Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Fun with Image Chef

I introduced the Grade 4's to Image Chef today. - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

A fun site is where one can create, and publish to blogs or other social networking sites.

Today they had to come with a poem, their own or another, and use the 'Visual Poetry' link on Image Chef. 

Visual Poetry -

When their poem was done, they just wanted to test all the other fun activities on the site!

Here are some of the FUN THINGS they created! - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

Customized Soccer Jersey - - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more 

Beach custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more - 

Looking forward to finding new ways to use this site! 

Sunday, 13 November 2011

World Adventure

The Grade 1's have spent the last 6 weeks learning about different parts of the world.

Their teacher has focussed on culture, attractions and food that they eat. It's been a lot of fun watching the little ones arrive on a Friday, with their suitcase of clothing suitable for the climate they are travelling to. Hearing their shrieks as they 'take off' in the aeroplane. You guessed it, their seats are in airline style!

I pop in now and again to photograph the excitement and am often greeted with the lovely sight of food being prepared in the classroom, like pizza for Italy, and most recently, the frying of hamburger patties for USA.

These are the things that memories are made of!

They are following this up in ICT, sourcing Clipart pics of the world, learning to use WordArt for the names of the countries they visit, find the flag and identify sights and food from these nations.

This map I made for them as a visual illustration to show them the distance they have 'travelled' in the last while. It's done on Tripline, which is a wonderful interactive mapping site and very easy to use.

It would be a great tool for older students to use themselves.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Grade 7 Voki's

This week, I decided it would be a fun thing for the Grade 7's to make their own avatar using

Since they are the first Grade 7's going through the school I thought it would be fun for them to create an avatar with a message to the Grade 1-6's giving them some advice or a parting message.  I decided not to tell them how to use the site in the traditional manner, but instead, using Jing, I created a screencast of the instructions which they viewed and followed.

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

It worked like a bomb - and I think I shall teach them how to use Jing next!

Here is an example of one of their final products:

It was great watching them work it out, discover different images and voices, and enjoying the activity. I was thrilled with the outcome of their Voki's and already have ideas where I can use this with other classes.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Saturdays Teachmeet

I was pretty brave, I feel, by accepting an invitation to put my name into the hat for the pilot Teachmeet in our area. I thought about the things that I had being doing in the last couple of months and wasn't too sure what I wanted to do. 

I happened to read Mark Brumley's blog about Flipsnack and immediately thought that I would like to share that.  I know this is fairly simple and not part of a lesson that I had prepared, but I saw, from an administrative point of view, for a school, what promise this tool offers.

Here is a quick Step-by-Step guide on how to upload to Flipsnack.

It's "flipping easy" to use and I have been uploading for a couple of days now!
Here is an example of how the finished product can look.

Flip your:
  • School Prospectus,
  • Curriculum Documents,
  • Any other documentation that you could upload to your School Website instead of a plain PDF

At the end of each year, why not collate all of your School Newsletters and create a "Yearbook" as I have begun to do here?

The end result is a beautifully bound book that looks like a work of art.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

The French Revolution

I only have to teach this lesson in a couple of months, but am having such fun preparing it. I think that one learns more in preparation for presentation than one learns in the receiving of it. A teacher is an eternal learner no matter how one looks at it.

I have been plotting a virtual tour of France to add another dimesion to the Module. Having been to Paris, I have seen it at street level and am enjoying flying around it in the "Birds Eye View".

My idea (which may change later!) is to introduce the Module by watching a YouTube clip about the Revolution and the reasons for it.  I think it will add an extra dimesion to the lesson if the learners can see the size and opulence of the Palace and its gardens, and take a stroll through them before actually beginning with the content.

A Bird's Eye View of Versailles
 I found this fabulous site Google Art Project that allows one to take tours through museums around the world and the Palace of Versailles is one of them.

Inside Versaille on Google Art Project

The Memorial of the Bastille

I have created a wiki for them to work on together, and expect them to write a paragraph on:
  • their impressions of the Palace,
  • what life was like there,
  • what the nobility was like,
  • how did it compare to the life of the lower class, and
  • why the revolution happened - in their own words.

