Thursday, 19 May 2011

Publishing Junior stories

One of my junior teachers has had a frustrating time trying to publish her Year one students' stories. She uses Word and has a frame for her Picture box and a text box below that for the story. After she has saved 24 pages of this format and typed in her students' stories, text boxes and frames have moved and she has the tiresome task of moving all the boxes in place again. She asked if there was a way of anchoring the text boxes, but unfortunately there is not. So I came up with the idea of making a PowerPoint Template.
  1. Open up PowerPoint, choose plain template
  2. Go to File - Page Setup and change Page Orientation to Portrait
  3. Next choose a Layout, choose one with a Text box space, she deleted the title
  4. Next resize the text box and add a square shape for the picture box, move them to where you want them, set your font and size
  5. Remove the bullet points from text by clicking on the bullet point button on toolbar
  6. Last step is fix the rulers, because when you remove the bullet point the second line of text indents and you need to fix that

Once you have the template looking the way you want it, then duplicate the slide by clicking on it once in the slide tray, Press Ctrl D or Command D however many times you need copies.

Go File - Save as and Choose Template from the dropdown menu. Make sure that you know where it is saving to as when you choose 'Template' it defaults back to Template folder.

Now when this teacher publishes her students' work, she can open up this template, type in the stories, no text boxes will move around and she can print it out for the students to illustrate. Once she saves it, she still has the blank template to use over again.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Modelling Books

One of my schools use 'Modelling Books' for teaching writing. One of the teachers (Lisa Pearson from The Gardens) has started using her mimio notebook software as a modelling book.
If she needs to print out any pages she can and it is a record of the work they have done together.

She also uses the mimio notebook software to record the work she does in maths as well.
She has taken screen captures of the activities created in Kidspiration and used those as part of her maths lessons

Monday, 16 May 2011

Classroom Walkthroughs

Seventeen members of the e-Learning Classroom gave up their Saturday to visit some of the classrooms in the local area. Through the power of Skype we were also able to 'virtually' visit Sharon's classroom in Ashburton.
The hardest job I had was to stop the teachers talking so I could tell them we were moving to the next school. We travelled 51.9 kms from the first school to the last.

View Larger Map

First off we went to Shaun's class in Bailey Road, Mount Wellington. He uses Google Docs very successfully in his classroom and he is the administrator for Google Apps in his school. Nearly all of the students work is digital.

Using hanging material to make  spaces in the classroom.
It was interesting to see how he has managed to make spaces in his Year 8 classroom.

Sharon from Ashburton was able to participate virtually through Skype. We showed her each classroom and she was able to listen in when teachers were talking about their rooms. In this photo Viv is answering her questions.

The next school was Willowbank in Botany. Here we visited 3 classrooms that share one large space. All of the other teachers were very envious of  the amount of room that the teachers were able to use.
This is the shared Awhina area at Willowbank. A year 2, 4 and 6 class share this space. 

After Willowbank was The Gardens School. They are fortunate to have 13 laptops and 10 iPads. The furniture has been specially bought for the room. Sara and Jan have created some wonderful self management strategies which I will write more about later.

At this school we also gave Sharon some time to share with us (virtually via skype) what she has been doing in her classroom. She talked about the changes she has made in her classroom setup and pedagogy.

Next was Somerville Intermediate. We visited 2 classrooms. First up was Steph who has embraced the Arts in her class and has allowed her students to have time to use Art materials. She has made significant changes in her room adding different spaces. One of her focuses at the moment is using Multiple Intelligences.

Dave was next, who like Shaun has concentrated on Online spaces. He has been using wikis (plural!) as his Classroom Portal.

Last of all we went to Point View. Kimberley was first who shared her wikis that she created for individual students, learning centres and her wonderful classroom environment.

Lynne was next who also has a wonderful wiki and a gorgeous room environment. What I found very special about her philosophy was that...'Yes, they are only 5 years old, but they can do anything'. This comment came after her telling everybody that in the morning students grab the laptops and go into the secret garden to play the games on the wiki.

