Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Learning, Sharing & Connecting Online with 6 & 7 year olds!

How do you like my post title!... pretty long huh!
That's what happens when you just can't decide on the right words to title your presentation with... in the end I just chucked ALL the words in together!

This little video is the main part of my presentation for the Time4 Online Conference that is on right now! The section I'm involved in: Student Voices doesn't go live until the 31st May in a few days.

The 6 & 7 year olds in my class worked really hard to assist me with this video; they thought long and hard about what they wanted to talk about and we wrote a big plan from their list.

Luckily, I was given an ICT planning day (Thanks Paul!) to record and videotape my students for this presentation. They will be really excited tomorrow when I show them the finished product (although two students ended up on the 'cutting room floor' and got chopped out due to time constraints).

The video is under the section: Globalising and Personalising Online Learning - from Student Perspectives on Time4 Online. The presentations I've already seen on the site under: Collaborative Online Learning and The Collaborative Cauldron: Blogs and Wikis have been top notch and very interesting... if you haven't been to check them out yet, I highly suggest you do! (NB: open entry to other educators from around the world)

Presentation Blurb:
Take a tour through the 'digital side' of Room 9 at Nelson Central School.

Let these 6 & 7 year olds educate you about blogs and blogging and show you what they're doing with podcasting, wikis, blogs and more everyday in their classroom. Also, see the effect these "cool" tools have had in enhancing the home/school relationship.

These students may be young, but they're connected worldwide!
Share in their learning & experiences!

Actual Presentation:

Intro: What is a blog? Why do you like having one? - Answers by 6 & 7 year olds

Friday, 25 May 2007

How to Customise your Blogger Header!

Last week I spent some time on my latest "Digital Candy" favourite site: Cool Text.

I used Cool Text to create the image for the funky text header for this blog (boo hoo no one has commented on how nice it looks yet!).

I had planned to this weekend blog some instructions on how to customise your blogger header and add an image similar to what I've done.

But... don't you love it when someone else does it for you (and in a better format than you would have ever had time to make!).

Ryanne has made an excellent screencast (featured here) demonstrating exactly how to customise your blogger blog header and add an image.

The only thing I would suggest is that it takes a bit of playing around with to get it looking "just right".... and with some pictures a good image compressor wouldn't go astray either.
Go on:
Unleash your creativity!

Comment in another language!

Today I got my first comment in another language! - Spanish!
(See how having a translation feature on your blog is good!)

Naturally, I wanted to know what it said! It reads:

Rachel tu blog y el de tus niños y niñas es muy bueno me gusta seguirlo
por que me parece formidable la utilización que haces de este medio con
alumnado tan joven.Seguiré visitando estos blogs.

The only words I could read was "Rachel" and "blog" (my spanish is definitely not up to scratch!) I copied the text and googled to find a translator... to my surprise.... all translators are not created equally!

Alta Vista's Babel Fish translated the text as: "Rachel your blog and the one of your children and children I am very good likes to follow it so that the use seems to me formidable that beams of this means with pupils so joven.Seguiré visiting these blogs."

That clearly wasn't the best translation, so I tried another.

Free2Professional Translation translated it as: "Rachel your blog and that of your children and girls is very good i like to continue it because formidable the utilization seems me that you do of this middle with alumnado so youth.continue visiting these blogs."


Lastly, I tried good old Google Translate: "Rachel your blog and the one of your children and children I am very good likes to follow it so that the use seems to me formidable that beams of this means with so young pupils. I will continue visiting these blogs."

Hello... that reads better!
Should have tried good old google first!

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Student Voices: Blogging

Today I asked my students two big questions:
"What is a blog?"
"Why do you like having a blog?"

We produced this nearly 3 minute podcast -
totally unscripted & very candid....

just 6 & 7 year olds speaking their minds!

I am using this as an introduction piece for my contribution to the New Zealand Time4 Online Conference. It's primarily an AUDIO piece as I didn't want to detract from the student's voices, but I have uploaded it to TeacherTube for flexibility of sharing - you will just see a few static images.

