Things Have Moved

I have decided to move my main blog to the blogger platform. Edublogs have been wonderful and their support is second to none. My only reason for shifting is that these days I am spending most of my time in the Google world so it makes a lot of sense to streamline everything into the one ‘Eco system’. I have also changed to a new address www.andrewwilliamson.me See you there

Creativity Through The Lens Of An iPod

http://eytpg.global2.vic.edu.au


Just wanted to share an amazingly creative process that I had with a small group of grade 5 and 6 students who were using ipods to take photos. It is such as simple yet effective way of engaging students creative thinking through photography and at the same time produces a fabulous artefact at the end. This short unit was inspired by my failed attempt each year to take a photo a day (I made it to 100 last year). The students were given a theme each week and then they could go off in pairs and explore the school to take photos. The first theme was titled  “Abstract”. I purposefully chose this theme because I wanted them to understand that by focusing on an object itself would reveal detail and that the detail maybe worth photographing. This was a way of tuning in their eye by looking for detail and depth. It was also a great way of freeing up the students from any preconceived ideas of what taking a photo is. Then I introduced themes such as “The Rules Of Thirds” and “Up”. Some might say that not having the bells and whistles such as a flash, aperture and shutter control is limiting and to some extent they are right. But for young students these might be a complexity that may get in the road. The simplicity of the ipod provides the freedom for the students to focus on composition and take risks with their ideas. The students also had a wonderful time playing around with the numerous apps that helped create some amazing effects. To my surprise they generally chose not to use them preferring to go with a more natural shot. Having the apps to edit the image as they were taking them or straight after taking the shot proved to be a powerful tool. In the not too distant past the students would have to downloaded the image onto a computer and used an expensive piece of software such as Photoshop to generate the same effects. Handheld devices have definitely empowered these students to explore their creative ideas.

Here is the way it was set up…

Tools:

  1. iPods with various photography apps. (Befunky was the students favourite)
  2. Posterous blog
  3. Global2  blog.


Procedure:
The key to this project was the initial back end set up. It will allow the students to have as much freedom as possible as well as time to take as many images as they want.

  1. Set up a posterous blog. This is essential because posterous allows you to email posts from the ipod to the blog. Having the students email their images whilst in the field to the posterous blog saved on time and hassle as well as the where/how to save issues. The added bonus was that I could sit at my computer and watch the images come in as the students were out taking their photos. The look on their faces when they returned and saw their creations already on the blog was priceless. ‘It’s like magic’ claimed a students. Suddenly what they were doing had some authenticity and potentially a real audience.
  2. Set up your ipod: When you set up your posterous account you will be issued with an email address that you can use to send posts via email. Add this to your Contacts on the ipod. Set up mail on the ipod with an email (gmail is recommended) account that you used to create your posterous account. Now when the students take a photo they can email it straight to the blog.
  3. Create your Global2 blog: When you have created it make sure that you have in the writing settings “Enable the WordPress, Movable Type, MetaWeblog and Blogger XML-RPC publishing protocols.” Click here for how to. When you do this any post to the posterous blog will then be automatically posted to the Global2 blog. Nearly there…
  4. Posterous Autopost setup: Make sure that you include the Global2 blog in your autopost setup. See here.


Curation:
Now that your students have been shooting away you will notice that all the images have been sent to the Global2 blog. The next step is to click all posts off as drafts (Dashboard, All Posts). Now for the curation. Create a page for each student give them Administration access so they can now go in and find their photos and copy and paste the image onto their respective page. Done!

See Think Wonder

Developing students listening is an important skill in music. To be able to listen to and analys a piece of music and then pick out certain aspects of it for discussion is an essential skill that we think will broaden a child’s understanding of the world around them. We have been using the thinking routine See, Think, Wonder  to stimulate some deep thinking about various visual art works for the purpose of developing skills on highlighting and emphasising detail. Gradually as the students become accustomed to the routine it will be changed to Listen, Think, Wonder. Here the students will be asked to thinking about the detail in what they hear? What does it make them think about and what does the music make them wonder about?

