Creating Visuals with Canva

Creating Visuals with Canva

Our Classroom Expectations Poster; Created in Canva

Canva’s infographic template (see how many there are to get you started on the left). We used this template as a model for our own Science Unit on Climate Change.

Canva is a brilliant online graphics program that has both free and paid elements available. It has significantly changed the way my 5th graders create and design visuals. It’s also great for the classroom teacher to use as well from eye-catching posters to labels for baskets to informative (& not boring) notices for parents! This tool has become our number 1 go to tool for visuals now as it’s ease of use allows students to spend more time on the creative process and less time on “learning” or “mastering” the tool and all it’s effects.

How Does it Work in the Classroom?

Each student can create a student account. (I’m lucky that my students have their own school email accounts). Alternative solutions: Canva offers the option of using your google account to log in – so if you’re school is using google docs (but doesn’t have the gmail “switched” on for students – this is the perfect alternative!  No google accounts? Consider asking parents at the beginning of the year if all students can create a gmail account or have an email account – I’d do this at a back to school night or create some sort of informative presentation for parents to watch that explains how useful having an email account will be for the year and how we plan to use it and how you’ll be teaching students to use their email account responsibly and respectfully. I’ve done this before, and parents have been very receptive to the idea especially after having the “why” explained to them. Having an email account to sign up for online accounts has been invaluable for my students each year.

Once students are logged in, they can decide on the type of layout and/or size of the layout before beginning the design process. Canva makes this very easy by providing standard templates for brochures, posters, book covers, logos and so much more!  There’s even the ability to create a custom size for the occasional odd-sized project. Next students select a template to use or simply create a new image from scratch.  Some templates, icons and photos cost money, but there are plenty of amazing FREE elements to create dynamic visuals without the need to spend any extra $$!

Canva makes the next step of adding photos, texts, and graphics very simple. It’s a drag and drop method. (I’m thinking this would be super easy for Grade 2-3 students – so please leave a comment if you have tried it with them!) It’s also quite easy to add photos from your own computer or from Canva’s own database (again— not all are free), text, borders, shapes, and other graphics to create the perfect visual for a project.

What’s great for students is that Canva automatically saves creations so that you can go back to them at any time to revise or re-download as needed. When students have finished a project, they can select “download” and this saves the image to use in whatever context needed. This feature was exceptional for our student blogs! Thanks to Canva, my students are able to create professional images super easy!

 

Handy Graphic Design Learning

Canva has a Graphic Design Tutorials section (the link is at the bottom left after you sign in). From Getting Started with Canva Essentials to Backgrounds, Fonts and Colours – there’s even a section on Branding!  You can also speed up your design process with Advanced Tips – Canva Shortcuts Part 1 and Part 2 as well as Canva Tips and Tricks. As a class we made our way through the mini-challenges – learning through doing – it was a perfect way to learn together and from each other.  I grouped the students in fours and set them a tutorial to watch together. It was their job to “master” the learning in the tutorial so that they could “teach” another group of 4 what they learned. During this time, I assessed my students on their collaboration skills and kept an eye out for my techxperts for Canva. I chose tutorials that taught students about design and layouts rather than the “how to use” Canva tutorials. Canva is so user-friendly that 5th graders easily worked out how to drag and drop, change fonts, colours etc so we didn’t need to teach each other these skills.

Ways We’ve Used Canva in the Classroom

Covers

Books, blogs, projects, or portfolios (in print or electronic).  Using the optional templates provided by Canva shows students (and teachers) how to most effectively display key information in order to communicate the topic while also grabbing attention.

Infographics

 

I’m a huge fan of infographics because they have the ability (when done well) to present visually appealing key concepts and information on various topics. I’ve starting to use Infographics as a way to assess student understanding of key concepts and facts in various subjects or at least having it as an option of a way that students can present their key ideas, learning and/or understandings on a topic. Canva provides templates that are very user-friendly in order to do this.  I love having a different & creative way to assess student learning.

Charts and Graphs

Do your students need to make any graphs and charts in order to measure, synthesize, analyze, or showcase information?  Mine do all the time – especially in Maths. Canva has several options that are visually appealing and at the same time provide effective visuals of measurable information.  After using the chart feature in Excel and Google’s Sheets, Canva’s charts are graphs were super EASY!

Photo Collages

By far one of the most popular uses in our classroom! Photo collages have been part of presentations to blogs to portfolios to projects.  There are several photo collage templates that make it easy to create stunning photo collections that really make an impact.  5th Graders loved these templates because they were all drag-and-drop style, so arranging and organizing information visually is very easy for them.

