Sunday, 9 December 2012

Khoisan Fables! Done.

The term is finally over and holidays are here!

Before I put away all things to do with school, let me show you at least one of the San Khoi fables that I told you we were doing. I was so proud of my class, they did a great job!

This turned out, as I expected, to be a lovely project.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

My Own Fable

My Grade 5's are busy studying the Khoikhoi and San tribes at the moment which I always find to be so  interesting. I decided to do something different this time with them and I am beyond excited about it - in fact I think I am going to do it myself!

Every second week in Assembly throughout the year, we have concentrated on different character traits that we would like to raise our children with. Things like humility, perseverance, diligence, selflessness, tolerance, patience, compassion and so on. I thought it a good idea to combine these into the final project for them this year.

I read them a couple of Fables (short stories with a moral), and then surprised them with a "package handout". In this handout was their brief which consisted of a template booklet with place for pictures & text, a written brief of due dates, and a character trait they had to use. 

Their task is to write their own Khoi San Fable using the moral they were given. For example, make up a story where the moral is "It is better to be diligent than lazy". We talked about how, in Fables, even trees and flowers, beetles and butterflies can have voices and personalities. They were encouraged to be creative with their story. It had to embrace the lifestyle of these people groups.

They have to conclude it with a poem of their own writing, titled "Tribe".

Little Bird Tales had been such a hit with the Grade 2's that I was amped to use it with the older grades. So I decided that their fable and illustrations will be done using this. They will be done in rough first, after which they will draw and type it into Little Bird Tales and narrate it. From there it will go to their Wiki which acts as their Display Board for their family and friends to view.

I would love (next year perhaps), to join together with other schools and create an online book where we all write our own fables that are indigenous to our countries and their people - and put them together and maybe Skype to read them to one another and have a Q & A time about our stories.

That will have to wait for next year... because this year is flying by so fast I can barely catch my breath!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Creating your own Blog

Today is DAY 1 of Innovate 2012: Schools' ICT in Education Conference which is hosted by e-Schools Network.

The weather decided it would be spring. This may sound odd, but considering that recently our weather was uncertain of the season, it was a welcome surprise to have a lovely sunny spring day.  It was just as exciting to see all the eagerness around in people who were coming to share and learn together.

Today I felt privileged to present a workshop here and I was so looking forward to sharing my experience as a blogger and how it has changed the way I teach.

I promised those who attended the workshop that I would upload the presentation for them - so here it is. It was lovely to meet you all today and I look forward to reading your blogs one day! Tweet me to read them when they are up and running!

Enjoy! If you need any help - feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Little Bird Tales

I finally got around to using Little Bird Tales!

I was so looking forward to it and it didn't disappoint me or the children. 

The Grade 2's had listened to the story of The Cricket and the Ant in class and they had to write their own abridged version of it. Once they had typed that up, they drew pictures to match their story.

After that, they narrated it and I uploaded it to their Class Wiki.  I really encourage teachers to use Little Bird Tales, it's so easy to navigate and simple to use. It also just adds so much more to story writing than merely opening a lined page and doing it the traditional way.

Here is an example of one of the childrens work. Click on the Cover to view!

Have fun!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Our Intro To Glogster

Most of this term has been taken up with a fun Olympic project. How can one ignore this international event?

I involved Grades 4 -8, created an Edmodo group for them, and set up a project where they needed to source information about the Games, their origin and history. They also had to select an athlete and create a "Profile Page" on them and upload it to Edmodo for their friends to see. They had to watch their athletes events and record a radio broadcast as though they were reporting it live.

They really enjoyed this and it was fun seeing how everyone's enthusiasm was stimulated by who their friends supported.

The project is just finishing off now and as a 'finale' I have introduced them to Glogster.  Glogster is an interactive Blog/poster/pinboard in which you can upload photo's and video's. You can also do audio/video recordings.  You can add your own page backgrounds and animated graphics. The limit to its creativity is halted only by your imagination.  I think I had as much fun learning about it as I had teaching it to my children.

Here is my example that I gave them.  Enjoy experimenting with it yourself.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Adventures in Storyjumper

This term has been so hectic that I haven't had much time to update my Blog. This doesn't however mean, that nothing has been happening! On the contrary, we have had a great ICT - filled term!

One of my favourite things that we did this term was for Bookweek.  Traditionally, the children are able to come to school with their books, blankets, pillow and a toy and are given 'free reading time'. They also use this week to choose a poem, which they learn to recite to their class and 3 from each class are chosen to recite their poems to the school. This week has much more to it, but this is not the point of this blog!

What I did this year that I am so excited about because it worked really well, was to pair up a Grade 5 with a Grade 7 learner and use Storyjumper to write a collaborative story for Bookweek.  They didn't know who their partners were and, until they sat down at their PC, they didn't know what the story was about that their partner had started.

The site is user friendly, easy to open the account and simple to set up a class.  It gives you the option of either choosing one of their story starters or creating your own. 

You are also given characters, backgrounds, random pictures that you use to make up your story. Adding /editing the text is simple for even younger learners. It gives options for Parent Codes to allow the students to work from home and not only under the guidance and time-range of the Teacher.

