Friday, May 29, 2015

HippoBytes HB132: Transitioning out of AISB

If you're moving on from AISB, you may want to take data from five services with you:

  1. E-mail
  2. Google Drive
  3. ownCloud
  4. Focus Online Course (Moodle)
  5. Elementary blog
Outgoing teachers will lose access to their Google Apps, Focus, and HippoID accounts on June 5. You can set up forwarding to preserve your school e-mail address, which will work until September 1. The following actions should be take to preserve your data before June 5, and in the case of copying your old school e-mail, should be done immediately.

Transitioning School E-mail

On the last day of school, you should set up a vacation message to inform people that you have left and a filter to forward any messages you receive to a new address. This message and forwarding will work until September 1 of the next school year, even though you will lose access to your account on June 5. Refer to these step-by-step instructions to set up a vacation message informing people you’ve left AISB, and these step-by-step instructions to forward all new emails to another account.

Then, you should copy all of your mail from your school account to your personal account (this step is optional if you don’t want to save anything). Follow these instructions to copy mail from your school account to a personal Gmail account, but when you get to this screen:

You should check the Archive incoming messages (Skip in the Inbox), and Label incoming messages in addition to the options shown on screen.

Note that it may take several days for your personal account to finish downloading mail from your school account - start this process asap!

Saving Google Drive files

(You could try putting all your files into one folder
and then downloading that folder
in one shot, but it might be too big
for you to download - that’s why we recommend
downloading each folder separately.)
You will lose access to your Google Drive account on June 5, so you should save your Google Drive files before then.

To save your Google Drive files, you should right-click on each folder you have in Google Drive and select Download. 

Then, you should put all loose files in Google Drive into a single folder, then right-click on that folder and select Download.

You’ll now have several .zip files in your Downloads folder containing all of your Google Drive files, converted to Microsoft Office format. You should store these on your personal computer.

Your Google Drive files will be assigned to your successor; they will be able to access anything you’ve done in Google Drive.

Saving your ownCloud files

You will lose access to ownCloud on June 5. Copy your ownCloud files to a flash drive, hard drive, or personal Google Drive account.

Your own ownCloud files will be deleted over the summer; all course materials should be in the Curriculum folder on ownCloud.

Saving your Focus online courses

You’ll lose access to Focus on June 5. Focus has a built-in backup function that will save your online course as a single .mbz file. This file can be imported into the Moodle instance of your next school. If your next school doesn’t use Moodle, it may be useful to take screenshots of your courses in a web browser so you can remember the resources and links that you posted.

After that, you’ll be asked to select which activities and assignments you want to include in the backup. By default, everything is selected, so unless you want to deselect individual items you should just click on Next to continue (the Next button will be at the bottom of the page).

To backup a Focus online course, go to Grades > Online Course
Choose Backup from the Settings box on the left side of your course.
The next screen will ask you what parts of your course you want to back up. Keep the default options and click Next.

After that, you’ll be asked to select which activities and assignments you want to include in the backup. By default, everything is selected, so unless you want to deselect individual items you should just click on Next to continue (the Next button will be at the bottom of the page).
At the next screen you’ll be able to choose a name for your backup. By default, Focus puts in an unwieldy name, so make it more user-friendly. Then, click Perform backup.
Focus will confirm that it has successfully created a backup. Click Continue.
On the next screen, you’ll see a list of your online course backups. Click on Download to download it to your computer.

Backing Up your Elementary Blog

You can download an archive of your blog posts by following these instructions; you can upload this archive to another blogging service to see your posts. Note that this will not back up images you've uploaded to your blog. After you leave, your blog will be assigned to your successor.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

HB270: Organize your Sources

The tidal wave of information on the web
can quickly become overwhelming unless you have
a strategy and tools to manage it.
Photo Credit: sorazu via Compfight cc
Even at its best, searching for information on the web can be a case of "too much of a good thing" - there are so many sources that you can't sift through them all. At its worst, web searching can be too much of a bad thing, with sources containing one or two useful facts but much more fluff. Making the research process collaborative can make it more manageable, and in this session we reviewed three free tools available that facilitate this.

First up is Pinterest, a social bookmarking service that lets you create virtual corkboards where you pin images and webpages. You can create a shared board that others can post to as well. This makes Pinterest good for class brainstorming projects and casually gathering research.

Diigo builds on the capabilities of Pinterest and is suitable for serious online research. With Diigo you can highlight and annotate webpages directly in addition to creating private groups to be used for collaborative research. You can also tag your sources to assist with organization.

