Our budding young scientists in Grade 5 have been learning about Variables and how to investigate them. During the investigations they have been learning things like how to use a two-coordinate graph, how to predict, how to identify variables and control them, setting standards and recording data.
To help them with their reflection and interpretation of data (we’ve done the what – so what?) we’d love you to click on the student blog links on the right hand side of our class blog and read our Measuring Capacity post.
Each student has posted their two-coordinate graph with a little explanation of what investigation they were doing and are asking other student scientists around the world two questions.
What do you notice? What would you suggest we do next?
Of course they’d be really excited if an experienced scientist left us a comment too! If you can help us out please head on over to our classroom blog and click on the individual student blog links on the right hand side.
I’m so glad that I am learning and teaching in a time when just about anything is possible.
I encouraged my friend and colleague Robin, (also new to International School teaching like me) to email a Canadian author whose books she bought with her from Canada to share with her class. Her class of 5th Graders have thoroughly enjoyed hearing Mike Wade‘s books read out loud to them during snack time. I encouraged her to ask Mr Wade to skype into the class and talk to the kids face to face. It’s was building on the idea of skyping in “experts” that is talked about alot in my PLN. And the worst thing that could happen is no reply right?
So Robin did exactly that. She sent an email to Mr Wade (Author of And Then It Happened) just yesterday and what do you know? His wife replied (Mike’s on the road at the moment) and they are really keen to do it. Just 5 – 10 minutes was all that was asked for and now it’s going to happen.
How great is that? I’m so thrilled for Robin and her class. Plus, this is so cool for this friend of mine who had not heard of skype before coming to Bangkok!
One email, one simple request and one heck of a memory to share forever!
This is a must-watch video. Watch it from beginning to end. It’s powerful.
Today I missed my Windows PC. Yes, yes I know ….. but before you mac’ers shoot me with bows and arrows, hear me out.
Over the past few weeks my 5th graders have been creating Lines, Angles and Polygon digital learning stories for 3rd & 4th graders at our school. The purpose was to create an introduction digital story using photos taken around our very own school environment showing just how math exists in the “real world”, and teaching our younger students a few introductory things about Geometry.
Now we are a mac elementary school and I am a mac user at home (but have recently come from eight years in PC schools). Last year I did a similar project with my Year 7 students but used Photostory3. This year I made the project a little simpler for Grade 5 (Year 6) but used iMovie since there is no Photostory3 equivalent for the mac.
iMovie is a great programme, but it’s not as simple to use (with students) as Photostory3. I am however very proud of the work that my students did with their digital learning stories as we finished them off today (just in time to be watched by 3rd & 4th graders before Christmas break).
Today we accomplished the following things:
1. Recorded our voices (after preparing a script) into our digital learning stories in iMovie
2. Created our own background music in Garageband
3. Added titles, credits and words to our digital learning stories
Thank goodness our fabulous 21st Century Digital Learning Specialist, (and my very good friend) Ms Cofino was with us in class today. She spent three hours with us as we finished off this project. Her help was invaluable as she most definitely knows more about iMovie & Garageband than I do!
I know you’re all busy thinking why on earth would you do ALL that at once??? And I must say that wasn’t the plan at all! We have an issue with the available space for each student on our server. Their flash drives are not big enough to store an iMovie project (and you know how BIG those are when you’re working on them!!) Plus our laptops are set up to clear everything on the laptop when the students log-off or shut down (which is a good thing really). We didn’t really have a choice but to get our projects completely finished and rendered before we had to let another class use the laptop carts.
I love this project based learning. I learnt a lot about the way my students work together, and already have some particular skills to pinpoint and polish next semester regarding collaboration.
I need an alternative hard drive so that my students aren’t forced to finish their work in a hurry.
I really need to make sure that I am using the right tool for the job. Was iMovie really the right tool for this job? Could VoiceThread have done the same thing? (That would eliminate the server/saving problem). And will I do it again? Of course I will, and I’ll be tweaking it a bit more next time too.
PS: In the next few days, we’ll be embedding our digital learning stories for Lines, Angles and Polygons on our class wiki math page – so take a look if you have some time. We’d love some feedback on the discussion tab if you have time too.
Just in my inbox ……from the fabulous team at Breathe Technology (whom I miss very much!!)
“Becta is encouraged by the support it has had from the industry for the project to develop an interactive whiteboard file format that will meet the needs of teachers, lecturers and tutors. We have been spurred on in this work by the level of interest of user representatives in England and internationally.”
Becta has received commitments to adopt the common file format from the following providers of interactive whiteboard technologies:
- eInstruction (Interwrite Learning)
- Sahara Presentation Systems
- Smart Technologies
Steve Lucey added: “We are keen to do what we can to ensure all providers understand the benefits this specification has to its users. We therefore intend to work towards adoption of the specification by other providers and continue to encourage their involvement in the project.”
Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous! I have a wealth of IWB resources that I’ve developed over the past 4 years using the Interwrite Interactive Whiteboard (eInstruction). Now I’m working in a school that uses SmartBoards (Smart Technologies) – so all my Interwrite files were rendered useless to learning in our classroom.
Can you see why I’m thrilled with this company’s incredible initiative and vision?
Go Becta – You ROCK!
Some days are just an absolute joy to be at work. Wednesday was one of those days. Wednesday was the day the doors of our classroom got wide open and in streamed a little bit of Iceland.
I was really lucky to meet and get to know Alan Levine (aka CogDogBlog) at the Learning2.0 Conference back in September this year, in Shanghai, China. During one of our many meet ups with fellow conference goers staying at the Forte Hotel, Alan happened to mention that he was going to be spending a month looking after the house and animals of an Architect, in Iceland. My ears and my “cheekyness” levels immediately perked up – so I asked him if he would skype with us when he was in Iceland.
On Wednesday we did just that. At 7.30am Thai time and 12.30pm am Icelandic time, these two vastly different places in the world connected. One blasted by heat, the other being buffeted by wind, rain and snow. Today my students got another piece of the “exploration and how/where does that fit into the world I’m living in right now” puzzle. And it was such a simple thing to arrange. All you have to do is ask. (Nicely of course).
My students were great participants. They watched the skype conversation via our smartboard if they weren’t up at the laptop asking questions. We’d prepared our questions before hand and that helped the conversation flow. Even when we’d gone through all of our original questions, more questions followed and I was impressed with the thought and maturity that they all displayed.
When talking with students at the end of the day most talked about how Mr Levine helped them believe that each and everyone of us really is an explorer, that you don’t even have to find a place that hasn’t been discovered yet. If you’ve never done it or been there then you ARE exploring it. Even some places can be explored many times over and you still find things you never found the first time. Of course meeting Skinna was a definite highlight for the girls – and everyone will not forget that a meal of reindeer meat is coming up next week for Mr Levine to try.
Thank you Alan, for letting us ask you all those questions. Enjoy the rest of your time in Iceland and I’m looking forward to seeing what Strawberry, Arizona looks like through the lens of a skype call!
I had an interesting conversation with our Elementary Curriculum Advisor Guru teacher ( I forget what her official title is – but this one sounds good) the other day. We were both at Learning2.008 in Shanghai and were reflecting on our time at the conference.
The conversation began with our mixed feelings on our individual “take-aways” from Learning2.0. I had feelings very similar to Jenny Luca, whose post, Learning2.008 – my take sums up those extremely well. I too, didn’t learn anything new that wasn’t already on my radar. It was an honour to have conversations with like-minded and extremely talented and grounded colleagues. Connections were strengthened by the opportunity to meet face to face people already an integral part of my PLN, and strong new connections were made, enhanced by the face to face connections. The chance to “give something back” and “pay it forward” was a delightful experience. Affirmation abound, I’m still on the right track, have a sound pedogical purpose for using technology in the classroom and am still looking for ways to “kick it up a notch”. As far as walking away with something practical – David Jakes’ two sessions I attended on Digital Storytelling were most beneficial for me with ways I can help my students enhance and add to the quality of the writing we have begun with Lucy Calkin’s Writer’s Workshop.
But I digress ……… back to the conversation the other day. Eventually the conversation rounded a corner into something like some teachers being sucked into the “WOW – gotta use all those amazing tools” stage of Web2.0. I surprised (I think) said Guru by announcing – I used to be that one of those teachers. (And this is why having conversations, having the time to have conversations and reflecting on one’s journey is so important). I realised just how far I’d come in my own learning journey and identified the “tipping point” for me into a sound pedogical reason for doing all this Web2.0 stuff in the classroom.
In my first year of really discovering Web2.0 tools I was extremely fortunate to be teaching an extraordinary class of motivated, willing, curious 11 year olds. They soaked up whatever I threw at them and asked for more. It didn’t matter whether I knew how anything worked – we just figured it out together. It was an amazing journey for all of us (give or take the odd student not that keen on the Web) but for the majority we surfed this big wave, having a whale of a time in discovery and learning mode.
I assumed it would be exactly the same the following year. I couldn’t have been more wrong. My next class didn’t want a bar of technology, the web or anything remotely close to a computer. Zip, zilch, nada! No matter how I packaged it, what reasons I gave for it, nothing, and I mean nothing interested the majority of this class. I even tried reverse psychology and packed away everything and bought out one thing at a time, thinking that I’d overloaded them with the abundance of “techie-looking” equipment scattered around the class.Nope, no good either. I was heartbroken but I also learned a valuable lesson. It was no longer about the tools – it was about the using the right tools for the job. In the case of this particular class, they didn’t see the technology as “how we do things round here”. I’m really not sure how they saw the technology. It suddenly occured to me that, for this class – technology was not the best tool in my teacher’s toolbox for the job. That didn’t mean we stopped using the technology altogether – because I still firmly believed that Web2.0 had a place in learning, but I began to consider, very carefully, what tool I bought out for the class to use for the learning that was going on in the class.