I have asked the teachers to reflect on their day and to think about what they would like to do next time. We have several experts in different areas in our group so it looks like we will run 3 workshops on one Saturday where we share our knowledge.

From my observations the conversations that were going on were the most valuable part of the day.
I have asked the teachers to evaluate the day.

I have been asked by one of the participants what did I get out of the day.
  • seeing all the people who I work with who have met each other maybe once face to face or mostly online, talking like they had been colleagues for years
  • hearing the conversations that were so much about their pedagogy of teaching
  • listening to teachers asking each other probing questions
  • loving the fact that Sharon who lives in Ashburton was able to be part of a great professional development opportunity
  • the keenness of all to continue with what we have begun and their ideas for what they would like to do next
  • the passion that these teachers have for teaching and learning that they would give up their free time on weekends and nights to participate in this project

and as Dave summed it up in one of his comments on the evaluation Google Doc 'Meeting like minded people!'

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Online and Classroom Spaces

I worked with Dave and Steph at Somerville a couple of weeks ago and again Dave wowed me with the direction he is heading in with his online spaces. He has been the 'King' of wikis for a while and presented at L@S 2011 Web Tools For Schools

His class wiki worked extremely well last year and was a great source of resources for his students and a show case of student work. This year he has developed that wiki to be the 'portal' for his other wikis. He has developed separate wikis for numeracy, literacy and student Learning Journeys. I have asked him to make a Quicktime movie explaining how and why he uses so many wikis which he will add to his e-Learning page on our wiki.

Steph is new to our project but has been working on developing her classroom spaces. Like Dave she teaches intermediate children (ages 11-12). Like Dave her classroom does not look like a traditional classroom...there are comfy chairs and couches scattered around the room, she has removed most of her desks for tables and students use tote trays now. What impressed me about both rooms was that children were working in a variety of different ways, some were on laptops, others were working in exercise books, some were creating large posters, others were reading. In both rooms students were working collaboratively.
So, here are two intermediate classrooms successfully integrating their classroom and online spaces, visit their wiki pages on the e-Learning classroom wiki and then look at their own classroom blogs and wikis, it will be worth your time!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Day 5 e-Learning Classroom

Part of good management of students and the creation of 'self-managing' students is the time it takes for them to become self managing and what management strategies, you...the teacher, have put in place.
As an issue arises then create a management strategy to take care of that problem. One came up yesterday, this school does not allow students to print from their computers, only the teacher laptop can print! Some of the children have publishing to print, others need to print out their drafts for conferencing and further editing. The teacher could end up being harassed by impatient students all day wanting their printing!
Solution: We will add a 'Ready to Print' option to the Writing management board. Students move their name labels to that part of the board. The teacher will find the saved file in the student's individual folders and can print all files at at time that is convenient.

We wanted all of the children to have some typing practice, so instead of handwriting sessions everyday, nine children would be allowed to go to the computers to practice their typing and do their spelling activities. The rest of the class would do their handwriting and spelling. We made a timetable that would run for the whole week. This will go on the wall so all students know when it is their turn to be on the computer during this time.

We used the 'easi speak' for a different purpose today. One of the students has a problem with writing things down, computers are difficult and so was the iPad. The main difficulty appears to be with spelling and writing/typing fluently. This child has very good verbal skills. She managed to write down her ideas and after she conferenced her work with the teacher rather then get her to go through the pressure of writing or typing again we got her to publish with the 'easi speak'. She did a perfect job in one 'take'. She was also the first person to publish in the class and had the biggest smile on her face when she was informed of this.
The 'easi speak' continues to be one of the most popular choices for reading. Students love using the microphone to record their voices speaking and even more so...hearing themselves back through the speakers.
The teacher will need to set up a timetable for this activity as some children were complaining that they haven't had a turn yet. Small whiteboards are great for 'booking' time and equipment and students are more likely to use them mainly for the novelty of using whiteboard markers!

