Free to Feed

This year I was unsure what to do for Ash’s birthday, I was searching and searching for an experience to do. Finally, I found it! A cooking class, but this was no ordinary cooking class; it was one run by refugees. The company was Free to Feed and is a non-for-profit run here in Melbourne to help set up refugees and asylum seekers with jobs.

There were choices about what type of cuisine you preferred, so as we eat a lot of curries I picked Sri Lankan.

The evening was run by a refugee named Niro who travelled for 3 weeks on a boat, ended up in detention centres on Christmas Island & in Melbourne to finally be here taking this class. His story was incredible but his happiness and positivity was something amazing.

He taught us to cook a few meals from Sri Lanka (his own recipes), the best part was at the end of the night we all sat down and shared the meal.

The pictures below speak for themselves. If you interested checked out their website and facebook page.

Barefoot Guide

Myself, like a lot of people have had issues with money along the way. Whether it’s debts, not knowing what to do, overspending or just not realising there is an easier way to do things.

Over the last 5 or so years I’ve found myself in peaks and troughs of having savings and having debts – largely in the way of credit cards, interest free and that sort of stuff that is deemed acceptable in modern society. However I never had money for what if something went wrong, or I felt guilty if I bought shoes (I very rarely did!).

But I found a way out

Continue reading “Barefoot Guide”

Best free iOS Apps to travel with

So, you are going away on holidays and you are trying to workout if there are any apps you should get before you go to make the trip a bit easier. Well, here are a few tools and apps that will help!

best-travel-apps

Continue reading “Best free iOS Apps to travel with”

5 Easy things to do with Google forms in the classroom

I am a massive fan of Google Forms in the classroom. It’s brilliant way of giving feedback to students straight away on assessments and also proving us insightful information straight away and showing any potential patterns.

Here is a list of 5 things that you can use Google forms for in the classroom to help save you time & make learning more engaging.

1: Formative and Summative tests

Forms is a wonderful way of creating pre-tests and post tests for students or exit tests. You can enhance it will extensions like Flubaroo to automatically grade the students work and email them the results. The students will love the instant feedback, and it will save you a night of marking! Try it for multiplication and spelling tests first.

2: Collecting Student information

At the start of the year its often nice to find out information about the students such as friends, hobbies and interests. Forms makes it nice and easy to do this, also its very easy to email it to parents for collecting contact information.

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3: Observations

When students are proving feedback to one another for talks or presentations, why not have a form open that helps score the students. Instant feedback and you can see a summary in one place. This can also extend to observations you may make about the students learning.

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4: Conversation starters

It may be a nice way of gaining opinions in staff meetings anonymously and having conversations about more difficult topics.

5: Classroom Surveys & Graphing

It’s a nice easy way of gathering information from your students for a task, it could be about likes/dislikes, height or anything else you can think of. Students can then easily work with this data to create graphs using Google Sheets

 

I hope you found some of these useful, give them a try and see how you go. What do you use google forms for?

 

 

Introduction to ChromeBooks

ChromebookChromebooks are becoming more utilised in schools, until recently I had thought them to be:

  • Underpowered
  • Limited functionality (who can do everything they need to do, within a chrome browser)
  • The next netbook (remembered those? If not, there is a reason for that)
  • Limiting a students and teachers ability to be creative.

Cheap laptops have been around for a while, there is nothing new about a sub $350 notebook running Linux, Asus built the EEEpc around 2007 in order to put laptops in developing nations. These took off around the world and formed the netbook category, however they were extremely limited in power, storage and the build quality was generally terrible not forgetting to mention the tiny 9″ screens.

Subsequently we wanted more from these and they began running Windows, either XP, 7 or 8; and did they slow down!

So here we are today, cheap notebooks running Linux again, in the shape of ChromeOS. But it’s different this time, the manufacturers seem to have learned from their mistakes. We have much larger screens (11″ – 15″), faster processors and a connectivity has developed around “Cloud Storage”, so having a 32gb drive is no longer limiting, not to mention the incredible battery life of up to 10 hours.

The ChromeOS is an operating system based off the open source Linux system, specifically Gentoo. It is ultra light weight and importantly very simple. Google have designed ChromeOS to be a simple OS to use and cause as few issues as possible. Essentially anything in your google account gets synced with the Chromebook, Google docs, Google Drive, Google calendar and Gmail amongst many other 3rd party apps.

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Like every modern OS, it has an App Store, in the way of Google Chrome Browser extensions. There are over 1 billion extensions in the store ranging from safe browsing to video editing, it’s these extensions which bring the real power and innovation to Chromebooks. The store leverages on a new technology called HTML5, this brings in greater integration between the user and web browser and also some new features such as offline website storage (so that apps can run without the internet) and the ability to stream video without Adobe flash (check out http://YouTube.com/html5 ).

Being based on the Unix OS, there are no known viruses, making them even safer for children and adults especially when paired with web filters and ad-blockers. You also don’t have the added expense of those costly anti-virus programs. Should you want to wipe the Chromebook, you can perform power wash which takes only a few moments and put it back to a factory state.

To login to the Chromebook, users just need to use their Google account (this is the same as your gmail login), parents can set up kids with their own accounts and be able to manage these through supervised accounts http://goo.gl/oFyk1c .

So when would you buy a Chromebook, and when would you buy a PC/Mac? Well, like anything it depends on what you do and need it for. The Chromebook is perfect for kids, grandparents and adults who just want a computer in order to access the Internet safely and are confident in using the Google suite of apps (Docs, Drive, Calendar, Gmail).

