Raff's rant

Teaching is an art. The desire to work with kids is a calling.

iTunesU and iBook Author content creation

August 4, 2014 by · No Comments · Uncategorized

My Students love iTunes U it allows me to organize the course and the semester in a clear easy to follow manner. I use posts to clearly communicate with my students what they will be doing and attach the materials that will be needed for the subtopic being addressed. I use iBook Author to create interactive books for my students to use to engage them in the content. Some of the books i create are just revision books full of interactive multi-touch components like in my first History course i created. Alternatively I create iBook Author books with content, information and images to bring History and Geography to life for my year 7 students and include interactive multi-touch components to take full advantage of the iPads and actively engage the students.

Tips for iTunes U courses-

Use outline to plan and organize your course. Ensure that is logically organized the way you want to teach it so students are not jumping around the course from section to section. I find that creating and building a course before i teach it helps me works the best as you can change the outline but you can’t move your posts around which means a lot of copy and paste and frustration. Best practice is to work on getting the outline to a stage where you are happy with it before building your course. Subscribe to some public courses before you start to build and create your own so you work out what works best for you ( a few subtopics in the outline and lots of posts or Many subtopics and areas and then a few posts or one post in each) There is no right or wrong way just what works for you.

Share materials between your courses where you can rather than uploading the same materials. If you add the same feed to more than one course, Course Manager creates duplicate materials in the My Materials Library and counts the duplicate materials towards your 20 GB available storage space.

Uploading your files be aware that the maximum file size is 2 GB however remember that your students need to download the materials to use so think about reducing the size to manageable downloadable sizes. If you have created an iBook Author ebook and it is huge consider splitting it into two books pt1 and pt2. If it is video footage think about putting in the link to the uploaded video on Youtube or Vimeo rather than uploading the video footage.

When displaying video material in the My Materials Library or a course Materials pane, Course Manager creates a thumbnail image for the video from the image displayed 11 seconds into the video file.

Save materials as PDF’s and upload the PDF’s into iTunes U as students can then annotate the PDF’s in a variety of apps.

Once you upload a material into iTunes U materials you can edit it to change the name of the resources, give it an author, change copyright information etc. It is good to change the name of materials to make them make sense for the students. For example a screen shot of a website will have the file name screenshot! Not that helpful for the user but by going into edit you can change the title to login details for …. etc to give the image meaning for the user.

When you insert an iBook or a video you can direct students to a particular part of the video or a chapter within the book. In the context of a video it is great as you can direct students the relevant parts rather than view the whole video.

Here is what some of my students think about iTunesU courses:


Tips for iBook Author-

Planning is essential when creating an ebook with iBook Author. Changing the order of sections within chapters is difficult so planning out the broad outline for chapters and the topics within them is essential before you begin to create your book.

Always make a Landscape iBook so no matter which way you hold the iPad it can be read easily.

Where it fits add interactive elements to your book this is what engages the reader and involves them. Interactive elements bring the iBook to life and take full advantage of the iPad’s features.

Source your own photos ask friends, colleagues etc explaining that you will credit them as the photographer it works really well and then you avoid hassles with copyright.

iBook Author has interactive aspects within its included widgets however you can create different interactive aspects to add to your ibook using Bookry and BookWidgets. I have used Bookry and found it easy to use with great support and help videos when you get stuck. It is free to use and works very well with iBook Author. I have only discovered bookwidgets recently and am yet to have time to play. I do notice that only the trial is free!

Review your iBook on an iPad or on your laptop to ensure it is set out the way you want and flows logically.

Here are a few of my students talking about the ebooks i made using iBook Author:

For more tips on iTunes U and iBook Author check out my slideShare presentations in this post about presenting at the HTAV annual conference.

If you would like to check out my courses or those created by my colleagues follow the link below.

Ringwood Secondary College courses – https://itunes.apple.com/au/institution/ringwood-secondary-college/id692510040

Here is my Geography course – https://itunes.apple.com/au/course/yr7-geography-for-australian/id896645777

Water Scavenger hunt

August 4, 2014 by · No Comments · Uncategorized

Using coloured QR codes create with http://qrstuff.com/ My students will Solve the clue and find the QR code then follow the instructions on the QR code find and snap the water treasure. Students will then read the next clue then hunt for the QR code and so on..