I also expect them to upload a photograph or two of the Palace onto the wiki with their paragraph.

I have no doubt that the ideas for the introduction of this lesson will evolve before it is actually delivered, but this is my starting point - for now! 

There will be more to come!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Story Writing

Wow, times flies when you are online and flying through resources!  I found so many lovely story writing sites, but these two especially caught my eye.

The first one is Word Tamer - it is visually a very pleasing site with a real feeling of adventure!  You have a 'live' narrator who guides you through the process of your story.

You can choose:
  • your character's traits
  • their hair
  • their eye colour
  • their size, etc.

You are then led on to jot down information about your character:
  • where they live
  • what they like
  • what they don't like
  • who there friends are, etc.

You can choose a few words to incorporate into the story too.  I think that I will try this with my older children this term!

The other one I liked, I think may be more suited to younger children, but, having said that, I felt like writing something seeing the funny combinations that popped up!  This is from Story Starters.

  • Enter your name
  • Then pull the "SPIN" handle
  • Each section comes up with an idea
  • If you don't really like the idea, you can press the button in that section for a "Re Spin"
  • From there you select the format you want your writing to take: "Notebook, Letter, Newspaper or Postcard"
  • Begin to write
  • There is also a space for budding illustrators should they wish to add a drawing
  • Print!
So often children's stories are tied in with their favourite movie, or TV program, even their characters are, at times, a re-hash of a character that they already like.

This is why I love these ideas. I feel TV has had a negative impact on our imagination and so I like the idea of re-engaging imagination and fantasy - We will be surprised what our children come up with, I am sure!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Global Peace Movie

I recently read this post which invited Primary School learners from around the 
world to take part in a Global Peace Initiative by submitting a short movie clip on "What peace means to them".  The organisers then take all the submitted clips and blend them to create a "Peace Movie" made by children.

"What a great idea!" I thought, and promptly passed it on to our Grade 4 class  teacher who was equally as enthusiastic.  I emailed the organiser, expressing our interest - and directly began receiving updates and correspondence from them.  Today I took their photo's and helped them record their messages, the class teacher had taken the video clip, and I put the movie together with the music... and then we submitted it!

This is our first time working with other schools around the globe, and one thing I know for sure is that it will not be the last! 

Looking forward to seeing the finished product!

Friday, 9 September 2011

The E-Beams are in!

Happiness for everyone!  Much enthusiasm and am loving their zeal to just dive right in.  Staff training is ongoing as required but begins in a couple of weeks time - but it didn't stop our teachers from getting started!

Learning - fun for everyone!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Todays Meet and Peer Assessment

The Grade 7's have just finished a project on "Disasters". It was a combined assignment between the myself and the Class teacher.

They had to choose 5 disasters that had occurred anywhere in the world. One of these had to be chosen to make a movie of in ICT - the movie had to be accompanied by their Oral. 

Over a period of 4 weeks they:
  • Discussed the difference between a natural and man-made disasters
  • Learnt the importance of a bibliography / crediting your source
  • Sourced and saved information and images
  • Imported images into Photo Story 3
  • Customised the motion of the images
  • Did transitions of images
  • Added their key points
  • Recorded their orals
  • Saved their projects

The final step of the Oral is for it to be viewed and assessed.  As well as the Teacher assessing them, I set up a "Todays Meet"  for the class.  They will need to make a positive observation, a constructive criticism and comment on something that they learnt from their peers oral.

* * *

Today this all happened and it was FANTASTIC!  Their orals were great but even better was their reaction to "Todays Meet"!  Needless to say, I have had to promise them that for their next ICT lesson, we can make use of it again! 

Today's Meet is really easy to use, literally takes a minute to set up and you can choose how long you would like to keep the room open for. The learners viewed each Oral, then made their comments and were able to view one another's comments in real time.

I printed out the Todays Meet transcript. It was given to their teacher and they were able to go through it and the learners could see (a) what they did well (b) what could they improve on (c) what did people learn from them.

