Tips for Making Videos on iPhones & iPads

I love when students make videos. Whether they are simply recording how they can kick a ball into a goal or creating a presentation about their future career, videos are a great way for students to show learning… and parents LOVE them!

However, I often have found that there is something lacking in the actual production value of the video. I bet I’m not alone in having to sit through a video that was filmed in a busy and NOISY hall or a video that moves from location to location, actor to actor, darkness to light, focus to blur… leaving me desperately searching for some Gravol.  Yes, we do not all have little Steven Spielbergs in our classes, so let’s give them some tips before they push the record button okay?

Students love to dive right in and make videos, which is fine, but if it is a video that will eventually be published or presented, maybe we need to spend some time teaching skills to make their videos better for their audiences.

Here is a a quick tip sheet that I put together for students and teachers.

click the link below to download a printable version

movie making tips

Feel free to copy and share! Happy video making!

Permission to Speak on Diversity

I recently attended the Women in Education pre-conference to the uLead conference in Banff. This is the first time I have attended either. In the excitement of learning and as a new tribe was being formed around me I signed up to add a blog post for a #ulead #womened #digimeet.

Now its 2:00 pm on a bright sunny day (a rarity lately on the west coast!). My kids are playing outside, and boy do I ever want to join them because this is scaring the heck out of me. Maybe I’m scared because it’s a new tribe I am jumping into, maybe it’s because I haven’t blogged since last summer, maybe because the last time I wrote about women in ed leadership I felt exposed and was not prepared for the backlash.

So, with a bag of chocolate blueberries, a cup of coffee and my new tribe pushing me to be 10% braver and get a post out by 4:00, here we go!

Now about that post on women in ed leadership. It was a collaborative effort with some amazing women ed leaders that I have always admired: Jessica Johnson, Melissa Emler, Heidi Hutchison, Kaye Henrickson and Tia Henrikson. Titled, Where are the Women Keynote Speakers? we attempted to attack the problem of why the pool of keynote speakers in education were so dominated by our male colleagues despite the fact that education is a field predominantly of women.

After much work and reflection, we collectively pushed “post” and put it out there. Well, there was some support, and I’m sure in hindsight mostly support, but it’s always the naysayers comments that stick the most.

We delved in a twitter questioning, then discussion, then argument, then full out attack with a few who questioned that in a blog post about women, why did we fail to mention the lack of diversity as well. Despite my fellow authors asking for guidance, support to understand the concern, they were shut down with the conclusion of  “If you don’t understand the problem, there’s no point in enlightening you.” One comment thread in particular hurt:

Why were they saying this?! “(W)hite cluelessness”, peple rareley consider race unless it impacts them.. I’m brown!.. Now my name may indicate that I am a woman of colour, but I never put myself out there as one. So was I “brown” enough to respond? I became uncomfortable as I knew the other women I wrote the post with weren’t women of colour and I couldn’t hide behind them… I was it. It was MY job to defend the post. Then my name was thrown out there, basically making the point that, well we do have Iram as an author, and she’s a woman of colour.

Ack, no! I was not ready I didn’t know how to respond and I realized that I have spent my whole life hiding from my colour. I’ve worked hard, tried not to make waves and keep my head low. How was I to respond without fueling this fire even more. Why is it my job, why is it not okay for “white” voices to participate in this conversation. So I didn’t, I just ignored it and have felt very guilty about it since.

Those feelings,unfortunately and fortunately came back as the women in education pre conference went on. I kept looking around and quickly realized, I was the only woman of colour in attendance. I began to feel like I stuck out, my colour was showing, but who am I, the one who hides from her colour to bring it up? And was it even an issue because what I was listening to and the conversations we were having rang true to me. However, I couldn’t help not feeling awkward and that hit me hard. So with a hesitant and brave heart on to twitter I went.

I was glad to bring the the issue up, and I am grateful for the graceful and supportive response from Hanna Wilson. It gave me goosebumps to have attendees question the lack of diversity around them as the conference progressed. Thank you to those who did so. It is important to have diverse voices in conversations about education.

I have a lot more reflection and baggage to unpack in this area, and I am now ready to do so. I will be attending both conferences next year and hope that more diversity will be represented both on and off the stage.

Summer Reading: “Maker” Books

A few days ago at ISTE 2016 @MargaretOW and I did a poster session titled “You Have a Makerspace, Now What?” On our table we displayed some books that we have found helpful in our maker journey so far. Someone asked if we had a list somewhere and we thought that was a great idea, so here they are!

Inspiration for Low Tech Project Ideas
-The Whole Make series of books is great!

The Hows of a School Makerspace

Makerspace Design

Maker Research, Theory and Trends

Prior Vocabulary Knowledge: What is a Tam Anyway?!

