Garpel Water

I’ve just changed the front page of my blog.

For the last few years most of the posts I write have not made it onto the front page, ending up in the status page instead. Now everything is going to the home page.

At the end of 2014 I started experimenting with some IndieWeb technology on my blog. In 2017 I started using the beta version of micro.blog, this meant I was posting on a wider variety of topics with lots of short status type posts.

I decided to keep these off the home page, reserving that for posts categorised as wwwd posts that were longer and about ‘Teaching, ict, and suchlike’. I added a status link to my menus along with a photos page. Now I’ve move back to everything on the home page.

As time went on my blogging has branched out to include recording the books I’ve read and films I’ve watched and other things. Some, not all yet, of my tweets and some of my replies to other blogs are now posted on this blog and auto post to twitter and the blog I am commenting on. I manually post the same photos to instagram as I do here and Bridgy brings back my comments to the blog.

I am not exactly breaking new indieweb ground her or even pushing very hard, but I am enjoying expanding my blogging, pulling in content posted elsewhere is the past and bringing my digital life a little closer together. I’ve changed the Status menu to Articles in case anyone is only interested in longer, likely educational, posts. As I blog more I see my blog as primarily for me with some added benefits from sharing.

Featured images, my own, the Garpel Water in Ayrshire an meandering stream.

As I’ve mentioned before we use Apple Notes a lot in our class. If the class are writing, unless there is a need for formatting or layout, I often ask the pupils just to stick to notes.

Notes are easily AirDropped to me when I need to collect work and both pupils and myself can organise them in a fairly simple manner.

Occasionally I want to print the pupils work. Notes, reasonably enough, only lets you to print one note at a time. I wondered if there was AppleScript that would help. I found Export Apple Notes via AppleScript which exported a folder of notes to a new TextEdit document. I altered it to:

  • Allow you to choose a folder from Notes.
  • Export to an html file on disk.
  • Provided page breaks so that the notes would each print on their own page.

Not particularly pretty, I guess I could work on the styles a little.

You need to be in my lucky position of having a mac in your classroom. Mine uses the same account as my iPad which helps me organise thing a lot.

Here is the code, I suspect it could be improved. Even if you don’t use AppleScript is easy enough to run. Open the AppleScript editor, create a new script, paste the code below in and hit run. You will be asked to choose a folder and then name an html file. The file will be created and opened with your default browser.
You then can print.

I’ve been having a wee play with the p5.js web editor.

p5 .js is a JavaScript library that starts with the original goal of Processing, to make coding accessible for artists, designers, educators, and beginners, and reinterprets this for today’s web. Using the original metaphor of a software Sketchbook, p5 .js has a full set of drawing functionality. However, you’re not limited to your drawing canvas, you can think of your whole browser page as your sketch! For this, p5 .js has addon libraries that make it easy to interact with other HT ML5 objects, including text, input, video, webcam, and sound.

I’ve occasionally dipped my toe into processing and found it good fun.

Over the summer I’ve seen a stream of tweets and instagram posts from Tom Smith which got me interested in p5.js.

I don’t really have much of a clue but have had a bit of fun. Especially when I found you can use a library with p5.js to export gifs. The feature image on this post is one made by my sketch: Classy bramble skulls 4. This one has a background image, some animation, the mid-ground, the sleeper and computer and then the window frame which are drawn. If I had though I’d have used 3 image layers sandwiching 2 animation ones. Early days.

There seems to be a ton of learning material available and it is easy to duplicate interesting p5.js sketches to edit and play around with. (The school holidays are not long enough;-))

Screenshot of microbit app

Since returning to the classroom I’ve been using micro:bits with my class of 8-11 year olds. We have had a deal of fun with them, some of this is on the class blog.

We normally use pc laptops and chrome to access the MakeCode editor. In the second year I tried using the iOS app but out of a class only one or two children managed to get their micro:bits connected. At the time I put this down to multiple micro:bits and iPads in close proximity.

I have occasionally tested new versions of the app and the most recent one seemed a lot better. It displayed the webpage code editor in app and flashing seemed simpler. Today wanting to move our micro:bit guitar project on when the PCs were in use elsewhere in the school I decided to give the app another run. I am very glad I did. Everything about the app seemed to be better. I think that coding and flashing to the micro:bit for an iPad is simpler than using a pc. We had no problems in getting code written and flashed to the micro:bits.

