Connecting Students During Distance Learning

In Term 2 2020 we found ourselves in the middle of online learning, looking at how we could celebrate our Jewish festival, Yom Ha’atzmaut through self-directed learning.

Earlier in the year Mount Sinai College ran the Apple Teacher course and our team was looking at ways to integrate and utilise the skills we learned in order to enhance their distance learning experiences. We decided to create a Choice Board using Keynote linking slides to integrated Clips and Screen Recordings featuring some Snapchat filters (hey they’re kids!).

These videos were created so students could receive instructions, support and scaffolding to follow along at home. The Choice Board featured a range of activities – from recipes, quizzes, dance competitions, photography and singing competitions – enable the students to choose activities that were relevant to them and show their creativity to their peers.

To make it as accessible as possible while parents – the Choice Board was hosted on iCloud Drive and we shared it as an icon on the students’ iPad to make it easy to download at home. The accessible nature of the iPad meant that the collaborative, self-paced and self-directed learning opportunities offered were usable by all the children from Years K-6.

Hear our teacher Morah Michelle describe the process.

Here is a sneak peek into what we created!

Learning Language Through Film Making

In 2020 as schools had returned to their usual routine, our Hebrew team was looking at ways we could increase student collaboration and integrate Hebrew in authentic and interesting contexts for our Year 6 students. We decided to create a film festival within our school, with the whole of Year 6 creating videos in teams. After a vote from the staff and student body, the winning film would progress and enter the MLTANSW Linguafest Film Festival. The requirements of the competition included a special item (a Rubik’s Cube), as well as for the language to be entirely in the foreign language.

We began our journey introducing students to Apple Professional Learning Specialists who focused on enhancing and further developing their film making skills. Sessions were held teaching students about crucial filming techniques including shot selection and mood, the method of storyboarding through Keynote as well as and editing techniques using iMovie.

Below you can see some pictures of students practicing their camera angles and becoming familiar with microphones in one of these sessions.

WIthin Keynote, students used their Apple Pencils to create drawings in order to storyboard each scene to be filmed. Below is an example of one group’s storyboarding – detailing the camera angles for their film production, used as a guide and scaffolding tool. What was really impactful was that due to Keynote’s sharing abilities the group was able to delegate scene drawings and all collaborate and participate ensuring each student was engaged and had a role in the story design.

Through this project students were able to work collaboratively and explore the various skills within their groups – many developing a passion and appreciation for film making (outside of TikTok). Additionally, students were given a creative outlet and authentic purpose for using the Hebrew language.

The video below shows an example of one group’s final creation.

The MSC Competition was voted for by the whole College with prizes for Acting, Comedy and Drama, Use of Technology, Use of Hebrew, Props and Costumes and Storytelling.

Whilst our school sadly missed out on prizes within the MLTANSW Linguafest, our students became the real winners as they worked together to create such incredible projects.

In this video – Morah Michelle shares about the Film Festival Creation

Creating a Reality Composer “Walk Of Notables” For A Parent Expo

As a part of our “Day Of Notables” Expo we wanted to arrange an activity that parents who were visiting could experience on their own iPhone – that reflected the students’ chosen “Notable” Australians and their achievement.

Here’s a video of our final project, built using Apple’s “Reality Composer” Tool:

The Creation Process

Reality Composer seemed like a terrific tool to do this – it’s a tool for creation of Augmented Reality experiences that can be viewed on people’s own phones and iPads.

Reality Composer uses a system called “Anchors” to define what the project is “Anchored” to. – It has the ability to hang things on the wall, or “float” in the middle of the air or link to an object.


Working with the Year 6 teachers, Amanda Eisman and Hannah Apfelbaum – our initial prototype included a design that would hang along the wall of the entry way in the College. In this case – two of my daughters and my dog and their notable achievements. Tapping the bars below the picture frame made the “Notable” explain what they had done. 

We tested against walls in the College, including glass walls – Everything was working well but the wall we hope to align against wasn’t flat – it’s a series of wooden logs and then a wall – so it wouldn’t anchor:

Reality Composer wasn’t going to anchor to some logs as a vertical surface… so we had to pivot

This just meant we came up with something better.

