Twitter: A Cultural Guidebook

Since attending the ADE Global Institute in Cork, Jabiz & I have been working on an iBook aimed to help educators get started with using Twitter for Professional Development.

We enlisted some of our friends in the Asia-Pacific region to help us make videos explaining how they use  Twitter, so it’s not just a case of, “Oh, there’s Keri-Lee going on about Twitter again.”

We built on the work of Rodd Lucier and his Seven Degrees of Connectedness, which we felt accurately described the stages one goes through when developing an online PLN with Twitter.

We worked with two talented and humble individuals: Rob Appleby, who created all the illustrations for the book; and Dave Caleb, who helped shoot our videos and intro media. Thank you both for your input! It was invaluable.


We are going through the process of publishing  now have the book published in the iTunes Bookstore!

If you can’t access it, download it from Google Drive via this link.
In order to read it on your iPad, you will need to:

1. Download the .ibooks file
2. Open iTunes and add the .ibooks file to your Books
3. Sync with your iPad to read it

We hope you find it a useful resource. Below is the trailer for the book. I hope it gets you interested!

Twtter: A Cultural Guidebook from UWC South East Asia on Vimeo.

Minecraft – we’re back

Minecraft ECA 2011-2012

Following the excitement of last year’s Minecraft Activity, I knew I wanted to offer it again this year. That said, I battled to keep up with the latest happenings in the Minecraft world, the responsibilities of my day job, occasional stints presenting, and of course seeing my family! Something had to give, and for the first term, unfortunately it was Minecraft.

Last year I had some wonderful Techxperts helping me out to moderate the school server, while I maintained administrative control. Perhaps it was because it was new to me that I wanted to keep a hold of the reins. Well, there are no excuses now.

This year, I want the activity to be student-managed and student moderated. To clarify, the Middle School/High School Techxperts will run the server for the Grade 2-5 Minecraft activity which will begin in the new year. This will give me the opportunity to interact with the students and just play. It’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned.

The Techxperts on the Minecraft team decided that running Tekkit would have the most learning potential. They are a very knowledgeable bunch, and informed me that Tekkit meant they could have access to anything that exists in the world – and more. Pascal (G10) took a leading role and helped me set up our RedstoneHost server, update McMyAdmin, install Tekkit (all the behind the scenes jobs that I find such a chore), and generally made my life a lot easier. He is a complete superstar.

We had a few glitches, but there is nothing more satisfying than working through and eventually solving a frustrating tech problem. Our server is now up and running.

I went on last night, to see how things were going. Seriously, I love my job. Three keen students were on, helping to set up the initial spawn points in readiness for the Grade 2-5s. It’s just the beginning, but it’s pretty neat to see what’s happening already.

Photo credit: Lucas Kua

Multiplayer games like these are tremendous levelers. I am very much a beginner with Minecraft and after a 6 month hiatus, it was all I could do to remember how to fly and move around. The Techxperts were so supportive. When I expressed my need for a refresher course, Pascal suggested I try building myself a spawn point, to (and I quote) “get myself back in the game.” In the world of tech coaching, Pascal modeled perfectly the notion of Positive Presuppositions – assuming the very best of a person, to encourage and support. It blows my mind. I can’t wait for the Grade 2-5s to join in and show the Techxperts how great they are. Because they are. Simply amazing.

Photo credit: Pascal Brunner

I’m working on a presentation for parents about the benefits of gaming (together with Sean McHugh & Louise Phinney). I have so much to tell them. I hope they are ready to listen with an open mind.

The Link

I received this in my Twitter feed today:


It made me think a lot about the power of a network. If I didn’t know Jabiz, this could be evidence of spam. It could contain a virus. Something that could do serious damage. It’s a single link, no explanation.

But because I know Jabiz, because I have a history with him, I know when he sends me a link, that no explanation is necessary. I need to click it straight away and see where it takes me.

Which is why, at 8am, while still in bed with my PJ’s on, during my holiday in New Zealand, I found myself looking at a blog post from a former student of mine.

So go on, click the link. You won’t be disappointed.

