Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Setting up blog Pages

I have helped a few teachers over the last few weeks to set up blogs through blogger.com
Blogger has the ability to add pages so you can jazz up your blog by adding some interactive games for your students.
Some of the ones I have been showing teachers are Embed Sudoku

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

And another favourite of mine is uploading your photos to jigzone.com and making jigsaws out of them.

To add pages in Blogger, go to Design if you are on your blog and then to Pages (which is down the side) or if you are in your Dashboard go to Pages
  • click on New Page - Blank Page
  • Name your page
  • click on the HTML button and paste in the code of your chose game (Sudoku or Jigsaw) and click Publish
  • where is says 'Show Page as', choose Top Tabs, Save Arrangement and then go look at your blog.
To upload a photo to Jigzone, create an account if you don't already have one, click on New to Jigzone, click here 
To add a Photo
  • go to jigzone.com scroll down and click on Your Jigzone area at the bottom of the page
  • click on Add a Photo
  • click on Choose File
  • click Open
  • click Upload
  • then click on Embed/Link
  • change the Default Puzzle cut depending on what your students are capable of
  • scroll right down to the bottom of the page and copy the code above the last Jigsaw image
  • Paste on to your page once you have clicked the HTML button
Have a look at the tabs at the top of this blog, I have added the Pages 'Sudoku' and 'Jigsaws' as examples.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Making Spaces

I have been working with a lot of teachers in setting up their rooms to make spaces and a more mobile environment. This involves bringing furniture such as cupboards and tables away from the walls and using it to make spaces within the room. I liked Stephen Heppell's idea about writeable surfaces and I have been encouraging teachers to paint whiteboard or blackboard paint over backs of cupboards and on top of old tables so that they can be used as surfaces for children to write on. Julie has started with this idea and the kids love using the whiteboard. Eventually they will use it for several purposes
  • mindmapping
  • publishing of work (take a photo when it is done)
  • graffiti wall (words only i.e examples of compound words or homonyms)
  • graffiti art wall (drawings only i.e. We are studying Communication, add a drawing that has something to do with communication and be able to explain what it has to do with communication when asked)
  • maths races (who is the fastest multiplier etc)
  • mural on our topic
  • practise my spelling words
  • do my maths working out
  • messages
It is only limited by your own and your student's imaginations.

To add whiteboard paint or blackboard paint to a surface, there does need to be some preparation. Julie's caretaker, sanded it, then added 2 coats of primer. Julie painted it with one coat of pale blue paint and then two coats of whiteboard paint.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Tools we have used before and forgot about #2

Wallwisher (now known as Padlet) was another old familiar tool I came across recently. I stopped using it as it was not always reliable, but it has had a revamp and seems to be working quite well. What I especially like about it is that it also works on iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches. It is not an app but you can access it through the Safari app by going to http://padlet.com/ if you are starting a new one, the URL that designates the Padlet you have created or as a QR code (try out the one to the right) which is generated for you within Padlet. You do need to set up an account to create a Padlet but your students do not need logins or accounts to access it.
You can add text, graphics, movies, maps, slideshows, documents and photos from webcams.
You can embed the Padlet in a wiki or or a blog.

Below is a Padlet wall that I have had for a few years with some ideas of how to use Padlets in the classroom. Please feel free to add to it.


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Students and Researching

I came across the following infographic from Education Database Online Blog about students using technology to research.

