Using "Comic Life" by Plasq

The Middle Primary Class at ISOCS spent most of a happy day yesterday using Comic Life - a software program by Plasq - to retell the story of their trip to Technorama in Winterthur.  They had chosen the pictures they wanted to use from our pictures from the Flickr set, and drafted their writing beforehand, so when we opened the computers, the assembly process was pretty straight forward. You can read about the day on their class blog.

There were the usual confusions over saving, and exporting the finished pages as images.  Some of the students had used the program before, and some were new to it. Although it's fairly user-friendly, there are details and fine points that take a bit of practice to master.  We plan to use it again soon so we can master it.

Here are the pages we made (You can see them on Flickr, too):


Incorrect laws of motion

We're coming to the end of our Force and Motion Unit of Inquiry in the Middle Primary Class. Here's a new video for the Middies, so they can check their understanding. Do you agree with what the speaker in the video is saying?

Text from the YouTube page:

Uploaded by  on Mar 10, 2011
Newton's Three Laws of Motion are a landmark achievement in physics. They describe how all objects move. Unfortunately most people do not really understand Newton's Laws because they have pre-existing ideas about the way the world works. This film is about those pre-existing ideas. By recognizing what people are thinking, it becomes easier to describe the correct scientific concepts of Newton's Three Laws and how they differ from this 'intuitive physics'.

I found this video on the Best Physics VIdeos playlist.

Learning with mobile media

This morning I read a post on Teaching with Technology, by Ben Rimes, which outlined ideas for teaching and learning for teachers, but also ideas for parents.

Photo by Roger's Wife on Flickr
Under the heading "Supporting Your Child's Learning with Mobile Media", he suggests:
  • "Load up on digital content before a new topic or unit of study – If you can look at your student’s syllabus or assignments ahead of time for a class they’re taking, try to load up their mobile device with podcasts, videos, and other digital media that pertain to the topic coming up. You now have a digital handheld library of content that serves as a good starting point for reference.
  • Small “infobytes” can be just as helpful as longer content – Often all learner’s need are small pieces of information to help support their learning. Having longer pieces of media in the form of audio lectures and videos can be helpful, but often with a mobile device you just want a few minutes worth of an explanation or demonstration of a topic.
  • Capture learning moments all around you – A lot of learning takes place in the real world, away from the classroom. Many mobile devices have cameras and microphones built right in, so you can capture audio, still images, or video whenever you come across a “teachable” moment. Students can use it later for studying, sharing with their classmates, or just as a valuable reminder of application of their learning in the real world.
  • Play a little – When approaching the end of a unit or learning objective, students have much more to rely on when it comes to reviewing. Audio podcasts, videos, and apps are helpful, but increasingly games and other “play based” forms of review on websites and in mobile apps are playing a role in learning. Allow time for your child to play games and simulations related to the content on their mobile devices.
  • Know when to put the device down – Although mobile devices are everywhere, don’t let them dictate every aspect of learning. Sometimes it’s good to put down the devices, get your hands dirty, or communicate with others face to face. Make sure to balance time spent “plugged in” with time spent communicating and interacting with others without the mobile device."
ISOCS parents can follow our program of inquiry at this link, and can keep up to date about what's happening in each class room through our class blogs (links are in the side bar of this blog, under "ISOCS Class Blogs").  ISOCS keeps a list of bookmarks about iPad apps for Primary Students on Diigo. It is by no means complete, or exhaustive, but lists apps and information sites which seem to be appropriate for younger students as they are discovered by our staff.
Photo by nooccar on Flickr

Middle Primary Class at Technorama

As part of their unit of inquiry into force and motion, this week ISOCS Middle Primary Class visited Technorama in Winterthur - a huge, hands-on science experience.  The teachers had preped the trip during the summer, creating a map and a "passport" showing which of the hundreds of exhibits the students should visit.

All the photos are on Flickr, there's a post on the class blog, and here are snippets of  unedited video to give you more of an idea of the investigating that went on during our Technorama visit.

Imagine a fantastic garden

Here's a quick Animoto video of our Junior Primary Class's trip to Bruno Weber's Sculpture Park in Zurich last week. Read all about the visit on their blog.