Building Capacity with Tech Mentors

Photo by Dave Caleb

I was lucky enough to participate in a 3-day retreat with 25 teachers from across UWCSEA’s two campuses, designed to build capacity in the college with regards to coaching and mentoring in general, and technology in particular. We have had a lot of requests for more details about the retreat, so I thought I’d outline some key aspects:


The planning committee comprised of the Digital Literacy Coaches, Teacher Librarians & our Tech Director. Andrew McCarthy (DLC at Dover) created a wonderful Google site for the retreat, then we divided into groups to plan and populate the site according to interest/level of expertise.

The retreat focused on Cognitive Coaching and Mentoring (facilitated by the dynamic duo of  William Powell & Ochan Kusuma-Powell) in the morning sessions, together with afternoon sessions exploring strategic technology themes at UWCSEA. We wanted to build in a culture of sharing and team building throughout. To this end, we incorporated an optional Photo Walk with Dave Caleb (Grade Four teacher and photographer extraordinaire), time for sharing best practice from participants and a social dinner one evening.

Bill & Ochan really did a spectacular job of setting the tone of the Retreat. They had a fluid, natural style which contributed to a relaxed, engaging atmosphere throughout. Their coaching sessions focused on the following:

Photo by Dave Caleb

Wednesday – 8am to 12pm

Surfacing assumptions about adult learning — preconceived notions vs. what the research suggests

Four support functions: Coaching, Consulting, Collaborating, and Evaluating

Trust and Rapport


Photo by Dave Caleb

Thursday – 8am to 12pm

Self-Directed Learning: how does a Mentor support it

Coaching as Mentoring

The Planning Conversation – how to support a Mentee in planning

Practice with specific coaching strategies


Friday – 8am to 12pm

Photo by Dave Caleb

Situational Leadership for Adult Learning: Directive and Supportive Behaviors

Feedback: The Breakfast of Champions and Losers — how different types of feedback affect the recipient.

Kegan’s Stages of Adult Development and how they impact learning.

The Reflecting Conversation: how to support a Mentee in reflecting and evaluating technology use.

Things I learned:

If you effectively double the number of devices people have access to, you will break the wifi

One exciting aspect of the conference was that we were able to give each Tech Mentor a new iPad. There were several reasons for this, including the fact that teachers who play with technology in their everyday lives are more likely to use it in the classroom (and beyond), as well as the opportunities for meaningful and detailed assessment for learning that the iPad affords. Not surprisingly, the iPads were very well-received by the Mentors, and they dove headfirst into exploring it for note taking, capturing images, creating iMovie trailers and much more.

The downside to that is that although we factored in the number of people coming to the Retreat, we didn’t take the number of devices they would be connecting to the wifi into consideration. Lesson learned.

People Really Matter

From the feedback we received, the chance to meet and get to know people from the other campuses repeatedly came up. Both our campuses are HUGE, and it is not unusual that people can work at the same campus for years and not lay eyes on one another. Just taking the time to sit down and really learn about some other people was a considerable benefit. We know that magical things happen when you put passionate and interesting people in the same room together, and the Tech Mentors’ Retreat certainly confirmed that.

Photo by Dave Caleb

Pedagogy First, Technology Second

This Retreat was not designed to teach the teachers a whole lot of technology. The people who were there were already keen on the tech – we didn’t need to shove it down their throats. What made it so successful in my mind was that it was grounded in research and emphasized technology as a tool for learning, rather than an end in itself. In fact the majority of the conference involved best practice for interacting with others – social skills 101 if you like – and would be useful for any individual! It gave a lot of insights into the reasons people can be reluctant to use technology, and provided some techniques to deal with these sort of issues at school.

I Still Love to Share

Photo by Dave Caleb

And so it seems did our Mentors. It was neat to have the showcase sessions with interesting things people are doing in their classrooms. Learning from the experience in the room made people feel valued, and reminded us that there are so many wonderful things happening already at our school, we just need to provide opportunities for people to share with a wider audience.