Zotero is the most academic of the tools and should be used for research papers and other projects demanding thorough research across multiple media. It allows you to store sources directly from the web or add source information manually for print sources. You can add notes and tags to your sources and share them with a public or private group you create. Most importantly, Zotero integrates with Microsoft Word and LibreOffice to let you easily insert in-text citations and bibliographies and automatically format them according to MLA, APA, or other citation styles.


HB270 session notes

HB231: 2x2 - Two Models and Two Tools for ePortfolios

ePortfolios show you growth where grades and comments
just tell you about it.
Grades and test scores are useful because they distill diverse, complex measures of student performance into a single quantifiable figure. They are also misleading because they do precisely that. Tell me that a student is an "A" student or a "B" student evokes a picture in my mind of what I think an "A" or "B" student looks like, but that grade is several steps removed from a student's actual work. Report card comments go a bit farther in telling us what a student's performance is, but if you want to really show a student's performance then they should create portfolios.

EPortfolios can be a complicated topic, but they don't have to be. Broadly speaking, you'll want to decide whether you want to focus on reflection or achievement. In the jargon of ed tech, a reflection-based eportfolio is known as a "workbench" because it's where students post their work as they do it and reflect regularly (for example, weekly). An achievement-based portfolio is known as a "showcase" because it is designed to show the student's best work rather than the process. Of course, ePortfolios may take elements from each of these models.

Once you've decided on your model, you'll need to choose a tool. Blogger is great for workbenches since it's integrated with Google Apps and is focused on the kind of chronological posts that regular reflection requires. On the other hand, Google Sites are good for showcases due to ease with which the user can control the layout and content.

The session notes below compare the functionality of Blogger and Google Sites in the context of ePortfolios, and for more detailed resources refer to Dr. Helen Barrett's extensive site on Google Apps and ePortfolios.


HB231 Session Notes
Dr. Helen Barrett's ePortfolios using Google Apps site

Friday, April 24, 2015

Internet Filtering for Teachers Now Allows YouTube

Over the past week we've been testing a different way to implement two-tier internet filtering such that we can offer YouTube access to teachers while restricting it to students. We have now rolled out this solution to all teachers on campus.

This service is tied to the WiFi card in your school-issued laptop, and will not work for personal devices. Here's how it works:

1. You will need to visit to access YouTube (note the "s" after "http"). You should see the YouTube page load:

2. If you DON'T put in the "https://" then you'll see an error like the one below:

3. Similarly, in ClipGrab you also need to use an "https" address, not "http":
4. If you use an "http" address you'll get an error as follows:
Happy YouTubing!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

HB235: Creating Webpages with Google Sites

PowerPoint is the most misused tool in ed tech. How many PowerPoints have you see where the student has tried to cram all the information they know onto the slide, then completely neglect their speaking?

Don't get me wrong - cramming information into a product has its place in the classroom. Just not in Powerpoint. If you want to give students the opportunity to synthesize what they know in a variety of formats (written, visual, etc), then consider asking them to make a website.

HB250: Intermediate Video Production

Devices like tablets make it easy to shoot - but not to shoot well.
Video projects are fun to make, can assess students' content knowledge, and help them practice new skills.

Too often, they are also poorly done. The fact that having a phone or tablet makes it easy to film something does not also mean that it is easy to make a good video.

There are, however, easy-to-teach principles that will help your students shoot and edit great video. This session taught us how.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

HB131: Advanced Gmail, Hangouts, Calendar, and Surveys

For some, having Google is limited to sending and receiving emails (using Gmail) and maybe using Drive. Yet Google offers so much more to help teachers and students communicate and organize their time much better.

Gmail has features that makes it easier to organize and searching for emails. Hangouts (formerly Google Chat) is a useful communication that allows users to send quick messages to coworkers in real time, thus making it possible to communicate more quickly and easily than with email. Hangouts also has the added feature of group hangouts so staff meetings and discussions can take place wherever you are!

Google Calendar helps one to stay organized and to collaborate with others. And with Google Forms teachers can quickly create surveys to gather data or even make quizzes!

HB120: Powerful Presentations

Before we tell our students to write essays, we teach them to write paragraphs. Before we tell them to play soccer, we teach them how to handle the ball. Before we tell them to do a science experiment, we teach them about safety and procedures. Yet so often we tell them to do presentations without actually teaching them about how to present. And knowing how to make a Powerpoint is not the same thing as knowing how to present. In this session, we learned about how to create and deliver powerful presentations.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Working with PDFs

'PDF' is an acronym for 'Portable Document Format'. A PDF file contains one or more page images, each of which you can zoom in on or out from.