It was a great success and the Class teacher has asked if we can incorporate this into the Curriculum for next year.  Will be fun to think of another project using this tool that they will feel enthusiastic about!
 Adding their comments
 What a great lesson that turned out to be!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Tagxedo in Oral Presentations

The Grade 6's are busy doing a project on tribes of Africa.

They have been split up into groups, according to the tribe they chose, and apart from having to do the academic research of information, they will have to submit a movie clip as part of the project.

The movie clip will be done by each group. One person in the group will be the interviewer, one the videographer and two will be dressed as members of their tribe. The interviewer will have pre-prepared questions to ask the tribe about who they are, where they lived, their lifestyles and other interesting information.  The movie will then be downloaded, edited by the group and later watched by the class.

There is also an individual Oral required by the learners - for this I will be using Tagxedo to help them with their prompting rather than cue cards.

Tagxedo is such a user friendly site and a really great Word Cloud can easily be made in a lesson with options of Themes, Fonts, Colours and Shapes - it really allows for the child's creativity to be seen.

The beauty of Tagxedo as a prompt in an Oral is the feature of putting your cursor onto a specific word (Koisan, tribes, locations, etc) and it will automatically become the dominant word - acting as a heading and reminding the learner of the information to be covered.

The Word Cloud can be saved online anonymously and the URL saved to retrieve the work when desired.

I'm looking forward to watching this Project unfold! I think it's going to be good!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Songsmith - a new best friend!

I recently downloaded Songsmith in my ICT lab and today a couple of my Grade 7's, who wanted to practise for a guitar item they are going to present at Assembly, asked if they could come and use it to see how they sounded.

Of course, I love that they want to experiment, so in they came! I carried on with my work but every now and then I took a quick pic of them.  I think I may be in love with this and will have to find an excuse to let some of the classes create adverts / jingles / songs.... anything!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

The E-Beam

One of the things that I was most taken with at Conference was the fact teachers in the classroom were making use of technology. Things like cell phones, camera's, mxit, interactive whiteboards, Skype and so much more.

It was at this point that I realised what I always knew was missing. The use of technology shouldn't be limited to once a week for an hour at "Computer Class" but, because the learners are so digitally wired, the way that we can engage them and make learning enjoyable for them, is allowing them to be active participants in their lessons.

On coming back to school, I shared with our Head and Board why I was so excited about everything that I had learnt and the technology that I had seen at work. I organised an E-Beam demo with the teachers and later with the parents. I think I would be correct in saying that those present were as excited as I was by the end of the demo!

The E-Beam

The upshot of this is that:
  • We will have 2 E-Beams fully installed in each of the Phase Head classrooms. The other classes may "book" those rooms if they would like to use it until we can put one in each class
  • Our training takes place in a month's time
  • The Headmistress and the HOD of each Phase are all attending the EdTech Conference, overwhelming evidence of their commitment to change the way of teaching and of learning.

We are committed to education and are working together to create an enviroment where learning is interactive, engaging and fun!

It's the beginning of a wonderful time of learning for all of us: Teachers and Students!

Ancient Civilisations - Egypt

The Grade 5's have been busy with Ancient Civilisations this term and were required to present information on Egypt which would cover certain criteria.

As a way of doing something differently we decided to let them source some information and photographs and then record their information using Photo Story 3.

Since it was the first time the class would be using Photo Story there was a fair amount of nerves involved when they heard they had to record themselves speaking and then that the entire class would hear it too.

Prep prior to lesson:
Sourcing information and pictures relevant to use as an example of what is expected of them.

ICT Lesson 1:
  • Play the example to give them an idea of what they are aiming to achieve
  • Source pictures from Bing / Google Images
  • "Save picture as" in their designated folder
 ICT Lesson 2:
  • Import their saved pictures into Photo Story 3
  • Use the 'transitions / customising motion' to set up their pics in the correct order
 ICT Lesson 3:
  • The practise round of narrating: This was necessary, not because it was difficult, but because they got such a kick out of hearing themselves, some in a good way and some not so much! It was necessary for them to have a chance to get all the hijinx out of their system - the following week would be 'head down and narrate'.
 ICT Lesson 4:
  • This week, it was all systems go - the narrating went well, the children knew exactly what to expect and were able to really concentrate on their orals.