"The elusive technological future"

I recommend this nearly hour-long video of John Naughton's keynote speech at the 2011 conference of the Association for Learning Technology to anyone interested or involved in using technology in education. The speech itself is only 30 min; the rest of the video is comments and questions, some of which evoke very interesting answers from Dr. Naughton.

Text from the YouTube page:
Uploaded by  on Nov 2, 2011
"The elusive technological future" Keynote speech by John Naughton, Professor of the Public Understanding of Technology at the Open University, at Thriving in a colder and more challenging climate, the 2011 conference of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT). Session given in Leeds, UK, on Thursday 8 September 2011 at 11.40. For information about ALT go tohttp://www.alt.ac.uk/. Made publicly available by ALT under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 2.0 UK: England and Wales licensehttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/uk/.

"...Whenever something new arrives, you have to ask yourself, 'What do we loose? What do we gain? Who benefits, and who looses?' from the adoption of this stuff..."

Towards the end of the video, Dr. Naughton makes a reference to the work of Michael Wesch. Here is one of his TED talks, TEDxKC - Michael Wesch - From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able:

Text from the YouTube page:
Uploaded by  on Oct 12, 2010
"TEDxKC talk synopsis: Today a new medium of communication emerges every time somebody creates a new web application. Yet these developments are not without disruption and peril. Familiar long-standing institutions, organizations and traditions disappear or transform beyond recognition. And while new media bring with them new possibilities for openness, transparency, engagement and participation, they also bring new possibilities for surveillance, manipulation, distraction and control. Critical thinking, the old mainstay of higher education, is no longer enough to prepare our youth for this world. We must create learning environments that inspire a way of being-in-the-world in which they can harness and leverage this new media environment as well as recognize and actively examine, question and even re-create the (increasingly digital) structures that shape our world..."

Video Story Problems

I just found a Vimeo Channel of Story Problems, as in Math. Its "a collection of Video Story Problems created by students, teachers, and anyone looking to bring more of the 'real world' into their classroom through the use of video."

Brownie Video Problem from Sean Dardis on Vimeo.

Video Story Problem - Domino Estimation from Ben Rimes on Vimeo.
"I was volunteering in my daughter's kindergarten class while they had some free play time. I watched them start to build a pyramid, and wondered if they would have enough dominos to complete it. They only had a box full of 200 dominos to try and build the pyramid.

"I didn't want this to be a simple "count the dominos" problem, so I didn't provide any other numbers besides the pyramid being 6 layers of dominos high. You'll have to watch the video carefully and estimate to see if they can do it."

The Channel is the idea of Ben Rimes, who writes at The Tech Savy Educator. He's the K-12 Technology Coordinator for Mattawan Consolidated School District in Michigan

How would you make a video like these?  Do you have a good idea for a "story problem" ?

How we see the IB Learner Profile

Inquiring into the Learner Profile from ISOCS on Vimeo.

The Middle Primary and Senior Primary classes at the International School of Central Switzerland inquired into the IB Learner Profile for their first unit of inquiry of the year. They share their learning, and reflect on their experience in this 20 minute film.

Measuring Time

The Middle Primary Class at ISOCS is looking at measurement of time. Here's a video to help you understand Daylight Saving Time, or, perhaps,  to confuse you a little more! Switzerland went back to Standard Time a week ago.

Published on Oct 24, 2011 by 

If you want to read more about Daylight Saving Time, check out this web page.  The Wikipedia article is here.

If you want to be a little more confused, or perhaps not so confused, read about how the ancient Romans kept track of time on this web page.  This page has lots and lots of links to other pages about measuring time (It's an older web page, but most of the links still work).

Thanks (once again) to Richard Byrne for the link to the YouTube video.

Google Gravity

For the Force and Motion crowd

Open Google.com, and enter the words "Google Gravity" in the search bar. Then click on "I'm feeling lucky" under the search bar. Watch what happens to your screen.  Is this really gravity at work?

If you can't make the above happen, click on http://mrdoob.com/projects/chromeexperiments/google_gravity/ instead, and the click on "I'm feeling lucky" as above.

Click on another open tab in your browser, and then come back to the Google page.  Watch what happens. Could there be wind in your computer?