[Please check out our Storify collections from Day 1, Day 2 & Day 3 if you would like to see the collective knowledge of the group as we went along.]

Getting off Campus is a Good Thing

A new location can help us to switch our mind from the pulls of day-to-day teaching, to focus on new learning with fewer distractions. It felt like we were at a conference in another country.

Visual Literacy is Important for All

Many Tech Mentors mentioned Noah Katz‘s work on Visual Literacy as a highlight for them. Noah (DLC at Dover) reminded us that we all have a role to play in helping students learn how to share information in the clearest, most visually appealing way possible. We hope to get Noah’s presentation up for you soon, so you can all benefit from his knowledge in this subject.

Photo by Louise Phinney

Passion is Infectious

When we are passionate about something, it really shows through in our presentations. Watching Noah talk about design, Katie Day talk about literacy or Dave Caleb about photography, well, you can’t help but get sucked into that vortex of awesomeness. How are we making this happen for the students we teach? For our teaching colleagues? For ourselves? These are questions worth considering as we look ahead to a new academic year in August.

Thank you!

I couldn’t let the opportunity to say a couple of thank yous go by…

Andrew, thanks for coming up with this genius plan in the first place; and Ben, thanks for having the vision to support it and help make it happen.

To our new Tech Mentors, working with you was an absolute pleasure, and I am grateful so many of you are on Twitter etc so we can keep the conversations going.

Photo by Dave Caleb

More Minecraft Musings

Want to know what our kids are capable of achieving in just over a week? Here are some photos to show you some parts of our world!

Aerial shot of our world

I believe this is a Spleef Arena (though I may need to clarify!)

Rain on the Plane

A flotilla of boats

Our Minecraft ECA met on Monday, and it was great to check in with what happened over the week. Top on my agenda was to get a list of all the students together with their usernames – I found it hard to remember who was who!

We refined some of our guidelines based on student feedback, including:
– If you’ve built something, put a sign with your name on it, so we know who made it.
– Ask if you’re not sure about how/where to build something – someone will help.

A group of students worked on developing a training area, so newbies like me would have a place to learn without accidentally smashing things (yeah, sorry about that Rogan). I look forward to learning the ropes soon!

One of the younger students asked if it was ok to copy something that someone had built. The general consensus among players was that it was fine. Then Liam added, “As long as you acknowledge it,” and Mohit said, “You’ve got to modify it a little bit though – remix is ok.” I then gave an example of the hot air balloons (in the first photo). Rogan made the first one (with the colours of the Union Jack on it), and Kenneth made his own one, changing the colours to those of the Irish Flag.

I’m not sure if they realised it, but they now have firsthand experience with Creative Commons – they know what it feels like to be a creator and have your work used. Tacit permission has been given to the group to adapt and remix, as long as attribution occurs.

I check in to the server every night to see what’s being built, who is on, how the conversation is going etc. The students have been super impressive. I’m really proud of their efforts.

So where to next? I plan to contact Redstone Host to see if we can get a second server, which we will run in Survival mode. The G7 Moderators are already planning to go in early to prepare a training area for Survival, as it’s quite a different style of game play.

I wonder what the kids will have created when I next log on to the server…

(cross posted at GreaTechxpectations)

Massively Misunderstood Minecraft

Overheard in the lab: “My Mum says she can’t believe UWC is offering a Minecraft activity. She says it’s a waste of time.”

Me: <breathe>

DM from @jplaman:

Me: <breathe>

I guess it’s time!

This blog post is proving hard to write. I have rewritten this paragraph about 14 times, mostly because I am trying not to sound embittered! I am saddened that the educational potential in games has once again been overlooked.