Students will also be given the opportunity to listen to various pieces of music and will be encouraged to draw images of what comes to mind. This is important for the students to develop an awareness of their ‘minds eye’. The reasons for this is so that they will develop their reflective thinking skills which intern will lead to greater control and flexibility of their imaginations.

Both listening routines are good ways of getting the students to listen to their inner voice which is sometimes referred as self talk or metacognition. As students are encouraged to think reflectively and become more aware of their self talk they will also gain greater control of their thinking. This is important if we want to encourage creative thought amongst out students.  What I mean by this is if we want our students to be creative thinkers then they need to know how to do it. Thinking divergently is one way we can encourage students to come up with original ideas. If a student is metacognitively in control then they might ask themselves “How can I do this differently?” or “Is there a better way?” or “I see this differently how can I express it?” So as students become more aware of their divergent thinking, learn to control it and value it, then they are more likely to be inclined to use it.

What are some of the ways that you  might encourage students to think creatively?  What approaches do you use when educating for thinking skills?

 

Where are the voices in my students heads and how can they be harnessed for effective thinking?

I have always been fascinated with metacognition. The idea that one has the capacity to control their thinking and use it strategically can be powerful for learning. As part of my Masters Of Education studies I wanted to inquire into how I could enhance student metacgonition so that they could become more aware of their thinking which in turn would hopefully lead to a deeper understanding of the knowledge they build. I would like to share my inquiry into metacognition which may be over several instalments. I would love to hear your thoughts too so please comment.

For me the essence of educating for good thinking is metacognition. Learning to think is about being able to manage and organise your thinking.  For this to occur the student needs to be aware of their thinking in order to plan and evaluate it effectively. I would like my students to be able to reflect on their thinking and to strategically pick a type of thinking that will facilitate their learning endeavours.

Weekend Chess Play

Why metacognition?

“To be properly metacognitive then, students have to be realistically aware of their own cognitive resources in relation to the task demands, and then to plan, monitor, and control those resources” (Biggs 1987).

“Students who possess a reflective disposition are at an advantage when they are required to use metacognition or reflective thinking, because the are likely to employ a range of skills and dispositions” (Wilson and Jan 2008).

Metacognition refers to individuals’ awareness, evaluation and regulation of their own thinking (Wilson and Jan 2008). Perkins states that there are three theories of intelligence: Neural, Experiential and Reflective (Perkins 1995). Neural intelligence aligns itself with the beliefs that we are born with a capacity to be intelligent. Unfortunately, this notion means that only a select few are capable of intelligent behaviour. Experiential intelligence asserts the notion that intelligence is learned through rich experience where a person is considered to be intelligent because they are an expert in their field. However, this type of intelligence lacks generality (Perkins 1995). What is meant by this is that intelligence gained through experience is localised to that particular field of expertise and cannot be transferred to other areas of thinking. Reflective intelligence is where the person has the capacity to think about their thinking. This is often described as metacognition, meaning that if the students are able to reflect on their thinking then they will be able to choose the appropriate type of thinking and apply it to the task or problem. This is called metacognitive organisation and I believe this thinking disposition to be vitally important for students when they need to engage in a task that requires a change of tack in their thinking.

Thinking Boy

What am I going to do to facilitate a more metacognitively thoughtful classroom?

John Dewey made the claim that ‘all which the school can or need do for pupils, so far as their minds are concerned … is to develop their ability to think’ (Dewy 1966, p. 152). Since by ‘think’ he meant ‘inquire’, it was the development of inquiring minds to which he referred (Cam 2006 pg 30). Thinking is the deliberate exploration of experience for purpose. That purpose may be decision making, problem solving, understanding, planning, judgement, action and so on (De Bono 1976). There are many approaches in educating for thinking. Harpaz’s formula for good thinking is as follows, ‘good thinking = thinking skills+thinking dispositions+understandings of knowledge’ (Harpaz 2007). Metacognition is a skill and a disposition. That is, one can call on self talk as a skill and use it deliberately to affect one’s thoughts. My attack in solving my dilemma is thus two pronged. That is, if I want my students to develop good metacognitive thinking I need to educate for thinking as a skill and provide tasks that will then facilitate an inclination for the students to engage and value metacognative thought (disposition). To do this I am going to explore Ritchhart, Palmer, Church, & Tishman’s (2006) ‘Thinking Routines’. Ideally I would like to also see the students recognise the value of the Thinking Routines to a point that they call on them without me having to prompt them and perhaps also develop their own set of routines.

