Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Swivl 'n Through the Classroom

I had an opportunity to try out a device on Monday at one of our school staff meetings called a Swivl. I was a Kickstarter backer for the company when they were first getting started. The Swivl bot allows you to take your iPhone or iPad and place it in a slot on the Swivl to assist with video recording. It comes with a “puck” like device that you hold in your hand or wear around your neck. The Swivl follows this puck and allows you to move around the room freely while video taping yourself. It’s a great solution if you are interested in improving your classroom instruction, but you don’t want somebody else videotaping you while you teach. My video is not the best, as I made a few rookie mistakes. Here’s a few things I learned:
  1. Be sure you place your Swivl in a location that is not facing any bright lights, such as a large window. Your device camera will underexpose the video due to all the light coming in the window. Duh.
  2. You can control the resolution of the video on your device, but if you do not, remember a 45 minute video will take a considerable amount of storage on your mobile device. My 49 minute video was 3.8GB. That might not seem like a lot on a computer, but on a year old mobile device, that is considerable. You will also want to load that video up to the Swivl Cloud, or move it to your computer so you can delete it from your mobile and free up that storage space on your mobile.
  3. Be sure your mobile device is completely charged. I recorded the example below and my iPhone5 was at a 95% charge. It died at 49 minutes. The age of your device will probably add or subtract time. The Swivl uses Bluetooth which has been known to be a little power hungry on mobile devices.
  4. Place your Swivl on a tripod to get it just above the heads of your audience.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Create Close Reading Activities for Your Students in LiveCode

Something I read this morning got me thinking about “close reading” activities for students. There are many different examples of them. I thought I’d take a few minutes to code up and example using LiveCode. I tried to add comments in the code as much as possible. The code is in the button, “Create Activity” and there is one function in the card script. (You will need to download the free LiveCode Community Version to open this project.)

This little example is just a quick prototype. It is not finished but could be easily taken and built upon.

I can envision this being used a teacher tool that creates close reading activities for students. Teachers could create entire collections of these activities and then store the students results. The main idea was something that was simple and quick for teachers to use.

The large top left field is where the teacher pastes the student reading selection. I should warn you that none of the text fields are protected (locked) so you can accidentally delete content or resize objects etc. If you mess something up, you can always download another copy.

The button titled, “Create Activity” is where the magic happens. After you have pasted your text selection, clicking the Create Activity button start the activity. A series of three buttons is created each containing a random word from the text selection. One of the words in the text selection has been replaced with a blank line, “*______*.” The student is responsible for selecting the correct word from the three choices (buttons).

There are many ways this activity could be tweaked to provide a different flavor of activity. Hopefully it will give you some ideas. The LiveCode project is available here: “Another Close Reading Activity Build in LiveCode.”

Just another simple example of some of the things you can do with LiveCode :)