Monday, March 16, 2015

A Busy Term

Some snapshots of the last couple of weeks.

We've been investigating offline software options in the Junior Primary lab. While we have awesome online resources and websites we use heavily (our Symbaloo web here), we live in South Africa and our internet can't always be relied upon. We have good infastructure here at school, but still have to rely on Telkom to come to the party and give us our internet! As a result, I'm starting to investigate offline tools our kids can use on those days the internet is too slow or unavailable.

TuxPaint has been amazing. I saw it mentioned all over and I had dismissed it as an MS Paint clone. Finding little other options, I gave it a try and was instantly won over. It has a config .exe that can be run to set parameters (Allow printing, simpler mouse control, full-screen options and loads more). It has a wide range of painting/drawing tools. Then, we get to the stamps. Stamps are an image gallery which can be instantly inserted into a page, most can be resized and flipped horizontal/vertical. My JP students are in love with TuxPaint. Recently, the lab has come alive with creative investigating, both during my lessons and after school.
Students exploring TuxPaint for the first time.
I loved how their individual styles came out through exploring the program.
TuxPaint boasts an impressive array of stickers, which are ready-made images, to insert.
In keeping with the penguin theme, this term Smartie the Penguin came to visit my Junior Primary classes. I wanted to have the discussion with my classes about appropriate behaviour online, and found this great resource by KidSMART. Smartie's story about internet safety was the perfect time for me to test-drive the concept of using AirServer to show the class my iPad screen. It worked (nearly) perfectly, and I've already recently used AirServer to demonstrate Book Creator as well as during my Junior Coding Club.
Smartie the Penguin, observed a clever kid, came to visit the IT lab because it was so cold there - and penguins like the cold.
Using AirServer to send my iPad screen to the PC projector.
It's taken me about 6 weeks to really embrace the iPad as a tool for teaching and learning. I was convinced, eventually, by the Director of our Learning Commons, Shaun Kirk, and his passionate speech about our upcoming 1:1 iPad scheme. I am now starting the process of filtering through the enormous amount of iPad apps to see what Junior Primary can use in their classrooms. I've sent a trial list of 10 apps to the Pre-primary and JP team to see what they think we can try out.