9th Annual University of Michigan Ballroom Dance Competition

Why the thinking routines?

“When thinking routines are used regularly in classrooms and become part of the pattern of the classroom, students internalise messages about what learning is and how it happens” (Ritchhart, Church, Morrison 2011)

As a primary school teacher working in a classroom of grade 5 and 6 students, I find the simplicity of the language used by the thinking routines easily accessible whilst providing an opportunity for the students to capture their metacognitive thoughts. Consider the routine Think- Pair- Share, the ‘Think’ part of the routine could easily further explored in facilitated discussion with the teacher to highlight the idea of self talk so the students could recognise it, with the aim of it becoming internalised by the students who could then engage in this process autonomously. When a student learns they are thinking: “Retention, understanding, and the active use of knowledge can be brought about only by learning experiences in which learners think about and think with what they are learning” (Perkins 1992 pp8 ). That is, thinking is at the centre of the learning endeavours, not an add-on or something to do if there is time (Ritchhart, Church, Morrison 2011). Therefore by positioning the learner at the centre of the educational enterprise rather than at the end, our role as teachers is no longer about delivering content, but is about engaging students with ideas (Ritchhart, Church, Morrison 2011). By normalising the thinking routines into the everyday learning of the classroom I am ensuring that student centred learning is implemented and maintained.

Linking back to educating for better metacognitive thinking, one of the key aspects of metacognition is the notion of questioning. That is, asking strategic questions helps learners make connections between teaching and learning experiences which in turn promotes a deeper understanding of the content and themselves as learners (Wilson and Jan 2008). Reflective questioning enables the learner to reinforce broader and more reasoned points of view, find alternative perspectives, illuminate omissions, address ambiguities and challenge assumptions. Further, metacognitive questions focus on the learner’s own awareness, evaluation and regulation of their thinking (Wilson and Jan 2008). Metacognition is often referred to as ‘self talk’. That is the inner voice that one sometimes hears when thinking to themselves. This is the action of thinking, a behaviour. To improve a learner’s thinking through questioning they must be involved in self-questioning and self talk (Wilson and Jan 2008). When students ask questions of themselves through the metacognitive process, it will steer them to reflect on their actions and their learning. Thus they will be able to identify and act on those areas that they perceive as needing development (Wilson and Jan 2008). What I mean by this is the learner will actively choose a particular type of thinking that will assist in the development of any learning areas that need attention. Central to the thinking routines is that they are centred around questioning. The routines are constructive in nature because they help build on or construct the learners understanding about something by stimulating their thinking through strategically sequenced and authentic questions (Ritchhart et al 2011). The “What makes you say that?” routine can be varied to include questions such as: “Can you say more about that?”, “I’m not quite following you, can you say what you were thinking in a different way?”, “What did you think you were basing that on?” or “What does that tell you then?”. Through the ongoing use of the routines, questions not only drive learning but also are outcomes of learning that become embedded in the learning process (Ritchhart et al 2011), and through facilitated discussion by the teacher, students then learn to undertake this questioning internally stimulating further metacognitive development.

If one is going to ask a question then there needs to be a listener, either external or internal to the self. What’s the point of asking a question if you are not going to listen. Therefore routines create a culture of listening. An obvious routine to support this notion is “Think-Pair-Share”, as the students are encouraged to think about an object etc, pair with a peer and share their thoughts. The nature of this routine will foster listening. A good listener will in turn, ask strategic questions for clarification and meaning.

