Friday, 29 November 2013

Apple in Education Awards 2013 - the winners! #iPadlearningZA

The 7th annual Apple in Education Awards 2013 arrived on Wednesday. It is designed to award excellence in the classroom. But it does more than that. It challenges the teachers and learners to excel in being creative in their use of technology to enhance their own learning.

I love seeing the finalists and the winning entries! But I must mention that I think that each of the entries in the competition deserves to be mentioned, and especially the teachers who have made a special effort for these kids to be able to take part!

I see this as a positive step towards a future in education where we will be able to address imbalances in the standard of our education, compared to the standard of education globally. The winning entries showed that government schools that implemented the same technology were on par with the private schools!

A few interesting facts, figures and announcements were made:

  • The second edition of the Education App guide has been launched, and there are over 100 000+ education apps that are available to use.

  • ZA Books have now over 1500 South Africa titles 
  • There are great apps that are free on new iPad purchases: iWork productivity apps: Pages, Numbers and Keynote and iLife creativity apps: iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand.
  • From Grade R - Grade 12 have submitted entries in this competition.
  • There are entries from 32 subjects in the competition.
  • 56 schools have submitted entries.
  • 783 projects were entered.
  • The judges were independent from the schools and the learners.

Donnay Torr announcing the winning entries for
the Curriculum Projects Grade 5-7
I had the privilege to be a judge in the category Curriculum Projects Grade 5-7 with Donnay Torr and Karen Walstra. It was very difficult to decide on the winning entries, because the entries were all very creative and innovative. Luckily we had a list of criteria to measure and compare our marks of the different projects.

Grayston Preparatory School winning entry being shown

The winning entry from Grayston Preparatory School deserves their win!

The iTeacher of the year from Gugulesizwe Primary School (I missed her name, unfortunately!) successfully introduced her learners to using the iPads as a way to introduce English as the language of learning and teaching in the school. 

I am sorry I don't have more information about the other winners and about the learners. I was hoping to find some more information about this competition on the web, but so far it has not been made available.

Congratulations to all the enthusiastic teachers, and especially the creative students! 
The students are showing us that there are no limits on education! 

Give them the tools and technology, and they will embrace it with enthusiasm and with positive results!

Related posts:

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Shopping is good for me, says my Fitbit Zip

I got a nifty Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker in the beginning of this month, and I have been checking my steps since then.

I think I have become more mindful of walking, and have seen how much I can increase my steps when I change daily things in my routine, like taking the steps, or parking further away from the mall.

Even though I am working in an office, and having to sit down the whole day, I am able to increase my steps by just making some adjustments during the day, and to not use the lifts when not absolutely necessary.

The day my daughter and I went for a shopping trip to the mall, I had no problem in making my daily quota of 10 000 steps.
I got the badge to show for it!

I love checking during the day to see how much steps I have taken.

I tried attaching the Fitbit to my feet while riding on the stationary bike, but it doesn't work. But you are able to upload extra activity on your profile.
I have my Fitbit account on my computer which syncs automatically when opened, but would have loved if I could have used it on my Blackberry or my iPad2.

This is a great gadget when you are trying to increase your activity rate!
Watch me!

The tech details:

Tracks steps, distance and calories burned.
Upload wirelessly via Bluetooth to earn Vitality Points
Tracks progress with graphs, charts and other tools
Access your free account with free Mac and iPhone apps
Log food and more with online and app tools
Realtime data uploads makes competing with friends easy
Recommended Retail Pricing is R899.00  
                                                                            - Core Group

Disclaimer: I got this gadget as a thank you for being a judge in the Apple in Education Competition Awards 2013

Friday, 22 November 2013

Things to learn at university

I am so proud of The Student. She has successfully completed her second year at varsity. It has been a busy year, but she did it!
Done and dusted!

She blogs about the things she has learnt in these two years, and I thought it would be good to share it here!

Millenium Lady: Things I learnt at university: "There is no guide on what to expect when going to university. Unfortunately, some lessons I had to learn the hard way..."

