Kicking Off Back to School with Camera Fun

As we prepare for the start of school, and hundreds of eager minds bouncing into our buildings, many educators kickoff the school year with activities to foster community within their classrooms. When designing an appropriate “start of the year” activity, one should consider:

  1. How will this activity invite students to share something special about themselves?
  2. Will this promote relationships and foster an inclusive community?
  3. How can this activity be a scaffold or act as “jumping off point” into the learning that will be taking place?

With these considerations in mind, I offer you Four activities to Kick Off Back to School with Camera Fun! Whether using the camera on their phone, laptop, or tablet, students use of images plays tenfold in the classroom. First, it provides a perfect opportunity to embed learning of a tool they will use throughout the year in a meaningful task. Second, utilizing the camera contributes to the further understanding of communication through images. Third, talking about digital citizenship, which would include copyright, is important to thread throughout the year, why not start early! Finally, it is fun! We live in a world where a daily “selfie” is a norm.

Passion GIF

A GIF is a perfect way to have students share a passion, create an animation, dig into Google Photos or other GIF apps, and would be applicable in furture projects. GIFs are easily embeddable, tweeted, and shared.
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6 Word Memoir 

6 Word Memoirs, a favorite with my seniors, are a great way to gain insight into a student’s life. This reflective activity asks students to examine their life “journey” and summarize who they are in 6 words. A picture with the text is a great addition to this activity and has students consider how images enhance their message!
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Shelfie

This summer, Beth Holland shared a strategy with me that helped her learn names and build community, which has inspired this one. A “Shelfie” is when a student takes a selfie with their fovorite book or current read. As a literacy lover, making reading social while sharing good titles with classmates is a win-win. Beth used this “Selfie” idea during a workshop and had participants embed their picture, name, position and learning goal on a Padlet wall. In the classroom, this could serve as a way to learn names of students and classmates; add a learning objective or sharing point and viola’… a digital wall of “Shelfies”.

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Visual Seating Chart

A great introduction and foundational activity to complete with students is to create a visual seating chart. Using the camera found on their device or phone have students snap a picture, change settings to auto-flip pictures, rename the image, and attach to an email. All of these steps will help students create and organize in future projects. A visual seating chart is especially appreciated by subs and visitors.

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As Devin Schoening says, “Say No to Nonsense!” and while many educators and students detest icebreakers, these activities are meant to be embeded within content, aligned to learning targets, and help to build relationships within the classroom. While there are many other activities that educators could do with “camera fun” to start the school year (and even more with video options) these are a few ideas that are sure to get your students engaged, active and honing skills that will be applicable throughout the year! Have a great start to the school year!

Christmas 2013: Tis’ the Season to Give Technology

Christmas2013

Technology tops most Christmas lists, but with so many options available, choosing the perfect gift is daunting. Considerations in price, use, and longevity will help one narrow down their search. The following are three questions I ask myself before purchasing technology for others:

1. What do they want to use it for? Educational purposes? Personal uses? Both?

2. What is the price range?

3. How often will they use it and what is the life expectancy?

Below is a list of popular technology gifts for 2013 and priced to fit any budget. Many times there are comparable alternatives to the name-brands, so it is important to be informed. Do your research before making a purchase. (Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement of the product)

Children:Ages 3-8

  • Learning Tablets: The most popular is LeapPad. Options/accessories, learning games, parental controls.

  • VTech Challenger Laptop: Preloaded curriculum, educational, mimics the “look” of a laptop.

  • VTech Kidizoom Twist Plus Camera: Durable, digital camera.

Tweens and Teens:

  • Tablets: Popular devices include iPads, Kindle, and Google Nexus. Tablets are portable and functional. Used primarily for photos, videos, ereading and surfing the web.

  • Laptops: Popular devices include MacBooks, Chromebooks,and PCs. Laptops are portable and available at a variety of price ranges. The keyboard and functionality for creation and gaming make laptops a perfect choice.

  • Phones: A new phone or an upgrade on an existing one is a popular “want” for many teens. The cellular phone has become a pocket computer for most people. Internet access, apps for photos, videos, music and social media; a new phone this Christmas would be a perfect choice. A new computer for business is an excellent choice as well but make sure that you’re aware of bottlenecking to avoid slowing overall performance.

  • Beats: High-end, high-powered headphones that provide listeners with the ultimate music experience. Pricey and popular with today’s youth.

Adults:

For those techie adults in your life that already have devices, here is a short list of possibilities:

  • Chromecast: An inexpensive gadget that hooks up to your HDMI television and allows users to stream their device to the screen.

  • Amazon Prime: This upgrade in membership provides fast delivery on items purchased, unlimited streaming of movies and television programs, and access to thousands of titles.

  • Bluetooth Speaker or Keyboard: Accessories that have bluetooth capability pairs with a smartdevice and allows users to stream music from their phone, ipod, etc. The Bluetooth keyboard is wireless and a nice alternative to the touch-screen keyboards on devices.

  • Netflix Subscription: Movies and television shows available on-demand. From an iPad to the Xbox360, Netflix allows users to stream their selection on many devices.

  • Gift Cards: iTunes, Microsoft Points, and Gamestop allows those hard to buy for people choice in their purchases.

Happy Holidays! Wishing you successful Technology Gift Giving!