We chose anchoring to the floor instead and making it a walk past the items. –  This also meant we could better socially distance people and give them a great experience – getting up close with the interactive items.   As they tap or got close to the people in the picture frames – the children had summarised their achievement into something their character could say in a first-person sentence.

Each notable is in their own “Picture frame” and we added images of their notable.

To create the row and line them up more easily – Amanda and Hannah grouped all the items for one picture frame together including the picture and its animations and then duplicated them – then switched to using a top-down view and moving the group back about 1.5metres. We had to allow for a slight slope on our College entry way but this is easily done when all the animations were grouped together.

Sharing With Our Community

Parents did have to download the Reality Composer app ahead of time because this became a very complex model. We would have liked to have used Reality Composer’s “USDZ export” which would have meant it worked without an app at all, however once they had the Reality Composer app  – we could just AirDrop the project to their phone or device and have them push “Play” and they were off.

They were super-engaged and it was fantastic watching them gaze in amazement as they walked up a virtual parade of their children’s “Notables” before entering the Hall and seeing what else their children had created…

Using Keynote animations in a History lesson

This past week we were thinking of ways of helping our Year 4 students better share their knowledge around the journey of the First Fleet –  which were the 11 ships that started the British colonisation of Australia in 1788.  

They had been documenting the legs of the voyage and had researched some facts about what happened at each stop from both a story book and other sources. The students had been writing them down in their books but our Year 4 teachers wanted a way they could share this information in a fun way in a lesson where we were building their technology skills at the same time.

At Mount Sinai, we use Apple’s Keynote early – starting in Year 1 filling in pre-created templates. However we start to introduce the animation features later- so Keynote came to mind as a handy way to represent this information in a visual way.

I made up a quick cheat sheet on some of the Tools to help the kids remember where things were, and I ran a lesson showing the students of the features around adding text, shapes and how to change them:

Most of the kids were familiar with these elements which was great, so we moved onto the components around animation which was new. Most people start with animating text, but we wanted to move items around. We demonstrated animating the items using the Motion path, which is a great way to show the path of the journey.  In the end the students recorded a series of steps – with shapes being added of the fruits, vegetables, animals and storms the fleet experienced along the way.  All of this ended up being a single slide within Keynote, and a sequence of animations and shapes sharing the steps.

Using Motion path (and a Jiggle action when the ship hits a storm)

Some of the students ended up with 30 steps in a single slide – with the fruit and vegetables “jumping” into their boats along the way:

The students used the “Export” feature of Keynote to make a Movie which they shared with each other and their parents online.

We had to spend a little time explaining how timings work in Keynote -including making this quick guide: When exporting from Keynote there are different behaviours depending on how they have setup their animation timings:

But in the end we ended up with some fun videos sharing the outcomes along the way:

In this video – the students added Christmas in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Our Big Collaboration – Year 2 Science Project on a Global Scale

Term 1, in Science, Year 2 were learning all about the Earth, its resources and the weather. They were also engaged in a very special global project designed to help them answer the ‘Big Question’ – “How is the weather different, in different parts of the world?”. 

Harnessing technology purposefully, Year 2 educators created a conduit for MSC students to reciprocally share their learning experience with other young students from all over the world.

It all started with a word – ‘collaboration’ – and the desire to elevate the value of the learning efforts of the children. Three days after recording a “pitch video”, Ms Sims reached out via the MSC educational Twitter account and other social media – 11 interested schools responded, from Israel, Ireland, UAE, USA (Arizona and New York), New Zealand and Victoria!  

A Keynote slide deck was created by Mrs Bitterman to give each school a place where they could capture observations about weather in their location and share their predictions and reflections – a collaborative science journal.

Six international schools participated, posting videos introducing their class and the area of the world they come from, gathering and posting their own daily data about the weather and sharing their reflections in our collaborative Keynote deck. 

Year 12 students from Marymount School in New York volunteered to participate in the project as our ‘experts’, answering younger students’ questions about all things science and weather, via a video response platform called Flipgrid.

We had an amazing time with this collaboration. We can’t wait to embark on other international projects in the future!