Thursday, 21 November 2013

A 60th at Stone Cradle

There was a recent 60th birthday in the family.

The family organised a surprise event at the Stone Cradle restaurant, and it turned out to be a very lovely venue, close to the Rietvlei Nature Reserve and Centurion.

It is lovely to have a buffet of enormous varieties with a view over the landscape. There was sushi as starters! Guess where we got stuck?

Little Missy was very impressed with the table that was arranged for all the kids

Table arrangement

The grandchildren entertained their grandfather

The surprised birthday man!

Entertainment at the venue
(great for a Sunday afternoon)

Two other well-known twins, Daniella & Caitlin of The Little Train that CAN-fame
celebrated their 8th birthday as well!
Speeches for a man that makes a difference!

Lovely to end the Sunday afternoon with a downpour of rain!
We will be going back!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Finals and end of the year

I am sure everybody is busy with endings and final sport days and end-of-the-year events!

It is hectic! And we have just one little one that's keeping us busy...

Little Missy had her Sport(s) Day at school on Saturday. I liked the fact that all took part, and they all got a chocolate (most important!) medal after completing 10 items.

Little Missy enjoyed the hurdles the most. She lined up for a race with the boys as well.

She also had her end of year gymnastics! It seems we will continue with it next year! She has been enjoying it. Not like the previous year where we had seen a number of melt-downs of a reluctant gymnast...

I love the end of the year! It is great to be able to look back at the year, and thinking that you have made/accomplished it!

I am also very proud of The Student who finished her second year at Varsity.
She is waiting for a final mark, but it seems she passed all her subjects!
Now the students have nearly three months of holidays!


Friday, 15 November 2013

Nintendo 2DS - a great Christmas present

I was invited to a Nintendo 2DS launch a while back. I was intrigued as I am not a gamer, and usually get bored after a few tries with a new game. Although I personally think it is great to be into gaming, and that I usually look at gamers with a little bit of awe.

I accepted because I thought this would be great to check out for a Christmas present for the Little Missy. Her birthday and Christmas are around the corner, and this year we haven't decided yet on what to buy for her...

The Nintendo 2DS is part of the Nintendo 3DS family, and all the games and features of the 3DS are also available to the 2DS, minus the 3D viewing. The rest of the tech details can be Googled in a jiffy. (It sounds awesome to a layman like me.)

"Work is catching up with the way we play." 
"Love it or hate it! We are always "on"!"

These two quotes are true of the times we are living in!

I was surprised at the many features that are already available on the Nintendo. It is great that it connects over Wi-fi and updates automatically. Every time I have played with it, I have discovered a new feature. I welcome the idea that there is a lot to discover. I know that it will keep Little Missy busy for years to come. (Mom as well...)

It has a two-sided camera, and a sound recorder. And a shop. And settings that allows parents to ensure that their children does not incidentally opens up it up in unwanted websites...

Little Missy immediately gave us some Miekanese when playing with it for the first time.

  (Warning: the sound is a bit loud when switched on)

We also got the Mario Bros game with it. That is one of the most well-known games, apparently? Now I won't go all blank when Mario comes up in conversation, as I did previously. Mario is keeping us busy already!

The games are going for R79, which also makes it great future presents that is not heavy on the budget.

The Nintendo 2DS is available for R1500 in the South African stores. It is not that cheap, but compared to other gaming consoles and tablets on the market, it is a reachable amount as well as a durable present. It does not break when it there is an accidental fall on the floor. (Big score!)

I am telling my friends about the Nintendo 2DS to consider as a Christmas present this year!

Disclaimer: We got this Nintendo 2DS to play with, with a Mario Bros game included.

Related post:

Wordless Wednesday #203 - Nintendo 2DS keeps 'em busy

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

How you roll on your way to classroom

Little Missy inherited her sister's old BBM smartphone.
She is very impressed for being able to jump between icons, and typing rows and rows of "messages".
This morning she had to show her teacher her phone, and was very "occupied" on her way to the classroom.

I think I spotted a few raised eyebrows, or maybe it was just me?

