Category Archives: Integration
I recently had a nasty experience in one of my lessons. The pupils were learning about Word Clouds and I was showing them how Wordle worked. I always use the www.wordle.net/create URL because it takes you directly to the ‘Create’ section of Wordle and steers the students clear of the home page where some of the gallery Wordles are featured – and often they are inappropriate for children to see (your network administrator can also block certain pages). I show the pupils where to type the web address in the browser and then they get going. Unfortunately one little darling inserted an extra letter into the word and was immediately directed to a very inappropriate site. Fortunately I was about a metre away from the child and immediately took action, but we were both shaken by the experience.
Today I came across a very child-friendly Word Cloud creator – http://www.abcya.com/word_clouds.htm . There are other such Word Cloud creators, but this one is especially designed for children from Grade 2 and up. Perfect for our needs and one I will definitely use in the future. In fact, the whole ABCYa! site is filled with interesting educational ICT activities for kids.
I had my camera out today, to record what was happening in the IT Centre…
Learning through play:
The Grade 5s are studying the Ancient Egyptian civilisation and so today they are building a pyramid with this stunning BBC History Game called Pyramid Builder. Try it! They’re having a ball, and what they don’t realise is that there is a lot of learning going on because the game requires thought and logical reasoning as well as decision making.
Afrikaans Cycle Test:
The Grade 4s wrote their Afrikaans Cycle test here today – on the computers! They coped very well!
Brushing up on our Geography with a Rugby World Cup Game:
With this quick little game created by a friend (and her co-author) to promote her latest book in the Planet Octavia series: Geogrugby. Do you know where all the World Cup Rugby nations are in the world?
School was never this much fun in my day!
In the past few weeks I have learnt more than I am sure I learnt in my four years of college – way back when! When I took on the task of finding a class overseas to collaborate with, I certainly did not have the faintest idea of what it would mean for me. It has been the steepest learning curve I have ever experienced, and I have to be honest and add that I felt some trepidation at times, but boy, have I loved every minute of it!
I’ve learnt how to Skype – and all the ramifications that go with projecting the session onto a screen for all to see (setting up the webcam, data projector, sound tests, speakers etc.), I’ve learnt how to create a Posterous blog for all the project photos, and I’ve learnt how to add things to the project wiki that I was not sure of before. Today I discovered a website with clocks to show the different time zones. I’ve embedded them into the wiki and the Posterous blog and they look really smart!
Just shows, you are never too old to learn. I am a life-long learner and I am definitely enjoying my learning more now than when I was at school, so it is my mission to expose the children here at my school to as many new experiences as possible – and technology is just the way to do that!
Since attending the inaugural EdTechConf two weeks ago, there have been a few spin-offs worth mentioning (well, some I can’t mention yet – some exciting things in the pipeline. Watch this space!)
Firstly, as a direct result of my having attended Tim Keller’s talk on Smart Cyber-Parenting on the Thursday evening, we have managed to secure his services to give the same talk at our school on Tuesday evening, 7 June. This is such a worthwhile talk and should not be missed by any parent with a tween or teen. In fact, when I told my daughter who had attended the first talk with me, she asked if she could go again, because she found it so interesting!
Then, yesterday I got a call from Mathew Phillips at Sun Valley Primary. He had seen my presentation on ICT integration at the conference and he asked if he could come and spend time with me in our lab, to see exactly how it all works. So today I had a visitor! Mathew spent time talking to me and looking around our lab while some lessons were in progress, and then I took him across to our High School where he was given a tour of the ICT Centre and Library as well as our Data Centre. We also stopped in at the Junior School to show him our Junior School lab. Mathew was suitably impressed and went home with a lot to think about and mull over.
Lastly, I needed some input about uploading videos into a wiki I am working on, so who did I call on? Fiona Beal, of course! Fiona works at Fish Hoek Primary School and, although we have met on a few occasions before, we reconnected at the EdTechConf. I sent her an email with my query and in the blink of an eye I had an offer of help in the form of a blog post – see here: http://bit.ly/lvZORc
Now that’s the power of conference networking and a great PLN. We are in this together – why not pool resources and share ideas? Our students can only benefit from it.
On this past Friday and Saturday morning I and two of my colleagues (@folklind and @juanita_o) attended the first ever EdTechConf held in Cape Town. So often one attends a conference and walks away feeling that your time has been wasted or that it could have been shorter or even that you got nothing out of it. That was not the case for this conference – in short, it was nothing but excellent.