Digital Research Infographic

A lot of the points I agree with. Students in primary and intermediate schools all use Google and Wikipedia for researching. Most of the researching I see is of a poor standard
  • students ask questions in the search engine
  • students don't know what key words are
  • a lot of what is found is regurgitated in a PowerPoint or a Keynote with words students obviously don't know the meaning of
  • it is all lower end thinking, there is no new knowledge or meaning
What I don't agree with is that Technology is making it harder for students to research. In my travels my observations are is that teachers do not teach research skills, they assume that students know how to research. Researching is considered Googling! The statement that the amount of information is overwhelming is due to the poor research skills that turns up millions of results. Another statement that it is harder for students to find credible sources is also down to teaching students how to recognise from URLs what looks like credible sites, and then searching the page itself to see if it is a reputable site.
Is the internet distracting? Are devices and their apps distracting? Yes they are! So now we have to teach self control to students, and reinforce on task behaviour.
I disagree with 'technology is damaging students' attention spans'... if anything it is improving it. In the last two weeks I have been in six different schools. My observations were of engaged, interested students who were learning. All of the schools were using devices to differing levels, all have had to discuss with students about appropriate use of devices and apps. Several teachers have told me that in particular several of their boys who were not doing well in traditional classrooms have been turned around with using devices.
I believe that technology is making it easier to research if you have the skills. Devices and apps like Evernote that allow you to store, cite and organise information needs to be taught to teachers and students alike. Google runs a free online PowerSearching Course which all teachers should do.

Let's teach the basic research skills! The following links are to a Higher Order Thinking Resource wiki that I am developing, that makes use of Graphic Organisers to scaffold student learning

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Writing, Reading and Boys

I have had several people at lots of different schools talking to me about boys and literacy and how they are not doing so well according to the benchmarks they are supposed to meet. When I am in classrooms and see the types of activities that the students are doing, most of the time they are boring, prescriptive tasks that have been given to students for decades to do.
There are lots of great resources out there that have great activities that you can do with children. Some of my favourites come from Sheena Cameron who is incidentally publishing a new book on Writing this year. But we all know 'technology engages boys'. Give them a device, use your imagination and think of tasks that will grab them.

Examples I have seen recently

Task:
read through your story with your buddy and find the long 'a' vowel sounds
Observation: 
Let's put the books on our head and balance, pick up debris from the ground and flick it, annoy somebody close by, giggle over something funny one of them said (sound familiar?)
So why are they doing that? They are bored, it is not engaging, they can't see the worth of it.
Suggested Solution: 
give them a device (iPod Touch, iPad, laptop with camera) Task is now to record yourself saying the words, one person can take notes and write down the words with the long vowel sound, the other person can be saying the words. Yes, there will be laughter, and pulling of faces, but give them an expectation and a time limit 'I want you to find 20 long 'a' vowel words in 5 minutes, set your timers now.
Predicted Outcome: 
they will have had fun, they will be engaged in the task, they will be reading, they will discover their mouth shape changes when they say the words

Task:
read your story with your buddy
Observation:
exactly the same as the observation before. When I have noticed boys to be engaged in buddy reading is when they are looking at high interest topic books such as space, dinosaurs and cars and trucks.
Suggested Solution
For buddy reading choose high interest topic books. Let them read the interactive books on the iPads, iPod touches, let them read some of the books online on the computer together.
Let the students use Sock Puppets to record themselves taking turns in reading. Apart from the laughs they will get from hearing the squeaky voice, they will hear if they are reading fluently.
Predicted Outcome:
they will talk about what they are reading, they will be engaged in their learning. They will be reading. They can share back to the group/class.

Task:
answer comprehension questions in their books
Observation:
5 minutes have gone by and they have written the date, and the number 1. They have discussed what pen or pencil they will use, they will have searched everywhere for a ruler...
Suggested Solution
Use a simple Graphic Organiser like Expanded Question or the Notability app where they can take a photo of the questions and type in their answers
Predicted Outcome
Students will stay on task and want to get started on their work