If you have large photo libraries, require the Microsoft office programs or rely on specific PC/Mac apps then this is probably not the machine for you.

Chromebooks can be a fantastic way to get students and teachers comfortably and safely using technology in the classroom, especially when it is paired with apps such as Hapara , where teachers can monitor students and ensure they remain on task. Chromebooks offer extremely quick bootup times and have lower maintenance overheads and fewer chances of issues arising, allowing your students to use technology when they need.

Whilst the Chromebook may not suit every school and you may be skeptical, I would definitely try one out and experience it.

You can read more about Chromebooks here https://www.google.com.au/chrome/devices/

 

Do you use Chromebooks at your School, workplace or even at home?

Podcast episode 2 – How to Create and Publish a podcast

Hi Everyone,

Here is episode 2 of my podcast. This week I take you through how to create a podcast using Garageband on your Mac and how to upload it to wordpress or edublogs and subscribe to it through iTunes.

I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it. Please leave any questions, comments or suggestions below. I love your feedback.

Stay tuned for how-to publish a podcast to blogger and recording on your iPad.

The links mentioned in the video are below:

http://feedburner.com –> for creating the feed to import into iTunes

http://edublogs.org –> create free education blogs (based on wordpress)

Links to Garageband on MacOSX and iOS

 

You can download Episode 2 – Create and publish podcasts

Subscribe to the podcast here on iTunes
Stay safe,

Andrew

 

Creative Burnout

It’s not uncommon for us to hit a wall and feel like the things we once loved we no longer seem to get enjoyment from, whether it be photography, design, studying or simply anything that you used to seek enjoyment from.

Creative burnout can often occur when one of a few things happen:

  • Stretching yourself too thin – Knowing when to say no to people or simply letting go of things can help here. It isn’t always possible to do everything & be everything to everyone.
  • Work – Your striving for  to succeed in your chosen career but your working harder & longer than ever before, is this smarter?
  • Not listening to yourself – quite often, I know I am certainly guilty of this, but not listening to your inner self and what it is you really want, this can go for anything from love, work, friendships & hobbies. You don’t need to fit the mould that you may have been placed into.  People do evolve & change, who you were does not necessarily mean who you need to be. Listen to yourself and be yourself.
  • Not taking time to relax – Working on that all important project for extended periods can cause you to become so fixated on the one task that you may lose track of other things that you want to achieve.
  • Health – not getting enough sleep or getting enough nutrients in your body
  • Doing the same thing all the time

By no means is this an extensive list, just a few things that I have come across personally.

Being able to overcome this burnout can be a long process and there can often be a number of steps involved so that you can get your groove on again. Here are  a few ideas to help get yourself back on track:

  • Take things one piece at a time, do you have a project or an assignment you are working on but can’t see how to do it? Make smaller micro assignments. Write the introduction or simply find the location for your next shoot and then another smaller task. It’s not so daunting then is it?
  • Look at some of your old work, your favourites, your not-so favourites. What do you feel when you look at them again? Do you still feel a connection? This might inspire something in yourself, maybe you deviated a bit from your style that you felt most comfortable with.
  • Explore other works, head to your local gallery or museum. Even if its something random that you normally wouldn’t look at. You’ll be surprised. Maybe in this different frame of mind you’ll see things in a different light.
  • Try something different, do you normally do street photography? Well maybe try something different like macro or nature photography or even finding little things that you normally wouldn’t see on the street. Go in with an open mind.
  • Take some time off and listen to yourself. Often we feel burnt out when we feel that we aren’t being heard by other people, quite often we can begin to do this to ourselves and not look after our own needs in an attempt to fulfil the needs of others. What would you like? It’s okay to look after yourself & listen to yourself. As you move through life, you & yourself are the only ones that will be there on your first day and your last day.
  • If you find yourself becoming in a bigger rut that you may have realised it maybe beneficial to talk to someone about it, whether that is a trusted friend or family member or a counsellor. Here is a link to more information http://www.beyondblue.org.au

Another option which has worked for me quite well is meditation, it isn’t as difficult as it sounds and doesn’t require a large amount of your time. Simply 10 minutes a day will help you think clearer and relax your mind. If you would like to try guided meditation here is one that I use myself http://www.getsomeheadspace.com.

 

 

 

 

iPhoneography

 The rise in iPhoneography has brought many new aspects to the world of photography that were never possible in the past such as processing images instantly, along with distributing images to millions of people in the press of a button.

Here are some tips for taking better pictures on your iPhone.

  • Always have your phone with you, for many people this goes without saying.
  • Using the volume button to take the picture, many people don’t realise that you can use the volume up button as the shutter release. This allows you to have two hands on the phone for better stability. You can also use the volume button on your headphones, great for selfies!
  • Avoid the digital zoom, this will drop the resolution of the image and increase the chances of a blurry picture. It’s better to crop in the post-processing.
  • Avoid shooting in direct sunlight as this can wash out pictures and affect the exposure, unless that’s what you’re chasing of course.
  • Tapping on the object that you are photographing will readjust the focus and exposure of the phone, you can often manipulate the exposure by tapping on different objects in the picture.
  • Regularly backup your photos to your computer, there are many options for this from local backups to cloud backups (I’ll do a post on this soon)
  • Last but not least, try something different! Your phone is probably the smallest most portable camera you have, this allows you to try new things.