Creating ePub Documents using Macbooks

Week 1/2- Teacher Blog

As this group of children had not previously used the Macs, we  introduced the MacBooks to the mixed Year 5 / 6 group and they were received very enthusiastically. We explained to the children some of the key differences between Macs and PC’s and then demonstrated how to capture images using Photo Booth and then to add effects to them. Following on from this we were able to import a selection of images into iPhoto and we discussed some of the protocols in organising images into named event folders. This will be crucial in future weeks as the children begin to take their own photographs for inclusion into the project. The two applications worked seamlessly following on from the software update the previous week and the children were able to accomplish this task successfully. The final task was then explained to the children and this was for them to write their own introduction about themselves to appear in the opening pages of the book. In so doing, the children were required to include connectives into their writing (a Literacy writing target) so as to extend their sentences. Finally we explained to the children how to save their work, which they accomplished, as their desktops bear testament to. On reflection, this was a very successful lesson; all the children were engaged, achieved their learning objectives and took a noticeable level of enjoyment from the activities.

The children were required to carry out the same task as above, since last week, many children had to share MacBooks and were unable to import images from Photobooth. Due to the ability of the children, additional support, in the form of a scaffold, was provided for the children when they were asked to compose an “All about me” piece of writing. The children were once more appropriately engaged and worked really well and so met their intended learning outcomes. It was really pleasing to see how easily the children were able to import an image from I-photo into their Pages document,; simply by selecting the media tab. The MacBooks are far more user friendly than the P.C.’s we currently have in school. However, a number of the batteries of the MacBooks, have reached the end of their lifespan but the use of multi-board plug sockets ensured that all of the machines could be used without them inadvertently closing down as their battery lifespan had been exceeded. As a classroom management consideration, it would clearly be much more beneficial if all the batteries of the MacBooks could be relied upon.

The arrival of the charging unit will free up space in the server room and will also make it much more convenient to charge those MacBooks with workable batteries. Towards the end of the lesson, the school’s Music Coordinator came into the room to see what we had accomplished and she expressed her very keen interest to become involved with the project; specifically for Music and to work with music on the iPads.

Teacher Blog Week 3

The focus of this weeks activities was to enable the children to create their own podcasts using Garageband. Once again, the children took the task enthusiastically and were easily able to work with the program. With the older children, we were able to show them how to carry out some basic editing tasks of a practise podcast. The children were therefore able to splice their podcast and insert an additional audio clip into their track. The children seemed to really enjoy this activity and worked confidently. After practising on a sample podcast, the children then created a podcast of their learning from the previous week. We were able to use two rooms for the recording and this reduced the amount of background noise on individuals podcasts. Towards the end of the session, we showed the children how they could add jingles to the start of their podcasts, but this was a little rushed and so proved to be less successful than the podcasts itself.

Upon evaluating the lesson, we then decided to not show the younger group how to add jingles. We also provided scripts for these children, but some children struggled with the reading of the scaffold which was provided for them.  As we did not have another recording room available for the children to use, we asked children to use the i-pads as they waited for us to support them individually in their own podcast. Both groups have saved their podcast on the desktop, and I intend to organise these desktops into folders with all the children’s files. We also noted which of the Macs had issues with their batteries and so now we will clearly know which machines will need power packs connected.

Overall, this was once again a successful lesson; Garageband is an effective and intuitive application to podcast and as a result, the children were able to meet the learning objective of creating a podcast. During the course of the week, I mentioned the project to one of the L.A. Literacy advisors who had been delivering an inset in school. We both agreed that the project would be an ideal way to encourage the children to create their own learning journals (an element of the inset on stretching the more able) and showed enthusiasm for the project itself.

Teacher Blog Week 4

Due to the Christmas period approaching, we were not able to work with the Year 5 / 6 group since they were in rehearsal for their concert. We did however still get the opportunity to work with the Year 3 / 4 group. On reflection, this was possibly our least successful session as I think that what we were trying to engage the children with was a little too taxing. We showed the children how to use the Flip video cameras and then how to import videos into i-Movie.  Some of the machines however did not automatically recognise the Flip video and as a result, both Phil and I, had then to go around to individual machines and save the video files as Quicktime movies and then import them into i-Movie. However, a number of children did work successfully and even progressed to adding their own credits to their movies.

Another issue we did encounter was the fact that the children did not appear to have well developed speaking and listening skills and so found it difficult to elaborate on what they had done in the previous week, for their film. At the end of the session, Phil and I, grabbed a few minutes and evaluated the lesson. We were both still convinced that the project has great potential; but maybe we need to change its scope…it may be more appropriate to create a learning journal of the whole weeks learning, rather than of just the learning which has occurred during the enrichment activities. In so doing, the children would be more confident in speaking and writing about their activities and not be restricted by their recall of their Mac-specific learning.