Mobile Listening Post

I brought in an old iPod of mine that has audiobooks loaded on it. I have a few copies of Stormbreaker so I set that up as an reading option for students. Several students enjoyed listening to the story and reading the book at the same time. To manage this well, if there are students listening at different times then they will need to make a note of the time where the story is up to.
This is a great followup activity for students particularly if the group are reading the book as part of their instructional reading.
Teachers can make their own audiobooks of student basal readers, record them on GarageBand (Mac) or Audacity, then download to an iPod or MP3 player. Use a splitter so up to 5 headsets can listen at one time.

Another popular reading activity is 'Grab some friends and perform a play. The students also have to record what they are doing with a 'Flip Video' Camera (these are not in production anymore, so if you can find one, grab it as it has so many uses in the classroom). The benefits of students recording is
  1.  it keeps all students on task
  2. the play can be watched at any time by anybody
  3. the performers can 'critique' their performance
In this photo is an interesting group with one girl and several boys with strong characters. From the beginning you could see that there were going to be 'co-operation' issues. From several observations I feel that the use of the camera kept them more on task then they normally would be, as they wanted to have a movie to show the rest of the class so got over their 'leadership' problems quickly. 


Even though these students are working 1-1 on these computers, they are still talking to each other, they are asking questions, providing answers and helping each other.
They are on swivel chairs that helps with the collaboration, they can move and turn to each other. When this photo was taken, the boy on the end had a problem and the two girls to his right were helping him.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Day 4 e-Learning Lead teachers

I worked most of the day with the lead teachers from the e-Wrapper cluster.
The following presentation has all the links to what we discussed
  1. The Horizon Report
  2. The Traditional, Digital and e-Learning classroom
  3. Teacher level of integration
  4. The e-Learning Classroom resource wiki
  5. Classroom Spaces
  6. Digital Toolkit
  7. e-Learning action plan
  8. Digital Capabilities Matrix
  9. Cybersafety
  10. Assessment, Measurement and Planning ideas
Everglade elearning
View more presentations from Jacqui Sharp

We then talked about how the Everglade Learners Wiki is being used as a Portal for students with all their resources and activities.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Day 3 e-Learning in the Classroom

Students are working well through the activities, some of them need to be reminded that they have to record their scores from the online math activities. Children who were working on the mimio workshop are learning to be co-operative with each other so that they share ownership of the mimio pen!

The reading session went extremely well today. Students were moving from task to task independently.

We introduced two new options, the audiobook on the iPod touch and the Easi-speak microphone.
The students with the Easi-Speak had a great time recording themselves reading a story and listening to themselves reading it.
Students sat with the iPod  touch, the splitter and head phones and listened to 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' audiobook.

The children are also very fond of using the flip video to record their plays.

The students are getting into the swing of using the Writing task board. They were all moving their names across to the appropriate column. Some of the students started on the Conferencing options. At this school the students can't print from the school computers, only the teachers laptop is enabled to print so we are adding another management space to the Writing task board 'Ready to print' so that the teacher knows which students have work to print out, and can print it out at a time that is convenient to them.

Handwriting, Keyboarding and Spelling
The blending of these subjects is working well. Students know who are on the computers for Keyboarding and Spelling, while the others do their Handwriting and Spelling in their books. Keyboarding is already starting to improve.
Several children are confident with the Home keys (asdf jkl;) so I have started them off on the Keyboarding cards.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Day 2 e-Learning Classroom

Another great day in the classroom. The children settled down to their tasks straight away and were not phased by all of the teachers in the room observing them.
Most of the students realised that they needed to write their progress and answers in their maths books. The teacher of the class was amazed by 3 children who were working on the 3 computers in the withdrawal space. He expected them to be not on task, but they were totally involved in what they were doing occasionally helping each other at the same time.

I also noticed that the teacher was able to leave the students (He feels comfortable enough to let go of control)  who were working on the workshop for short periods of time to look around the room at what the other students were doing. There were not enough computers for all of the students but they all managed to co-operate well with each other.

The students understand how the task board works now and are eager to try out the different options, especially the iPad stories. So that we can find out what activities the students like doing the most they will fill in the following tracking sheet

This will assist in future planning of activities and also identify individual student preferences.
One group of students went with the 'Grab some friends and act out a play'. We gave them a Flip Video camera and they videoed their efforts. Their first effort they viewed away from the rest of the class, lots of laughing but they soon realised that they needed to make some drastic changes. They went outside and did it again and did a great job!