I’d highly recommend the app if you have both iPads and micro:bits in your classroom.

I’d also recommend the Microsoft MakeCode Guitar project. I’ve been working with a mixed age group class and the mix of tech and ‘art’ fits very well. Some of the younger children are getting their first experience with coding and the art and construction can keep them motivated when the coding concepts get tough.

A test of snapthread which has been updated to version 2. When I tried the 1.8.1 version I rather liked it. It was then an app to stitch live photos into wee videos on iOS. Version 2 adds a lot more features. I still like it.

This video should not be used to judge the quality of the output, I used ‎CloudConvert to squash the 38MB 1440 × 1080 mp4 down to 4.5MB 1.

My class used the free version, limited to 30 seconds of video, last session a bit, we had a few crashes, but I think it is a promising app. Ease of use, limited time of the free version and lack of stickers, for now 2, are useful for the classroom. My class use iMovie and Clips too, but sometimes we might not want the greater complexity of iMovie or the wacky possibilities of clips.

Unfortunately CloudConvert doesn’t work for me on the school network, I’ve tried a few apps that convert and squash video but no really found a good one for pupils to use. I would like my pupils to be able to do that, to save space on their blogs and to speed up uploading. I am not sure on the official line on posting to silos in North Lanarkshire. Social media, especially twitter, is very popular. That is staff rather than pupil posting, I’d like my pupils to be involved in the uploading of video to their e-Portfolios and the class blog without my interference.

For Glow Blogs, I’d also like the app to change the file type to mp4 or m4v as .MOV files, that are apples favourite, don’t play nicely with all browsers. We made a change to standard WordPress functionality to accept .MOV files as video, but some browsers don’t play them. Strangely, just editing the file extension, from .MOV to .m4v works, at least for Chrome. I can’t find a way to change extensions on iOS but I’ve tested on the desktop.

FWIIW Snapthread’s videos are .MP4 when exported to the camera roll, so only need squashed for my needs.

  1. Thanks to Martin Coutts for the pointer to CloudConvert
  2. Snapthreads developer has a really interesting post about the development of the app: Journey to 2.0: Market Appeal | Becky Hansmeyer

I’ve found Office Lens useful over the last few year in class. It is a good way to get some text into a document for editing. The workflow for me is a wee bit clunky, snap on phone, open app, upload. Then either open in word or switch to desktop and open from OneDrive there when it syncs.

Today I found OCR.space a free online service. I gave it a quick try on my phone.

The first attempt failed, I had to edit the photo to B&W and brighten it a little (as per screenshots above), but the results were impressively quick. There was no swapping back and forward between apps.

I’ve tried a multi-column image too using the same image I used back in 2015 with office lens. The results are just as good and fit my preference for text I can copy as opposed to a document I need to open.

Here is the docx Office Lens converted, and here is the OCR.space one, from This image, I had to shrink it a bit to get under 5mb for ocr.space, I don’t think Id need to do that iif I was going straight from the phone when the image would be a smaller png.

I hope to give ocr.space a test in the real world next term.

I’ve also found dictation on my phone a great way to get documents into text. Reading someone elses words seems to work better for me that thinking up my own as I go.

I found ocr.space via OCR Shortcut : shortcuts on reddit, butI’ve not tried the shortcut, the webpages seems quick enough.

A few children in my class need a bit of extra support in literacy. On a course at the NLC literacy base I was shown the idea of scribing sentences and then cutting them up. The result could be given to pupils to sort out on a wee board with slots and then optionally copied into a jotter.

Given my poor handwriting (unless I really slow down), difficulty in keeping resources organised and liking for digital I had a go at making a virtual version.

The first iteration just presents a field, typing a sentence and hitting return produces mixed up words to drag around. I’ve been using that for a couple of months.

I’ve then improved things a little by making a system to create links to that page that will have a particular sentence already created. Example

I’ve been sending these links out via Airdrop either directly on a few together in a note. I though I might make the page creation a little easier and also add a QR code creator: Mix Up Maker – Make a Cutup sentence or story..

I can then add the QR Codes to my pupils programs. These pupils have daily task sheets put in their jotter.

I am depending on the QR code API and the TinyURL.com API.

As usual the code in there is a bit of a mess. I always think I’ll tidy these things up, but rarely do. I need more time than I seem to have to really learn JavaScript so I continue to type and test.

The gifs above are made with LICEcap which does a great job of creating short gif ‘screencasts’.