I had one pair that got so into it, that they ended up writing volumes! I decided to upload it to Flipsnack to make into one easy reading book.

All of their work was uploaded to their Class Wiki's for easy access.

The 2 Volume Flipsnack...

They really enjoyed this activity and I am keen to do it again - perhaps with a school in another country.
That would be awesome!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Wonderful Wordstash

A friend recently introduced me to Wordstash.  It's very easy to sign up for and just as easy to use.

I have introduced it to my Grades 4- 7 already and will be introducing it to our Teachers early next month. My desire is that the Teachers will bring their classes into the ICT Centre and allow them to create their lists each week, and the learners will be able to log on at home and either use the site to assist in learning or else create their own lists.

Another thing I enjoy about Wordstash is that it also automatically gives various definitions of the word, and allows you to either choose which definition you would like, or, alternatively, to add your own. In this way, the child is not just learning how to spell a word, they are also learning the definitions of each word.

One also has the choice of adding an image to the word. The site automatically sources images from either Wikipedia or Flickr for the learner to choose from.

When playing, they are presented with a variety of games and ways to test their Spelling.

Another way that this site could be used is just for learning definitions. I am thinking specifically of things like in English that one needs to know for language or poetry.

Flashcard Stash

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

A Wonderfully Techy Term!

I feel so spoilt to have had such an exciting first term!

Do you remember this post about World Maths / Spelling and Science Day? Well, we took part and it was fantastic.  The Science Day didn't work too well as the site took very long to load, but the fun that we had on the other two days made up for it!

Then, this post about the Cultural Exchange Project was written when it was merely a plan within a plan. We are now well into it and its been going so well. We are looking forward to continuing with it after the holidays!  Today, we loaded the story of "What we did on the weekend" into Little Bird Tales! What excitement - so much of chattering. One very busy Grade 4 class - but they were stars!!!

Reading the points our Partner School posted
about themselves to us.
Then we had a nice surprise email from an International School in Switzerland to ask if our Grade 2's wanted to Skype Video Chat with them. Of course we thought that it was an amazing idea and said "Of Couse!"  They were studying Seasons and we had a list of questions from them to research. They asked us these questions and our children each had 2 turns to answer them.  The Grade 2's were very confident and we were very proud of them.  I learnt a couple of things about Skype video chatting though, more about the set-up and where to place the camera/screen. It was a learning experience for me and I loved it. I can't wait to connect with other classes around the world. 

Waving Goodbye after our Chat!

I am thinking that our Grade 7's study Natural Distasters in the 3rd or 4th term and maybe trying to connect them with classes in areas that have tornados or hurricanes or earthquakes. It would be interesting for them to create a list of questions to ask them.  Anyway - watch this space for that!

What a wonderful term!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Fabulous Timelines

The Grade 8's are going to be busy with the Industrial Revolution from next term. I love history and so have had great fun using Dipity Timeline as an example of what they will be creating in it. If you view this in Dipity, you will see that one can use videos, photo's, music and sites to enahnace your Timeline.

I have loved using it, although on the odd occassion various dates seem to default back to 1969! Not sure what that's about, but after some perseverence, I hope I have it sorted out.

I am looking forward to teaching it to them - and seeing the results of their work!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Cultural Exchange Project

We are back at school and the year has began in earnest. The new Grade 1's have completed their first week, the new students feel at home and the Staff are back in the swing of things.

I have prepared an open-ended project with a school in the UAE in which our Grade 4's and their Year 4's will be sharing information about their Country and their Culture.  We will be making movies, sharing our findings with avatars, writing stories, turning journals into Little Bird Tales and hoping to Skype one another to learn some words in one anothers languages. 

We will be looking at things like:
  • My Class and My School
  • My Pet(s)
  • My Weekend
  • My City, My Country
  • Tell me about...
  • My Culture
  • A Story for You
  • Wrap Up
We will be using a wiki to upload our clips, photo's, stories and discussions. It's only starting this week but I am looking forward to a wonderfully enlightening project. I will track the project and ideas / what works / doesn't work here - in case you want to try something similar.

It's early days, and the Project being particularly organic, may take shape differently to how I envisage - but there is atleast a plan in place to begin.

So, let's begin, shall we!?

Friday, 6 January 2012

World Maths Day

World Maths Day is coming up on 7 March 2012.  Have you considered participating?

As a school we have taken part and it was a great experience for everyone. Its really simple. All you need to do is get permission from parents, register the children, and then follow the instructions that are very clearly laid out on their website.

It looks from the Pre-registration that one now signs up for World Spelling/ Maths /Science Day.  Even better!

I registered the children who wanted to take part, and then each day from the time that "practice" begins, they can come in and get used to how the whole event works. I do this so that it is not a surprise when they get to the timed event - they are confident and ready for action!  What I also enjoy about this, is that they can log on at home and continue to practice or compete after school in their own time.

The best was listening to their excited shrieks of "I'm playing against Japan!" or "I am playing against India!" or "I am playing against someone in Australia!"  Suddenly the world was bigger than our ICT Lab and we embraced every moment of it!  We got a report back on how each child did and how we achieved as a school.

I am really looking forward to registering our learners for these events again this year. Why don't you?

Wishing all a wonderfully educational 2012!