Top 5 iOS 11 Updates for the Classroom

Top 5 iOS 11 Updates for the Classroom

BreakoutEDU: A platform for immersive learning games

Ever heard of the “escape room?” Our very own Fletcher faculty participated in a team building activity a year or so ago by visiting Exit Strategy, the country’s largest escape room location, right here in Charlotte. According to Wikipedia, “an escape room is a physical adventure game in which players are locked in a room and have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles and escape within a set time limit.” It is a fun way to work collaboratively, while using critical thinking skills to solve problems, and ultimately, escape from the room!

The smart creators of BreakoutEDU decided to bring the idea of the escape room into the educational world by creating curriculum related breakout challenges! They thought, why not allow our students to get out of their seats, work together to solve puzzles, all while learning about key themes related to their areas of study. Brilliant! Here is a great clip describing how BreakoutEDU works and why it is a great addition to any school setting.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to attend the ISTE conference in Denver, CO with a group of Fletcher teachers. The creators of BreakoutEDU positioned a school bus in front of the conference center, to introduce educators to the idea. The school bus had been redesigned as an escape bus! Working with a small group of educators (I only knew one of them), we uncovered various clues, such as a hidden key in a beaker full of colored liquid and magic letters on a map, exposed only with a special UV flashlight. We had a guide in the session with us and we were able to get up to two hints from her, if we got stuck. We had to get a few hints and we relied on a high school student to help us with many of the challenges – This challenge was right up his alley! We ended up breaking out of the bus in 14 minutes and 57 seconds and then proceeded to our photo op station.

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img_1256I knew that our students would LOVE the opportunity to try something like this, so I purchased a special BreakoutEDU box for our school. The box came with a hasp, combination locks, key locks, pencil lock boxes, a disappearing ink pen, UV flashlight and blank hint cards.  I also found a huge following for this idea on a BreakoutEDU Facebook group and on BreakoutEDU.com. On this site, teachers can find tons of games that have been designed by educators around the country. The games include helpful resources, such as lesson plans, video clips, printable game materials, combinations and so much more. Several of the games even include video tutorials so that teachers can set up the game exactly right in their own classrooms. All of the games include an age group suggestion and a direct link to subject area content – math, science, social studies, language arts and more are represented!

Stephaportable-network-graphics-image-fb7684c9796f-1nie Sanders, a fifth grade teacher at Fletcher, was planning to introduce her students to the book, Pax by Sara Pennypacker, when she stumbled across the BreakoutEDU idea. Thankfully, a teacher had already designed a BreakoutEDU challenge for the book and Stephanie decided to put the book in the box, locked with key locks and combination locks, that could only be unlocked by solving the related challenges. The students worked together to solve the challenges, breaking into the locks and retrieving the book from the box. The students used Google searches to find answers to some of the questions, which were needed to determine combinations. What a fun way to begin a new novel in the classroom! The kids loved it!

Mrs. Poe used the box last week and set up a Minecraft challenge for her elective class and computer fun club. Again, the students worked together to break into the box and one student asked, “When can we do this again?”

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We can’t wait to see what other BreakoutEDU challenges await for our students!

Going Green! Fletcher’s Green Screen Studio


Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 2.38.45 PMOur school’s green screen studio is one of the many gems found in our building, but why do we have one? Chroma Key or “green screening” is a technique by which a block of a particular color (often blue or green) in a video image can be replaced either by another color or image, enabling, for example, a weather forecaster to appear against a background of a computer-generated weather map. Check out this
fun YouTube video for examples.

Our green screen studio has been used in many creative and innovative ways to bring our curriculum to life. Instead of traditional essays, students have used the green screen room to immerse themselves in a story’s setting and plot by replacing the green background with a scene from that story. Students use props, accents, and clothing to portray a character’s point of view to show their understanding of those important characters and how they affect the plot. The ability to superimpose oneself into the storyline of a book or within a different landscape learned about in science, engages and motivates students to learn.

Here are a few example of our past green screen projects created by Fletcher classes:

Exotic Spring Break Destinations (edited in DoInk’s Green Screen app) 

Trouble River (edited in iMovie for Mac)

Trigraphs (edited in Touchcast for iPad)

So, how do our students make the magical green screen effect happen?

IMG_4991Our green screen studio has adapted to our needs over time. We used to have a mobile screen with stands that we carted all around the school. It was cumbersome and no longer practical once the idea of green screening caught on and everyone wanted the kit transported to their room. Our original screen screen lights were extremely low budget. We purchased three tripods from Target and clip-on flood lights from Home Depot. We simply clipped the flood lights to the tripods and situated them in front of a large, felt green screen purchased from a photography store.

We found that the lights weren’t holding onto the tripods well and they were really warming up the rooms we were working in.  Therefore, we spent some money to upgrade the lights to the Impact Soft and Natural Light Kit from B&H. Honestly, these lights would function much better in a larger space, but since we are working in a small office, we can’t situate the lights in the best way possible. However, they are more sturdy and don’t get so hot.

IMG_9819Yes, so we moved out the fabric screen and in it’s place painted a wall green in a small, empty office in our tech center. We used Behr “sparking apple” paint to mimic the green screen that we had used in the past. 