Enjoy... no doubt you'll have a few laughs :)

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Online Learning Spaces

I have just read this post from David Warlick (as it's the weekend I am catching up on some of my blog reading). It's about the UK's Building School's for the Future Project.

This project " is the biggest single government investment in improving school buildings for over 50 years. The aim is to rebuild or renew every secondary school in England over a 10-15 year period."

Curiously enough amidst this huge project is quite a substantial goal hidden as commentary note 63 (viewable in the download here):
[Note the report is dated July 06]
This strategy describes the use of digital and interactive technologies to achieve a more personalised approach within all areas of education and children's services. It is an ambitious strategy covering all sectors for the next five years and beyond. An example of a specific aspiration is the target for all learners in every school to have access to a personalised on-line learning space that can support an e-portfolio by 2008

So my question is what do you think of this? Is this a worthwhile goal and realistic goal, and how long do you think this would take to implement?

Please participate in the below polls to let your views be known!
I'd also be interested in your thoughts via comments regarding this!

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

What can a teacher make?

I got this great message forwarded to me in a bulk email today from Phil, our I.C.T. Administrator. Normally I don't read these spammy bulk emails, but this one was fabulous... I don't agree with every point (specifically the "make" kids read and write) but you get the drift. Hope it brightens your day!

Always remember that you DO make a difference..


The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.
One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education.
He argued, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided
his best option in life was to become a teacher?"

He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers:
"Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."
To stress his point he said to another guest; "You're a teacher,
Bonnie. Be honest. What do you make?"

Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied,
"You want to know what I make? (She paused for a second,
then began...)

"Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor.
I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their
parents can't make them sit for 5 without an I Pod, Game Cube
or movie rental...
You want to know what make?"
(She paused again and looked at each and every person at
the table.)
I make kids wonder.
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.
I teach them to write and then I make them write.
I make them read, read, read.
I make them show all their work in math.
I make my students from other countries learn everything they need
to know in English while preserving their unique cultural identity.
I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.
Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts
they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts,
they can succeed in life.
(Bonnie paused one last time and then continued.)
"Then, when people try to judge me by what I make,
I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they
are ignorant...
You want to know what I make?

What do you make?"

"Teachers make every other profession "

Update: Check out this video on You Tube:

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Ever get this feeling?

Paul, my school principal, used this video this morning at our Lead Teacher meeting. It relates really well to what we're trying to do with I.C.T. in our cluster.... sometimes it really does feel like we REALLY are trying to building a plane in mid flight!

... and that is ok!

Monday, 7 May 2007

Hosting your files on your blog is one of many great sites to host your files on. Essentially, it is a virtual storage place for your files! For free you get 1GB of storage.

A great feature is that you can also create a great widget to put on your blog to share your files with others (see my widget in the sidebar).

It's reasonably easy to join and upload your files. I suggest if you are interested in a widget for your blog that you join and upload your files all on the one page here at the Box Widget page.

Once you have browsed and chosen your files, create a account using your email address. You can then upload your documents and grab the code to put on your blog.

In Blogger blogs go to Layout>Page Elements>Add Page Element>HTML/Java script and paste in the code to add the widget to your sidebar. You can then save and view your new widget and files on your blog!

Another popular hosting site used by educators I know is esnips which gives you a much greater storage (5GB) although you don't get a widget that is quite as good to add to your blog. Wikispaces could be yet another option! (if you want a wikispaces account for educational use click here)

It's really handy to have some of your important files hosted online, either to share or just to have access to your most used files across a variety of computers. As a teacher, you could also host documents for parents and caregivers to access, like notes to help with homework or documents for how they can help their child with their reading etc.

Please feel free to browse my Box (in my sidebar), currently it's all blogging related. I'll continue to add to it with more documents over time! If you find any useful, please leave me a comment :D

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Who Moved My Cheese?

Thanks to Jane @ Central I have recently been introduced to a fantastic book that has been around for quite some time (since 1998).

"Who Moved My Cheese?" by Dr. Spencer Johnson is a fantastically simple book written as a parable. It is both amusing and enlightening and is the story about four characters who live in a maze and look for cheese to nourish them and make them happy.

