Replied to Athole on Twitter (Twitter)

“@johnjohnston Why do you do a daily Teams meeting? Are they all class Teams? Do you do 1:1s too? I do a daily video message , 2 whole class video meets and two 1:1s a week. As well as all the video feedback. I’m just curious and comparing.”

Hi Athole,
Good question. I am not sure. It is the pattern I’ve fallen into. I put a weekly post of learning ideas up on our blog. The pupils respond on their e-Portfolios, occasional e-mails and in our Class Team.

I put the audio of the weekly post up.

I’ve a class of 24 p4-7, so 8 to 11 year olds.

We only have one team, we had not used Teams much before this. Just an an example of a chat app really. We used e-Portfolios a fair bit (WordPress, Glow Blogs).

I am trying to get some interaction with the class, give them some fun and encourage them to keep engaged. I’ve heard from some parents that it is motivating.

I’ve only had a maximum of 15 pupils in a meeting. I think some get bored and drop out. The environment for them all is different both physically and digitally.

During the meeting I work through a few different areas, usually look at a poem, have a quiz, do some ‘number talks’. Based on a powerpoint. It takes a lot of prep.

Our teams lacks pupil video. Which might be a good thing.

No 1-2-1s I’d not thought of that, nor heard of anyone doing them here?

I’ve not seen any local or national guidance here, so just trying things out and seeing how they go.

I’d be keen to talk about this more and obviously need to think more too.

Replied to Andrew Bailey on Twitter (Twitter)

“@johnjohnston @IanStuart66 @breadalbanebus How do you do this John? For the uninitiated.”

Markdown is a simple way to create html. I’ve found it useful it Teams. You can type it into a post editor and it is rendered as you go. Unfortunately from my pov posts in teams breaks if you paste in Markdown. But in the praise box you can paste in markdown and it renders on the published post.

For example **bold** *italics* [twitter](https://twitter.com)

is rendered:
bold italics twitter

I’ve got a wee script on my mac that will grab links to all my open tabs and make markdown from it so I can open all the pupils posts, copy all the links and paste into a praise thing.

Daring Fireball: Markdown

Notes to self as I try and teach myself to teach remotely. See More lockdown learning for some sort of background.

I remember when Apple Keynote came out I really liked it. For me the interface was simpler than PowerPoint and the files took less space. Now I am making a daily PowerPoint for our class meeting I’ve notice the file size situation is reversed. Exporting a keynote to PowerPoint is resulting in a smaller file.
I am still using Keynote as I am quicker and happier with the simpler UI.

For our meetings I am making, for me, quite long, 20 – 40 slide presentation. I get the impression that leaving out transitions and keeping them simple speeds things up. Pupils sometime get a blank screen, some of them have found that opening the chat and closing it sorts that out. I guess forces a screen refresh.

I try to keep the meeting moving along, were are doing an hour a day, covering a few different things each day. Given primary, age 8-11, I can’t expect a lecture to work. Getting the pupils to respond with voice as much as possible. Sometimes in turn, sometimes fire-at-will.

I am only getting around half my class of 24 turning up most days and imaging this would be more difficult with a class of 30.

A few more details on how I got Minecraft education running as a “server” on my Mac. More a note to self than anything else.

I am pretty much a complete novice when it comes to Minecraft, I’ve never managed to get up much enthusiasm for computer games of any sort. I have used Minetest and Minecraft Edu in my class a few times and it is certainly an engaging environment for many of my pupils 1.

Given that Microsoft extends access to Minecraft: Education Edition and resources to support remote learning and it works with Glow accounts it seemed worth a punt to set up a server. I had suggested some tasks for individual use, but didn’t seem much sign of action.

So this is what I did:

I updated to the latest version of Minecraft education edition.

I read some documentation, I found some of this a little confusing mostly because I followed a link to help with Port Forwarding. Mentions of X-Box and different ports to open confused me. It seemed to be selling some software to help. Turned outto be a lot simpler.

Back at the bottom of How To Set Up A Multiplayer Game – Minecraft: Education Edition Support was all I needed.

You also may need to forward port 19132 on your router. Forwarding ports is useful because it can help to make your network connection more stable and sometimes even faster.

  • Forward Port 19132 TCP AND UDP.

What I had to do was to add a Firewall rule to my router to open these ports. I’ve got a BT hub so I logged on through the web interface, found the Firewall setting and added this. I have done this before for Raspberry Pi reasons. I guess different routers have different interfaces.

On testing with some of my class half a dozen tried to get in, and one failed. The others sometimes took a while to get connected but seemed to be fine once they started. It is hard to figure out why one failed when you can’t see what is going on, it could be a typo on the email address!

I don’t intend to do too much to start with, open a World Up and set an open ended task of some sort (design and make me a Minecraft classroom perhaps). I’ll see how it goes. I am finding just preparing for one hour of conferencing teaching it taking up a lot of time.

I’ve also not much idea about the security issues around this. I wonder too if it will handle more than a few pupils, we certainly had trouble in school with multi-play with more than a few pupils in one World.

1. I found that some of the activities were fun and helped with learning, but it took a lot of classroom time which seems hard to justify given I struggle to fit things in, might be an advantage now.
Replied to Susan Ward on Twitter (Twitter)

“You could be forgiven for thinking that everyone on here is super productive, highly adaptive and smashing the home learning thing 24-7. They’re not. They are eating Wagon Wheels and panicking just like the rest of us. Give yourself a break- you are doing the very best you can.”

This needs to be hoisted high and shouted loud. I’ve no children at home to care for, am being reasonably disciplined, confident with tech and I am finding this is taking way more thought and time than I could imagine.

Replied to Athole on Twitter (Twitter)

“I’m very concerned about the stream of stories about safeguarding issues with Zoom. The dangers of a ‘free tech tool.’ My grade safeguarded student video conf participation (adult in room etc) but the software itself seems fundamentally flawed. Thoughts / suggestions?”

I wonder about Etherpad which I just found out has video. Free, but without the problem of “commercial free”.  Not sure about security cc @johnmclear

Zoom seems a bit of an ethical & security disaster but I think there are plenty of other worries around equity of support, environment and devices.

Etherpad being open source is certainly a positive.

Ive used etherpad in the past, a quick test of the video version shows it works fine on iPad and iPhone. A moot point for me as I think North Lanarkshire will be instructions us to use Teams.

In a primary setting I think there is a lot more to think about around video conferencing, at the moment I don’t think it is a golden bullet for our current problems.