UTB Newsletter - Issue 11 - 2020

  • Welcome from Samantha
  • Something to make you think
  • Something we think you'll like
  • Updates - Text Comments in Flipgrid
  • Tool Tip - Mac and accessibility
  • Google and Apple tips
  • Classroom Tip - Do your younger learners love frogs?
  • Website of the week - Maths Learning Centre
  • NZ PLD Update
  • Latest podcasts
  • Our latest free face to face training day
  • Join the UTB Team
  • Win a free online course

Thanks for bringing some joy to 2020...

Hey there from Melbourne, where we've just started re-emerging after our prolonged hibernation! It's been amazing to see the energy change in my community in the last few days - I never thought I'd get emotional seeing people sitting at a cafe eating lunch!!

Like all of you, the UTB team have had 'same same, but different' experiences of 2020. However, there is something that I know has sustained us all through the challenging times when 'normal' has seemed like a long lost memory. Our work with you.

Being able to connect with you, and continue to help you, through these times has truly been one of the joys of 2020. Thank you for that opportunity.

From us Aussie's - never underestimate how powerful a wave and a smile on a video call can be. We love to see your faces during remote training! From our Kiwi trainers, it meant so much to be enthusiastically welcomed back into schools the moment we could be.

Thank you to all of you who have come along to one of our events and had fun with us. Thanks to everyone who has shared kind words of feedback about this newsletter, our courses, their training experience - every little message has brought joy to us.

In turn, we hope that our work has brought you some joy in 2020! We hope that you have learnt something new that has made a difference in your classroom. But of course 2020 is not over yet (ha, not even close!!). So we have some more goodies for you lined up in this newsletter. Scroll down to check them out!

P.S. We've got a big surprise for you in the next newsletter. A little something we've had brewing that is just about ready to release....be sure to open December's edition to find out what it is!

Something to make you think...

Lockdown and beyond: Learning in a changing landscape

Have you been wondering just how COVID may have actually affected your students this year?

If so, then you might just be interested in this report. It looked at schools in the UK, US and Australia and presents a summary of original research into the disruption of the education system due to COVID.

It makes for some really interesting reading - check it out and see if any of it rings true for you in your classroom or your school.

What does it make you wonder? Share your ideas with us on Twitter (@Usingtechnbetter) or if you're part of our Facebook group you could share your thinking there.

Something we think you'll like

Create an AR journey of your life

One of the curriculum areas that often comes up across countries is the concept of 'then' and 'now'. How about using Augmented Reality to present this information using Keynote and Reality Composer?


Text Comments in Flipgrid 👍🏼

Flipgrid is one of our favourite tools. It's such a great vehicle to help your learners develop effective video literacy skills - and it's a lot of fun!

This month they have introduced a new update - you can now leave text comments on a video. You can choose to allow other learners to leave them for each other or just allow the teacher to do it.

At the moment it's public comments only, but apparently private comments are coming.

You can read more about the update here.

Tool or tip of the week

Are you using a Mac? Want to listen to text rather than read it?

Did you know there's a super-easy way to listen to any text be read aloud on a MacBook?

Simply open your Settings, then open the Accessibility options.

Tick the box that says "Speak selected text when the key is pressed'.

You can even personalise the keys you want to use for this.

Then it's just a matter of highlighting the text you want to listen to and pressing the keys you chose.

Give it a go! Listen to the next article in the newsletter instead of reading it. 👍🏼

Let us know if you'd like to know how to do this on other devices, we're all about using technology better. 😉

Google Tip

Preview another document from inside the one you're working on.

This has got to be one of our favourite updates from Google recently - being able to preview all the slides within a presentation without having to actually open it if it's linked in my doc..

Have you noticed that if another Google Doc, Slide or Sheet is linked within the one you are working, on you can click on the link (but don't open it ) and you get the option to preview it.

Click on the preview icon and it will open in a preview box to the right of the doc. If it's a presentation with multiple slides you can scroll through and preview each one. You can pop it out to its own tab from there if you want to.

This is such a great timesaver! If you haven't noticed it - give it a go. We're guessing you'll love it too 😉.

Apple Tip

Animation principles with Keynote

Have you ever wondered why some animation looks better than others? This graphic might be what you need.

Classroom / Lesson Idea

Do your younger learners love frogs?