Since the beginning we have filmed with our iOgrapher for iPad and Rode microphone kit. We recently purchased a cheaper Rode microphone for our second iOgrapher, and it works just as well!

 

IMG_9813Finally, the most recent addition to our green screen studio is an iPad Air iOgrapher on a tripod. We use this as our “teleprompter” to offer a confidence boost and to encourage students to look at the camera instead of looking down at their notes. The app we use for the teleprompter is called PromptSmart Pro and offers a cool feature called VoiceTrack, which follows your words during your speech and automatically scrolls the text at your natural pace in real time. We have found that this functionality is hit or miss, however, and we often revert to setting an automatic scrolling speed.

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 9.42.24 PMRecording objects or people in front of a green screen is the first step of chroma keying. The second step is editing the video in an application. Our iPad users edit green screen recordings in DoInk Green Screen app and Touchcast Studio while our Mac users chroma key in iMovie. You can find out more about how this is done on page 18 of my book, “iMovie for Mac in the Classroom.”

There are cheaper ways to make green screening work in your home or in your classroom. You can paint a piece of cardboard green or buy a large green sheet or piece of green fabric from the craft store. The built-in microphone of your device, such as a smartphone or tablet, will work just fine for recording audio. We hope you’ll give it a try!

Google Hangouts on Air – A Morning News Show Tool

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Our very own FNN debuted on Monday, January 11, 2016!  What is FNN, you ask? FNN stands for Falcon News Network and is a daily morning news show produced, directed and filmed by Fletcher students. Under the direction of Kit Verica and behind-the-scenes technical support from the Fletcher Ed Tech Team, the Falcon News Network has worked diligently these past few months preparing to take over the morning announcements.

Back in the fall, Don Goble, a broadcast journalism teacher, came to Fletcher to help us prepare for the implementation of our student-led morning news show. Don’s expertise provided us with the information we needed to begin the process by envisioning a mission and gathering up all of the elements needed to run a show.  Last year we converted an office into a green screen studio. Transforming the tiny room into a news studio required a few additional steps. We brought in professional lights, a webcam, a MacBook for recording the broadcast, a high-quality microphone and a teleprompter.

IMG_9125The FNN team was selected based on teacher recommendations and students’ dedication to arriving early each day. Branding was another important part of the process. First, the team asked students to submit name ideas, which were voted upon by students, faculty and staff through a Google Form. The name, FNN was the clear winner!  In the next phase, the team asked students to submit designs for the FNN logo contest. The winning logo was created by Justine G and Abby F and has now become the official branding of FNN. We even purchased a pop up banner with the FNN logo to serve as the backdrop behind our news anchors.

IMG_9739The workflow of FNN is entirely digital, starting with the morning announcement requests, which are submitted by faculty and staff through a Google Form. Directed by Alex K, Max  and Alex M compose and add the submitted announcements to a teleprompter – an iPad on a tripod loaded with the PromptSmart Pro app. The webcam and microphone is set up in front of our news anchors, Jeffrey and Tyler, and plugged into a Mac. Ned and Henry work on the production side and use Google Hangouts on Air to film the live broadcast.

FNN1Each morning at 8:15 am, each grades 6-12 classroom teacher turns on their projector and Airplays their Mac screens to the Apple TV so that the students in each class can watch the show live. To watch the show LIVE, all viewers go to http://bit.ly/falconnewsnetwork to tune in.

If you’d like to watch previous recordings of the show, you can go to  http://bit.ly/FNNonYouTube. Don’t forget to subscribe to the FNN Channel!

 

We are so proud of our FNN team and can’t wait to check out the next episode!

Storyboards Come Alive with QuickTime Player!

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In October, Mrs. Heath’s fifth grade class finished up the novel, Because of Winn Dixie and were asked to develop a character study. Using Storyboard That, each student created a storyboard to describe a scene from the book, while highlighting the traits of a specific book character. Students went one step further by adding voice to their storyboards! To narrate through each of the frames, the students created screencasts using QuickTime Player for Mac. They pieced the clips together using iMovie for Mac. Check out Regan’s storyboard below!

 

Techspert Bar!

Falcon Flash April 2015

US History Class Meets iBooks Author!

Mrs. Terrick’s US History classes recently worked on a research project on topics, such as the Civil War, the Underground Railroad, President Abraham Lincoln, etc. This year Mrs. Terrick allowed students to curate their research into an iBook using the amazing Mac app, iBooks Author. Students’ books have been published in the Apple iBookstore and are available to all! Great job Mrs. Terrick and US History students!

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iMovie for Mac in the Classroom

This new book on iMovie for Mac in the Classroom includes helpful video tutorials, step-by-step visual directions and project examples and descriptions from our Fletcher teachers. Please let us know what you think below!

iMovie for Mac

New iOS Accessibility Book

Please download our new book on iOS Accessibility!

accessibility

Digital Learning Day

DLD2014SaveTheDate1Digital Learning Day is on Wednesday, February 5 and many of our teachers have shared how they plan to incorporate digital tools into their instruction. Click on the link below to check out how teachers and students plan to innovate on this big day!

icon-flashDigital Learning Day 2014