Gareth created a secret space today and introduced it to the children as a 'Quiet Space'. The students used it well today. This photo was taken when another student came and told me that the child in the Quiet Space had been there for a long time, when I went and looked this kid was reading quietly with another student.

Gareth talked about Conjunctions in the writing process today. Teachers who were observing were amazed at the level of engagement with the children that were working on the iPads and iPhone. Students are now starting to use the Writing Management Board as they move from the Drafting stage to Editing and Conferencing. We will be introducing the conferencing choices tomorrow.

Handwriting, Spelling, Keyboarding
Already the students are concentrating consciously on their keyboarding skills. Most children had 2 hands on the keyboard and were touching the space bar with their thumbs. We have timetabled 9 children everyday to do Keyboarding exercises rather than Handwriting and then they can continue with their Spelling activities after 10 minutes of typing practice.
The students who aren't on the computers continue with doing their spelling in their spelling books.

Gareth has made a 'Large Ball skills' assessment sheet for his children. They looked over what was expected of them, students took turns at videoing groups of other students. When they came inside they watched themselves and critiqued their performance. They now have their learning goals for the next P.E session.

The topic at the moment is Disasters so Gareth prepared a PowerPoint with images to do with disasters. Students will be creating their own disaster icons for posters. Everybody started off on paper and I worked with a couple of children on Paint. More about this tomorrow!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Starting an e-Learning classroom

This week I am working with another teacher in a Year 4 classroom. We have the beginnings of setting up an e-Learning classroom. This teacher has had to make quite a few dramatic changes in teaching practice to operate fully in an e-Learning environment.
The class has 4 computers and 5 laptops. I have taken in 3 iPads and today I even let the students use my iPhone.

Gareth and I met for one day to plan last term.  I talked to him about what an e-Learning classroom can look like. I created a cutdown version of the action plan that my teachers in the e-Learning classroom are using (theirs goes for the year).

I created the wiki for the class and we are treating it as the portal for the students to their learning.
 We introduced the children to it first thing in the morning. Before school started I taught 3 students how to make a weemee and they continued through the day when there was a spare moment to teach someone else.
We talked about rules.

 The emphasis was on being co-operative, collaborative and self-managing.

We introduced the Measurement task sheet

and then the Measurement Workshop

and finally the Measurement Website. The students were then given the choice of what activities they had to do, we only had time for a short trial so they were allowed to go to one task and try it out. Some students worked in pairs, some worked alone, some worked on the Workshop with Gareth. The children grasped the concept of working like that incredibly fast and there was a wonderful working hum in the classroom. It will be interesting to see how they go tomorrow self managing themselves.

Gareth has created interactive worksheets around the student readers for the week. I will post examples of these on the website and in a blog post tomorrow. Students read with the teacher, then worked on their interactive worksheet and then their third task was to choose from the options. More about this tomorrow.

I created this teaching PowerPoint on Argument writing and Gareth introduced it today.
Students were shown the Word Graphic Organiser template.
Nine students worked on computers drafting straight onto the Graphic Organiser. Two worked on the iPads and one on the iPhone. The rest worked on the print outs of the Graphic Organisers.

As it was not the full amount time allowed for writing today, they will continue with this tomorrow.

Keyboarding was introduced briefly and all students pasted in a photocopied version of a keyboard, and coloured in the home keys. As I wandered around the students while they were typing today I was constantly saying "Two hands on the keyboard, thumbs only on the space bar!"

It was a great start to the week. These 7 and 8 year old students adapted so easily and quickly to the new ways of doing things in their class. On my advice the teacher got rid of some desks and replaced them with tables. The students were very surprised to start off with but very quickly got used to their tote trays and sitting wherever they wanted around the tables. We will be having quite a few teachers observing over the week so it will be interesting to see how the students cope with that as well, judging by today they will be all little champions.