Task
Printed Worksheets
Observation
Some students like worksheets. A lot don't really care for them. I see grimaces on faces, then there becomes the long hunt for the missing pen/pencil that was there 30 seconds ago. And while we are looking for the pencil/pen we happen to drop/misplace the worksheet and will need to search or berate the person next to us for having/hiding our worksheet. Once they get to their table/desk 5 minutes later the teacher is berating them for not starting. Then starts the slide into the body slump as they take another 5 minutes to painstakingly write their name...sound familiar? Why are they doing that? Because the task is boring!
Suggested Solution
Interactive Worksheets in Google Docs/Word/Pages/PowerPoint/Keynote/Google Presentation. Have some comprehension questions, but some might link to a website where they have to search for something or read something related to their instructional text. Add a Graphic Organiser/s that may scaffold them in their answers. In PowerPoint/Keynote or Google presentation insert a YouTube movie with Questions for them to answer at different points. In Google Docs insert a drawing block where they can draw the answer to the question or they can use a Drawing app on their iPad and then insert the drawing into the Interactive Worksheet. Ask a question that allows them to photograph the answer. Mix it up a bit and have Word Study questions, Dictionary meanings etc where students can use dictionaries/thesaurus on devices, online, printed books.

This all might sound like a lot of work for the teacher but a worksheet in this format could become a template that could be used over and over again. And if you start this with your top group you will have the 'Interactive Worksheet' for the next reading group when they get to that level.
When planning your activities think how you could do the same thing creatively using technologies that will grab that reluctant child and engage him..

Friday, 23 November 2012

Motivating writing using Apple Mac's Keynote

I was playing around with photos with a teacher today and showing her how to do masking and Alpha masking. When you do the alpha masking you need a fairly plain background.

I used this photograph of my dog and then removed the background green of the grass by clicking on the Alpha button on the toolbar or by going to Format- Instant Alpha





Then I dragged another photo of scenery (a photo I took at Cooks Beach) on top of the dog and sent the background to the back.




The next step was to click on the dog and change the Opacity so he looks ghostly.







 
I then went to View - Show Presenter notes and now students can write their stories about the picture.



Take a screen capture of the photo and add it to a Presentation in Google Docs. Make a file up different pictures.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Tools we have used before and forgot about #1

Telescopic Text
I blogged about this back in  October 2009 and posted on my Literacy wiki a couple of years ago. Telescopic text is a great way of showing students how to expand their sentences. The original Telescopic text starts off with a sentence, click on a shaded word to see how it expands.

You can now make your own Telescopic text, and/or you can also have an account where you can save them and return to them later.
These would work well as an IWB activity where groups of children can collaborate on one piece of writing. Or if you have access to several computers, students can be independently writing their own and sharing their different stories later, which could possibly be further edited.

Yesterday I was working with a teacher and we were thinking about different ways to make a student's reading experience more fun and interesting and then to link it into his writing. The following poem was part of the story she was going to use with him from a Junior Journal (Junior Journal 36, Dancing Bees by Lynette Bradley.) and it is perfect for enlarging and adding to.

So here is a tool that you should add to your 'Teacher Digital Toolkit'.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Junior Digital Toolkit for Writing

There are so many digital tools available to students.
How can you manage them?
Which is the best tool?
How can we share them out?
How can we remember to use them?

I have talked a lot about the necessity of students having their own 'Digital Toolkit'.
  • They need to know what is available 
  • They need to know 'how' they can use this toolkit
They need to be able to make choices for their own learning! This is all part of building up self management and collaboration skills.
The diagram below shows an example of an overall 'Junior Digital Toolkit'.
There are 3 main digital tools
  • Laptop
  • iPad/iPod Touch
  • Easi Speak
Now the students need to know how they are going to use these. With the laptop I have itemised the different uses and what software application they will use with it
Writing stories - Kidspiration or Pages
Playing Games -Wiki
Make Movies - iMovie



And then I have done the same with the iPad/iPod Touch

Writing stories - Notes or Pages
Drawing - Create a draw
Making Music - Garageband

As the students progress and become more proficient, I would add more software and apps tools until they have a wide selection and choice about what they could use.

Now let's put this into practice. Below is the Writers Digital Toolkit at the beginning of the year

Students are clearly able to see what their choices are for when Drafting and Publishing.
As the year moves on,  more apps, software and online tools can be added.


There needs to be a monitoring system put in place to see what students are using. For very young children I might have a Sticker chart.