Here are my clues for around the school:

Clues to find QR codes for instructions to hunt and snap treasure

1. Dewy has this covered
2. Captain of the ship RSC
3. Time warp into the past
4. Lights, Camera, Action
5. Fix it Felix Jr! or is it Wreck it Ralph!
6. Piping hot or freezing cold this is spot for what’s what
7. Data in all sizes, shapes and manifestations
8. Bounce, bounce lots of net
9. Bang, bang, clang, clang
10. Lost and need to be found, problem needs solving we are the first port of call
11. Spaces a plenty before 8 am after 9 no more til after 4pm
12. Flying high respect I show
13. Muscle and sweat to and fro lifting running beat…beat…beat…
14. Prepare and rest a breather
15. Siberia they call it where winds and young ones rush by
16. Fighting virus’s is what I do solving your issues I am there to help you

Here is a copy of my QR hunt:
QR codes for water treasure snap and hunt

I had my QR codes laminated so i can reuse them next year :)

The QR codes ask the students to find the following treasure:

Take an image that shows waters interaction with: Fauna, Flora, The Built Environment, The Natural Environment and The Water Cycle in action. Examples of: water conservations, sources of water, uses of water, water issues or misuse (without misusing water), the different forms of water. How much water do the the tanks at school hold? How is tank water used at school and how many tanks does the school have? Finally there ares some quotes about water from various sources the students are asked to choose a few and snap an image that would be an appropriate background for the quote.

Kahoot Rocks

July 27, 2014 by · No Comments · Uncategorized

Kahoot.it has changed how I am teaching my classes. I use Kahoot almost every lesson as either an entrance quiz or exit quiz to see what my students have learnt and or retrained from the last lesson. It allows me then to have a starting point for the lesson and go over important concepts again especially if they are needed as the basis of the current lesson. Students love Kahoot and adults. Showing it to staff in the staffroom and having them play a quiz that my students were to do they were completely into it getting up set when they answered right but someone beat them to be the first correct and upset when they got it wrong. Having shown five staff members within fifteen minutes it had been used in those five classrooms and another ten teachers in different areas of the staffroom had been shown this awesome tool by members of that first group of staff i had shown! It spread like a wildfire it was awesome with comments like you have changed they way i teach and think about my classes, to this is awesome i love it and my class were so engaged it was amazing. Who wouldn’t love a tool that can bring teachers and students engagement and joy :)

We used Kahoot at the beginning of our HTAV 2014 annual conference presentations and all the workshop attendees love it and were going home to explore the potential in their classrooms and schools. They were super excited to learn how easy it was to create and share with students on any device and platform and it is all free :) We used Kahoot to gauge our audience/participants pre-knowledge and understanding on our presentation material. It worked really well informing us as presenters to the areas we needed to spend more time on and those which we could skim over.

Kahoot allows you to make a Quiz, discussion or survey. My students like the quizzes i create as they have a scoring system it engages them and keys them into our topic. You can see for your self in the video below – i love that during the video you hear a student ask can we do it again after we finish!

You need to make an account – https://create.kahoot.it/#login click on get my free account and then fill in the blanks to the questions – What is your role? then username, email, password and create an account. Now you are ready to create your first Kahoot. You might want to watch http://quick.as/nyyt7b to see how it all works with a room full of people different devices.

Once you have made my quiz, survey or discussion have your students open a browser on what ever device they are using and type in kahoot.it don’t google it as it comes up with the create.kahoot.it address. You then need to launch the game click on launch then participants will need to log into your game by entering the pin and their name. You will see the number of players increase as participants join the game. There is a count down clock for participants to join the game once the time runs out the game starts. Then the question appears for about 10 seconds and then the question and answers appear ONLY ON THE TEACHER LAPTOP so you need to project the questions so all participants can view the question and answers. On the participant devices all they see are colored squares with a different white shape in each. I like that the students have to read the question and answer from the board and then click on their own device. It is like being part of a game show! You can change the time participants get to answer 5 sec, 10, 30, 60. There is a countdown clock on the screen so you could call out 5,4,3,2 etc if you wanted to! When all participants have answered or the time is up a graphic will appear on the screen of how many participants answered each color and on the individual device participants will be told if they got it correct or incorrect. A scoreboard will them show giving the top point scorers before moving onto the next question.