As Katie Salen, professor of design and technology at Parsons The New School for Design so eloquently put is:

There is a long history of understanding games as sort of leisure activities, as a kind of waste of time. And that when we see kids playing games that maybe our first reaction is to say, “Oh well they’re just playing, they’re just kind of wasting time.” There isn’t a sense of even sitting down with the child and asking them… “What’s going on in your head right now?” Because if you sit down and talk to a game player about what they’re doing, an incredible narrative will come out of their mouth about the complex problem they’re working on. 
[see the full video here]

I was lucky enough to spend time with Rob Newberry and members of his Minecraft activity who visited our school to show our Techxperts activity the basics of Minecraft. It was very clear to me that Rob was onto something pretty spectacular, and we had to get involved! [Rob is a fantastic resource on setting up an ECA for Minecraft, and Minecraft in general. Without his help I wouldn’t have been able to try!]

Without further ado, I started a Minecraft activity at school which met for the first time on Monday. It was absolute chaos. We were setting up accounts and running around madly trying to get everyone into the school’s Minecraft Server (thank you Redstone Host!). Thankfully I had some of our UWCSEA Techxperts there to help me out.

Anyway, at the end of the first session, I wasn’t sure how things were going to work out. I’m convinced Minecraft has spectacular educational value, but this activity is my own qualitative research experiment.

I decided to log in to the server at home and see what – if anything – had happened since school finished.

As soon as I had logged in, I realised I had completely forgotten ALL commands, including, crucially, how to move and how to talk! By guessing that if I pressed ‘t’ it might let me talk, I managed to chat to the few kids that were logged in and were already excitedly talking away (hopefully unaware of how utterly useless their teacher was at that moment). I asked them how to move – they told me to double-click the space bar, and up I flew.

Flying high above our world, I saw that it was a hive of industry. Houses had been built. A mountain top swimming pool was constructed. People were creating.

One of the students, Kenneth (G3) wanted to show me his house, so I began to follow him. Unfortunately, night was falling in our little world, so I could no longer see where he was going. I could still chat, so typed, “I can’t see where I’m going! Where are you?”

[Advance notice: I think this is AWESOME!] Kenneth solved the problem by putting down a series of glow blocks, which emitted enough light so I could see where he was going – a modern day Hansel & Gretel breadcrumb trail. Genius!

Victoria, Mohit, Liam & Aguistin's Pirate Ship

My next obstacle came when I wanted to take some screenshots of a pool built at the top of a mountain. Every time I pressed shift+command+4, I started to sink (as the command for going down is shift). I complained in the chat that I kept sinking when trying to take a screenshot, and once again, Kenneth came to my rescue. He suggested building a block beneath me, so I wouldn’t fall. Makes a lot of sense eh?! The solution was there, but I certainly didn’t see it. I love the creative thinking that Kenneth and other players have demonstrated in the short time I’ve been involved.

Day 2 of our server being open showed remarkable progress. Evidence of collaboration was everywhere. One student suggested a walkway (which several of the students pitched in to help with, complete with glow blocks for night time use), signs with directions appeared, pirate ships emerged along with 5* hotels. A soup

Rogan's Soup Kitchen

kitchen was built. Organisation was appearing amidst the chaos.

So what learning have I seen to date? How long have you got?

Collaboration & Team work – A culture of collaboration appears to have existed from the beginning. According so some of the players, some people log in and say, “Who needs some help?” and away they go. I have been particularly pleased to see that Grade 7 students have been working alongside Grade 2/3 students on particular projects. This isn’t something I directed them to do (though I am certainly fostering it now), it’s just something that happened.

Now we’re starting to get players come up with creative ideas which require a slew of people to assist them. Generally speaking it seems to be a very open culture where suggestions are more often than not accepted and enhanced by the involvement of each new member. A sense of pride in their accomplishments show they understand the value of hard work, and how it feels to have completed something they have put effort into achieving.

Rogan's Hot Air Balloon

Creativity & InnovationJames Paul Gee states in his video for Edutopia, “Kids want to produce, they don’t just want to consume.”  It’s pretty clear that the students in our Minecraft activity are incredibly creative. Day 3 (today) brought the addition of a theme park, more boats, more hot air balloons and a castle. They have organised their world to make it more efficient and more aesthetically pleasing. It’s quite literally a privilege to watch.