We also discussed next week having a catch up session for the Year 5 /6 group. Phil will pull out small groups of children from the concert rehearsals and support them in creating their films. We also noted that it would have been more appropriate to only show the younger children how to combine i-Movie with the iSight Camera. The older children could then use the Flip cameras so as to create cut aways of their work on the Mac alongside their own piece to camera.

Another issue we also encountered was that a couple of the Flip cameras did not respond as expected, one would not always record, when the record button was pressed and a second one inadvertently zoomed in each time it was switched on. This said however, it was a really good learning curve for me as now I can apply some of the things I have learned to creating my own school films

Week 1/2 (Year 3 /4 Group)

After charging the MacBooks I was disappointed to see that some of them had battery issues. This has been caused by over charging.  leaving a laptop constantly plugged in causes laptop batteries to expand. When the batteries expand they are virtually useless, either failing to hold their charge or not powering up at all.

The students were a mixture of years 3/4 students of mixed ability.  Mr Walford explained ,what we were going to be doing in the lesson and I introduced the basic differences between a pc and a macintosh.

  • Difference in how to open and close panes/ windows
  • How to locate program’s on the dock
  • Right click differences.

The children took to this without any issue at all.  they managed to navigate the MacBooks as though they had always been using them.

Task 1:  photo both

Children were allowed to use photo booth which is essentially a “camera toy” program which allows users to take photographs of themselves and apply a varying range of comic effects.  in my experience this is a great ice breaker program to use with students of all ages.  Almost everyone enjoys playing around with the effects.  It helps to break down barriers, inhibitions and helps relax students.

Once the children had taken a range of photographs They were asked to export selected images from photo booth to iPhoto.
This is where we hit a technical snag.  I had set up the MacBooks so that they did not have Internet access enabled on the student login.
This was to keep students “On task”.  However, since the set up there had been a crucial update to iLife and when we tried to launch iPhoto it would not launch without the update installed. We diverted to task two.

It had been my aim to give the students an opportunity to explore the iPhoto application.  I would have shown them how to organise their photos.  how to create albums, and rename their images.

Later I began adjusting the settings on the MacBooks it will be a good point to remember that critical updates can hamper your ” in class”  progress.  Set aside some time for this process as each machine had to be done by hand which took a whole day, as I was not simply deploying an image.

Task 2. About the Author.

I asked the students to write an “about the author” page. Using the simple application “textedit”, students began writing their own short biographies.  This price of work is quite short but helps them practise their keyboard skills and also provide the first piece of content for their ebook

*The laptop safe has now arrived which should now allow us to charge the majority of MacBooks the day before the activities.

Trainer – Blog Week 3

Week 3 saw us introduce Garageband to the students.

I explained what Garageband was and some of the ways that it could be used.  Then I showed the students how to set the Garageband interface up in a simple way so as to remove distracting panels and options. This is particularly useful on day 2 because the students are only years 3-4.
They still managed to follow instructions well though, and all managed to get their garageband set up correctly. Next Mr Walford introduced them to a writing Frame

The children then created a test podcast where they read three sentences, the second sentence was a nonsense statement which they then had to cut out.
Once they were familiar with the process they split into two groups and went into different rooms to record a statement of their learning from the previous week.

The children managed to record their clips successfully, we also showed them how to add a jingle to their recording.  We were however, rushed for time on this part, and decided that we would not attempt to do this with the year 3-4 class on day 2.

Tuesdays lesson followed the same pattern, but the younger children were not shown as many features of GB. Also some of the children struggled with their reading skills.  We decided to support the class on a one to one basis. We only had one room to work and the noise level made it difficult to create clear recordings.  To combat this we distributed the ipads with headphones, to allow the children to engage in some educational apps whilst we worked our way around the class helping each student to record an audible statement.

It should be noted at this point that it was my intention to use Lion Server as the repository where children could save their work.  However, the computer running the server has developed a critical fault, so work is currently being saved to the local machines.  This is a setback because it means that the machines are not freely available to the students throughout the school day.  I hope to rectify this fault on the server machine quickly.