You could use the same set of quiz questions and change the time start at 30 seconds and then change it to 10 at the end of lesson and see how students go! That would be interesting!

launch screen for Kahoot!

At the end of the quiz you can display the results and download the results. This is in the form of an excel spreadsheet and you get every participants answers. Love it. Here is a video of the second time i used it with my class

HTAV 2014 Annual conference presentations

July 24, 2014 by · No Comments · Uncategorized

Day 1 – Presenting with Kristi Usher on creating an iTunesU course. Participants on a range of devices and platforms began to create their courses. Here is our presentation. Be sure to check out iTunesU on the iTunes store. When time permits i will blog some tips and tricks about using iTunes U for course creation and iBook Author for creating multi-touch interactive books.

Here is what some of my students think about iTunesU courses:


Day 2 – Presenting with Lucy Moore on Creating content with iBook Author. Participants started to play with iBook Author and learn the basics of creating an ebook with iBook Author. Here is our presentation:

Here are a few of my students talking about the ebooks i made using iBook Author:

Green Screening

May 1, 2014 by · No Comments · Uncategorized

Having purchased a two green screens, 3m x 6m Chromakey Green Muslin Backdrop Backgrounds from Image Melbourne.
I organized for one to go into the library classroom. It is located at the back of the room away from student activity. Teachers generally need to book into this space. This has turned out to be an awesome space for the green screen in combo with the installed projector working as an auto cue for the students who are green screening. The library collaboration area has then worked as a space where students can storyboard and collaborate on their scripts, plan and gather images to used as the backdrops. The entrance to the classroom is also being used as a second green screening area with the second backdrop purchased. The size of the muslin has meant that it can be draped over a bookshelf in the library, which has actually created two other spaces where students can use the green screen.

Students used their iPads to create their scripts after story boarding their initial ideas. Using the app Green screening by Do Ink students are able to easily create authentic breaking news story from the newsroom and the field. The app allows the students to use either a still image or video footage as their background over the green screen. Students shot their segments and then put their braking news story together using iMovie.

The task was to create a breaking news story about Mungo man. Students had multiple scenes to make up their breaking news stories. Key was the story boarding ideas followed by the script writing. The students that were able to film efficiently and effectively were those that had thought about all elements of their breaking news stories – script which is fleshed out, props, back drop images and or video, camera person, iPad without a passcode to act as the prompter ( students in some groups worked out that their green cover allowed for green screen technology to work on it and that made reading from the script easier if they were using the green screens in the library itself.

The Library space was brilliant as the foyer worked as a practicing area, the collaborative zone worked for student planning and putting together movies with iMovie, playback and critical evaluation of content against the rubrics and reflecting on the finished product and group contributions. The library classroom green screen and the two green screen areas in the library were the filming areas. Outside the library worked for both practicing and for students who chose to use the app 8mmHD rather than the green screening by Do Ink. 8mm HD allows students to change the lens filters on the video and thus easily show change over time using the filters to go from black and white to sepia to the 60’s and 70’s filters etc.

Here are my students green screening efforts:

Green screening in yr 7 History

How to use Green Screen by Do Ink:

Take a look at these awesome videos that Emily Collins, the Head of Library @ RSC has created to support teaching and learning with the Green screens and iPads. Thanks Emily for permission to use your sensational videos and your passion and enthusiasm :)

Possibilities with Green screening using the app GreenScreen by DoInk and an iPad

and How to use the app GreenScreen by DoInk

Thanks Emily for your helpful tips and allowing us to view your videos.

So what did the students create?

Minecraft Pocket Edition seeds:

November 6, 2013 by · 14 Comments · Uncategorized

What is a seed? A seed is a word or a string of characters used to generate specific terrain when creating a new world in Minecraft. By using the same seed to generate separate worlds you will generate the same terrain consistently even on different iPads. This means you could have all the students using the same terrain, to build and create a specific landscape, building, or other Geographic, Historical feature, on their individual iPads.

Why use a seed? Well a seed saves student time rather than just generating random landforms they can choose the landforms they want and find a seed that gives them that combination of landforms.

Here are some Seeds you might like to trial:

Seed : Nether – Terrain: snow biomes and frozen oceans

Seed : balderdash – Terrain: Flat land

Seed : newbiecool – Terrain: large land with floating pieces which is good for survival maps.