PDF files are especially useful when you want to preserve the original appearance and format of a document, especially when sharing working between different computers/operating systems. The The PDF file is designed to look the same on a screen and in print, regardless of what kind of computer or printer someone is using and regardless of what software package was originally used to create it. PDF files are also highly compressed, so that complex information can be downloaded efficiently.

Read more on generating and work with PDF documents.

Friday, March 6, 2015

HippoBytes HB130: Intro to Google Drive + Creating Slideshows for Blogs

This session focused on
Source: Gettyimages

  • how to use Google's free service - Drive
  • how to create  slideshows for blogs

About Google Drive

Drive's storage space (30GB for Google Apps accounts and 15GB for Gmail accounts) allows you to store files online and access them anywhere using the cloud. It also gives you access to free web-based applications for creating documents, spreadsheets, and more.

Because files can be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection, Drive eliminates the need to email or save a file to a USB drive. And because Drive allows you to share files, working with others becomes much easier.

✱  Note the difference between the old Google Drive interface and the new one
old Drive interface                                                                      new Drive interface

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

HippoBytes HB243: Digital Storytelling

A digital story about digital storytelling. Whoa, so meta. Note that this
digital story uses film rather still images, which won't be a good idea
if you have limited bandwidth.
Continuing on our theme of visual literacy, this session focused on how you can use video to practice research and citation skills, narrative or informational storytelling, and to provide students with an alternative, media-rich way to demonstrate knowledge of content standards. The vehicle for doing these things is digital storytelling, which strictly speaking is using a combination of images and voiceover to tell an aspect of your life story, but can be more loosely thought of as using images and audio to communicate an important message to an audience.

Downloading Videos from the Internet

ClipGrab is a cross-platform program for downloading web videos to your computer. ClipGrab works on almost every computer – Linux, Mac and Windows – and you can download videos off a wide variety of web sites (YouTube, Clipfish, Collegehumor, Dailymotion, MyVideo, MySpass, Sevenload, Tudou, and Vimeo).

How to Use ClipGrab:

  • Open up the ClipGrab application
  • Copy the URL of any video you want to download and paste in the Downloads window. If ClipGrab is already running, the URL will automatically show in the Downloads window.  (NB. For Youtube videos, you can use the Search window to search directly without having to go to Youtube in your browser).
ClipGrab - Download and Convert Online Videos_004

  • Select the video you want, then go to the 'Downloads' tab and select the desired format and quality, and click the button Grab this clip.
ClipGrab - Download and Convert Online Videos_005

You can determine the download location in the 'Settings' tab

Thursday, February 26, 2015

HippoBytes HB242: Digital Canvas

A poster created with Canva, which includes
many built-in elements like the red bars and
purple circle frame.
Writing is a critical skills for success. It's also important, though, to give students the opportunity to access content and show their understanding in a variety of ways, whether to keep weak writers engaged or to work on new skills such as visual literacy. The classic poster is an assignment that can be easily updated and extended to work with digital tools.

In this session, we went through three components of creating visualizations of knowledge (my fancy word for "posters"): finding Creative Commons-licensed images, learning and applying basic graphic design principles, and using a tool appropriate to the task.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

HippoBytes HB230: Using Blogs in the Classroom

A blog (a shortening of weB LOG) is essentially an online diary in which a person can digitally write their thoughts, opinions, ideas, rants, and so forth. The benefits of blogging with students are quite numerous. It is a great platform for teaching students to reflect and showcase their learning across grades and years. Blogging is also a good tool for teaching digital citizenship, to practice writing for an audience, and to get some extra typing practice.  In this session we learned how to help students create a responsible, reflective, professional and/or academic written online presence.

We used the following tools:
  • Computer or tablet
  • Google Apps account
  • Internet connection
  • A blogging platform: at AIS Bamako we use Blogger

Basic Principles

A blog post is basically made up of: a) a  title and b) the content area.

What Can I Do With A Blog Post?

In addition to writing text, you can insert images, audio, video and other documents into a blog post. These are covered in the session notes.

Useful Links

HB230 Session Notes; includes step-by-step instructions on how to get your students set up and started with blogging. Also includes a sample rubric for assessment of student blogs

Monday, February 23, 2015

HippoBytes HB241: Intro to Image Editing

You can do this in under a minute with Pixlr.
Image editing programs are an under-appreciated tool. When I wanted to join the Hilton health club in Kuwait under the married couples' rate, I was able to use Adobe Photoshop to create a marriage certificate by altering Barack Obama's (available online) to have my name and my fake wife's instead, saving me hundreds of dollars. There are numerous classroom applications as well, from creating posters to propaganda to collages. In this session we learned the basic principles underlying all image-editing programs, and applied those programs using the free web app Pixlr Editor.