Mathematical Understanding – spacial awareness, area, construction, volume… Interaction with Minecraft can only serve to enhance a student’s comprehension of mathematical skills and concepts. Imagine if we teachers took Minecraft into the classroom to help students learn these concepts. Engagement would be through the roof, I’m sure. [Students, I’m working on it! Give me time!]

Collaboratively Constructed Walkway by Mohit, Rogan & Victoria

I could go on, to talk more about problem solving, communication & social skills (no doubt I will, in a later post!), however as usual, it’s better for me to stop talking for the kids and let them explain their learning in their own words. Victoria says,

Minecraft is a combination of frustration, excitement, and pure adrenaline. It widens your mind and you can get inspired very easily from other people’s creations. You can also learn various tips from more experienced players and most of all you just have fun.

What Victoria so eloquently described was a culture of remix and amplification. Taking someone’s ideas and adding your own personal spin on it.. It’s a new way of learning (think YouTube videos that go viral and spawn thousands of remixes) in which everyone has something to contribute, something to add, something with which to inspire others.

Marius says,

Playing Minecraft makes us think about what we can do to build up a “city”. Through this, we enhance our creativity and art skills. We also have to use our logic and physics skills, in a sense where we know where the water (or lava) will flow and where we need to build things to make our constructions work.

Leadership and peer-learning opportunities – Games level the playing field. Tom Chatfield notes that, “A virtual world is a tremendous leveller in terms of wealth, age, appearance, ethnicity and such like…” It means a child can be an expert, a student can be the most knowledgeable source of information. What a powerful concept for a young person  – I have something of value to offer my peers and teachers.

This, to me, is vertical interaction on a horizontal playing field. We are combining people of all ages to work together using the same resources to create something special.

As Joseph Joubert, the French essayist famously said, “To teach is to learn twice.” In the context of Minecraft, the students are a very supportive community, keen to help newcomers (such as myself) develop their understanding of the game. This fits in beautifully with  Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger’s Communities of Practice theory of learning, where,

“It is through the process of sharing information and experiences with the group that the members learn from each other, and have an opportunity to develop themselves personally and professionally.”

Face-to-face friendships develop through similar online  interests, and this is becoming evident as we continue to play. I have enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with students I taught previously, as well as learn more about the ones I teach now.

James Paul Gee speaks of these communities of practice as “passion communities” constructed via social networking, where members are usually held to quite rigorous standards in their area of passion. To the novice, feedback is given, support is provided, but standards are not be lowered.

George's Lava

I hope every parent of a student playing Minecraft takes the time to sit next to their child and really ask them what they’re doing, why it’s important to them, how/why they create things, and what they’re learning. I’m sure they’d be gobsmacked at the responses. How many actually take that time I wonder?

I’d like to thank the members of the inaugural UWCSEA Minecraft Activity for their supreme awesomeness, their willingness to help me learn and share their burgeoning world, which is the product of hard work and fun, all rolled into one.

I’m tired. I’ve been dipping in and out of this post for far too many days. There’s so much more to say, but it’s 9:24pm. The server closes in 6 minutes and I want to see how my kids are going. Goodnight!

Top Apps for Global Travelers

The following Apps are my pics for Best Travel Apps Ever, and ones I will be putting to good use this summer when I travel to Europe.


TripIt – One of the easiest & most useful travel apps is TripIt. You simply forward your flight confirmations and/or hotel bookings, and TripIt will put together a wonderful itinerary for you, complete with essential booking references, confirmation numbers and maps of surrounding areas. Best of all, it’s FREE! This is my number 1 travel app of all time.

Packing Pro – If you’re anything like me, you have a tendency to overpack for trips, meaning I often lug around unnecessary items. I also manage to forget at least one key item every time I travel. Well, no more! This app can give you pre-prepared lists for various types of trips, or you can customize your own lists, meaning you will be well-organised for your next trip.

Travel App Box – This provides several useful travel apps in one, including offline maps, currency converter, tip calculator, basic phrases, pictionary, emergency call numbers, travel games and more. The offline maps in particular, I think will be extremely useful for those between-wifi moments.

Google Translate – When traveling, instant translation can be your best friend. Google translate can even ‘say’ the words in the language you desire.