I was also very honoured to have been asked to be part of a Best Practice Panel discussion and present a short insert on how we handle ICT at my school and which Web 2.0 tools we have used successfully, and I was very pleased to have been able to add to the value of this conference. In reflection, here are the highlights of the conference for me:
- The talk by @timkeller (Tim Keller) on Smart Cyber-Parenting – Online Safety for Parents and Kids. It was nothing short of brilliant. Extremely informative and brimming with eye-popping statistics to support his talk. (This took place on the Thursday evening before the conference.)
- The talk on Technophobic Teachers by Arthur Preston (@artpreston) was spot on and very humorous! We can all identify with members of his Technophobe family in our schools, but as he rightly said – there is help at hand!
- The panel discussion titled “You put WHAT on Facebook?!” – this was eye-opening and confirmed many of the thoughts and opinions I have on the topic of student-teacher relationships on Facebook. It also highlighted many legal aspects we need to take into account. The introduction by Gavin Keller (@gavinkeller) was serious but hilarious at the same time. Much food for thought!
- The many people I met, especially those I had been following on Twitter. How lovely it was to meet them face-to-face! I also expanded my PLN which is why I was there in the first place.
- The wonderful tools and resources we were given to take away and explore at our leisure, including a flash drive full of resources and a wonderful session by Maggie Verster (@maggiev) on how to bookmark all these resources in ONE place.
I look forward to ETC 2012 and I hope to take some of my teacher colleagues with me next time. This conference is not just for the tech geeks and ICT managers. It is for the teachers who work at ground level, in the classrooms. They are the ones who need to be there, as they have the most to gain.
A word of thanks to the organisers Tim Keller and Art Preston, as well as the team at The International School of Cape Town, for a very memorable event. Anyone interested in reading about the conference, log in to Twitter and search for #edtechconf.
Our Grade 6 students are so proud of what they have created. Please take a look and leave a comment or send us an email (address on the wiki). We would LOVE to hear from you!
A wonderful thing happened in our IT Centre today! One of our teachers,who will remain nameless, and who has labelled herself a “technophobe”, taught an interesting, viby lesson on a potentially boring section of work - Parts of a Plant. Using a video she herself sourced from YouTube as the introduction to her lesson, she played it using the data projector and brought this lesson to life! In fact the whole concept of the lesson was hers and I merely supplied assistance and some technical know-how before the time. The application of the lesson was a Publisher document which had to be completed by the pupils to assess their level of understanding and listening. Very technological indeed, and what made it more special is that she taught this lesson for our principal, who has been moving from class to class observing lessons.
The secret to her success? Recently this young lady bought herself a laptop – the first one she has personally owned. Since then she has taken off and is now flying! She has totally empowered herself and has probably learnt more since taking ownership of her new laptop, than from her day to day work on her classroom computer. From school work to social networking to designing party invitations, this new acquisition has opened a new world for her and the proverbial “bug” has bitten! Kudos to you, my friend – may you spend many happy hours creating more stunning lessons on your new baby – this is only the beginning!
The Grade 6’s are currently busy with an exciting project. Working mostly in pairs, the children wrote a short story aimed at a Grade 2 or 3 child. This story was then typed up in PowerPoint on a maximum of 14 slides, with illustrations (website sources cited). Some groups sourced their pictures from the internet, some drew their own pictures using shapes, some drew their illustrations by hand and scanned them in and one group created scenes with Lego and took photographs of each scene, and inserted them into the presentations. These presentations were then saved in .pdf format and uploaded onto www.youblisher.com, a website which creates online books. Not all the stories have been completed yet, but the children who have uploaded their stories are very excited about the final product because the e-books are flippable and look great – they’re almost like touching a real book! I have created a wiki with a page for each class, in which I will upload all the stories. Once this is done, we will send the link home for the parents to look at and I will “advertise” our stories to my Twitter PLN, to try to garner an audience. The last step in the project will be to invite the Grade 2’s or 3’s over to our IT Centre, where the Grade 6’s will read their stories aloud to their little guests.
This has been quite a long project, but it has been very valuable with the Grade 6’s learning many new skills – not only ICT skills, but interpersonal skills too. It has been great fun!