Our #thankful for project was a fun favourite – many students uploaded their own images, to make stunning, thought-provoking #thankful for collages. We didn’t print them out – just displayed them on screens and did a gallery walk when we were ready to present.  This project was also a writing unit – before the students used Canva to create their #thankful for collage, they had to explain in writing why they were thankful for the things that made it into the collage. Limiting the collage to 3 images only help produce some amazing collages and even more amazing writing.

Learning to LattéArt

Learning to LattéArt

I’ve been watching (studying) the amazing and generous barista Dritan Alsela and his equally helpful assistant Mariette (?) via their videos (originally FBLive Events) to learn how to latté art. It’s been fun (aka hilarious) posting my efforts on instagram to celebrate my failures but also track my learning progress over time. It’s turned into a bit of a game with my friends helping #guessmylattéart (that’s where the hilarious part comes in).

As I reflect on my learning so far, I wanted to share the advantages of learning in this way for me. Thanks to today’s technology access, this way of learning is becoming more and more popular and we’re finding that kids are spending a lot of their own time learning to do something they’re interested in and enjoying the sense of accomplishment when done.  As an educator, I love the idea of harnessing this in our classrooms through exploring Genius Hour, a take on Google’s 20% time or even just an afternoon (every 10 or so days) of elective learning!

These are the advantages I’ve discovered for myself:

Just in time learning

Perfect to fit into my day when I can. Life gets incredibly busy but more and more I believe it’s important to dedicate time to one’s own learning whenever or however we can.

Interest and motivation

I chose to spend time learning lattéart because I wanted to learn it. I had an interest and thanks to YouTube, I was able to find some very good tutorials that helped keep me interested and motivated to learn more.

Customisable

Pause, play, repeat – the best features of video. I can do this as much as I need to. Learning needs to be customisable. What works for you might not work for me. What takes me a short amount of time, might take you longer. Video makes learning customisable in so many different ways – we need to harness this more in the classroom.

Visual and audial combination

I can see what to do. I can hear the instructions. Excellent combination plus I can also see, hear and DO at the same time.  I’m much more likely to enjoy success with all three.

Access to an expert

Rather than try to watch a barista at work down at my local coffee shop (and annoy them while they are busy) – I have access to a super-friendly and generous expert who is taking the time to share their skills with me.

Importance of sharing the learning

For accountability, motivation, and encouragement, I use my social media channels (instagram and facebook) to share my progress with friends. This makes me smile and reminds me just how creative and imaginative my friends are! It also motivates me to try harder and reminds me it’s ok, and part of the learning process, to fail. By sharing I show that I’m still learning and that I’m not afraid to try something new.

So what are you learning to do?

I’d love to hear/see what it is – please share in the comment section!

Who knows, I may encourage someone else to give it a go too! If you are keen to learn LattéArt – here’s my LattéArt YouTube Playlist:

Today’s Key Learning from the Barista Tutorial I watched today

  • Clean my portafilter with a brush
  • Tamp once and turn
  • Extract the coffee before doing the milk
  • Perfect temp: 60-65° for the milk (Don’t need to swirl the milk pitcher to warm it) The milk must be right otherwise you can’t lattéart.
  • Use two jugs – tip off half the milk into another jug
  • Bang the jug to get out the bubbles
  • Hold cup on an angle
  • The angle of the pitcher is parallel to the angle of the cup
  • Pour high first in small tight circles – prepare the surface – never touch the sides of the cup, swirl in the centre – don’t break the surface
  • Then go down closer with the spout and draw on the surface

Last but not least, I have to share Dritan’s valuable advice (and take note for myself)

Don’t want too much too fast – start with and master the heart! Then progress to the rosetta, then try the tulip.

So it’s back to the heart I go …… but I’m feeling confident, armed with more knowledge and excited to try again! (Stay tuned to #guessmylattéart on instagram!)

Understanding the Connected Classroom

Understanding the Connected Classroom

What is a Connected Classroom?

A connected classroom is a learning environment that is open to the outside world. It’s where students are engaged in real-life authentic learning starting in their own classroom and extends to reach other global learners.

Why should our classrooms be connected?

When we think about redefining learning (especially if we’re using SAMR as a lens to ensure that the use of technology is not just for technology’s sake) then we must think about what can our students do that wasn’t possible before without the technology.  Connecting with others outside the wall of the classroom or providing a window into the classroom is something that’s not possible without technology.  The increased scope of learning, the harnessing of an authentic audience and the ability to share and get feedback on student work were the driving reasons behind my reasons for having a connected classroom.