Dropbox – Putting key documentation in Dropbox when traveling can be extremely useful. I have photocopies of my passport and green card in my Dropbox, just in case.

Pocket First Aid & CPR – This app not only has great first aid information, but is a place you can store important medical information about your family, e.g. Medical insurance numbers, blood type etc. Very easy to use and handy to have in your back pocket.

Kayak – Flights, hotels, rental cars, travel planner – this free app is a great place to start planning your next vacation. This won the people’s choice award at the 2011 Webby Awards.

XE Currency – A straightforward currency exchange app from the popular site with the same name.

Foursquare – Checking in to new places can give you excellent tips from other Foursquare users. I have used Foursquare to get recommendations about what to order at restaurants, and find out recommended activities in the area.

Lonely Planet (e.g. Paris) – Lonely Planet is a wonderful source of information for tourists, and they have guides for all of the major cities.

Local MRT (e.g. Paris Metro) – When traveling to a new place, I always download apps for public transport, as you never know when they might come in handy. Most are free, however some, like Paris Metro, have added value and therefore charge a fee.

Weather+ Free – Anticipating the weather in the countries you visit is always essential.

World Clock – Time Zones – Knowing what time to call home is important when traveling – no one wants to be woken at 3am, even if you are calling from Germany. This app shows the current time in a range of destinations, so there are no more excuses!

Camera360– This amazing FREE app has a range of different features that will help you take great photos wherever you are. Each effect has a range of sub-effects, meaning the possible combinations are endless. (**if you are using the Singaporean App store, the app description will turn up in Chinese. Don’t panic, the app will be in English once it’s downloaded**)

TripAdvisor– The popular website is now available in app form. Search for hotels and more, and read user reviews about your upcoming travel destinations.I hope you find these apps useful. Leave a comment with your favorite recommendations – we’re always on the lookout for new apps.

The Best Parent Workshop I’ve Ever Done

This little gem of an idea, came to the Digital Literacy Team at UWCSEA via Robyn Treyvaud, who had been visiting our school to work on the initiation of our generation safe project. Robyn’s idea – so obvious I don’t know why we hadn’t thought of it before – was to include students in the evening presentation to parents about social networking.

We created a sign up sheet for our workshop, and asked parents to outline the sort of things they were concerned about and/or what they wanted to focus on. Below is a Wordle of parent concerns.

My colleague Jeff Plaman asked which students in the class he was teaching would be interested in sharing how they use social networking with parents. He got at least 10 students who were keen to help out. I must stress that students were not pre-selected – we only asked for interested individuals, and we didn’t prep them as to what to say. Rather, we provided them with talking points to which they responded.

We scheduled a meeting at lunchtime where we shared a wordle of parent concerns, and they talked about their responses to the concerns, and explained to us the different ways they use social networking. It was fascinating just listening to them. At one point during the discussion, I thought, “We should be videoing this!” so turned on PhotoBooth (all that I had available at the time!) and listened.

Here are some short segments from that video which show the sort of things they were saying.

The following day, we had a huge turnout from parents. We sat one or two students at each table with parents, and did a brief presentation from the school’s perspective.

We encouraged parents to ask the students about their concerns and turned it over to the kids. It was amazing to see the positive body language of the parents, and see how engaged both groups were in listening and talking with the other.

We asked for some verbal parent feedback at the conclusion of the session, and received some very lovely comments from the parents. One parent said from his discussions with the student at his table, he learned he needs to trust his children more, and involve himself in what they’re doing. Others spoke very highly of the students involved, and said it was much easier to talk to someone else’s child about these sort of issues than have conversations with their own children. That said, they now felt more comfortable about initiating the discussions with their own children.

One of the most touching things I saw was one of our Grade 10 students giving the parents at her table her email address, with the words, “If you have any more questions, just send me an email.” How great are our students?!

Have you tried having students at your parent meetings? Do you have suggestions to share?

Triptico – A Great IWB Resource

(Cross-posted at Greatechxpectations)

Noah Katz, one of the Digital Literacy Coaches at Dover came across this fantastic resource which he shared with me.