Seed : hunter – Terrain: lots of water, some snow, big mountains, lots of coal, iron ores in mountains.

Seed : Dumbocow – Terrain: cliffs, waterfalls, and caves.

Seed : 1359075770 -Terrain: water cave system

Seed : ONE DIRECTION -Terrain: a ton of sheep, trees and other resources around. Lots of hills and water. There is 16 diamonds around spawn area.

Seed : waterfront -Terrain: lava fall snow and a lot of ice it also has a mini desert

Seed : v -Terrain: it is an awesome world you will spawn in a valley surrounded by huge mountains

Seed : world -Terrain: Lot of sand and big caves in huge mountains

Seed : starter -Terrain: water falls, laques under the mountains holes , big islands , really really huge mountains

Seed :lava -Terrain: a winter wonder land with a small beach

Seed : melons. -Terrain: Huge hill, small pond, lava fall and 2 waterfall side-by-side

Seed : Glacier -Terrain: flying mountains and surfaces

Seed : but -Info: This seed is very good for those you are not very good at finding coal. Coal in this seed can be found almost everywhere.

Seed : flat land -Terrain: ice everywhere.

Seed : nyan -Info: This seed has an instant lava and monster spawner making life quite hard. After spawning, there is a cobblestone generator just around you and useful for making a house.

Seed : snooze ( no capitals) -Terrain: cave over river in the middle of mountain,small lakes,mountains lake,snow hills, valley cave,TREES,

Seed : hdhd37jfu25jfj8jfj3f28 -Terrain: Winter world Creates snow and ice

Seed : rjrujrhgeiigieigjeidjc -Terrain: Caves and Mountans

Seed : generator -Terrain: Huge mountains , a lot of water , some floating blcs , big caves and waterfalls and more

Seed : popcorncandyland -Terrain: A big ocean

Seed : Taco -Terrain: Lots of flat ground, some snow and some sand. A few medium mountains and one or two caves.

Seed : destiny -Terrain: Loads of mountains some with snow and some caves

Seed : Alpha -Terrain: Half of the map is all mountainous, the other half is all water and snow. With a medium cove/cave like area.

Seed : 3.14 (as in Pi) -Terrain: Weird mountains in some areas, a lot of forests and water. Some ice, too.

Seed : dawg -Terrain: Snow, some rocky mountains, cliffs and lots of forest. One Medium sized lake.

Seed : michael -Terrain: a few caves, snow covered mountains, some water and a little forest.

Seed :Vancouver -Info: great for resources and the hill makes a really good house/mine

Seed : jpgaming -Terrain: waterfalls,caves,

Seed : 30 -Terrain:: many mountains, caves, overhangs, There is so many huge mountains

Seed : iBricked -Terrain: an Ice Ocean , very flat land

Seed : Peacemaker -Terrain:: lots of mountains and some craters

Seed : Hunger_games -Terrain: Some snow Water is mostly ice. but also a small desert and grassy areas. Very hilly.

Seed : iancoulahan1 – have a look see

Seed : bandit! -Terrain: It has a huge snowy forest biome

Seed : seed -Terrain: a flat winter biome

Seed : theseedpeed -Terrain: You spawn on top of a massive mountain and waterfalls

Seed : 18bananas -Terrain: tall mountain

Seed : 83blankets -Terrain: small islands and frozen ocean

Seed : 40 -Terrain: waterfalls, mountains and caves

Seed : Stockholm -Terrain: A massive waterfall

Seed : Android -Terrain: Some lava!

Seed : skyblock -Terrain: mountain and a waterfall!

Seed: smooth -Terrain: lots of mountains and a waterfall.

Seed : 25026297228817461931 -Terrain: very big, cool mountain with caves

Seed : xperiaplay -Terrain: Huge ice bay and some lakes

Seed : racecardriver -Terrain: snow, waterfall and ice.

Seed : minecraftisawesome -Terrain: big mountains

Seed : frostthejack -Terrain: ice bay and floating blocks

Seed : 42 -Terrain: LOTS of water.

Seed : vicious -Terrain: Floating rocks, weird overhangs, waterfall on floating rock.