In Grade 3, my students were studying Rocks & Minerals for Science. We were able to skype an expert (a student’s grandfather who just happened to be a Geologist).  I cannot describe the fascination, the attention and the learning that was facilitated by having a conversation with an actual geologist who showed us his tools, shared what it was like to be a geologist and also showed us some of his most memorable finds!

How can we connect our classrooms?

There are many ways we can connect our classrooms. Here’s three easy ways to create an environment that is open to the outside world and engages students in real-life authentic learning that can extend to reach other global learners.

Video Conferencing

Use skype, google hangouts or facetime to connect, share and learn from others outside the walls of the classroom. There’s a variety of different reasons or times of the year to connect with others globally.

Ideas to try

Sam the Kiwi (Class Mascot) Adventurer Extraordinaire!

  • Celebrations
    • Science Week
    • Coding Challenge
    • Christmas Tradition comparisons
  • Expert Encounters
    • Guest expert
    • Author Study
    • Mystery Skype for geography/cultural purposes
  • Shared Units of Study
    • Weather study/comparison
    • Seasons
    • Environmental studies
  • Authentic Collaboration Projects

Sometimes timezones can hamper global connections. Tools like VoiceThread can help. We were able to connect and share some Christmas Traditions with a class in Tasmania this way.

Blogging

Blogs can be a “window into your class” – an authentic, relevant way to connect to others beyond the four walls of the classroom. To help get started, check out 10 tips for Connecting Students Through Blogging.
Blogs can be used to

  • Share learning
  • Have an Authentic Audience
  • Get Peer Feedback
  • build ePortfolios
  • Communicate with Parents
Ideas to try
  • Start with a class blog and build content together
  • Use blogs as ePortfolios to show learning over time
  • Connect between school and home

Use Social Media

Social media tools can be used to

  • share learning
  • participate in global conversations
  • ask questions / get answers
  • connect with experts, authors, other cultures
  • back channel
  • expose students to different perspectives
Ideas to try
  • share learning visually with a class instagram account
  • create a class twitter account to globally connect with others
  • start a class facebook page to connect/share with parents

Tips for Success

  • It takes time to grow connections but it really is worth the effort
  • Be willing to take risks (be prepared to fail)
  • Be adaptable & flexible and have a sense of humour!
  • If you’re just starting out, start small – skype in an expert/guest speaker or your friend’s class from another school in your area, district or perhaps another country
  • Check out Getting Started with Mystery Skype or Authors who Skype with Classes for Free

Ways to Involve Students More

Use roles during video conferencing

  • photographer (responsible for taking photographs during the call)
  • documentor (responsible for writing down the memorable parts of the call)
  • videographer (responsible for video recording the event)
  • Skype Tips (including a list of potential roles for students)

Have a Class Blog

  • Student Writer of the Week (responsible for writing a summary post or a daily post for the class)
  • Blog Photographer (responsible for documenting learning each day)
  • Commenting on a class blog post could be a writing homework option
  • Blogger of the Week – use when each student has their own blog

Use a Class Social Media Account

  • The whole class helps write a summary of the day’s learning in 140 characters for twitter OR
  • A small group of writers during writing time collaborate for 10-15m on a class daily tweet
  • Social Media update – to help provide a window into the classroom, a student writes a morning and an afternoon twitter, instagram, facebook update each day
  • Instagram Photographer of the day – has to post 4-5 images of learning to the class instagram account
  • Facebook Post writer – writes a learning post/summary of the day’s learning am/pm (also uses the class photographer’s images)

Depending on how old your students are, you may wish to have the posts/updates have teacher approval before they are published. With younger students, updates could be orally told to an adult or written out on paper and approved by the teacher first.

Questions? Comments? What are your thoughts? Have I missed anything?  Would you like to share your ideas?  I’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment!

Over at Eduro Learning we’re excited about launching our brand new Microcredentials range. To celebrate we have  a PDF freebie to give away.  This week’s PDF is a visual poster 3 Simple Ways to Create a Connected Classroom.  You will need to give us your email (even if you’ve given it to us before). Don’t worry we promise  won’t spam you crazy – it’s just so we know what products our audience is enjoying/finding useful so we can tailor future ones!

 

All images my own or purchased via Adobe Stock unless otherwise stated
Staying Safe Online: Helping Your Child Build Good Digital Habits

Staying Safe Online: Helping Your Child Build Good Digital Habits

I know we say it all the time, but it is true.  Having open, honest (and regular) conversations with your kids is THE best way to help them build good digital habits when it comes to staying safe online.  Technology in today’s world allows for 24/7 access anytime, anywhere so we need to make sure our children have some good, but basic digital habits to not only keep themselves, but others, safe online.