Triptico (designed by David Riley) is a FREE download which works very nicely in conjunction with IWBs. The free download gives you a number of desktop resources which are fully customizable.

What I love about them most of all is that they are so aesthetically pleasing! I have seen other countdown timers, but none that look as good as this one!

Below are a few examples of the tools in the Triptico IWB toolkit.

Hourglass – countdown timer

 Class Timer – another countdown timer

Question Quiz – provide the answer and have students guess the question. Award points to teams if they guess correctly

Class Magnets – create a set of magnets for your class. You could get them to drag their names up to the board when they arrive to record attendance. There are lots of other different ways to use this tool, particularly if you select a different background from the ones on offer.

Find Ten – create a quiz of sorts, and get students to guess which 10 things match the category you choose.

Order Resource – This would work extremely well with Kath Murdoch’s ‘More True than False, More False than True’ activity. Essentially, just order the statements.

What’s in the Box – this is similar to the TV Show ‘It’s in the Bag’. You choose a box, then decide whether to keep it, or risk playing on.

Thinking Routines & the iPad

(Cross-posted at Greatechxpectations

The iPad is a great mobile device for recording students thinking on the go. When we combine the iPad, Harvard’s Artful Thinking Palette, Harvard’s Visible Thinking Routines and the free Voicethread app, a plethora of possibilities become available.

Sign in to Voicethread (NB, if your school has domain, as ours does, you can edit this on the sign in page).

I Used to Think, Now I Think

Used when students’ thoughts, opinions & ideas might change over the course of a unit. (Click here for more details)

Students could draw and screenshot a picture that represents their initial thinking in a unit. Bring the image into Voicethread and explain their thinking. Follow up by repeating the activity at the culmination of the unit, and add to their initial Voicethread.

See, Think, Wonder

Sets the stage for inquiry. Usually used at the beginning because it stimulates curiosity. (Click here for more details)

Using a pre-selected photo, or one they have taken, create a Voicethread with 3 slides (photo repeated 3 times). Add narration over each slide – one for ‘see’, one for ‘think’, and one for ‘wonder’.

Compass Points

Compass points helps you extend your thinking. (Click here for more details)

East = Excited. What are you excited about?
West = Worrisome. What worries you?
North = Need to know. What more information do you require?
South = Stance/Suggestion. What are your next steps?

Have students take 4 photos representing the four points for a given topic (e.g. current Unit of Inquiry). Create a new Voicethread and have students narrate over the top, explaining their selections.

Beginning, Middle & End

This routine develops observation and imagination. (Click here for more details)

Have the students look at pre-selected image. Get them to choose either Beginning, Middle or End.

Beginning – if this is the beginning of the story, what do you think might happen next?
Middle – if it this is the middle of a story, what might have happened before? What might be about to happen?
End – If this is the end of a story, what might the story be?

Create a Voicethread with the image, and have students explain their thoughts through a voice comment. 

Claim, Support, Question

This routine supports reasoning. (Click here for more details) This routine might be better suited to upper primary aged students.

Claim – Make a claim about the image/topic
Support – Identify support for your claim
Question – Ask a question related to your claim.

Using an image that represents your topic, add a voice comment for each section of this thinking routine. This may be 3 separate comments, or 3 slides with one comment on each.

Looking 10 x 2

Great for observation and descriptive skills. (Click here for more details)

Look at an image for 30 seconds. Try and list 10 words/phrases you see. Repeat these steps again, this time trying to list an additional 10 words/phrases you observe. Add the image to Voicethread and add two voice comments to the image.


You might like to consider purchasing a camera connection kit to transfer images directly from your SD card to the iPad.

Alternatively, you can email images you wish students to see to the email address set up on your iPad. The students can add the images to the Photo Gallery from there by holding one finger on the image, then selecting save to Photo Gallery.


Magnifying Glass ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Lanzen
Compass ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Roland Urbanek
Cuff Links ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Oberazzi
Pale Blue 10 ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Caro’s Lines