 Last week Mrs vdM brought the class through to the ICT Centre to assess and view their presentions. I was really proud of their first project done in Photo Story - and, the children really enjoyed it too!

"Direct & Indirect Speech"

The Grade 4's are looking at Direct and Indirect Speech in English at the moment. Mrs V, the English teacher and I decided to incorporate this into ICT to change the way it is usually done.

I've had fun thinking about how to make this into an enjoyable experience for the class as well as introducing them to some new ways of learning. This is the project that I have come up with:

"The story within the story"

Prep prior to the lesson:
  • I found a couple of lesser known Aesops Fables/Cartoons on You-Tube, saved and converted them.
  • Open in Windows Movie Maker. Take "snapshots" of the screens that carried the heart of the story
  • The snapshots were saved into a named folder
  • I printed out the screenshots to have available to the class

ICT Lesson 1:
  • Play the movies through for the class without any sound
  • Talk about facial expressions, body language and gestures
  • Look for the story
  • The children were asked to choose which Movie Clip they would like to "adopt" to add speech to.
  • They each got a sheet of the printed out screenshots.
An Example of Printed Screenshots

In Class:
Mrs V put them into groups, and during class in their groups they have to "find the story" and write it down in "Direct Speech". These will all be done during their English classes.

ICT Lesson 2:
  • From their screenshot folder, open each picture in Paint and add Speech Bubbles
  • Save each picture
  • This will take a couple of lessons.

On conclusion, we will watch each Clip with the sound and see if anyone "found the story".

ICT Lesson 4:
  • Import their edited and saved pictures into PhotoStory 3 (or may try Little Bird Tales that I have recently been made aware of)
  • Teach them about editing, transitions and customising the motions.
  • They will then narrate the story in "Indirect Speech"
  • This will take a couple of lessons

ICT Lesson 6:
These will be uploaded to the School Blog as well as possibly publishing as podcasts.

(Naturally credit will be given to the original authors and those who uploaded the clip to You-Tube.)

* * * * *

So far, the children are really enjoying this project and it is going well!

What I like alot about this project, is that it lends itself to working in groups to agree on a storyline, what will be said and how it will play out. It also allows discussion on looking at things like facial expressions, body language and gestures, and how to interpret them.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Beginning of a Grand Adventure!

In June this year my life changed.

Maybe it would be more accurate to say that the way that I work changed. I attended a Conference where I met Educators and ICT 'guru's' faaaaar ahead of me in this journey. I felt slightly intimidated actually, and completely out of my depth. However, what I lacked in knowledge and experience, I think I made up for in passion and enthusiasm!

The week of workshops were fantastic. I heard about tools and apps that I never knew existed. I met people who were trying new ways of teaching and I wished that some of our Staff were with me so that they too, would feel as inspired as I.

In the months since the Conference, I have been trying frantically to check every resouce and link that is tweeted or blogged, with the result that I have had little to no time for anything else!  It's taken a few months, but I have come to realise that one cannot implement everything that one learns immediately. So I have decided to focus on a few new ideas and do them well, rather than rush around like a wild woman, trying to do everything at once. It's not a pretty sight!

This is pretty much how this Blog came about. I needed a place to 'record'  the ideas that I have heard about and loved, but may not necessarily have time to pursue right now. In this way, I won't lose anything, it will be here when I am ready for it and in the process, perhaps I can inspire others to try something new with their classes.

So, I am not expecting to be cutting edge here - I am following the cutting edge ICT people!  You will find ideas I have had from them, and some lessons I have tried, and possibly failed at, things I have learnt in the process and plenty of enthusiasm for the task.

This is the Baby-Steps Blog.... and one day maybe I will wake up with a huge shock, and realise that I have grown and am cutting edge!

In the meantime however, I am just excited about the journey!

So, then, let's take that first step.