But don't worry. There is no sim in the phone, and I took it home with me! :-)

Monday, 11 November 2013

A party at the Color Café

Little Missy was invited to a party at the Color Cafe in Hyde Square.
It is such a lovely venue for a girl's party.

All set for ceramic painting
The girls started out with enthusiasm painting their fairies, but it dwindled after they realised that each colour had to be repainted three times!
That's where the mothers stepped in. (With much more enthusiasm!)
It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday morning, while the girls had a ride on their scooters and played with their balloons.

The birthday girl at the far end of the table

Ceramic painting

The colourful table

Mom's Little Missy's creation
(A kind lady from The Color Café painted in the face afterwards)

The Color Cafe


This was a lot of fun for the girls, and Little Missy can't wait to get her painted fairy. It needs to be collected afterwards.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Book Creator great for learning and fun

Moshoeshoe Primary School pupil presenting her ebook
created on Book Creator

An app that came up during the visit by Fraser Speirs about the use of iPads in schools, is the Book Creator app. It is one of the apps that is part of a suggested learning set of apps being pre-loaded on mobile labs of iPads in schools in South Africa.

Moshoeshoe Primary School is an example of a school that has implemented iPads in their school through corporate sponsors and iSchoolAfrica. They use Book Creator very creatively in the English Second Language classes.

We also played with the app. It is a lot of fun for own personal use, or maybe for that book you always wanted to write. Little Missy dictated her story to me while I recorded it. I could add the video in the book, and wrote the rest of her story, with photos attached to it. The first book is free, and after that you have to upgrade to create an unlimited number. At $4.99 (about R37) it is not a huge amount.
We will be making more...

The creators of Book Creator picked up on my mentions of Book Creator in previous posts, and asked me to write a guest post.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Horrorwood at Brightwater Commons - we were missing that smile!

We went to the yearly Halloween event at the Brightwater Commons. Everybody was dressed, and there was lots of fun activities.

Little Missy could not wait for it, and was asking each time we drove past there in the year.
It finally happened, BUT she was in a bad mood. All the waiting and the excitement and choosing her outfit from her cupboard and talking about it...

 (It is difficult to be nearly 5! "sigh")

We could not get her to smile! She kept telling us that she is shy!
At the House of Horrors (we did not go in there)

Trick or Treats at all of the shops
There were crowds
Where's the smile?
I think we will skip it for next year, or maybe when she turns five in a month the tantrums will dissipate for good? (Please!)

We made a booking before the time at one of our favourite restaurants, Babylon Again, and that went down very well. We watched the people walking by in their costumes, while we had a lovely evening dinner!

Related post:

Monday, 4 November 2013

Apple in Education Competition Awards 2013 coming up #appleined

The yearly Apple in Education Competition awards is happening at the end of this month. 
I was extremely honoured to be asked to be a judge in one of the categories. 

The aim with these awards is to reward creative use of Apple in teaching and learning!

I was expecting to see great projects, because I have seen the previous year's winners at the Apple in Education Awards, but I was blown away with the creativity! Again!

The venue was at the stunning new iLounge in Juta Street in Braamfontein.

Thr iLounge has a great view of the city with Mandela Bridge.

Each category was judged by 3 people. Each of us sat with all of the projects in a category, and gave our own marks and notes on each of the projects. After that we went through all the projects again, and it was extremely satisfying to see that the individual thoughts concurred to select the best three.

The children in the category Gr 5 - 7 mostly made projects in iMovie, and we had one Keynote presentation to judge as well!  It was so inspiring to see what they are able to do!

I can't wait to see the projects of the final winners in all of the categories! The projects come from schools all over the education spectrum; from government to private schools.

It made me excited again to think that this type of technology are helping - and should be implemented more - to level the educational standard in South Africa!

I wish we could put this in all of our children's hands!

Related posts:

- Why iPads? #iSchoolAfrica

- iPads at Moshoeshoe Primary School - changing the South African education landscape #iSchoolAfrica

- Chosing iPads for your school - Fraser Speirs

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