For older, more independent students I would have individual Check lists that are either kept in a Clearfile folder or as a Google Doc.
Putting management techniques such as this in place teaches students to be independent, collaborative and self managing. Students need to know what is available for them to use and that they have a choice in the way they want to learn.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Turning a Projector into Learning Centre activity with Juniors

Continuing with using PowerPoint or Keynote in a different way, I was working with a teacher in a school that has intermittent internet access, 2 computers that work sometimes, and she has a projector that she uses in a limited way.
I suggested using the Projector and her laptop as a learning centre activity area. I showed her that she could adapt some of her printed activities for visual interactive learning by creating them in PowerPoint or Keynote as the example below shows.



Students can go to the centre and use Whiteboard markers to write the letters, a buddy can check to see if they are right, another child can move the slides with the arrow key on the keyboard. And the teacher can keep an eye on what the students are doing because it is on the Whiteboard through the projector. You are now making use of technology with students in control!

Friday, 17 August 2012

Do all students need to present their work in the same way?

Do students need to all present their work in the same way?
I constantly hear 'Your task is to make a PowerPoint!'
So everybody does the same type of PowerPoint.

Title................................................Text.........................................Picture

And yes there are lots of online options for teachers and students but there are still a lot of teachers who are not ready or not able to make the leap into online publishing. So if we are going to 'Do' PowerPoint (or Keynote) then let's give them choices within that programme.
The slideshow below is an example I made for a school when they said that the students assessment was to make a PowerPoint about what they know about Dinosaurs, this slideshow gives students different ways to publish within PowerPoint or Keynote.



So when you are setting up publishing options, use some of the different ways to publish within PowerPoint or Keynote. Give them these options
  • Pictures tell the story (a series of pictures with the odd slide summing up  the pictures so far)



  • Pictures with no text, (telling the story with pictures only and setting the slide speed to 0 or 1 so it makes an animation)






  • Visual Diorama (Insert a background picture, then add clip art on top to tell the story, another idea is to duplicate a slide then move the dinosaurs one step, then duplicate that slide and move the dinosaurs again etc. Add speech bubbles and narrative boxes)


  • Voice over slides (Photos and diagrams with voice over giving the information)





  • POV of Character (Photos, diagrams, clipart. slides with no text but a voice over that talks from the 'Point of View' of the main character)




  • Create a Quiz (make a quiz that hyperlinks slides with right and wrong slides and information that answers the questions)



  • Sing a song (record your voice singing a song that has your presentation information in it, it could be to the tune of a familiar song or create your own. Insert the song so it will play over several slides

For those teachers and students who have the equipment and the access there are many other ways to present and publish work

Thursday, 14 June 2012

PowerPoint motivating writing tip

Find a photograph background and then insert into a blank PowerPoint page. In this example one of my schools are studying dinosaurs and paleontology, so I suggested taking photos of the field or playground.










Then go to Insert - Clipart and select clipart that has white backgrounds. If you have white background appear on your graphic you will have to make it transparent by clicking on 'Remove Background' in the Format menu.









Click on the Home button and choose speech bubbles from the Insert Shapes menu.










To add writing lines click where it says 'Click to Add Notes' which is just below your main screen. Hold down your Shift key and minus - key on the keyboard. This will make lines. Once you have made several lines, press Ctrl A (Command A for Mac) to highlight all of the lines. Change the font size to about 36. Don't worry if you see no change yet.







Go to File - Print
Click on Full Page slides and change to Notes.
Check to see if your lines are the right width.
Print.







Students can now use this as a motivator for their drafting and editing. You could print out another copy in colour and use that as the final publishing.

For younger students you could make a PowerPoint template with the photo background embedded in the Master page. Go to View - Master - Slide Master, insert a background photo in the usual way and delete the slide master frames that show up, click on Close or Close Master.
Then save as a template by going to File - Save As, select PowerPoint Template under the Format dropdown menu, name it and click Save.