Here's a fun Level 1 maths activity that is focused around counting frogs.

Read the story and then help your learners count the frogs, make sets of frogs and even tell stories about frogs.

There are lots of ways you could tie this in with other learning - and the activities suggested involve a bit of computational thinking as well.

If there is anything in particular, you would like us to help you plan or something you would like ideas for - just ask us here.

Website of the week

Maths Learning Centre Home Learning Resources

Image from Apple Learning Center

If you haven't discovered the Maths Learning Center then we strongly recommend you do so (after you've finished reading our newsletter of course 😂)

They are the wonderful people who created the series of maths apps that work across all platforms and allow your learners to 'show' what they know. In fact, we're sure we've probably shared them before - but this month we also want to highlight their very useful 'Maths at Home' page. While it's intended for helping parents it's also great for in class.

There are teacher resources linked and if you want to link an activity for your learners to use straight from the web, it reads it out for them - making the learning accessible for all.

You can filter by grade (but keep in mind it's American year levels), and it even gives possible solutions.

NZ PLD Update

The final round of PLD applications for 2020 closed in early October. Thanks so much to all the schools that we worked with to submit MANY applications! We are hoping to start hearing back about allocations of hours from around the 10th of November.

If you are a NZ school and haven't heard about how simple it is now to apply for PLD funding from the MoE - please get in touch with us! We'd love to help you put an application together to submit in the next round, which closes on Feb 19 2021! If you get it all prepared now it will mean one less thing to do at the start of the year.

Team UTB can't wait to hear back from all the lovely schools we worked on applications with. We're even more excited to get out and support your team to improve their digital fluency, integrate and embed technology meaningfully across local curriculum, and just have a whole lot of fun while we do it!

UTB updates you may have missed

LearnBytes episode #5 – Suan Yeo: How decluttering can help your efficiency & productivity -

In this episode: Samantha is joined by Suan Yeo, Head of Education for Google Australia & New Zealand.

In his race against the clock, Suan shares how his thoughts on how decluttering your life and your mind can influence your efficiency and productivity. We also hear how collaboration, teamwork and knowing when to ask for help have had a big impact on his efficiency and productivity.

LearnBytes episode #4 – Helen Palmer: Why you need to be a leader to yourself

In this Episode: Samantha is joined by Helen Palmer, the creator and founder of SelfUnlimited – a fresh perspective on how to navigate the world of work.

In her race against the clock, Helen shares why we need to be a leader to ourselves. We also hear about how managing perception versus reality and having the wisdom to know when you can’t change something have been her biggest leadership lessons.

A discussion with Christine Jackman about noise and it’s implications on life, work, and learning – Ep 23 - In this episode Blake sits down with Christine Jackman to discuss her book ‘Turning Down the Noise.’

Join the UTB Team as a trainer!

We have a few training opportunities to join the UTB training team in Australia and New Zealand.

We're keen to hear from people who may be interested in full time, part time or casual work with us.

If you are a passionate educator, digitally savvy and keen to explore training options fill in this form to express your interest. We'll get back to you with more details!



We love getting your feedback about ideas you've used from this newsletter or from one of our training sessions!

In fact, we get such a kick out of it that every fortnight we want to give someone who shares the love a free online course of your choice - valued at up to $300!

All you need to do is a share a photo or video of an activity that was inspired by something we shared with you (could be from face to face, online training or the newsletter), with a quick caption telling us what's happening in it!

Here are a couple of ways you can share...

  • Share it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and tag us in with @Usingtechbetter, #utbSHARE and #utbPD
  • Not on Facebook, Twitter or Insta? No worries - email it to us at support@usingtechnologybetter.com and we'll share it out on our social media


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Created with images by Jordan Wozniak - "burn bright." • Allef Vinicius - "Woman smiling in flower field" • Thomas Park - "Kindergarten boy looking at laptop computer during first day of virtual learning online school." • Tobias - "untitled image" • Domenico Loia - "Ugmonk . Grovemade" • Zdeněk Macháček - "Red-eyed Tree Frog" • Annie Spratt - "Child completing maths homework" • BAILEY MAHON - "Close-up of man taking pictures with his Sony camera at the beach. Follow me on insta @bailey.shoots" • bruce mars - "office"