Next post will cover the implementation of five thinking routines that I believe will help foster good metacognition.

References

Leading Educational Idea: The Proposal

My previous post was an outline of a leading educational idea that I would like to pursue (see the fabulous comments). Here is the actual proposal that I have submitted. Your thoughts and ideas would be appreciated. There is a link to the Google doc where you can comment or you can just comment on the blog or both ;-)

“Assessment tail wagging  the curriculum dog” 

This statement has reverberated around my head for weeks now since  David Clarke mentioned it during his and Lihua Xu’s presentation on alignment. His further musings regarding “why assessment should be relegated to the tail of the dog as an afterthought appendage?” coupled with his notion that “assessment is the most explicit statement of those performances that a school system values” (Clarke 2011) has had a profound impact on my thinking about creativity in education. That is, if we were to turn assessment on its head and predominantly, or possibly only, assess for key indicators of creativity across all curriculum areas, I wonder what the impact on curriculum design and therefore teacher instruction would be.

Alignment suggests an endorsement of values (Clarke 2011). It is what is valued that describes the causality of the tensions between what Michael Fullan refers to as inside-out and outside-in approaches to assessment, curriculum and teacher instruction (Fullan 2000). Inside is best described as what goes on in a school, for example teacher instruction, lesson design and assessment. Outside could best be described as those agencies external to the school which organize themselves to be effective in accomplishing large-scale reform at the school level and how they impinge on teacher instruction and therefore student learning (Fullan 2000). With this in mind I would like to make the claim around the notion that creativity is a highly valued phenomenon that is valued by all who operate in both inside and outside worlds. For example the ‘insiders’ pay homage to Bloom’s taxonomy where creativity is seen as the guiding principle in achieving high order thinking and therefore ensuring a deeper level of understanding. The ‘outsiders’ see innovation as a driver of global economic activity, and in this context link it to economic growth. That is without the ability to reinvent itself or to create something new markets may face becoming obsolete (Craft 2003). Reflecting this, creativity is seen as ‘continual innovation and resourcefulness that is a necessity for economic survival’ (Craft 2003). The implication here is that the economy demands innovative thought and creativity, and a healthy economy is linked to a wealthy society (Craft 2003).

On a micro scale Maslow asserts that the creative individual is also a fulfilled one. He also puts forward the notion that creativity is not experienced by only a few, but rather it is an everyday phenomenon experienced by everyday people (Maslow 1970). Maslow’s assumption here is that creativity is evident in everyday occurrences such as doing housework or professional occurrences where there is specialisation of knowledge and experience and that it’s not exclusive to individuals who participate in art. Goldman et al (1992) also argue  that much innovation and problem solving occurs in everyday life. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi goes on to say “Of all human activities, creativity comes closest to providing the fulfillment we all hope to get in our lives. Creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives. Most of the things that are interesting, important and human are the result of creativity.” (Csikszentmihalyi 1996). The idea that an element of a fulfilled individual is one who is creative emphasises the importance of linking creativity and innovation in education.

For my leading educational idea I would like to explore the idea that if we were to assess for the key indicators of creativity and then if we were to apply alignment theory, curriculum and teacher instruction would have to adapt in alignment, thus shifting us away from the current malaise where we are fixated on reductive methods of teaching to a narrowing curriculum to a place where ‘teaching to the test’ is valued because creativity produces an outcome that adds to the richness and complexity of ones future. (Csikszentmihalyi 1996)

Definitions

Alignment: Alignment has been defined as the extent to which curricular expectations and assessments are in agreement and work together to provide guidance for educators’ efforts to facilitate students’ progress toward desired academic outcomes. (Roach, Niebling, Kurz 2008)

Creativity: Creativity applies both to the quality of particular outcomes and the thinking activity that led to them. Thought is creative when it produces something that is both novel and interesting or valuable (Simon, 2001). In its simplest form it is the birth of “imaginative new ideas” (Miller 1987) or “the imaginatively gifted recombination of known elements into something new” (Ciardi 1956).