Seed : pickle -Terrain: frozen lake, mountains

Seed : frshst -Terrain: BIG mountain and more

Seed : pokemon -Terrain: Super huge mountain and more

Seed : skrillex -Terrain: Watefall on mountain and big mountains

Seed : 21chicken -Terrain: It has caves, huge mountains, floating blocks and heaps more!

Seed : carpet -Terrain: tall mountians, floating blocks, big mountain and more.

Seed : iliketomoveit -Terrain: some grand waterfalls, a lava fall and a few caves

Seed : Flattering -Terrain: mostly ice

Seed : Flat world -Terrain: lots of water and some flat islands

Showbie – a must for any 1:1 iPad classroom

June 21, 2013 by · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

Showbie is AWESOME. I love Showbie! It saves me so much time. Showbie is the solution for 1:1 iPad work distribution of material and collection of student work and the subsequent assessment of that work can all be completed using Showbie with just one exception movies longer than 60 seconds.

Showbie is both an app and a website – it allows for you to create classes (as many as you like) and have students upload their documents, images etc into showbie where you can give feedback either via notes or voice or an image and only the child who you are giving feedback to can see it or not give feedback via the app! I have created a school Showbie account for my school and would advise someone from your school signing up and administering the invites as this as it allows for unlimited assignments rather than just signing up and having a limited number.

Once you have signed up you need to create a class or classes. Then you create an assignment – you can add due dates etc for the assignments if you wish. Each student then needs to be given the class code, once they have downloaded the app ( if they are downloading it for the first time suggest they make a password they will remember!!) and use their full name as this comes up on their folder name in your class. They can join as many classes as the have codes for.

You also have a shared folder that all students can access and see – which could be used to go paperless and organise assignments, class notes etc Information, PDF’s images etc put into the shared folder are put into even student’s folder by Showbie. Student work within folders can only be seen by the teacher and individual student.

The help is great with heaps of clear tutorials on how to do and use different apps with Showbie. Help is http://support.showbie.com/knowledgebase

You can sign up to Showbie without being on the school account however you will have limited number of assignments with the school account they are unlimited :)

I have used Showbie with my year 7 classes this term and it has been wonderful, no more cluttered email. All tasks are either uploaded into the assignment folder for the task or if they are video tasks longer than 60 seconds we then use webdav to upload them to the school server.

Both students and teacher can upload or add images, PDF documents, text or voice notes plus they students can use the open in another app feature of many apps to open tasks / creations like keynotes in Showbie. Task submission is now a breeze with Showbie.

The teacher creates an assignment – which could be an assignment, it could be a unit of work, the next topic etc. I am using what Showbie call assignments for the topics i am teaching – some ‘assignments’ will have student submission of major tasks others might have note submission by students and some might have no task submission but enable the teacher, me, to share photos and tasks with the students. Along with creation of assignments you can choose a due date which all the students can see.

You can see in this screen shot below the highlighted student has submitted her endangered species diary as a PDF, her thoughts about the Lorax in three text notes and Save Endangered species ad / movie. You can also the information i shared with the students. All the interactions are clear to see with names and dates. Along side student names you can see if they have submitted work with the little clip picture and i can at a glance see who i have left individual notes for with the other icon.

The nice people at Showbie have also turned on extra notifications for me so when students make a text note i am emailed so i don’t miss questions from the students. They love showbie so much they prefer this over email :) The other awesome feature is Showbie email you when the due date for your assignment is up informing you of how many students have submitted their work.

Showbie has made life so much easier no more connecting student iPads up to my computer to get work off! YEAH No more having ten different senarios for submission of work! No more reliance on drop box, email, intranet, edmodo etc having bits and bobs on different sites. We now have order and orgnaization – students have folders for their different subjects, within each subject they have folders for different subjects or assignments. Students have tasks, comments, instructions, movies, slide shows etc shared by teachers for classroom use or extension and support. Students have their own folder which only the teacher and they can view. Work can be submitted via showbie. The only exception to this is for longer movies or animations we use webdav – students create a new keynote add the movie to their keynote and share via webdav to the server. If we could afford the Pro version of Showbie then students could submit everything via Showbie :)

Support from Showbie both via the support site which is a rich resource of how to materials. Also email support is prompt and helpful as well as on twitter is speedy and really helpful. However having said all that the app is easy to use even my weakest students can use it no issues at all where they issues using edmodo and dropbox!