Trainer – Blog Week 4

Week Four,would see us demonstrate the Flip cameras and how to shoot a piece to camera.  I was certainly concerned going into this Tuesday’s session that some of the children we were working with certainly didn’t have well developed speaking and listening skills.  They had struggled a little with the Garageband recordings and so expecting them to work with iMovie in a detailed way was going to be a challenge, so it proved.
Most of the grasped the iSight camera without issue, but they struggled with the Flip Cameras and the importing into iMovie.
To be fair to the children though, the vast majority of them got something audible done.  It should also be noted that there are a small group of children who have good reading, speaking and listening skills, they have proved capable in every task set.The biggest issue was presented by the inconsistency of the Flip Cameras. Whilst they are pretty good for their price, this set were consistently unreliable.  I ensured that all the macbooks have the latest video codecs installed, so that they would see the video on the Flipcams.  That said, some of the cameras just wouldn’t activate iMovie, so Mr Walford and I had to collect video clips by hand which certainly is time consuming, takes us away from children who need assistance and reduces the overall learning experience for the children.For me the solution to these issues really lies in the length of lessons, Two hours is relatively short time to teach young children how to use programs like iMovie and Garageband.  However, we have a timescale that must be adhered to.   Our experiences here will help us better formulate activities in the future.  We are also constrained by budget, the initial idea for the project would have used ipad 2. However we were unable to obtain the funding in time to purchase these devices, thus we are forced to use Flip Cams.

Summary by Teacher Ian Walford

A very engaging project which captured the children’s interest and imagination. In review the project was successful and now the challenge is to disseminate the learning and skills across the whole school. There were a couple of areas which in reflection, proved to be a slight obstacle to the project and these are detailed below:

The continuity of the project : The nature of Christmas within a busy primary school meant that the enrichment group did not have a full six week block to complete their schedule. As a result, Phil had to come back into school on a couple of occasions to finish off and tidy up little bits- linked to this.  It was also quite challenging to facilitate this due to the demands upon rooms etc.

Also new batteries for the iMacs- it would aid matters if all the mac books would operate without mains power; I think this is currently being addressed

 I am also enthused about carrying on where Phil has left off, although I may have to do this on a slightly different basis.  My intention is to continue to use digital content creation, but not to produce e books for browsing on an an i-pad.  Instead to create a Keynote presentation with all the various digital elements. In so doing, I will ask the children to tackle SAT writing tasks and so therefore prepare them for end of Key Stage tests. This decision is based on the fact that the

The children really did enjoy using the technology and have achieved well.

iPads are due to be returned to the authority soon and so will be unavailable for the children to use. We are however, as a school, giving serious consideration to purchasing iPads as the potential for them is so great; especially in light of Apple’s recent free e-book authoring software release.

As a result of the project I am now able to identify areas of the curriculum which the Macs can appropriately support and as a consequence am now noting these areas in my weekly planning and so disseminating the learning. As each enrichment group passes, the project evolves and adapts. We are, as a management team now going to plan training opportunities for the whole staff, so that the use of the Macbooks can be widened and opened up across the whole school.


Summary by Trainer Phil Gregory

I found the project very enjoyable. The children were well mannered and showed a willingness to work and try new things. Everyone produced something, and the feedback was positive. The students have learned a new set of skills and have access to powerful media computers that allow them to create more dynamic and engaging schoolwork.
Like Mr Walford the continuity of the project was an issue for me, we had failed to anticipate the disruption of practising for christmas plays.  This set the project back in terms of time.  Any projects like this one really need continuity to help ensure embedded learning. the School staff were helpful and courteous at all times and worked hard to accomodate me.  They also showed great interest in the project and a great interest in using both the macs and the iPads.
My main concern now is to arrange training for the school staff so that they too feel fully comfortable with the macbooks.  By ensuring staff realise how the computers can enhance their curriculum, the training will be more relevant than simple overview CPD. I personally think that it is more important to engage in new “cutting edge” projects to ensure that the school is moving forward in it’s creative outlook towards I.C.T as opposed to just replacing PC functions with Mac Functions.   The macs are more versatile enabling the creation on media in a more seamless way. For student’s to be able to create media such as ebooks in school and then share them on idevices, is a powerful way of giving ownership of content to students.
The iPad loan scheme coupled with the use of Macbooks gives schools the ability to see new technologies in action and to assess it’s use in the classroom. Such technologies need to be supported with training though for them to be put to best use.
If you are interested in loaning macbooks and /or ipads or ipodTouches please get in contact.
Phil Gregory
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Phil Gregory

Phil Gregory is a Web Marketing Consultant. Specialising in SEO, PPC and Social Media.

Previously he worked in Education as an ICT Trainer delivering I.C.T / Audio/Visual solutions for Education and Business. Connect with Phil on Social
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