Inside: What we know about how schools change for the better in terms of their internal dynamics (Fullan 2000).

Inside-out: What effective schools do as they contemplate the plethora of outside forces impinging on them (Fullan 2000).

Outside-in: How agencies external to the school organize themselves to be effective in accomplishing large-scale reform at the school level (Fullan 2000).

Methodology

The first aspect of my inquiry will be devoted to the idea of alignment. Using David Clarke’s notion of the ripple effect through his investigation of alignment in VCE maths and science curriculum, I will attempt to demonstrate that assessment and teacher instruction are closely aligned and therefore reform in curriculum alone “fails to do anything more than  generate new policy documents or exchange one form of professional rhetoric for another without any substantive change in classroom practice” (Clarke 2011).  Using the idea of alignment I would like to make a case that because schools are forced to place a heavy focus on NAPLAN, teacher instruction has become overly focussed on Numeracy and Literacy to the detriment of other important areas of the curriculum.  By reviewing alignment theory I want to demonstrate that “assessment informs instruction – the goals of instruction and even the tasks employed should be a direct reflection of the anticipated assessment” (Clarke 2011). Therefore if we want to ensure that there is reform in curriculum where creativity is an essential component then we need to first figure out how to assess for creativity.

The second part of  my inquiry will be devoted to a small investigation into what creativity is and what models of the creative process could be used to provide a scaffold for the possibility that creativity can be assessed. Through a literature review I would like to draw on Arthur Cropley’s stage model along with Urban’s computational model (Cropley 2010). I may also bring in the ideas of Robert J Sternberg and James C Kaufman who have both written extensively on the assessment of creativity. I can foresee that I may have to refer to Stanley Cavell’s notion of speaking for the community through ones subjective account of what is criteria (Mulhall 1994). This will help support my discussion of how to asses for creativity. Underpinning this investigation will be Csikszentmihalyi and Maslow’s aforementioned ideas that creativity is an essential everyday occurrence that distinguishes us from other life forms on the planet and therefore justifying its importance in any form of assessment.

Impact

The purpose of this inquiry is to provide some illumination into the possibility that assessment for creativity would have a positive effect on teacher instruction. According to alignment theory this will then offer some hope for curriculum reform and therefore opening up avenues for new thoughts and ideas on how to align assessment, curriculum and teacher instruction for all stakeholders in education.

References

Ciardi, J. 1956. What every writer must learn. Saturday Review, December, 7.
Clarke, D, Xu, Lihua (2011) Presentation Titled: Alignment: The emergence and progressive reconstruction of a construct

Craft, A (2003) The Limits To Creativity, British Journal of Educational Studies, ISSN 0007-1005 Vol. 51, No. 2, June (2003), pp 113 – 127

Cropley, J (2010) Creativity in education and Learning a guide for teachers and educators, RoutledgeFalmer (London and NewYork) pp 73-109

Csikszentmihalyi, M (1996, 2011) http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199607/the-creative-personality

Fullan, M (2000) The Three Stories Of Education Reform, Phi Delta Kappan

Maslow, A (1970) Motivation and Personality, Third Edition (London, Harper Collins).

Miller, W. C. (1987). The creative edge. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Mulhall 1994, Stanley Cavell: Philosophy’s Recounting of the Ordinary

Roach A, Niebling B,  Kurz  A (2008) Evaluation The Alignment Among Curriculum, Instruction, And Assessments: Implications And Applications For Research And Practice. Psychology in the Schools, Vol. 45(2) Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Simon H. A. (2001) Creativity in the arts and the sciences The Kenyon Review 23, (2), 203-

220.