HippoBytes HB261: All About Focus/Moodle Quizzes

Our Student Information System (SIS) is called Focus, and Focus includes a Learning Management System (LMS) called Moodle, which lets you build online courses or put some of your class online (we call both the SIS and LMS "Focus" at AISB, so students know Moodle as "Focus"). When you put some of your activities and content online but still have a regular class, you've made what is called a blended learning environment.

Start with categories in your
question bank, and then add
questions as appropriate.
In this session we learned the features of Moodle quizzes, a complex and powerful tool that can be used for pre-, post-, formative, and summative assessment. As a general workflow, you should be first creating categories based on your topics of study (such as "Stoichiometry" or "World War I") and possibly assessments (for example, you could have a bank of questions used only for exams). Then, create your questions in the question bank under the appropriate category. After that, create your quiz under the appropriate topic with the settings you want; finally, add random or specifically-chosen questions to populate your quiz.

Friday, February 20, 2015

HippoBytes HB260: All About Focus Activities

Our Student Information System (SIS) is called Focus, and Focus includes a Learning Management System (LMS) called Moodle, which lets you build online courses or put some of your class online (we call both the SIS and LMS "Focus" at AISB, so students know Moodle as "Focus"). When you put some of your activities and content online but still have a regular class, you've made what is called a blended learning environment.

In this session we learned about the ways that various activities in a blended learning environment can help you facilitate whole-class discussion, continue learning outside of the classroom, and have a permanent record of student participation. Additionally, we learned how using Moodle helps prepare students for college. Since millions of students take classes online now and more will in the future, being familiar with an online learning format opens students up to dozens of courses beyond what is offered at their school.

HippoBytes HB240: Digital Tools for Storytelling

Some important Common Core/AERO standards for writing are developing the ability to tell narratives and informative/explanatory texts and using technology to produce and publish written work collaboratively. In this HippoBytes we learned how to use Storyjumper, MyStorymaker and Google Slides to meet these standards.

Example from Eric Curts and the Apps User Group
We used the following tools:
  • A computer with the internet
  • A tablet or smartphone to digitize student work (by taking pictures of it and putting it in a shared folder)
  • A class account already created in StoryJumper
  • Google Apps accounts for your students if you choose to use Google Slides
While all of these tools can be learned by elementary students, expect a learning curve when you do it for the first time. Digital Leaders can really help you in this aspect, and the IT Cordinator can be on hand to help and demonstrate.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Promote global-mindedness and geography with #mysteryskype

Teachers often cite the diverse student body as an advantage of the international school environment. One way to extend our students’ global mindsets even further is to do a “Mystery Skype,” a game in which classes from two different countries each question the other to figure out where their partner is. It’s a great way to practice critical thinking, interpersonal communication, and geography, and it usually ends with both classes hollering and jumping up and down when they figure it out!

Monday, February 2, 2015


It may have been awhile, but Carrie presented about, a great website where you can input all of your lesson plans. Planbook is $12 per year, or $22 for two years.

The link is here:

To insert a new class, you go to the "Go To" pull down menu on the upper right hand side and select "classes"

You can add a new class, change it's color, start time and end times from that menu.

You can also use the "Go To" menu to "Make a Template" which will make every lesson have a similar format. This is a great tool for adding objectives and assessments to each lesson.

Here is an example outline for a lesson

You can add homework or notes or standards to your lesson from this page as well using the tabs at the top. Unfortunately there are no AERO standards yet, but if your next school uses a state standard or common core they are available.

You can also use planbook's "bump" feature at the bottom if your lessons go longer or shorter than expected. You can bump a day, week, or any amount of time. You can select if you want to shift lessons or simply replace the lesson that would be on that day.

The last thing on planbook that is really useful is under the "more" tab at the top, you can print your lessons to a PDF and share them with whomever you like! It makes writing sub plans or keeping your teaching assistant in the loop a little bit easier.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

See future class lists in Focus

Want to see your students for a future quarter? Select that quarter from the top-right corner of Focus,

select the appropriate class,

and go to Students > Student Info.

You'll see a list of students in that class in the main window.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Colour Printing at AISB (Le Campagnard)

Colour printing service is available to faculty/staff and students, and is located in the Tech Lounge. The printer name is Le Campagnard.

See below instructions on how to print to Le Campagnard: