Monthly Archives: March 2011

Things are hotting up!

Whew! Just as the term is coming to an end, some interesting events have taken place. Last night  I sat in on the very first Skype session our school has ever had with a class elsewhere in the world.  Our Grade 2’s (my son’s class too), Skyped with Grade 2’s from a school in New Jersey, US.  It was an awesome event and the kids loved it!  As a spin-off from that, the Grade 6 teacher would like to connect with our Grade 6’s!  Then, as a result of my having “advertised” our English stories on Twitter, our Stories wiki has received a number of visits from various parts of the world (96 to date), and a teacher from Adrian, Michigan in the US is keen to connect her Grade 6’s with ours.  How exciting is that?  It seems the second term is going to be eventful to say the least!

On a personal note, I will be attending the EdTech Conference(http://www.edtechconf.co.za/)  here in Cape Town in May and then in July I’m going to Johannesburg to the Intel ICT in the Classroom Conference (http://www.schoolnet.org.za/conference/).  Oh, how I love my job!

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Please take a look at our stories…

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!

http://elk-grade6-stories.wikispaces.com/

Facing Facebook…

I am an avid “Facebooker”. There is hardly a day that I do not pop in to check my news feed and see what’s happening to my “Friends”. Quite often I post a status message, but not always – just when I feel like it. Unfortunately though, I pop in a for a “quick” look and before I know it I’ve lost 30 minutes or more, reading all the status updates, checking new photos added, ‘liking’ pages and more. The reality of it is that Facebook is a time thief – 10 minutes turns into an hour in the blink of an eye, stealing what could be productive time; time which could have been put to far better use, if one had to be honest, that is. It is also a fantastic social networking tool and has enabled me to connect with people I haven’t seen or spoken to in 30 years and it is for that very reason that I can’t resist it.

However, neither of the above is why I am writing this post today. I have just come across a post (thanks to Twitter – another one of my “vices”), by Vicki Davis or @coolcatteacher which touches on aspects of Facebook which I have brought to the attention of our parents and our staff – the issues of ‘friending’ our own children and the ‘friending ‘of our students.

Before I carry on, let me say that the Internet is NOT and does not have to be the huge ogre that it is made out to be. It is an awesome resource which, when used wisely and responsibly, is the most amazing tool available to children adults alike. It is our duty as parents and teachers to give our children the tools to make use of this wonderful resource in a safe and responsible way. However, the consequences, when it is NOT used responsibly or in an unmonitored manner, can be very nasty indeed.

Back to Vicki’s post. It is an excellent read and provides some excellent insight into the Friend settings on Facebook, many of which most people are not aware. She also touches on the issue of underage Facebook users, which is something close to my heart. I’m a real stickler for following rules as I believe that rules are put in place for a reason. If you may only be on Facebook from the age of 13, then so be it. That is why my own daughter does not have a Facebook profile – she’s only 12, and I will cross that bridge when she turns 13. As for parents who allow their underage children on Facebook, well I have always advocated that these parents should ‘friend’ their children with the idea that they can keep an eye on their children’s Facebook activity as a protective measure. Vicki’s post has put a completely new spin on this and gives excellent reasons as to why this is possibly not a great idea.

Vicki also addresses the issue of teachers ‘friending’ their students. I do not approve of this, as I feel it is unprofessional, especially at primary school level when there is a great difference between teacher and child in terms of interests and experience, not to mention age. Do your students really need to know what you did last weekend or what your friends have to say about you? I think not, but that is my personal opinion entirely.

Please read her article for yourself. Whether you disagree or not, it makes good reading: Cool Cat Teacher Blog http://bit.ly/gstwVV

For similar or related posts:

Unsocial Social Media – http://bit.ly/hMwuct

Why Teachers Need to Use Social Media – http://bit.ly/gSr

Virtual ‘hanging with friends’ (where, when, how…) – http://bit.ly/f83qpO

What’s the right age to give a child a cell phone? – http://bit.ly/fphnJd

Empower yourself!

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!

Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Exciting Grade 6 Storybook Project

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!