Leading Educational Idea

As part of my Masters of Education studies I am participating in a subject titled “Leading Educational Ideas”. It’s been an amazing subject that has taken me through a journey of leading educational ideas from the idea of Affect (the embodying a desire to learn) to the impact of Globalisation of Education. To complete the subject we have to develop a small negotiated project that investigates a Leading Educational Idea. It is to be presented in two parts. Here is my rough proposal of an Educational Idea that I would like to pursue. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Pie in the sky? Pigs might fly? Who knows… But just for a moment could you imagine if…

“Assessment tail wagging  the curriculum dog”
This statement has reverberated around my head for weeks now since  David Clarke mentioned it during his and Lihua Xu’s presentation on alignment- His further musings regarding “why assessment should be relegated to the tail of the dog as an after thought appendage?”, coupled with his notion that “assessment is the most explicit statement of those performances that a school system values”, had a profound impacted on my thinking about creativity in education. That is, if we were to turn assessment on its head and predominately or possibly only assess for key indicators of creativity across all curriculum areas, I wonder what the impact would be on curriculum design and therefore teacher instruction?

According to Maslow (1970) the creative individual is also a fulfilled one. He also puts forward the notion that creativity is not experienced by only a few, but rather it is an everyday phenomenon experienced by everyday people (Maslow 1970). Maslow’s assumption here is that creativity is evident in everyday occurrences such as doing housework or professional occurrences where there is specialisation of knowledge and experience and that it’s not exclusive to individuals who participate in art. Goldman et al (1992) also argue  that much innovation and problem solving occurs in everyday life. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi goes on to say “Of all human activities, creativity comes closest to providing the fulfillment we all hope to get in our lives. Creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives. Most of the things that are interesting, important, and human are the result of creativity.” (Csikszentmihalyi 1996). The idea that an element of a fulfilled individual is one who is creative emphasises the importance of linking creativity and innovation in education.

For my leading educational idea I would like to explore the idea that if we were to assess for the key indicators of creativity  and then if we apply alignment theory,  curriculum and teacher instruction would have to change/adapt in alignment. Thus shifting us away from the current malaise where we are fixated on a reductive methods of teaching to a narrowing curriculum. To a place were ‘teaching to the test’ is valued because creativity produces an outcome that adds to the richness and complexity of ones future. (Csikszentmihalyi 1996)

Issues I have with this idea…

Proof of creativity as a means of sustenance.

What are the key indicators of creativity (this could be an thesis in itself)

Could I use the Cropely model to indicate creativity?

Fantasy? Is it unrealistic?

References so far

Csikszentmihalyi, M (1999, 2011) http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199607/the-creative-personality

Goleman, D., Kaufman, P. and RAY, M. (1992) The Creative Spirit (New York, Dutton).

MASLOW, A. (1970) Motivation and Personality, Third Edition (London, Harper

Collins).

The Android Apps That I Use

I have been using an Android phone for about six months now. The Android Apps Market is maturing and I love the fact that it is now web based. You can now install any app directly onto your phone from the Android Market webpage. I sometimes refer to AppBrain which is an Android App curation site, for recommendations. I have just work out that they have a social function that allows me to share what apps I have on my device. Check out the funky widget! Scroll and click on App icons for reviews. What do you recommend?

Andrew’s Apps on the his Android phone

Scroll through widget to see list and click on app icon to read reviews. Any recommendations?

Phone: HTC Desire HD
95 total, 85 free (89%), 10 paid (10%), 202MB total size, $29.79 total price

http://www.appbrain.com/user/willie42/apps-on-the-phone

Android Photo Apps That I Use

Inspired by Chris Betcher’s excellent blog post Snap Happy, which out lines some of the great apps available for the Apple iPhone. I decided to write one outlining some of the great apps that are available and the Android platform.

After witnessing the success of some of my twitter friends completing the 365 project for 2010. I thought I would give it a go for 2011. I had attempted to do it a couple of years ago but failed by the 5th day. I put this failure down to not having a camera at hand at all times and also not having a smart phone. My previous phone was a camera phone but it lacked the slick user interface (UI) and access to an Apps Store/Market Place that my current smart phone (HTC Desire HD) has. Having access to a multitude of apps that lets you tweak, manipulate and transform your images without having to use a PC is what I put down to progressing beyond day 5. My inner Geek also relishes the discovery of what various apps can do.

I love the Android platform. I also like Apples iOS as well after having used an ipod touch for the past couple of years. Yeah, I know  I wasn’t getting the full experience that you get from using an iPhone but it was close enough to get a good feel for it. Android 2.2 codenamed Froyo is easy to use and just as intuitive as iOS. However, it did take me a little while to get used to it after having used my itouch. My Desire HD is a great phone and like the iPhone it has its limitations. It has a good camera and wonderful 4.3 inch LCD display. Multitasking and the screen tend to drain your battery quite quickly. It’s a good idea to use a task killer. I get about 7-8 hours of life but if you are going to use the GPS, wifi, bluetooth and several apps simultaneously then you better not stray too far from a power source.

The Android Market Place is great. Not as good as Apples App Store because of the sheer number of apps available, but the Market Place is continuing to grow and I believe that once developers see that there is as much money to be made on the Android then it will soon match Apple. There is a positive spin off from this and that is there are a lot of free apps and often free versions of what you would pay for on iOS. The Android Market Place is more open than Apples App store which has its advantages and disadvantages. Advantage are the availability of innovative apps that might not get through Apples vetting process. Disadvantages are you get some crud. To combat this I have used app curators such as App Brain and App Bucket. However, since the Market Place is now available as a browse-able web page, I have found that the cream does rise to the top and the top reviewed apps are generally in the top 10.

I am amazed at the creativity that some of the camera apps offer. Before I would have had to download into iphoto or import into Photoshop to get the same effects and results. Now I can do most of these things on the phone. Discovering what some of the camera apps can do has been the most enjoyable aspect of the 365 project. Below are some of the apps that I have found to be very useful.

My 1st port of call is the Desire HD’s built in Camera and Gallery effects. Here you can easily Crop, Rotate, and add a variety of effects. Such as, auto enhance, cinnamon (colour wash leaving browns), High contrast, sepia, over exposed, glimmer (like a colour vignette), vintage, and bleak just to name a few. It also enables you to create a basic white frame.  You can also use the camera’s built in effects on the fly and often I have used the vignette or Depth of field effects. However, the built in camera effects are limited in that they are one click effects and have no ability to tweak the amount of effect desired.

Picsaypro is an amazing app. It is so versatile its like having many apps rolled into one. Its 52 effects allow you to do almost anything. The UI is a slider that allows you to make slight  adjustments to standard photograph elements such as contrast, saturation, exposure, temperature etc. It offers a range of distortion effects like you see in Photobooth, a range of Colour adjustments from creating a subtle hue to an extreme Duetone and rainbow effects. I love the Artistic effects. Here you can make your image look like it has been posterised, pencil sketched, or light up like a neon sign. Picsaypro gives you access to photo effects such as High Dinamic Range (HDR), lomo, invert,  and a soft glow. It also offers a myriad of filters and frames where you can also change the colour of each. But that’s not all folks! In Picsaypro you have access to variety of novelty stickers to create humours or cartoon like images. You can also apply a range of different speech bubbles and balloons as well as an array of funky coloured text and titles which then can be transformed into any shape you want. Very similar to Comiclife. Picsaypro has great potential in the creative classroom. I can see students really enjoying this app and I would love to see it on an Android tablet. If you have an android phone this is one to invest in.

Photoshop espress is a good app but not as powerful as Picsaypro but its free. The reviews suggest that the App Store version is better. It does all the usual stuff like crop and rotate, adjust colour, exposure, black & white and brightness. Photoshop express also offers a range of funky effects such as pop art, vignette blur, warm vintage and rainbow to name a few. In Photoshop you can choose from a range of black and white borders. Photoshop’s UI is quite funky, to adjust the amount of effect just slide your finger across the screen.  If you have a Photoshop.com account you can upload your photos instantly. I wouldn’t bother if you have a Picasa account, its just as easy to upload and is integrated into your Google experience.


Retro Camera is a limited but fun and easy app to use. It offers about 5 different cameras such as a pin hole camera to your typical polaroid camera. It will create retro style reproductions of the images you shoot.  You can choose between black and white or colour. It has a funky UI which lets the user view the image through the camera they choose. The Gallery Viewer is cool too.

Camera 360 Is an interesting app. Like other apps it allows you to take images using a myriad of preinstalled effects such as: Black and white, HDR simulation, Night Enhancement and a number of nostalgia effects. Depending on your phone hardware you can set the images size from 272×272 to a whopping 3264×2448. It can record your location whilst using your GPS and images are easily shared to the cloud via the export function. One stand out feature is the ‘Scenery Mode’. When in this mode you can choose from a variety of scenes in which your image is placed. For example an artist painting a portrait and your image is place on the canvas or on the back of a magazine. The free version offers only one pre-installed scene, if you want more you have to purchase them.

FX Camera Another novelty camera app that allows you to take images using a variety of effects. These are Toycam, Polandroid, Fisheye, Symetrical, and Wharhol. In normal view you also have access to a number of changes such as sepia, mono, negative, posterise and solarise. It free with adds, easy to use and can turn what might be a mundane picture into something more interesting.

Vignette this is another powerful camera app that offers and incredible array of effects. Similar to the others mentioned above you use this app to take your photographs and overlay them with a series of preset effects. Unfortunately, you don’t get to preview the effect before you take the image. It’s huge choice of effects and customisation will mean that spend quite a bit of time looking for or creating the right effect. Once you have done this however, you can then save it as a preset effect setting or you can save it as a widget to your home screen. Check out the link to see a list of preset and customisable effects. For $4 it maybe on the little expensive side but worth the packet of chips for the choice it offers.

Above is a list of some of the photography apps that I have used that is available on the Android platform. Obviously if you check the Market Place you will see that there are a lot more. I am glad that I am participating in the 365 project not only because I am documenting some of the images of my life but also because I have learnt quite a bit about some of the creative tools that are available for people with mobile devices.
Are you participating in the 365 project? Are you using a smartphone? What apps would you recommend using?

Google Teacher Academy Video

Having used and blogged about using Google tools in the classroom, I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to attend the Google Teachers Academy (GTA) in Sydney. It’s the first time that it is being held outside the US and only 50 places are available Australia/NZ and Asia wide. So its going to be tough. One of the application requirements is to compose a 1 minute video about motivation and learning. Having just invested in a Android Phone I thought it would be a good idea to record all audio and video on it. The students were all actually using the tools that they mention. It was the last week of school and I had given them some free time to use a creative tool of their choice.

Here it is.

Garageband The Perfect Tool For Student Composition

Every year I write at least one blog post lauding the brilliance of Garageband as a creative tool for students. Again, I cannot speak highly enough of the power of GB especially when it is used as a tool for student composition. The underpinning philosophy that Kynan Robinson and I have is that we believe in empowering the student as the composer and creator. One of the many things I have learnt from working closely with Kynan is the concept of ‘demystifying the role of the composer’. It is expected in an art classroom that students will practice their creativity. The same should apply to the music classroom. Students should be given the freedom to compose and test out their musical ideas. Garageband is one of those tools that empowers the students to achieve this.

After two terms of learning to compose on Orff and untuned percussion instruments. Grade 5 and 6 students have been given the task to demonstrate the skills and creative ideas that they have developed to compose a piece of music using GB. Similar to last terms composition task, Kynan and I set some parameters. The students had to compose a piece that consisted of a Bass, main melody and accompanying harmonic melodies. The piece had to be in either binary (AB) or ternary (ABA) form.  Existing Loops inside GB were to be used to create the bass and accompanying parts. However, they had to use a Midi Keyboard to play and record their main melodic ideas. This provided a great opportunity to discuss the concepts of Midi and dive deeper into some of the interesting features of GB. For instance creating your own midi sounds, manipulating their melodic ideas, using the editing tools and notating tools.

Posted via email from Bite Size Tech For Busy Teachers