Another bit of Measurement.
Do you take naps?  Would you like to take them at school?  Do you have a regular pattern of naps? Check out all the information in this infographic. An infographic is

  • A way to visualise and give meaning to data using pictures, maps, diagrams, graphs, or other graphic elements.
How many ways are naps measured and described in this inforgraphic?
Shared with permission - even encouragement! by infographicarchive.com

How much does the Internet weigh?

Another video about measurement for the Middle Primary students, who are probably not going to measure the amount of information they gain from this....

Text from the YouTube page:
Uploaded by  on Oct 29, 2011

Why Parents Help Tweens Violate Facebook's 13+ Rule

Yesterday, Danah Boyd (Senior researcher, Microsoft Research and Research Assistant Professor, New York University) published an article in the Huffington Post titled "Why Parents Help Tweens Violate Facebook's 13+ Rule".

Ms.Boyd describes the well known statistics concerning children under 13 on Facebook, their relation to the US COPA law (the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act ) and the research she and her colleagues did about that data:

"My collaborators and I decided to focus on one core question: Does COPPA actually empower parents? In order to do so, we surveyed parents about their household practices with respect to social media and their attitudes towards age restrictions online. From a national sample of 1,007 U.S. parents who have children living with them between the ages of 10-14 conducted July 5-14, 2011, we found:
  • Although Facebook's minimum age is 13, parents of 13- and 14-year-olds report that, on average, their child joined Facebook at age 12.
  • Half (55%) of parents of 12-year-olds report their child has a Facebook account, and most (82%) of these parents knew when their child signed up. Most (76%) also assisted their 12-year old in creating the account.
  • A third (36%) of all parents surveyed reported that their child joined Facebook before the age of 13, and two-thirds of them (68%) helped their child create the account.
  • Half (53%) of parents surveyed think Facebook has a minimum age and a third (35%) of these parents think that this is a recommendation and not a requirement.
  • Most (78%) parents think it is acceptable for their child to violate minimum age restrictions on online services."

She points out that
"Rather than reinforcing or extending a legal regime that produces age-based restrictions which parents actively circumvent, we need to step back and rethink the underlying goals behind COPPA and develop new ways of achieving them. This begins with a public conversation about what it means to parent in a digital world."
She is writing from the US; her audience is mainly Americans who could be in touch with their law makers.  (In Britain, the site is banned for children under 13 under a voluntary "good practice code".)

Those of us outside the US are interested in this discussion because most of the websites we use with our students (and our own children) are based in the US, or another country which follows strict child protection laws.  Everyone's decisions affect all of us.  Read the whole article, which includes very interesting, graphic charts.

For more information on our findings and their implications for policy makers, see "Why Parents Help Their Children Lie to Facebook About Age: Unintended Consequences of the 'Children's Online Privacy Protection Act'" by danah boyd, Eszter Hargittai, Jason Schultz, and John Palfrey, published in First Monday.

You can read more about this issue at these web pages:
Should Kids Be Allowed on Facebook?
Facebook's 7.5 Million Underage Users Are Largely Unsupervised: Consumer Reports Survey
7.5 Million Facebook Users Are Below the Minimum Age

From The Huffington Post articleImage Credit: Tim Roe  
What do you think? Where do you fall on this chart? How does this discussion fit into the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child? A child has...
"...the right to love and understanding, preferably from parents and family, but from the government where these cannot help.
... the right to go to school for free, to play, and to have an equal chance to develop yourself and to learn to be responsible and useful. Your parents have special responsibilities for your education and guidance.
...(a child) should be taught peace, understanding, tolerance and friendship among all people."
(Taken from the Declaration of the Rights of the Child Plain Language Version)


These are links to websites that might be useful for the ISOCS Middle Primary Class, which is interested in finding out how to know how big something is.

Screen shot from Math is Fun

Basic information can be found at Math is Fun

Click here to go to the BBC Bitesize site and measure some Bamzooki

Screen shot from BBC Bitesize

If you click here, you'll find some scientific equipment in a weather station that needs to be read. (click on the word "Go" to get started.)
Screen shot from http://www.teacherled.com/
If you want something harder, try the Scale Challenge.
Screen shot from Scale Challenge
On this page you'll find lots of activities.  Choose "Measurement" under each year group, and then click on the arrow in the picture to make it open full screen.  Here's one that's not as easy as it looks.
Screen shot from TES Board