Chalk this up as another time my own children push me to reflect on teaching and learning. This weekend my daughter, who is in Kindergarten, and I were playing around with words and their sounds. She was having a great time exaggerating the sounds in words… in fact she thought it was hysterical. So hysterical that she rolled off the couch at one point. I loved how she was having so much fun with it all.

So, my teacher hat came out and I thought it was a great opportunity to bring out all my phonemic awareness puzzles and games. We began with a puzzle where you are required to match pictures of words that have the same beginning sounds and fit them together. It was a slow start, as there were many pieces to look through. I helped her out by saying one of the words and having her look for the corresponding picture. We started with rose, she had to find rake.  I could tell she was struggling, so we tried balloon and she found ball right away. This continued and definitely wasn’t as fun as what we were doing before!  I found she struggled with many of them, it actually shocked me how much help she needed.

After a bit, I realized, she was not having difficulties with the beginning sounds of words. She actually didn’t know what many of the pictures were. Now we are a family that reads a lot, we have hundreds of children’s books all over our house. We take our kids on excursions to expose them to many different environments, people and history. We have many discussions about what is happening in the world and every time our kids ask us questions we try to honour them all. We are doing the things that teachers tell parents to do all the time. We are exposing our children to activities that increase their vocabulary as well has giving them a bank of prior knowledge that they can refer to when they are learning.

But, my kid couldn’t look at a picture of a rake, a tiger, a lion, a zebra, (she confused these animals) nuts, map, can, bug and identify what it was. With some, after I told her she would say, “Oh yeah!” but she didn’t even know what a rake was at all.

This got me thinking, how many activities and assessments are we asking our students to do and they have no idea what the words are? How many students freeze up because of these words. There are so many games and worksheets (sigh) that rely on students having a certain vocabulary bank… I’ve seen some that use the words tam and mast, what?!! When was the last time you heard the word tam or mast?

Words for learning need to be relevant to the students we are teaching. While exposing them to new vocabulary to grow their vocabulary bank, we also need to get to know our students and allow them to show us what they know. We also need to be very careful how we use assessments from generic programs and workbooks that assume that all students know the words they are asking them to work with.

Note: Before I get comments about this, I would like to clarify that I know the rabbit above is wearing a hat that is more like a beret than a tam. I couldn’t find a TAM on Pixabay!

Dear Teachers, Let’s Talk About Mother’s Day

Dear teachers, let’s talk about Mother’s Day.

As a mother, I give you permission to forget about Mother’s Day. I sincerely do not expect a cute present that you stressed about creating with all your students. I do not expect you to use precious learning time and resources to create something for my children to give to me. Mother’s Day is a family event, I expect my family to honour me in the way they see fit (they know I love chocolate and eating out!). Why do teachers feel the pressure to provide their students with a gift for Mother’s Day? Is it an expectation that families have? Do families rely on gifts made at school? If schools did not provide gift that their students made would no mothers be honoured?

What got me thinking about all this, is the dreaded Mother’s Day Tea that has entered my life for the past 5 years. Not sure how it is where you live, but for some reason it has become a popular idea around here for classes, especially early learner classes. Teachers host an event during the school day and have children pamper their mothers with refreshments and “relaxation”. This time is used to show mothers how much they are loved and appreciated. It is a very sweet idea.

Being a working mom, I have missed Mother’s Day teas because I, of course, have to be at school. It has been heartbreaking to tell my children that their father would attend in my place and then being the only children who do not  have their mother in attendance. While everyone says it’s okay to send someone else important in my child’s life, it’s not the same. It’s difficult to deal with yet another reason to feel guilty that I am a working mom. I don’t think it was a coincidence that last year in our school district we had a teacher on call shortage on the Friday before Mother’s Day! This meant that there were so many teachers who called in sick or took leaves of absences that there weren’t enough teachers on call to take their place. Often administrators like me had to go into classes to provide coverage. You can imagine how that made me feel!

I do appreciate the thoughtfulness that teachers have to help their students celebrate the day, it’s all coming from a good place. However, instead of making gifts and hosting events, here is what you can do to mark the Mother’s Day occasion. Help support my children in learning that this world is filled with different types of mothers… that children have different types of relationships with their mothers… that some children do not have mothers, but have other people in their lives that be seen as their mother. Teach lessons that encourage children to grow up into inclusive adults, who do not take others for granted and appreciate all the people in their lives that support them and help them grow.

I do love all the cards and crafts I have received throughout the years, just as I love all the work my children bring home. I don’t need a gift or an event provided for me by my child’s teacher to show how much I am appreciated. I hope that my family can handle that on their own.