Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Collaboration...not just for students!

We talk a lot about collaboration and how it is important that our students should be collaborative and co-operative with each other. It is one of our 'Key Competencies' and an important part of our e-Learning classroom.
This is also the case with the teachers who are part of the e-Learning Cluster. Through the wiki I have seen an increase in collegial support between the teachers as they post comments on individual pages, offering advice and praising achievements.
I organised an evening chat on Skype last week, where we managed to get 7 participants available at the same time. We started at 8pm and it went for an hour but I think the teachers were quite keen to talk for longer.
It was wonderful to hear them asking questions, getting answers from each other either verbally or by posting links and downloads onto Skype.
Reading some of the updates on individual wiki pages was great feedback

'I found the Skype conference both reassuring and encouraging. So good to hear others discussing aspects that I too am working with.'
'Following the Skype discussion I have decided to brave Google docs for a "bus stop activity".'
'Thanks to everybody for the wonderful chat we had last week. It was great to be able to bounce ideas off each other.'
Jane who is one of the observers said 'was interesting to hear others and to see that people in our school are implementing ideas from the conversation, great way to collaborate across the country'

Since then I have visited some of the teachers and they have commented how useful it was for them and how they are looking forward to more 'conversations'.
The main theme that came out of the discussion was how difficult it is to get the children 'self managing' and the conclusion was that the teachers have to come up with some better management techniques. This will be a new page on our wiki where we will all contribute what works and what doesn't!

We have classroom visits coming up soon, where the teachers are giving up their Saturday to share their classroom environments with us. The participants who are 'geographically challenged' (by a few 100kms or so) will participate via Skype, so that they can be with us as well. We will visit 9 classrooms in 5 schools. I think this is going to be a great learning and sharing opportunity for us all.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Self review and setting Goals

I have been talking quite a bit to teachers about students documenting their own Personal Learning Journey. It is loosely based on 'Ipsative' Assessment which is the measurement of where we were, where we are now and where we want to be. The following diagrams build on that with the student deciding with the teacher what they are going to have to do to succeed with their goal. The junior one is more simplified then the senior example.
Click on the diagrams to see them in full view.

These were created in Kidspiration and Inspiration. Students can type into them or they can be printed out and students write in them.

The examples are available for download on this site

Monday, 7 March 2011

Visual Publishing

I saw students publishing their autobiographies today in Word, with a border and a fancy heading. Children were working alone, typing one finger each letter as they copied from their writing books. They look bored and uninterested in what they were doing.

Another teacher said to me, I want to do something more interesting or exciting when I get my students to publish their autobiographies, they aren't able to write much. This school has very limited access to internet, they cannot publish online so we needed to use what was available on the computer. They had Inspiration version 8! I was elated!
I started showing the teacher how they could create a visual autobiography.
We set up a template for students to use...
Then we looked at how you could add pictures, Inspiration 8 and 9 have a great search feature (unfortunately the search feature is blocked at this particular school).
Other choices of graphics are students creating their own graphics in Paint, Artrage or Kidpix.
Or you could go to Google Images and find graphics, there are quite a few free graphic sites that show up in Google Images such as
Use Google images to find graphics of maps and places as well.
There are lots of skills children will learn 'just in time' and 'as needed' in an authentic context.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Keyboarding we need to teach them?

I am hearing the same old story at all my schools and I am seeing it myself as I wander around the classrooms. Teachers are complaining about the slowness of students typing on the computer. I am astounded that I still see Year 6 children typing with one finger while they rest their head on their other hand! we need to teach typing skills?
Yes we do! They do not gain keyboarding skills by 'osmosis'.

But it doesn't have to be a new subject that has to be taught, it can be integrated into what you are already doing in the classroom.
One method I use is to print out a keyboard for each child, stick it in the back of Spelling book, practice your spelling words by typing them...
...or in the back of a Handwriting book, practice your Home Keys before you start your Handwriting.

Plain Windows Keyboard
View more presentations from Jacqui Sharp

Make up a learning centre with laminated coloured keyboards
Colour Win Keyboard
View more presentations from Jacqui Sharp

and bag these activities for use in Options, tumbles or Wet Day activities
Typing Practice Cards 64
View more documents from Jacqui Sharp

Part of your observations, working with and walking around should involve you always encouraging students to

"thumbs only on the space bar"
"Pinkies only on the shift and delete key"
"always rest your fingers on the Home Keys"
"don't cross over the Magic Line"
You can also teach keyboarding skills while modelling writing.

For Mac versions of Keyboards and more keyboarding ideas and resources go to my Keyboarding wiki page.