I come! 

Monday, June 8, 2009

Collaborating with Technology: Multimedia and Biology

So, three posts are coming up summarizing 3 collaborations between my students and others in my school, across Canada, and North America. Here goes...

With so many FREE web 2.0 tools, teachers have the ability to easily reach out beyond their classrooms to engage in meaningful, curriculum-based interactions that will live in the memories of students for a long time. 

Ultimately I would like some of these projects to be the topic of discussions in years ahead when a student reminisces, "Remember in Nichol's class when we..." 

My multimedia students completed a cross curricular project with our Biology classes this semester. They were told that the bio students were the 'clients' and they were being retained as the contracted production house. The topic was recycling and the audience was grade 4. After some meetings with the Biology department, I involved the students in the process of rubric development through class discussion. I asked what they thought their responsibilities would be as the head of the film studio. Most of what they said fell in line with the CTS module that I was using for this project. They commented about:

- quality/flow of editing 
- audio levels 
- types of shots with the camera
- lighting, natural and use of our lighting rig

To which I added
- use of planning time/shooting time with clients
- aesthetics and timing of titles, credits

The central message and script of the movies were the responsibility of the Biology 20 students. They were marked with their own rubric. When I discussed this rubric with the two biology teachers an interesting point about assessment came up. Should the biology students be marked on the quality editing of the movie? Prior to working with Neil Stephenson and our own in-house assessment guru Dean Senn, I would have said yes. On this project, I didn't agree. Biology students should be evaluated based on outcomes from the Biology curriculum and the same goes for multimedia.

Is this wrong? Still being a newb trying to wade my way through new approaches to assessment is sometimes very challenging. Please weigh in with your thoughts.

The project took about 2 weeks with 5 days for direct collaboration between the two classes. We planned and created storyboards on day 1, shot the video for 2 days, and did rough edits on the fourth day. My multimedia students then had 5 classes do the final edit including titles and credits.  The 5th class together the following week was for my students to present the final edit to their Biology 'clients'. 

Overall it was a very positive experience. One group even emulated the Commoncraft style of videos with cutout characters. It was a huge hit with the grade 4's!  (Link to come, as the video is at school on my class HD). 

The next step is for me to work with my colleagues to build their capacity. Ultimately, I would like to see their students using the carts of MacBooks we have coming at our building next year. Using the Kodak zi6 cameras and Canon FS200 cameras made shooting and importing a snap. All of my students used Final Cut and wowed their clients with their use of Livetype for titles and credit, well most of them anyways. Tripods were mandatory so these recycle movies didn't turn into homages to the Blair Witch Project!

Samples to be distributed once I get back to school. Drop me an email if you would like to see either the Biology or Multimedia sides of the rubric. coolpoolteacher at

Photosource: Moria from Flickr