The "Cheese" in the story, of course, is a metaphor for what we want in life - a good job, great relationship, possessions, money, health etc. The "maze" represents where we look for what we want - be it an organisation/business, or the family or community group we live in.

Four characters are featured that certainly encompass the majority of teachers that we come across, especially when trying to educate teachers to embrace technology as a positive change and incorporate it in their teaching.

Two are mice named "Sniff" and "Scurry" and two are 'little people' named "Hem" and "Haw". The funny thing is when you get to know these characters, you actually look at the people you know and see which character in Who Moved My Cheese that they most are like.
  • "Sniff" is able to sniff out the situation and see the changes early.
  • "Scurry" goes into action quickly to make a change.
  • "Hem" wants to stay in familiar territory and doesn't want to deal with the change (ignores it) - either is too uncomfortable or too scared to change.
  • "Haw" initially hesitant but eventually sees what he's doing is not working. Is open minded enough to learn something new, act differently, visualises the changes and make the change.
In the story, Haw, goes through the biggest learning curve to find the "new" cheese. This picture is of the major points made throughout the book. We all need to anticipate change, adapt to change quickly, enjoy change and be ready to change quickly again and again. A pertinent message for teachers and I.C.T. in these incredibly changing times.

Another pertinent point made is "If you do not change, you can become extinct". It sort of reminds me of another saying along the lines of technology will not replace teachers, but teachers who know/use technology will.

The question is:
How can we get our teachers to behave more like Ha
w and less like Hem?!

You can also read a summarised version of the Who Moved My Cheese story here at Wikipedia.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Teachers will do anything for chocolate...

Ok, so it turns out teachers will do anything for a chocolate sweet fix!... how different my life may have been if I had only figured this out earlier!

After my late night challenge (read about it here at the end of this post) to our teachers I arrived at school at 8:20am after having a much deserved sleep in only to find...

... 6 emails from excited teachers who had gone to the wiki, read the information and corrected the spelling mistakes. My favourite emails I got were from Neroli & Viv; they read:
Hi Rachel,
Just to let you know I think I might be a bit of an 'expert'. I corrected 'computa' to 'computer'!!

Hi Rachel, This is a good game.  I edited the ing on or off really on data
Cheers Viv

This excitement is great because it assures me: that they checked their emails; that they visited the wiki; that they read through the wiki and that they had a successful experience of editing a wiki!

I will leave the thought of wikis with staff for a few weeks; now that they've seen one and edited one, they might be able to think of a way that they could be using these in their classrooms.... what fun!

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Our New "Other" Blog

Having worked hard with my students (6 & 7 year olds) during last term on the basics of blogging they are now ready to be set loose on their own!

They have learned how to independently make a new posting, add a title, write a post and include our names as a label (tag). Later we will be building on this, adding more formatting and layout to our text and inserting pictures/photos too!

A new blog has been born... it is the "Room 9 Writing Spot". I had originally envisaged doing this on Class Blogmeister, however the students had just come to grips with competently using Blogger so I decided not to throw a "spanner in the works".

The Writing Spot is to be totally student run.... with only troubleshooting advice from me... they really are venturing out on their own! I will, however, add a hit counter and a clustr map later if they ask for it. We will continue to add to our existing Class Blog as usual also!

During writing time each day one child will be making a posting on the blog, so theoretically we should have 4-5 posts per week which will be great. They are adding their names as labels (tags) and we have displayed them down the sidebar - this is great because effectively (once there are more posts) it will allow each child to "virtually" have their own special writing page with only their posts on it! I'm sure this will be a hit with parents too!

I have made a conscious decision not to correct the students' punctuation, spelling and grammar. The posts will be as they intended. I am also not providing any guidance as to what they should write when it is their turn on the computer... although we have talked about writing about our personal experiences and more importantly, our reflections on our learning (this will probably take some time to develop).

This is an exciting time for both myself and my students.... I am enjoying seeing what they are choosing to write about and seeing their confidence develop. Please feel free to pop over from time to time and have a visit!

"Oooooh.... look at our Clustr Map!"

PS: We will also continue posting to our Class Blog as usual :)