This became my tipping point and facilitated my change from being a teacher who was sucked into “WOW-gotta- use-all-of-these-amazing-tools-as-much-as-I-can”, to a teacher who now uses Web2.0 tools and technology when they are the best tools for the learning. The beauty of all the amazing tools that are out there and the amazing teachers that are sharing what they are doing with those tools, means that there is almost the perfect tool for the job, no matter what you are learning. You just need to chose the one that mets your needs as a teacher, mets the needs of the learning and the needs of the learners.
Now, I’m teaching in a different school, in a different grade, and in a different country but my pedagogical thinking about Web2.0 tools and their place in the classroom remains the same. I just had bend in the road to negotiate in order to continue on with my own learning journey.Image attribution: aftab
Calling New Zealand Middle School Teachers, I received this email in my inbox yesterday. Unfortunately, as you are aware, I’m no longer teaching Year 7 or teaching in New Zealand, so I told Bev I would pass this onto fellow NZ colleagues. If you are interested, or know someone who might be interested please follow the link given below. It sounds like quite a worthwhile project contest. It made me wish (just for a minute) that I was still in NZ.
I noticed your name on the CILC Collaboration Center and wanted to extend a personal invitation for you to consider participating in the 2008-2009 KC3 ~ Kids Creating Community Content Contest. KC3 engages middle and high school students in authentic research, presentation skills and use of videoconferencing technology. The contest is standards based and asks that students look at their community and explore ways to share something unique about their area with other students around the world. Complete details and project requirements can be found at http://kc3.cilc.orgThis might be a great way for students at Taradale Intermediate School to connect with kids from various geographic areas. Let me know if I can answer any questions you might have.I encourage you to submit a program as we’d love to have schools from New Zealand participate,Best regards,BevBev MattocksConsultant / Project ManagerCenter for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC)Transforming Learning Through Collaborative Technologies
For those of you that I didn’t get a chance to tell personally or you didn’t catch my twitter ….
Yes, I’ve moved from Napier, New Zealand, across the seas to Bangkok, Thailand
It’s farewell to my very supportive principal and fellow colleagues for the last four years at TIS and hello to a fabulous new principal, deputy principal, some amazing new colleagues in Elementary School, fellow ex-pats, and without a doubt, some serious fellow-bloggers such as my wonderful friend Ms Cofino and Jeff Utecht. I’m absolutely thrilled to be working the International School of Bangkok whose commitment to 21st Century Digital Literacy makes it an inspiring place to be involved in.
I’ve just completed my first week at ISB and even though it’s still early days when the shine of excitement still remains, I have to say I’m impressed. For such a big school (and I’ve come from roll of 580 to a roll of 700 in just the Elementary School) I don’t feel too lost, I certainly feel very welcome, and it definitely feels right to be here. I love my surroundings, I love my new apartment, I love my class and classroom and I love the fact that on Day 5 of being at a new school, my students and I began our own class blog!
The last three weeks of Term 2 were pretty hectic in our classroom as we used Photo Story 3 (that marvellous FREE download from microsoft) to prepare a 2-3 minute digital story each for our 3-way conferences.
3-way conferences involve Student, Parent(s) and Teacher – but the student does the majority of the talking!
Photo Story 3 is the perfect introductory medium to get the ball rolling and a great way to celebrate the things that are being down well and identify the things that aren’t going so well. It’s also a fantastic demonstration of embedded use of technology in the classroom.
Here’s the steps we used to create our 3-way Conference Digital Story:-
Class brainstorm about what my parents might want to know about my learning over the last two terms and what I would like to share with my parents.
Results: Reading; Writing; Maths; How I get on with others; My work habits; What I might need to work on; Something I am really proud of or my own choice of something that I would like to share.
Partner up and take a photo for each curriculum area I will be talking about.
For each photo on the Storyboard, write down exactly what I have been learning (the learning intention), give an example of how I learnt it (the final product); Was I successful or not and how do I know? Include assessment results, state whether or not I’m working at the expected level for my age group.
Import the photos my partner took of me.
Record my script for each photo.
Add Copyright free/Royalty free released under Creative Commons music (at a very low level).
(Limited to a choice of two tracks only)
Create wmv. file ready to play at the start of my 3-way Conference.
For parents who would like one to keep or to send to relatives.
Reflection on using Photo Story 3 for a 3-way Conference
The power of hearing a child’s voice whilst seeing a photo of them at the same time, never ceases to amaze me and sometimes I sneak a peak at parent’s faces and see a look of total amazement on the majority of the faces watching the digital story their child has created.
Most students will identify their weaknesses and be “up-front” to their parents about them. Some are quite hard on themselves but the writing of the script allows the teacher to gently point out any “discrepancies” before the recording stage.
The beauty of Photo Story 3 is that you can leave all the bells and whistle stuff (like the slide transitions) to the programme to do automatically. This means that students can concentrate on the content – the part that really matters. But it also allows you to do that bit yourself if you want to explore that part of digital story telling as well.
This was most definitely a success with many positive comments from parents. Nearly all the questions that parents came to the 3-way conference with were answered. It was such a positive way to start a 3-way conference even if it contained some not so positive work habits of a student!!
This is the second time I have used Photo Story 3 with my class for reporting to Parents. Each time in reflection there are things I’d do differently.
Would I use it again next year? Absolutely!