What an awesome app is Showbie. My top find of 2013 although i did discover it in 2012 i didn’t have any time to play with it and explore how awesome it actually is.

http://www.showbie.com/ is Awesome do your self a favor and check out @Showbie it will change your classroom.

Planning and Management with the app Run that Town…..

June 21, 2013 by · No Comments · Uncategorized

This week students in my year 7 Geography classes have been learning about planning and managing a local area by playing the iPhone app game “Runthattwon”. In Run that town you act as the planning minister and approve or reject projects and proposals. To assist in making decisions you have access to a positive and negative opinion about the individual projects and the passion levels of the population for the projects as well as census data and news headlines. You have clout and money both of which are used to approve projects, maintenance on infrastructure and projects and resolve incidents.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released, Run That Town, a free iOS strategy game using real 2011 census data. The blurb for the app doesn’t really explain how engaging it is. “Take control of any neighborhood in Australia. Use real Census data to discover who’s who in your area, and make decisions that will sway popular opinion in your favour. Choose from hundreds of projects for your town – from the practical to the preposterous. What kind of leader will you be? Will you be treated to a ticker tape parade, or chased out of town by an angry mob?”

My students loved it they were having some great conversations about the decisions they were making, how they were making them and how they could or couldn’t please the populations of the area in Australia they chose! Students also used a todaysmeet as a back channel to note their progress, how they were playing, what advice they had for others, how they made decisions etc.

Below are some of the Todaysmeet comments students shared about their observations and opinions on building and planning. We then had a discussion about planning and the role of planners and government in the design and logistics of planning in cities. Following on from our lesson on Run that town students are now creating their urban area they would like to live in. Some students are using the apps simcity, minecraft, eden etc others are using paper to design a new urban area that they would love to live in. We talked about layout, sun, gardens, footpaths, parking, open space, houses – low density and high density living, other buildings like shops and businesses that make an urban environment livable!

Google Earth and Google Maps Rock

June 18, 2013 by · No Comments · Uncategorized

I have loved this course on both Google Maps and Google Earth. Learning and Creating at my own pace, when i can fit it in between juggling life has been awesome. I have made some pretty cool maps in the process and learnt a heap my next mission is to explore how i can use these in a 1:1 iPad environment.

I thought i would share some of my maps here

Google Earth: Treasure hunt:


View Larger Map

Constructive and destructive beach tour:

My undersea exploration:


View Larger Map

My first undersea marker :)

Google Maps- using the new map engine lite i was able to create layered maps showing different data on each layer. I also could customize maps and create lines, polygons, personalize my map and draw shapes to connect or define locations. Both Google Earth and Google Maps have huge potential for the classroom and may ideas and applications not just for humanities subjects. I love that you can create tours and have students jump in and out of them. You could Create a historical tour through your country’s most important landmarks, create a tour for a second language students are studying of culturally significant locations, a treasure / scavenger map for a topic, a tour through a novel by creating a tour that includes discussion questions and additional resources, a tour of the various biomes on Earth, be a tour guide for key locations in the local area or major city that students live in etc.

My extra credit layered maps:

My Cities map:

My world heritage map:

other maps made while learning the tools and playing with data:

I really enjoyed the course – i love creating and playing with maps and i thank Google for the opportunity to learn in this manner. It was a huge learning curve in some areas i in both the maps and earth courses i have seen huge potential to use both these awesome tools. Today i shared with History teachers the potential of Google Earth with its historical layers especially in the area of 20th Century history, looking at the before and after the war pictures of Warsaw, Naples and Paris. Mind blowing potential for change over time in both Geography and History course. In Geography there is huge potential with the use of layers to look at landforms and landuse. The 3D layer brings buildings and other structures to life while the Ocean layers enable you to explore under the sea look at the titanic for example. I loved exploring the coast around Hawaii just awesome.

Google Maps

June 15, 2013 by · No Comments · Uncategorized

I am currently completing an online Google Map and Google Earth course – it is awesome. I am really enjoying learning when and where it suits me rather than according to a timetable. Part of the project to make my own map and embed it – so as a passionate Geography teacher i have made a map showing largest cities, most livable cities and highest crime rates as i thought that would be interesting to compare these sets of data spatially. I love the potential to have students create their own maps to show different Geographic and Historical data.

Here is my map: