Category Archives: News and Ideas

Presenting “L’iPad dietro e davanti ai banchi” at Teniamoci per mouse in Milan

I had the privilege of presenting at “Teniamoci per mouse” an event I have attended the past four years. After getting to know the organizers I was asked to take part in the event this year as a presenter.

TeniamocipermouseThe title “L’iPad dietro e davanti ai banchi” bascially translates to “The iPad behind and in front of students desks”. I wanted to show how we at my school are using the iPad both with the students and as teachers. The important thing that I wanted to get across was that even with a limited supply of iPads (my school only has one per class and six available in a cart) you cans still do amazing things.

For what the students are doing, I spoke about using the Book Creator App that allows our students to create their own textbook that demonstrates what they have learned in their units. Another app for students was Keynote where we are having our year 5 students work together in groups to create a pechakucha. A pechakucha is basically a very organized presentation where you show 20 images for 20 seconds each while you present.

For the part about the teachers using iPads, I mentioned how they are using the iPads to document learning and uploading information to the school website and twitter accounts. The app I featured is NearPod which allows teachers to share a presentation and collect real-time answers from students.

I did make a side note about the ColARmix App which creates an augmented reality from a child’s coloring sheet.


It was a great experience for me not only because I was able to present but that I had to present in Italian. It was probably the largest crowd that I have spoken to at a professional event in my second language.

My new approach to integration

The more time I spend trying to figure out the best way to integrate ICT into my PYP classes, the more I keep changing what I am doing in class.

My first two years in the program I was basically finding a connection to each of the Units of Inquiry for each class. Here are some examples:

Unit of Inquiry – ICT project

  • Energy – Glogster poster on how to save Energy
  • Landscapes – Excel spreadsheet and charts on the worlds tallest mountains
  • Governments – Prezi presentation on different types of government
  • Story telling – Storybird to create online stories

Technically the students were working on projects that were related to their unit, but the connection was limited and was more of a project based unit and not inquiry based.

ICTThis year our single subject teachers (ICT, Music, Art, PE etc.) along with our PYP Coordinator came up with a plan to make a strong and stable connection with one unit from each year level. That way they could work with the classroom teachers on all phases of the unit. During the other units of the year we would still focus on using inquiry based projects. These projects would more be based on the concepts or skills that were associated with the unit.

I also added an idea I got from listening to Brad Flickinger’s podcast of trying to have the students learn one skill really well throughout the year. For example: Year 5 – Documentaries, Year 4 – Podcasts. Having each class only for an hour a week proved to be to limiting for this approach. I found myself having the students working to often with pen and paper in my classroom. Another problem is that it would also take us more time to finish each project than was allotted to each unit.

Over the winter holiday break I read through the ICT in the PYP documentation from the OCC. I noticed that I had good ideas but I was still teaching classes that were too independent compared to what they were doing in class. They suggest that the ICT classes be used as a tool for the classroom, with limited stand alone lessons. They also suggest not to make a project just for projects sake but to have it be more meaningful to what the students are already doing in their classrooms.

I spoke with our Board and PYP Coordinator to establish a way for me to meet with each class on a bi-weekly basis to better integrate what they are doing in their classes with what is being done during my lessons. I know I should have been doing this already but my time at the school is precious due to the fact that I am the ICT teacher and I am responsible for taking care and fixing all of the tech related problems in the school.

The classroom teachers are really enthused with this new possibility. We are already coming up with fun and exciting ideas on how to use technology in their lessons. Connecting both to their units and also to their stand alone lessons.

This is just starting and I will keep you informed as to how things are going in the next few weeks.

Full integration in middle school pt.1

When I came back to school this September, I was informed that the school decided not to hire a part time ICT teacher for the middle school. In the past our middle school had one hour lessons each week of ICT. I worked with a partner to split the middle school classes, while I taught all of the primary school. Our school also offers ICT to half classes where I only have up to 13 students at a time.
The Idea to integrate ICT into the Middle School was not new to me and it was actually something we had talked about the year before, but talking about it and actually implementing it are very different. Last year I worked very closely with one our school’s Middle School teacher to develop lessons and implement them during my lessons. We created many different and interesting activities such as: autobiography sites, iMovie presentations on technology’s impact on the environment, presentations about paradigm shifts that were brought upon by technological advancements.
This year the challenge is putting those same practices in action with all of the middle school teachers. Finding a way to meet with all of the teachers as much as possible is key to making this work. At the moment there is no time set aside specifically for these meetings.
I have already started working often with one of our English language teachers and plan to start meeting the Italian teachers next week.

Ning will no longer be free

Ning Networks

According to an email I received today from The Ning Team with the subject “Changes coming to Ning in July”. The first change that is announced is that they will be phasing out all free Ning Networks. Basically they say they would like to provide a better product for their customers and it would be impossible to do so offering a free service. They say that this will not happen until July and they are doing this to give everyone with a Ning Network to weigh their options.

What are the new options?

From their official announcement of their plans they will offer ad-free Ning Networks with the Ning Mini from as little as $2.95/month (or 19.95/year) to the Ning Pro at $49.95/month (or 499.95/year). Which if you think about it is not an excessive amount of money for what they are offering. My only problem is that with the Ning Mini offer you are limited to 150 members. Now I can understand why they would limit the bandwidth and storage, but I cannot understand why they would limit you to 150 members. I am on a few Ning Networks with over 150 members that have been around for a number of years. This means that you will be forced to pay at least $19.95/month or $199.95/year if you want to keep your network up and running.

What other things might be missing if I select the Ning Mini?

Well to start off with all of the uploaded audio and video. Not to mention the Groups and Events that you have already created. If you have added Pages or Notes, you can forget them too. You can view their comparison of all three plans for more information.

They say that they are leaving the free option behind but are offering a service that “is affordable for almost every budget”. The problems is that this affordable plan is not really an option for most Ning Networks and they will be forced to pay much more just to keep what they have up and running.

I am very curious to see what happens to the many Ning Networks. Will people be willing to pay to keep their sites alive or will they search for another free option? And if they keep their sites, how will this affect other free services that may one day be changed to pay services?