Next week is  Wk 3 of Eduro Learning’s official Parenting in the Digital Age Series Launch and this week I’m sharing the good digital habits I think are really important for myself and my children to have in their life skills toolbox.


				

Staying Safe Online: 3 Good Digital Habits to Build

#1 Always Be S.M.A.R.T

  • Safe – Giving out personal information like our address, phone number, date of birth or passwords without having parental/guardian permission first is not smart.
  • Meet – Meeting someone you only know from online is not smart, and you should never agree to do it without parent/guardian’s permission.
  • Accept – Clicking on messages, emails, texts, pictures etc from people we don’t know or trust is not smart. It can open us up to problems like viruses and unwanted/nasty messages.
  • Reliable – We need to understand that not everything out there is true, or reliable – checking information before you believe it is now a vital skill. It helps to talk about what we’re reading/finding online with an adult.
  • Tell – Our children need to know that they can tell us, or another trusted adult when something happens online that makes us feel uncomfortable or unsafe. 

#2 Always THINK B4 U POST, CHAT or UPLOAD

  • T – is it True?
  • H – is it Helpful?
  • I – is it Inspiring?
  • N – is it Necessary?
  • K – is it Kind?

And if it’s not, then don’t post it, chat it or upload it!


				

#3 Always Be A Good Digital Citizen

Not just sometimes, not just some days, not just online but offline too! This is the foundation of being safe, kind, and smart. How we behave online is no different to how we behave offline. How we treat others online is no different to the expectation of how to treat others face to face.  If you wouldn’t want your grandma to see it, then don’t share it with the rest of the world.  This is the best habit your child(ren) could ever have.  

One More Important Thing

Regular, honest and open conversations with our kids are so important. Habits aren’t made overnight and mistakes are going to happen. Having those difficult conversations that as parents we sometimes don’t like to do, must be had. Talking openly and honestly about our worries and our expectations really does help. Having something like a Family Media Agreement – which believe it or not starts with a conversation – can help too.

If you’re not sure where to start or what to include in a family media agreement, sign up to Eduro Learning’s Parent Mailing List by clicking the button below and get this FREE digital download:

Managing Devices at Home: Conversation Starters + Family Media Agreements

It’s the perfect resource for you!

What do you think?

Are these digital habits good ones?  Are there some more that we can add to this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts and what habits you think we can help our children (or students) build to help them stay safe online. Teacher friends, if parents are asking for ways to help keep their children safe online please feel free to share and/or add your thoughts in the comments too.

Oh and one more thing ….. Check out Eduro Learning’s other resources for parenting in the digital age. You won’t be disappointed!

Images used are either purchased or own images unless otherwise stated.
Connecting Students Through Blogging – 10 Tips

Connecting Students Through Blogging – 10 Tips

Connecting Students Through Blogging

Part of the series: Teaching In A Connected Classroom (cross-posted for Eduro Learning)

A great way to start connecting your students to each other and to others outside the classroom at the start of a new year is to begin blogging. Not only can blogging give students a voice, but it also has the potential to change the way they write.

Over the years I’ve discovered through my own trials and those of teachers I’ve been fortunate to work closely with, ten tips that may help get blogging starting in your classroom and keep it sustainable throughout the year. Most apply to individual blogs with your students and/or blogging together with students on a Class Blog.

#1  Decide on your why (the purpose)

It’s important to know why you want a class blog or why you want students to have their own blogs.  When we know the why (to anything), it’s so much easier to make decisions about what and what not to do, and it will be much easier to get students excited about blogging with the goal of sustainability.  Don’t move onto the how, until you know the why! (It comes in handy for #3)


				

#2  Pick your platform

This one might end up being entirely up to you or you may not have much of a choice.  I’ve been fortunate enough to work at schools that hosted WordPress on their own servers.  When I first started out with a class blog, however, I used EduBlogs (free version), and then WordPress (free version) when my students began blogging individually.  There are other alternatives out there such as Kidblog or Weebly which many teachers use with great success.


				

#3  Obtain permissions

In order to receive support from all stakeholders, you need to check in with those around you. Principals, Tech Coach/Co-ordinators, and of course your parents.  It’s important to be ready to explain what you are doing and why (refer #1).  I shared a blogging/podcasting contract with my parents and also held a parents meeting so that any questions/concerns could be asked and answered.  To date, I’ve not had any parents say No to their child blogging and I’m sure it’s because of #1, knowing the why and because of the transparency of what we were trying to achieve with blogging.


				

#4  Teach Quality Blogging

This will always be one of my many favourite sessions with student bloggers and they go hand-in-hand with our Digital Literacy Unit for the start of the year. Our Guiding Question:   What makes a quality post? springboards us into blogging and helps students think about the similarities and differences between blogging and writing. We revisit this topic many times during the year and aim to deepen the quality of blog posts through a “writing reflectively” lens.


				

#5  Discuss Citizenship – all.the.time

Before we even begin blogging, we look at and discuss safety online and citizenship – what does it mean to be responsible and appropriate? This is part of a bigger discussion that covers not only online behaviour but offline behaviour.  It just so happens that it’s not just those that are specific to blogging – and it’s like quality blogging & commenting – an all-the-time discussion.

#6  Teach commenting

Teaching your students to properly comment is just as important, if not more important as teaching your students about writing quality blog posts.

As Pernille Ripp, from Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension, mentions …

In order for blogging to be effective, comments are needed, but if students don’t know how to properly comment they will lose out on part of the experience. We discuss how to thank people, how to answer their questions, and most importantly, how to ask questions back. This is all part of common conversational knowledge that all kids should be taught any way.

#7  Start small

Everybody starts somewhere right? Whether you start out with a class blog first, or dive head first into students having their own blog.  Be realistic about how much you want to be posting.  We always started with an introduction post of some sort like this one or this one (which was fun and really encouraged comments).  At first, we posted to our blogs once a week.  It was regular and it was consistent – both of these things are important when you’re building an audience. (See #8)

#8  Connect with others

There is no doubt that the global connections made with students from all over the world are what inspired and encouraged my students to keep blogging.  Reach out to a colleague at another school and ask if their students can read and comment on your blogs – maybe they are blogging too and you can help motivate them too! Have a go at QuadBlogging or use twitter to help you and your students connect to others.  Keep a flag counter in your sidebar to help keep visitors to your blog (and your students’ blogs) visible and motivating!

#9  Allow personalisation (making it their own)

All students love to explore their blogs, playing with themes, colour and font!  This makes for a really great lesson on Design when they teach each other how to do anything fancy and also let each other know when font or colour choices were poor. It’s a perfect opportunity for students to start thinking about creating their online identity too. (Don’t forget to teach your students about Creative Commons and giving attribution for images they use in their blog posts! – see #5)

#10  Give it time

Rome wasn’t built in a day – neither will your blog content or your blog audience!  It’s an on-going process that can at times seem more trouble than it’s worth, but at the same time be so beneficial for students – especially those students who’s voices can be hard to hear above others.  Stick with it, even when the going gets tough and time pressures seem overwhelming against you.  It’s worth the effort, honest!

Helpful Resources

Already blogging with your students?

What tips and/or recommendations do you have?  Please share in the comments below!

Google Search Magic

Google Search Magic

I don’t think I’ll ever escape the wonderment and awe of using google to help create, fix or do something that you have absolutely no idea how to AND having it work! It’s a real sense of achievement that you figured it out – but it wouldn’t be possible without some good ol’ google search magic!

I’ve been manually updating my CV for quite some time now – a rather laborious but necessary task in my line of work! I knew that I could embed my google doc (where I have my CV for easy updating). When I first tried the obvious embed of going to the google doc, click publish to the web, copy embed code, paste code in Text editor on blog. Well, yes, that worked BUT it was too small and of course there’s no way to edit iframe code! (Apparently you can but this chick doesn’t know how to do that and it looked way complicated with javascript blah, blah, blah!)

Enter (Insert saviour music) Google Search to the rescue! You totally hummed dah, dahdah, dah, dah, dah dah dahhh didn’t you?? In less than 3 seconds I had a recommended plug in (well two actually), Google Apps Login & Google Drive Embedder.

Although I wasn’t really after the Google Apps Login bit, I quickly discovered that without it, the Google Drive Embedder (which I really wanted) wouldn’t work!  After installing the plugins & activating them in my wordpress blog, I got a nifty little message pointing me to instructions to set everything up.  (Love that!)

Google Embedder Plugin

Those instructions included a video option if preferred but I just followed the written instructions. Less than 10 minutes later, wa-lah, CV embedded beautifully!  (Note Jan 2018: I have since updated my website and no longer use the embedded google doc for my CV)

Thanks Google! Thanks WordPress Plugins Installer!  Nicely done! (Insert little fist pump to myself!)

 

Google Search Image: Pixabay CC0 Creative Commons